Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul - Tuesday, April 22, 2014
What Is Evangelism?
Now that we have defined the Gospel, we will begin looking at what it means to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Evangelism is the term we use to refer to the preaching of the Gospel. It comes from the same Greek word for gospel (euangelion) and means, literally, “gospeling.” When we evangelize we are “gospeling” — we are spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is one way in which we can fulfill Christ’s call to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). In biblical categories, witnessing involves making visible what is otherwise invisible. The reality to which we bear witness is the invisible kingdom of God, and in witnessing we strive to make the Lord’s reign visibly manifest. Among the many ways we can bear witness to Jesus is through loving our fellow believers. We reveal to the world that we belong to our Savior when we love other Christians (John 13:34–35). Celebrating the Lord’s Supper proclaims visibly the Lord’s death until He comes again (1 Cor. 11:26). In preaching the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our evangelism, we are also helping to make visible the invisible reality of Christ.
The distinction between witnessing and evangelism is important because it is easy to think we are evangelizing when all we are doing is bearing witness to the Savior. Giving one’s testimony is a good thing, but it is not evangelism. Testifying to the work of God in our lives bears witness to what Christ has done for us; it does not by itself give the content of the Gospel. Living a righteous life manifests the work of the Holy Spirit, but we have not evangelized our neighbor if we have never shared the Gospel with him. No one is converted by our kindness or honesty; they are brought into the kingdom of heaven only through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:25–34).
God has created us with different personalities and gifts, and some of us are more adept at the verbal proclamation of the Gospel than others. Nevertheless, declaring the message of salvation through Christ is the responsibility of us all, and we must seek opportunities to preach the Gospel. Only if we confess Him before men will He confess us before the Father (Matt. 10:32–33).
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Declaring the Gospel is a job given to every Christian, but we can hardly preach the good news of Jesus Christ if we do not know any unbelievers. How many non-Christians do you know? If you do not have any contact with non-Christians, look for an opportunity to make contact with a neighbor, co-worker, or someone else. This week let us all share the Gospel with at least one person who does not know the Savior.
For further study:
The Bible in a year: