Jesus was a busy man, going from town to town preaching the message of salvation to poor, lost, and broken people. This is the setting that we see in Matthew 9:35-38:
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”
This call stretches from Matthew 9 into Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus told His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If anyone is tempted to say that the call was only for the disciples, then it needs to be considered that the disciples were to “[teach] them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This shows that the disciples were to make disciples, and those disciples were then to make their own disciples. This model is to continue until the end of the age. This is a direct biblical command, yet it seems to go mostly ignored by many people today. In my books and my public teaching ministry, I have always tried to encourage evangelism because I firmly believe that we would see God transform this world if we observed this model.
Starting with You
Have you ever considered that evangelism has to start with you? Wherever you are, whatever you do, evangelism must start with local people. You say you are not a missionary, pastor, or anybody really, so why should you be expected to go out into the harvest?
There is a reason Jesus said what He said in Matthew 9. The point is that everybody asks the question, “Why me, what can I do?” Because of this, they say, “Somebody else will do it.” When everybody says “somebody else will do it,” nobody does what needs to be done. Think about that when you next say, “It is not my gift,” or begin playing around with any other excuses. Jesus expects you to evangelize because the workers are few, and you are called to follow this model.
Yet, evangelism is difficult. Working in secular work and trying to be a witness was never easy, nor is it easy to go out onto the streets and talk to people about the gospel as a full-time missionary. However, we were never told that it would be easy but expected of us as Christians. Imagine you see a person stuck in a swamp. You know you have the tools to save them, but in order to save them, you must jump into the swamp and get muddy. Well, nobody wants to jump into that swamp and get muddy, but none of us would honestly let a man die like that if we could do something to save him. The same should be exemplified in soul-winning evangelism.
We have been saved from the fires of Hell. Jesus Christ died as a sacrifice so that we would not feel the Father’s wrath (1 Thess. 1:10). This is true for believers; however, we all walk past countless people every day who continue to rebel against God like we once did. When you look at a non-believer, you are looking at a person who is currently storing up wrath against their souls for eternity (Rom. 2:5). You have the message of salvation in a jar of clay. You yourself are the fragile jar that God delights to put His truth into (2 Cor. 7:4-9), and you can be the instrument that God uses to change another person’s eternal condition. We would not leave a man to drown in the swamp, so why are we all too willing to let these people with whom we brush shoulders every day fall into the fires of Hell without even calling them to repentance.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote: “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” Oh, how I wish we could all have such an attitude.
It does not mean the work will be easy. Often, evangelism is filled with hard work, which appears to produce no fruit towards conversion. We feel as if we are approaching a great beast with its deadly jaws wide open when we make preparations for soul winning. The reality is, however, that we never know what God will do with our work. George Whitfield preached to crowds in the Great Awakening, and some who heard him for the first time came to faith. Whitfield, however, had a friend named Benjamin Franklin who heard him preach many times and enjoyed a deep and close friendship with the preacher, only to never come to saving faith.
It is not our task to worry about the results of the work. God says that His Word never returns void (Is. 55:11), meaning that it will achieve its purpose whenever the Word is faithfully spoken to somebody. That means that faithful evangelism will either harden the heart or smash the stone, leading to a new heart of flesh. The work of conversion is all of God (1 Cor. 3:6), but we are called to be the instruments that bring about His will.
Who knows what will happen if you stand on the streets and consistently work to meet new people, handing them brochures and talking to them about the gospel. I repeat, that is not an easy task, but it is how we directly speak the gospel into people’s lives. I am not saying that you cannot be a witness in your workplace, but your workplace is just that, your workplace. When you are on the streets, you hide nothing. You go to people specifically to tell them about the gospel, and there is no pretext other than what you plainly say. You ask them if they will listen, and if they listen, you present the gospel. You talk to them, answer their questions, help them understand things, and keep in touch with those who listened. You continue to meet them, invite them to your church, and speak the truth into their lives while showing them how that truth has impacted your life and transformed you.
People may be hesitant at this point because it is not as cool as making a massive platform and holding a huge event, nor is it as passive as saying, “Well, I am a witness at work.” We need to stop looking for cool ways to evangelize and also to stop being so passive. Simply saying “I am a witness at work” or “our church has an evangelism service once a year” is not enough. We need to be out there on the streets meeting people. We need to be finding ways into schools, hospitals, prisons, and college campuses.
Where is there a gap that can be filled in evangelism? Find it and see what you and your church can do to fill it. This way, we all begin to become workers in the field of God’s harvest of souls. The sickle is coming; the question is: will it harvest good fruit for the basket of Heaven by your work or bad fruit to be thrown in the fire on the last day (Jn. 15:6). When souls are thrown to Hell at judgment, could it be said that you could have done something to give them God’s Word so that they may have repented? You cannot change anybody, but you can be the instrument that God uses to change somebody.
Now, I said above that evangelism will change the world. Imagine if we all did what Jesus said in Matthew 28. Imagine if we all went out into the field of this world and evangelized. We would gather souls into Christ’s Church and then start discipleship after their conversions. Let us say you evangelized and made two converts in your entire life. That would be worthwhile, but if you disciple them post-conversion, then they would also go out and make more disciples. Those same two disciples would each make two of their own disciples.
Eventually, if we all did this, the whole world would hear the gospel and come to faith. Too often, we get too charged up in trying to prevent the immorality of this world. It is right to take stands against immorality through protest and discussion. However, none of this would be necessary if we were committed to evangelism and making disciples. This is because the world would have been conquered for the gospel, and the truth would heavily influence our world. If you took this call seriously right now and it flowed into the rest of your life, then that would be something. Imagine if every Christian did this work. We should go, then, and start evangelizing so we can make disciples.
Teach those disciples to evangelize and make their own disciples, and the darkness of this world will slowly be affected by the light of truth.
The harvest is ready. Are you ready to go into the harvest? Are you doing what you should do as a Christian? Look at your life right now. How many opportunities do you have every day to speak about your Savior with other people directly? You are on the bus to work; who can you talk to? You are in the breakroom at work; who can you get to know better? You have a day off; how can you get onto the streets to talk about God’s Word with lost souls?
There is work to be done, and with a little bit of consideration from each Christian, wherever they are in life and location, it can reveal a multitude of opportunities to take the gospel to lost souls. Are you ready to be a disciple-maker? First, be a soul-winner so that there are souls to be discipled. What a joy it would be to step into eternity and see a vast sea of people who came to faith because you and your disciples made this effort. Surely, that in and of itself would be enough of an encouragement.
 Spurgeon. C. H. The Soul Winner. Christian Focus. Ross-Shire: Scotland. (1993)/.