In his last inspired letter, Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word” and to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:1–5). “The work of an evangelist” is a work to which every believer is called.
The importance of evangelism in the life of the Christian and the local church cannot be underestimated. The church is called to aggressive evangelism—to live the biblical worldview before a watching world, and to verbalise the gospel of Christ to the lost. Everyone who has been born again is responsible (indeed, privileged!) before God to evangelise. Evangelism is our privileged duty. We are to do so everywhere that God places us to everyone whom we can. In a nutshell, we and our churches should become increasingly committed to the mindset of everyone evangelising everyone everywhere.
The word “evangelise” literally means “to proclaim good news” or “to preach the gospel.” Simply stated, to evangelise is to proclaim the good news of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We will develop the actual task of evangelism below, but let us first note—biblically speaking—who is responsible to evangelise.
There is a theory that Jesus gave the Great Commission to the apostles alone, and that the assignment ended with them. The New Testament reveals a very different picture.
Jesus was involved in evangelism (Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18; Luke 4:43; Luke 8:1). Gabriel “evangelised” when he brought the “good news” of John’s birth to his father Zacharias (Luke 1:19). Luke uses the same term to describe the “good news of great joy” delivered by the angels to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:9–10). John the Baptist “preached good news” (“evangelised”) to those who came to hear him (Luke 3:18). The apostles evangelised after the ascension (Acts 5:42; Acts 8:25; Acts 13:32). Philip, a deacon in the early church, was involved in evangelism (Acts 8:12, 35, 40). Revelation 14:6 speaks of an “angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.” A case can be made that the 144,000 of Revelation 7 were the means by which the multitude of v. 6 was evangelised.
But perhaps, from our perspective the most significant text which speaks of believers evangelising is found in Acts 8:1–4. According to this text, “those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” Those who were scattered did not include the apostles. Later still, we read of some disciples “of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20).
Surely it is evident that evangelism is essential and that every believer shares the responsibility for evangelism. In other words, our mindset is to be “everyone evangelising everyone everywhere.”
But what is the gospel? Simply, the gospel is the good news of what God has done for believing sinners in Christ Jesus. The gospel is not potentially good news, but particularly good news. Jesus Christ died for particular sinners, and every sinner for whom he died will be saved. All those who the Father gave to the Son will come to him. He died for them and will lose none of them (John 6:37–39). Jesus did not die for all sinners to make salvation potentially possible for all. No, he died for particular sinners to purchase their certain salvation. He died for those who were “appointed to eternal life” (Acts 13:48), for those whom God “chose . . . in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3-4), and for “the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10).
This should give us great confidence in evangelism. We are declaring a message that is historically valid and will be historically victorious. We have a historically validated and victorious message that must be vocalised to everyone everywhere. Everyone is to be evangelising everyone everywhere.
But who are we to evangelise? We are to evangelise everyone. A cursory look at the ministry and words of Jesus Christ reveals that everyone is to hear this good news. All will not be saved, but all need to hear of the lordship of Christ.
The “universal” language of the New Testament regarding evangelism is clear. Jesus said that “the field is the world” (Matthew 13:38). Again, he said of evangelism in the first-century church that the “gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Matthew 24:14). Again, he spoke of the gospel being “proclaimed in the whole world” in Matthew 26:13. Similar statements of the universality of gospel preaching can be found by our Lord in Mark 11:17; Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46–47; John 3:16–17; John 6:51; John 8:12 and John 12:32.
These are but a few samplings of the plethora of New Testament texts which suggest we must preach the gospel to everyone. Everyone is to evangelise everyone.
We must also consider where we are to evangelise. Simply put, we are to evangelise everywhere that God, in his providence, has placed us. Geography is important. God has placed Christians around the world in order to reach those “who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16, NKJV). What are you doing in your neighbourhood and in your city to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Included in this must be the matter of vocation. Evangelism is not the exclusive domain of “professional clergy.” God has given you certain abilities and placed you within a particular vocation. If we spend the majority of our time in the workplace, I suspect that this is where we are to subdue the world for Christ. Hence the workplace becomes an important locus of evangelism.
I simply want to drive home the point that your workplace is a place of ministry. It is the sphere in which the Lord has placed you for the purpose of evangelism and, by his grace, a place of discipleship.
Practically, this requires that Christians in the workplace be winsome. It is only by being winsome that we will have the privilege of winning some to Christ. And winsomeness is a consequence of wisdom (Proverbs 11:30). When you are winsome in your testimony, people will be compelled to ask you for the reason for such a countercultural hope. You will then be in a position to “answer each person” (Colossians 4:5–6).
Of course, there is a requirement to be met before we can evangelise everyone everywhere. In order to do this, you must first be evangelised. You must not only hear the gospel but you must be regenerated through the gospel. Have you come to realise from above what God has done for you in Christ Jesus? If not, then ask the Lord to reveal this to you. When he does, then—and only then—will you be energised and equipped to join everyone evangelising everyone everywhere.