Biblical evangelism is the faithful proclamation of the good news about Jesus Christ through which we invite unbelievers to repent from their sin and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, full pardon and justification from God, and entrance into a new life of holiness (Luke 24:46-49; 1 Cor 15:1-4, Rom 3:21-26; 6:1-4; 10:17).
The proclamation of the gospel is the first step in our obedience to the great commission, Christ’s command to make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28:18-20). While not every evangelistic encounter will lead to making a new disciple, it is our goal that upon every profession of faith, the new believer will be brought into a discipleship relationship at the local church level at Creekside Bible Church (CBC).
There are many ways we might fulfill Christ’s call to proclaim the gospel: in one-on-one settings or small groups, from the pulpit or lectern on Sunday, through social media or video conversations, or on the highways and hedges through individual conversations, door-to-door evangelism, or street–preaching (Luke 14:23). And, while individual methods may differ, every believer is called to proclaim the good news with others (1 Cor 11:1; 1 Pet 2:9).
Although there are many ways we might fulfill Christ’s command to proclaim the gospel, it is His design that we anchor our evangelistic efforts in the local church (see Acts 13:1-3; Eph 4:11). A ministry of autonomous, unaccountable evangelism is neither healthy for the evangelist nor helpful to those with whom he or she is sharing the gospel (Prov 18:1). For this reason, CBC seeks to train, equip, and send evangelists into the greater San Francisco Bay Area who will remain accountable to our local body and represent Christ and CBC in ways that befit a Christian.
Whether or not an evangelistic encounter leads to a profession of faith and discipleship, however, does not necessarily indicate whether the evangelist has proclaimed the gospel faithfully. We see in the book of Acts that there were many times when the apostles were met with unbelief although they proclaimed the gospel clearly and accurately (see for example, Acts 5:33; 7:54-60; 14:19-23).
Faithful evangelism is primarily the proclamation of the gospel, but will also include, when appropriate, a defense of the faith through biblically faithful apologetic arguments and thoughtful reasoning from the Scriptures (see Acts 17:2, 17; 18:4; 18:19; 1 Pet 3:15). While it is not necessary for the evangelist to have an exhaustive grasp of every potential argument that an unbeliever might use against the truth of the gospel or the veracity of Scripture, it is often helpful to have some knowledge of and answers to common objections for the sake of persuasion (2 Cor 5:11; 10:5).
The reason we believe that the evangelist is not required to have a rigorous knowledge of every possible objection to the Christians faith is because the unbeliever’s chief problem is not intellectual, but spiritual. That is, through the gospel, the unbeliever has all the evidence he needs to believe in Jesus Christ (John 7:17; Rom 1:16-20). He is unable and unwilling to believe, not because the gospel is not clear or without sufficient evidence, but because the unbeliever is blinded by Satan (2 Cor 4:1-6) and loves darkness more than light because his deeds are evil (John 3:20-21).
The evangelist’s task, then, is primarily proclamation rather than debate. Discussion and debate about crucial biblical and cultural issues like human origins, abortion, gender, and homosexuality (to name a few) are important and have their place, but they are not the chief substance of the evangelist’s work. Evangelistic discussion and reasoning should center upon the Person and work of Jesus Christ as the evangelist presupposes
the truth of Scripture rather than seeking a multitude of ways of defending the Scripture on the basis of unbelieving assumptions.
Faithful evangelism, therefore, is always conducted in the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer, then, is essential to the evangelistic task, for apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Evangelistic prayer will include praying for the salvation of the lost (Rom 10:1), for gospel opportunities (Col 4:3), for appropriate and wise speech (Col 4:4) and for the Lord to call and equip more evangelistic workers (Matt 9:38).
While the power for salvation resides in the gospel itself and not in the person proclaiming the gospel (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 3:5-6), the character and conduct of the evangelist is of utmost concern, for one’s conduct and character may serve to either adorn or discredit the gospel message. Scripture is replete with instruction on how Christians should conduct themselves among unbelievers as they engage them with the gospel.
The Lord’s servant must be active in forsaking pride while pursuing holiness and spiritual maturity (2 Tim 2:22). He must not be quarrelsome or given to debating over foolish controversies (v. 23-24a). He must be kind to all (v. 24b), yet able to teach the gospel accurately and correct his opponents when necessary (v. 24c), yet always with gentleness (v. 25). And he must be willing to patiently endure evil and scorn from unbelievers (v. 24d). The evangelist will be enabled to conduct himself with this beautiful blend of steadfast conviction and personal tenderness because he knows that only God can grant repentance to the unbeliever (v. 25) who has been ensnared by our arch-enemy, Satan (v. 26). The person to whom we are proclaiming the gospel, then, deserves our compassion, not our anger or spite.
Paul also sought to remove those things from his life that might serve as an unnecessary offense to those whom he was seeking to win to Christ. This is what the apostle means when he said that he sought to become “all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22). Paul was not embracing the trappings of contemporary culture in order to be relevant to unbelievers or compromising the content of the gospel. Rather, he sought to remove any unnecessary offenses so that people would more readily believe the gospel (see 1 Cor 9:19-23; 10:31-33). Paul saw himself as a servant to unbelievers and was, therefore, willing to give up his legitimate rights in order to remove needless stumbling blocks.
We trust that as the believers at CBC take up their evangelistic calling with faith in God and His Word, biblical fidelity, prayer, and a commitment to Christlike character, our gracious Father will richly bless our efforts both individually and corporately. We long to see men and women, boys and girls, turn from their sin and trust in Christ for salvation. We also desire to honor and please our King. So, for the sake of joy and obedience, we seek to proclaim the gospel to the nations, starting in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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