Ephesians 4:11 aboveshows us that evangelists are a gift from our Lord Jesus, our risen Head in heaven. The verses above make plain that the evangelist does not only preach the gospel and win souls to the Lord, but also equips and encourages others to do similar work for the edifying or building up of the body of Christ. Since 1 Corinthians 12:31 encourages us to earnestly desire the best gifts, the desire to become an evangelist is certainly a good desire to have.
Second Timothy gives us instruction and encouragement for “the last days,” the days in which we live. Timothy was told “to stir up the gift of God” that was in him (2 Tim. 1:6), but was also given a number of specific instructions throughout the epistle. In chapter 4:5 he was told to “do the work of an evangelist.” Whether we have the gift of an evangelist or not, we all can and should do the work of an evangelist. We see a good example of this in the early Christians who were scattered abroad through the persecution that arose after Stephen was martyred. Acts 8:4 tells us that they “went everywhere preaching the word,” and Acts 11:19-21 shows us how far they went and how the Lord blessed their evangelistic zeal.
Philip is the only person specifically called “the evangelist” in the Bible (Acts 21:8). In him we find an excellent example of how to become an evangelist. While we will never measure up to him, let’s consider several points.
- Philip was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). An evangelist must trust God, and his life must be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
- Philip was able to work together with others and under others. At first he was part of a seven-man team selected by his brethren and appointed by the apostles to serve others (Acts 6:1-6). An evangelist is interested in people and desires to serve them.
- Philip went down to a city in Samaria and preached to them. An evangelist must reach out to people where they are, rather than expect them to come to him. Also he must be able to reach out to unpopular, despised people, for God loves them too.
- Philip preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:4-5,12). An evangelist does not have to devise elaborate strategies or public relations stunts to reach souls. But he does need to know the Word of God and Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.
- Philip responded to an angel’s direction and walked miles into the desert, and then ran to a passing chariot at the Holy Spirit’s direction (Acts 8:26-30). An evangelist must be sensitive to God’s guidance, and obey it even when it may appear to be in conflict with his own common sense.
- Philip approached the treasurer of the Ethiopian queen and spoke to him, but waited until he was invited to join him in his chariot (Acts 8:30-31). An evangelist must be ready and wise in how he approaches people, while being careful not to press himself on them.
- Philip answered the treasurer’s question in such a way as to preach Jesus to him (Acts 8:32- 35). An evangelist must be well acquainted with God’s Word and ready to apply it to the questions and needs of individuals whom God brings before him.
- Philip began by answering the treasurer’s question, presented some basic teaching to him, and then baptized him at his, and the Lord’s, request (Acts 8:36; Mt. 28:19-20). God’s moment by moment guidance is better than elaborate pre-made plans or programs.
- Philip “preached in all the cities,” going up the coast from Azotus to Caesarea (Acts 8:39- 40). An evangelist does not try to gather followers around himself, but presses on. The work of an evangelist is not finished when an individual soul or many souls are saved. There are always more who need to hear the Good News.
- Philip the evangelist’s home was a model of hospitality and Christian fellowship (Acts 21:8- 10). It is always a plus when an evangelist’s home and family support him in the work the Lord has given to him.
Philip was never ordained by men to be an evangelist; his only appointment mentioned in Scripture was to “serve.” It does not mention that he attended any Bible school or seminary or that he had any special training. He never formed an evangelistic organization. He had no publicity agents, evangelistic campaign literature, signs, song leaders, soloists, praise bands, special musical numbers or celebrities in connection with his evangelistic efforts. There is no record of any collections being taken up when Philip preached the gospel.
What we do know is that Philip was close to the Lord, in good fellowship with his peers and was led by the Lord to preach the Word, which he knew well! If one wants to be an evangelist Philip’s life is a good example to start with.
By Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
The Evangelist’s Goal
“Salvation that comes from trusting Christ – which is the message we preach – is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scriptures say, ‘The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. – Romans 10:8-10 NLT
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org