This course explores the biblical call to preach the gospel in all the world by training students to be effective evangelists. Beginning with a clear exposition of the “evangel” (gospel), the class then moves to consider the history of gospel communication in the church and also contemporary ways of presenting the gospel in our culture. Students will have the chance to investigate different ways of sharing the gospel and also practice their communication of the gospel through various means.
AT623 Lesson 01
Explore the broad definition of evangelism or "communicating the gospel". The audience is to believers, unbelievers, and to all. The intent is to teach and invoke faith, praise, and worship. Consider, should sermons be evangelistic? Is worship evangelistic? Is Christian living evangelistic? The answer is “Yes!” because all Christian action is "evangelistic" in this sense. Explore the narrow(er) definition of evangelism or “communicating the gospel with unbelievers for the purpose of gaining faith”. This definition includes a call to repentance and faith. Not all Christian action is “evangelistic” in this sense (and that’s ok!). The Gospel can be consider both by a broad definition and narrow definition. Consider Galatians 2:14, “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”
AT623 Lesson 02
Explore evangelism’s relationship to other actions. Consider missions in which there is cross-cultural evangelism or where the gospel has not yet been in a culture, church planting, apologetics in which questions are answered in the process of evangelism, and social action. In James 1:27 we read, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Consider the place of evangelism. Is Evangelism the only calling of the Christian? Is Evangelism the only calling of the Church? Consider that the Gospel presentation starts with sin and salvation but the Bible starts with creation. We read in Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Consider Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Greg Beale uses the phrase, "Edenizing the world". Consider the Great Commission, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Going, therefore, disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
AT623 Lesson 03
Explore the place of evangelism in the Great Commission. “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Going, therefore, disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you . . .” This verse tells us to disciple all nations "as you are going" in baptizing and teaching. Consider evangelism and the Christian. Is personal evangelism commanded of every Christian? Is personal evangelism expected of every Christian? Is there a gift of evangelism? There is no listed “gift” of evangelism in 1 Corinthians 12: 28–30 or Romans 12: 6–8. Are these lists of gifts exhaustive? In Ephesians 4:11 we find that the church is “gifted” with “evangelists”. We read in Ephesians 4:7-12, “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” In Greek the word for grace is χάρις. An "evangelist" is a "gospelizer". Consider evangelism and the Christian. What is the expectation of every Christian? Consider the ministry of reconciliation as found in 2 Corinthians 5:18. In Ephesians 4:12 we find "the work of ministry". Explore 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” The term "every member ministry" reflects the priesthood of all believers. Consider the burdens and expectations and the difference between "radical" and "ordinary". We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly toward those outside and not be dependent on any one.”
AT623 Lesson 04
Continue to explore evangelism and the Christian. What is the expectation of every pastor? Consider an "Evangelist" as a category of ministry. In 2 Timothy 4:5 we read, "As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." Consider evangelism as an expectation of church leadership which includes being "hospitable" as found in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:8. The term hospitality or "philoxenia" is the "love of strangers" or outsiders. In 1 Timothy 3:7, we see hospitality is to be "thought well of by outsiders". The expectations of the Christian is to first share in the life within the body. Consider Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19. To outsiders the Christian is to show hospitality as found in Hebrews 13:16 and to do good to all as found in Galatians 6:10. In Colossians 4:6 we read, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” To the outsider the Christian is also to adorn the teaching of Christ our Savior as found in Titus 2:10. We see in 1 Corinthians 5:10 the Christian is to associate with unbelievers and we see in 1 Corinthians 9:27 they are going to their dinner parties. Consider 1 Peter 3:15. What is the expectation of the local church? We read in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” Paul states in Romans 1:8, "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world." Consider that part of the expectation of the local church is Kingdom growth, not "sheep stealing"! Explore theses about evangelism including the Importance of evangelism in its proper place, evangelism versus social action, relating everything to evangelism (preparation of evangelism), the differences between evangelism only and discipleship, and evangelizing the right people. Also explore theses about evangelism that go beyond a formulaic gospel, formulaic method and settings of evangelism, and formulaic motivations to evangelize. Explore the awareness of the history of the church and understanding our culture and being practical as starting with the little things. Explore the local church and evangelism as the work of the body and ecumenism.
AT623 Lesson 05
Recap the definition of evangelism in broad terms as communicating the gospel and in narrow terms as communicating the gospel for gaining new believers. Review the topics of evangelism, missions, church planting, apologetics, social action, the place of evangelism, the individual believer and his commands and expectations, the pastor, evangelist and the local church. What is the gospel? Typical answers are, “the way to go to heaven”, “forgiveness of sins”, “saved from hell”, and ”justification by faith”. Explore the lexical meaning of the term. In the English the term is "godspell" (Anglo-Saxon) or "god" meaning good and "spell" meaning “news” or "glad tidings". In Greek the term is "euangellion" or in Latin, "evangel". The term indicates a good announcement, good news or victory. Explore the Priene Inscription of Caesar Augustus (20 B.C.). “ ... The providence which has ordered the whole of our life, showing concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation and fulfillment of human life by giving it to Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a Protector among men, and by sending in him a Savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to establish peace and institute harmony everywhere . . . the birthday of the son of God was the beginning of the good news for the whole world that has come to men through him...” The Old Testament term used is בָּשַׂר (basar). The derivation is "to smooth or shine the face". Consider 1 Chronicles 10:9, “And they stripped Saul and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to their idols and to the people.” 1 Chronicles 16:23–24 states, “Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Proclaim good news of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” Psalm 40:9–10 states, “I have told the glad news of your righteousness in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your righteousness!” In Isaiah 40:9–10 we read, “Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might!” Reflect on Isaiah 52:7–8, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings good news of happiness, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.” Consider Isaiah 61:1–2, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are in bondage; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God.”
AT623 Lesson 06
Continue to explore and answer the question, “What is the Gospel?” Consider the announcement of Jesus. In Matthew 4:23 we read, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." Matthew 9:35 tells us, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” In Matthew 24:14 we read, “And the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” Consider Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” Mark 1:15 tells us, “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel!” In Luke 4:43 we read, “But he replied, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent." We also find in Luke 16:16, “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” Consider some observations about Jesus's announcement. Matthew almost exclusively uses the phrase, "the gospel of the kingdom". The phrases used are the "gospel of God", "gospel of the Messiah", and "gospel of the kingdom". Explore the gospel in Acts. In Acts 5:42 we read, “Every day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 8:2 states, “But those who were scattered went about preaching the word of the gospel.” In Acts 8:12 we read, “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Acts 8:35 states, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” We also read in Acts 10:36, “He has sent this message to the people of Israel, proclaiming the gospel of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Consider Acts 11:20, “But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus.” Explore Acts 13:32–33, Acts 14:15, and Acts 17:7. Acts 17:18 states, “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching good news of Jesus and the resurrection.” Consider Acts 20:24, Romans 1:1-5, and Romans 1:16–17. In Romans 2:16 we read, “This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:1–5, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you which you received, in which you stand . . . or I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” Paul also states in 2 Corinthians 4:4–5, “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord…”