Who Are the True Evangelizers?
NO MATTER where you live, in one way or another the evangelistic movement started by Jesus Christ has touched your life. But not everyone who has claimed to represent Christ has spread the true message of God’s Word. Not all evangelizers—present or past—have been fired with the same missionary zeal that characterized the first-century disciples of Christ.
True, the churches of Christendom have an estimated 220,000 missionaries at work in the world today, but do those missionaries pass the test of true evangelizers? Christian evangelism was not meant to be a form of spiritual imperialism, where preachers would work as agents of colonizing world powers. (Compare James 4:4.) Moreover, genuine Christian evangelism would not advocate so-called liberation theology and push for radical changes in the political and social systems; neither did Jesus have in mind Bible-thumping electronic preachers who wail their version of “prosperity theology” over the TV and radio waves. (John 17:16; Matthew 6:24) Well, then, what is an evangelizer?
What Is True Evangelism?
In the Bible’s original languages, Hebrew and Greek, an evangelizer is a proclaimer of glad tidings, or good news.* Good news of what? Of salvation, of righteous rule, and of peace. For example, Isaiah 52:7 states: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’”
Further, at the birth of God’s Son, the angel announced to the shepherds: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11) Thus, the good news centers on Jesus Christ.
Some 30 years later, Jesus entered the synagogue in the city of Nazareth on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news.’” After he finished reading, “he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were intently fixed upon him. Then he started to say to them: ‘Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.’” Jesus was admittedly a preacher of good news, and the good news that he declared focused on “the kingdom of God.”—Luke 4:17-21; 8:1.
Jesus compared his evangelizing work to a harvest and said that “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:36-38) Hence, he trained and commissioned his followers to be evangelizers also. (Matthew, chapter 10; Luke, chapter 10) As was the case with their Teacher, the heart of their preaching was “the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 10:7) However, Kingdom-preaching was not limited to Jesus’ apostles.
When persecution against the fledgling Christian congregation erupted in the city of Jerusalem, the historical account at Acts 8:1 relates that “all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Did those dispersed disciples hide and cower in fear? No, for Acts 8 verse 4 continues: “However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word.” In this way a great harvest was reaped by those first-century evangelizers.
Interestingly, the book A Theological Word Book of the Bible states: “In the NT [New Testament] preaching has nothing to do with the delivery of sermons to the converted, which is what it usually means to-day, but always concerns the proclamation of the ‘good tidings of God’ to the non-Christian world.” Thus, all Christians are evangelizers, and their evangelizing is not limited to speaking to fellow believers.
But what is the theme of modern-day evangelism? Jesus predicted for our day that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) And Jesus commanded not only those who saw his ascension but his future followers as well to be “witnesses of [him] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8; see also Matthew 28:19, 20.
Thus, the core of an evangelizer’s message is the good news of Jehovah God’s Kingdom in the hands of his appointed Ruler, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) And it includes all the truths that Jesus spoke and that his disciples recorded. True evangelizers of today faithfully stick to this one theme.
Who Sponsors True Evangelism?
True evangelizers worship Jehovah as God. He is the Great Evangelizer; he is the Sponsor of the preaching of the good news. (Galatians 3:8; Revelation 10:7) And he desires all people everywhere to hear and obey his message. “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial,” proclaimed the apostle Peter to a small crowd in the Mediterranean seaport of Caesarea. “But in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. He sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ: this One is Lord of all others.”—Acts 10:34-36.
The Bible foretold that in our day evangelizers would once again reap a great harvest. (Revelation 14:15, 16) Read in the following article some of the experiences that Jehovah’s Witnesses are having as they share in this harvest work. Examine their preaching record on pages 12 to 15 of this magazine. Then speak with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they call at your home and see if you do not agree that they are the true evangelizers of today.
The Greek verb for “bring good news,” or “evangelize,” (eu·ag·ge·liʹzo·mai) came to stand for the Hebrew word rendered ‘bring good news’ (bis·sarʹ) in Isaiah 52:7. The verb bis·sarʹ here means “to herald Yahweh’s universal victory over the world and his kingly rule” and the dawn of a new age, states The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology.—Compare Nahum 1:15, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References, footnote.