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In my previous posting, I addressed the response of the wise men to the revelation of Jesus’s birth. We read in Matthew 2 that after showing up in Jerusalem, they are sent to Bethlehem where they “fell down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11). This reminded me of another reason why we should tell others about Jesus, so that they can come to worship him.

I have heard it said that “missions exist because worship doesn’t,” but that is just another way of saying that Christians engage in evangelism, because there are people not yet worshiping God.

I am persuaded that this point is crucial to a proper understanding of our goal in evangelism. We do not just want to see people’s lives reformed or our churches grow in numbers, but we want to see that God is given the worship that He rightly deserves. To miss this is to miss the fundamental cause of sin.

Consider Romans 1 where Paul tells us how men and women all know God (1:19-20). However, instead of giving Him the honor (worship) that He deserves, they “exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (1:23). The reason God gives people up to their sinfulness is “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator (1:25). Man’s fundamental problem is a false worship problem.

So at least one purpose of evangelism is to turn people enslaved to the worship of created things back to worshiping the one true God. I think this is why Paul talks about the gospel as the “glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4) or “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Evangelism is ultimately an attempt to tell others why God in Christ deserves to be worshiped. So evangelism must challenges the idols that people hold on to, because it must present a God who is better than those idols. We talk of the righteousness of Christ, because it is superior to our own. We talk of how Christ fully satisfied God’s wrath on our behalf, because there is nothing we could ever do that would. We talk about how God took the initiative in loving use, because we would never have loved Him first. The gospel fundamentally draws attention to our unworthiness and points us to the One who is worthy.