It doesn’t take too long, upon searching the Word of God, to see that there is a clear direction and command to the born-again Christian: evangelism must take place in the truly converted heart. With many different methods on how we share the gospel—whether it is by striking up a conversation with family members or with strangers, handing out gospel literature, going door-to-door, having one-on-one conversations, gospel street preaching, or social media—the Christian should be evangelizing. In fact, we not only see the apostles as an example we are to emulate, but we see Jesus Christ, the King of Kings Himself, has given the directive to His church to do so and even to pray to the Father for more laborers.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.Matt 28:19-20
And the master said to the slave, “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.”Luke 14:23
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”Acts 1:7-8
While we know that Christ has blessed the church body with different gifts, we see this directive for evangelism clearly given to all Christians. Yet, important questions remain. Why are there so few in Christian churches who evangelize? Why are there so many Christians who have the wrong idea of what evangelizing is? And why do some professing Christians speak against other Christians who go out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Could it be a fear of rejection of their friends or the world around them, complacency, bad theology, or teaching? Maybe it is a combination of these and other reasons. We most certainly could go into greater detail, but I want to discuss what is of most importance for all of us: the urgency to get the gospel message into the ears of the unregenerate.
Indeed, how we view the urgency to evangelize, will, in large measure, shape both our understanding and our drive for reaching out to the lost. Additionally, our view of evangelism is directly connected to what Jesus referred to as the two greatest commandments because in this activity we demonstrate our love for God’s glory and our love for people’s eternal souls (Matt 22:38-39). My hope is that this would be an encouragement to you to share your faith. Please allow me to share with you a few simple truths.
The World We Live In
If you have not already noticed, we live in a very interesting, somewhat unique, time in history, in which information is available to us at the click of a button. While this can be a good thing when you need to find the answer on the fly, it can also be dangerous because the information that is available is not always is true. That is why there are websites dedicated to helping people know if a picture in question is indeed legitimate or a photoshopped creation.
In addition to our need to verify the authenticity of pictures and documents, contemporary academia has been propagating, for some time now, what is known as postmodernism. Postmodernism is an approach to knowledge that says that you, as an individual, have your own truth. Rather than submitting to a universal set of laws or ethics, you determine what is right and wrong. These societal developments are simply what Scripture says will happen when people are given over to the futility of their minds.
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.Eph 4:17-18; cf. Rom 1:21
This worldview, at its very center, is humanistic. In other words, man is the center of all things, rather than God being the center of all things. As we see this worldview becoming more mainstream, the gospel sounds more and more like foolishness in the ears of the unregenerate. “For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18).
Granted, it can be scary to try something new while not knowing what the outcome of sharing your faith will be. But if we understand Scripture at this point, there should be no shock or mystery as to how non-Christians, with their current worldview, will likely respond to the gospel message. There is, however, a promise from Christ that His sheep will hear His voice (John 10:27). So, we have the two possible outcomes from the people who we evangelize to presented to us in Scripture: offence or repentance. This takes the guessing out of the equation and can give us confidence, but we should never base our effectiveness on the response of people to whom we are talking. Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. But this draws us back to our original question: if salvation is the work of the Spirit, why the urgency?
Here’s the reason. No one is saved—I repeat—no one is saved apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Expecting someone to come to the saving knowledge of Christ and experience regeneration based on something other than the gospel is not how God saves. Romans 10:14-15 shows us the means by which God has determined how one comes to understand the gospel and be saved.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
God sovereignly saves whomever He wills (Rom 8:29-30), but if the people around us are going to be saved, it will only be through the gospel.
Paul understood the urgency of evangelism: “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor 9:16). Yes, Paul was an apostle with a unique mission, but he also demonstrates the heart of a man enflamed by the gospel and burdened by the lostness of men and women. James understood the shortness of life and even described it as a vapor (James 4:14).
The Reality of Hell
With these truths in mind, one of the greatest motivators to boldness and urgency in evangelism is the very real and terrifying reality of hell. Some of our own family members, loved ones, friends, and coworkers will face an eternity in judgment apart from Jesus Christ, under the full wrath of a holy and righteous God. They will go to a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness, separated from the goodness and pleasure of the Lord, where they will be tormented in both body and soul, both day and night, with no chance for parole and no end to the justly deserved punishment (see Matt 13:42; 24:46; Rev 14:11). We should often remind ourselves of the horror of hell and the fact that many on are the wide path leading to destruction.
Realistically, what does it matter what some person thinks about us when they’re currently on their way to an eternal hell? Their present spiritual situation alone should motivate us to overcome our insecurities and graciously and lovingly tell all in our path of both the goodness and the severity of God.
As I close, I want to address you who are my fellow heirs in Christ by recalling a quote from the prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon: “If sinners are damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
Let this be a loving motivation in our boldness to those outside of Christ. Love God by obeying Him, love your neighbor by warning him, and share the gospel that says they can have forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life by grace, through faith, in Christ alone.