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Sermon #1080

The Works of an Evangelist


We tend to be like Peter. Consider the painfully pointed exchange between Jesus and Peter after the
resurrection. After confronting Peter with his thrice-spoken, Do you love me? Jesus tells him in John
21:18-22, Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked
where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you
and carry you where you do NOT wish. This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify
God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, Follow Me. Then Peter, turning around, saw the
disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said,
Lord, who is the one who betrays You? Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, But Lord, what about this
man? Jesus said to him, If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.

Instead of pondering carefully the sober words Jesus directed at HIM, Peter reacts as if nothing Jesus
said concerned him. Peter pivots to John, the beloved disciple, and says, in effect, Hey! What about
this guy? Is that not the way we often handle instruction relevant to our own lives? Jesus has given
all men considerable responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities, and, instead of bearing down and
taking care of our own business (which generally requires all of the time, effort, and energy we have),
Christians want to shift the focus of our attention to someone else.

The evangelist PREACHES what the lost and erring need to hear, but who preaches to the
evangelist?

An unknown author wrote the following titled, What a Preacher Needs.

The strength of an ox, The daring of a lion, The harmlessness of a dove, The gentleness of a sheep,
The vision of an eagle, The perspective of a giraffe, The endurance of a camel, The stomach of a
horse, The faithfulness of a prophet, The tenacity of a bulldog, The wisdom of an owl, The industry of
a beaver, The versatility of a chameleon, The hide of a rhinoceros, The disposition of an angel, The
bounce of a kangaroo, The loyalty of an apostle, The tenderness of a shepherd, The devotion of a
mother, And even then he would not please everyone!

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What is an evangelist?

Joseph Thayer says in his lexicon that an evangelist is a bringer of good tidings; the name given to
the New Testament heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles. Simply put, an
evangelist is a gospel preacher.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article on Evangelist by James Gray reads:

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This is a form of the word ordinarily translated "gospel" except that here it designates one who
announces that gospel to others ("a bringer of good tidings"), literally, God Himself is an evangelist,
for He "preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham" (Galatians 3:8); Jesus Christ was an
evangelist, for He also "preached the gospel" (Luke 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an
apostle (Romans 1:15); Philip the deacon was an evangelist (Acts 21:8); and Timothy (2 Timothy
4:5); and indeed all the early disciples (in a general sense- BH) who, on being driven out of
Jerusalem, "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4 KJV).

But Ephesians 4:11 teaches that one particular order of the ministry, distinguished from every other,
is singled out by the Head of the church for this work in a distinctive sense. All may possess the gift of
an evangelist in a measure, and be obligated to exercise its privilege and duty, but some are specially
endued with it. He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and
some, pastors and teachers. It will be seen that as an order in the ministry, the evangelist precedes
that of the pastor and teacher, a fact which harmonizes with the character of the work each is still
recognized as doing. The evangelist has no fixed place of residence, but moves about in different
localities, preaching the gospel to those ignorant of it before. As these are converted and united to
Jesus Christ by faith, the work of the pastor and teacher begins, to instruct them further in the things
of Christ and build them up in the faith

Its extremely important to understand that the evangelists work is perpetual, not temporary. We read
in Ephesians 4:11-12, And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists,
and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ We note the temporary nature of the work of apostles and prophets
in 1 Corinthians 13:8, But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues,
they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. Nothing, however, suggests that the
evangelist, pastor and teacher are temporary works. If no one does the work of the evangelist or
preacher, the truth suffers and kingdom shrinks.

The preacher is not obligated to entertain; he is not charged with demonstrating his great intellect; he
is commissioned with preaching the word. The preacher requires no Doctor of Divinity or seminary
degree. In fact, Acts 4:13 presents a sample of the type of men Jesus chose over the rabbis, lawyers,
and members of the Sanhedrin: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived
that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been
with Jesus.

The evangelists work should generate respect. The value of an evangelist is not based on his
charisma, intellect, education, or eloquence, but on the noble work in which he engages as a
megaphone for the Master. The Spirit breaks down significance of the evangelists work and the right
spirit of the Christian toward the evangelist in Romans 10:14-15, How then shall they call on Him in
whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And
how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is
written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of
good things!" Unbelievers cannot respond to a gospel they have never heard and they will never
hear unless there is a preacher within earshot. So, we see how special the role of the evangelist or
gospel preacher is in the church.

Unfortunately, today, religious leaders demonstrate dissatisfaction with the place of the gospel
preacher or evangelist and accept special titles of honors not once found among teachers, preachers,
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and even apostles in Scripture. Although the term reverend is only applied to God in the Scriptures
(Psalm 111:9), religious leaders take this title of honor and related ones: very reverend, right
reverend, and most reverend. Others take on the unbiblical titles of your eminence, your
excellency, "worshipful master, Doctor, Archbishop, father, pontiff (which is short for pontifex
maximus) even president and pope. Compare these to biblical terms, "brother," "fellow-worker,"
"fellow-soldier," "laborer," and "servant."

Incidentally, the Catholic Encyclopedia admits of the abbreviated word pontiff: The terms Pontifex
Maximus, Summus Pontifex, were doubtless originally employed with reference to the Jewish high-
priest. In the New Testament, Jesus is the ONLY high priest the church ever knew. This office held
only by Jesus is found seventeen times in the book of Hebrews. The high priest of the church in the
New Testament is without sin (Hebrews 4:15), continues forever (Hebrews 7:24), and is higher than
the heavens (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus is the only one with so high a rank.

Meanwhile, the apostle Paul urges all Christians in Romans 12:16 (English Standard Version), Do
not be haughty Similarly, the Spirit adds in Philippians 2:3, Let nothing be done through selfish
ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. No first
century preacher was more influential than the apostle Peter, yet he did not use any of the elevated
terms or titles we have noticed when speaking of himself. Instead, he did not even elevate himself
over the other elders he served with, writing simply in 1 Peter 5:1, "The elders who are among you I
exhort, I who am a fellow elder."

The bottom line: the evangelists duty is to serve, not rule

James and John presented Jesus with a teachable moment when they urged Jesus--with the help of
their motherto grant them the two highest seats of honor in His kingdom. Matthew 20:25-28, But
Jesus called them to Himself and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles LORD IT over them,
and those who are great exercise AUTHORITY over them. Yet it shall NOT be so among you; but
whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first
among you, let him be your slave--just as the Son of Man did NOT come to be served, but to serve,
and to give His life a ransom for many."

The apostle warns of the connection between division and the unwarranted elevation of men in 1
Corinthians 1:12-13. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, or I am
of Cephas, or I am of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in
the name of Paul? While evangelists may receive excessive honor, the other extreme must also be
avoided.

The evangelist should not be loathed for doing his duty

In some Christian homes the most common dish served for Sunday dinner is roast preacher. What
about your house? The apostle Paul queries in Galatians 4:16, Have I therefore become your enemy
because I tell you the truth? At times, preachers may be able to relate to the same apostles
experience as he details in 1 Corinthians 4:13, We have been made as the filth of the world, the
offscouring of all things until now. Dont hate on the preacher; he is only the messenger. The Jews
crucified Jesus and stoned Stephen simply because the message stung. Jesus and Stephen merely
relayed Gods words.

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The preacher should be held to a high standard. James 3:1, My brethren, let not many of you
become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. Though some criticism is well-
deserved, much of it is inappropriate gossip or slander; sometimes people judge the preachers
MOTIVES when none of us can read another's heart. Let us remember that while we may judge
conduct, it is God alone who judges hearts.

While were talking about the teacher receiving stricter judgment, one must be a Christian before he
can be an evangelist. Great knowledge, sound teaching, eloquent presentation, a strong work ethic,
and charisma cannot substitute for godly living. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16, Let
no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in
faith, in purity. .Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be
evident to ALL. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will
save both yourself and those who hear you. The influence the evangelist yields in his congregation
(and beyond) leaves others vulnerable (especially the young and the weak) whenever he goes rogue.
Gross immorality in an evangelist or elder devastates a congregation and damages its influence in a
community for years.

Modern advancements facilitate evangelism.

Automobile and air travel make Going into all the world much easier. High literacy rates enable Bible
reading. With sixty-six books bound in one book we can carry, we certainly see All Scripture through
a different lens than did the evangelist Timothy. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Gutenberg rocked the world with the printing press and ignited the Reformation with the printing of
Bibles. Gutenberg would be amazed at how far weve come. The United Bible Societies says, Over
14 million Bibles were distributed in 2014. The Bible Society of the UK calculates the printing of 7.5
billion Bibles between 1816 and2007 or roughly one copy of God's word for each person on earth!
.A complete translation of God's word has been published in over 450 languages. The New
Testament has been distributed in nearly 1,400 languages, with the Gospel of Mark in over 2,300
languages. Thats amazing! This was not the case when the apostle Paul wrote these words to
Timothy. The New Testament had not even been completed. How blessed the modern evangelist is!

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus
Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be
ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For
the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires,
because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their
ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure
afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. Despite the fact that many WILL turn
away from the truth and toward fables, the evangelist must continue to do the work of an evangelist
and fulfill his ministry.

I must evangelize because I committed to do so when I became an evangelist. It is a stewardship


issue. The evangelist must avoid burying the gospel like the man who buried his talent.

Elders and Teachers can help the evangelist evangelize


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Evangelists often become overwhelmed with administrative work, with studies with members, and
with other types of pastoral responsibilities. Elders and teachers can and should relieve the evangelist
of much of these internal responsibilities and free him up to reach out to the lost.

Im thankful that we have so many edifying teachers where I worship, but where did we get the idea
that teaching is only something done in public? Acts 20:20, I have taught you publicly and from
house to house. Where are the teachers that will teach their brethren in home studies? The primary
responsibility of the evangelist is to deliver the babies and the primary responsibility of teacher and
elders is to help bring them to maturity.

Doing the work of an evangelist and fulfilling my ministry as an evangelist means being more than a
pulpit minister, more than acquiring knowledge, and more than doing pastoral work. If I could fulfill my
obligations as an evangelist, I would read and study all day every day. I realize, though, that I can be
so consumed with reading and studying that I end up neglecting evangelism. I ask myself from time to
time: if I do all the reading I want to do, will teachers in my congregation be as evangelistic as they
should be. What about the rest of the congregation? Would they value evangelism as they should?

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Evangelist. We close with the words the apostle Paul issued in Romans 16:16, the churches of
Christ salute you. Until next week, goodbye and God bless!

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