“The Master’s Plan of Evangelism”

 

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by Rev. Dr. Otis T. McMillan
“It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go out. A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms; just as a fire that does not burn is a contradiction.” Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 162.H. Richard Niebuhr summarized the core of liberal theology in a single sentence. This shows how and why many churches have lost their zeal for evangelism. “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ with a cross.” (Source: Michael Moriaty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World. p. 86)

In Matthew 10:5-42, Jesus commissioned his disciples to take the Gospel to the lost. This passage reveals some key principles of the Master’s plan for effective evangelistic ministry. Jesus was clear about where the disciples were to go, what they were to preach, what they were to do, and why they should do it. Each follower of Christ has a part to play.

GO TO THE LOST SHEEP – It is expected that all who are Christ’s disciples will be engaged in some type of evangelism ministry. The function of a shepherd is to seek and to save those who are lost. Disciples of Christ will do research, strategize and carry out evangelism ministries first in their Jerusalem, then their Judeas, then their Samarias and even to the utter most parts of the earth. (Acts 1:8) Jesus assumes that as Christians we will be going to seek to bring the lost back to reconciliation with the Chief Shepherd. Disciples who are not involved with evangelism are living in disobedience to the Lord. Worse yet, disciples who are not doing evangelism are not living in harmony with their identity as Christ’s followers. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Evangelism is not an option for a disciple of Christ Jesus. Let us be decisive, determined and directed about evangelism ministries.

PREACH THE KINGDOM OF GOD -The Kingdom literally means, “King’s dominion or control.” We are to declare the advantages of each individual personally making Christ Savior and Lord. Explain that it all begins with a personal relationship with Christ who is the door to heaven. Before people will agree to submit to Christ’s control they need to be introduced to the loving King and Shepherd. Jesus said, ” I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) By helping people learn how to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness they will see that all of their other needs are then taken care of through Lord’s blessings.

FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED FREELY GIVE – Evangelism is an expression of our overflowing gratitude for what the Lord has done for us through Jesus Christ. We are to do evangelism and outreach ministries with an attitude of grace. We are not to feel that we are doing something above and beyond the call of duty. Doing evangelism should come out of an overflow of our gratitude for what the Lord has done for us. We should be like the four lepers who discovered gold in the camp in 2 Kings 7:9 said, “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” If people do not share the good news of Christ they will be held accountable for their failure to share the cure for sin and eternal life through saving faith in Christ Jesus. There are consequences for failure to share the good things God has given us.

MEET NEEDS – Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matt. 10:8) Christ teaches us that we are to meet physical, emotional, mental, social, cultural and spiritual needs of people we are ministering too. Someone has said, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We need to begin where we are, right now in sowing seeds of kindness to meet the needs of the people we are ministering too. God will see that His will is carried out if we will simply trust and obey His commands.

TRUST GOD FOR SUPPORT – Jesus said, “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses.” (Matt. 10:9) Know that the Lord will supply you with all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19) Some people hesitate to do evangelism because they do not think they have enough knowledge, resources or emotional strength. Let them realize that as we move ahead in God’s will we will not lack any good thing. Hudson Taylor, the famous pioneer missionary to China, said, “God will done in God’s way will not lack God’s support.” The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

WORK WITH THE RESPONSIVE – Jesus said, “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it.” (Matt. 10:11, 12) Ask the Lord to lead you to people and communities and groups where you can find a fit with you and your message. Some places will be suitable for some evangelists but not others. Realize that many times people reject the message because of the messenger. Many social-cultural-educational points of resonance are necessary before people will welcome you and your message. Birds of a feather tend to flock together. Many missionaries are learning that by working through local evangelists they are far more successful as the local messengers are considered credible because they are trusted because of their language, social, cultural and educational identification with their audience.

PASS BY THE UNRESPONSIVE – Jesus said, “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matt. 10:14,15) Do not take rejection personally. Do not internalize criticism as many people are reacting out of conviction of their sins. Jesus said, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects Me but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:15,16) Give those who reject you over to the Lord, as He is fully able to deal with them in His own time and way.

EXPECT OPPOSITION – Jesus said, “Be on your guard against men, they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in the synagogues. This indicates that there will be opposition both from the world as well as in the halls of the religious. We should prepare our minds and hearts to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Take up the full armor of God so you can stand in the evil day. (Eph. 6:10-18) We can be sure that we are able to overcome any opposition as we are commanded, “Do not be overcome evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21)

DO NOT BE AFRAID – Fear is probably the main reason why people do not do more evangelism. They are afraid of what other people might think, do or say. Jesus said, “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known… Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:26-28) The fear of God is a great antidote to the fear of men. David wrote, “Oh fear the Lord you His saints. For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions may lack and suffer hunger, but they who seek the Lord will not lack one good thing.” (Psa. 34:9)

EXPECT OPPOSITION FROM THE UNEXPECTED – Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36) Some of the people who we might think are to be our allies may end up opposing God’s priority purposes in our lives.

RESULTS ARE NOT OUR ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY – Know that it is the responsibility of each person to trust Christ as his or her Savior. People are not rejecting you but they are rejecting Christ and His message which is their responsibility. Jesus said, “It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matt. 10:15) The judgment will come to any and all who reject Christ and the gospel of His kingdom. Paul wrote, “For every one will give an account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12) Do not take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God. For as it is written, Vengeance is mine says the Lord I will repay.” (Rom. 12:19,20)

WHEN PERSECUTION BECOMES UNBEARABLE, FLEE – Jesus said, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” (Matt. 10:23) We are to be at peace with all men as far as it is possible. But there may come a time when the heat of persecution is so severe that it is best to flee to another area where you can have another opportunity to help advance Christ’s kingdom in qualitative and quantitative measures. Occasionally it is best to withdraw so you can live to fight the good fight for another day instead of dying and getting spiritually and emotionally defeated in one community or ministry.

DELIVER THE MESSAGE – Our job is to deliver the message of the gospel not to worry about the results. Too many people hesitate to share the gospel because they are afraid that it will not result in converts. Fundamentally, we are to trust and obey the Lord’s command to go and preach the gospel, regardless of whether or not the message is received. Bill Bright, the founder and former President of Campus Crusade for Christ teaches, “Evangelism is sharing the gospel of Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to God.” A good steward just takes the meal from the kitchen and serves it up on the table without messing up the ingredients along the way. We are to be good stewards of the gospel.

TEMPER YOUR DECLARATION WITH DISCERNMENT – We are to continue to give the truth to those who are ready to listen. But Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. But ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find and knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:6, 7) Realize that there are some people who we are to avoid knowing full well that they are looking for ways to use our words against us. Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Ask the Lord to give you the wise discernment as to whom you should share the truth with. In the mean time continue to let your light so shine before men that they can see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:16)

SUPPORT THE WORK OF EVANGELISM – Jesus said, “And if anyone who gives even a cup of water to one of these little ones (a Bible preaching and evangelistic prophet) because he is my disciple. I tell you the truth; he will certainly not lose his reward. (Matt 10:40-42) Do all that you can to support evangelism, church planting and outreach for Christ around the world. Let’s do our part in carrying out Christ’s Great Commission.

Are you doing the work of an evangelist? When God opens doors for you, do enter them or do you walk the other way? What is your response to what Paul wrote, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” What will you do about your evangelistic responsibilities?