When it comes to Christian teaching and living, some believers shy away from perceived “big” words which are hard to understand.   We should be slow to strip our faith of meaningful terms, no matter how foreign they may sound to our worldly ears.  “Evangelism” is one such word.  In a day in which reports regularly blast news concerning the decline of Christianity, it is crucial for us to return to the concept.  The Greek word for “angel” is at the heart of “evangelize.”  Just as heavenly entities exist to continually announce praise to God, we have been commissioned to announce the gospel to the people of earth.

Unfortunately, many churches are failing in this area.  While they are often good at holding services, taking mission trips to foreign places, and hosting community events, it seems awkward for them to do the simple thing Jesus instructed them to do — proclaim the gospel (see Mark 16:15).  Let’s consider four reasons why congregations should return to this task.

It is wise.

King Solomon said, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).  Leading others to the Lord is sensible and beneficial in many regards.   Those who find Christ find true purpose and meaning in life, and those who share Christ find joy on earth and store up rewards in heaven.  On top of this, if large numbers of people were to embrace the life of Jesus, it stands to reason that society would be vastly improved.

It is an act which brings great eternal reward. 

Scripture speaks of the way in which the hereafter will reward believers for their actions which contributed to the spread of the gospel in the here and now.  When prophesying concerning the end of time, the prophet Daniel proclaimed, “Those who are wise will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).  Paul believed that his investment in the lives of others would result in great reward “in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?” (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19).

It helps us in our spiritual progress. 

I once had a spiritual mentor who taught me that witnessing is a good means for spiritual growth.  Being faithful to lead others to Jesus naturally requires you to be vigilant concerning your own relationship with Christ.  I think there is biblical precedent to this idea.  Before Paul would dare preach the gospel to others, he was careful to care for his own soul (see 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 and Galatians 1:15-23).

It is something God has told us to do. 

Cold commands are perhaps the least motivating form of instruction.  Most are better incited to action by explanations of why desired behavior is beneficial.  Regardless, straightforward dictates have a time and place.  They are important and necessary.  This is true in the arena of personal evangelism.  There are a multitude of reasons why we should share the gospel; but, at the end of the day, Christ has simply commanded us to do it (Matthew 28:19 and  Acts 1:8).  That should be good enough reason for us.

Dr. Patrick Latham

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