The Key to World Evangelization

The Key to World Evangelization
James Bigelow

How Did Jesus Initiate His Plan To Reach The World?

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). This new commandment entails giving our life for him and the brethren (John 13:34), loving our enemies (Luke 6:27), doing good deeds without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:35), despising this world’s goods and giving them to the poor who can not return the favor (Matthew 19:16-22; 1 John 2:12), praying for those who despise and hate us (Matthew 5:44), showing mercy to the guilty (John 8:11), and becoming perfect (Matthew 5:43).

This new kind of love is a primary theme of the epistles. It is prominent in all of John’s letters. Paul exhorted on its virtues, referring to charity as the bond of perfectness and as being greater than faith and hope. Peter called for saints to have fervent charity among themselves, for charity, he said, “shall cover the multitude of sins.”

What Kind Of People Did Jesus Influence The Most?

Jesus reached for those who had the greatest need. The Bible says, “And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:30-31). See also Matt. 11:4-6 and Luke 4:17-19.

He emphasized this principle in several parables where servants were commanded, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (Luke 14:21-23). People have not changed: they still have basic needs; also, they long for freedom, to have meaning and purpose in life and to feel connected to something in which they believe. People need faith, hope and love; they yearn for a brighter future.

How Did Jesus Reach People?

Jesus’ words resonated with the needy, convincing them that he was what they longed for; they strengthened the hope that He would liberate them from bondage and give them a new lease on life; His words led them to believe that He would fulfill their dreams. As He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers fishing and said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4.19). To Nathaniel, He said, “Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him!” Nathanael asked Hsim, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you.” “Teacher,” answered Nathanael, “you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus said, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you when you were under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than this!” (John 1.47-50) TEV

Where Did Jesus Place His Focus?

1) He focused on 12 men.

He taught many things to the multitudes but when they were alone, “he expounded all things to his disciples” (Mark 4:34). It was the twelve to whom He gave power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2). When he blessed and broke the five loaves and the two fish, he gave the food to the disciples to set before the multitude” (Luke 9:16) When Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judaea, “he tarried with them, and baptized” (John 3:22).

Crowds were merely byproducts of Jesus’ work, mostly because they marveled at the healings and miracles they saw and/or because of the food they ate. He knew that a focus on crowds would divert attention from his most important assignment: making disciples. The public came intermittently, but the twelve were dedicated to learning and ministering alongside Jesus.

2) He focused on God’s kingdom instead of on His own.

He rejected tempting opportunities from Satan for personal gain, knowing that yielding to it would distract him from his divine mission of evangelizing the world and cause an imbalance by shifting his focus towards self-love instead of love for God and his neighbor. “If thou wilt be perfect,” he told one, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt 19:21).

When a disciple asked, “What’s in it for me if I forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for your name’s sake”‘ Jesus promised a hundredfold return, with persecutions, and eternal life in the world to come. (It’s the persecutions aspect that we try to evade).

Jesus avoided the homeownership idea by finding shelter wherever he could, saying, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt 8:19). He did not focus on acquiring a physical temple or church building to ‘hold services’, for he was the temple of God and his interest was in people, not in places. When Peter suggested building three tabernacles on the mount of transfiguration, Jesus quickly discouraged his desire to institutionalize religion.

The attendance of Jesus and his disciples at the physical temple and synagogues was simply a means to evangelize those who were a part of that tradition. They were not interested in bringing people to the temple to get them saved, but to go there to find unsaved people to bring them out. Our Lord said nothing about purchasing or erecting a building; neither is there any mention in the book of Acts or in the epistles of preachers using any buildings of their own for worship purposes besides houses. Spirit-filled saints are God’s building and his temple.

If the apostolic church of this hour were to set aside the pride of ownership and selfish desire for ‘things’ and love the way Christ loved us, how much more money, time and energy could be channeled into reaching the lost with the gospel? ‘Temple building’ has not kept up with the population growth nor can it accommodate the masses of people God desires us to reach. Admittedly, nothing less than a major paradigm shift will break us free from the shackles of our current mode of thinking and transcend us into the divine approach that will facilitate a true global harvest.

This article “The Key to World Evangelization” by James Bigelow was excerpted from: Apostolic Accent magazine. It may be used for study & research purposes only.