Last night a couple of friends and I went to the local college campus and walked around sharing the gospel with those who would take the time to listen. In the meantime, I was in the middle of a conversation on another blog debating what the gospel really is. As I stop to think about why I should take the time to talk to others about the gospel and why I should be be faithful to defend the faith against those who teach a false gospel, I find it helpful to remember the purpose of doing evangelism in the first place.
- The Glory of God: Like the entirety of the Christian life, evangelismis ultimately about the glory of God. In the preaching of the gospel, we are to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Evangelism should be a task that all believers are eager and excited to do, because it is the really nothing short of telling others about the glory of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel does not just set for the glory of God for others to behold, but it is the means by which God has chosen to bring all men to salvation (Rom. 1:16, 10:12-15). (Click here for more on how Evangelism glorifies God.)
- The Joy of God: Another goal of evangelism is to call lost sinners to come to repentance and trust in Christ. And so we see that this brings God great joy, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk. 15:10) Even after conversion, we know that the continued repentance brings God joy, because we are told that sin (a lack of repentance) will “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Eph. 5:30)
- The Unity of the Church: The furtherance of the gospel is the mission for which the church exists. Thus Paul instructs the Philippians to be “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Even those who are not physically present in the preaching of the gospel are exhorted, “You also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many” (2 Cor. 1:11). Ultimately the purpose and aim of all Christian ministry, including evangelism, is “the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13, cf. 4:16). This building up is not only to be qualitative as those who are part of the church grow into the image of Christ, but also quantitative as God continues to add to his church through the preaching of the gospel.
- The Sacrifice of the Saint: The life of the Christian is one of sacrifice, it is a life of learning to put other people before themselves, to put God’s will before their own will. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk. 8:35). Those who are devoted to Christ must also be devote to the building of His church, to the building of His kingdom. And so the apostle Paul tells us that it is for the sake of God’s people that he is willing to endure anything. “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.” (2 Tim. 2:10, cf. Jam. 1:2-4)
- The Salvation of the Lost: While we as men cannot control the outcome of our evangelistic efforts, because only God can open the eyes of the heart to understand and embrace the gospel, we should none the less be deeply concerned about the salvation of those around us. Paul more than anyone understood that only God could remove the blinders that kept his fellow Israelites from believing the gospel (see 2 Cor. 4), yet Paul said, “I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:2-3). Look at what lengths Paul would have gone to see them come to faith! Here is a man who understood true humility. If it were possible he would have forsaken his own salvation if only his kinsmen could be saved. It is as though he says, “Oh, I would give all, if they might receive all.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something Christ Himself would say. At the same time Paul understood that ultimately their salvation was in the hands of God, so not only did he preach but he prayed (Rom. 10:1). (Click here for more on how Evangelism glorifies God.)
So let us all labor to bring joy to the heart of God through the preaching of the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let our churches unite around the proclamation of the gospel. Let the sole mission of every Christian and every church be to lay down their lives in the building of the church of Jesus Christ. Let us all labor more earnestly in our prayers for those who are currently without Christ that God would give them eyes to see and ears to hear. And let us all long for the day when all those who stand in opposition to the gospel bow their knees before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.