What is evangelism?

Professor C.H. Dodd in his ‘The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments’ has done the whole church service by pointing out that only one kind of preaching is evangelism although there were teachers, catechists and evangelists in the first century church. “For the Early Church, then to preach was by no means the same thing as to deliver moral instructions or exhortations. While the Church was concerned to hand on its teaching of the Lord, it was not by this that it made converts. It was by kerygma, says Paul (not by didache), that it pleased God to save men ……  Much of our preaching in church at the present day would not have been recognised by early Christians as kerygma. It is teaching, or exhortation, or it is what they called homilia, that is, the more or less informal discussion of various aspects of Christian life and thought, addressed to a congregation already established in the faith.” Are the missionaries of the future to be missionaries of Christ or missionaries of the Christian civilisation of the West? Do the missionaries of our Christian churches go out to proclaim to the world the unique and divine fact of the Incarnation or to carry to the non-Christian world the benefits of education, medicine, generally humanitarian values, which have grown up in our civilisation under the stimulus and guidance of the Christian faith?

Now this primary message of evangelism was confined to a few basic facts. Paul calls it the word of the Cross. It was Christ and Him crucified not the wide periphery but the very heart of the Gospel message.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica states: “Evangelism stands for a certain interpretation of Christianity emphasising the objective atonement of Christ, the necessity of new birth or conversion and salvation through faith. This is a fair statement of the essentials of the evangel. Paul made this very message central and primary in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2.

> “Now brothers, I would have you know the gospel I once preached to you, the gospel you received, the gospel in which you have your footing, the gospel by which you are saved  provided you adhere to my statement of it  unless indeed your faith was all haphazard” (Moffat’s translation).

And what then is this message of good news, this gospel: > “That Christ died for our sins as the scriptures has said, that he was buried and that he rose on the third day.”

There is no other evangel than these historic facts and their tremendous implications. Any kind of evangelism that is silent in this respect is no evangelism at all. If Christ died for our sins, His death was a reality and His resurrection confirms its necessity and validity as the only atonement for sin. The Cross is the one central message and method and power of Christianity.

We are sent not to preach sociology but salvation; not economics but evangelism; not reform but redemption; not culture but conversion; not progress but pardon; not the new social order but the new birth; not revolution but regeneration; not renovation but revival; not resuscitation but resurrection; not a new organisation but a new creation; not democracy but the Gospel; not civilisation but Christ. We are ambassadors not diplomats.

It is time that a protest is made against the misuse of the word evangelism. It has only one etymological, New Testament, historical and theological connotation, namely, to tell the good news of One who came to earth to die on the cross for us; who rose again and ever lives to intercede for those who repent and believe the Gospel. To evangelise is to win disciples, to become fishers of men, to carry the gospel message directly to all nations.

Even prayer, private and public is not evangelism and should not be its substitute. We all pray for our children and grandchildren. But do we ever evangelise them? It is so much easier to talk about them to Christ than to talk to them about Christ.

16 Responses to “Evangelism”

  • Sina Ogundele:

    Thank you, what is the hope of people that God use in the old testament and die before preaching of Jesus christ.

    Also, “born of water and of spirit” is he refering to baptism and speaking in tongues.

    • admin:

      Just like New Testament believers, those in the Old Testament were justified in God’s sight by faith. The long list of Israel’s well-known patriarchs, and judges found in Hebrews 11 teaches New Testament believers that they like us believed the revelation of God given to them. Their faith was such that God was not ashamed to call them their God (v.16); the only thing different was that “God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (v 40). Through our Lord Jesus Christ we have entered in to a new Covenant and in God’s providence he has ordained that they, O/T believers should not enjoy the consummation until we had been brought in to share it.

      In respect of “born of water and of spirit” many commentators believe it is a reference to water baptism and it may be a secondary allusion to baptism but it does sounds out of place in this context to us. Nicodemus should have been familiar with the O/T teaching that a time was coming when God’s ‘spirit’ would be poured out in cleansing his covenant people and equally “water” in the O/T figuratively refers to renewal or cleansing. When “water and spirit” are joined together as in our verse (John 3:5) they depict a scene of transformation where Jesus informs Nicodemus that this is what is required if he wants to enter the kingdom of God. In our view this text has no connection with being baptised in the spirit and speaking in tongues.

  • Sina Ogundele:

    Please can i have full explanation on John 3vs1-5 for better understanding.

    • admin:

      Nicodemus, who himself was a member of the Jewish ruling council, and therefore a distinguished teacher, was fully conscious that the teaching ministry of Jesus was far superior to that of his own for his teaching was accompanied with miracles. One aspect of the teaching ministry of Jesus was the kingdom of God, here he announces entrance into this kingdom was by being born again. Nicodemus no doubt had taught that the conditions of entering into the kingdom of God were based on obedience to God’s commands, devotion to God and submission to his will but he had never heard of the requirement of birth from above. For Nicodemus entering the kingdom of God did not have anything to do with the transformation of an individual’s character but rather participation in the resurrection life at the end of world history.

      As a teacher of Israel he should have realised that the Old Testament taught of a time when God’s spirit would be poured out on mankind and that this would usher in blessing, righteousness, inner renwal and cleansing. The prophets spoke of such a time of new beginnings when Israel would experience cleansing and renewing while individuals would be transformed as their stony hearts melted and once again they would hunger after God. It seems Nicodemus had never thought about the eschatology of the Old Testament in this way.

      To be born again involves a complete reorientation from attempting to become righteous by one’s own effort to complete dependence on the grace of God. Later in this chapter Jesus points out that he is going to be lifted up (on the cross) so “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Those who have been born from above, have on the basis of their repentance, and trust in Jesus Christ experienced the grace of God and become new creatures in Christ Jesus.

  • Pastor Zahirul Biswas (Jacob):

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus from Bangladesh. I am Zahirul Biswas Jacob! My father came to know Christ from a Muslim background. He tried to share the Gospel with me but I didn’t care to listen. But one day I heard Mark 2:17 from a believer friend, it made me inquisitive to know more about the details of Christ. Almost one year I was seeking, finally I learned that, Jesus had given His life for sinners (me) and He rose from the tomb 3 days later and He has gone to heaven preparing that place for us, and he will be coming back soon to carryus there!!! I believed this good news! and then I have received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior in 22 June,1997.
    Whatever I have learned & believe about Jesus, I am trying to apply in my life and to share with my family, friends, neighbors, irrespective of cast & creed, race & ethnicity, so that they also can be free from the load of sins, and enjoy the Everlasting life through Him, here and hereafter. Through my efforts (ministries) (by HIS grace) more than 150 people have become (strong) believers from my background till now!!!
    Local Muslims have come to know about my personal faith & evangelical works. It has made them angry. My family and another 9 families were persecuted many times by the majority group (Muslim 94%). We pass our lives as fugitives. Traditional Christians communities could not give us shelter because (a) they have not economic sufficiency and (b) the fear of imminent persecutions. Persecutions cannot stop us share the Gospel and his Kingdom is expanding in Bangladesh. New house churches are coming up, number of new believers are increasing and they are also trying to reach their own Muslim community like me!!!
    I am searching a Church/Organization like yours, who will be partner both in prayer and in a financial way, so that, I can reach my Vision Goal. Please pray for my ministry and our financial needs. (shortened by being edited)

  • PETER IBUI:

    Dear Christian friends Word of Life school of Theology is a trans-denominational training centre for ministers working among Muslim communities.Our main ministry is to train and equip church leaders on how to witness to Muslims in our neighbourhood. We are seeking financial support to fund a Bible Correspondence course that has been effectively reaching Muslims for the last 5 years.The study has an enrollment of over 470 and we need fund to expand by starting another centre in Isiolo, Garisssa .

  • Mostafa Kamal:

    Greetings in the name of Lord Jesus Christ. I am a converted Christian from the Muslim background. I completed my university education and got diploma in Christian leadership and took pastoral training. Now i am working as a preacher of Good News of Lord Jesus Christ among the Muslim Communities in border belt area of Bangladesh and India.

    I was pleased to see some come to faith in Christ in Balurghat under the district of Dakshin Dinajpur. Now I am looking at a Church in India for working in church planting & preaching. I prayed to God about it and I got finally an answer to announce the gospel to Muslims. Now, I keep request to you, please create an opportunity for me to do the above work for Glorify the Almighty God.
    Sincearly in the name of Christ, Mostafa Kamal.

  • Hi Brothers and Sisters, After reviewing our website: http://www.usfreedom.guardianfaith.org, please contact me if interested in working with us. Blessings. Paul Nissan Staffer – Guardian Faith USA 310-801-9247
    pnissan@sbcglobal.net

  • Pst Stephen Etu E:

    I’m a missionary serving in Mali.Muslim evanglism is the most difficult task. It’s resouce demanding. All my 15 converts are facing persecution. Christains should start seeing soul winning in it’s implicit and explicit cost ie the cost of maintaining the missionary and the persecuted converts.I need supports,training and advice from you.Shalom

    • admin:

      We are aware of the situation in Mali knowing both missionaries and persecuted and poor converts. Thankfully some organisations recognise the need to support both missionaries and Muslim background believers and I am delighted to say that i know that help is being provided to both groups.

  • Pastor Anwar Hossain:

    Dear in Christ
    I am Pastor Anwar Hossain I become a Christian in 1978.I was born into a Muslim family. When I was a high school student I met one evangelical youth team who were selling Bibles, New Testament and other books. One Bengali book attracted me because of the colourful cover. I bought one copy and went back home and read it. A few days later I started thinking about what I read. In our area there are many Christian but their lives and Jesus life about whom I read, were not the same. Why? That was my question. Then I contacted Bible correspondence school in Dhaka and I completed a course. I got a New Testament, read it and compared it with the Quran where I did not find any assurance about salvation. I found the assurance I was looking for in John 14.6 and Acts 4.12. I understood that Jesus was the way of salvation. I surrendered my self to Jesus Christ and prayed; please, come to my heart.
    After my conversion to Christianity I joined Operation of Mobilization team. The team leader asked me if I knew why God called me. Did you pray about your call? At that time I was thinking about my father, mother and other relatives who were Muslims, about how I could give them the Gospel. I prayed about it and I got finally as an answer to announce the gospel to Muslims. I started Muslim evangelism. Now Thirty three years later I still think it is my call. Please pray for our PEC Church planting ministry. Thanks In Jesus

    Pastor Anwar Hossain Prime Evangelistic Church And Chairman, Bangladesh Bible Society. E-mail—anwarrr2000@yahoo.com
    mobile +8801713035701 Mail address Pastor Anwar Hossain
    House no- 5/A, Road no-15( 28 old), Flat no- 1E, Dhanmondi-1209,Dhaka Bangladesh

  • Steven Hamim:

    I am a pastor in a small church. We are involved in evangelism among Muslim people especially the youth. I also came from the Muslim community and feel a burden to Muslim people, so they can have more knowledge about Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. My wife came from the Christian community and we have two sons but my parents and other family members are not believer so I continue pray for them. We now have 105 Church members 55 persons were converted from being Muslims and 30 come from a Hindu backgrounded. God bless you Amen.

    Steven Hamim pastor calvary A.G Church
    Dhaka,Bangladesh.

  • Asher Minhas:

    i want learn about quran and bible are you can help me?

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