The Stewardship of Evangelism
The good news of the resurrected life of Christ penetrates the darkness of the lost world when the church overflows with the witness and gladness of God’s grace.
Our Stewardship: Evangelism.
Our stewardship of shepherding here should result in the saints enjoying such reality in Christ that they minister out of the overflow of a full heart.
When revival is the experience of the church, then evangelism will be the expression of the church. John Piper says, “People who prize Jesus praise Jesus.” He continues, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.” Nehemiah encouraged his workers with, “For the joy of the Lord is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Real joy in the camp equips the soldier for work and witness. Paul related his heart to the problem-ridden church at Corinth. “Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand,” (II Corinthians 1:23, 24) With God as witness Paul said:
I gave you time and space to repent.
I have no interest in domination.
I am a helper of your joy.
In this stewardship of evangelism, we are right to start with being helpers and models of joy. Countless times over these 50 years, I have had to find a place to retreat for a while, and like David, encourage myself in the Lord.
Satan hates the spread of the gospel and leadership that helps move people toward a joyful, bold witness of the gospel will often come under attack. In David’s case at Ziklag, the women and children had been taken captive, the city had been burned with fire, his army wept till they could weep no more, and some spoke of stoning David. Alone with God, David found encouragement and direction from God to win a great battle and recover all that the Amalekites had taken (I Samuel 30). Sometimes you will have to fight for your joy as well.
From the autobiography of George Mueller, we read, “It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than 14 years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul in a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon me!”
People are more likely to follow a joyful leader.
In short, unified, glad and single-hearted believers make the best evangelists. They seem to find favor with people, and doors seem to open for them. The Lord loves to add new babies to these joyful nurseries (Acts 2:46,47).
Don’t miss Jesus’ way of keeping people passionate for the harvest. Notice the progression of these familiar words, “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest,” (Matthew 9:37,38). This is Christ’s way of making our church excellent at outreach. He first wants us, through prayer, to become occupied with the Lord of the harvest. When we do, He pours His life and passion for the shepherdless multitude into us. As we follow Him, He sends us forth into strategic places with sufficient power. While there, we freely give away what He has freely given us (Matthew 10:1-8). We never need to evangelize in our own limited strength. We can live by His life and be empowered by His passion for the harvest. The secret to keep people reaching out is to keep them reaching up. Jesus is still “moved with compassion,” literally “sick to His stomach” over the multitudes. So He instructs us, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:4,5).
Without the life-giving Vine, the most enthusiastic branch will have a very short ministry. As stewards of evangelism, we need to encourage our branches to abide in the Vine, and lasting fruit will come (John 15:11).