What is Evangelism?, Part 2
September 28, 2023 | by: John Lee | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Last week, we began the first of three articles addressing what evangelism is. We have been using Timothy Beougher’s book, Invitation to Evangelism, in helping us think through biblically what evangelism is. Last week, we looked at three biblical terms associated with the task of evangelism. This week, I’d like for us to actually give a definition to the question, “What is evangelism?” So, what is evangelism? How would you answer that?
Two Extremes to Avoid
Before we look at Timothy Beougher’s helpful definition to what evangelism is, he helps us to first answer the question of what evangelism is not. It is often helpful to define something by looking at first what it is not. If evangelism is a task that God has given to his church, we do well to make sure we have a biblical framework and not merely a pragmatic one to begin with. Beougher highlights two common extremes that often happen in evangelism.
The first extreme we must beware of is to think that evangelism is merely about your kind presence and actions. Maybe you’ve heard this very famous quote, often attributed to Francis of Assisi, to “preach the gospel at all times; use words if necessary.” Beougher helpfully reminds us that our life is not the gospel (pg. 5). Our lives ought to reflect the truthfulness and power of the good news but our lives are not the gospel. In our sharing of the gospel and of the hope that is within us, may our lives and words boast in Christ alone (2 Cor. 10:17) for salvation is found in no one other than in Jesus (Acts 4:12).
The second extreme we do well to avoid is treating evangelism as a “spiritual mugging” (pg. 6). In other words, we must be mindful of how quickly we can mix our own sinful motives to the godly task of evangelism. We must be careful to not characterize our pride and rashness as boldness, our fear of rejection (and refusal to take 'no' for an answer) as perseverance, and our formulaic gospel presentations as wisdom. For the task of evangelism, from start to finish, we need God’s help and are wholly dependent on him. In other words, we must be extremely careful that we are not holding within our hearts a certain “Messiah Complex” when it comes to the task of evangelism. We are simply called to proclaim, herald, and give reason with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). At the end of the day, we trust in God’s purposes, ways, and timing. God is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).
What is Evangelism?
Timothy Beougher helpfully defines evangelism as “the compassionate sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ with lost people, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of bringing them to Christ as Savior and Lord, that they in turn might share him with others” (pg. 9). We will unpack this definition of evangelism next week. At the heart of the task of evangelism, we do well to remember that it is sharing the greatest news that anyone could hear and receive. It is the wonderful good news that God has provided forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ Jesus for sinners. In other words, this is the good news that every single person in the world needs. It is the most relevant news everyone needs.
As we share Christ with others and as we pray for them to receive, delight, and rest in him, we should first look at our own lives. What I mean is that we should delight first in the wonder and beauty of the gospel in our own lives. God doesn’t merely save those sinners over there, but he has also saved a sinner like me and you in Christ! The good news for the non-Christian is still the good news for the Christian. In sharing the good news of Christ with others, we must go back to how Christ has and continues to captivate our own selves. Let us reflect this week upon the saving work that God has first done in our lives by his grace (Eph. 2:8). Let us rejoice in how God has first loved us and because of this love, we love (1 John 4:19). As God continues to remind and overwhelm us with the riches of his grace, let us prayerfully ask the Lord to increase our heart and love for those around us.
So, who are some people in your life that you could begin to pray for this week? Let us pray for God to increase our love for him and those around us because it is the gospel alone that is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16).