Like the apostle Paul did, we should see ourselves as debtors to those who need God’s saving gospel (Romans 1:14-16). God graciously supplied the gospel, we are blessed to have it, and lost people need it. What child of God would not agree that it is “good” to teach the gospel to those lost outside of Jesus?
After His resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus charged His followers to proclaim the gospel to all people in the whole world (Mark 16:14-16). That command originally was given to eleven men (the original twelve apostles minus Judas Iscariot). As the history of Jesus’ followers unfolded, we see common members of the church joining the apostles in proclaiming the gospel to the lost (Acts 8:4; 11:19-21).
When we teach the lost, we are doing what the Lord instructed us to do (and when we fail to participate in teaching the lost, we are failing to do what the Lord wants us to do). Timothy was given the responsibility to take what he had learned from Paul and commit it to faithful saints. Why? So those faithful ones could, in turn, teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). It is God’s will that a “servant of the Lord” be “able to teach.” That is what the Bible says (2 Timothy 2:24). In some fashion, all members of the church which is ruled by Jesus “ought to be teachers.” That is what the Bible says (Hebrews 5:12). Let us discard any notion that person-to- person evangelism is a job which should be left to so-called “professionals.”
When we teach the lost, we are imitating Jesus (and when we do not participate in evangelism, we are not acting like Him). Jesus acknowledged that His earthly mission was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). See Him moved with compassion on the multitudes as He saw them as sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). See Him teaching a great throng of people, again, because He “was moved with compassion for them” (Mark 6:34). See the Master going on a circuit of cities, villages, and synagogues to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 9:35). See Him speaking to one woman about everlasting life (John 4:7-14). “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). If you and I think like the Christ, then we are soul-conscious people.
When we teach the lost, we are giving lost souls a chance to have their sins forgiven and enjoy the hope of heaven (but if we do not reach out to the lost, they will remain lost and without hope). Paul said he reached out to the Gentiles with the gospel so they could “receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18). Evangelism is a soul-saving mission! People are saved by faith, and faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). Without hearing it, they cannot have proper faith, and without proper faith, they will remain lost. Oh, Lord, help us to see the urgency! Teaching a lost soul the way of salvation — could there be a more kind, loving gesture on our part?!
When we teach the lost, the church will grow (but if we do not teach the lost, the church will not grow). When we observe the numerical growth of the first-century church, one of the factors which stands out is this: in each case, a harvest of souls was preceded by the seed (which is the word of God, 1 Peter 1:23) being sowed. The number of disciples multiplied (Acts 6:1). What transpired just before that? Daily evangelism (Acts 5:42). The number of disciples multiplied greatly as people were “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). In order for people to obey, they had to be taught what to obey (the faith/gospel). If we will sow God’s seed persistently, “we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). Believe it, brethren! The growth will come as God gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Believe it, brethren!
When we teach the lost, we will encounter challenges. At times, we will face disappointment, frustration, and opposition (and the devil wants us to be aware that if we fail to get involved in evangelism, we can avoid such unpleasant matters). We care so much about the lost and so badly want them to obey the gospel so they can be saved (Romans 6:17,18). We realize, though, that they have their own will, and they alone must decide whether or not they will submit to the Lord. Still, we may feel powerless. We may feel incompetent. We will be filled with immense sadness. We will shed tears. But, God being our Helper, we will not quit. We will remember Jesus’ promise to be with His servants as they teach (Matthew 28:19,20) and we will go search for another lost soul to teach!
Cultures, even those within the same country, are different one from another. What is an effective approach to lost people in one culture may not work well in a different one. Cultures change, too. If some method worked effectively in the past, that is no guarantee that it will produce the same results today. We need to strive to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16) as we approach the task of communicating the gospel to lost people.
Remember this: any approach to lost people that does not involve teaching them the gospel is not the Lord’s way. Let us have a revival of evangelistic fervor! Let us make teaching the lost and helping people get to heaven the main focus of our plans, our meetings, our prayers, yes, our very existence.
— Roger D. Campbell