Evangelism is, according to Mack Stiles, “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.”1 In a later article, we will tease out this definition of evangelism but for now, we’ll investigate three Biblical reasons for why we need to engage in evangelism.
When writing to the church at Rome, Paul expressed his God-centred approach to evangelism this way: “Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Romans 1:5, ESV).
Paul’s evangelism was fuelled by a desire to see God honoured and treasured by sinful people. He couldn’t bear the thought of God being robbed honour and worship through the worship of pagan gods (see Acts 17:16). To quote John Piper, this means that for Paul, “mission existed because worship didn’t”. 2
That is, the ultimate reason why we tell others about God’s rescue plan in Jesus is because people rob God by living for the false gods of money, comfort, sex, religion, entertainment and other counterfeit gods that our culture bows down to.
Obedience to Christ
Just before returning to His heavenly father, Jesus gave his followers these parting words: “…repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49, NIV).
Evangelism is to be carried out as an act of obedience to our Lord. We are to be His witnesses in the world. This talk of obedience is not to conjure up thoughts of reluctant submission. No, obedience to Christ is a special type of obedience that is energised by our love for Him. The Bible is emphatic on this point:
2 Corinthians 5:14 – “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
John 14:23 – “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
We evangelise because we love to obey the one who at infinite cost to Himself gave up His life to redeem us from the prison of eternal damnation.
Concern for Others
The spiritual condition of those without Christ resemble the physical condition of the man in Jesus’ well-known parable, The Parable of the Good Samaritan, who was completely unable to rescue himself (Luke 10:25-37).
Like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ story, we too are to see our fellow image-bearers as completely unable to rescue themselves from the consequences of their own God-belittling sin. Without Christ, our friends and family will suffer eternal torment and punishment in Hell (Luke 13:3, 5; Matthew 10:28; 18:9). This realisation should move us to evangelise those we daily interact with.
PUTTING INTO PRACTICE…
And so, for these three Biblical reasons––our longing for God’s glory, our loving obedience to our Saviour-King, and our deep concern for those who stand condemned without Christ––we’re to engage in evangelism. We pray that we would so love our Saviour, and so care for those who are yet to know Him, that “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
1. Mack Stiles, ‘Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus’, pp. 26-27.
2. John Piper, ‘Let the Nations be Glad’, p17