Sharing the Good News: Why Evangelize?
Picture a large field of ripe grain, with heavy storm clouds in the distance. Only a few workers are gathering the grain. What will happen? Much of the harvest will be lost!
Jesus likened the crowds of people on the earth to a ripened harvest field. He longs to see them saved before it is too late! He tells His followers to “pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers” and then He gives the command: “Go! I am sending you . . .” (Luke 10:2-3).
Jesus is calling to His followers today to go out into the fields of people to gather in a spiritual harvest of souls. He wants us to evangelize!
In this first lesson you will discover reasons why evangelizing, like harvesting, is so important. You will discover why it is necessary, and why you should have a part in this work of the Lord.
The Challenge is Great
You have already read Christ’s description of the harvest. It is “ripe” and “large.” You learned that this is a picture of people in Christ’s day and also in ours. Now let us consider this picture a little more closely.
The World’s Population Is Increasing
Perhaps you have been on a crowded bus or train. Do you remember what it was like? All the seats were taken. You may have had to stand with many others, and even the people standing were squeezed in as tightly as possible! Many countries are becoming more and more crowded. Though new buildings are going up every day, there aren’t enough homes for everyone.
The more people there are, the faster the population increases. In 1930 our world had a population of 2 billion people. By 1980 the population had climbed to over 4 billion.
That means a gain of 2 billion people in 50 years. By the year 2000, however, there may be a world population of 6 billion people—a gain of another 2 billion in only 20 years!
What does this mean to you as a believer in Christ? You will realize right away that most people around you are not saved. You will realize, too, that there are more people living today who are not saved than in any previous generation. This means that every believer is needed to tell others about the Savior.
A preacher in Asia once told Christ’s story about the shepherd with a hundred sheep. One became lost. Leaving the ninety-nine in a safe place, the faithful shepherd went out in search of the one that was lost. He at last found it and rescued it. How glad he was! He called his friends and neighbors to be happy with him.
“However,” said the preacher, “in our country the numbers are the other way around. Only one sheep is in the fold and the ninety-nine are lost. Only a few people are saved. All the others need to be found and brought to the Savior.”
People Are Lost
Have you ever been lost? If you have, you remember how helpless and alone you felt. You didn’t know which way to go. You needed another person to help you find your way again.
Jesus used the word lost to describe the spiritual condition of unsaved people. This condition has nothing to do with their status. They may be well-educated, law-abiding citizens, and yet be lost spiritually. Whether rich or poor, without Christ in their lives they are lost. What makes this lost condition even more pitiful is that many are lost and are not aware of it! They are lost and do not know it.
A man was traveling on a train. He had his ticket and a comfortable seat. He was enjoying the bright scenery when the conductor came by. To his dismay the man found out that he was riding in the wrong direction! Many people are like this traveler. They are headed in the wrong direction, but do not know it. They may be very sincere doing what they think is right, but this is not enough. They need to be directed to the only way of salvation.
Have you tried to imagine how Jesus feels about the lost?
A mother was very busy when her two little daughters asked to go and watch a parade that was passing by one evening just two blocks from their home. She consented on the condition that they stay on the corner of their own street. Soon afterwards she had second thoughts. In the excitement they might be pushed by
the crowds, and as darkness settled perhaps not recognize where they were. She must go to them quickly before the crowd scattered. Dropping everything, she hurried down to the corner. To her dismay, they were not there. She began pushing her way up and down the lines of people, searching and calling, but could
not find them. Full of concern, she forced her way through to the front of the lines, becoming a part of the parade and thinking, If I can’t see them, at least they will see me.
After the parade was over, the people began to scatter. In desperation the mother climbed up on a platform where her girls would surely be able to see her. Still there was no sign of them! Not knowing what to do, she ran back to the house which she had left wide open. What a joy to find her children safe at home! A friend had shown them the way.
Later the mother thought: Here I am, a timid, shy person who does not like to be seen. But when I thought my children were lost, I forgot about myself, my work, and my house. My one concern was to find them. Should I not care as much for souls that are eternally lost? Jesus must feel more for them than I do for my daughters. He died to save them, but He needs me to show them the way. I must not be too busy or too self-conscious to go out and seek for them.
People Have Needs
I cannot think of a single person who is without some kind of need. Can you? Even in wealthy families needs exist. A rich man may have everything money can buy. He may have plenty of food, clothes, houses, lands, and vehicles. Yet he may be very sad because his only son is ill.
People’s needs vary. In the example given, the needs were physical and emotional. The sick son needed healing and his father wanted comfort. For many people material needs are uppermost. Countless thousands lack the basic requirements of food, clothing, and shelter. Help must be extended to them!
Others are overwhelmed by psychological and mental problems; they lack joy and peace. Others crave love while still others need courage and their spirit uplifted. And millions are looking for ways to further their education, or to be accepted socially.
But the greatest single need of people is spiritual. Someone must be aware of that need and be willing to do something about it.
A deaconess of a large church in Korea went to the market. There she overheard one woman telling another about her problems at home. The deaconess quietly followed her to her house, allowed time for her to get settled, and then knocked at her door. Politely introducing herself, she explained that she had overheard the woman talking about her difficulties.
She then mentioned that friends gathered in her home to pray for people in need. Would this woman be willing for the group to pray for her? When she said “Yes,” the first visit ended.
A few days after the group had prayed for this need, the deaconess went again to the woman’s home. This time the woman met her with a smile. God was already answering prayer. She and her husband, a professor, had been having marriage problems and had considered a divorce. Now things were beginning to change. The deaconess shared the woman’s joy and then invited her to the home gathering. Before long the woman was joyously converted and in turn won her husband to Christ.
The deaconess was alert to people’s needs. Today the professor and his wife are members of a church and they are leading a home gathering where people are being won to Christ.
You have learned three facts which show that the need to evangelize is great. In your notebook, list each of these and give evidence from the lesson or from your own experience to support them.
The Lost Need Christ
Christ Is the Only Means of Salvation
The Bible states clearly that faith in Christ is the only means of salvation. He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6).
A man who accidentally fell into a deep pit called out for help. The first passerby stopped, but only to tell him that he should have been more careful and he would have avoided the accident. The second person to come by blamed him for wrongdoing. Then a third person stopped and said kindly, “I’m so sorry you are in the pit.”
The man in the pit did not need wise counsel. Neither did he need disapproval, or even sympathy. He needed to be rescued! Finally a fourth man came and, on seeing his plight, hurried to get a rope and pulled him out. He became the man’s savior.
Christ came to save people out of the pit of sin and to show them the way of life. Lost men, fallen men, need this kind of a rescuer. Jesus was sent into the world, not to be its judge, “but to be its savior” (John 3:17).
You have learned that people are lost spiritually. In Luke 15 Jesus told some beautiful stories about people seeking for their lost possessions. In Luke 19, the story of the shepherd going out to find the one lost sheep shows us clearly how Jesus came “to seek and to save” each person lost in his sin (v. 10). No one is unimportant; each one is valuable to God! He “sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Like the woman who lit a lamp, swept the house, and looked carefully until she found her coin, so our Savior seeks lost people.
Jesus said there is rejoicing in heaven when lost people repent of their sins (Luke 15:7, 10), for the lost is found!
God Wants All to Be Saved
As surely as I, the Sovereign Lord, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing a sinner die. I would rather see him stop sinning and live (Ezekiel 33:11).
It pleases God our Savior who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
He is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins (2 Peter 3:9).
Ezekiel was an Old Testament prophet. Paul who wrote 1 Timothy, and Peter who wrote 2 Peter, were New Testament writers. All three men were inspired by the Holy Spirit. From the words they wrote we know that God wants all to be saved. He wants the lost to be found and cared for.
He Has Chosen you to Tell Them
Do you believe that you must share in making Christ known to others? We hope so. Jesus said, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit” (John 15:16). Jesus is the vine; we are the branches. He wants every branch to bear fruit—that is His reason for giving us His life and strength. The following are three reasons for His choosing you to tell others about Him.
Christ Has a Claim on People
He is the God-Man sent from heaven, the one who created everything (John 1:3). On one occasion He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me” (John 12:32). When soldiers lifted up a huge, rough cross with Jesus nailed to it, and planted one end in the earth, this verse found fulfillment. For upon that cross Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9, KJV). Since He died for everyone, He has a claim on all.
In addition, Christ’s claim on everyone will be fulfilled completely when He is honored as Lord over all. In Philippians 2:10-11 we read that “in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Thus Christ has a claim on both you and the person you may be seeking to win for Him.
The Great Commission Is Still Valid
Before Jesus ascended into heaven He gave this charge: “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
These words, commonly called the Great Commission, were not just for the disciples, but for all of His followers. As long as there are people in the world to be made disciples, Christ’s words still apply. Thus the Great Commission is still valid and in effect; it has never been canceled.
People Need to Be Told
The Great Commission calls for obedience. As you apply Christ’s words to yourself, you will realize that you must share the Good News with others. The Good News is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The Good News is also that “everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved” (Roman 10:13). We cannot keep the news to ourselves!