Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 22, 2008

1. The Call from Above

When it comes to evangelism, Christ-followers have a two-fold responsibility — to show Christ (incarnation) and to share Christ (proclamation). Both are essential. Like two wings on an airplane, we need both incarnation (our ways) and proclamation (our words) in order to get our witness off the ground. Every Christ-follower is called to be an evangelist and a missionary. We cannot escape this call.

According to the Bible, evangelism begins with a call from above. God Himself calls, commands, and commissions us to evangelize our world. Evangelism begins with a call from above because that is where evangelism began — in the heart of God. He sent His Son into the world (John 3:16) to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10).

The last command of Jesus was a command to evangelize (read Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8). We are still under obligation to obey this command; it has not been repealed. There are no exemptions to obedience by virtue of our age, gender, rank, race, or riches. Nor can we substitute anything in place of this command. Regardless of whatever else we may do in the church and for the kingdom, these things are to be done in addition to but not in place of evangelism.

John R. Mott, one of the most outstanding Christian leaders of the last century, addressed a group of students in 1901, challenging them to share Christ with others. His words are as relevant today as they were on the day he spoke them.

[We must realize] “not only that all men need Christ, but that we owe Christ to all men. To have a knowledge of Christ is to incur a tremendous responsibility to those that have it not. You and I have received this great heritage not to appropriate it to our own exclusive use, but to pass it on to others. It concerns all men. We are trustees of the gospel, and in no sense sole proprietors. … What a colossal crime against … the human race to withhold this surpassing knowledge!”

[The last command of Christ] “awaits its fulfillment by a generation which shall have the requisite faith and courage and audacity and the purpose of heart to do their duty to the whole world. It would seem to me that every Christian who is a Christian of reality ought to be a missionary Christian … for … ‘If my faith be false, I ought to change it; whereas if it be true, I am bound to propagate it.’ There is no middle ground; either abandon my religion or be a missionary in spirit.”

Mott was right. Think about it. If we were not called to evangelism, then we would not have to concern ourselves with telling others about Jesus; we would not have to make evangelism a personal priority; we would be able to call every missionary home; we could stop the publication and distribution of tracts and evangelism materials; and we would not have to concern ourselves with the spiritual welfare of others. But, that is not the case. There is a divine call to evangelism that comes from above and is directed at every Christ-follower. We are called to go and tell and to tell as we go.

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