In a previous post, I identified the primary purpose of evangelism as the glory of God. However, to say that it is the primary or ultimate purpose is not to say that it is the only purpose. There are lots of reasons why Christians should be active in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. In this post, I want to focus my thoughts on how one goal of evangelism is the salvation of lost souls.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from condemnation

Evangelism should never be a mere intellectual exercises. There is too much at stake. Those who have not believed the gospel, those who have not entrusted themselves to Christ, are perishing (John 3:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3). Everyone by nature is a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We cannot miss this. Peoples souls are at stake. While we cannot force results, we should never the less desire to see people respond to the message in saving faith.

We cannot afford to miss the clear reality that evangelism is a rescue mission. However, we cannot thing of this rescue mission like those we have seen in the movies. What makes this rescue mission different is that the power to rescue lies not in the evangelist or in the person being evangelized, but in the message of the gospel itself. It is God who must use the gospel to open the eyes of the unbeliever (John 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from enslavement

However, in our contemporary understanding of man’s condition, it appears that man’s greatest problem is God’s wrath in the form or hell (i.e. eternal punishment). Yet this seems to miss the total implication of what it means to be under the wrath of God. Read Romans 1 for example. There we find that the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). But what does it look like to be under the wrath of God? As we continue to read, we see that God gives these people over “to the lusts of their hearts” (Romans 1:24), “to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:26), and “to a debased mind” (Romans 1:28). God’s wrath does not just have eternal consequences, but has a direct bearing on the present.

In fact, later in Romans we read about how apart from Christ we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17-18). This means evangelism is not just about seeing people saved from God’s future wrath, but from sins present enslavement. Realizing this will help guard us from trying to sell the gospel as “fire insurance,” because it will help us convey the entirety of the sinners need. They need to be saved not just from hell, but from the sin that currently enslaves them.  A message that calls for liberation from hell without liberation from the enslavement of sin is like calling for and end to the death penalty, but leaving the person in prison. They are still condemned, but the punishment is not as harsh.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from being estrangement

Now lets take the previous point a little further. What is the ultimate cost of sin? Is it merely that we as sentenced to condemnation in hell? Does it included being enslaved by it? The answer to these questions comes back to what we establish as the greatest good. If a life free from punishment and free from sin is ultimately the goal, then their is no greater cost, but what if those things existed without God? I believe if we think rightly about these things we will realize the greatest consequence of sin is not eternal punishment or present enslavement to sin, but the breach it causes in our relationship to God.

But the great news of the gospel is that it resolves this problem as well. “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). This I believe is the greatest blessing of the gospel…it brings us to God (1 Peter 3:18) and makes us His adopted children (Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1).

So when we are telling others of the good news of Jesus Christ, let us not loose sight of the fact that it is for their good. We want to see them reconciled to God, so that they are no longer under condemnation, are freed from the enslavement of sin, and are brought back into a proper relationship with their creator.

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