Here’s a quick recap of spiritual gifts: spiritual gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Every believer has at least one spiritual gift that was given at the moment of salvation as determined by the Holy Spirit to use in the service of the body of Christ. We’ve discussed the gift of apostleship and of prophecy. An apostle is one that is sent forth with a message – he is an ambassador. A prophet is someone that speaks the mind of God for edification, encouragement, and comfort.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something about these gifts as you searched the Scriptures and discovered the truth for yourselves. The gift for today is one that is more “acceptable” in the church today. Today, the gift is evangelism. What is it? Is it in use today? What does it entail?
The difficulty in defining what an evangelist is or does is that the word evangelist only occurs three times in the New Testament. There are some words that have to deal with evangelism that have overlapping meanings. The first is the word evangelist that comes from the Greek word eu meaning “well” and from angelos meaning “messenger.” When you put it together, evangelist means a messenger of good.
The second word that will help us understand what an evangelist is is the word preach. Preach comes from the word euaggelizo which means to bring or announce glad tidings as in Luke 2:10-11: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” This is the word that’s used when we have any message that will bring joy to the hearer.
The third word is the word preach. This is a different preach than the first preach. . . I know, English can be complicated. This is the word kerusso which means used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it. Jesus gave instructions to the disciples in Matthew 10:7 saying, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
The last word is the word preaching. This is the word kerugma which means a message or a preaching or proclamation of the messengers of God. In 1 Corinthians 2:4 Paul said, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
When you put everything together, an evangelist, a noun, is someone who preaches the good news of the Gospel of Christ and evangelism, a verb, is the act of sharing the good news and glad tidings of the Kingdom of God found through salvation in Jesus Christ. The difficulty in defining what an evangelist is or what evangelism is is because it is not packed up in a single verse so we need to look in several places in Scripture.
Let’s look at some evangelism and evangelists in Scripture starting with someone that is a great evangelist that is not called an evangelist. Look at Matthew 4:12-17. This is not where Jesus first started the public proclamation of the Gospel. John 4:1 says, “Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John.” I don’t want you to think that it was a different message. Matthew 3:1-2: “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus was actively engaged in evangelism. Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:2 that says, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Jesus is the Light of the world. Another great passage occurs in John 1:1-14. Every message of the evangelist centers on the fact that Jesus came into the world to save people from their sin.
In Mark 1:38 Jesus said to His disciples, “. . . Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach [kerusso] there also; for that is what I came for.”c. When John was in prison, he heard what Jesus was doing. Jesus sent word with the disciples to John saying, “The BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED [euggalizo] TO THEM.” From these verses, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between what Jesus was doing when kerusso or euggalizo is used.
In these verses, both Jesus and John could be classified as evangelists, but you may be asking, “Are there any other biblical people that we could call evangelist?” Let’s see.
- In Matthew 10:7, Jesus instructed the disciples to go, “And as you go, preach [kerusso], saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” In Luke 9:6, the disciples, “Began going throughout the villages, preaching [euggalizo] the gospel and healing everywhere.”
- Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach [kerusso] the gospel [euggalizo] to all creation.”
- In Luke 24:47, Jesus told the disciples that, “Repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed [kerusso] in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
- Acts 5:42: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching [kerusso] Jesus as the Christ.”
Intense persecution began with the stoning death of Stephen, overseen by Saul that led to the scattering of Christ’s followers, but according to Acts 8:4, “Those who had been scattered went about preaching [euggalizo] the word.”
You may be thinking, but their all disciples, what about some regular folks? Fair enough.
Remember that Christ established the institution of the Church in Acts 2 and in verse 4, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” There are some significant things that resulted from that filling, but for our study, this is where the disciples were issued their spiritual gifts. This is where they were supernaturally equipped to accomplish the purpose Christ had established for them. Phillip is the only person in Scripture to be called an evangelist. (That’s in Acts 21:8) If you’re thinking he was an apostle, that’s a different Phillip. The great thing about Scripture is it will never contradict itself. Read Acts 8:1-5 (I hope you’re looking at your Bible). aS YOU CAN SEE, this is definitely a different Phillip. Christians were scattered in Judea and Samaria except the apostles, they remained in Jerusalem. Since Phillip went to Samaria, he couldn’t be an apostle. If you keep reading Acts 8, you’ll see that Phillip was proclaiming [kerusso] Christ to the people. So many people responded to this message that the apostles had to send Peter and John to help out.
You’re probably thinking about Paul. For the sake of space, let’s just say this: 2 Timothy 1:10-11 says that Paul was appointed a preacher of the Gospel. In Acts 26, Paul was appointed by Jesus as a minister and witness to the Jew and Gentile, “To open their eyes so that may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:18) ‘Nuff said.
Timothy was instructed by Paul to do the work of an evangelist. So here’s what we can conclude about the gift of evangelism. Evangelism is the supernatural ability to bring the good news and glad tidings of the Gospel of Christ.
How about today? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t have the gift of evangelism, you have no responsibility to share the Gospel. When persecution began in the church, believers were scattered. Those that were scattered went about preaching the Word. The Bible doesn’t say that only those with the gift of evangelism went about preaching. After Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Since the end of the age hasn’t occurred yet, this indicates the command to make disciples is directed at all Christians today. Romans 10:15 says, “How will they preach [kerusso] unless they are sent? Just as it is written, [in Isaiah 52:7] ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS [euggalizo] OF GOOD THINGS.'” The mandate to share the good news rests with every Christian, not because we are spiritually gifted to do it, but because it is our responsibility. It’s still evangelism.
The lines between the gift of evangelism and evangelism are awful fuzzy, so what’s the difference? Someone with the gift of evangelism can effectively communicate the Gospel of Christ resulting in conversions. When Peter preached in Acts 2:41, 3000 souls were saved. “In Iconium [Paul and Barnabus] entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” (Acts 14:1) But preaching the Gospel clearly doesn’t always result in conversion. For three months Paul preached in the synagogue at Ephesus, but the people’s hearts became, “hardened and disobedient.” (Acts 19:8-9)
So what are some practical ways to exercise this gift? How about in a crusade? Okay, that may not be your style. How about evangelistic preaching in the church? I do it at least every Easter and Christmas. I know there will be people in the church on those two days that only attend church out of some cultural mandate. By and large, the most prevalent and useful evangelism is that conducted in one on one situations. It generally starts with a co-worker, friend, or family member saying, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” How about giving a book that have an evangelistic message? You can give them for birthdays, anniversary, Christmas, and bar mitzvahs. Invite your friends over and watch “Facing the Giants” or “Fireproof” or “A Night with the Queen.” Invite some folks to your Community Group. Have a cookout for crying out loud. Help a neighbor do yard work. Send someone a Facebook or Twitter message.
Here’s the bottom line: as Christians, we have got to quit pointing lost people to the church. We must point them to Christ.
So you’ve got to ask yourself, “How do I know if I have this gift?” You’ll be drawn to it – you may be doing it already. You’ll have ability in this area. Other people will notice if you have this gift. It’s important to know your gift because it directs you to God’s specific will for your life, it helps set priorities for your life, it helps you accept your place in the body of Christ, and it helps identify area of training and devotion.
Are you an evangelist?