As we continue our systematic study of fundamental Baptist doctrine, today we will consider evangelism and missions. A few months ago, toward the beginning of this series, we spent two weeks discussing the Biblical teachings on salvation. We looked at both the plan and the process of salvation. We talked about the necessity of the gospel and how it is the only means by which a person can be saved.
Having come to know this truth personally, it then becomes imperative that we share the message of salvation with others who may not have ever heard it, may not truly understand it, or have ignorantly rejected it. The Baptist Faith and Message states -
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to
endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the
birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the
regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus
Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to
seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by
other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Evangelism is the announcement, proclamation, and/or preaching of the gospel, the good news of and about Jesus Christ. Therefore, the gospel is a communicated message—communicated in verbal and/or written form. The English word “evangelism” comes from the Greek word euangelion. Most literally translated in the noun form, euangelion means: “gospel” or “good news.”
Missions is the divine activity of sending intermediaries, whether supernatural or human, to speak or do God's will so that his purposes for judgment or redemption are furthered. Therefore, evangelism is the purpose and activity of missions. People are sent to all the world (missions) in order to share the gospel message (evangelism). We too have been sent by God to be witnesses of and for Him.
In today’s message we will briefly study the mandate of evangelism and missions, the motivation and means for evangelism and missions, and some methods of evangelism and missions.
There are dozens of verses and passages that command us to be evangelistic. Perhaps the most often repeated is the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. As Jesus is about to ascend into heaven He tells His followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This is a directive to both the individual believer and the church body as a collection of believers. Sharing the gospel message through evangelism and missions is the foremost purpose and perhaps the most important service ministry of the church (I believe that prayer is the most important). It is our mandate.
A debate has raged in religious circles for years, and is increasingly becoming applicable to the Southern Baptist Convention. It surrounds the doctrinal perspectives of Calvinism and Arminianism, both of which are present in larger numbers within the Baptist denomination. These viewpoints differ in their understanding of God's and man's roles in salvation - yet both groups, contrary to what you might have heard, are evangelical. Whichever of these vantage points that a person takes, the imperative remains evangelism. We need to spend less time as Christians trying to persuade one another about who is right, and more time trying to persuade the lost and dying to accept Jesus Christ.
The motivation for evangelism is love. If a person is not saved, they will lack to "agape" love necessary for evangelism and missions. They will not feel a burden for the lost, and therefore will lack the zeal needed to do the work of evangelism and missions. But those who have been born again will be filled with God's love for others. For if a Christian is indwelled by the Holy Spirit (which they are!), and God is love (which He is!), then all believers are endowed from within with God's love and compassion for others. This internal affection should compel us as Christians to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.
There are numerous methods of evangelism. Proclamational evangelism involves proclaiming or teaching the Word through messages or sermons to large groups. This is the approach used by pastors and evangelists in our pulpits, at conferences, revivals, and so on. Confrontational evangelism is more intimate and direct, such as one-on-one or small group interactions. Door to door evangelism, speaking to friends or co-workers, and so on are examples of this method. Incarnational evangelism is slower and more indirect, and includes testimonial, relational, friendship, apologetic, servant, and lifestyle evangelism. While this approach is more about modeling Christ through one's lifestyle, at some point it must also include verbal witness.
As you can see, the methods used in evangelism are varied. Each can be used effectively in the proper setting, and many approaches can be used simultaneously. In the end, the method is not as important as the message. The bottom line is that we must share the gospel by any righteous means possible so that the lost might come to know Jesus.
Do you feel a burden for the unsaved? Do I? Do we grieve and weep over the lostness of this dark world? If not, why not? And if so, what are we doing about it? May God give us all a heart for the lost and a burning passion to practice and support evangelism and missions. Somebody's got to tell them... may that somebody be me.