Should All Christians Witness?

Preaching the gospel

Preaching the gospel

I have been challenged by a commenter on this post to explain why I say every Christian has been commanded to proclaim the gospel. I appreciate his challenge, because it has motivated me to further my understanding of what the Bible teaches about evangelism.

The Great Commission
I had been faced with the objection that the Great Commission was only to the 11 disciples in the past. If you think it through, and take what Jesus said in context, you’ll see that this commission was given to every Christian.

Jesus commanded the 11 disciples to go and make disciples. Then, He told the disciples to teach the new disciples to obey everything He commanded them to do.

Here are some of the things Jesus commanded the disciples to do:

  1. Believe in Him (John 6:29).
  2. Take up your cross (Matt 10:38).
  3. Seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33).
  4. Go and make disciples (Matt. 28:19).
  5. Teach the new disciples to do everything on this list (Matt 28:20).

Clearly, the new disciples should be taught to make disciples, unless someone can explain why the command to go and make disciples isn’t included in everything Jesus commanded them to do.

The Office of Evangelist
The commenter made another point that evangelists are the only ones who should preach the gospel among the unsaved. One problem is that there are only three verses in the New Testament that use the word evangelist: Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5, and Acts 21:8. There is very little explanation offered as to what an evangelist specifically does, and to be dogmatic about one’s favored explanation seems presumptuous.

One thing we do know is that the job of the evangelist is to prepare God’s people for works of service (Eph. 4:11–12). This would indicate to me that one of the principal jobs of an evangelist is to lead God’s people in their evangelism efforts and train them in evangelism.

One Body, Many Parts
It’s true that not every Christian holds the office of evangelist. Does that mean that only those who are evangelists should evangelize? Think about it this way: We’re all commanded to pray. No one can say that he or she shouldn’t pray because that individual doesn’t have the gift of prayer. Likewise, we’re all commanded to evangelize. There is no such thing as the gift of prayer, and there is no such thing as the gift of evangelism. We have the privilege of both prayer and evangelism.

Did All Christians in the Bible Witness?
There are a limited number of stories of lay Christians preaching in the New Testament. Most of the accounts of evangelism involve Paul, Peter, Philip, and other early church leaders. However, this doesn’t mean that they were the only ones who spread the gospel.

In Philippians 1:14, Paul says, “And that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”

After Stephen was stoned, persecution was on the rise, and all except the apostles (Acts 8:1) were scattered from Jerusalem. “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

How Can You Keep the Gospel to Yourself?
Those of us who have had our sins forgiven by God’s grace and mercy and will spend eternity in heaven have understood the greatest news in the history of mankind, and we have been made eternal beneficiaries of it. If we have truly received such a glorious gift, how can we keep it to ourselves? The joy it inspires must be evident in our lives—and spread to others. In Luke 8:16, Jesus said, “Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.”

We will spend eternity with the One we pray to, the One we worship, and the One whose Word we read. This short life is our only opportunity to tell the unsaved about the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

22 thoughts on “Should All Christians Witness?

  1. Berry says:

    I’m just going to hit and run this one. Emeal “EZ” Zwayne has a great sermon available called “Love At Its Best.”

    “To live for the glory of God is every Christian’s greatest honor. This should be our all-consuming passion, and the motivating factor behind everything that we do. How can God’s people most effectively fulfill this divine and noble calling?

    “Love at Its Best” explores what Jesus said is the greatest of all the commandments — to love God and people. You will discover how to effectively glorify God through this as you gladly engage in the grand adventures of fulfilling the Great Commission.”

    http://www.livingwaters.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=368&category_id=9&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=199

  2. Habakkuk says:

    “There are two types of Christians; soul winners and backsliders.” ~Dr. Adrian Rogers, Love Worth Finding Ministries

  3. I think the best way to look at it is this way: Jesus said , “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mk 8:38)

    Notice it’s whoever, not evangelists, preachers, teachers, etc. He is including everyone. To not have a desire to proclaim the gospel is being ashamed at some level.

    Let’s face it, if you had the cure for cancer you would be heralding it from the rooftop, calling everyone you know and wanting everyone to hear about it. Yet Christians have the most glorious news that can fall on human ears and statistically most “professing believers” have absolutely no desire at all to share the gospel.

    It is sad, very sad. It is actually troubling and a sobering sign of the condition of the American church. Christians in other countries are being locked up for sharing the gospel while most of the American church is too busy having an obsession over sex sermons and the latest twitter update to have a concern over the lost soul sitting on the pew beside them!

    I too get very tired of hearing Christians tell me they don’t have the gift of evangelism. Last I checked that is not a gift ever described in Scripture. An evangelist is someone who proclaims the evangel – the good news. That should be each and every regenerate individual. As children of God we should love as He loves. God loved us when we were His enemies and we should have that same love for those walking on this earth with God’s wrath abiding on them. We should desire earnestly for the world to repent and believe. We should have an insatiable desire to bring glory to the Lamb who was worthy to be slain!

    Evangelism is not easy and it may even cause you to lose your life. But it is the greatest privilege a Christian can have. Imagine, a sinner clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ having the joy and privilege of sharing the most glorious news than can fall on human ears. I can think of no greater joy. In addition, each time a Christian shares the gospel they are also preaching the gospel to themselves constantly – something all Christians need to stay focused on – a cross and gospel centered life!

    I know that I too fall short in the time I spend sharing the gospel! I know this may sound strong (and I realize I have gotten preachy) but if a professing believer has absolutely no desire to proclaim the gospel or they are constantly finding pitiful excuses to avoid obeying their Lord, they need to examine themselves to see if they are truly saved! (2 Cor. 13:5)

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  4. Preach on, Jay!

    Before a motorcycle ride this morning, which I was leading, I briefed the 8 other riders (several of whom I know are in Christ) on safety and then on the law of man and then on the Law of God, telling them of the omnipotent Law Giver Who justifies those whom He elects. No escaping the final judgment – believe on the Lord and repent!

    Then off we went for some fun on back roads and good chow at a country restaurant :-)

  5. “We talk so much about being “Radical Christians”! Radical Christians are NOT people who jump at concerts! Radical Christians are NOT people who wear “Christian” tee shirts! Radical Christians are those who bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit!” ~ Paul Washer

  6. “Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. . . Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive. That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church.

    The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God’s displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.

    Something is wrong with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. It is clearly unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. Sadly, some actually believe that their salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God – a philosophy that has opened the door to worldliness in the church.” ~ John MacArthur

  7. John Wright says:

    “the omnipotent Law Giver Who justifies those whom He elects.”

    A question, Manfred (and all you 4 and 5 pointers)….this is honest-to-God serious….I am not trying to pick a fight, but would like a real answer to this question….do you worship God because you believe he is an infinitely moral entity, the creator of what is good, or just b/c he is awesome and powerful (the biggest show in the universe? See, my problem with Calvinists, is I believe you would worship Sadaam Hussein if he happened to have made the universe. That it isn’t God’s goodness that attracts you, but his power, and that strikes me as the epitome of cowardice….you love him out of fear and awe (or the balance tips in that direction over your love of his goodness). Please enlighten me. I’m having a (expletive deleted by editors) time trying to understand where you’re coming from.

  8. Tom Hunter says:

    Thank you for this post, I am going to print it out to share with people at church. This question has come up a number of times and I appreciate your concise answer here.

    I will surely give the credit to you when I share this, thanks for doing your part in the body.

    Tom

  9. This is a paraphrase b/c I can’t remember the exact quote, but Voddie Baucham said, “You had better want the “Go ye,” because without the “Go ye,” you don’t get the “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

  10. @Ministry Addict

    That sounds like Voddie :-) He consistently reminds us that, without Christ, we can do nothing but sin. While grace saves us, apart from “help”, He saves to obedience to His Word. A disobedient child should not expect the support of the Lord.

    Voddie describes this as the tension of the kingdom of God being “already but not yet”. We are justified (already) but not fully sanctified (not yet).

    We can believe the lie that we are not to witness, but that don’t make it Truth.

  11. JOHN WRIGHT:

    You actually bring up a good question that even Christians struggle with. CD stated it quite simply… “because He first loved us”. Christians are saved from what? Hell? No. God’s wrath. As a result of what He did for us (through Christ on the Cross), His great love was demonstrated for us. The contrast of the wrath (which we deserved) magnifies His love that much more when we see what He has done for us. Because of His grace & His love first shown to us, we are compelled (not coerced) to worship, glorify, honor and love Him. So too should we be passionate about sharing this great news (The Gospel) with the world. Not because we have to, not out of fear but, out of love.

    We should fear God… out of reverence, honor, respect.
    Equally, how could we not also love Him with all our being after all He has done for us?

    From a bigger perspective, God is the Creator of all things. That alone deserves fear/respect/worship… afterall, we are the creation :)

    ~ktf~
    John

  12. I realize this post is months late, but to answer John Wright’s question, why do I worship God, I think the answer is: because that is what I was designed and created to do. The more I discover this truth about myself, the more I understand that this is my Father’s will for me, the more I find worshipping Him becomes my overriding passion – the very reason for my being. Grace to you all. Maranatha!

  13. Jeff says:

    Every believer has the responsibility to witness, preferably once a day. It’s not hard at all. Even if all you do is pass out a tract a day, and tell someone that Jesus loves them, that counts! The more you do it, the better you’ll get. There is no greater thrill than being a part of a Divine Appointment, when God is really working on someone’s unbelief. Sadly, most believers are more interested in hording money than proclaiming the Lord. Jesus said that the deceitfulness of riches can suffocate a Christian life, and that not even when you’ve got a lot, does your life consist of material posessions. How many people do you know who’ve sold everything to follow Jesus? Probably none. How many people can recite the latest Dave Ramsey book by heart? Probably a lot of them.

  14. Brendan says:

    Hi, remember we are to be Christ like not like Christ. For which Christian wouldn’t find it hard to offer our other cheek if struck? Loving someone whom loves us carries no gain in sight of God. The real issue with christians is understanding the commandments of love and forgiveness. We are to love and forgive not from our mouth only but from our hearts also. If we truly examine ourselves we will know whether we have truly fulfilled these commandments.
    As for witnessing, the main problem for christians is handling objections from non believers, this is an area the shepherds of our churches let down the sheep. There is power in the name of Yahweh.

  15. briankoster says:

    The word “witness” is never used as a verb in the Bible. When Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses, he was only talking to the Eleven, and there were no lay people there. Additionally, the context in Acts 1 has to do with the resurrection. In order to be a witness, you must have witnessed the resurrection. Since none of us have witnessed the resurrection, we can’t be witnesses–all we can do is preach the gospel. I already hired my pastor to do that.

  16. briankoster says:

    1 Cor. 9:14: The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel shall make their living of the gospel. This is a command. Let the clergyman handle it.

  17. briankoster says:

    Additionally, Ephesians 4:12 does not say to “equip the church for works of service.” It says, “For perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, for edifying the body of Christ.” Your modern translation has it wrong. To prove this, read the homilies of John Crysostome–4th century bishop who spoke the original Greek. He interprets Eph. 4:12 EXACTLY as it is rendered in the KJV. So I dont want to hear anymore about “equipping.” It’s just not in the Bible.

  18. fleebabylon says:

    Briankoster,

    Laypeople and clergymen… that is so roman catholic and so unbiblical (as is all else you said including the scripture you cherry picked).

    Jim

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