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Reasons for
World Evangelism

by Kim Harrington 


     So He spoke this parable to them, saying: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Luke 15:3-7

     There is an ever-widening gap between the churched and unchurched communities in our land, millions of people who haven’t the slightest idea of what Christianity is all about, second-generation pagans, people who’ve never darkened the door of a church in their entire life. Meanwhile, on the mission field, in spite of all the strategists and statisticians, a quarter of the world’s population is entirely unreached—without a hope of hearing the Gospel and responding to it.

     Yet there are more Bible-believing Christians than ever before in history. And we have the resources to mobilize more than enough evangelists and missionaries to get the job done in just a few short years. But somehow much of the church seems to have lost its vision for the lost—we take an occasional stab at evangelizing our own communities, but don’t seem concerned about actually getting the job done. Missions giving is falling off — there seems to be a kind of "protectionist" mentality in the American church, instead of an obedience to reach beyond ourselves to the peoples of the world.

     The Lord’s mandate is still clear: Go ye therefore! Heavenly priorities have not changed: the Master and the angels still rejoice more in one converted sinner than ninety-nine fat, happy saints already in the church. We cannot ignore the plight of the lost. Our Lord holds us accountable—each of us must do his or her part to make sure the world hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In case you need a little more convincing, here are "Eleven Imperative Reasons For World Evangelism"...


Reason #1: Because Jesus Commanded Us To

     Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 28:19

     The command to go out and preach the Gospel to the entire world is known as the Great Commission. It is recorded in all four Gospels and the book of Acts. The last earthly words of Jesus were "you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8). His final instruction, His last reminder, the item most on His heart as He said good-by to His disciples, was the evangelization of the world.

     We are to start at our own homes and work outward—and we needn’t finish our own communities before looking abroad, either... Jesus said the cities of Israel wouldn’t be completely evangelized before His return (Matt 10:23), yet He sent Philip to Samaria, and Paul to the ends of the Roman Empire. Like Abraham, we’re called to be blessed and be a blessing: in us all the families of the earth shall be blessed, (Gen 12:2,3). If we fail to obey the Great Commission we have missed the whole point of being a servant of God, the whole thrust of what Christ came to do and what we’re supposed to be perpetuating. To put it bluntly, we are in sin; just as surely as if we’d murdered or commit adultery, for to disobey Jesus is to sin, and to sin against the Great Commission is to violate the very reason for our existence on earth.


Reason #2. Because Jesus Hinged His Return on the Completion of the Task

     And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,

Matthew 24:14

     Jesus will not come back until the job of world evangelization is finished. It’s just as simple as that. Here in Matthew 24 the question had been posed "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (vs 3). His reply: I won’t be back until the Gospel is preached in all the world and to every nation. The Greek word translated "people" is ethnos. It means ethno-linguistic people group, not political nation. There are a little over 200 political nations in the world, and the Gospel has been proclaimed to some degree in most of them—but there are over 12,000 people groups. By the most conservative reckoning, some 1700 have yet to hear of Jesus Christ. There is much to be done before He can return.

     You hear a lot about the "imminent" return of the Lord these days, the possibility of His coming at any moment. Some teachers seem to consider it a major doctrine. But Jesus Himself said that His return would not be imminent until every people group on the earth has been evangelized.


Reason #3. Because It’s Only Fair to Give Everyone a Chance to Hear the Good News

     How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Romans 10:14

     Plenty of ministers are caring for those who’ve already heard. Even the great majority of foreign missionaries are involved in ministering to the already reached. Furthermore, Christians could conceivably live without a preacher—we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God within us; we have ready access to Christian literature, audio and video tapes, and Christian radio and television. We could edify one another in home Bible studies if we had none of the above—at least we’re saved. But who will reach the lost if we don’t? Why is it that we concentrate most of our time, effort and resources on the already evangelized? For that matter, why do we continue to reach out to those who’ve already heard and rejected the Gospel? Why should anyone hear twice before all have heard once? People are perishing for lack of the Gospel, and it’s to our shame. I’m sure it’s an oversight—but what a tragic oversight! Perhaps it’s just carelessness, selfishness... but that’s my next point.


Reason #4. Because We Are to be Giving, Sharing People

     And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Matthew 10:7-8

      We have received a gift—eternal life—that needs to be shared with the needy of this world. Selfishness is totally contrary to the spirit and teaching of the Word of God. Christians are to be a giving, selfless people who put the needs of others ahead of their own. The worst conceivable act of selfishness would be to begrudge others hearing the Gospel, for people without the Lord are not simply suffering physically or temporally, they are suffering eternally. They are bound by sin and pain in this world, and they have only hell to look forward to in the one to come. We cannot be selfish and keep the saving message of Jesus from them.

     Any of us can share with a friend or neighbor. Most all of us could spare $20 or $30 a month for missions—some could do much more. Some are called to go to the uttermost parts of the earth bringing the Good News to those desperately in need of it. Don’t keep eternal life to yourself—share it with others.


Reason #5. Because Every Individual is Important to God, and Everyone’s Spiritual Hunger Deserves to be Met

     For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:3-4

     Statistics can be a little numbing at times: two and a half billion people in the world today who haven’t been reached yet with the Gospel (that's ten times the population of the entire United States—it would take you 79 years just to count them); thirty million unreached individuals dying every year (that’s about one a second). But this isn’t a faceless multitude of assorted Bangladeshis, Chinese, Africans and others. These are real people with complex personalities, hopes and dreams, hurts and disappointments—loved ones who will miss them and grieve when they’re gone. They pray, they ponder the meaning of life and wonder about the afterlife. God cares about every one of them, and He knows the hairs on each of their heads. We need to get close enough to Him to share His love and care for the lost individuals of this world.


Reason #6. Because If We Don’t Win Them the Devil Will

     The god of this age has blinded [those] who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them ...And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 4:4,11:14

     Much of world is in transition: the Communist bloc is falling apart, and the values of more traditional societies are being eroded due to technological advances. Most of the world is under 25 years of age, especially in developing countries, and they’re asking hard questions of their elders. Muslims are disillusioned by all the holy wars that produce nothing but more martyrs, atheists are discovering new evidences of supernatural reality. The minds of the world have never been more open; the souls of the world are searching.

     At home and abroad the church has to compete for those souls today. Militant Islamic groups are enlisting idealistic young men for their cause; Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons invaded the former Soviet bloc just as quickly as evangelical organizations. The "New Age," with the help of Hollywood, is a formidable contender for the hearts and minds people young and old. MTV is now seen in much of Asia and Europe. The western product most in demand when the Berlin Wall went down a few years ago was, if you can believe it, pornography. The devil’s camp is not relaxing in these end times, and we cannot either. We must enter the fray with every ounce of determination we can muster, and turn people to the truth before they embrace more lies.


Reason #7. Because the Enemies of Christ are Extremely Ruthless

     Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."

Revelation 12:12

     The devil is stealing, killing and destroying as never before in history. Millions have starved to death in Africa, and though it may not grab the headlines as it did a few years ago, it’s still going on. Rwanda is still divided, with casualties yet being reported. A million and a half men, women, and children have died in Sudan in the last six years as the Muslims in the north endeavor to eradicate the Christians in the south. Sadam Hussein (since his defeat in the Gulf War) has burned 4000 Kurdish villages in his own country, leaving 250,000 dead, and half a million in refugee camps. In southern Iraq he has brutally crushed the Shi’ites ( a different sect of Muslims than himself) — they are among the totally unreached people groups of the world. Civil war continues in Afghanistan: 800,000 are now dead, 1.5 million maimed, and 7 million homeless. Our own urban areas are filled with violence and bloodshed, as churches flee to the suburbs. The enemy is killing people and hardening the hearts of the survivors before they can be reached with the Gospel. We have to move fast to snatch them from the devourer before he makes any more headway.


Reason #8. Because Only the Gospel Can Solve the Tremendous Social Problems in the World Today

     Man can’t even find a bandage, much less a cure, for the social ills that face him in this hour. We have an AIDS epidemic, and abortion on demand. Racial tensions threaten to tear our country apart and militant survivalists hold off government forces for weeks on end. Elsewhere the story is just as bleak and hopeless... India is torn by community strife and separatist groups that assassinate politicians and execute whole busloads of innocent people to make a statement; the Mid-east is hotter than ever; female infanticide is a common practice in many parts of the world, as is child prostitution, which creates a bustling slave trade; corrupt governments turn a deaf ear to reports of graft and injustice.

     Only the Gospel can address these concerns, because they’re all driven by the lusts and frustrations of people who don’t know God. We must effect social change by changing people’s hearts, converting them to the values and teachings of the Bible. That’s what happened in the Roman Empire in the early days of the church, and it’s what gave us at least a nominal morality during most of the history of our own nation. Social problems have increased to the exact degree that God has been pushed out of the picture. This world needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Reason #9. Because Emphasizing Evangelism is Good for the Spiritual Health of the Church

     "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...

Matthew 28:19

     We’re not really making disciples if we’re not training people to obey the Master and do the work of evangelists. Non-evangelistic churches are unhealthy; they grow introspective, develop sects and infighting, and experience divisions; they become spiritually bored and come up with irregular doctrines and "new insights" into the Word to keep themselves entertained.

     Christians that evangelize the lost have deeper convictions about the Gospel—they made it their own by sharing it repeatedly. They discover their spiritual gifts and callings, and grow in their own knowledge of the Word by discipling their young converts. Children of evangelistic Christians grow up with a sense of the reality of the message, and are inspired by their parents’ example and the prioritization of the Gospel in everyday life. This is truly a case of "give and you shall receive," for the more you give out the Gospel to others, the more you get blessed from above.


Reason #10. Because It’s an Exciting, Fulfilling Way to Spend Your Life

     And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature... And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Mark 16:15,17-18

     Did it ever occur to you that the assignment described by Jesus in Mark 16 is a thrilling way to make a living? Demons, snakes, poison, miracles... this is the stuff adventure novels are made of. And it’s satisfying and rewarding, in the sense of doing something that really helps people and counts for eternity, too.

     I’ve narrowly escaped death at the hands of an angry Muslim mob a few times, and I’ve been investigated by the Iranian secret service. I’ve seen the Himalayan mountains and the Mekong River, and trudged through the jungles of Mexico. Many a time while walking through a crowded Asian bazaar I’ve had to pinch myself—I feel like Indiana Jones, not an ex-hippy from St. Paul, Minnesota!   I’ve been to Bangkok, Bombay, Amsterdam and Singapore, and I’ve stood in the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome, where the blood of Christian martyrs once flowed.

     It’s a love for evangelism that put me in those places—the romance is just one of the perks of obeying the Great Commission. And there’s plenty of romance and adventure right in your own home town, too: neighborhoods that other Christians won’t go into, rough people at work who’ll give you a run for your money but perhaps get saved because you dared to share your testimony. Let others settle for a responsible position with the company and a nice moral lifestyle of paying the bills on time—you go out and preach the Gospel, whether it’s on the factory floor or the foreign field. Put a little adventure into your life—witness to someone today!


Reason #11. We Must Evangelize the Lost Because They Are Lost

     "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

Mark 16:16

     Here’s the bottom line. If we don’t reach the lost with the Gospel there is no other means of getting them saved. You cannot see Heaven unless you’re born again. No man comes to the Father except through Jesus the Son. There is no other name given under heaven by which people can be saved. (John 3:3, 14:6, Acts 10:38)

     You are the only Christian some of your neighbors, co-workers, or relatives may ever meet. If you don’t tell them about Jesus they won’t hear. If our churches don’t get priorities in order many evangelists and missionaries may never enter the ministry. If you don’t support a missionary he may not be able to fulfill his calling; he may come home early and never reach certain people that would have responded to the Word of God. The blood of the lost is on our hands if we sit in front of our televisions and let them go to hell without making a serious effort to help.

     A guilt trip? Maybe... but it’s the same one Jesus employed again and again in the Gospels. He cared about the lost—He came to seek and save them—and He sent His disciples out to carry on His work. And now, at the end of the age, the baton has passed to us. The destiny of this generation is in our hands whether we like it or not. We are the last hope this world has before being ushered in to meet its Creator.

Copyright © 1998 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.


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