So I Send You: Sent – For What? (1 & 2)

Scripture: John 20:19–23; Luke 24:45–48; II Corinthians 4:1–8; I Peter 2:1–10; I Peter 3:8–16

One of the most exciting aspects of the church is its work of missions. Angels in heaven rejoice over every sinner that repents, and so should the church. In this society season we are presenting Bible Studies on Evangelism. It is hoped that as churches prepare themselves in the work of evangelism, this material will be used in Bible study groups, cottage meetings, and societies.

The theme, So Send I You is taken from Jesus’ words to the disciples in John 20:19–23, “the great commission” found in John’s Gospel. The question to be discussed in this first lesson is Sent—for what? Historically a distinction has always been drawn between missions and evangelism. The term “missions” refers to the preaching of the gospel to those who have never heard.

The term “evangelism” refers to those who have heard and have strayed from the church. However, that distinction has fallen away with current usage. Evangelism is the practice of missions.

“Evangelism” comes from the Greek word—“gospel.” It means to tell the good news. “Missions” comes from the word “to send” or “to be sent forth.” Both words describe the going forth to tell the good news in Jesus Christ. We shall use the word “evangelism” predominantly in our studies.

A comprehensive definition of Evangelism is this: “Evangelism is that activity of the Triune God, through the agency of the Church, by means of the communication of the gospel, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby men lost in sin are brought to put their faith in God through Jesus Christ, receive Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their Lord in the fellowship of the Church, unto the glory of God’s Name, the establishment of His Kingdom and the final consummation of things in Him.” (This definition is substantially that given in the course of missions at Calvin Seminary.)

Why do you think there is a rising interest in evangelism today? Does this point to a healthy church?

In this first study let us look at this definition:


This is the Root of Evangelism. Jesus states this so clearly in His words to the disciples which is the theme for our studies: “As the Father hath sent me, so send I you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” Here we see the Father as the Sender, the Son as the Sent, and the Holy Spirit filling them with power.

R. B. Kuiper in his lucid work, God-centered Evangelism expressed it aptly when he said: “The Father Thought it, the Son Bought it, and the Holy Spirit Brought it.”

A direct implication of the truth that Evangelism is the act of the Triune God is that prayer is of the greatest importance in evangelism. It is God who saves. Sometimes one becomes so bogged down with organization and administration, that prayer is neglected. Too often we operate as if evangelism depends on us. In prayer we talk to the One whose work it really is. We ask Him to be pleased to use us and to equip us for the task.

Why is it important to start with God in evangelism? What happens when evangelism becomes man-centered?

2. “Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God THROUGH THE AGENCY OF THE CHURCH . . .” When Jesus said: “So send I you” He was speaking to the Apostles, the leaders of the new Testament Church. As R. B. Kuiper says: “Beyond dispute, the Christian church is the God-appointed agent of Evangelism” (p. 103 ). The Church as organization has been given the task to “Preach the word, do the work of an evangelist” (II Tim. 4:1, 5). In each of the “great commissions” (Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:45–48; John 20:19–23; Acts 1:8) Jesus gives the Church its marching orders to evangelize. Not only is the Church to carry-on evangelism officially and make evangelism a priority, but each Christian is to be a witness. I Peter 2:9 teaches this clearly: “But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Each Christian must be conscious of his responsibilities and look for opportunities to speak to others about the Lord. I Peter 3:15 conveys the same thought: “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord, being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear.”

Note the various “great commissions given in Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:45-48; John 20:19–23; Acts 1:8. What are the similarities? How do they differ?

Why are there so many organizations outside the church doing evangelistic activities? Like Campus Crusade, Navigators, Inter-Varsity, Billy Graham, David Wilkerson, and others.

What kind of life will illicit a question referred to in I Peter 3:15?

3. “Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God, through agency of the Church, BY MEANS OF THE COMMUNICATION OF THE GOSPEL . . . .”

The means by which people are brought to salvation is the preaching of the Word. One of the classic passages on this truth is Romans 10:13–15 which Spurgeon calls the “whole machinery of salvation.” “Whosoevcr shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? Even as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things!” The conclusion Paul draws is this: “So belief comes of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (vs. 17).

Preaching has come in for some strong criticism in recent times. Some say that it is not the most effective means of communication. Others feel that there must be more audience participation. Others want a stage play or dialog, film or dance. The Apostle Paul faced criticism of preaching in his day as well. His answer is Our answer: (1 Cor. 1:21) “For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

Why has preaching drawn criticism? Why don’t some people like preaching?

What effect will substitutes for preaching have on the church (like dialog, film, and others)? Will they build the church? Will they build the New Testament Church?

4. “Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God, through the agency of the Church, by means of the communication of the gospel and IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT . . . .”

In the world today there is great emphasis on what man can do. This emphasis has also colored evangelism, so that there are many who believe that salvation is man’s doing, that man can help himself, that man must open his heart to the Lord, that God is standing helplessly by waiting for man to say “Yes” to His generous offer.

In contrast to this the Apostle Paul says: “No man can say Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit” (I Cor. 12:3). The Holy Spirit opens the heart of man to receive the truth of God, as we read in Acts 16:14: “Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened to give heed to the things spoken by Paul.” Paul says to the same Corinthians in Chapter 2:12: “Now we have received the Spirit which is of God. that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” Jesus makes this very plain to Nicodemus when He says, “Except a man is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” When Jesus commissioned the apostles in the upper room, He breathed on them and said: “Receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses . . . .” So evangelism receives its power from the Holy Spirit.

This is vividly seen in Acts 4. The apostles were imprisoned for preaching the Word and forbidden to continue when they were released. But they prayed and laid the whole thing before the Lord with the petition that they might speak the Word with boldness. The Lord heard their prayer. “The place was shaken where they were assembled, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spake the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

Why does the idea that man can help himself get to heaven have such an appeal?


5. Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God, through the agency of the Church, by means of the communication of the gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit, WHEREBY MEN LOST IN SIN ARE BROUGHT TO PUT THEIR FAITH IN GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, RECEIVE HIM AS THEIR SAVIOR . . .”

Evangelism deals with people, people who are sinners, people who need salvation from sin. There are many other needs people have but their deepest need is salvation from their sin. They are out of harmony with God. They have broken His law, they have missed the mark of His Word. The Word of God makes this abundantly clear. “All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). If a church does not understand this to be man’s basic problem, it will involve itself in all kinds of programs which deal only with symptoms such as poverty, racism, unemployment, crime, drug addiction, alcoholism. All these are pressing problems and must be eradicated, but they all stem from the deeper problem—sin! Sin is the basic issue, and with this evangelism must deal.

Men lost in sin must be confronted with God, with His law and His love. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, where the law of God and the love of God meet, is the only answer to the problem of sin. In fact the cross of Jesus is a great irrelevancy if sin is not considered to be man’s basic problem. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (Tim. 1:15).

The preaching of the cross is the heart of evangelism. This is the good news, that God laid our sins on Christ: and that now, in Christ, we may be right with God. This is “the ministry of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

How we need men of God who have this ministry of reconciliation! This is the need of the hour—of the century. All men must be brought face to face with the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, that they may repent of their sins and put their faith in God through Christ, and receive Him as their Savior.

Why is the correct analysis of the sin problem so crucial in dealing with people in evangelism?

6. “Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God, through the agency of the church, by means of the communication of the gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby men lost in sin are brought to put their faith in God through Jesus Christ, receive Him as their Savior, AND SERVE HIM AS THEIR LORD . . . .”

We are saved to serve. Coming to salvation is but the beginning of the Christian life. Continuing in salvation is living the Christian life. Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” When the Lord took Israel out of Egypt, He gave salvation or deliverance from the house of bondage, He brought them to Mount Sinai and said: “I am the Lord Thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Therefore, because you have been redeemed from slavery, “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me . . .” (Ex. 20).

Evangelism seeks not only to bring sinners to the Lord, but also to keep them there, and make their lives productive for God. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is as broad as the world. The task of evangelism is not merely to save souls, but to bring men body and soul into the service of the Lord. It is so natural. The healthy root will bring forth the fruit.

How can we sing both: “Free from the law, O happy condition” and “O how love I Thy law”?

7. “Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God through the agency of the Church, by means of the communication of the gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby men lost in sin are brought to put their faith in God through Jesus Christ, receive Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their Lord, IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CHURCH . . . .”

Evangelism goes out from the Church, to bring men to Jesus Christ and back into the fellowship of the Church. The order is so beautifully stated in I John 1:3: “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, That ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

The fellowship of the Church brings men under the regular proclamation of the Word of God – “As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). The fellowship in the Church keeps them close to the Lord. The Psalmist found strength here: “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts” (Ps. 119:63).

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

This is one of the problems with mass evangelism and “one-shot” crusades which come into an area and leave again. Those who are brought to the Lord through the ministry of His Word are in danger both of not being fed and nourished by the regular preaching of the Word and also of missing the fellowship of the Church. There are also many extra-church evangelistic organizations which are exposed to the same dangers. Biblical evangelism goes forth from the church and brings people back into the fellowship of the church.

What is the reason for the declining evening attendance in many churches? How does this relate to the rising interest in evangelism?

How can our churches improve in fellowship and become more closely knit?

8. Evangelism is the activity of the Triune God, through the agency of the church, by means of the communication of the gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit, whereby men are brought to put their faith in God through Jesus Christ, receive Him as their Savior, and serve Him as their Lord, in the fellowship of the church, UNTO THE GLORY OF GOD’S NAME, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF HIS KINGDOM AND THE FINAL CONSUMMATION OF ALL THINGS.

These three phrases constitute the goals of evangelism.

a. God is not only the author of evangelism, He is its goal.

The Apostle Paul was always conscious of this fact. This is so clearly stated by him in Ephesians 1:5, 6. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” The angle . . . who sang at Jesus birth echo the same theme: “Glory to God in the highest.” So Biblical evangelism aims at the glory of God. This goal guarantees the success of evangelism. Without this goal, evangelism will fail. If it is done for the praise of man, it will come to nothing. Look at the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. They were so eager to have people praise them, that they forgot the widows and orphans. The attitude every Christian must have is that of John the Baptist as he speaks about Jesus: “He must increase, I must decrease.” Paul expresses it also: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus’ sake.” “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves” (II Cor. 4:5, 7).

b. The second goal is the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

Biblical evangelism has kingdom vision. Everything is for the King! PRO REGE! Isaiah loves to sing of this. In that classic prophecy of the coming of Christ we read: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His Kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

The Kingdom of Christ involves all of life. The Gospel of reconciliation has a relevant message for marriage, home, Family, business, politics, education, culture. Those who are born of God into the Kingdom are called to live in harmony with the Word of God in every sphere of life. We pray “Thy Kingdom come” which means: “So rule us by thy Word and Spirit that we may submit ourselves more and more to thee, preserve and increase thy church, destroy the works of the devil, every power that exalts itself against thee, and all wicked counsels conceived against Thy Holy Word, until the perfection of Thy Kingdom arrive, wherein Thou shalt be all in all” (Heidelberg Catechism – L.D. 48).

When evangelism has this goal, it will be clear how central a place the church occupies in the world and how the inspired Word of God is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (II Tim. 3:16, 17).

How can we develop a greater Kingdom vision in evangelism?

It has been said that Christian schools are not evangelistic agencies. flow does Christ inn education and evangelism relate? How can they cooperate?

c. The third goal and climax of all evangelism is the consummation of all things, when Christ shall present His Kingdom unto the Father, and God shall be all in all. The Bride shall be presented to her Husband who died for her, purchased her, and cleansed her so that she is without spot or wrinkle. Then shall there be one fold and shepherd. All the sheep shall have been gathered in and all will hear the welcome summons: “Enter Ye into your master’s joy.” Then evangelism will have reached its glorious climax.

“By the Sea of Crystal, saints in Glory stand, Myriads in number, drawn from every land, Robed in white apparel, washed in Jesus’ blood, They now reign in heaven, with the Lamb of God!”