Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Evangelism—The Christian’s Blessed Obligation!

It is indeed a great honor to evangelize others as followers of Christ. When we disown Christ before others, we bring shame on ourselves and our Savior. Evangelizing is one of those difficult blessings in the Christian life. It is a blessed obligation. Telling of Jesus results in the treasures of heaven opening before us. And yet it is often a struggle. “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Promises and Blessings

God lovingly goads and guides us by promises and warnings. He clearly lays out the blessings of evangelizing:

  1. The name of Christ is lifted up. 
  2. Our spirits are lifted heavenward as we declare the name of Jesus. 
  3. The power of Satan is diminished on earth. 
  4. Lost souls hear of the only Savior of the world
  5. The Holy Spirit works in-with-and-by the Word of God to call for men to repent and believe.
  6. Supernaturally, some hearers do repent and believe. 
  7. All heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. 

All these good things happen, and only happen, when Christ’s name is openly and outwardly proclaimed—in the midst of an antagonistic and rejecting world.

Warnings and Judgments

Often the promise is not enough. Until we really engage in direct evangelism—street evangelism, door-to-door, etc.—we do not experience these above blessings. We rarely even think that they really exist, because they do not correspond to our human apprehensions. So, God provides warnings and judgments as goads to move us outside our comfort zone. He prods us, wanting us to evangelize in obedience to His will, command, and desire.

Luke 17

Luke 17 details an interesting story in the life of Jesus where He healed ten lepers. All ten lifted up their voices in unison and said, “Jesus, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13). Jesus commanded them saying “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they went, the narrative records that, “as they went, they were cleansed.” (Luke 17:14).

And yet only one of them, being healed from this incurable disease, returned and glorified God with a loud voice. He fell on his face before Jesus in gratitude, giving Him thanks. Then Jesus gave His analysis of the results of this healing:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Didn’t any return to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And he told him, ‘Get up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’” Luke 17:17-19 (CSB).

All ten were healed of their incurable disease of leprosy. Yet only one was healed of the incurable guilt of his sin. All ten reached out to the proper person, Jesus. All ten said the same words, “Have mercy on us!” Yet only one received the ultimate mercy that he really needed—being washed of his sin-soaked-condition.

What made the difference?

  1. He returned to thank the One who had delivered him
  2. He gave glory to God for what Jesus had done
  3. He fell facedown at the feet of Jesus, thanking Him.

The one leper gave open-outward-and-unashamed glory to God for his healing. He was not ashamed of his former state nor of the One who healed him. He therefore received from the Lord Jesus a spiritual and eternal healing.

John 9

This same pattern held true for the man born blind in John 9. In his case, after the man born blind was abandoned by his parents. He was ridiculed and reviled by the Pharisees. They cast him out of their presence.

It appears that Jesus waited for the moment of his exclusion to act. After he was rejected, Jesus made a search for him and found him. The Lord Jesus confirmed the steadfastness with which he testified of his healing. Here is their fascinating interchange:

  • Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”
  • He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”
  • And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”
  • Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. John 9:35-38 (NKJ)

This man born blind was healed by Jesus. He had not seen who had anointed his eyes with clay. Jesus reached out to him after he was rejected by men. When Jesus spoke His true identity, his immediately response were the words, “Lord, I believe.” He fell his knees and worshipped Jesus.

It is unmistakable. Persecution or no persecution. Open and outward profession of faith in Jesus Christ coalesce in the conversion process. Salvation partners with the praise of the soul to bring glory out of the mouth of the converted. There is no exception. True salvation leads to true praise of Him who saves.

Mark 8

Jesus left us a stern warning at the end of Mark 8:

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38 (NKJ).

Shame leads to shame. Of the several parallel passages, only Mark specifies the earthly audience. “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation.” There is a necessity to stand apart from the world and its conceptions. The follower of Christ is to give Him glory even in the midst of an adulterous and sinful generation.

John 12

Many of the rulers in John 12 were unwilling to pay the price. Coming out for Jesus was not an option for them. They preferred their privatized religious experience. John the Apostle, writing with divine clarity, condemned them for their half-hearted faith:

“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:42-43 (NKJ).

Moral requirement? Moral obligation? Moral duty? These rulers, men like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, believed in Jesus—but secretly. They thought it better to hide their faith than to openly confess Jesus before men. They had the sickness of believing without confessing!

John was not too kind in diagnosing their ailment. They had a misplaced love-affair. Their love was for the praise of the world more than it was for the praise of God.

This bleak appraisal of John can help us understand the following words of Jesus with greater contextual clarity:

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matt 10:32-33 (NKJ).

“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. Luke 12:8-9 (NKJ).

“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26 (NKJ).

So, while evangelizing is not:

  • The trigger of our salvation
  • The effective cause of our salvation.

Evangelism is:

  • The initial confession of our salvation
  • A grateful aggregate to our salvation
  • A necessary action proceeding from our salvation
  • A constantly coexistent result of our salvation.

Is evangelizing commanded in the Great Commission? Yes, it is. Is evangelizing exemplified in the Gospels and the Book of Acts? Yes, it is. Is evangelizing discussed within the New Testament epistles? Yes, it is.

Let every reader consider owning these words of Paul in 1 Corinthians:

“For if I evangelize, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I evangelize not! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.” 1 Cor 9:16-17 (translation mine).

Sometimes we evangelize willingly and are rewarded with great joy. At other times we evangelize against our will. In either case, we humbly obey. We gladly follow our Master Jesus who said, “I must evangelize.” Luke 4:43 [εὐαγγελίσασθαί με δεῖ]!