by Mark Overstreet
(Editor’s note: This is the 4th in a 10-part series on how our theology informs our evangelism.)
When the subject of evangelism arises, sometimes even pastors run for cover. Evangelism, defined simply as “good announcement” or “good news,” is the life work of everyone who claims to follow God. For the apostles in the New Testament, evangelism became a code word for the core teaching of the Christian Church about the life, death, and resurrection ministry of Jesus, the gospel.
Let me share two key points that flow from scripture that direct us toward evangelism. These two words—control and promises—have encouraged me when I have lacked faith, strengthened me when I have felt weak, and assured me that God wants me—us—to be evangelists.
First, God is in control. To be clear, the Bible clearly demonstrates that every event—past, present, and future—is accomplished by the will and hand of God. Psalm 33:11 says, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”
The plan of God is sure. As the creator and redeemer of the cosmos, His divine plan is immovable and unshakable. If the weekend of the Passover and Jesus’ resurrection reminds us of anything, it is that His plan is alive and well. When all hope is lost and best friends have abandoned us, God is in control.
The events of that weekend unfold like the worst horror story that could ever be told. The unjust accuse the innocent. The evil connive to arrest and display the King as a fraud. The ‘plans’ of man are accomplished—and to their surprise, they play right into the hands of the Almighty. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”
For every mother who is praying for a wayward son, every missionary who is praying for the billions who haven’t heard the gospel, every student who longs to be used mightily by God, He is at work. He will never quit. Because of His control, I go to work in the morning. He wants to bring the good news of the gospel to every corner of creation. His control and empowering presence makes that possible.
Second, beyond the sovereignty of God, the promises of God push me to receive the gospel and take it to the nations who need to hear his words are good and true. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, God keeps His word. When faith is weak and the circumstances of life seem to be against us, remember the cross.
- Remember the fall of Adam and the faithfulness of God to save the family.
- Remember Noah, and think of the measures He takes to redeem creation and save the promises He made to Adam.
- Remember Abraham and Sarah, and the extent God goes to keep his promises.
- Remember Moses, who in the face of insurmountable tyranny, believed the promises of God as He saved the nations.
- Remember God’s word to David, as the unfaithful husband, father, and king of the nation saw God accomplish his salvation in spite of human unfaithfulness, giving an eternal promise to the king: his son would reign forever.
All of God’s promises are good and true. He will keep his word. Whenever we are weak and lack faith, look to the strong and faithful One. You will never outrun His control and promises.
Psalm 100:5 says, “The Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” When we feel weak, remember He is strong. You can believe His promises, and you can be assured of His control. And that’s the gospel. There is a world reeling in pain awaiting His good news.
Mark Overstreet (@moverstreet) is executive vice president of T4 Global and serves fourth world cultures in leadership development and community transformation. He consults with global organizations in areas including healthy partnerships, orality, mission, program architecture, strategy, and evaluation. Learn more: http://www.markoverstreet.com