2. EVANGELISM IS A COMMAND, NOT AN OPTION
"For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16)
The Greek word that Paul used to describe himself as obligated is "anagke". We translate this word as pressed, contracted, or morally necessary. Therefore, the Apostle Paul was pressured by the Lord and morally obligated to preach the Good News. Why is it a moral obligation? Because no one can save himself by doing good and moral deeds, they can only be saved through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of how good people may appear, or how well they behave, the cannot enter the kingdom of God if they have not repented of their sin and cried out for the Savior's mercy.
The reason believers do not preach the gospel today, and why it is not a priority to them, is because they do not take it seriously. Many consider it an option, or meant for those who have the gift of the evangelist.
Due to this wrong perception, the church has handed over the responsibility of preaching the gospel to one man in the church - the evangelist. And the evangelist no longer preaches the gospel in the way it was once preached - that salvation is dependent alone on repentance and receiving the gospel. Desperate sinners no longer knock on Heaven's door; instead evangelists and believers preach an erroneous gospel that promises an easy life on earth and an additional eternal life in Heaven. This is why Christians only stick with church until the first trial, after which they feel that God has cheated them because they have not been told the full gospel, that along with peace with God comes sacrifice, persecution, trials, rejection, and dying to self.
Not only is it a command to preach the gospel, it needs to be conveyed as a command, not an interesting possibility in life. Another problem, and reason why people do not come to Christ in repentance, is because they get the idea that they are doing God a favor by answering His call.
The gospel is not a courteous and cultural call that we present to man, rather God's command. The Word says, "In these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30-31) In the original Greek text, the word the evangelist Luke uses for "commands" is the word "paraggello", which is used only the context of a command that is given to a specific person to be conveyed others. Therefore, we are to implore people to be reconciled to God and tell that God commands them, through us and His Good News, to repent of their sins, be converted, and saved. If we politely ask them to come to Him, and they do not understand why they need Him, they will often politely decline without fear of the consequences. This is why we must preach the full gospel, not just draw people to church to receive our religious lifestyle or friendship. This is the problem with today's Christianity, churches are filled with those who have accepted a lifestyle or have found a group of friends, but have never repented of their sin or began a new life with Jesus.
Rather than frightening people with stories of the Antichrist or the last days or deceitfully drawing them into God's kingdom by promising them that Jesus make them happy, satisfy them on earth, and answer every prayer, we ought to do what the Apostles and the Lord Jesus did, use God's law. It alone can bring them to an understanding of sin so that faith can set them free. The law is our tutor that leads us to Christ. Paul says, "But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:23-24) The church today behaves like a mother who does not wish to discipline her naughty child because she doesn't want him to feel bad. This is why we don't have true converts, because we do not want people to feel bad when they hear the gospel message.
Among other things, the gospel is our expression of worship to God. If we do not carry the gospel to others and care for the lost then we ought to ask ourselves if we are truly saved. Charles Spurgeon once said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that. The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
Hell must be so real to us that its flames incinerate our apathy and motivate us to warn the lost. Do we weep over their destiny? If we are made in God's image, then we will have His heart for the lost. Jesus cried and lamented for the lost.
How is it possible that those in the church today say that they love God and yet neglect evangelism - even at times scorn it? Many believers do not see neglect of evangelism as a sin, because they have such little concern for the lost. Our only concern is our needs. This is why the church has fallen asleep and fails to reach living souls.
Evangelism is the lifestyle of every born again, Spirit-filled believer, and not an organized activity. When you awake in the morning, do you ask the Lord to give you opportunities to witness, to share the Good News? It is surely His will to do so!
3. WHERE DOES THE DESIRE FOR EVANGELISM COME FROM?
"I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also." (Romans 1:14-15)
"You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work." - John Wesley
If we know that preaching the gospel is a command of Jesus Christ, if we know that it is not an option, if we are saved from hell and judgment and motivated by Christ's love for others, and yet it is not enough to motivate us, then there is only one other option for us - and that is to preach the gospel because of our obligation to God.
Surely, we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; salvation cannot be earned or deserved regardless of our religious activity. Eternal life is a gift of Jesus Christ that we receive after we repent and are converted from sin, but what happens after that? Are we indebted to Jesus or do we live for ourselves and care only for ourselves?
The Word says that we are obligated to love others, and that "debt" of love is manifest in our desire to preach the gospel. After Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, his whole live was saturated with a desire to spread the Good News of salvation. After being grateful to Jesus for salvation, he was indebted to the whole world. He "paid" that debt by proclaiming to all "Greeks and barbarians, wise and simple" the Good News. After understanding all that Jesus had done for him, the kind of sacrifice He made and what he had been saved from, he had a desire to preach the gospel.
We are so spiritual today that we preach the gospel only when we feel the urge to do so. Do we not have enough incentive when we look back and see what Christ has done for us? He gave His life! We are not called to do less than that. We are also called to give our lives for others. Why do we think we are exempt from that?
Many are not aware of their present state. If they had been saved in a biblical way, they would know how much they are indebted to the Lord, and that eternal punishment and God's judgment is on all lost souls. If they were saved from judgment they would give everything to tell everyone the Good News of Jesus Christ. They would not leave that to others or wait for the right place, or right time; their motive would be their debt to the Lord.
How is it possible that many say they love God, but do not care about evangelism? It is a sin that we do not have compassion or a passion for the Lord and for lost souls. We have become conceited about receiving everyone so politely, while at the same time we are not aware that because of that attitude the Lord may reject us.
We don't even have prayer requests anymore; we don't have them because everything we need God has provided, but the need for salvation of those around us is not important. We are similar to the church in Laodicea, whom the Lord said He would reject if they did not become converted and devout. "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock." (Revelation 3:15-17, 19b-20a)
Neglect of preaching the Good News is sin. Believers who do not evangelize, and for whom evangelism is not a lifestyle, are not the true church of Jesus Christ, regardless of what they call themselves. When we don't daily evangelize we are wasting God's time and the time others.
It is time to spend our energy on lost people and lost cities to reach them for the gospel, while there is still time. Do not wait for a special impulse; preach the gospel because we are indebted to Christ. We are indebted to those around us to share with them how they can make their peace with God! We are indebted to them to warn them of the soon coming judgment for all. We are indebted to them to love them and give them our time - our life!