And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-13
As the third teaching in the “Get to know the 5-Fold” series today, we are looking at the Christ given gift of Evangelist. As we are all called to evangelize, it is imperative that we understand the importance of this as well as the difference between evangelism and the Christ given gift (or office) of Evangelist. Evangelism is the key ingredient required to bring about salvation, which aside from worship is the truest and highest priority of the mission of the church that, sadly, is often overlooked. The Greek word for Evangelist in the above 5-Fold ministry text is “euaggelistés” which means “bearer of good news”. There are many teachings within the body of Christ that teach that the message of Evangelism is to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. While in some ways this is often true, the purest message of an Evangelist is the gospel of salvation itself. If we focus the messages we bring to others solely on the message of repentance, we miss valuable opportunities to witness to people in our lives. Acts 21:8 names Phillip as a very effective Evangelist. We are later given clarity into his role in 2 Timothy 4:5 as the mission of Evangelist is to provide proof to the unbeliever that Christ is, in fact, alive. As per usual, let’s look at the examples set for us by the life of Christ as a cornerstone for us as we learn how we are to operate in evangelism.
One of Christ’s most powerful examples of Evangelism occurred while He hung on the cross in the midst of his most brutal torture and sufferings just prior to his death, burial, and resurrection. Let’s look at the conversation held between the thieves who were being crucified along side of Jesus and His response to them. “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” ~Luke 23:39-43. In this scene, one of the thieves that was being hanged had not repented for his sins of thievery and was still being accusatory filled with doubt and unbelief. But the cross experience for the other thief had brought him into accountability and repentance already, perhaps by the mere witness of seeing Jesus suffer in a way that seemed unnecessary. In fact, so much so that he defended Christ’s innocence and asked that he might be remembered after Christ had gone to be with the Father. Christ’s response was amazingly powerful and applicable. In the midst of Christ’s own sufferings, Christ delivered good news to the repentant thief and assured him that on that very day they would be together in heaven. His life preached repentance all on it’s own, struggles and all, without Him ever having to mention it.
A second example involves a word of knowledge given by God to Christ in the case of the Samaritan woman. Jesus was having a conversation with her that, in and of itself, would culturally be considered as taboo. He went out of His way to meet her in her place of affliction despite tradition and custom. He was speaking to her about living water. His dialogue seemed to be designed to prompt her to ask questions. After he gave her the good news that He himself was what she was seeking, He spoke to her unbelief by giving her inside information (a word of knowledge) He had received from God the father about her marital past and her current sexual relationship with a man she was seeing. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.John 4:16-19. While some may argue that Jesus “called her out” on her sexual sin, her response was evidence that she was not offended. Jesus’ word of knowledge exposed the truth about what was really going on in her life by addressing yet another topic, sexual impurity, that was considered taboo or off limits, too. By speaking these words, the woman was “called up” into a life of accountability through the establishment of their new relationship. Because of this, she was able to receive the gospel He had already planted fully. The good news that Jesus is the living water and, with Him, she would never thirst. She gave glory to God, honored Jesus as prophetic, and went on her way to operate in evangelism, the good news that Jesus loves us despite our iniquity, herself.
As we can see in either of these examples, repentance was not the focus. The good news that allows for repentance was. In both cases, Jesus was willing to go where He “should” not go to deliver the gospel to the hurting and the lost and to turn them into “fishers of men” themselves. The mission of the Christ given gift of Evangelist brings a commitment to serving the needy by going to locations or other regions where they are known to congregate so that they are able to have the greatest impact. A prepared Evangelist is adaptable to the culture and climate they are sent by God to reach. The Christ given gift (office) of Evangelist helps to organize missions to (or efforts for) the needy and prepares others to operate in their own service gifts as well. Evangelist is one of the 5-Fold ministry offices that is often missing. Many people who are called to the role of Evangelist don’t have clear examples set for them in the church. Since preaching is a large part of Evangelism and use of the prophetic service gifts, primarily healing, they often misinterpret their God given assignment as a calling to Pastor or to be a Prophet. Thus, further leaving the church without the accountability of a needed Evangelist and an inability to fulfill the great commission of “going into all of the world to preach the gospel”. Many Evangelists go out on their own and start their own ministries as they are not always valued in the church due to the lack of examples preciously set. Like the other 5-Fold ministry gifts, Evangelists are often criticized for the places they are called to go and the people they are called to reach. While this has the potential to produce much Kingdom fruit, the need to be a part of a fellowship for their own support and accountability will always be relevant.
Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for the gift your son Jesus gave of Evangelist. We thank you that all of us know you as a result of evangelistic efforts of some kind and we honor you for those individual efforts. We lift Evangelists up to you and ask for your hand of continued blessing, favor, provision, and protection over them. We ask, Lord that you provide more clear examples in your churches of the office of Evangelist in purest action. And we praise you that you are raising up and preparing more Evangelists each and every day committed to bringing you all of the credit and glory that comes with the Salvation. And, most importantly, we thank you for the harvest of souls they are called to reach. In Jesus Name, Amen.
For an example of pure Evangelism in action through the Christ given gift of Evangelist and how we are all called to evangelize, please view Todd White of Lifestyle Christianity’s video.
Notes from the Holy Spirit by Pastor Audra Waters-Leary 8/5/18, “Get to Know the 5-Fold” series.
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