As I started into ministry in Indonesia several years ago, I met an elderly minister from Australia. He had pastored a church many years and was now involved with mission work. He was very much respected and so it was an honor to meet him. (Any young minister must remember to honor those who have faithfully sown their lives into ministry ahead of them.) After being introduced, however the white-haired servant looked at me from head to toe. It was as if he were examining me. Then he asked "so you are an evangelist, huh?" "Yes, sir" I replied, but he also was quick to say "a lot of my friends started out that way and then moved on to other things."
Did I hear him right? Did he say that many of his friends started out as an evangelist, boldly proclaiming the good and glorious news of Jesus Christ and then moved on to other things? What he said may not directly affect him personally. It may have simply been his observation. Still, it hit me hard. Do we lose sight of the value of evangelism too easily?
Let us test ourselves. Once we lose sight of the necessity of evangelistic witness, we lose sight of the church's purpose in the earth. The church was never called to babysit the congregation and drink coffee until Jesus returns. We have been given the highest privilege; to participate in the saving of souls with Jesus.
We must never lose sight of the miracle of salvation. John 20:1 reads "Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” This depicts the perspective of many before coming to Christ.
"While it was still dark," they "saw" something. Is that not amazing that they can have a revelation of Christ while in darkness?! It is one things to see something when the lights are turned on, but to see in the dark must be god-given. But what did they see?
Here is some perspective. "While it was still dark..."
1. They found earth could hold no certain hope. (This is a big deal. In fact the number one thing a new believer needs in their new relationship with the Lord is assurance of salvation. God leaves no dead things laying around. Our living hope in Christ Jesus is starkly different than the dead expectation of a dark world.)
2. They found what they were searching for was not there. All their preparation to come to that point was in vain. What they felt they were obligated to do was now irrelevant. (There was no corpse to wrap.)
3. They had thought they understood what was happening in their world and while in darkness, realized they did not. All their wisdom was rendered useless.
4. They found that reality was different than they had anticipated. God's plans were bigger than their plans. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)
5. They were made ready for a resurrection of hope and life.
"'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.' From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:16-17)
Although they sit in darkness, the tomb is open; waiting to be discovered. It is the role of the evangelist to explain and direct sinners to the dawning of a new day. The message is one of sin, repentance and faith in God; moving their attention from darkness to light.
Woe is us if we do not preach the gospel to a world that sits in darkness; ready for the revealing of Christ. If you started out as a soul-winner, continue. Do not allow the anyone to draw you away from it. If you are not interested in winning souls or have "moved on to other things," ask yourself what could be more important? What is the reason Christ died? Are you living your life worthy of something Jesus was willing to die for?
Preach the gospel with boldness. Call the world to repentance and a renewed hope in Christ alone. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. You are a living witness of Christ Jesus.
Preach the gospel. (Mark 16:15)