39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42 (ESV)
The woman begins witnessing on behalf of Jesus. “He told me all that I ever did.” This was proof to her that he was a prophet. It became the evidence they needed to listen to Jesus themselves. The woman was so excited she couldn’t help but to say something to here friends, family and townspeople. The gospel overflowed from her, and it was effective.
Evangelism can be that way. Evangelism, the act of sharing the gospel, of telling others about Jesus Christ and what he has done for us and for you, that is what it is. He reconciled you to God the Father by dying in your place on the cross, he sanctified you by baptizing you in the name of the rather and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and made you one with the whole church of Christ on earth where he daily forgives your sins. Daily and richly forgives your sins, and that is pretty awesome if you ask me. I need that, I need forgiveness for my sins and I need it daily. I imagine you do to. The irony is I need it because I don’t always feel as exuberant over the gospel as this woman in the story. I know I should. But I don’t always. I do sometimes. And then at other times my zeal for the word of God and truth doesn’t always reveal itself in the gospel but in the law and I have a hard time bringing myself back around to the gospel. I hate that.
Evangelism can go as it did for the woman. But it doesn’t always. This can be for a variety of factors and it can be discouraging for a Christian. The plain hard truth of it is that the gospel doesn’t take root wherever it is sown, but you have no idea where it will or won’t take root. All a Christian can do is take joy in it and spread it wherever it is given for you to spread it and trust that God’s word does not come back to him empty it accomplishes its purpose one way or another. Sometimes that word is law and a person needs to choke on it awhile. I’m feeling ornery today, sorry. Had one of these conversations last night, it still has me in a bad mood, parents rejecting the gospel and the baptism of their children because they like the music or whatever of another so called church. There are times when I am just as much disinclined to think of baptists as Christians as I am the Mormons. Millstones for every one of them that cause those little believers in Christ to stumble. But I pray they repent. And by Baptist I mean all who refuse or deny the efficacy of baptism in an infant, who turn baptism into a work of the believer rather than Christ’s sanctifying work on a believer. I don’t care if you do claim to be “nondenominational,” that title just tells me you are ignorant or a liar.
Here is the deal, and this is what I don’t care for in these other churches. It isn’t evangelism if it isn’t the gospel. It is that plain. If you haven’t shared that Jesus Christ has died for your sins, it isn’t gospel. And if you make baptism a work for the believer, you undercut the gospel, you have not the gospel. I don’t know what you are doing but it isn’t evangelism. On the other hand parents bringing their hour old child to baptism are engaging in evangelism, there the Holy Spirit sanctifies their child and calls her by the gospel. It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see. If you invite your friend to “Church’ and they hear of all the wonderful things your church is doing for the community with health clinics and free mechanic help on Saturday, food drives etc, and a great sermon on how to put your marriage back together with Friday night date night, but they haven’t heard about Christ’s death and resurrection for them, then what ever it was it wasn’t evangelism. And also if they have heard of the forgiveness of sins but not as something that applies to the whole life of the believer but as something that is nothing more than a spiritual reset button so that they can now start trying to live the law all over again, it wasn’t the gospel. If they are admonished to complete with works of the flesh what was begun by the Spirit, it wasn’t the gospel. It wasn’t evangelism. For evangelism to be evangelism it has to center on the death and resurrection of Christ for the sinner to whom you are talking to. This is the gospel that his sins, her sins have been forgiven, and are forgiven, and will remain and be forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ.
This woman was so excited to see and know that the savior of the world had come she couldn’t help but tell others with that contagious type of joy that infects everyone around you. The gospel can have that effect. It is normally at that point that evangelism happens. It is the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer who has heard the gospel. See I think at root that is the problem with pushes for evangelism in the church. Those things tend to be driven by fear. We see declining numbers in the church etc. People higher up want to fix that problem they start giving speeches explicating the dire future of the church as if they had bought into every piece of propaganda Satan ever sent, and what are we going to do about it? So there are contests to see who can have the most gospel encounters. Kids are sent out to knock on doors and ask people what will happen to them if they die that night. Married couples are asked to have more sex, and create more children. And in the midst of all the fear mongering that goes along with such things, the gospel is lost. The Evangelism isn’t really evangelism it is forced, the product of the law. Yes, believers are told that if they don’t do this or that they aren’t Christians, if they don’t tell all their friends about Jesus they aren’t Christians. It is counterproductive.
The truth of the matter is that we all have different gifts, and some people are just gifted with the ability get friends and family to come to church, etc. I don’t know why we lose sight of it, that we are all one body, but not everyone of us is the mouth, and that is a good thing! Some of us are the hands, others of us are the feet, the torso, the eyes, the ears, and we all work together as forgiven sinners in the church. And we may not all have the same gifts, and yet we all share some of them together, the most important ones, the word of God, the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and gathered together there we work as one all sharing the varied gifts, some in administration, some in preaching others in teaching, some in caring for the needs of others and through it all God’s work is done in our midst, sinners are forgiven, the gospel is proclaimed, and others come to faith in the savior of the world.