When I was in seminary we had to take a class on Evangelism. Part of our assignment was to go out an evangelize. We had to comb the neighborhood, mall, bus station, or wherever, in order to share the gospel with someone. While I did not see anyone come to Christ through my efforts, there were others in class who did.
As we geared up for the assignment, the question that came up was: How do we know when we have evangelized someone? That is the question I want to answer today.
How do we know when we are evangelizing?
Scripture makes it clear that we are evangelizing when we speak the good news of the gospel to others.
In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul was sent to preach the gospel. There he says,
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
In Matthew 28:19-20, we find Jesus’ great commission. There He says,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
In Romans 10:14-15, Paul says,
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!
The common thread running through these verses is that we must actually speak to another person the truths of the gospel. If we are doing anything else, we are not evangelizing.
So then, we are not evangelizing when we:
- Have a conversation about spiritual matters, but not about the gospel
- Hand out gospel tracks
- Help someone out
- Work for social justice
- Live in a manner consistent with Scripture
All of these things can provide in-roads to talk about the gospel with others, but they are not in and of themselves gospel proclamation.
Evangelism occurs when we verbally proclaim the gospel to others.
Evangelism is not bringing others to faith
If evangelism is the proclaiming of the gospel to others, that means that we don’t have to see someone come to faith in Christ in order to count that as evangelism. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 says,
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
It is our responsibility to spread and water the gospel seed. It is God who brings the growth. We are not responsible for changing someone’s heart because we can’t, only God can do that.
Word of Encouragement
Knowing that evangelism takes place when we speak the gospel to others should:
1. Motivate us to spread God’s Word – No one is saved through the results (Godly Living, Mercy Ministries, etc) of the gospel. Instead they must actually hear God’s good news proclaimed.
2. Free us from beating ourselves up – It is not our fault if someone does not believe. God is the one who brings the growth. We are the one’s who are called to faithfully spread and water the seeds of the gospel.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you believe the gospel is spread through your actions or through the preached Word?
- How do you enter into conversation with others about the gospel?
- Do you find acts of mercy to be a good way to gain credibility to speak with others about the gospel?
- What mercy ministries have been effective for making in-roads to gospel proclamation at your church?