witness

We’ve all heard it said, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism, so I can’t witness.”  But is that true?  Are some given this “gift” and others are not?  Is evangelism a gift?  

What is Evangelism?

Modern dictionaries define evangelism as “the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.” Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it as the promulgation of the gospel.  So what does promulgation mean?  The 1828 dictionary defines promulgate as “to publish” and, in that same dictionary, the primary meaning of the word publish is beautifully defined as:

To discover or make known to mankind or to people in general what before was private or unknown; to divulge, as a private transaction; to promulgate or proclaim, as a law or edict. We publish a secret, by telling it to people without reserve. Laws are published by printing or by proclamation.
Christ and his apostles published the glad tidings of salvation.
Th’ unwearied sun, from day to day, Does his Creator’s power display; And publishes to every land The work of an Almighty hand.

Don’t you just love the way the Webster’s 1828 dictionary uses references to God to explain the meaning of words!  You won’t find that in modern-day dictionaries. I encourage you to use the Webster’s 1828 dictionary to better understand early Bible translations.

Back to our definition:  Evangelizing is really nothing more than sharing (publishing, proclaiming, promulgating) the good news of what Christ has done in our lives. And every Christian is called to evangelize.  Jesus has forgiven our sins, regenerated our souls, and given us His righteousness and eternal life.  How can one keep that to themselves?  We share many aspects of our lives with others.  Today, with social media, we are sharing more and more of what is important to us.  Shouldn’t the gospel of Jesus Christ be one of those important things we share?

So why then do people say “I don’t have the gift of evangelism?”  

First, evangelism is not a gift.  Evangelism is something we do.  It’s proclaiming the gospel to others, and we all have the ability to share what is in our hearts and on our minds.  

If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, You can tell the love of Jesus and say, “He died for all.” ¹

This statement often reveals a lack of confidence of having the knowledge to answer questions that might arise.  Knowledge is not a gift.  It’s something that we obtain through purposeful work.  Reading and studying the Bible increases knowledge and wisdom.  The Holy Spirit promises to teach us and we can trust that He will do so and will empower us to share our knowledge with others.  The Bible has answers to all the questions that arise when witnessing. So if we do not have an answer to a question, we should be quick to say “let me look into that and I’ll find an answer for you.” 

Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend; And if you lack for knowledge, He’ll never refuse to lend. ²

Reasons to Witness

Witnessing (evangelizing) is to be a relevant and significant part of every Christian’s life.  It’s really just telling people about Jesus, who He is, what He’s done for you, and the love and grace He offers to all.

Let’s look at the three primary reasons why we should witness:

  1. The number one reason to witness is our love for Jesus.  When we consider what He has done for us in forgiving our sins and giving us new life in Him, we should be overwhelmed with love and gratitude.  Our joy should serve to “water the seeds” we plant when we share the gospel with others. 
  2. Our hearts should break for that which breaks the heart of Jesus.  The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all will come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  We should have compassion and love for those who do not know Jesus.  They need to hear the gospel of God’s love and Jesus’ saving work that forgives sins (Romans 10:13-14, 17).   We know what is the eternal destiny of the lost (John 3:18) and we do not want anyone to take his last breath without having their sins forgiven and Christ’s righteousness received (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  3. Jesus has commissioned and commanded us to witness (Matt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, John 20:21).  Paul confirmed that witnessing for Christ is our reasonable service (2 Cor 5:20, Eph 6:19-20). In sharing our faith, we fulfill our commission as ambassadors for the gospel and Jesus’ commandment to preach the gospel.

Remember the Three

Let’s summarize the three very simple reasons that should encourage and motivate all Christians to witness.   

  1. We start with Jesus and our love for Him (Commandment #1, Mat 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27).
  2. We show our love for Jesus by loving our neighbor (Commandment #2, Mat 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27)
  3. We remember the Lord’s grace in saving us, His desire to use us as His ambassadors, and HIs command to preach the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 6:19-20)

Where Are You Looking?

Look upward and focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and then look outward and move forward in love to serve your neighbors (Romans 10:15, 2 Corinthians 5:19).  Jesus desires our love and our worship. He also desires that we show His love to others and proclaim His saving grace. If your focus is right, so also will be your heart and actions.  If you look inward first you’ll spend your time trying to meet selfish desires and fleshly needs.  So, look up, then out, and you’ll seldom be looking in.

One of the Biggest Misconceptions in the Church

Evangelism should be thought of as a privilege, a joy, and a proper response to God’s love.  It should also be understood that witnessing, and evangelizing, is not only for the lost. Christian need the gospel too.  One of the biggest misconceptions in the church today is that once someone has been saved they move beyond their need for the gospel.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day, as a way of remembering our great God. The gospel will help us keep our eyes focused on Him, our hearts devoted to Him, and our minds renewed in His Word. 

We are not to move beyond the gospel.
We are to move more deeply into the gospel.

In the fullness and richness of the salvation you have received, share the love and grace of your Saviour with someone today.  And preach the gospel to yourself, remembering …

Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14 )

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When you don’t have the opportunity to speak about your faith, share a tract:

¹ There Is a Balm in Gilead, Old Negro Spiritual
² Ibid.

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