The evangelists are those who proclaims the good news, either by preaching or writing. Evangelists are part of the five-fold ministry, along with pastors, teachers, prophets and apostles. Evangelism is our first concern in the world and that is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. We are to prepare ourselves to be worthy to meet Jesus when He comes for His Bride, then we will be able to lift Him up and draw all men unto Him. We preach Christ and Him crucified but He preached that we should crucify ourselves and take up His cross. We have not the right to bring anyone to Jesus if we are not willing to come to Him ourselves completely, as the holy and sanctified vessels that He wants us to be

There were originally evangelists or preachers who, without being fixed to any church, preached wherever they were led by the Holy Spirit, like missionaries. Such were Philip and Timothy and others, gospel writers which bring to all men the glad tidings of eternal salvation.

In a general sense an evangelist is anyone who proclaims the mercy and grace of God, especially as unfolded in the gospel. It came however, to be employed in the early church as the designation of a special class, as in "He gave to some.. evangelists."

For myself, I do not think that I have the gift. I mean, I can share the Lord with others and I have brought others to a saving knowledge of Christ but as far as the gift, like the gift of prophecy or apostleship, I do not have the gift of evangelism. Maybe I do and don't know it. I do know that there will be a time in the future where I will not just be writing but be speaking to groups and laying hands on them and doing healing and all that. Up to now, it has mainly been a ministry to believers, the gift of evangelism is to non-believers and getting them saved.

When we think of evangelists, the mind conjures up the kind of person that preach to thousands of people at once like in a tent revival or a travelling evangelist in the churches. We think of Billy Graham and Oral Roberts or ones that have a big TV or radio ministry or missionaries sent to evangelize other parts of the world. Jesus has told us to go out into the world and preach the gospel. The word gospel comes from the word evangel - the good news. That means to bring the gospel to others is to evangelize. All of us should be bringing the gospel to the nations, especially our own. We are to start in our Jerusalem which is in our own neighborhood and our own city, then unto Samaria, which is the other side of wherever we are at, even if it is those people that we naturally look down on, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. That is our responsibility as Christians - to evangelize. This is what has been commissioned to us.

If Jesus has told us to go - and He has - then it is our responsibility to go. We may or may not have that ministry office of evangelist but if we are told to go out and evangelize, then we should at least be asking for the spiritual power to carry that about. This is perhaps the hardest thing for many of us to do but the time to speak salvation has always been now. In my own life, I have seen so much hypocrisy in the church, so much backbiting and division, so much hatred and condemnation masquerading as spiritual authority that I can really see what others see as well. I must be able to look into the inner depths of my own soul to be able to recognize what my own problems are before I can come to the point that spiritual boldness takes over what previously can only be described as fear. Others have seen the hypocrisy in the church, they have seen the preachers and evangelists trying to part them from their money, they have seen the church used as a tool of self-righteousness bigotry, prejudice and persecution. My problem is the fear of rejection; I do not want others to see me in the light of what Christianity is perceived to be. I would rather just live out my Christianity and let me see my love for them instead of bringing them the gospel of Jesus Christ and trying to get them saved. I would be hypocritical myself if I would not do what I can to GO before I ask you to. Nevertheless, I would be amiss if I did ask you to do the things that I see is necessary for us to evangelize the world. Go into every part of wherever you are and preach to all people. Go into the world and show them the love of Jesus not only by your actions but also by your words of the testimony of Jesus. There, it is said. I must do what I can to fulfil my part and ask you to do what you can to fulfil yours.

Lord Jesus, give us that gift of evangelism, give us that boldness to approach others with your word and with your love. Give us the opportunities to share our testimony and give us the strength and power to make our own opportunities. Make us vessels of your honor and give us the wisdom and knowledge to spread your message in spirit and in truth. What is that gift of evangelism? I see it listed as one of the five-fold ministries, but not as a gift. Maybe there is not really a gift of evangelism but all the spiritual gifts support this one function in all of us. We are not all prophets or apostles or have the gift of tongues or interpretation but maybe we should all be evangelists. Is the church fulfilling its rightful role in the world? Or are we all just praising the Lord that we are saved and then keeping it to ourselves?

Evangelism is the key that unlocks the glory of the Second Coming. There can not be an effective harvest if the seed is not sown. We need to search the scriptures to learn how this seed is planted. Salvation comes from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ but it has to be the true Jesus and not a false one. Jesus prepares the heart as soil is prepared for the seed, once the seed is sown, it grows to maturity or it does not. This is what we learn from the Bible and Jesus teaches us that the seed is sown in the heart by us hearing the word of the kingdom. Jesus sows the good seed that bears fruit and the enemy sows the bad seed, but it is through us that it happens one way or another. If the seed is the Word of God and comes by hearing, then someone must be there to speak the word so that others can hear. This is not the word of God spoken in a church for the church is generally made up of those that have already heard. Peter writes of us being born again of incorruptible seed by the word of God and ultimately that comes from God but yet it is through the word spoken in us.

One thing that we have learned is that evangelism is a gift and must be in the power of the Holy Spirit if we are to evangelize. The only way that one can hear the word of the Lord and be saved is if someone is SENT to them. What I am learning here is that those that go without being sent are defeating the purpose of the soil being prepared. Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons are good examples of those being sent by the evil one. They do not go in the power of the spirit, they go from a sense of duty according to their false doctrine and it is in the power of the flesh. We must be careful not to fall into the same category. I still believe however, that we do have a responsibility to make sure that there are those sent into the harvest. Whether we go ourselves or equip others to go or just pray that the Lord will send workers into the field, we should be doing something to bring others into the kingdom. It was mentioned before that it is sheep that reproduce sheep, not the shepherd. Ideally, this means that we have first sought the kingdom and His righteousness in our own lives. If we have done that, then we should be asking and listening to the Lord who will give us the power to know exactly what it is that we should do. One thing we are to do is to be a light to the world. Is that light shining or not?

Their are a few disagreements concerning the methods, effectiveness or even the validity of evangelism. There are however disagreements of whether we should even be evangelizing or not. These range from the Great Commission as not even being spoken by Jesus and our Christian example should be enough, to evangelism not bringing others to Christ because of all the poor evangelists in the past. There is, I think valid reasons for thinking that way and it is certainly our responsibility to reach the poor by our example and in many cases as being sufficient. The confusion as to what evangelism is, is that it should be bringing others the good news of a spiritual kingdom, not just the precepts of a religion. The kingdom is to be preached to the poor but that is my point, the gospel needs to be preached as well as lived out, not only in the witness of Jesus but in the power of His name and according to His word. Evangelism has been misused in the past, there is no dispute on that score. There have been those that have brought false doctrine and denominationalism and unscriptural dogma in the past as money grubbing, authoritarian purveyors of crass nationalism and exploitation. But we are to do a new thing here and not be bogged down by the mistakes of the past. We are to put away those things and press on to the higher calling. This means that there are some of us who should be planting and some of us who should be watering and some who should praying for the Lord to work in all of us for Him to bring in the increase and harvest. We are His body, living out His life.

So what is the consensus - are we all evangelists? No, but whether we are or not, evangelism should be a primary concern and if we are not to do it ourselves, we should do everything that we can to help spread the gospel. In this light, I believe that we are all agreed upon this.

Paul writes to Timothy that: "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us." Jesus said "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Of course we have free will, Peter denied that he knew Jesus three times but later on he preached: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." It was the promised gift of the Holy Ghost that made the difference in Peter. Accept it or reject it, the choice is always ours.

Many believe in Jesus according to salvation but what of the gift of the Holy Ghost? Many evangelists don't even teach this and of those that do, many stress a particular gift instead of the giver. With ignorance on one side and confusion on the other side from so many of them, there is much dissatisfaction.

The bottom line in our witness is that of love. You are doing the right thing in bringing love and compassion to people, even without a gospel message. The one thing that I know for sure in is that when you look into the eyes of a poor person, you will see the eyes of Jesus. You have looked for Jesus in your own way and have found Him. I heard a story of a man that was looking for Jesus but could not find Him, he looked for the love in his brother and did find him and the three of them walked away together. When the day of reckoning comes for us, Jesus tells us that it will not be the ones that have just prophesied in His name but those that have fed the hungry, visited the sick and clothed the naked, in this we are serving the Lord.
[Evangelism was a topic of the latter rain discussion list as part of the five-fold ministry]

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