Summary: This message considers the message, meaning and motive of New Testament evangelism
I. THE GREAT COMMISSION
15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. [Mk. 16:15-20]
God wants to remind us that we all have a divine mandate to evangelize our world. Christianity by its very nature is evangelistic. The whole world is perishing due to the ravaging disease of sin, and we have the only cure - Jesus! Every believer is therefore a Missionary, called to witness, proclaim, exhort, testify, etc.
In the above passage as well as Matthew 28:19, the accounts of the great commission are given. Both tell believers to go, preach.
19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matt. 28:19-20]
Luke’s presentation is a bit broader, however.
46And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [Lk. 24:46-47]
In Luke’s passage, the believer is told what he is to go and preach. Here is given the evangelistic message. When Luke speaks of suffering, this signifies the atonement; rise signifies the resurrection; and repentance and remission speaks of forgiveness. This is the message believers are to go and preach. Genuine evangelism is therefore not the easy believism which characterizes much of what churches are preaching today.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
One of the greatest problems with modern evangelism is the concept that evangelism is the responsibility of the clergy. Biblical evangelism is the responsibility of every believer. Proclaiming the gospel is every believer’s responsibility and every believer’s privilege. The world will not be reached with the message of Christ until each individual believer assumes his/her missionary responsibility. God did not send one group or category (the clergy) to evangelize the world. The Bible clearly teaches that it is every believer’s job.
Some famous celebrity preachers and TV evangelists have declared that God has given them the job of proclaiming the Word to the world, and the average Christian’s responsibility is simply to support them (financially) so they can go on more TV channels in more cities. This is not God’s way. Often these ministries end up as nothing more than monuments to one man’s ego. The Word says that no flesh will glory in His presence. Many of these "professional" evangelists have hired professional fund raisers who figure out ways and means to put money into the ministry. Their #1 way is promoting building programs, whether or not the buildings are actually needed. These are all man’s efforts and do not bring glory to God.
Furthermore, such tactics often hinders world evangelism rather than encouraging it. How? Because it removes the “ordinary believer” from the front lines of the battle. The so called “laity” has been lead to believe that because he has given of his finances that fulfills his responsibility. He has given and someone else will spread the Word. Not so. Even Jesus did not attempt to evangelize the entire world of His day. His ministry was confined to a very small area. Jesus sent twelve; then He sent seventy. Then He said for all to go and preach the gospel.
Compare God’s manual for Biblical evangelism -- the book of Acts -- and the modern method of evangelism and you will find not only is it not the same message, but also not the same method.
1And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. [Acts 8:1-4]