December 18, 2017

The Evangelist and His Ministry

Phil Shuler

Enough books have been written about the earthly ministry of our Lord to fill the average library, but the ministry of Christ beyond His death, burial, and resurrection can be pretty well summed up in John 16:7–11. In John 14:16 Christ explains why He must ascend unto His father, but he promises to send “another comforter”—the Holy Spirit. To those who heard this statement, joy must have ensued, for the word “another” means “one of the same kind.”

It is interesting that Christ used that word. He could have said “a powerful, wise, just comforter,” but instead He chose to say “one just like Me”! Christ then explains what the Spirit’s ministry will be in 16:7–11, the key verse being verse 8. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is actually a continuation of the ministry of Christ when He was on this earth. He reproved the world of sin, He will reprove the world of righteousness, and He will reprove the world of judgment.

Through the Holy Spirit’s power and leadership, the evangelist has the very same ministry. He is not invited to a church to show off his ability to entertain or to please a crowd by soft preaching. The evangelist must hit sin hard! The congregation should be reminded that it was sin that put Christ on the cross. God cannot look upon sin. That is why, as Christ hung upon the cross, He turned His back on His own Son and shrouded this earth in the darkest noonday it has ever witnessed. God hates sin! He does not pass over sin lightly as we do. He saw to it, in His Word, that neither morality, ability, philanthropy, nor any good work of man can erase sin from God’s ledger. He also saw to it, in His divine purpose, that the blood of His only begotten Son could and would cleanse those who put their trust in Him.

If I see a real difference between the evangelism of our day and that of the 1950s, it has to be the declining emphasis upon sin. We have tamed it down today. We seem to be coming to the place where we are more willing to tolerate “minor” sins in our churches, forgetting that those seemingly insignificant sins soon grow to gigantic size! The evangelist needs to speak out against this trend.

It seems the more progressive the world becomes, the less time the Christian has for his Lord. We have the computer and the Internet. Golf and games come first, while devotions are somewhere back in the pack. Sports occupy our thinking, while our neighbor goes without a Christian witness. We ask our audience to witness, have devotions, etc., and when some ignore the request, we go to something else. The evangelist has the ministry of correction at all times and by all means should forcefully declare such conduct as sin! Some thin-skinned Christians complain, but the evangelist goes away knowing that he has not compromised his commission.

The evangelist follows his Lord by reproving the world of righteousness. One of the main themes of the Bible is that a righteous God wants His children to be righteous. Public opinion will never change this. Although kings and presidents many times ignore the doctrine of righteousness, God does not, and we had better not!

My father once told me that his father warned him of a very wicked age ahead. Dad said he never thought sin would be more rampant than in his day. I have told my children the same thing, and they have told theirs. It gets no better, folks. If you want a reminder of the imminent coming of Christ for His church, read the newspaper!

The third aspect of the evangelist’s ministry is to reprove the world of judgment. For the life of me, I do not see how this part of the ministry has been so unused. We should not only preach on the Great White Throne judgment, when the lost shall be condemned to hell, but we should also preach on the judgment for every Christian—when we too will stand before Christ. If we would emphasize to Christians that all saved people are still responsible for their deeds in the flesh and that they will have to answer to Christ for those deeds, we would leave behind a far different congregation for the pastor to shepherd.

(Originally published in FrontLine • March/April 1999. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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