Scripture Text: Acts 5:42 (New International Version)
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
One of the biblical means of strengthening our faith is to– “pursue an evangelistic lifestyle!” A strong faith can be demonstrated through an evangelistic lifestyle but I say, and this is what I see in the New Testament (NT), that an evangelistic lifestyle leads to a strong faith in the Lord.
Illustration #1 – Peter’s preaching gave him more boldness to share Jesus.
Illustration #2 – Philip’s sharing the Good News to a Eunuch led to a miraculous intervention of God.
Therefore, to strengthen our faith, we should pursue an evangelistic lifestyle and we’ll look at a passage that will shed light on the question,
How did the early church view evangelism? What was their concept, attitude, & practice toward evangelism?
The NT church was an evangelistic church and this characteristic can be seen in their view, attitude, and practice about evangelism. And it is this understanding and practice of evangelism that was the key to their rapid growth and expansion.
There are important insights on how the early church viewed and practiced evangelism as found in our scripture text. The first is …
A. Evangelism Is A Continuous Program Of The Early Local Church.
The passage says the early church has evangelism “day after day.” In their large gathering (temple court) or in their small gathering or house meetings, day after day, 24/7, they never stop preaching the good news that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Lord!
Two observations are worth our attention here:
1) The open home of believers is a strategic tool in effective evangelism (Rom. 16:3-5; Col. 4:15).
3Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. 4They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.( Romans 16:3-5 )
15Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.(Colossians 4:15)
First is that they use their worship center (temple court) and the home as a strategic tool in effective evangelism. But I would like to focus on the homes of believers here. This I believe was their most potent tool in evangelism. In our time and context, this may include our offices and our schools as well as other places where people can gather for fellowship/building relationships.
2) The loving relationship of believers is the key principle in effective evangelism (John 13:34-35).
But this second observation I believe is the key to their effective evangelism. They have a caring and loving environment and fellowship. In other words, they have a loving relationship. They fully submit to the command of our Lord Jesus to love one another. In fact, the Lord pointed out this truth in one of His teaching discourse in John.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
This kind of relationship is crucial if they are to win the world for Jesus. He said that the world will believe that they are really His disciples if they have love for one another.
B. Evangelism Is A Consuming Passion Of God’s People.
Not only that evangelism is the continuous program/activity of the early local church but, secondly, we discover that this is also the consuming passion of God’s people. The text says that they never stop preaching Jesus as the Savior and Messiah.
Now, why? Why such zeal and earnestness and passion for sharing the Gospel or Good News of Christ? Let me suggest two answers based on the Bible. One is …
1) Because it is the very heartbeat of our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5: 14).
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. ( 2 Corinthian 5:14)
Someone said that “The Great Commission, the last command of Jesus should be our priority!”
Evangelism or the saving of souls is the very plan of God for sinful humanity. This is the heartbeat of God. This is the all consuming plan and desire of God – to see sinful humanity being reconciled to Him. If the Great Commission is that important to God then it should be to me also.
In other words, if this is where the heart of God is beating, there will be my heart also. (Filipino translation) “Kung saan ang puso ng Diyos, doon din and puso ko.”
2) Because it is only the God-appointed means for sinners to be saved (Rom. 1:14-17).
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:14-17)
Another important reason why we need to obey this command is because the souls of men can only be saved or redeemed by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing or no one can save a soul except by the grace of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel is the only means sinner can be saved and only evangelism or the preaching or teaching of the Gospel or Good News can sinners be redeemed by the Blood of Jesus!
C. Evangelism Is A Christ-Centered Preaching Of God’s Word.
Finally, we can note here in the passage that evangelism is the Christ-centered preaching or teaching of the God’s Word. The apostle Paul pointed out the important role of God’s Word in evangelism,
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
1) The Gospel message is all about the grace of God in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-5; John 3:16).
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)
Evangelism is all about proclaiming the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation to all who will believe in Him. Salvation is by grace, meaning that no person goes to heaven because he is good but because God is good that He gave us a Savior from our sins – Jesus, Our Emmanuel!
2) The Gospel is to be preached in words and in deeds by all of God’s people (Eph. 2:8-10).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
But as our text clearly teaches, the Gospel should be preached in word and in deed. After they have known Christ as Savior and Lord, they never stopped sharing Him to others. The Gospel did not stop in them but continues to be passed on to those who have not yet heard it. Obviously, they did that with much effort.
In fact, they experienced opposition, persecution and personal hardship but all these did not stop them from teaching and proclaiming the Good News of God’s grace in Christ. It is these good deeds or works for Jesus that led and cause many people to believe not only the message but also the messenger.
Therefore, from the life and example of the early Church as seen and taught in the New Testament, evangelism is the lifestyle of the Church. It is the continuous program of the local church. It is the consuming passion of God’s people. And it is the Christ-centered preaching of God’s Word.
This is the manuscript of Dr. Valentino Natcher’s Sunday message delivered at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati, Philippines last January 31, 2010