EVANGELIZE!

"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
And in those days…the number of the disciples was multiplied
." (Acts 5:42; 6:1)

The Greek word translated "preach" in verse 42 is "euaggelidzesthai."
The root word is "euaggelidzo," literally "to evangelize."

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said that it is "the full sense of preaching the Gospel"
(Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles, Augsburg, 1961 reprint, p. 238).

Dr. Ellicott said, "The word for 'preach' is literally to 'evangelize.'"
(Charles John Ellicott, Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Zondervan, n.d., volume VII, p. 32)

This shows us the central place of evangelistic preaching in the early church at Jerusalem.
"They ceased not to teach and [evangelize, proclaim the good news about] Jesus Christ." (Acts 5:42)

The vast majority of the messages that the Apostles preached were evangelistic sermons.
That does not mean they were simplistic sermons.
It does not mean that their preaching contained no "meat." (No substance)
Not at all!
The meat of their sermons was Christ!
And Christ is strong enough meat to make any sinner into a disciple!
The sermons the Apostles preached were Christ-centered sermons.

"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
They preached that he is the Son of God.
They preached that He is the only Saviour of sinners.
They preached of the dignity of His person.
They preached the grace of His incarnation.
They preached the obedience of His life.
They preached of the benefits of His suffering and death.
They preached of His resurrection from the dead.
They preached of the resurrection of the dead through Him.
They preached of His ascension to heaven.
They preached of His being seated at the right hand of God.
The preached of intercession for His people.
They preached of the peace and pardon by His blood.
They preached of the atonement of sin by His sacrifice.
They preached of the justification by His righteousness.
They preached of the complete redemption and salvation by Him.
And they did this without ceasing.

The Apostles preached evangelistically "without ceasing" in that list above.
All of those points above are found in the Apostles' preaching in the Book of Acts and the Epistles,
which describe the subjects of their Christ-centered preaching -- their evangelistic preaching.

A pastor would have to preach at least three times on each of those themes of the Gospel
to have people grasp the points and fully understand them.
So forty eight evangelistic sermons or more could be preached on those Gospel themes
in a church without losing the attention of the people.

And when you preach them, you would then be preaching like the Apostles instead of the way
many of those who give "motivational" Bible studies do today!
By adding a few sermons on Heaven and Hell, the local church, a Christmas sermon, an Easter sermon,
and a New Year's sermon, that would fill a year with evangelistic preaching on these great central truths
and doctrines of Christ – real Gospel preaching!

Some may criticize by saying, "You are not feeding the sheep."
But would they dare to say that the Apostles' preaching did not "feed" them?
And yet a careful study of the Book of Acts will show that the early Christians were "fed" constantly
on those themes of the Gospel l listed above.

So, what was the result of this continual emphasis on evangelistic preaching
on the cardinal doctrines of Christ by the Apostles?
Did it result in weak and underfed Christians?
Not at all!

The result was given in the very next verse, Acts 6:1: "The number of the disciples was multiplied."

The number of disciples were multiplied under constant evangelistic preaching.
The number of disciples were multiplied when the preaching was centered on the deep doctrines
of the Gospel of Christ.
It was the preaching of these Gospel themes about Christ that produced more and more disciples!
They heard evangelistic preaching (and little else) and it made many Jews and heathen Romans
into strong disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ -- so strong that they were often willing to die for Christ!

So, we must conclude from this passage in the Book of Acts, that the way to produce strong new disciples
is to "teach and preach Jesus Christ."
Then the number of the disciples [will be] multiplied!

Disciples are not made by verse-by-verse studies.
This was a method brought into our churches in the late nineteenth century
by the Plymouth Brethren movement.
There were some good men in that movement, but their verse-by-verse method has failed to produce disciples.
It is so evident that it failed to actually make new disciples in the twentieth century that I hardly need to comment.
That method should be replaced by apostolic preaching – preaching that is centered in the fulness
of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – evangelistic preaching at its best,
as the Apostles did it, without ceasing.

Someone may say, "But I am a pastor.
A pastor should not concentrate on Gospel preaching, but on teaching the Christians
."

But we are told in the Bible that every pastor should, "Do the work of an evangelist." (II Timothy 4:5)

And, if a pastor does not do the work of an evangelist, he is not true to the command of that verse!
No wonder so many churches are filled with carnal, uncommited and unconverted people!
The preachers are often trying to turn goats into disciples by "feeding" them!
It won't work.
You can "feed" unconverted goats for years and they will still be goats!
Only the applied depths of strong Gospel preaching can be used of God to turn them
from being goats into true disciples!

And the best place to preach the Gospel is in the local church,
"The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (I Timothy 3:15)

If there are those who would criticize you for working with all your might to get lost people
under the sound of Gospel preaching in the local church.
And if they would say that this is an outdated method, and downgrades it.
They are wrong.

It was the way of all the old preachers such as the people who were members of Spurgeon's church
who worked all week to get lost people to church to hear the Gospel on Sundays at Spurgeon's Tabernacle.

In the past some have said that people called Spurgeon's church, "a soul trap."
The people who were brought in to hear Spurgeon preach the Gospel (as he invariably did)
were caught in the "soul trap" and thousands were converted.

We need to work with all our might to get lost people, including friends and relatives and others,
in to the local church to hear plain Gospel preaching, evangelistic preaching, centered
in the great Christ-centered themes listed above.

Let them go on and criticize you for continually preaching the Gospel.
Meanwhile your church continues to work with all its might to preach Christ,
and then deal at length with those who do not know Christ, until the pastor and deacons are sure
that they are converted, until they have a real testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Let our churches be a "soul trap," like Spurgeon's church, a church that gets lost people
out of the clutches of Satan and into the hands of Jesus.
Let us follow the pattern of the early church at Jerusalem where,
"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
And [where] the number of the disciples was multiplied.
" (Acts 5:42; 6:1)

Let's make our church an evangelistic "soul trap" for the Lord Jesus Christ!

"Give us a watchword for the hour,
A thrilling word, a word of power,
A battle cry, a flaming breath
That calls to conquest or to death.

A word to rouse the church from rest,
To heed the Master's [strong request].
The call is given: Ye hosts, arise,
Our watchword is, Evangelize!

The glad evangel now proclaim,
Through all the earth, in Jesus' name;
This word is ringing through the skies:
Evangelize! Evangelize!

To dying men, a fallen race,
Make known the gift of Gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies,
Evangelize! Evangelize!
-- "Evangelize! Evangelize!" by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986;

And may God help each one of us to do exactly that!

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr Harold L. White