The New Testament records five statements Jesus made about world evangelization after He was resurrected from the dead. In the first instance, recorded in Matthew 28:18–19, He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. [You go] therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
Jesus’ second statement about world evangelization is in Mark 16:15, where He said, “[You go] into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The third statement is recorded in Luke 24:47, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached … among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
The fourth statement is found in John 20:21, where Jesus said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
And Jesus’ fifth statement about world evangelization, just before He ascended to heaven, is found in Acts 1:8, “[You] shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: [you] shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Paul declares, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Do we have the same burning determination?
Lawlessness Demands Evangelism
Why do we evangelize? Why is evangelism so urgent? First, the lawlessness of our world demands evangelism. Scripture tells us, “As it is written, ‘There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God'” (Romans 3:10–11).
Jesus said, “Repent or perish” (see Luke 13:3). The United Nations cannot stop the lawlessness in our world. Education cannot stop the lawlessness. All of the armies in the world cannot stop the lawlessness in our society. Only the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can stop the lawlessness of our world! Therefore, we must preach the Gospel at all costs.
The Lostness of Mankind Urges Evangelism
We cannot evangelize aright until we believe that the person outside of Jesus Christ is lost and undone, without hope in this world or the world to come.
Scripture tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; … so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). A minister once said that he never knew what it meant for a person to be lost until a little girl was lost in a town where he pastored. This child and her little brother went out into the country to look for the cows. They did not find them.
When nightfall overtook them, they got into an argument as to which way led to their home. Neither one would give in. They went their own ways. When the little boy arrived home a little after dark, his mother asked, “Son, where is your sister?” He replied, “She said I was lost and would not come home with me. She went the other way.”
The news went out for miles around. Neighbors gathered to help search for the child. Women prayed with the mother while men searched the woods. It was understood that if anyone found her, he would fire a gun.
The next morning about daylight, the crack of a rifle was heard resounding over the wooded area. Everyone rushed back to the home and learned that the little girl had been found alive. The preacher said that strong men put their arms around each other and wept with joy. No one went to work that day. Plows stood still; stores were unopened. People gathered at the village church, rang the bell, sang praises, rejoiced that the child who was lost had been found.
The minister said he rejoiced with them and then began to think, “We spent all night searching for this child and now we are rejoicing that she has been found. Yet there are millions of lost souls around us. We have spent no sleepless nights in prayer for them. May God forgive us for not being deeply concerned over lost, hell-bound souls. May we pray and weep over the lost and join God’s searching party, seeking to find them and bring them home!”
There is only one way for God to banish the darkness of sin, to remove the degradation of sin, to heal the disease of sin, to cleanse the defilement of sin, to abolish the death of sin, to pay the debt of sin. This God has done in the redeeming work of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He paid the debt. He died the death. He cleansed from defilement. He removed the degradation. He healed the disease. He is life.
We Evangelize Because the Love of Christ Compels Us
What is our theological rationale for making Christian disciples? We evangelize because the love of Christ compels us! The New English Bible reads, “For the love of Christ leaves us no choice” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Precisely what is this love of Christ that leaves us no choice but to engage in the ministry of reconciliation and evangelization?
When Sam James was serving as a missionary in Vietnam, one day he got into a taxi and struck up a conversation with the driver. The cab driver, realizing that James spoke his language, asked him how long he had been in Vietnam. Then he said, “You must really love the Vietnamese very much. What do you love about them?”
The question kept nagging at James all day, into the night. “What do you love about them?” James couldn’t sleep. He went into his study and began to pray. As he talked with God, he realized that he really did not love the Vietnamese, and he confessed it to Him. It seemed as though God spoke to James, saying, “I didn’t send you here because you love the Vietnamese. I sent you here because I love them and want to love them through you.”
There is no higher motive for evangelization than the love of God. It was agape love that moved God to send His only begotten Son into the world.
A young man in Korea killed 17 people. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to execution. While he was waiting on death row, a Christian woman visited him. At first he did not respond to her visit. However, when he was hungry she sent him food. When he was cold she sent him warm clothing. During the Christmas season she sent him a card to express her care and love for him.
Finally, one day he received Christ as his own personal Savior. Before he went to the gallows, he wrote 11 letters to the woman, stating that he believed God had forgiven him and that he trusted Christ as his Savior. Just before he was executed, officials asked if he had any final words.
He said, “Gentlemen, I have accepted Christ as my Savior. Today I’m going to meet my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. I long to see you trust Christ as your personal Savior, so that we can meet in heaven.”
If the love of God can change a murderer, He can change my family, my neighborhood, my community, my nation and my world! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Let us evangelize, evangelize, evangelize the whole world with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen and amen!
This article is adapted from “The Motives for Evangelism,” an address by Billy Kim given at the Amsterdam 2000 Conference for Preaching Evangelists.
Billy Jang Hwan Kim is senior pastor of Suwon Central Baptist Church in Suwon, Korea, and president of Far East Broadcasting Company in Korea.