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-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net
Editor: Bob Hawley

Finding Your Place In God's Kingdom Order

Lesson 12

By Teresa Seputis

"Evangelist" is mentioned as one of the five-fold offices of Christ in Eph. 4:11. Let us start by looking at that passage in context:

Eph. 4:9-16
He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We see here that Jesus did not put the offices, particularly the office of evangelist, into the church to excuse the Body of Christ from spreading the good news. Rather those in the office of evangelist are expected to train and equip the Body of Christ to be effective witnesses and mature Christians. Evangelists are effective witnesses themselves. God gives them a spiritual authority to be effective in winning the lost. But that is only a part of their function. Jesus also expects His evangelists to train and equip "everyday believers" to become effective witnesses.

In fact, Jesus expects every believer to be His witness. You do not have to be in the office of evangelist to share Christ effectively. If you belong to Jesus, you have been commissioned to share the good news. Let's develop that from Scripture.

Jesus was an evangelist when He walked this earth. He defined the scope of His personal ministry as being sent to the lost sheep of Israel, to bring them back into right relationship with God (Matt. 15:24). When Jesus trained His disciples, He sent them out as evangelists as well. First He sent them to only those lost sheep. Matt. 10:5-7 says, "These 12 Jesus sent out with the following instructions: 'Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: "The kingdom of heaven is near."'" After Jesus sent out the twelve, He sent out 70 others as evangelists to proceed Him everywhere He was about to go (Luke 10:1).

His instructions to the 70 were interesting. Right from the beginning, Jesus complained about the labor shortage (of evangelists) and instructed them to ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up more workers to send out into His field (Luke 10:2). If you think about this, this is interesting. How do we get more workers? Well, first we have to get people saved so that they can become workers in the field. So, Jesus was instructing them to pray for converts and to also pray that God will raise up these converts to become co-workers in spreading the gospel. It should be natural for new converts to grow up into effective witnesses.

When Jesus sent out the disciples, He did not send them out "empty handed" with just words. He sent His power and authority to back them up. Immediately before sending the disciples out as His witness, Jesus "gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness" (Matt. 10:1). Then in verses 7 and 8, Jesus ties preaching the gospel directly to demonstrating God's power. He says, "As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:7-8). When Jesus sent out the 70, they were given similar instructions: "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you'" (Luke 10:9). In short, Jesus sends out His believers to be His witnesses and He backs up their message with His power and authority. The 70 returned amazed that they could move in Jesus' authority to heal and cast out demons (Luke 10:17). They had this authority because when Jesus sends us out as His witnesses, He empowers us and backs up His words with His authority.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He spent a little bit of time with His followers, and then He went back to His Father in Heaven. Jesus' parting instructions were a commission to His followers and to ALL people who would become His followers in the future. Those instructions included being His witnesses "in all the world" (Mark 16:15) and moving in His power with signs following (Mark 16:17), including healing the sick (Mark 16:18). Those instructions were not just for those who were present at Christ's ascension, they were for all believers. Jesus said in Matt. 28:18-20, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Jesus said that those who walked with Him were to teach the rest of us to observe all the things Jesus commanded them to do. He commanded them to be His witnesses in His power/authority (casting out demons, healing the sick, etc).

Thus, we see that His command to those disciples is passed on to the rest of us as well. Each one of us is to move in His power and authority and each of us is to be His witness. We must not default on this, leaving it only to those with the "gift of evangelism." We must not look to those in the office of evangelist to be the only ones to spread the good news and bring others into a life-giving relationship with Jesus.

Now the Bible does say that some people are called into the office of evangelist. They are given a part of Jesus' mantle and authority to share the good news effectively (Eph. 4:11). In other words, all of us are to do it, but these guys are specially gifted to be very good at doing it. We know that apostle Paul was really good at winning the lost. Even though Paul did work that was similar to what an evangelist does, the Bible does not call him an evangelist - it calls him an apostle. However, there are some people the Bible explicitly calls an evangelist. One of them is Timothy. Paul explicitly commissions him in 2 Tim. 4:5 to "do the work of an evangelist." Also, Acts 46:8 refers to Philip as an evangelist. So we see that God really does raise up some specialists in evangelism. He began doing so in the earliest days of the church and He has never stopped doing so.

There are many well-known people alive today who operate in that "office." Perhaps the most well known is Billy Graham. I believe he is a wonderful model of what Eph. 4:11 meant by evangelist. Let's look at him for a few seconds. One of my professors at Fuller Seminary used to be a part of Billy Graham's staff. He used to travel to various cities where Billy was about to go and train the believers there in how to share their faith. I took an evangelism course at seminary from this man, and I learned a lot about how Billy Graham runs his organization.

Billy Graham doesn't just pop into a city, hold a crusade and then pop out again. First, he will not work in a city where the various churches and denominations won't work together in unity. Pastors have to come together and start working together long before Billy Graham comes to their city, and if the pastors and churches won't do that, Bill Graham won't come. Billy doesn't just want to have masses of people come up for his altar call - he is not into statistics. Billy wants a healthy system of churches in place to help make disciples out of these new converts. He wants a place for them to go to get follow-up and discipleship so they can grow and mature in their new faith. So his organization starts working with the local pastors and churches way up front many months before he comes to an area. There are citywide prayer meetings and pastors' meetings, etc. Unity is promoted. Loving the lost and discipling new believers is promoted.

Then a few months before the crusade, Billy has training programs to train the counselors. There are classes offered by staff members in various churches in the area, where they train people how to share their faith. You can't be a counselor at his crusades unless you go through this training. The course lasts three or four weeks and covers much more than just what to do at the altar at one of his crusades. The goal of this training is not just to get altar workers. It is to raise up and train the Body of Christ on how to be effective witnesses. I had received this training as a part of my Fuller Seminary evangelism course. I received it again when Billy Graham held a crusade in my area and I signed up to be one of the counselors. It is excellent training; I enjoyed and benefited from it both times.

Also as a counselor, you make a commitment to follow up with each person you lead to the Lord. You promise to contact them multiple times to see how they are doing in their walk with God, to help them with questions that they may have as new believers, to encourage them to go to a local church, etc. The goal was not just to get someone to "pray the prayer," but to help them grow and mature into disciples.

An evangelist never promotes himself or uses his office as a platform for his/her pet issues. The evangelist always points to Jesus and lifts Him up. I remember watching a Billy Graham interview on CNN one time. The interviewer wanted to get Billy's opinion on current events, but Billy kept bringing it back to the good news. So the interviewer tried to sidetrack him with emotionally laden issues. He did this over and over again, asking questions like "what about homosexuals?" And each time he did this, Billy kept pointing back to Jesus and the gospel. He shared it in a positive and loving manner. Billy, in true form as an Eph. 4:11 evangelist, kept the point and focus on Jesus and on the good news of what He did for us.

Some of the modern-day evangelists operate primarily through "godly persuasion" (like Billy Graham). Others move heavily in power gifts, because signs and wonders back up the proclamation of the gospel, such as Reinhard Bonnke, Benny Hinn, etc.

-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

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