There is a remarkable movement regarding evangelism. I believe a huge harvest is coming and God is preparing His people to put the sickle to the field of souls. The movement in evangelism is emerging through the loss and failure old evangelism paradigms. One of the hardest of these to jettison is the ill-conceived concept of the "gift of evangelism."
I believe that the lists of spiritual gifts in the Scriptures are not exhaustive (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, 1 Peter 4). In other words, it is conceivable that God has additional gifts, not listed in the New Testament, that He gives to the body to be encouraged and built up (1 Corinthians 12:7). There is one gift found on many Christian spiritual gift inventories that I would like to see removed. In fact, I do not believe that this gift has ever existed. It is not listed in the Bible and I do not believe God ever intended it to be a gift. He intended it to be the standard for every believer.
What is the gift that I do not believe exists? Evangelism! If I’m right, its a good thing it doesn’t exist because most people don’t want it anyway. When I speak about evangelism, I often have people tell me why they don’t have the gift of evangelism. They basically let themselves “off the hook” when it comes to all things evangelism. People are startled when I agree with them that they do not have the gift of evangelism. I’m often asked how I know that one person or another does not have the gift of evangelism. My response is that they don’t have that gift because no one has that gift; it does not exist.
Simply put, Jesus tells His followers to go about their daily lives while making disciples--which includes sharing the good news of Christ. Jesus also told us that He gives the Holy Spirit to every believer. One of the express purposes for giving us the Holy Spirit is so we have His power to be effective witnesses (evangelism) about who Jesus Christ is (Acts 1:8). We also know Jesus told His disciples to “not worry” about what to say or how to respond when the opportunity to talk about Him arises. We are not to worry because we will be given the exact right words at the exact right time so we can experience success every time (Matthew 10:16-20). In other words, everyone is to be an evangelizer. With Jesus giving us the words to say, will be successful every time; we will accomplish His purpose in every encounter.
In Acts 4:29-31 we encounter the story of a prayer meeting in Luke’s account of the early years of the church. Two of Jesus’ apostles, James and John, had just been released from jail for “evangelizing” and healing. They immediately joined other believers to give thanks to God for their release. What they prayed for is quite astounding and the results are even more stunning. Here a portion of their prayer to God:
“29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 (NASB)
All of the believers in this prayer meeting were begging God for the ability to “…speak His word with all confidence…”. One may surmise that these saints were praying for the gift of evangelism. I believe they were simply asking God to help them live out what He had already commanded and promised them (Mark 13:11 cf Matthew 28:20). What is God’s response to this type of prayer and faith?
“31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31 (NASB)
One of the results of being filled with the Spirit in the books of Acts is stated over and over again: they spoke the Word of God with boldness (see this study on a related topic). If one aspect of being filled with the Spirit is speaking the Gospel with boldness, then being bold in sharing the Gospel (evangelism) is available for everyone and should not be considered a spiritual gift.
If you don’t believe that you have the gift of evangelism you are right. You are, however, an Evangelizer! There is a gifted Evangelist given to the church (Ephesians 4:11-12). I will discuss this topic in my next post.
What do you think about the gift of evangelism after reading this article? How can we encourage believers to trust the promises Jesus gives us regarding evangelism instead of looking to others to be bold for us? When everyone believes and understands they are sent by Jesus to be evangelizers, more people will hear the truth and know the love of Jesus. To believe otherwise is a ploy of the enemy to silence the mighty army of God. I believe we are deluded by the enemy when we believe we are not capable of sharing the gospel powerfully. When we gain a biblical understanding of evangelism, more in the world will come to put their faith in Jesus!