Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No Substitute For Evangelism

"The seed is the word of God" Luke 8:11 (ESV)

The word evangelism is used lots of different ways today. Most of this usage is unbiblical. If we are to claim to have restored the New Testament church, we need to learn to use the key words of the Bible the way the Bible uses them.

The word evangelism is a transliteration of euangelizesthai, which is a verb meaning "to proclaim the gospel" (the gospel being euangelion). Where no proclamation has taken place, there has been no evangelism. Where something other than the biblical gospel has been proclaimed, there has been no evangelism.

Good deeds, hard work, dedication, honesty, and kindness are all good things, but they are not evangelism. These other good things may help prepare people to hear the word of salvation (Titus 2:9-10), but until that word has been spoken we have not evangelized.
A farmer needs to prepare his ground. If it is new ground he clears it of trees, rocks, and other obstructions. The ground must then be plowed and harrowed. But the job is not done until he has planted the seed. No matter how well he has plowed, the farmer has no hope of a harvest until he has planted the seed. Likewise, until the gospel word has been presented, the church has no hope of a harvest of souls.

Benevolence is benevolence. It is a good thing, but it is not evangelism. Edification is edification. It also is a good thing, but it is not evangelism. Nothing is evangelism except the proclamation of the gospel. These other good things may be important preliminaries to the proclaiming of the gospel - just as clearing and plowing and harrowing prepare for sowing the seed. But unless the word has been planted we have not evangelized.

Jesus did not just set a good example and expect people to be converted. He spoke the word. We do not set nearly as good of an example as he did, so we must not hide behind claims that we have evangelized by means of good deeds. If Jesus needed to speak the word, we need to speak the word.

There is no substitute for evangelism. Until the gospel has been proclaimed, there has been no evangelism.

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