Spreading the Gospel in our World

     We have found it convenient to speak of the work of the church as falling into three general categories: evangelism, edification and benevolence. Many of us see the primary work of the church as evangelism or the spreading of the gospel of Christ and that the other two areas of work support that primary effort.

     The Lord gave His “Great Commission” to His apostles before He ascended to Heaven (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-15, Luke 24:46-47 and Acts 1:8). They taught that to members of the church who then went forth and took the Word everywhere (Acts 8:1-4, Colossians 1:23). That work was made possible by having an edified, built up and taught church do that work (Ephesians 4:11-16). People had to be taught in order to teach (again Matthew 28:18-20). Taking care of people (what we call benevolence) was a part of the church’s work from the beginning as needy saints were cared for soon after the Pentecost of Acts 2.

     The Great Commission was taught to the early Christians by the apostles and through the Word of God it is taught to us today. There have been times of great evangelistic success for the church, sometimes here and of late, in other places. The work of spreading the gospel here is no piece of cake, but we still must do it. Three things might help us do a better job.

     We need to recognize the challenges of our particular world. The word “materialism” may sum up our problems. Atheism is popular among young people and much of the educational establishment is hostile to the Christian faith. We shouldn’t expect this to change anytime soon, but stranger things have happened. There is the additional problem of religious error. Such ideas keep many people from being open to the simple gospel. In the mean time we need to press forward with the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

     We also have to realize that we are not in this work alone. We do not have the supernatural assistance of the God that the apostles needed and had in the first century. But we do have the completed Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) which Paul calls the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17). God will help us spread the gospel.

But we must also remove our own internal impediments. We cannot hope to be effective unless we love one another (1 John 4:20-21). We must be willing to move outside our own comfort zones (Acts 10:34-35). We still have a big job to do. Let’s spread the gospel (Romans 1:16).