Becoming an evangelist is not always a choice. In fact, as stated earlier, it is a calling. An evangelist is called to evangelize while others are called for different purposes.
I know we have visited this chapter before but we are going to visit it again to better understand a number of things. First of all, even though you may “feel” you are being called to be an evangelist it is more important to “know” you are being called. You may actually be being called to a different form of ministry that is similar to evangelism.
Before we go any further I would ask that you read all of 1 Corinthians 12. I will be highlighting a number of passages but I will not be commenting on the entire chapter. And it is important that you fully understand what Paul is saying hear and take it to heart. I even recommend memorizing parts of it. To start with, memorize verses 7 through 11. These speak of the individual gifts of the Holy Spirit.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
(1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ESV)
Notice that there is no mention of evangelizing or an evangelist. Being an evangelist is not a gift of the Holy Spirit but rather a mission or ministry that is guided by some of these gifts. In fact, the word, “evangelist” is only used three times in the Bible and they are all in the New Testament. Acts 21:8, Eph 4:11, and 2 Tim 4:5.
So why is this chapter on Spiritual gifts important. I hope you read the chapter and answered that question yourself. It is not about any individual gift that we should be concerned with. Paul wasn’t trying to say, “if you want these gifts you need to get baptized by the Holy Spirit”. He was saying, “if you are baptized by the Holy Spirit these are some of the manifestations of the gifts God bestows on some and there is a purpose for them”.
Most people want to focus on the gifts and completely miss what was said just before this.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”
( 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ESV )
Verses seven through eleven talk about the “varieties of gifts”. But there are also a “variety of services” and “varieties of activities”. The important statement is found in verse 6. “it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone “.
Yes, each one of us are given a manifestation of the Spirit as stated in verse 7. But these manifestations are for the purpose of fulfilling God’s work here on earth until Jesus returns to claim His kingdom.
Just because you have the gift of teaching does not mean you are a pastor. Just because God has given you the ability to heal does not make you a missionary. Each one of us are to work together to accomplish God’s will. We use the gifts individually given together with others to accomplish big things for the kingdom of God.
The evangelist is one person with one goal and mission to accomplish. That is to lead as many people to Christ Jesus as possible before it is eternally too late. The evangelist depends largely on others to help support them in their mission through prayer, follow up ministries, financial support, housing, and other needs.
This kind of life is not for everyone. If you look at Ephesians 4:11 you see that evangelists are grouped together with teachers, prophets, pastors, and apostles.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
( Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV )
Looking at these verses what do you see as being the purpose of these positions in the church? Are these positions for anyone sitting in the pews on Sunday morning? No. They are for those who have been prepared to fill these roles. You pastor (hopefully) has gone to a Bible teaching college to learn the Word of God more fully so they can preach and teach the Word to others. Your Bible Study teachers have studies the curriculum and read the passages that will be discussed in advance so they can properly lead the study. And God has given them the gifts of knowledge and wisdom to accomplish this work.
The purpose for these positions is clearly stated in Ephesians that they are for the “building up of the body of Christ”. That is you and me. We are the body of Christ. Just because a person has faith in God does not mean they can fill any one of these roles. They must be trained and mentored.
Ask any ordained minister and they will tell you they have a mentor, someone who they go to for spiritual advice and guidance. Nobody can do it alone. Don’t get me wrong. God calls individuals without the permission or authorization of anyone else. But when we respond to the calling we need to take on the responsibility of learning God’s way of doing things and also become a mentor to others.
Not everyone can do this. Not everyone who has faith can do the work of an evangelist.
This being said, there is a flip side to look at. That is, every evangelist must have faith.
This is scary when we look at so many so-called Christian leaders who have failed the body of Christ through their sins and hypocrisy. Just because Jesus gave us salvation through His death and resurrection it does not mean we are not vulnerable to the human condition.
Not long ago a sister church of ours had an adult youth minister arrested for child molestation. Both sad and sickening when you look at this situation through the eyes of both believers and non-believers alike. But if this was a non-believer who had done this you might have seen the news report briefly and then you would have ignored it from that time on. Why? Because there is so much more expected of a Christian leader than anyone else.
If anyone wants to be in a leadership position within the church body they must have faith. True faith. And by the way, if you take a look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit you see that faith itself is one of the gifts. Just saying you are a minister does not make it so. Being a minister, pastor, evangelist, or any kind of church leader must be done through faith.
So here’s the question. Do you really believe that what you believe is real?
Do you really believe that Jesus is the Christ? Then do what God wants you to do. otherwise, get out of the way and let the true believer in to do the work.
Sounds kind of harsh but it is the truth. Peter was hit hard by this truth when Jesus kept asking him the same question over and over.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
( John 21:15-19 ESV )
To love Jesus is to believe Him. To believe Him is to love Him. Jesus was preparing all of His apostles for the work they were being called to do. But he was also building their faith. When Jesus asked Peter these questions Peter was faced with looking into his own heart and checking his own belief. Jesus knew Peter’s heart and mind. He had no reason to ask to get the answers. The questioning was for Peter’s sake alone.
Jesus was asking Peter to prove his love for Him by being a true leader. Not just by feeding the sheep but by following Jesus. It is true faith that Peter was being asked of. if you believe, if you love, then do what I want you to do.
This can only be done through true faith.