To Some He Gave Evangelists
We’ve been talking about Dominionism and the Great Commission recently. It got me thinking about the act of simply evangelizing the lost. What is interesting is what Paul says in Ephesians 4:11-16 that has something to do with our human efforts in that arena.
11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. 14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love. (NET)
Paul mentions “love” several times in the above passage. Starting with the end of that passage, Paul reminds us that we are to practice the truth in love and ultimately, we are to – as a body – grow in love. This is something that seems to be seriously lacking from Christians to the world. Oh, we know how to boycott and protest and sometimes, there is a need for that. But we too often fail to realize we are largely dealing with the world and its anti-God mindset. We cannot expect the world to act as though they appreciate us or God. Certainly, the natural reaction of the world is to reject God’s truth about Himself, isn’t it (Romans 1)?
In the first part of the above passage, Paul highlights how God has provided certain individuals within the Body of Christ whom He has given special gifts or positions that benefit the whole of His Body. Paul says that God has given some people to be apostles or prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. What is the reason for these individuals with these unique gifts/talents? It is to – as Paul states in verse 12 – equip the saints for the work of ministry.
Equipping the saints for ministry – as Paul explains – is to build up the body of Christ. Each of us – when we enter into the Body of Christ by embracing salvation – are given special gifts/talents directly by God to be used for His purposes and His glory. This is done when we use our gifts to build up the Body of Christ by equipping them for ministry. The ministry is really twofold.
- it ministers to and builds up the Church (other Christians), and
- it reaches out to the lost of this world
This is really Paul’s take on the Great Commission (Matthew 28). He understood that Christians have a twofold purpose and that purpose is found in building up one another and reaching out to the lost of this world so that they can also become part of the Body of Christ.
However, in today’s world, it has become very difficult in some ways to minister to other people. I wrote half in jest on a social network the other day that there are essentially two types of people in this world, those who agree with you and those who don’t. That’s essentially it and when we are talking with folks who do not agree with us, the conversation can come to an abrupt end. We saw this during Paul’s ministry as he worked his way through Asia Minor. In Acts 17, Paul is at various places and tries to reason with the individuals there. In general, he was laughed at and called a “babbler.” He and Silas were chased from one place to another.
In some respects it has not gotten better for Christians because people believe what they want to believe. The other day I was talking with an individual who has a great ministry exposing aspects of the New Age movement. I’ve read many of his articles and find myself in agreement with him often. However, recently, he took to delving into the area of “natural” medicine and essentially labeled all of it as a form of shamanism. He said there is no such thing as “natural” medicine, etc., and it is his belief that this type of untruthful labeling does a great disservice and hides the true nature of that area, which he categorizes New Age.
When I tried to help him understand that the use of the word “natural” simply means that the emphasis is on helping our bodies to naturally heal themselves, it didn’t matter. His preference is western medicine because he feels that’s what the science supports. The problems associated with western medicine are many and I personally believe that there is room for both methods in society. Using “natural medicine” simply means finding ways that are more natural (even if supplements containing chemicals are used), that allow the body to heal itself.
Let’s face it, in reality, doctors do not heal the body at all. At best, they treat symptoms and find ways to help the body to heal. This is what natural medicine tries to do as well. Is there quackery in the natural medicine field? Absolutely. Are there terrible medical doctors who practice medicine? Absolutely. The consumer/patient needs to be as aware as possible before agreeing to any procedure whether it is sanctioned by the medical profession or the naturopathy profession.
At any rate, the conversation he and I engaged in grew pointless because he was convinced that natural medicine has origins in the same demonic system that undergirds this world. I couldn’t disagree more.
One of the benefits of natural medicine is that it attempts to address the root of the problem and not simply the symptoms. Changes in diet, avoidance of certain foods, etc., go a long way in helping our bodies heal, regain, and maintain health. For instance, his belief is that the liver, gall bladder, kidney, and other organs are created by God to keep the body detoxified. While this is certainly true, he denies that these organs can become filled with toxins that need to be expelled from the body and sometimes are so overworked because of what we eat, what we breathe, and what we drink that they cannot keep up. Because of that, they need some help in detoxifying and there are numerous healthy ways to accomplish this. Bottom line is that he has his sources and I have mine. We had to agree to disagree and we made absolutely no progress.
I merely use this as an example of how conversations can come up against brick walls. The discussion can be about anything; sports, religion, diet, health, western medicine, natural medicine, or something else entirely. Everyone has their opinion and, for the most part, they stick with their opinions.
Acts 17 highlights just a few examples from Paul’s life about how he tried (and failed) to convince some folks of the efficacy of Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection. In fact, though Paul was certainly an apostle and his heart clearly went out to the lost of this world, we might argue that he did not necessarily have the gift of evangelism.
All of us are to do our part when it comes to introducing lost people to Jesus. Some of us plant seeds. Some of us water those seeds that others have planted. The evangelist – in my view – usually comes at the end of the line when the “harvest” for that person occurs. The evangelist has the gift of bringing those people into the Kingdom of God while many of us do not have that particular gift. I like what one person said about the gift of evangelism:
People with the spiritual gift of evangelism have a knack for talking to people about their Christian faith and bringing people to Christ. Those with this gift tend to hang out outside the church talking to non-Christians. They are strong in their own faith, and feel compassion and a desire to see others have what they have in Jesus.
I look back over my life and I can only recall a few situations where I was able to lead someone to Jesus. Most of the time, I have either possibly planted seeds or watered them. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he simply states, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.”
That’s the reality, isn’t it? I need to be content with the fact that having a very brief discussion with someone either plants a seed or waters it. I may never be there when that person comes to know Jesus as Savior/Lord. Someone else might be there when that happens, but the seeds I planted and the water I poured over that seed was just as important as the end result. Why? Because God – who caused it to grow – was there every step of the way. It is to Him goes the glory anyway, right?
Do not limit yourself in thinking that if you aren’t leading people to Jesus, you’re not fulfilling the Great Commission. If you have opportunity to do that, you should most certainly do it, but every day, we come across people where a seed can be planted or a seed that’s been planted can be watered. We won’t know the true impact that we’ve had on others until after this life is over.
Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Eastern Mysticism, eternity, israel, new age movement, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: apostles, ephesians 4:11-16, equip the saints, evangelism, evangelists, great commission, pastors, teachers.