“Do the Work of an Evangelizer”
“Keep your senses in all things, . . . do the work of an evangelizer.”—2 TIMOTHY 4:5.
1. What commission did Jesus give his followers?
JEHOVAH’S name and purposes are being declared throughout the earth. This is because God’s dedicated people have taken to heart the commission that Jesus Christ gave his followers when he said: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”—Matthew 28:19, 20.
2. The overseer Timothy received what instruction, and what is one way for Christian overseers to accomplish their ministry?
2 Jesus’ first-century disciples took that commission seriously. For instance, the apostle Paul urged his fellow Christian overseer Timothy: “Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5) Today, one way an overseer accomplishes his ministry is by being a zealous Kingdom proclaimer, one who shares regularly in the field ministry. For example, the Congregation Book Study overseer has the rewarding privilege of taking the lead in the preaching work and training others. Paul fulfilled his personal responsibility to declare the good news, and he helped to train others for the ministry.—Acts 20:20; 1 Corinthians 9:16, 17.
Zealous Evangelizers of the Past
3, 4. What experiences did Philip have as an evangelizer?
3 The early Christians were known as zealous evangelizers. Consider the evangelizer Philip. He was one of the “seven certified men . . . full of spirit and wisdom” chosen to carry out the impartial daily distribution of food among the Greek-speaking and the Hebrew-speaking Christian widows in Jerusalem. (Acts 6:1-6) After that special service ended and persecution scattered all except the apostles, Philip went to Samaria. There he declared the good news and was empowered by holy spirit to cast out demons and cure lame and paralyzed individuals. Many Samaritans accepted the Kingdom message and were baptized. Hearing about this, the apostles in Jerusalem dispatched the apostles Peter and John to Samaria so that the newly baptized believers might receive holy spirit.—Acts 8:4-17.
4 God’s spirit next led Philip to meet the Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza. After Philip’s clear explanation of Isaiah’s prophecy, this “man in power under Candace queen of the Ethiopians” put faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized. (Acts 8:26-38) Philip thereafter went to Ashdod and then to Caesarea, “declaring the good news to all the cities” along the way. (Acts 8:39, 40) He surely set a fine example in doing the work of an evangelizer!
5. For what were Philip’s four daughters particularly known?
5 Philip was still active in the ministry in Caesarea some 20 years later. When Paul and Luke stayed in his home, he “had four daughters, virgins, that prophesied.” (Acts 21:8-10) They evidently had been well-trained spiritually, had zeal for the ministry, and were even privileged to engage in speaking prophetically. Parental zeal for the ministry can have a fine effect on sons and daughters today, moving them to make zealous evangelizing their lifetime work.
Zealous Evangelizers Today
6. What success did first-century evangelizers have?
6 In his great prophecy pointing to our day and the time of the end, Jesus Christ declared: “In all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) The end would come after the good news had been preached “in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) As Paul and other first-century evangelizers proclaimed the good news, many became believers, and congregations were formed in one place after another throughout the Roman Empire. Elders appointed to serve in these congregations participated with their brothers and sisters in the evangelizing work and extended the preaching activity far and wide. Jehovah’s word went on growing and prevailing in those days, just as it does today because millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing the work of evangelizers. (Acts 19:20) Have you taken your stand as one of those happy praisers of Jehovah?
7. What are Kingdom proclaimers doing today?
7 Many present-day Kingdom proclaimers are taking advantage of opportunities to enlarge their share in the evangelizing work. Thousands have entered the missionary field, and hundreds of thousands share in the full-time evangelizing activity as regular and auxiliary pioneers. And what fine work is being done by men, women, and children serving as zealous Kingdom publishers! Indeed, all of Jehovah’s people are enjoying his rich blessing as they serve him shoulder to shoulder as Christian evangelizers.—Zephaniah 3:9.
8. What marking work is now being done, and by whom?
8 God has given Jesus’ anointed followers the responsibility to proclaim the good news throughout the earth. At their side in this evangelizing work is the growing number of Christ’s “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Prophetically, this lifesaving work is likened to putting a mark on the foreheads of those sighing and groaning over the detestable things now taking place. Soon, the wicked will be destroyed. Meanwhile, what a privilege it is to carry lifesaving truths to earth’s inhabitants!—Ezekiel 9:4-6, 11.
9. How can new ones be helped in the ministry?
9 If we have been engaging in the evangelizing work for some time, very likely we can do something to help new ones in the congregation. On occasion, we may be able to have them accompany us in the ministry. Those who serve as elders will want to do all they can to build fellow believers up spiritually. The fine efforts of humble overseers can do much to help others to be zealous and fruitful evangelizers.—2 Peter 1:5-8.
Bearing Witness From House to House
10. Christ and his early followers set what example in the ministry?
10 Jesus Christ set his followers an excellent example as an evangelizer. Regarding the ministry of Christ and his apostles, God’s Word states: “He 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) What about the apostles themselves? After the outpouring of holy spirit at Pentecost of 33 C.E., “every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.”—Acts 5:42.
11. According to Acts 20:20, 21, what did the apostle Paul do in his ministry?
11 Because of his zealous evangelizing work, the apostle Paul could tell Christian elders from Ephesus: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.” When Paul was ‘teaching from house to house,’ was he visiting the homes of fellow worshipers of Jehovah, making shepherding calls on believers? No, for he goes on to explain: “I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:20, 21) In general, those already dedicated to Jehovah would not need instruction about “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” Paul trained the Christian elders of Ephesus in the house-to-house ministry while he taught unbelievers about repentance and faith. In doing this, Paul was copying the method established by Jesus.
12, 13. In harmony with Philippians 1:7, what have Jehovah’s people done about their right to preach?
12 The house-to-house ministry can be challenging. For example, some are offended when we come to their door with the Bible’s message. It is not our desire to offend people. Yet, the house-to-house ministry is Scriptural, and love of God and neighbor motivates us to bear witness in this way. (Mark 12:28-31) To ‘defend and legally establish’ our right to preach from house to house, we have presented cases before the courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. (Philippians 1:7) Almost invariably that court has decided in our favor. Typical is the following verdict:
13 “The hand distribution of religious tracts is an age-old form of missionary evangelism—as old as the history of printing presses. It has been a potent force in various religious movements down through the years. This form of evangelism is utilized today, on a large scale by various religious sects whose colporteurs carry the Gospel to thousands upon thousands of homes and seek through personal visitations to win adherents to their faith. . . . This form of religious activity occupies the same high estate under the First Amendment [to the United States Constitution] as do worship in the churches and preaching from the pulpits.”—Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 1943.
Why Keep On Preaching?
14. What can be the cumulative effect of our ministry?
14 There are many reasons to witness from house to house. Each time we call on a householder, we try to plant a seed of Scriptural truth. By making return visits, we seek to water it. And there can be a fine cumulative effect, for Paul wrote: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) So let us keep on ‘planting and watering,’ confident that Jehovah ‘will make it grow.’
15, 16. Why do we repeatedly call at people’s homes?
15 We do the work of evangelizers because lives are at stake. By preaching we can save ourselves and those who listen to us. (1 Timothy 4:16) If we knew that a person’s life was endangered, would we make only one feeble attempt to help him? Hardly! Since salvation is involved, we make repeated calls at the homes of people. Circumstances keep on changing. Someone who is too busy to listen on one occasion may be willing to hear the Bible’s message at another time. A different member of the family may answer the door, and that could lead to a Scriptural discussion.
16 Not only their circumstances but also the attitude of householders can change. For instance, the painful loss of a loved one in death may move an individual to listen to the Kingdom message. We hope to comfort the person, make him conscious of his spiritual need, and show how it can be satisfied.—Matthew 5:3, 4.
17. What is the foremost reason for our preaching activity?
17 Foremost among our reasons for witnessing from house to house or engaging in other forms of the Christian ministry is the desire to have a share in making known Jehovah’s name. (Exodus 9:16; Psalm 83:18) How rewarding it is when our evangelizing work helps lovers of truth and righteousness to become praisers of Jehovah! “You young men and also you virgins, you old men together with boys,” sang the psalmist. “Let them praise the name of Jehovah, for his name alone is unreachably high. His dignity is above earth and heaven.”—Psalm 148:12, 13.
Evangelizing Benefits Us Personally
18. How do we benefit from doing the evangelizing work?
18 Doing the work of an evangelizer benefits us personally in various ways. Going from house to house with the good news helps us to cultivate humility, particularly when we are not received in a kind manner. To be effective evangelizers, we need to be like Paul, who ‘became all things to people of all sorts so that he might save some.’ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Experience in the ministry helps us to be tactful. By relying on Jehovah and choosing our words well, we can apply Paul’s counsel: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.”—Colossians 4:6.
19. How are evangelizers helped by holy spirit?
19 The evangelizing work also moves us to rely on God’s holy spirit. (Zechariah 4:6) In turn, its fruitage—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control”—becomes evident in our ministry. (Galatians 5:22, 23) It affects our dealings with people, for yielding to the spirit’s direction helps us to exercise love, to be joyful and peaceable, to be long-suffering and kind, to display goodness and faith, and to manifest mildness and self-control while declaring the good news.
20, 21. What are some blessings and benefits of keeping busy as evangelizers?
20 Another blessing that comes to us as evangelizers is that we become more sympathetic. When people mention their problems—sickness, unemployment, domestic trials—we do not act as advisers, but we share encouraging and comforting scriptures with them. We are concerned about people who have been blinded spiritually but seem to have a love of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 4:4) And what a blessing it is to render spiritual help to those “rightly disposed for everlasting life”!—Acts 13:48.
21 Regular participation in the evangelizing work helps us to keep our mind focused on spiritual things. (Luke 11:34) That surely is beneficial, since we might otherwise yield to materialistic temptations so common in this world. The apostle John urged Christians: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) Keeping busy as evangelizers with plenty to do in the Lord’s work helps us not to love the world.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Store Up Heavenly Treasures
22, 23. (a) What treasures are stored up by Christian evangelizers? (b) How will the following article help us?
22 Zealous Kingdom-preaching activity brings lasting benefits. Jesus showed this when he said: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”—Matthew 6:19-21.
23 May we keep on storing up treasures in heaven, aware that we could have no greater privilege than that of representing the Sovereign Lord Jehovah as his Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) As we carry out our commission as God’s ministers, we may well feel like a Christian woman in her 90’s who said this about her long life of service to God: “Through it all I thank Jehovah for putting up with me all these years, and I pray fervently that he will be my loving Father forever.” If we similarly cherish our relationship with God, surely we want to do the work of an evangelizer in a complete way. The next article will help us to see how we can fully accomplish our ministry.
How Would You Answer?
• Why should we do the work of an evangelizer?
• What can you say about the work of past and present evangelizers?
• Why do we witness from house to house?
• How do you benefit personally from doing the work of an evangelizer?
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Such evangelizers as Philip and his daughters have joyful modern-day counterparts
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How do you benefit personally as you share the good news with others?