May 14, 2017 00:00
Here are six ways that treating evangelism as a necessary part of discipleship helps to grow mature disciples:
- Evangelism helps keep the gospel central in our lives and churches. The gospel creates the church (Col. 1:5-6), is its chief message (1 Cor. 15:1-3), and powers our growth in Christ (Phil. 1:6). Therefore, we ought to do everything in our power to keep it central. We know that the world, our flesh, and the devil will do everything they can to move it out of view.
- Evangelism deepens our understanding of the most fundamental truths of Scripture. Gospel conversations with non-Christians force us to better grasp the central, underpinning truths of God's Word. Issues like God's character, his holiness and wrath, man's creation in God's image, sin, grace, the cross of Christ, and judgment of all come into sharp focus. We have to think through explaining these concepts to different people in different circumstances. And we learn better how these truths lace together all of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
- Properly motivated evangelism grows our love for God and neighbour. All people are called to wholeheartedly love God and other people (Mark 12:28-31). Sharing our faith because we love God and people stokes the fire of this love all the more. I've never seen properly motivated evangelism do the opposite. If you've not led someone to Christ, I can only describe to you the joy of seeing the transforming power of the gospel newly at work in a person. To see their heart broken from their sin breaks my heart more fully for my sin. To see them revel in the freedom of forgiveness makes me want to drink in it all the more myself. Experiencing the privilege of leading someone to Christ reminds me of how much more powerful, holy, and merciful God is than we often think him to be.
- Evangelism prompts unexpected questions and objections for non-Christians, which can deepen our faith. I've lived in the Middle East for almost ten years, and my interactions with Muslims and other non-Christians have consistently strengthened my faith as I turned to God seeking wise answers to their questions.
- Evangelism protects us from mistakenly assuming that those around us are saved. Unregenerate people cannot be discipled in any biblical sense. They do not and cannot grow in godliness (Romans 8:5-8). A great danger for the church today is assuming the salvation of people who simply claim the label "Christian" or are involved in church activities. Not being careful about who we consider to be "born again" often has its roots in unbiblical views of conversion. But making the gospel a part of our everyday conversation will often result into nominal Christians actually being born again of the Spirit. The sower spreads the seed liberally, seemingly without consideration for where it landed (path, rocks, thorns, soil; Mark 4:2-8)