“As the Father sent me, so I send you.” – John 20:21
Jesus was and remains the greatest evangelist of all time. He came in fulfillment of 4,000
years of promise and prophecy to realize the eternal purpose of God to bring many sons
to glory. Upon leaving this earth, He commissioned His church to proclaim repentance
and faith for remission of sins unto all nations. The parameters of this commission – its
message and methods – are clearly presented in the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts and the Apostolic letters. Several principles emerge from this Biblical material.
What is the Message?
Exclusive Claims of Christ
The core content of the Gospel message is the person and work of Christ as the
only savior of sinners for all human beings for all time. This message must be
presented without compromise. Where necessary, it must also recognize
legitimate dynamics of cultural contextualization. It is vital that the message
remains true to Scripture while being fully accessible to the audience. Jesus Christ
must be fully understood by every hearer as the only God/man mediator between
them and their creator.
Repentance and Faith
In order to be saved a person must embrace Jesus Christ in genuine repentance
and living faith. These two elements are inseparable and reinforce each other in
the act of conversion.
The Lordship of Christ
Faith is the embrace of an entire savior, not just an aspect of His work. Jesus is
both savior and exalted Lord, worthy of our allegiance, love, and obedience. As
He put it Himself, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Or, as the
words of the great commission articulate: “teach them to observe all that I have
Who are the Messengers?
Some men are commissioned specifically by God to call people out of darkness
by preaching the Gospel throughout the world. The circumstances may be varied,
but their message and purpose is the same. The message consists of a simple
presentation of God the creator, a humanity made in His image, that same
humanity fallen in Adam, Christ as a capable and willing savior, and an urgent
call to repentance and faith. Evangelists usually are itinerant and temporary.
Their chief passion is for sinners to be saved.
Other men are commissioned not only to evangelize, but also to engage in the
long-term work of church planting. This requires an extended ministry of
teaching, shepherding, and equipping. Their goal is to establish churches that can
operate on their own according to the word of God. Their chief passion is to see
people grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord as stable and mature saints.
It is the responsibility of all Christians to bear witness to Christ through a personal
confession of their faith and hope in Him.
The Support System
In the New Testament, many and varied people are engaged in helping with the
work of the Gospel. Individual names (Aquila and Priscilla, Tychicus,
Epaphroditus, etc.) and the terminology of “fellow workers” occur regularly.
Their participation is always seen as vital to the success of the gospel mission.