For The Primacy
Most churches have constitutions one part of which is a statement of faith. It provides a list of important beliefs along with a brief description and several Bible references supporting the belief.
What they don’t often have but should is a statement of activities, things they do regularly as an expression of their faith. And at the top of the “do” list should be evangelism.
Although the word is not actually an English word – anglicized (transliterated) form of the Greek euangelion – it is clearly the most important issue in the New Testament.
It refers to the good news of the Gospel and any activity that spreads that message is evangelism. This was very prevalent in the ministry of Jesus.
Without question, one of the most important lessons we learn from Jesus is how to evangelize. This intention was so obvious that the writers of the Gospels have been referred to as the four “evangelists” and of all the Gospels, John’s emphasizes evangelism the most.
Proof of this emphasis is the number of verses in John which are evangelistic stand-outs. The purpose of this post is to provide a list of these verses.
Emphasizing the universal appeal of evangelism:
He (Jesus) came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-13
When seeing Jesus approaching, John the Baptist said….
Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. John 1:29
Referring to His death, burial and resurrection Jesus said…
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. John 2:19
Obviously, without His death, burial and resurrection there would be no “Good News” thus indicating that some of these verses speak to the technical side of salvations message.
When Nicodemus approached Jesus inquisitively but confused Jesus, without preamble or elaboration, said:
…Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
And when Nicodemus asked how a man could be born a second time He said:
…Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5
In both statements Jesus emphasized the necessity of salvation. He made no effort to explain it.
The only question Nicodemus asked, Jesus never really answered. Jesus knew that the answer he needed didn’t match the questions he had and he obviously didn’t grasp the concept immediately but there is indication that he caught on before the end of Jesus’ ministry (John 7:50-51 and 19:39).
In the same setting/chapter Jesus made the following statement, the reference for which, John 3:16, has become the hallmark for many Bible concepts the most prominent being God’s evangelistic purposes.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
The following verse is less popular but no less evangelistically significant. It emphasizes the absolute nature of salvation. One is either all the way in or all the way out:
He that believes on the Son has everlasting life and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
The events of John 4 take place in an entirely different context but with an equally emphatic evangelistic thrust. Jesus leads several people to belief beginning with a woman of questionable moral character and He begins the process by doing the unthinkable: addressing the woman, unknown to Him, publicly. That wasn’t done in Jesus’ day. The fact that she was Samaritan only compounds the offense.
Since Jews and Samaritans didn’t mix socially or religiously there was little chance of the Samaritans being evangelized had Jesus not made this effort or John not recorded it.
A statement made to the woman emphasizing the nondiminishable nature of salvation was:
Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:14
The disciples, mystified that he was talking to this unsavory soul, but afraid to say anything about it, attempt to redirect His attention with lunch at which point He adds to their confusion by suggesting that evangelistic activity – about which they were ill informed – feeds the soul in a way food never could.
I have food to eat that you know not of…my food is to do the will of Him who sent me… John 4:32 & 34
In the very next verse He equates the urgency of harvesting ripened crops to that of evangelizing ready souls and implies that the fields of humanity are ready to be picked.
I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35
In John 5 Jesus was back in Jerusalem and, as always, the atmosphere was tense. He nor His activities were welcomed by the religious elite and trouble was always brewing. However, it was in this context that Jesus made some powerful evangelistic statements.
Speaking to the religiously elite He emphasized the universal ability of anyone, with any qualification, in any place to evangelize:
Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24
The most remarkable observation about this verse is Jesus makes no qualification on where His words must be heard, by whom they must be spoken or even how the message is proclaimed. Any person who hears and believes is in, regardless of where, from whom or how the message is heard.
In John 6 Jesus made some interesting statements to a large crowd (5,000 men plus women and children). He again used food as an analogy to illustrate the necessity and means of salvation. This is interesting because the crowd had just been fed by Jesus miraculously and they used the daily supply of manna in the wilderness as justification to expect this on a regular basis. Their suggestions are countered with the following statements from Jesus.
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.
Verses 33 & 35
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Verses 48 & 51
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life…51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever…
And it is at the end of this chapter that we have one of Peter’s famous confessions about Christ and eternal life:
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. John 6:68-69
From John 7 to the end of chapter 20 Jesus and the disciples are in and around Jerusalem, which as I mentioned before was not an easy place to minister. But, in spite of the difficulties there is an endless list of evangelistically significant verses.
The analogy between living water (supply without end) and salvation is a recurring theme in John.
…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. John 7:37-38
Emphasizing the clarity of salvation truth:
…I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12
Emphasizing the absolute necessity of salvation:
…if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins… John 8:24
Emphasizing the evidence that one is saved:
As he spoke these words, many believed on him. 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:30-32
Jesus’ comments to a blind man He had recently healed emphasize the simplicity of salvation:
… Do you believe on the Son of God? 36 He (the blind man He healed) answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said to him, you have both seen him, and it is he that talks with you. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. John 9:35-38
Emphasizing the security of the believer:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
Jesus’ comments to Martha as she grieved the death of her brother, Lazarus, emphasize the eternal effect of salvation:
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? John 11:25-26
Jesus said that honoring him is guaranteed to have an evangelistic effect.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32
Jesus stressed the unity of salvation purpose between Him and God the Father.
Jesus cried and said, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that sees me sees him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. John 12:44-46
Jesus indicated that peaceful, caring and respectful relationships (aka loving) between disciples would have an evangelistic effect.
A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another. John 13:34-35
And Jesus pointed out the only means of salvation
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6
Stressing the evangelistic intent of his writing John said:
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:30-31
There are other verses that could be added but this collection of statements by Jesus presents an overwhelming argument for the primacy of evangelism. It is the one thing we must all do.
What do you THINK!AboutIt?