The Power of the Evangelist
Third, the power is in the message, not in you or me! As Paul reminded the saints in his day, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-8) We are simply ambassadors, called to pass on a message that we did not write and called to deliver that message faithfully! The Gospel existed long before we were born so woe to us if we start tampering with this eternal Good News, adding or taking away anything from it! The message of sin, judgment, and salvation in Jesus Christ is the greatest story anyone can ever tell. May God make us faithful bearers of this Great News.
When I was 19 years old, members of my church were preaching one Sunday afternoon on a sidewalk in Times Square in New York City, and many stopped to listen. As a teenager, full of the vigor of youth, the blessings of that afternoon were not enough for me, so I asked the Lord to give me someone else to talk to on the bus back to Yale University. There was only one seat open on the entire bus, so there was no question about where I was to sit, right next to a 72 year-old man who soon told me his story. When he was 70 years old, he had suffered a heart attack and spent an entire year in the hospital. During his convalescence, his previously faithful wife of 50 years had been unfaithful to him. He became so enraged at her and at God that, when he got out of the hospital, he decided to throw his life away. That weekend, he had gone into New York determined to get drunk, to sleep with prostitutes, and do every evil thing that he had not done in 50 years of marriage–all to get back at his wife! My heart broke as I saw the pain and sorrow in that old man’s face, and I began to tell him about the love and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, my words only enraged him even more, and he turned his back on me, refusing to respond. Something inside, however, urged me to keep talking, to continue telling him about the love of Jesus. After about one half hour of speaking to the back of that man’s head, I was ready to give up, but then I saw the man’s face reflected in the window of the bus. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, and I knew that God had touched his heart. I asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior, and he turned towards me and responded quietly, “Yes, I do.” He prayed with me, pouring out all his hurt and pain at the feet of Jesus, asking for forgiveness for all the terrible things he had done that weekend. Most of all, he asked forgiveness for his attitude towards his wife, and in turn, he forgave her for all that she had done.
Just as he finished praying, we came to his bus stop. As the old man left to exit the bus, he turned around and came back repeatedly to shake my hand and to thank me for leading him to Christ. The poor bus driver was frantic, and had to beg him to get off the bus so that he could finish his route on time. A few months later, that man wrote to me that he had led his wife to Christ, his marriage had been restored, and he was happier than he had ever been in his life. Until the end of time, the “old, old story” of Jesus Christ and His great love will never change, nor lose its power to transform lives!
The High Calling of the Evangelist
Fourth, the calling of the evangelist is a high calling. We have been ordained by the Lord to reach unreached multitudes for Christ. The fulfillment of this part of our calling is neither easy nor automatic. It may also be strongly contested and even belittled, but with God all things are possible. We need to prayerfully remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-11:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
“For as the rain comes down,
And the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
I recently heard a pastor in New York City claim that most people are saved through personal witness, not through the ministry of evangelists, but that is just not true. In many cases, believers simply fail to seize their opportunities to be witnesses to the grace of God. Or the testimony of their daily life and behavior is not something that will draw people to Jesus. It may even scare some away! Thank God for personal evangelism, but even if every believer faithfully witnessed to every family member, neighbor, workmate, or schoolmate, most of the world would still not hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are living in a day when God is reaching out to nations that have never been reached before. This is something that has to happen, for as Jesus declared in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Even with nations like Colombia that have been partially reached with the Gospel, the Lord is not satisfied. He is reaching out in larger, deeper ways, until the rain and snow come down from Heaven and bring forth the full harvest of these latter days. All things considered, it is an exciting time to be alive and serving the Lord! As a young man, I never dreamed that I would one day be preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ in Colombia. Yet, almost 35 years ago, when I was a young college student, Mrs. Lowe stopped me one day and said, “You always pray for Japan and China, yet you are part of a church with missionaries in Colombia. Won’t you please begin to pray for Colombia?”
2006 First Bogotá, Colombia
I never forgot her plea, and have been praying for Colombia for more than 30 years, that God would send revival to this land. You see, there is great awakening ahead for Colombia, not just for the United States! I had to learn as a young man, and God has had to keep reminding me ever since, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” What more can we ask as evangelists than to walk fully in the counsel of God’s ways and thoughts and see His perfect will accomplished on earth?