How evangelists evangelize
Evangelize or Teach?
From an old letter (1874):
As far as gifts are concerned, I feel that evangelism is the greatest privilege; but I am not an evangelist myself, even if, as far as I have the opportunity, I do the work of an evangelist as best I can.
They say evangelizing has pushed the teaching of the saints into the background. The gifts of the evangelist and the teacher are absolutely different, but I don't see that one should supplant the other. Paul certainly preached the gospel and just as certainly taught it; just think of the Thessalonians. If he was not expecting immediate fruit, he was sure to find it. He speaks of himself as a minister of the gospel, but also calls himself a minister of the church (congregation). For each of these two fields of activity, we must be in communion with God, just as we are called by Him. If that is the case, then I don't see why there shouldn't be power and authority for both.
There is, however, a certain kind of evangelization that focuses on the salvation of sinners and does not teach Christians any further. God may bless that, but the consequences are inevitable. Only a few are inspired by the thought that Paul expresses in 2 Timothy 2:10: "That is why I endure everything for the sake of the elect." One generally only thinks that God is love and wants all people to be saved, and that is also a wonderful truth. The goal that these ministers have in mind is simply human salvation and safety.
Unfortunately, God's purpose and the glorification of Christ are left out of consideration here. If one confesses that he is saved, the preacher believes he has done his or her job. That God has an interest in his own and wants to lead them further so that they are built up is forgotten, as is the glorification of Christ in His congregation. We should pray for the saints and testify of God's truth to them.
The wrong thing is of course not the seriousness and the devotion in evangelizing (that is a blessing from God for the assembly), but that one gets absorbed in it in such a way that the human being and his needs are in the foreground and Christ is neglected in his rights. If the work is done only in an emphatically awakening manner, there is a risk that the results will be deceptive. Then there is no solid foundation on which to build.
Nothing is further from me than to say something against evangelism. I am convinced that God blesses evangelism, especially in order to save people from afar in these last days. It is wholesome for a congregation to have hearts focus on it. The love that is at work also binds the saints together. But God is also active in the great, professing Christianity to awaken them, and that is also important. The call that roused the ten virgins (Mt 25) was not what is commonly called the gospel.
After all, the hand on the foot must not say, “I do not need you.” I understand when one counts the converts with joy, but we cannot rely on numbers or successes. “When you have done all that you are commanded to do, say: We are useless servants, we have done what we were owed to do” (Lk 17:10). It is very important that the connection with Christ be maintained in service. Then we do not attribute the results to our work, but our work and our hearts are in connection with Himself.
If we were close to Christ, would we do both well - evangelize and teach? Provided, of course, that Christ called us to do so. Let's not be content to do one instead of the other. Let us teach the saints in fellowship with Christ and with His help and preach the Gospel in fellowship with Christ and with His help!
I have never been given to see much fruit, and my ministry has been more blessed when I sought to bring peace to souls than when I sought to awaken souls. Thank God there is one who stands above everything and does everything. Let us look to Him.
John Nelson Darby
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