A Theology of Evangelism

What is mission? and what is evangelism? Some Christians refer mission to work outside the country and evangelism within the country. If your perspective is still like this, your thinking is still traditional and your concept of mission is still limited. Thus, you are limiting the works of the Lord who is powerful.
When Philip Potter of the World Council of Churches gave an address before the WCC’s Central Committee in Crete in 1967, he used “mission,” “evangelism,” and “witness” interchangeably (John Stott). It reveals that he is confused on the meanings and concepts of these three words.

A. The Meaning of Mission
Mission is used in wider and more general sense to include evangelism, but not to be identical with it. Mission is an activity of God arising out of the very nature of God (Stott). Mission refers to the missio Dei (Latin for God’s mission). David Bosch says: “It is God’s self-revelation as the one who loves the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privileged to participate.”

B. The Meaning of Evangelism
1. Greek eungelion, eungelion literally means “good news.” Borrowed by Christians to mean good news about Jesus Christ’s Mission (Gospel).
2. Greek euageliso, euageliso (evangelize) means to announce the Gospel (I Cor.1:17).
3. Evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as savior and lord, with a view of persuading people to come to Him personally and so be reconciled to God….The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into His Church and responsible service in the world (Lausanne Covenant). However, evangelism has social dimension when one preaches the will of God to the world and denouncing the evils of the time using the standard of the Gospel.

C. Mission and Evangelism Distinguished
1. Mission is general, but evangelism is particular.
2. Mission is the Missio Dei, but evangelism is one of the missions, like medical mission, educational mission, developmental mission; so evangelism may be called “evangelistic mission.”

For most broad-minded mission theologians, mission is the Missio Dei and evangelism is one of the cutting edges (the other one is social missions). Mission is the general expression and activity of God while evangelism is limited to persuading the people to believe the Gospel.

Why should Christians go to the mission field and preach the Gospel? Humanistic motive? Romantic motive?

A. Evangelism is Based on the Love of God
1. God is Love (I John 4:8), and the love of God compels us to go out and love others through evangelism (I Jn.4:11).
2. God’s love revealed through the coming of Christ (Jn.3:16; I Jn.4:9-10).

B. Evangelism is Mandated by Jesus Christ
1. Evangelism is commanded (Mt.28:19-20).
2. Evangelism contains “going,” and preaching, but should not to forget discipleship, persuasion to enter the church (baptizing), teaching God’s Word, and encouraging new converts to obedience (Jn.3:16; I Jn.4:9-10).

C. Evangelism has to be done with Authority
1. Evangelism was endorsed by the authority of Jesus Christ (Mt.28:18). “Authority” here is exousia, exousia in Greek which means “absolute power” and “the right to use power.”
a. “All authority on earth” means that Jesus Christ has authority over nations to whom He sends the Christians. Thus, we dare not afraid of the “secular power” when we recognize His authority. Jesus Christ’s authority encourages us to reach all the nations since every nation is under His reign.
b. “All authority in heaven” signifies that Jesus Christ is supreme and powerful. Indeed, He is “the head of every ruler and authority” (Col.2:10), and He revealed His authority through disarming “the rulers and authorities” of the earth, “and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col.2:15).
c. This very authority is shared to Christ’s disciples (Mt.10:1-8; 28:18-20).

God is Love, so His disciples should go out and share the love of God to all peoples. Christians should not be afraid of, since they have authority which comes from the higher authority.
Some Christians are ignorant on what Gospel to be preached in evangelism. Is it Gospel of denomination? Is it Gospel of church growth?

A. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God
1. It was the message of John the Baptist (Mt.3:2).
2. It was the message of Jesus Christ (Mt.4:23; Mk.1:39,45; 2:2; Lk.4:43). Most of the parables are centered on the Kingdom.
3. It was the prayer of Jesus Christ (Mt.6:10; Lk.11:2).
4. It should be the priority of Christians (Mt.6:33; Lk.12:31).
5. It was and is the mandate to His disciples (Lk.9:60).
6. What is the Kingdom of God? It is the redemptive reign of God in the hearts of people, the realization of an integral salvation-liberation, and the triumph of God over against the evil. It is also the presence of love and mercy among His people (Mt.5:3; Lk.4:18-19; 11:20; Jn.3:3-8; 13:34; cf.I Jn.4:16; I Pet.1:3; Rev.21, 22.

B. The Door of the Kingdom of God
1. Christ’s sacrifice (Lk.24:26; Heb.2:10).
2. Spiritual renewal (Jn.3:3,5,16).
C. The Manifestations or Signs of the Kingdom of God
1. Jesus Christ Himself (Mt.18:20; Lk.17:21).
2. Conversion (Col.1:13-14; Jn.3:3-5).
3. Exorcism (Mt.12:28).
4. Miraculous signs: healing and nature miracles (Mt.8:22-27; Mk.6:35-44; 8:1-19; Lk.5:1-11; 7:22; Jn.21:1-14).
5. The Church-the representative of the Kingdom (Ac.2:42; 5:12-16).
6. The Wholistic Mission (Lk.4:18-19; cf.Mt.11:4-6).

The Kingdom of God is the central in the message of Jesus Christ, and this should be the goal of Mission or evangelism. And we need to persuade the people to enter the Kingdom, but how are they going to enter the Kingdom? I suggest to do the following:

ABCD of Salvation
1. We all need to admit our need of a savior in our malignant situation.
2. We should admit that we are sinners who need Christ (Rom.6:23).
3. We should admit that we cannot save ourselves (Jn.14:6).
If we admit our sins we should repent, it means we should turn from all our sins, and negative activities, while turning to God and to His only Savior, Jesus Christ.

We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Ac.16:31; cf.Jn.3:16).
We should have faith in the Lord, and it should be or try to be firmed, truthful, and faithful. In other words, let God be the subject of our ultimate concern.

Commit oneself to Jesus Christ (Ps.37:5; Rom.10:9).

Do the will of the Lord for you (Gal.5:16-17). His ultimate will for you is to participate in the Mission of God, in evangelism and social action.

Biblical theology or even evangelical theology nowadays is tainted with Western philosophy, and secularism. Sometimes it is influenced by foreign culture which is sometimes distorting its doctrinal importance, so even the uniqueness of Jesus Christ is at stake. Thus, the challenge of this lesson is to turn back to the Bible and have faith in the uniqueness of the Savior.

A. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ is Vital in Evangelism
1. It has been confirmed and emphasized in the Berlin Congress on Evangelism (1966), Lausanne Congress (1974, 1989), and the World Evangelical Fellowship Congress (1992).
2. Jesus Christ is the only incarnated God (Jn.1:1-14), sovereign God, Judge of the world (Phil.2:8).

B. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ Should be Affirmed Theologically for Evangelism
1. Jesus Christ is the only absolute truth (Jn.14:6).
2. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and to salvation (Jn.14:6; Ac.4:12).
3. Jesus Christ is the only savior of the world (I Jn.4:14; cf. Jn.4:42; 6:51; I Tim.2:3-4; II Pet.3:9).
4. Jesus Christ is the only mediator of man to God (I Tim.2:4).
5. Jesus Christ is the only one who has given authority by the Father (Mt.28:18). Thus, He has also the authority to share the power of attorney or authority to His disciples so that they have legal and heavenly rights to do Mission or evangelism.

If we say Jesus Christ is “one of the many” and not “the only one,” no need to evangelize other people and other religions which are different from Christianity. The former phrase is harmful in evangelism and un-biblical. Thus, we should hold that Jesus Christ is the only one Lord, Savior, Mediator, Truth, the Way and the Life.

Most of the churches have programs on evangelism, but it consists only of methods and plans, and they forget sometimes the works of the Holy Spirit. Thus, they have “program evangelism” instead of “power evangelism.”

A. The Holy Spirit is God Within and Among us
1. The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity (Mt.28:20).
2. The Holy Spirit is the earthly

B. The Holy Spirit in Pre-evangelism
1. The Holy Spirit is already at work among people and gives grace (Heb.10:29).
2. The Holy Spirit is convicting the sinners (Jn.16:8-9).

C. The Holy Spirit in Conversion
1. The Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner. He also frees him from the law of sin by imparting the power to live (Rom.8:2).
2. The Holy Spirit consecrates man, He cleanses of worldly uncleanness, as a temple holy to God (I Cor.3:16-17; 6:19; II Cor.6:16; Eph. 2:2).

D. The Holy Spirit After the Conversion
1. The Holy Spirit incorporates us into the Christ’s Body, and we worship in the Spirit.
2. The Holy Spirit leads us into all the truth. As we walk in the Spirit we yield “fruit of the Spirit”(Gal.5:23).
3. The Holy Spirit helps us to pray and He is also interceding for us (Rom.8:26-27).
4. The Holy Spirit fills us power for victorious living and for missions (Ac.2; 4:30-31; cf.Eph.5:18).

E. The Holy Spirit in Evangelism
1. The Holy Spirit makes the Gospel effective (Jn.14:26; 16:13), since He teaches and guides the sinners to salvation.
2. The Holy Spirit convinces the sinner to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (I Cor.12:3).
3. The Holy Spirit gives power in evangelism (Ac.1:8;2; 4:30-31).
4. The Holy Spirit guides the evangelists (Ac.8:29-39; 10:19; 13:2,4; 16:6-10).

F. The Evangelist must be Filled with the Holy Spirit
1. “…be filled with the Spirit”(Eph.5:18), alla plerouste en pneumati, alla plerouste en pneumati.
2. The Greek word plerouste, plerouste, be filled, is in the imperative mood, thus, it’s a mandate for every evangelist and Christian.
3. Plerouste is also in the passive voice, so it suggests that plerouste will be received if we will ask for it. It is what God gives to us for the victory over the difficulty in evangelism (Ac.6:10).
4. Plerouste is also in the present tense which means that we must be filled with the Spirit continuously.
5. In church history, all Christians who stayed long and became good leaders were those filled with the Spirit.

Most of the Christians want to do evangelism but they are afraid of or ashamed of. It happens to them since the power of the Holy Spirit is not with them, or they are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
Do you want to be filled with the Spirit? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit for evangelism? Why don’t you do the following:
1. Receive Christ with all your heart (Jn.3:3-5; 16).
2. Be hungry and thirsty for righteousness (Mt.5:6; Jn.7:37-39).
3. Ask in prayer the infilling (Lk.11:9-10,13).
4. Obey the Lord (Ac.5:32).
5. Ask your pastor or a spirit-filled Christian to lay hands on you(see: Ac.8:14-17; 9:11,17), or wait in a secluded place and pray (Ac.2:1-4).

For comments and suggestions, please email revseajr@mozcom.com.
© Copyright 1997. Rev. Prof. Sergio E. Arevalo Jr.

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