Hello church family. I would like to take the next few newsletters to talk about the important function of the church called evangelism. What do you think about when you hear the word, “evangelism?” Perhaps you do not think of anything, because the word and the concept are both new to you. Well, evangelism as it relates to our perspective, practice, and preaching should ever be before our minds as disciples of Jesus. It is a critical component in the mission of Christ’s church. It is a challenge that every believer should accept. It is an action that calls for savvy, strategy, and compassion. It is a practice that can potentially be abused or even ignored. It is a duty and privilege universally expected of all God’s children, and in its success, there is great rejoicing.
The word “evangelism” comes from the Greek term euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον), which means “gospel” or “good news.” In its most basic form, evangelism means the good news of Jesus Christ. Consider what William Mounce writes about this concept.
Euangelion, is the “good news” about the salvation God has provided through Jesus Christ. The gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). In addition, it has to do with the fulfillment of the OT promise of the coming kingdom of God. For this reason, Jesus announces, “the time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mk. 1:15). Jesus’ preaching is associated with healings, which are proof of the good news that the kingdom of God has arrived (Mt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14). The NT speaks of the gospel in a way that describes its benefits: it is “the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24), “the gospel of salvation” (Eph. 1:13), “the gospel of peace” (6:19), and the gospel that holds out hope (Col. 1:23). The gospel is worth dying for (Mk. 8:35; 10:29).
The gospel is intended to be preached in order to announce God’s salvation in Christ and to elicit a response from those who hear it (Mt. 26:13; Mk. 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:14a; 2 Cor. 2:12; 1 Thess. 2:9). It is to be preached to all nations (Mt. 24:14; Mk. 13:10; 16:15; Acts 15:7; Rev. 14:6). Accordingly, Paul’s calling is to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Rom. 1:1, 9; 15:16, 19; Gal. 2:7; Eph. 3:6-7; 1 Thess. 2:4). At times he refers to “my gospel,” which is the message of Christ’s death and resurrection that God has entrusted him to preach (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Cor. 4:3; 1 Thess. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:8), as opposed to the “different gospel” of false teachers (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6, 7, 11; 2:2).
Paul sometimes uses euangelion to denote the work of evangelism (1 Thess. 3:2). He suffers for the gospel (1 Cor. 9:12; 2 Tim. 1:8; see also Phil. 1:12) and becomes all things to all people for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:23). People give service to the work of the gospel (2 Cor. 8:18; Phil. 1:5; 2:22; 4:3, 15).
euangelion also sometimes refers to the subject matter of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; Phil. 1:7; 1 Thess. 2:2, 8, 9; 2 Thess. 2:14). Paul reminds the Corinthians of the content of the gospel he preached to them: Christ died, was buried, and was raised on the third day (1 Cor. 15:1, 2; see also 2 Tim. 2:8). The content of the gospel is truth (Gal. 2:5; Col. 1:5) and is meant to be confessed (2 Cor. 9:13), and those who don’t obey it will be punished (2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17). Through the gospel message, the Gentiles become part of the people of God (Eph. 3:6). By contrast, most Jews do not receive the “good news” but reject Christ, in fulfillment of OT prophecy (Isa. 53:1 in Rom. 10:16).
The word euangelion was not invented by the gospel writers but was already in use in the Roman world, euangelion. It referred to an announcement of “glad tidings” regarding a birthday, rise to power, or decree of the emperor that was to herald the fulfillment of hopes for peace and well-being in all the world. Mark redefines this concept of “glad tidings” by introducing his gospel with the phrase, “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,” implying that it is really the birth and subsequent actions of Jesus that will change the face of the world in a cosmic way that no earthly king could ever do. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, brings true and lasting well-being and peace to the world, in fulfillment of OT hope. (Found in: Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)
Evangelism is a task that we should be very familiar with, but how do we perform this task in our context? That is often the tricky question. Over the next few months, we will consider evangelism as we go, evangelism in our worship services, evangelism in the life of our church, and preparation for evangelism. Until next time, this Pastor Daniel writing, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”