Statement of Faith Current Teaching Teaching Index
EVANGELISTS
July 2016

“I will build my church, and the powers of hell will not conquer it”
(
Matthew 16:18 ISV).

We will now continue our study on the Administrative Gifts with a look at evangelists, the third gift listed in Ephesians 4:11. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”  The Greek word for Evangelist is euaggelistēs, which means preacher or messenger of the Good News (Gospel). Missionaries are also considered evangelists because they are preachers of the Gospel in other countries. The term missionaries came to be used in the early Church as the designation of a special class of evangelists because they usually go into areas of the world that have not heard the Gospel.

Never in the history of the world has it been more evident that Jesus is building His Church. In Africa, the Christian church is growing thirty two times faster than the birth rate. In Korea, the Christian church is growing four times faster than the population increase. Currently, over 70% of Americans believe that they have had a born-again experience with God.  However, when you look at the state of this country and the evils it has allowed in and embraced that figure is extremely high and unbelievable.

Karl Marx wrote, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; the point is however, to change it.”[i]  This is the calling of the Evangelists. This fact, is grounded in the truth of the Gospel “that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself” (2nd Corinthians 5:19), and this is what makes evangelism an absolute necessity whether it is to evangelize or to be an evangelist..

Jesus’ method of reaching the world was always with a few special selected and ordained men, going forth in the power of their calling to reach the unreached. It started by Jesus’ selection of only twelve out of the multitudes that followed Him. Please understand Jesus is not interested in numbers or the best laid plans of men. He is looking for men and women who will follow after Him with a pure heart of faith. Jesus started to call these special individuals before He ever preached a sermon. He kept these men close to Him until He felt they were ready to minister and then He filled them with power and sent them forth two by two. The church is called to be a witness, but these selected men were called to witness. Do not take this the wrong way. We are all told to preach the Gospel of Christ to all nations and every creature (cf. Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15). We are to be a living epistle by living a godly life (2nd Corinthians 3:2) along with written and verbal speech. Our lives, once yielded to the Holy Spirit will always have opportunities to be witnesses and bring forth the Gospel.

It is the evangelist however, who is not only called to be a witness but also to witness. He is empowered and then sent forth to the far corners of the world to bring forth the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world. Once salvation has been accepted, the new believer’s instruction and pastoral care fall under the calling of the pastors and teachers.

The calling to be an evangelist does not come out of a godly life alone, though it does play a major part. It comes out of a God ordained calling and empowerment to do that one specific job.  Keep in mind that the evangelist without the church’s backing is as useless as a powerful war ship without fuel. The fuel must be supplied by the church; it gets the evangelist to the place where he can fire the unstoppable omnipotent Word of God (Ref. Isaiah 55:11).  If the church fails to support the evangelists, this powerful war ship is set adrift and is rendered useless.

Ephesians 4:11 places the evangelist in the center of the other four Administrative Gifts. This God ordained placement lead many to surmise that evangelists should be standing between the two other groups. Evangelists are sent forth as missionary preachers of the Gospel by the first group (Apostles and Prophets), and as such they prepare the way for the labors of the second group (Pastors and Teachers).

The evangelists were ordained ministers (Ref. 2nd Timothy 1:6), whom the apostles took for their companions in travel (Galatians 2:1), and sent them out to establish and grow such churches as the apostles themselves had planted (Acts 19:22). They were not fixed to any one particular church, they were only to continue there until they were recalled (2nd  Timothy 4:9). We can draw this same conclusion in the case of Paul and Agabus going to see Philip (Acts 21:8–10). Other administrators can do the work of evangelists as well. They might even claim the title of an evangelist (Acts 8:25, 14:7; 1st Corinthians 1:17). But they are not called or empowered to be evangelists. The calling of the evangelist is to proclaim the Good News of salvation to those who have never heard it.

Take note for a moment the statement above, the calling of the evangelist is to proclaim the Good News of salvation to those who have never heard it. Take note, an evangelist is not a person who goes from church to church holding revivals. An evangelist is one that is called to a people who have not yet heard the Good News. Those people are on the street, or on some mission field, they are not in the Church.  Do not misunderstand, there are some unsaved souls that find their way into a pew and should receive ministry. That falls under the authority of the Pastor’s ministry. An evangelist by calling is one who goes to the un-churched. He is not one who goes church to church holding revivals for weeks and months at a time. Revival by definition is returning life to someone that has had life before, not to those that have never been spiritually alive before; in other words, revivals are for the Body of Christ not for the unsaved. This takes the revival ministry out of the hands of an evangelist, where it does not belong, and places it squarely in the hands of the other administrators.

An evangelist can if necessary, spend weeks and months in a church in order to establish and grow the newly saved in the Body of Christ; however, immediately upon that establishing, he must turn over the Pastoring and teaching of the new saints to those who are called to those ministries. He must then go and minister to those who have not heard the Gospel once again.

Let us now look at some qualifications which are needed to be an evangelist. We will do this by examining the life and ministry of Philip, one of the first ordained evangelistic deacons in the Word of God. This Philip is not the apostle Jesus called, whose brother was Nathaniel (John 1:43–45). Philip the evangelist was ordained a deacon in Acts 6:5. We know nothing of his family ancestry. As a deacon, we first read of Philip at his appointment. His name follows Stephen on the list given in Acts 6:5. After the death of Stephen in Acts 7, Philip went to the city of Samaria, carrying the Gospel with him. He was first called an evangelist in Acts 21:8, when Paul and his company stayed at Philip’s home in Caesarea.

Philip the Evangelist was a Man who was Broadminded. He was not a man with a single track mind who could not change or be moved by the movement of the Spirit. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8:5). Remember how despised the Samaritans were by the Jews. No Jew would ever be caught dead speaking with a Samaritan (Ref. John 4:9). Phillip was open and willing to still go despite and reservations.  While there, he did many great miracles and brought salvation to many.

Philip was also a Man Led of the Spirit. Let’s look at Acts 8:26–30.  Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert,” so he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  An evangelist is not afraid to go where he is led, even though the directions are without explanation and the way treacherous.

Philip was a Man who was Willing to Learn. Jesus selected men, for the most part, who were “unlearned and ignorant” according to the world’s standards” (Acts 4:13). Men Jesus knew to be teachable. Philip did not understand or accept what had happened to Jesus and what was then happening to the Church. Remember he fled from the persecution of Saul. God, however, sees the heart of man. At the beginning, Philip’s heart was weak, his understanding limited, but God saw the pureness of his heart and his teachable spirit, and therefore, God used him.

Philip was a Man who Preached Nothing but the Complete and Pure Gospel.  So the eunuch answered Philip and said, I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water what hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:34).

The Gospel is defined for us in 1st Corinthians 15:1–4 as, “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Evangelists especially, should strictly adhere to this definition. When we start to cater our messages to the crowd, we become nothing more than a peddler on the side of the road selling magical elixir.  Evangelists are called to preach nothing but the complete, uncompromised, pure, Word of God and Christ crucified. If you need an example of what is being said, look at Rev. Billy Graham. His messages are simply stated, precise, and to the point. They define sin. They show you the consequences of that sin. They are always encompassed by the cross. He shows you the way to Christ’s forgiveness and invites you to accept His atoning work. He is truly a God called and ordained Evangelist. He is a man who knows his calling and without compromise walks therein.

One last thing can be noticed about Philip the evangelist. Phillip was a man who had a godly household. Philip’s and his family’s lifestyle were a portrait of his faith.  “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied” (Acts 21:8–9).  Philip had four virgin daughters all of which knew the Lord, all four in the ministry, all possessing the Gift of Prophesy. Philip’s home was a haven of rest to those who were tired, weary, and in need of a safe place to lay their heads.

Tradition is conflicted and uncertain about the later life of Philip. The Greeks record that Philip became the Bishop of Tralles, in Lydia, but the Latins say he ended his days in Caesarea. Whichever is the case, tradition and history hold him up as a great man of faith, an Evangelist mightily used of God to enhance God’s kingdom on earth.

Let’s discuss for a moment the distinct difference between evangelizing and an Evangelist. According to Isaiah 43:10, Matthew 10:7, 28:19–20, Mark 16:15; Luke 9:2, 60, 24:46–49, John 15:27, Acts 1:8, 5:20, 8:4, 2 Timothy 4:2 and others, we are commanded to evangelize. All born again believers will “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them; and they shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem [their home town], and in all Judea [their state], and Samaria [their country], and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Not everyone who evangelizes has the special gift of being an Evangelist.  God especially gives some to be Evangelists (Ephesians 4:11).

Although God gives some to be Evangelists for the sole purpose of winning the lost, we are not to believe that they are the only ones that can and should evangelize. So successful has Satan been with this deception that it has been estimated that probably ninety-five percent of American church members have never led anyone to Christ. Thus, the army of Christ has been more than decimated, and the response from the pew has for the most part been, “Let the clergy do it.” Remember over ninety-nine percent of the Church is made up of laymen; and because the laity for the most part is AWOL, there is little doubt that the battle for the souls of men is being lost.

God commands everyone to witness the Gospel. Reports that have come forth from many pastors and evangelists from around the world are that the most significant factor in generating the growth of the Church is the mobilizing of the laity.[ii]  Increasingly, Christians worldwide are being energized by God, and they are now realizing that the Great Commission has been given to the entire Church, not just given to the clergy.

Evangelists are truly blessed, called, and gifted men of God. These special men and women should be respected as much as and even more than the others in the list of Ephesians 4:11. These men and women must daily go where no man has gone before, with the Gospel. Often, these individuals go right into the heart of enemy territory, territory where physical and spiritual dangers abound. They go into areas where the Holy Spirit has never been invited. They go where they are unwanted and hated; but they still go! They go girded only by their faith and trust in their calling. Unlike Pastors, these men often go without the daily prayers and monetary support necessary to fight such a spiritually brutal and savage war. This must change. The church must wake up to the importance of these special men of God!

Some time ago, I was having a lengthy discussion with a pastor of a small church in the Bronx. This Pastor is a member of a major Pentecostal denomination.  He said some things that were very interesting. I would like to share them with you. Our discussion centered on the Administrative Gifts. He said that he believed that God was reestablishing them today in our churches. However, he was seeing a dramatic drop in the number of Evangelists going forth, when I asked him why, his response was startling.  He said, “Most of the ones who formerly were going forth evangelizing throughout the world, were being destroyed for a lack of support. This lack of support was coming from both the clergy and the laity. They are going into unknown areas with an annual income around twelve-thousand dollars.” He continued by saying that he felt that this was the reason most evangelists were going from church to church, running revivals instead of going to the un-reached areas of the world, and that he feared for the repercussions that this lackadaisical attitude on the part of the clergy and laity was having on the Church. This brother was greatly bothered by the Church’s lack of involvement in evangelistic ministries. It bothered him so much that he began getting a group of Pastors together to discuss this problem and to discover how to correct the problem.

Many of us go to churches that have no ongoing evangelistic ministry or even an adequate fund for evangelistic outreach. Our pastors are doing all the work of evangelism by home visitations, hospital visits, or even going to community meetings, and that is the extent of any evangelism in the church. However, this is not the sole and exclusive job of a Pastor. Elders and laity should be doing this job along with the Pastor.

Somewhere in most churches, there is a track rack. Most of the time however, these racks are empty, or they are partially filled with worn out, out dated, and out of style tracts, many of which have not been touched in some time. Think back, when was the last time anyone made an emotional appeal to the congregation to take the tracts and hand them out to the un-churched?  When was the last time someone in your church appealed to the congregation on behalf of an evangelist?  How long has it been since someone from the church headquarters came to petition for funds for an evangelistic service?  Granted many churches have some kind of missionary fund or a special missionary offering, which is used to support a church sponsored missionary. But how often do we support evangelism local or worldwide in the same way?

Ask yourself, when was the last time you led someone to the Lord?  When was the last class on evangelism in your church? When was the last time you invited anyone who did not know the Lord to an evangelistic meeting? When was the last time you ever invited people to your home for the explicit purpose of telling them about Christ?  Gauge yourself by your responses, now don’t you think that what this dear brother was saying about lack of support is very true? What do you think God’s attitude is regarding the lackadaisical attitude of the clergy and laity toward evangelism? What do you think His reaction will be in response to that attitude?

Tony Campolo, the author of “Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch,” writes, "On a number of occasions I have taken an informal survey to see how people have come to know Jesus. I ask how many people became Christians as the result of listening to some Christian radio show. Seldom does a hand go up. When I ask how many were saved through a Christian television show, the response is not much better. Out of a crowd of several thousand people, usually just a few hands go up when I ask how many have become Christians because of a sermon they heard. Usually only two or three percent of the crowd responds. But when I ask how many have become Christians because some person loved them and shared the Gospel with them, the response is always overwhelming. There is never any doubt after such surveys that the best and most “powerful” means of evangelism is not TV at all. But ordinary people who love their friends and relatives enough to tell them about Christ.[iii]  Evangelism is the crucial component God created for the salvation of mankind. It is also essential for the growth of the Church. Evangelism will not be easy, nor must it be a one-time effort. Evangelism must be an ongoing continual effort of Christians. This effort however, will be a physical, emotional, and spiritual war that must be fought on three fronts.

  1. The First Front is Prayer. Without the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous, nothing can happen. The spirit of man cannot be broken or his will changed on the physical plane. The apostle Paul put it this way; “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (2nd Corinthians 2:14).” Only God through the drawing and life changing power of the Holy Spirit can break a man’s spirit. He then replaces the sinful heart of man with a pure heart, a heart that is after God. But this can only happen if we pray. Our prayers should be both intercessory and militaristic in nature.

  2. The Second Front is Physical. Paul writes to the church of Corinth that, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2nd Corinthians 3:2). We are Christians; we are to be Christ-like. We are to be an example of light and a preservative to a dark and decaying world. Remember what Paul said to the Philippians, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:17). To the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “Not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us” (2nd Thessalonians 3:9). Finally, let us look at Paul’s command to Timothy, a young pastor in Ephesus. “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (2nd Timothy 4:12).

  3. The Third Front is Verbal. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who brings glad tidings of good things!  But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:14–17).

All three fronts must be faced with purity, holiness, truth, and steadfastness or no soul will ever be saved. Any person evangelizing who is not totally dedicated to Christ and living accordingly, will absolutely devastate the work of Christ, and will make the cross of Christ of non-effect. Ninety percent of what a person recognizes as truth is not from ones words but from his lifestyle, for as the apostle Paul wrote, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known, and read by all men” (2nd Corinthians 3:2).

The world knows how British journalist Henry Stanley went to Africa to find the famed missionary, Dr. David Livingstone. Stanley’s greeting is world famous, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”[iv]  But few know the rest of the story. After the two had been together for some time, Stanley saw what Livingstone endured and wrote,

“I went to Africa as prejudiced as the biggest atheist in London. But there came for me a long time for reflection. I saw this solitary old man there and asked myself, “How on earth does he stop here, is he cracked, or what? What is it that inspires him so?” For months after we met, I found myself wondering at the old man carrying out all that was said in the Bible “Leave all things and follow me.” But little by little his sympathy for others became contagious; my sympathy was aroused; seeing his piety, his gentleness, his zeal, his earnestness, and how he went about his business, I was converted by him.” [v]

Father, forgive us for our lack in attitude toward evangelists and evangelism. Change our hearts. Start creating in us a laborer’s heart and send us forth as laborers into the harvest. Help us to come to a full understanding of what you meant when you said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Father, if you see a reason we are not called to go forth, give us a heart to actively support in every way possible those who are. Amen!

Remember, “A war not fought, is a war already lost.” However, God has said that “we are more than conquerors” (Ref. Romans 8:37), meaning we have already won the war and the devil is defeated; all we must do is get involved.  If the devil is getting the best of you or you just cannot get your life right with God or God and you are at a distance and you cannot feel His power and presence, maybe it is time to get involved with His will and your calling!  Can we truly allow Satan to fight a war for the souls of men, which includes your own, with no opposition?  Remember “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).  Do you remember what God told us our duty was in James 5:20 we are to “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

In closing, just a reminder;  all believers are called to evangelize, no excuses!  However, it is the evangelist who is not only called to be a witness but also to witness. He is empowered and then sent forth to the far corners of the world to bring forth the good news of salvation to a lost and dying world.

Evangelism is not easy nor is it always safe, it needs prayer, fasting and support.  All of these must come from the Body of Christ especially the part you are associated with.  With all this being said do not forget the most important of God’s commands regarding this vital position and work.  That is we must GO (cf. Matthew 18:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:46-49; John 21:15-17; Acts 1:8)!



[i] Karl Mark & Frederick Engles, The Communist Manifesto, Marx/Engels Selected Works, Volume One, (Progress Publishers, Moscow, USSR, 1969).

[ii] Dr. D. James Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion , (Tyndale House Publishers Wheaton Ill. 1970).

[iii] Tony Campolo, Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch, (Thomas Nelson, January 1993).

[iv] Henry Morton Stanley, How I Found Livingstone, Travels, Adventures and Discoveries in Central Africa, (Scribner, Armstrong & Co., 1872)

[v] Byron Farwell, The Man Who Presumed; a Biography of Henry M. Stanley, (Longmans, Green, 1958).

 

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