Evangelists of the World

Joshua West

As I look around the American church, I see a great decline in the role of the evangelist. There are many reasons for this. One is that much of American church culture has no room for true evangelists because true evangelists preach about the exclusivity of Christ, repentance from sin, and dying to yourself so that you might live. Many evangelists I know say that pastors do not invite them anymore. This is because the message of many churches does not have room for the biblical gospel. In many American churches today it would shocking to have someone come and preach a message of biblical repentance and self-denial to follow Jesus. 

The world, on the other hand, has its evangelists and they are passionate about their causes. LGBTQ+ supporters have theirs, pro-abortionists have theirs, and the climate change people have theirs. We have social media influencers, people on the right and the left with political agendas, and a neverending stream of marketing and advertising telling us the things we don’t have that we desperately need. Pop culture and celebrities: These are evangelists of the world.

Then there are the more subtle, but in my opinion much more dangerous evangelists for the world, false teachers within the visible church who seem to have a form of godliness but deny its power. Men who are worldly and preach a message of worldliness wrapped in misquoted Scripture. Preaching that we can be right with God and still be worldly. The therapeutic/self-help gospel, the prosperity gospel, Christianity that loves the world and the things of the world. 

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17, ESV).

These preachers and teachers follow the pattern of this world and teach others to do the same. They subtly and sometimes not so subtly minimize the inerrancy and importance of Scripture and they are everywhere telling us that we need to stop being so serious and to just go with the flow. Beware of preachers who look like and act like the world, who desperately seek acceptance from the world. 

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

They stand near the exit for the narrow road and tell you that there is no need to exit, that the broad road is fine, and that the narrow road is extreme and unnecessary. Jesus warns us about them in the very next verses. 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

Jesus warns us to watch out for the false teachers. He tells us that they will look like us and talk like us but that you will be able to recognize them by their fruit: the fruit of their lives and the fruit of their teaching. Evangelicalism is full of these today and we must be on guard. But not only on guard but on the offensive. Now more than ever we need biblical, gospel-preaching evangelists. We need them in a church that has grown fat and fallen asleep, we need them in the marketplace, and we need them on every street corner, preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many people have been talked out of their convictions and talked out of the call for gospel preaching by smooth-lipped evangelists of worldliness posing as men and women of God. It is time—out of love and devotion for Christ and his church and care for a world of lost and perishing people—to preach the gospel, be sober-minded, do the work of an evangelist, and discharge the duties of our ministry. 
Let us remember that the apostles and church fathers weren’t martyred for going with the flow or for being popular, it was because they preached the message of the gospel without compromise, with no regard for pleasing men but instead to please God in hopes to save the souls of men. 

Joshua West is a pastor, evangelist, and author. He is also director of the World Challenge Pastors Network.


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