What is evangelism, or what is the gospel? John Stott argues that there is to be a priority of evangelism because humans, all of them, are alienated from God. OK, but things get messy right away, and the messiness is often pointed out by those who have experienced the bad sides of evangelism. Recent postings on the internet reveal that folks want to evangelize but don’t want to call it that!
John Stott, in his classic book, Christian Mission in the Modern World (IVP Classics) , addressed these problems and said evangelism must not be defined by three things:
1. The recipients.
2. The results, as if evangelism only occurs really when folks are repenting, getting baptized and revealing faith. To “evangelize,” Stott reminds us, does not mean “win converts.”
3. The methods. Word of mouth, pictures, etc.. but to evangelize is to announce, however that is done.
Evangelism can only be defined by its message. What is it? Stott says there is some variety in the NT on this; he also says it is shaped by culture, but he contends the one gospel is found in the NT. We are to be faithful and contemporary.
Question, and simple one: Is your church preaching the gospel outlined here by Stott? What is it missing?
I am so glad in this book that Stott pays compliments to CH Dodd’s magisterial little book on the gospel (The apostolic preaching and its developments ). That is one of the finest book ever on this subject, and neither does Stott fall for many modern reconstructions of the gospel (and I write about this in my next book, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, coming out in a few weeks). So what is the gospel?
First, it concerns events: Jesus lived, died and was raised and exalted. The gospel emphasizes resurrection.
Second, it concerns witnesses: the apostles appealed to the Old Testament and to their own eyes (which became the New Testament).
Third, it concerns affirmations: that what God did in Christ he is still doing in Christ; Jesus is enthroned over all. Thus, the affirmations are that he is Lord and Savior.
Fourth, it concerns promises: the forgiveness of sins and the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Fifth, it concerns demands: repentance (toward God, self and others), faith/believe, and baptism.
The good news is Jesus.