Category: Church and Discipleship, Word: EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS
February 12, 2016 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
42. EVANGELISM AND MISSIONS
Sing to the Lord, praise His name: proclaim His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all peoples. (Psalm 96:2-3)
DEFINITION: The “Great Commission” of Christ’s church in the world is for local churches and individuals to proclaim the good news that Jesus is Lord and Savior, making disciples and establishing congregations, and expressing love to neighbors through works of compassion.
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (Jn. 20:21). The English word “mission” is based on the Latin term for “send.” The ongoing mission of witnessing—through word and deed—to Christ’s lordship and urging others to become His followers is based on Jesus’ “Great Commission.” After His resurrection, Jesus expressed this command in a variety of ways. The two best-known texts are in Matthew and in Acts. In Matthew 28:19-20, He focused on the need to “make disciples “and the promised of His presence. In Acts 1:8, He centered on the call to “be My witnesses” and the promise of the Spirit’s power to accomplish the task. Both passages envision the spread of churches throughout the world.
Evangelism in English is related to the Greek word euangelion, ordinarily translated “gospel” or “good news.” (See the article on gospel-Word 34.) Evangelism therefore necessarily means sharing the good news about Jesus’ death for sinners and His resurrection as the living Lord (that is, witnessing to one’s own encounter with Christ). If it is to be meaningful, evangelism must also include a call to believe the gospel and begin a life of Christian discipleship. This twofold message is often noted as proclamation and invitation. Evangelism, of course, is the responsibility of local churches as well as of individual believers. Paul reminded Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5).
Christ’s command to love one’s neighbor as oneself (the second of the Great Commandments, Matt. 22:39) is included in the church’s mission. Jesus healed the sick and fed the hungry, and following Him includes continuing such ministries. Wherever churches have gone, hospitals have been built, schools have opened, and the material needs of humans—often in cases of natural disaster—have been met. This is frequently called the “social gospel,” and such good works help make the “preached gospel” believable. After all, the Christian message is about a Savior who transforms sinners into persons who love both God and their neighbors.
The social gospel without the preached gospel will not result in lives transformed by the Word of God. But the preached gospel without the social gospel mistakenly supposes that the church’s only business is “saving souls.” Thus, when Jesus taught about the time when He will judge between “sheep and goats,” all the criteria He named were along the lines of the social gospel (Matt. 25:31-46).
What is the difference between evangelism and missions? This is a matter of degree rather than kind. When a church or individual takes the gospel to people of another language or culture or nation, it may be called “missions.” When the message is shared to those within one’s own social group, it is called “evangelism.” [Use of the term “missional” for a local church’s immediate locality necessarily implies evangelism.]
REFLECTION: How is your local church involved in evangelism and missions? How comfortable are you in witnessing Christ? With whom do you need to share the message of the gospel?
PRAYER: Lord, help me to take Your Great Commission seriously and personally. Would You give me today the opportunity to communicate the gospel to someone without Christ? Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.