‘…do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.’ (2 Timothy 4:5 ESV)
Paul told the young Timothy that if he was to fulfil his ministry he was to ‘do the work of an evangelist’. Although this was a specific instruction given to a particular person, the sentiments are true for the Christian church as a whole and for us as members of that church.
In giving specific instructions to the disciples, which wasn’t for them alone but also for the church, Jesus said,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
Here we are given the scope of the command – ‘To all nations’; and we are given the length of the command – ‘To the end of the age’. This shows that this command could not have been limited to the disciples since they would not be able to reach ‘all nations’ on their own and the end of the age is still awaited.
This passage in Matthew’s gospel gives us some helpful insights for evangelism:
1. The church’s authority for evangelism is from Jesus
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v.18). Everything springs from this verse. Miss this and we will not be able to evangelise properly.
All authority means Jesus has the last word on everything; He is the one who opens up life on earth and the door to heaven. Christianity isn’t meant to be a personal thing; Jesus here gives us the right to tell others about the gospel.
It was C.S. Lewis who called God
‘The great interferer’ (Surprised by Joy, p172) and He give us permission to interfere.
2. The church’s priority in evangelism
Jesus clearly tells us what the mission of the church is:
‘Go therefore and make disciples’ (v.19). The inward life of the church is important: Worship services, sermons, prayer, Bible studies and fellowship. But the priority of the church is to reach outside to those who are not yet Christians and bring them the good news about Jesus Christ.
3. The church’s promise for evangelism
All of this emphasis on mission can seem quite daunting. Thankfully we are not alone in this task:
‘behold, I am with you always’ (v.20). The church is to join with Christ in His mission of reconciliation and so will never be evangelising its own strength or on its own.
The church following Jesus’ command will be a speaking church; speaking about Him.
Should I speak to this person? – Yes, it’s to ‘all nations’.
Should I do it today? – Yes, ‘to the end of the age’.
Let’s do the work of an evangelist, for ‘
the fields are white for harvest’ (John 4:35), and fulfil the ministry Jesus has given us.
Father, please give us a boldness to speak out for Jesus, and continually remind us that the one with all authority is in us wherever we go.