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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Don Stewart :: What Is the Gift of an Evangelist?

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What Is the Gift of an Evangelist?

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit Part Two – Question 6

The Bible speaks of evangelism as a spiritual gift. Paul listed it among the gifts when he wrote to the church at Ephesus. He put it this way.

And He gave some as evangelists (Ephesians 4:11 NASB).

The word evangelism comes from a Greek word meaning, “to proclaim the good news.” An evangelist tells others the good news about Jesus Christ. The good news is that Jesus died for the sins of the world, was buried, and rose again on the third day. Jesus Christ is the one who conquered sin and death. This is the message which the evangelist proclaims.

We can make the following observations about the gift of an evangelist.

Evangelism, like Every Other Gift, Is to Equip Believers

When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he said that the purpose of the gifts was to equip the believers for the work of the ministry. We read the following explanation.

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(Ephesians 4:11, 12 NKJV).

How is the body of Christ built up through one who has the gift of an evangelist? By definition, those who have believed in Christ as their Savior do not need to be evangelized – they are already converted. Why then has God given the gift to the church?

The Gift of Evangelism Is to Teach Others How to Share the Faith

There are some who argue that the primary function of one with the gift of evangelist is to teach others how to share the good news about Jesus – it is not to do the work of evangelism for the church. It is to prepare believers so that they can evangelize non-believers.

This distinction is crucial. Those who have the special gift of an evangelist are not only able to powerful share their own faith in Jesus Christ they are also able to teach other believers to do the same thing.

It Is Telling the Story of Jesus

Evangelism consists of telling others the gospel story. It is not a “nonverbal witness.” Evangelists verbally proclaim the message to others. While it is important that a person’s life be consistent with their beliefs, living the Christian life in front of others is not evangelism. Indeed, evangelism is telling those people about Jesus.

All Believers Are Commanded to Evangelize

All believers are commanded to evangelize; to tell others the good news about the Lord Jesus. Jesus gave a command to His disciples that they were to make disciples of people from all the nations.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19, 20 NASB).

Their responsibility was to spread His message to the entire world. In doing so, they were to make disciples of Christ.

Before His ascension Jesus promised power for these believers to accomplish this purpose. We read in the Book of Acts.

But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8 NLT).

These particular believers, like all other believers, were to be given spiritual power to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

Paul said believers in Christ could be compared to a letter to be read by others. He wrote the following to the Corinthians.

For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came, I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice; for I am confident about all of you, that my joy would be the joy of all of you (2 Corinthians 2:2, 3 NRSV).

Our lives are to be read by others. We are to be a living testimony to Christ.

There Is a Need to Evangelize

The Apostle Paul stressed the need for people to hear the good news about Jesus. He wrote the following to the Romans.

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!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:14-17 NKJV)

Evangelism is something that is absolutely necessary. Indeed, the message of Jesus must be spread to the entire world.

There Is a Special Gift of an Evangelist

Although every believer is instructed to evangelize the lost, some are specially gifted with this ability. The New Testament gives examples of those who have the gift. We read of Philip who is called “the evangelist.”

The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him (Acts 21:8 NRSV).

God gave certain people the special gift of an evangelist.

The Gift Is to Be Used, Not Neglected

Paul exhorted Timothy to exercise his gift of evangelism which the Lord had given. He wrote.

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV).

Those who have their gifts are to use them. This is especially true of those who have this particular gift.

The Gift Can Be Used Both Publicly and Privately

It is important to note that a person with the gift of evangelism does not necessarily have to exercise it before a large audience. Indeed, it can be done on a one-on-one situation. Philip, the evangelist, did both public and personal evangelism.

Scripture tells us that he preached to the crowds in Samaria. The Bible says.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. So there was much rejoicing in that city (Acts 8:5-8 NASB).

Here Philip preached to a large audience.

Yet we also find that he did one-on-one evangelism with the Ethiopian eunuch. We also read of this in the Book of Acts.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him (Acts 8:35 NASB).

Consequently, the Scripture does not limit the practice of evangelism to a public meeting.

There Are Degrees of the Gift of Evangelist

Knowledge of the gospel does not mean that a person will always preach it successfully. There are varying degrees in which God gives the gift of evangelism. Some people have an extraordinary ability to clearly and powerfully communicate the gospel so as to reach great numbers of people. Others, who have the same gift, do not possess it to the same degree. This is something which we all must recognize.

What Is Necessary in Evangelism

It seems that for someone to have the gift of evangelism there should be at least four things in place. The person must have the desire to evangelize, understand the issues in evangelism, be able to explain them clearly, and have a compassion for the lost.

1. There Must Be a Desire to Evangelize

First, there must be a special desire in the heart. Those who have the gift of an evangelist have this uppermost in their mind. Indeed, they constantly want to tell people about Jesus.

2. One Must Clearly Understand the Issue

Those who do the work of an evangelist must have a clear understanding of the gospel message. There is no possible way to communicate it to others unless it is clearly understood by the evangelist. Thus, it is crucial that we understand the gospel message.

3. There Must Be the Ability to Explain the Gospel Clearly

There is also the need to explain the gospel clearly to others. It is not enough to clearly understand the truth about Jesus Christ; it is critical to be able to explain it in an understandable way. We read the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him” (Acts 8:30, 31 NRSV).

This man needed someone to explain the gospel to him. He needed to understand what he was reading. Consequently, Philip made a clear presentation of the good news about Jesus.

4. There Has to Be a Genuine Compassion for Lost

Finally there should be an overwhelming concern for the lost. Those who are gifted with evangelism should have an extraordinary burden for those who do not know Jesus. The Bible says of the compassion of Jesus.

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38 NKJV).

We should have the same heart, as Jesus has, for those who are in unbelief. This should be our attitude whether or not we have the gift of an evangelist.

Summary – Question 6
What Is the Gift of an Evangelist?

All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the purpose of building up the church, the body of Christ. This includes the gift of evangelism. This gift has often been misunderstood. It is not primarily given so the evangelist will preach the good news to non-believers – it is given so that the person will teach fellow believers how to evangelize others. While those with the gift will certainly preach the gospel to others they are given the gift to help others fulfill the Great Commission.

Thus, the gift is primarily to be used to instruct Christians on the subject of evangelizing the lost.

While all Christians are called to preach the good news about Jesus there are some believers who have a special gift of evangelism. We find it being exercised with Philip on both a public and one-on-one situation.

Those who possess the gift should have at least four things. They include the following.

First, there should be a desire to exercise the gift. In other words, there needs to be a willingness to use this particular spiritual gift which the Lord has given to them.

Next, the evangelist should have an accurate understanding of the issues surrounding the gospel of Christ. Indeed, it is impossible to clearly present the message of Jesus Christ unless one has a grasp of what is involved.

It is not enough to understand the message; the evangelist should also be able to explain clearly the message to everyone who asks. In short, those with the gift of an evangelist need to be able to present the message in clear, understandable terms. Above all, the evangelist should have a deep compassion for the lost. This is primary. The person with the gift of an evangelist should have an intense desire to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus. This includes teaching other believers to evangelize as well as doing their own preaching of the gospel.

This briefly sums up the New Testament gift of an evangelist as well as the attitude it which it should be used.

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