Summary: The only duty of the church that can’t be better done in heaven is evangelism.
A PATTERN FOR EVANGELIZING
What is the only duty of the church that can’t be better done in heaven- evangelism.
Now some have the mistaken idea that witnessing can be simply one’s lifestyle without words. I would agree that our lives need to be a witness; however, mere lifestyle does not constitute the whole of evangelism.
Evangelism is faithful proclaiming Jesus Christ by life and lips.
The greatest need for each one who knows Christ as personal Saviour is to be consumed with the truth that all of us are responsible for the work of evangelism and to be committed to engage in that work.
“If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one GO there UNWARNED and UNPRAYED for,” C. H. Spurgeon.
Let’s see the pattern for evangelism practiced by the early church members.
I. The MANDATE THAT COMPELLED
All of us are familiar with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 and its parallel passages in the other gospels.
Christ has given His church the task of bearing the good news of the gospel to a lost world. But knowing and doing can be two different things!
We must notice a few details before taking a look at the mandate given to the disciples. These brethren had already gone through the trauma of Peter and John’s arrest after the healing of the lame beggar in the temple. Now they face the same threat, this time by a more angered group of religious leaders. They were placed in a prison which was the holding place for thieves and murderers. The high priest meant business this time. He was tired of all the commotion with these gospel preachers!
The angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, takes the prisoners out of the jail, and gives them the command to go preach the gospel (20).
God sent an angel to deliver the apostles, but the angel was not sent to preach the gospel! He told the apostles to go, stand, and speak to the people the whole message of this Life (20).
Now, don’t you think this would be an appropriate time for a barrage of excuses? But as you see, we do not find any excuses, only a ready willingness to obey the commands of their Lord!
Christ has commanded us to spread the good news of the gospel. “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed” -- Hudson Taylor.
“Someone asked, ‘Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?’ It is more a question with me whether we -- who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not -- can be saved” -- Charles Spurgeon.
We really have no excuse but our own disobedience for failing to proclaim the gospel! I think that we can find some help by seeing what the angel commanded the disciples and follow their pattern.
A. SUIT UP - GO
They first had to leave the jail and go to the people. That is simple enough, yet it is an important truth for us. They were to go to the unbelieving so that they might testify of the grace of God.
You cannot stay at the entry to the jail and get a whole lot of evangelizing done. You must go where there are people. The disciples made their way to the temple about daybreak, which was the time of prayer in which hundreds would be making their way to an encounter with the gospel.
If we could ever get in mind that the circles in which we find ourselves encountering people are not by chance, but by divine design, it would change our whole attitude about life.
Some of you think that your job is horrible because you have all sorts of wicked people around you. My friend, God has placed you on a mission field--start evangelizing!
We must go for God has told us to go with the gospel! We must go for the world desperately needs what only we have. We must go for multitudes are dying without Christ. “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
B. STAND Up
I think it is interesting that the angel not only told the disciples to "go" but also to "stand." The word conveys the idea of someone who is ’taking a stand’ at a particular spot and fulfilling a purpose. It might be a commando unit that takes a hill and then digs in so that they will not be moved by the enemy. It is the idea that you are staking off your territory, and you will not back down because of anyone.