Summary: Did you realize most English Bibles never uses the word "evangelism?" The Greek word "euanggelion" is actually translated "Gospel"... but what does that mean? And how can that impact how we witness for Christ?
OPEN: There’s a true story about a church down south where the preacher had been preaching about the importance of witnessing to people about Christ. One particular person took this to heart – a mentally handicapped young man – and he began telling everyone who would listen about Jesus and asking if they’d like to become Christians.
One particular Sunday a skeptic came to visit the church. He didn’t want to be there. His family had invited him and it was more out politeness than anything else that he was there. And then this boy approached him and asked if he wanted to become a Christian.
"NO!" the man responded.
The slow witted boy looked at him for a moment and then responded:
"Well, then you can go to hell,"
And he turned away and left.
For the next few weeks we’re going to be looking at several unique Christian Words.
“CHRISTIANEZE” is what we’re calling this series, and the first of those Christianeze kind of words we’re going to examine is “Evangelism”.
Now, when many people in the world hears this word “Evangelism” what they often hear Christians saying is “You’re Going To Hell”.
And there’s a reason they would think that. Many Christians believe that they NEED to talk about HELL if they’re going to witness properly. On Facebook I read this statement:
“Hell is not solved by Stop, Drop and Roll. In Hell There Is Weeping, Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth.”
On the internet I also found a Gospel tract that had this on its cover:
“Heaven Or Hell? You could die today”.
And on the inside of the tract was this phrase:
“Are You Going To Hell? Do you care for your soul?”
Then it went on to ask if the reader had ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, basically explaining that all this made it so the reader deserved to be in hell.
It’s because of statements and tracts like these that people of this world that believe that the main focus of evangelism is to tell folks “You’re all going to hell… and I just thought I’d let you know!”
HOLD THAT THOUGHT FOR JUST A MOMENT
The first thing I want to do this morning is answer a question:
What DOES Evangelism mean?
The Greek word is “eu-anggelion”
“Eu” means “good” (as in “Eulogy” where the preacher says “Good Words” about the deceased)
And “Angeelion” (a similar word “angel”) that means “message”.
Literally, Evangelism means “Good Message” or “Good News”
I examined a number of Bible translations and found that “eu-anggelion” was never translated “Evangelism/ Evangelistic” in any of them. Every time that word “Eu-anggelion” shows up in the New Testament the English word they use is GOSPEL.
So… both “Evangelism” and “Gospel” are translations of the same Greek word, and they both mean “Good News”
Now (pause) is there a real Hell? YES
Are there people who are going to go to hell when they die? YES
Is telling people they’re going to hell “Good News” NO.
ILLUS: Some time back I read an interesting observation by someone.
He noted that Jesus DID talk a fair amount about hell.
For example, Jesus said “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:29
So, Jesus talked about Hell… but He never seemed to use hell to convert anyone.
For example, when Jesus met the woman at the well, He never mentioned hell.
And the woman caught in adultery about whom Jesus said “He that is without sin…” – Jesus never mentioned Hell to her either.
The closest I could find to Jesus mentioning Hell was when He healed the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Afterwards Jesus said to this man “… Stop sinning or SOMETHING WORSE may happen to you.” John 5:1
Hmmm… so Jesus never used Hell as part of His message to convert folks.
Now that makes sense when you remember Jesus’ ministry was recorded in GOSPELS.
Do you remember what the word Gospel means? (“Good News”)
What is the “Good News”
Well, we all know John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
You know that verse don’t you?
But many people don’t know the NEXT verse that says:
“For God DID NOT send his Son into the world to CONDEMN THE WORLD; but to save the world through him.” John 3:17
The Good News is that Jesus did not come to this world to condemn us to hell.
He came to save us from it.