Blog: The Definition of Evangelism

What is evangelism?

Erick Lopez shares the good news of Jesus during a home visit in Costa Rica

Oxford Languages defines evangelism as the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.

In scripture, evangelism is not an occasional decision of sharing, but rather a lifestyle for all believers, as exemplified by Jesus Himself in the Gospels. As seen in the Oxford definition and in scriptural examples, we find instances of both public preaching and personal witness throughout the life of Jesus and later His followers well beyond His life on earth. Let’s look at examples of both. I can’t think of a better example of personal witnessing in the gospels than when Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus goes to this woman, with complete intentionality, and He declares Himself as the Messiah, addresses sin in her life, in love, and proclaims truth about true worshippers of God. This leads to an immediate change in her, drawing her to tell others about this man and “many more believed because of what He said” in that town. Personal witness is seen multiple times from Jesus. What does it involve? Intentionality, love, truth. All must be present in evangelizing and sharing the gospel. Public preaching was also common for Jesus and for disciples like Paul and Peter. In Acts 2, Peter is speaking to a large crowd of people, proclaiming “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this…God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” (Verses 32,36). This sermon included references to the Old Testament prophecies and the accounts witnessed of Jesus’ life on earth. The conviction in their hearts led them to ask the burning question of “What must we do?” Peter tells them exactly what must be done – repent, be baptized, receive the forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Again, in the evangelization of the gospel, we see a clear proclamation of the truth in love, along with the explanation of what must be done after receiving the truth. A common theme among these people in scripture is a proclamation of what has occurred in their lives on behalf of the Messiah, Jesus Christ – they testify of what they have seen and heard, and they do it again and again. The result? Salvation. When Jesus is proclaimed in scripture, lives are transformed.

Okay, great!…So what do I need to do? Does this even apply to us today?

To answer the last question – yes, it does apply to us. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded you. And I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” His disciples couldn’t possibly accomplish this task if this command was JUST to those few men. Jesus was giving this command not only to those men, but to all future followers to go and make disciples of all nations.

Learning to live intentionally with the lost is what we must do. Who do you encounter on a daily basis who needs to hear the gospel? Begin praying for that person, offer prayer, and share what Jesus has done in your life, just like the Samaritan woman at the well told the men of the town (check out the 15 second testimony video), and look at how those conversations can then lead to the gospel.

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