Do You Have the Evangelizing Spirit?
1. Why is the work of proclaiming the good news one of the most important works done on earth?
THE work of proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom is one of the most important works that has ever been done on earth. Why? Because it is the “touchstone” by which mankind is judged. Acceptance of and obedience to the good news result in salvation; rejection and disobedience mean destruction.
2, 3. (a) Give an example of how the good news reveals the real attitude of a person. (b) What questions regarding the good news can a person beneficially ask himself?
2 For example, a person may be very religious. He may appear to have a fine personality, to be generous, humanitarian. But his reaction to the good news reveals whether he is really a friend of God. For God knows the hearts of men. “Every way of a man is upright in his own eyes,” says the writer of Proverbs, “but Jehovah is making an estimate of hearts.” (Prov. 21:2) A Christian must have a fine personality, but regardless of that or any other characteristic, if he does not have love for God and for his fellowman, he is nothing.—1 Cor. 13:1-3.
3 Do you accept the good news? Are you obedient to it? Do you desire to tell it to others? Is it necessary for you to proclaim the good news in order to be obedient to it?
IMPORTANCE OF THE EVANGELIZING SPIRIT
4. Why should we want to proclaim the good news?
4 Anything we receive as good news we naturally want to tell to others, and we often do so out of the sheer joy of speaking it. However, the good news of the Kingdom prompts us to tell it to others, not only through joy, but also through love for our fellowman. The evangelizing spirit is one of love for God and neighbor. The good news means life to the receiver, and so it is essential that it be proclaimed far and wide. The apostle Paul wrote, in one of his earliest inspired letters, that at Christ’s revelation from heaven “those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus” would “undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.”—2 Thess. 1:8, 9.
5. How did the apostle Peter show the importance of the good news?
5 The apostle Peter stressed the importance of knowing and obeying the good news when he spoke of Christians being judged, saying: “Now if it [judgment] starts first with us, what will the end be of those [professed Christians] who are not obedient to the good news of God?” He added: “And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?” (1 Pet. 4:17, 18) Accordingly, the spirit that the proclaimer of the good news must have is, not merely to proclaim it, but to get it firmly fixed in the hearts of the hearers. Why? Because even the righteous man among professed Christians will be saved only “with difficulty.”
6. How does the Bible use the term “evangelizer” in a special sense?
6 The Greek word used in the Bible for “good news” is eu·ag·geʹli·on, or “evangel.” The Bible uses the term “evangelizer” with respect to certain designated ones, for it tells us that Jesus, when he ascended to heaven, gave gifts in men, “some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.” (Eph. 4:11, 12) These “evangelizers” appear to have been given God’s spirit in a specially strong way in preaching, training and building up others. Philip was one of these.—Acts 21:8, 9.
7. How should all proclaimers of the good news be, in a general sense, evangelizers?
7 Nevertheless, all proclaimers of the good news are, in a general sense, evangelizers. They should certainly have the evangelizing spirit. They should declare the good news, but not stop there. They should do all they can to train and build up others so that these, in turn, can have the same strong spirit. To accomplish this they will need to use every occasion and opportunity to talk about the good news. The first-century Christians provide many examples for us.
PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS IN THE FIRST CENTURY
8. How and where did Jesus do evangelizing work?
8 Jesus himself “went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him.” (Luke 8:1) Nearly all Jesus’ travels were on foot. He on occasion sent his disciples ahead of him so that the village or city would be expectant and ready to listen to him. (Luke 10:1) He taught where he could reach people. It might be in a village, at the temple in Jerusalem, in a private home, in his own place of residence, in the synagogues, on the seashore, on a mountain. And he spoke to those he met on the road, or while resting—in short, at any time and place where people were.—Matt. 5:1; 13:1, 2; 26:6-13; Mark 2:1, 2; 3:1-5; John 4:6-10.
9, 10. How did Philip do evangelizing, and how might he be compared to certain of Jehovah’s witnesses today?
9 Some of the evangelizers in the first century did quite a lot of traveling. They went to places where God revealed there was a need for their services. We read that Philip went down to Samaria. After he had done good work there he was directed by Jehovah’s angel to go to the south to the road that led from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he explained the good news to an Ethiopian eunuch. God’s spirit directed him from there to Ashdod and “he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:4-40) There we find him later in a home, a man with a family.—Acts 21:8, 9.
10 Philip might be compared, in a way, to the “pioneers,” “special pioneers” and missionaries among Jehovah’s witnesses, who have a special commission to preach. But a fine evangelizing spirit is shown by those who move their homes to places where there is a greater need for some to preach. Some of these have families, as did Philip.
11. How did Paul do evangelizing?
11 Paul was one of the greatest evangelizers. He traveled widely in Asia and Europe, declaring the good news everywhere he went. He tried to preach mainly where the good news had not been declared. In some places he stayed for quite a time, to establish and strengthen congregations. It is interesting to note that in this evangelizing activity Paul supported himself financially by working at a trade.—2 Cor. 10:13-16; Acts 18:1-4; 19:8-10; 1 Cor. 9:15-18.
EVANGELIZING DOES NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVE TRAVELING
12. Is traveling an essential part of evangelizing?
12 While it is true that these evangelizers, for the most part, did considerable traveling, it is not necessary to travel to another location to preach if we have the evangelizing spirit. For the spirit of evangelizing is not the spirit of travel and adventure. Where a person is free from obligations that would prevent his moving, and offers himself to do so, he may be assigned, through those having charge of the preaching work in a country, to a specific place where his services are most needed. There his traveling may end, for he may settle down there, as Philip did in Caesarea, and continue to declare the good news, building up the congregation in that locality. He may remain there for many years, even for a lifetime, as have many of the missionaries of Jehovah’s witnesses.
13. What example shows us that we can do evangelizing without moving from our home locality?
13 But some persons may not be able to move, because of family obligations, health or for other reasons. Nevertheless, if they have the evangelizing spirit they can accomplish much good right in the area where they are living. As an example of this, there is a small congregation in the state of Arkansas, United States. A Witness there has lived in the area for many years. His conduct has been such that everyone for miles around knows of his Christian personality, and he has a fine reputation for honesty and uprightness. The congregation is small, but if all those who heard and accepted the good news by reason of his preaching and example had remained in the area, there would be a congregation of great size for that small community. But this man and his wife worked so hard, and set such a fine example of love and Christian living, and did such good training of new ones who accepted the good news, that they instilled the evangelizing spirit in their hearers to the extent that they, in turn, moved out to places where the need is greater. A surprising number have gone from this congregation to the Gilead missionary school and have been sent to foreign lands to serve. Should this man and his wife be discouraged because they could not travel to places where the good news did not have such intensive publicity? By no means. Jehovah has richly blessed them, and their work at home has had a worldwide effect.
14. If you have the evangelizing spirit, how do you have plenty of opportunity to preach right in the locality of your home?
14 So, wherever you are, you have unlimited opportunities to preach. There is the door-to-door preaching of the good news. Then there are those whom you may rarely, if ever, meet at their homes. These you may see in your daily work, at your shop or in your travels. You find them sitting in cars in parking lots, gasoline filling-station lines, in parks. If you have the spirit of wanting to share the good news with others, you do not always have to have a formal arrangement, or a set time. You are a witness of Jehovah all the time! You tell others the good news because it is in your heart, and you find yourself talking about it or making opportunities to talk about it under all circumstances.—Jer. 20:9.
EVANGELIZING MEANS MORE THAN MERE PROCLAMATION
15. How is there more to the evangelizing spirit than merely telling the good news to others?
15 Now, there is more to the evangelizing spirit than merely telling others the good news. There is much depth of meaning in the good news, and some things are “hard to understand.” (2 Pet. 3:16) It requires thinking on your part to determine how to put these points across to your student of the good news. Not only this, but it is one thing to help to get mental knowledge and another to get things into the heart. You will notice that, in Jesus’ illustration of the sower, the seed fell where? On hearts. You as a preacher of the good news want to cultivate that seed in the heart of your student.—Matt. 13:19.
16. How was Paul a fine example of a real evangelizer?
16 An evangelizer must have affection for people, even as the apostle Paul demonstrated, and which he describes, saying: “Having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” (1 Thess. 2:8) Paul and his associates exerted every fiber of their being toward those in Thessalonica who accepted the good news. Paul’s time and energies were theirs, and he wished and tried with all his heart to make them have the same all-consuming love of the good news by living it in every aspect of their lives.
17. If you have the true evangelizing spirit, how will you view and work with those to whom you declare the good news?
17 Do you feel and work that way toward those to whom you take the good news? If so, you will not be selfish toward them. You will not count them as your “sheep,” but will care for them as belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd. (1 Pet. 5:1-4) You will try to instill in them the spirit of God. You will try to acquaint them as much as possible with others of the congregation, for you realize that “there are varieties of gifts, but there is the same spirit; and there are varieties of ministries, and yet there is the same Lord; and there are varieties of operations, and yet it is the same God who performs all the operations in all persons. But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for a beneficial purpose.” (1 Cor. 12:4-7) You will appreciate that you do not have all the abilities nor all the manifestations of Jehovah’s spirit. But you know that by association with the congregation, newly interested persons will be where Jehovah’s spirit is most concentrated and will be brought along to maturity by that association.
BUILDING AND TRAINING
18. At what are you aiming in studying the Bible with a person?
18 The evangelizing spirit is not measured in the amount of time devoted to preaching to others. It includes the effectiveness of one’s building up and training others. A person with whom you study may be grasping some of the fundamental doctrines, such as the truth of an earthly paradise, the fallacies of such doctrines as immortality of the human soul, hellfire of torment and the Trinity. He may get a good head knowledge about these things. He may be able to answer the questions in the study quite well. But you are not aiming principally at the head but at the heart. What, then, are the things you want to instill in his heart to make him a sound, mature Christian?—Heb. 6:1-3.
19. (a) Name some of the very vital things that you will keep in mind to inculcate into your student’s heart. (b) How should he come to view God?
19 You will want to check constantly and keep ever in mind the following vital points, and it is up to you to work hard to help the one you are studying with to see them: Is your student coming to know Jehovah, that is, does he understand why Jehovah is having the good news brought to him and to others? Does he understand why God has let wickedness continue for a time and why he does not act according to human desire, to wipe it out immediately? Does he see clearly the issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty, and the loving-kindness of God in allowing time to be taken in settling the issue? Does he see that the things that are happening in the earth hurt God much more than they hurt us? that God, though able to bring an end to bad things, restrains himself for mankind’s own benefit? (Compare Genesis 6:3, 5-7.) Does he discern that all the good qualities that we possess to some degree, God has to a far greater degree—love, appreciation, feeling, considerateness, mercy, patience? Does he view God as a close friend, as one willing to do whatever is good for him? He must come to know God as an Appreciator of those who serve him even in the smallest service that they render from the heart. He that pleases God must believe that he is the Rewarder of those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6) He is that kind of God. All those with the true evangelizing spirit know this to be true, and so they endeavor to instill this same desire in others to love and serve Him for his matchless qualities.—Ex. 34:6, 7; Ps. 145:8-21.
20, 21. (a) What do we want our Bible students to gain? (b) How can we help them to develop a personal relationship with God, rather than looking to us as their teacher?
20 So, when teaching and training those accepting the good news, you should ever keep these things uppermost in mind, and constantly be inculcating them in the hearts of your hearers. You want them to gain maturity, which includes the ability to discern both right and wrong. (Heb. 5:14) Whatever you teach them, whatever point they learn, relate it to Jehovah’s love, mercy, compassion and other qualities. Bring them to see that Jehovah is the one interested in them, that he is the one helping them, and that all they learn comes from that great Source, and out of his consideration for them.
21 Lead your students to know that they can have a personal relationship with God. It is not impersonal doctrine they are learning, nor is it because of their own intelligence or goodness that they are able to understand. It is God’s interest in mankind that has brought them to see the good news. Show them what a divine favor it is that God has seen fit to permit them to see and understand; without the operation of his spirit the good news would never have been made understandable to them. The wise men of this world are highly intelligent, but they cannot understand the good news. (Matt. 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:19-21) Let them know that you are only an instrument to bring things to their attention. It is Jehovah who is the Grand Instructor of his people.—Isa. 30:20; 54:13.
22. How can we equip our student for the persecution he will face?
22 You realize, when you are teaching and training a newly interested person, that he is going to encounter opposition, even persecution. Prepare him for this, and show him why persecution comes, and why God allows it. Help him to understand Bible texts showing that those receiving persecution are highly favored. It is a proof of God’s spirit upon one. It is not something to be ashamed of or downcast about, but, rather, something over which he should leap for joy. (Matt. 5:11, 12; Phil. 1:27, 28; 2 Tim. 1:8; Jas. 1:2, 12; 1 Pet. 4:12-14) Strengthen him against possible opposition from family or friends with Jesus’ words at Mark 10:29, 30. You can encourage him to endure in faithfulness in the hope that he may eventually be able to bring salvation to those near and dear to him.
23. What important thing should we not overlook before encouraging Bible students to engage with us in the field service, and how can we handle this matter?
23 Since the evangelizing spirit includes training, we, in making disciples to be like their Master Jesus Christ, must see that they qualify to become preachers of the good news. People should not be invited to engage with the members of the congregation in preaching before they fully clean up their lives so as to qualify. They must understand that all must be clean who bear the vessels of Jehovah. (Isa. 52:11; 2 Cor. 7:1) They must see that having the “mark” of the Christian personality is what pleases God and prevents his anger from coming upon them.—Ezek. 9:4-6; Eph. 4:23, 24.
24, 25. (a) What kind of people only does God want to serve him? (b) Can we demand that a Bible student stop all his bad habits and practices at once, or what?
24 God wants people to serve him who are Christians through and through. He is not interested in quantity, in merely having a great number of preachers of the good news. But he is drawing out from this corrupt system of things those who will clean up. His spirit, which he puts upon those who obey him, is a force for cleanness. If a person follows any course that is unclean, he is going contrary to the purpose for which God sends forth his spirit, and that spirit will not back him up.—1 Thess. 4:7, 8.
25 So it is wise to implant these principles of right living in the hearts of interested persons from the beginning. Of course, they cannot be expected to clean up their lives at once, but the steady drive toward that goal is yours if you have the true evangelizing spirit. This can be done with kindness and tact and without unduly prying into their lives. Your purpose is to know your student and to help him where he needs help. Then you can take him with you, training him to share in proclaiming the good news.
26. What is essential before encouraging a new one to be baptized?
26 Similarly, baptism should not be encouraged until you know that the individual has really cleaned up his life and has lived in this clean condition long enough to indicate that he will not turn back to former bad habits and practices.
27. What are the rewards of having the evangelizing spirit?
27 The evangelizing spirit is one that brings the greatest happiness. There is no greater joy now than being able to uphold Jehovah’s name in an ungodly world, and to bring light and hope to others. And then, when you see those whom you are helping coming to know and to appreciate Jehovah and Jesus Christ and what they have done, your joy is increased. The evangelizing spirit does away with the spirit of jealousy or envy. It rejoices in the spiritual advance of others, particularly of those whom you are helping. You feel in this respect as the apostle Paul desired Timothy to feel: “The things you heard from me with the support of many witnesses, these things commit to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.”—2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 10:24.
28. If you feel somewhat lacking in the evangelizing spirit, what can you do to obtain or increase it?
28 Consequently, all true servants of Jehovah desire to cultivate the evangelizing spirit in themselves and in others. If you desire to intensify this spirit within yourself, associate closely with those who have this fine attitude, and enlist the aid of the elders in the congregation. They will be happy to help you, for they know that it glorifies God and works toward the salvation of themselves and those whom they help.—1 Tim. 4:16.
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Philip had the evangelizing spirit . . .
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. . . Do you?