Why Evangelism is So Much More Important Than You Realize

 

Title ImageMost Christians understand that seeking the lost is important. But I believe evangelism is much more than just important. I believe it is fundamental to who we are as humans. In fact, I believe evangelism is one of the most foundational themes of the entire Bible. Let me show you what I mean.

The first command

Do you remember the very first recorded command that God gave to humans? It may not be what you think it is. Way back in Genesis 1:28, God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Multiplication was so important to God that he made it the very first command in all the Bible.

This verse comes directly after God created humans in His image. So God was in effect saying, I want the earth to be filled with little pictures of me. What a wonderful goal! But for some reason, God entrusted this important job to unreliable humans.

Humans corrupted it

How well did humans do with this task? Pretty poorly. As Eve bore her first son, she gave glory to God saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” But the next thing you know her first born murdered her second born. That seems like a step backwards.

Eventually they had a child named Seth and men began calling on the name of the Lord. As we enter chapter 5 we read about children begetting children who begat children who begat more children. Finally, we’re making some progress! Then chapter 6 opens with this promising statement, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them…” (Genesis 6:1). They were finally beginning to accomplish God’s purpose!

But something was not right. As we continue the chapter, God says, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh…” What? I thought God wanted to fill the earth with people! Why would he suddenly decide to put an end to it all? God explained, “…for the earth is filled with violence through them.” (Genesis 6:13)

Instead of the earth being filled with people who reflected the character of God, the earth was filled with violence. God entrusted humans to fill the earth, yet they corrupted the whole project.

second image (But God Blesssed the Fruitful)But God blessed the faithful

Fortunately, God didn’t give up. Instead, He sent a flood, wiped the earth clean, and, as Noah stepped off of the Ark, God repeated the same command again, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1)

So how was that ever going to happen? That’s where we meet Abraham and Sarah. God picked the most unlikely of candidates, a couple too old to have children, yet God said, “I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12:2).

Even Abraham himself was bewildered by God’s promise. As Abraham questioned how God could ever make this happen, God simply told Abraham to look up at the night sky. Then God said, “So shall your offspring be.” With that simple explanation, Abraham believed God. (Genesis 15:6)

This enormous, almost overwhelming task of filling the earth could only be accomplished through someone who put their hope in God’s power.

As we finish Genesis and begin Exodus we are greeted with wonderful news, “the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” (Exodus 1:7). God’s dream was finally coming to fruition!

Humans opposed it

But that’s where the opposition began. Pharaoh said, “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply,” (Exodus 1:9) and with that, he commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys. This could have been the end, if it weren’t for some women of great faith.

But God blessed the faithful

Exodus 1:17 says, “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them.” They chose to follow God rather than cowardly submitting to Pharaoh’s power. And this brought about a wonderful blessing. “So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families” (Exodus 1:20).

When people lived by faith, God blessed them with multiplication!

first imageWhat does this mean for us today?

So do we need to start having more babies? Probably not. The New Testament gives us another way to multiply.

Paul explained that when Jesus rose from the dead, he became a second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). He became the beginning of a new humanity that more fully bears His image. This new race originates not with physical birth, but with spiritual birth. Jesus even described conversion as being “born again” (John 3:3).

When we see Christ’s resurrection as a replay of Genesis 1-2, then the Great Commission begins to sound very similar to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

In the book of Acts, the church began with great multiplication. The church quickly jumped from 3,000 souls to 5,000 souls (Acts 2:41, 4:4)! But pretty soon they ran into trouble.

Humans corrupted it

In Acts 5, sin began contaminating the church in the form of dishonesty and deceit. Imagine what would have happened to the church if this sin hadn’t been dealt with quickly. If evil had grown and spread, it could have corrupted God’s entire plan just like in the days of Noah.

But God blessed the faithful

Fortunately, the church dealt with it swiftly and this led to even more multiplication, “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14).

Humans opposed it

Unfortunately, humans began opposing this multiplication, just as they had in the days of Pharaoh. God’s enemies began putting God’s children to death (Acts 8).

But God blessed the faithful

But that didn’t stop God’s people. As they were scattered they “went about preaching the word” (Acts 9:4).

And as a result, here’s what happened: “The church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31) There’s our word! God’s faithful people were finally fulfilling that great command from Genesis 1.

third imageWhat can we learn from this?

I believe this has several practical implications for us today:

  1. Multiplication is fundamental to being God’s people. The great commission is not a peripheral command. It is based on mankind’s fundamental purpose.
  2. Purity is essential to multiplication. Satan has always tried to destroy God’s plans by corrupting the race. An evangelistic church must be a pure church.
  3. Multiplication is historically difficult. Satan has always tried to oppose God’s people and squelch out their growth. If we wait until it seems easier, we’ll never get started.
  4. God works through the faithful. Throughout the Bible, when people put their trust in God, He gave the increase.

Let’s be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.

Philip Williams
philip@martinezchurchofchrist.com

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