from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
You know that good Christians should be sharing their faith. You desire to be obedient, but often are overtaken by a pressure to perform. Sometimes, you get confused about what you should share. You certainly don't want to lead someone astray. Take a closer look at 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 for a fresh view on evangelism. Keep Reading...
The Ministry of Evangelism
Evangelism = the Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV - All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 lays out the Gospel message and the role of Christians in spreading out the news of this message. In our day, we would commonly refer to this as evangelism - the proclamation of the good news. But, how does this Scripture refer to our role as evangelists? It actually talks about the ministry of reconciliation (to be made right with God).
This perhaps sheds a much different light on our role to be “salt and light” Matthew 5:13-14, “preachers of the Gospel” Mark 16:15, or “laborers in the harvest field” Matthew 9:38. The ministry of reconciliation speaks right to the heart of the human’s core problem - he is not right with God… he is not reconciled to God.
Therefore, our main responsibility as evangelists is to implore people to be reconciled to God. To preach a Gospel that revolves around a person’s need for purpose, love, joy or peace is missing the point. The Gospel is centered upon a person’s need to be made right with God. Their sin puts them in conflict with the Almighty God. It is this sin problem that needs to be addressed. It is reconciliation with God that needs to be proclaimed. This is our ministry as evangelists… to spread the news that reconciliation is made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Let's look at the following verses to see how to do this.
The Motivation for Evangelism
Compelled by the love of Jesus
2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV - For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
In order to properly join in this ministry of reconciliation, we must be “compelled” by the love of Christ. Because the basic problem of man is his sin and rebellion, it can be easy for the evangelist to be vindictive in his approach. We can be motivated by a sense of moral justice or revulsion at sin. We can communicate to people in such a way to make them feel devalued and disgraced.
But how did Jesus approach us in our sin? He came out of his love and with the approach of love. Some might have a sense that the Father sacrificed on our behalf with a look of disgust on his face, like an annoyed dad who has to clean up the milk his toddler has spilled. But, that is not true. With great love in his heart for us, the Father sent Jesus to the cross. He desperately wants us to be in right relationship with himself.
Does the love of Jesus compel you? The word “to compel” in Greek is συνέχω sunechō - "to hold together, to hold fast, to be seized by." Have you been seized by the love of Jesus, so much so that it flows out of you? It is the love of Jesus that implores people to be reconciled to God. He is not a God that delights in the punishment of sin. In your evangelism, are you motivated by, compelled by, seized by his love? Or is there another motivation at play?
How do you become compelled by Jesus' love? This happens when you realize how much mercy he has had on you. When you are overcome with the knowledge of his undeserved love in your life, this will spill out in your conversations. When you are seized by the truth of the Father's unconditional love, you will extend your voice and hands with compassion. Your motivation will come out of your personal revelation of his mercy in your life.
The Message of Evangelism
"Be reconciled to God!"
2 Corinthians 5:15 ESV - "…and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised."
Why did Jesus save us? Does he simply want another name on his register, the Book of Life? Did he save us so that we could experience love, joy and peace in our lives? This Scripture passage clearly states the purpose of his salvation: "that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him." It is possible for us to proclaim a Gospel that is human-centered… i.e. "Come to Jesus and get his free gifts of life, purpose, joy and peace." Actually, Jesus is saving us from self-centeredness. He knows that when we are in rebellion, living for ourselves, our destruction is imminent. Through his salvation, we learn to live for Jesus. This is how we were designed. Real life is only found in living for him and not ourselves.
The Scriptures continue here: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV So you see that Jesus did not come to give add-ons to your life. His salvation does not mean that he "adds on" love, purpose, and eternal life to your existence. Futhermore, Jesus did not come as a surgeon to cut out the cancer of sin in your life. No, something much more severe is at work. A death needs to take place. We are called to die to our flesh. This means that our old way of self-centered living needs to die. Then Jesus will raise us up as a new creation. This is the miracle of salvation. We can do the possible of acknowledging and dying to our sin, while God will do the impossible of raising us to new life,
In evangelism, God wants to use us in this "death-to-self" process. When you share the Gospel with someone, if there is no acknowledgement of a need to die (i.e. change ways, get rid of self-centeredness), then there can be no raising to new life. The leading of someone to the cross (death to self) must be done with great love and care. It is actually a move of great love that would rush to save someone who doesn't even believe they are drowning.
The Method of Evangelism
"We implore you…."
2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV - "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
We have been entrusted with a ministry and a message. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation (seeing people made right with God.) 2 Corinthians 5:18 This is a ministry given to all Christians, not just the pastor or missionary. It is also put another way in 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are called as ambassadors - people who represent the King to everyone on earth. What is this minister or ambassador to do? According to Scripture, our role as Christians is to "implore" people to be reconciled to God.
The word "implore" in Greek is δέομαι deomai: to want, entreat, to beg. In many contexts this same word is used in the sense of begging or calling out with great earnestness. Matthew 9:38; Luke 5:12; Luke 9:38; 1 Thessalonians 3:10 In evangelism we should in no way "beg" for salvations. However, we should implore or beg God to move in power. Then, we are called to speak to people in great earnestness. Our deep desire should be that people be made right with God. Paul says, "We beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." We should not be put off by rejection. The one who implores is the one who perseveres in evangelism.
This sounds quite bold. But, it is this approach that unlocks the resurrection power of Jesus. Love someone enough to be bold in your evangelism. Show them with tenderness the great need they have to be made right with God.
All Christians have been given a commission to proclaim the message of reconciliation. What does this mean? Compelled by the great love of Jesus, we are called to show people the destruction caused by self-centered living. It is living for self (self-idolatry) that utterly rejects the most merciful and loving God. We need to let people know that God desperately wants them to be in a right relationship with himself. He even made a way for this to happen through the death of his Son, Jesus, on the cross.
Unless there is an acknowledgement of rebellion and self-centeredness, there can be no resurrection into new life. With all of our God-given creativity and love, we are called to implore people, to beg people - "You need God. You need to be made right with God. Don't delay."
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21
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