ALLIES OF THE PROPHETS --- EVANGELISTS
A person with this gift has the capacity to present the gospel message with exceptional clarity. The Spirit leads him to the right place, at the right time to reap a harvest of souls. Just as Philip was led to the Ethiopian eunuch, a person with this gift often finds that he is near a person ready to accept the Lord.
1. Consuming passion for souls
2. Clear understanding of the gospel message
3. Ability to present the message clearly
4. Great joy in seeing people come to the Lord
Every believer is to witness, and spread the gospel message. Yet, there are some whom the Spirit will give this as a special ministry gift. A few have a gift for mass evangelism, as Billy Graham. Yet, many have a gift for face to face evangelism. Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and he did both public (Samaria), and personal (Ethiopian eunuch) evangelism.
Timothy was told to do the work of an evangelist.
II Timothy 4:5
"BUT WATCH THOU IN ALL THINGS, ENDURE AFFLICTIONS, DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST, MAKE FULL PROOF OF THY MINISTRY."
Obviously, this was not his primary gift. Yet, he still was told to do the work of one. So all may evangelize, but the evangelists have a special anointing to clearly, and powerfully present the gospel message.
The EVANGELIST Calling
Ephesians 4:11-16 (KJV)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The Lord calls 'apostles' to be missionaries, sent ones, to take the gospel to new areas. Prophets are sent to preach and speak the rhema of God, identifying how the path to God. Pastors come and feed the sheep. Evangelists come and continue the evangelization of the area. These ministries all fit together, working under ONE Head, i.e. Jesus Christ.
‘And ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and ye shall be My witnesses unto Me..."
An evangelist gives evidence of the truth. We all know of those with a gift of evangelism that consider their prime ministry to be winning souls to Jesus. Some of us have a different ministry gift, but still are to be ‘witnesses’, and still to do soul winning. No matter what our ministry calling and gifts, we are to make our message to be "Jesus" .
The word ‘witnesses’ in Acts 1:8 is the Greek word ‘martureo’ from which we get the word ‘martyr’. A martyr is one who gives their life for their message of Jesus. A martyr is one who dies to self all other claims or demands upon their life.
When one will witness "Jesus’, they tell what they have seen, heard, experienced In Jesus.
The idea is to ‘disciple’ others into the family of God. Jesus is the means of entrance into salvation, and witnesses show the means of entry. The word for ‘to disciple’ is the Greek word ‘mathateuo’.
"Go ye therefore, and teach (disciple) all nations..."
Our witness has a purpose. We are to ‘disciple’ others. Some call this to be ‘converting’ them. This means to ‘change’ them, and yes, we do, we change them from damned to saved, from doomed to righteous, from lost to found, from family of the devil and his doom, to the family of God and His eternal joy. Some countries have declared ‘converting’ one from their faith is a crime.
Our goal is to convert from false religions, from atheism, from agnosticism, to the true and only true way to heaven, i.e. Jesus.
This is repugnant to many, even to some Christians.
So, the job of witnessing Jesus, the job of discipling others to Jesus, is a lost ministry in most areas.
Some have a prophetic gift and calling. That gift can enable them to do a better job in evangelism. This prophetic gift allows them to speak rhema word, can also bring a word of knowledge, and can use those to speak words which cut deep into the sinner, and reveal the inner hurts, needs, and hopes.
Acts 1:8 says that the evangelists, the ‘witnesses’, will have ‘power’. This power is divine power, from God. The prophetic gift should be one power. A word of knowledge should be another. There are others, and each of them is available to the witness. It is time we expect and use the ‘powers’ offered to us.
To lower our goal from discipling to some lower goal as to make Christians to look like easy people to get along with, is not going to save anyone. We have a mission, we may be hated for it, we may be rejected for it, we could be killed for it, as were many martyrs of the early church, but we need to do our discipling.
Evangelism is awakening people to their sins, and showing Jesus as the Answer. The Spirit wants to do miraculous things to bring souls to Jesus. The Spirit knows the hurts, angers, problems of sinners, and can speak directly to them.
Evangelism calls for a decision about Jesus. Soul winning is more than causing one emotional commitment time. Many of those ones who have only that are back in sinful rebellion against God before the day is over. Evangelism is to bring a change in a sinner’s life, and a change that brings a relationship with Jesus, not just an introduction to Him.
The lowering of evangelism to something less than that, is one of the main reasons, we are not seeing the salvation of souls as we should.
The Biblical motive for evangelism, for soul winning, is that we are commanded by our Lord to disciple others to Him. Sinners need Jesus to be their Answer, their new crutch for when they can barely walk, their guide when they cannot see.
Alcoholics turn to alcohol for their answer. If happy, the answer to them is alcohol, if sad, it is the same, and if mad, they likewise turn to alcohol. The alcoholic finds alcohol to be their answer to everything. When one is won to Jesus, Jesus is to become not just their One to meet on Sunday, it is a life style change where Jesus is our Answer for everything, every time in our lives.
To simply get people to agree to an occasional church service is not evangelism. In evangelism, the person invites Jesus inside, and there, Jesus lays claim to everything in their lives, to all decisions, to all conversations, to all duties of that person. He is now ‘Lord’, not occasional visitor, not good friend, not just a one to sometimes thank. Jesus is the everyday, live in, take control of our lives Person.
When the church watered down ‘Lordship of Jesus’ to things far less, we find that salvations decreased, happiness in the Lord waned, and services were lightly seasoned with blessings. To make Jesus to be "Lord", and to call for commitment in salvation to be an epitome, not a slight deviation from worldly norms, is vital. We need to restore Jesus to ‘Lord’, in our own lives, and in the witness message we preach, and then go tell others of Him.
Christian service, including witnessing, is the natural response to the change salvation made in us. Witnessing is a spontaneous result to the power in us. When Jesus comes in as "Lord", no one will have to tell you to witness. It will be natural, and in fact, like Jeremiah said, a ‘fire burns within’ and makes us to do our witnessing.
Martyrs were not killed because they insisted on witnessing, they were killed because they could not stop from witnessing. When we have to enlist and we try to make witnessing sound easy enough that all should give it a try, we are out of line. If we try to force people to witness, we are out of place. We need to preach Jesus to be ‘Lord’ to others, and those who step into that concept will be impossible to stop from witnessing.
Acts 1:8 tells us that this witnessing ‘power’ comes to us, after the Spirit comes upon us. There is a power to be had in witnessing. It is not just the right words, the right time, it is the miracles of power that accompany the witnessing effort.
So, the main qualification of witnessing is this ‘power’ we are to have to witness. There are other qualifications to be the witness God wants us to be. We need faith in God. We need faith in our own salvation. We need a desire to witness, but as I said, this comes natural, as we make Jesus to be ‘Lord’. The desire to witness outweighs the cost. Even martyrdom will not outweigh the desire to witness. We will not count shame as outweighing that desire to witness. The fear of reproach will not outweigh our desire to share Jesus.
So, the power of the Spirit resting upon us will handle the fear, the possible shame, the fact we may be made martyrs. This power comes after the filling with the Spirit that the disciples received on the day of Pentecost. That filling is still available to us in our day. That power of the filling will enable us to win many souls. That power will anoint our words, will convict and prick the heart of the hearer of those words. That power of the Spirit will lead us to the right place at the right time, for the witnessing to have the harvest we desire to see.
Jesus did personal evangelism. The one thief on the cross might have thought it was horrible that he was arrested and sentenced to death, but that turned out to be the highlight of his life. Jesus was there, waiting for that man to be put on the cross next to Him. The power of the Spirit had brought the right people together, in a manner in which the thief could not leave. The power of the Spirit can get those with softened hearts, to your vicinity, so you can lead them to Jesus.
The rich young ruler made the wrong decision. Yet, it was the word of knowledge of Jesus knowing what stood in the way for this young man to be able to serve Jesus as Lord. The power of the Spirit gave that knowledge to Jesus for this witnessing time.
The adulterous woman was part of a scheme of the rich men to get Jesus into a situation that to obey the law of God, He would have to break Roman law. Their tactic did not work, but their attempt brought the woman to Jesus where He could offer her forgiveness. The power of the Spirit brings souls to us, that are softened, and ready for salvation.
Zachaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus was led by the Spirit to that tree, where the Spirit led Him to look up, and invite Himself to dinner. That power of the Spirit working made that salvation possible.
The Lord was led by the Spirit to send all the disciples into town, and He sat by a well. He could have gotten water for Himself, or had one of the disciples get it for Him, but He sat till the Samaritan woman came and He was led by the Spirit to strike up a conversation. The result was the whole city was given a salvation message from her and Jesus. Being led by the Spirit to the right time, the right place is key in evangelism, if we want powerful salvations.
Jesus’ ministry shows us other tips to being an evangelist. Jesus came to win, not to condemn. He worked with individuals, not just crowds. He recognized the individual’s own needs, and addressed them. He presented Himself as the only hope. He used Scripture to convict. He asked questions to get the conversation rolling. He sought common ground. Jesus gave a simple appeal. He refused to argue and debate religion. Those simple principles had huge crowds following Him, and they led to lives being powerfully changed.
‘...he that winneth souls is wise...’
To ‘win’ a soul, is our goal. The word for ‘win’ is a military term at times, with the idea of ‘taking a city’. It is also a matrimonial term, as in a woman captivating a man toward marriage. Finally, it is an occupational term, as a fisherman takes fish. So, all three could apply to ‘winning’ souls. It is wise to ‘win souls’. Proof of your wisdom is the anxiousness to win souls.
Jesus did command that we ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel.’ That is not so much an impetus to do it, we already have that when Jesus is "Lord’, it is the scope of that desire that is addressed here. We need to win the ‘world’, not just our family, not just those in our vicinity.
We need to have the whole world as our goal. The Jews to whom Jesus spoke were not used to that scope. They had wanted the Jewish God, the Jewish Messiah. But God did not just want a ‘Jewish’ people in His kingdom, He wants all people of all nations to be in His kingdom.
The salvation message, of Jesus being our only way to heaven, is the world’s only real hope. Materialism is unable to help. Modernism has failed. Atheism has nothing to offer. Evolution has often been proven untrue. False religions cannot get anyone to heaven. Jesus is the only Answer.
A soul is of inestimable value. If you could view hell fire and see the souls there, it would make you want to win souls. The rich man who died and lifted his eyes in the midst of hell, immediately got missionary minded. Nothing else had made him concerned for souls, till he saw what awaits the unsaved.
The Lord’s return is imminent. The early church often greeted each other with the greeting ‘maranatha’ which means ‘the Lord is coming’.
This should be on our minds too as we witness, to spur us to not miss chances, and not be so patient in our ministries.
Hindrances to our witnessing times include the ‘fear of man.’
"The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."
Prayerlessness hinders evangelism. We are commanded to pray for the will of God. God tells us that He does not want ‘any to perish.’ So, if the will of God is for all to be saved, we need to be praying for that will.
Ignorance of God’s message to sinners creates a problem. If we know the Word, can inform the ignorant of it, the Words will bring them to Jesus.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...’
Selfishness makes us neglect the greater good of witnessing. Jesus, at twelve years of age, was lost to His parents. When they found Him, they were shocked to find Him talking to religious people showing them things in the Word concerning Himself. His answer to His parents showed His concern for souls.
"I must be about My Father’s business."
Paul told the 'pastor' Timothy to 'do the work of an evangelist.' In our Christian life, all of us should often expect and desire to do evangelism. Yet, there is a calling for some in which their primary calling is that of evangelism. They may do some 'pastoring', some apostling', some preaching, some prophesying work, but their main ministry is evangelizing.
EVANGELISTS ARE SEED PLANTERS
Being led of the Spirit is key to this planting process. The miraculous leading of Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch resulted in not only that soul, but the gospel was carried back to Ethiopia, where still there is a church started long ago by that eunuch. Paul and Silas were miraculously taken to the place where the Spirit could soften that hardened Roman guard’s heart, and bring not only he, but his whole family to Jesus. God wants to lead us to ones who are ready and willing for the seed to be planted.
There are two kinds of witness.
1. The silent witness, as Christ was before Pilate, is one kind of witness. Our life can speak out so loudly, some cannot hear what you say with your lips. Sometimes this silent witness is best, but normally, it is fruitless, unless combined with a spoken witness. Sometimes the silent witness ruins the spoken witness.
You know the silent witness is working, when those to whom you have not spoken a witness come to you, and ask you to tell them about Jesus. They must have not responded to spoken words, so it is only to your silent example they have responded.
2. The spoken witness is commanded. We are told ‘let the redeemed of the Lord, say so..." To believe, and not to witness, is an act of cowardice. Whereas, the witness of our salvation should be normal, natural, and done without effort, it is expected therefore that it flows from all Christians.
The early church remembered well the command of Jesus to witness.
"But ye shall be witnesses, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you..."
"...I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit...’
Paul continued on in the exhortation to witness.
I Corinthians 9:22
"to the weak, I became as weak, that I might gain the weak,; I am made all things to all men, that I might by some means save some..."
The tragedy is, that too many Christians in our times, do not take seriously that they too have a responsibility to win souls to Jesus. We are to give our testimony, i.e. our seed.
‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death."
We need all three of the things mentioned in that verse, in our testimony.
1. The ‘blood of the Lamb’ is the presentation of the merciful salvation we offer. If we speak of sin and its penalty, and do not mention that they can be saved, forgiven, and redeemed because of the merciful Savior Who died and shed His blood for us, then we have no hope or salvation to give.
2. The ‘testimony’ we give is of how that ‘blood’ saves. The showing the road, the way to salvation is vital. Repentance, confession of Jesus as Lord and Master, and the resulting forgiveness and adoption into God’s family must be shown.
3. The courage referred to in that verse is the final ingredient in a witness. It takes courage, and often presents danger to the witness for their testimony. Courage needs settled before embarking on this mission for Jesus.
Your testimony is a light in a dark room. Scriptures that verify what you know and have seen, add weight to the seed. With the heart we believe, and with our mouths we confess, and our ‘confession’ plants seeds. So, the very act of salvation puts one into the role of being a witness, and doing the work of a soul winner.
‘With the heart we believe, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation."
Paul, after his conversion to Jesus, ‘straightway... preached that He (Christ Jesus) is the Son of God..." (Acts 9:20) If you note, in verse 22, following that, it says ‘but Paul increased more in strength." Paul was barely saved, and he was a witness for Jesus. It is the natural, and inevitable thing for a new convert to Jesus to do. The confession we make, naturally and automatically, is witness of our Lord and Savior.
The Samaritan woman, that Jesus spoke to at the well, went into the city, and there proclaimed the Jesus she had just met.
"Come see a Man Who told me all things that ever I did, is not this the Christ."
So, the ‘if’ shall we witness is answered by, it is natural to do so. The ‘When’ shall we witness is different.
There are some common times, that we have grown accustomed to witnessing.
1. For instance, at the close of a church service, is a common time to find some moved by the Holy Spirit, and in obvious conviction, we see opportunity to witness.
Anyone who has preached a sermon, knows that the faces, and body language of the ones in the pews tell you much. Discernment is wonderful, but not much is needed in those situations. You can see the ‘convicted’, by their obvious reactions to the ‘pricking’ of their hearts. To go to those, and witness, one on one, is important. They are in great pain of conviction, and we have the cure.
2. Sometimes, when people are shocked by tragedy, we see chances to speak to them about Jesus.
3. When people are dying and facing eternity, we know to witness.
4. When people are about to make a major step in life, and are concerned that every decision is right, they are more open to talk about the change that Jesus could give them.
5. When terrible reverses shake up a person’s life, they are open to the witness of Jesus.
6. When life is at its peak, and things seem to be perfect in most every way, people even then, are open, for despite all the seeming prosperity, there is still something missing. That something is Jesus.
Those are obvious times to witness. Yet, there are other times, that are not obvious. We have to learn to be led by the Spirit, in a powerful way, with miraculous results. A prophetic word to our hearts, from the Spirit, can alert us to witness opportunities.
Jesus sat down by a well, and began a conversation with a Samaritan woman. It ended with a call for the whole town to come hear this Jesus. Paul and Silas were in prison, a Philippian jailer, the whole dungeon of prisoners, all had the witness of Jesus, and again the witness had miraculous results.
We can witness at work, at family gatherings, in sports arenas, outside bars late at night, in letters, in emails and message boards, in hospitals waiting rooms, at dinner parties, etc.
When planting the seeds of witness, first, we must diagnose the case. How much does the person being witnessed to, already know about salvation. The less one knows, the more work must be done in the beginning of the planting of the witness. If the person is well schooled in the salvation gift, then less time will be necessary.
Next, we describe the disease of sin. It is a devastating thing to happen to the soul, and has an already paid for cure. Prescribe that remedy, and its availability. Warn of the danger of hell, if the cure is neglected. Urge immediate decision.
We are not here to convict the sinner. The Holy Spirit already has convinced their soul of its sin, and though with their lips they deny it, they truly do know they are sinners. They are convicted, i.e. convinced of sin.
Anchor the soul that accepts Jesus to the Word. Give him verses to strengthen the faith, to hold to in temptation, to stabilize in the storms of life.
Explain to the former sinner, now saint, that it is vital to share what he/she has received with others.
Speak to the ones to whom you witness, in words they can understand. Have you ever had a doctor tell you what you had, in words that only doctors understand? It is scary, even if all it turns out to really be is a hangnail. Have you ever read your prescription bottle, and seen the ingredients. The words are awesome and totally not understood by the average layman.
The words in our jargon, can be overwhelming to the sinner. One’s head could swim in confusion, instead of conviction, if we try to impress with our peculiar salvation terminology.
One student heard their teacher talking about a ‘horizontal line’, and thought the teacher said a ‘horse on the line’. It is time to take the confusion out of our witness, and get down to words the person can understand, and then educate them with some of the words, others may be heard saying.
regeneration, sanctification, conversion, justification, righteousness, contrition, faith, redemption, and many others, can intimidate the one to whom we witness. Put it in simple terms, and since they will run into these words eventually, educate them to what they refer.
Plant your seed with boldness. There is no reason to be afraid. We offer eternal life, through the Savior from all our sins, and blessed with a forgiveness that is total, and a peace that passes understanding. No one can offer the sinner something better. We are ambassadors to the Savior of the world, One Who will someday sit on the throne of His kingdom, and there rule. We represent Him, and offer a generous package of His love to them. Be bold.
Our seed to plant in their souls is to be Christ-centered. We speak of Jesus, and what He did for us, what He can do for them. We do not convince of sin, we do not argue doctrines, we do not put the sinner down, we lift Jesus up.
The witness we plant is truthful, sincere. It is based out of the Holy Word of God. This book from which we get the Scriptures we read to them, is proven to be infallible, and authored by God Himself.
We should plant our seed in an audible, yet brief, way. This does not need an hour long sermon, just a simple question or two, and a short explanation of how to have Jesus forgive their sins.
The Holy Spirit leads. We do the simple basics, and the Spirit does the miracle. We are allowed to wonder at His miraculous dealings. We will watch the sinners question, and want to know more and more. The Spirit will be giving answers, and reminding the witness of what they learned long ago, so as to answer those questions.
The sinners will often break and cry. They will feel a hunger for the Lord, and thirst for the water of life, as Jesus offered the woman at the well.
The greatest feeling, other than that of your own salvation, is to help the Spirit in His saving of a soul. The joy will overwhelm you, will give you eternal memories. Plant those seeds, a harvest will come.
The evangelist is one called to make this kind of ministry, their primary calling. Surely, they will teach, preach, intercede, and have many kinds of ministry, but their first calling on their heart will be souls for Jesus. Their love for all kinds of people will grow, they will look beyond the sin, and see the desperate sinner that has no hope but Jesus to save them.