Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Perspective on Evangelism in the New Testament

By Hardie Logan
     It is often stated, “To be like Jesus, one will do evangelism”. And all too often I hear the emphasis for church growth is put upon the people instead of allowing God to give the increase as He wills (Acts 2:47). But when I read the New Testament, I do not find where Jesus went to the Gentiles to evangelize. In fact, the nearest I find to it is where Jesus met the woman at the well who was a Samarian (John 4:9-24). Even with the woman, it might be argued that she might be the Jew married to a Gentile. Another issue arises with Matthew 15:24, “ But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
     The purpose of Jesus was to seek and save the lost of the house of Israel, i.e. the lost Jews. He was not sent to evangelize the Gentiles and thus we do not find any record of Him evangelizing the Gentiles. So to be like Jesus, one would actually spend time seeking the lost sheep of the “house of Israel today”, which is the church.
     Next, take the writings of Paul. All 13 books, well 14 if Hebrews is included, were written to the church or about how to live in the kingdom of God, the church. Basically, evangelism, as people normally teach it, is not the basic teachings of these books. Bring in the books of Peter, Jude, James and this thought still rings true. The teachings of the books are basically about how to live in the Kingdom of God, which is the church.
     Even the book of Revelation gets involved in this. In chapters 2 and 3, where the seven churches of Asia are talked about, not once do we see that Jesus chastised those churches for not evangelizing. Instead what we do see is that they were chastised for the way they were living.
     Yet out of all this, we continue to hear more preaching about what we do than about what we believe. Evangelize, Evangelize, Evangelize. And yet in many of our congregations, they are dying from within, not from a lack of evangelizing. Just think about the generation of kids that we do not have now.
     Take a look at Ephesians 4:11-16. Could this be the key to real sustainable church growth? Could it be the kind of church growth that our Lord wants from us? Could it be that we are to have responsibility for being our “brother’s keeper” in helping our brother grow to be useful to the church?
     The purpose of elders, deacons, teachers, and such may be to help others to find their talent and then help them to develop that talent so they are a useful part of the body. Ephesians 4:16 puts it into perspective…”from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

- Hardie Logan preaches for the Marshfield church of Christ, in Marshfield, WI.  He may be contacted at

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