Seeking and saving the lost (9): 15 qualities of effective ‘evangelists’

Number 642 • May 16, 2021


Do you think the spread of the gospel in the world today is your personal obligation? Do you feel personally responsible for the salvation of any other person? Whether or not we know it and whether or not we accept it, the church and the individual members of it are commissioned by God to evangelize the world they live in (Ephesians 3:8-12). If the church today is to carry out “the great commission” of Christ, there is no better role model for evangelism than the apostle Paul.


1. Recognition of what one is without Christ. The positive benefits of being in and with Christ provide effective motivation, but the negative might be more effective. Without Christ one is lost, sold under sin and condemned to bear the final punishment of sin, which is spiritual death, separation from God (Romans 6:23, 7:15-25). The redeemed must remember that they have been “bought back” with the blood sacrifice, the physical death of Christ (Ephesians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:18, Acts 20:28). The redeemed should look how far they have come by grace and the help of the Christ (1 Corinthians 15:10, Ephesians 2:4-5, 8). Remembering what one used to be before salvation will surely help prevent one from departing from Christ – remembering that “the last state (of such a one) is worse than the first” (2 Peter 2:20-22) will be an even stronger deterrent.

2. Continued grateful restitution: a desire to compensate in some way for his for past failures. Serving the Lord with humility of mind.” (Acts 20:19). As a grateful servant of the Lord, Paul saw preaching the gospel to others as a gift of grace to him (Ephesians 3:8), and was willing to spend and be spent for the sake of those to whom the Lord sent him (2 Corinthians 12:15). He did not feel, nor should we, that anyone can actually repay God for sins committed against Him, or compensate Him for the loss of His Son. In working so hard himself, and in urging others to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12-13), Paul was not saying that one can earn his own salvation. He was simply urging everyone to fulfill the purpose for which the Lord bought us, and to continue cooperating with the Lord for continued salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10).

3. Obligation: a feeling of continuing indebtedness. “I am a debtor to all men” (Romans 1:14). There was a debt to God who saved him, but cannot be paid to God directly (Acts 17:24-25). There was a debt to the church. Once he had persecuted it; now he would seek to serve it, to promote its growth and welfare (Acts 9:20-21). There was a debt to other people, because his earlier life and teaching were wrong (and had led many astray). One wants to correct and repair any damage done, and do it by living and teaching the truth.

4. Desire to improve the world – not only his own present, but the world’s future. The first century world was filled with tyranny (Acts 12:1-3), slavery (Acts 16:16), poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2), wickedness and iniquity (1 John 5:19), idolatry, and unspeakably vile perversion (Romans 1:21-27). Paul listed 23 sins in Romans 1:29-32, and said such things deserve death (verse 32). No wonder he spoke of his time as “this present evil world” Galatians 1:4). Paul set out to improve things in his world by preaching the gospel (Romans 1:16). The gospel of Christ will turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). Though our world may seem better or worse than Paul’s, the fact is, it is just the same in one respect: everybody in it needs the gospel too.

5. Awareness of the positive and negative aspects of judgment, and a healthy terror of the Lord (Acts 17:30-31, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). The judgment will be a happy occasion for the righteous, the saved – those with Christ. It will be a day of terror for the unsaved, lost – those without Christ. Sinners should be aware of the doom that awaits them, just as surely as the righteous should know of the bliss that awaits them. And so we, as Paul did, must reason of righteousness, temperance, and of judgment to come (Acts 24:25; compare Romans 2:5-11).

6. Love for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ constrains us – compels and controls us”). It is impossible to love Christ and not want to do His works (John.14:15, Luke 19:10). It is impossible to love God, and not love one’s fellow men (1 John. 4:20).

7. Love for others. For Paul this meant being genuinely concerned about their welfare, about their salvation (Romans 10:1-4 and 9:1-4). Logically, if one loves another he will want to see him saved, not lost. Love does not sit idly by, watching those who are loved destroying themselves and going to meet God unprepared, unsaved. Love never lies. It does not pretend that things are better than they are, or worse than they are. It never allows the loved one to believe lies or to practice lies (1 Corinthians 13:6, Galatians 4:16).

8. Passion for souls (zeal, enthusiasm). Paul never did things by halfway measures. As a Phariseee of the Jews he was “more zealous than other Jews” (Galatians 1:14). He persecuted the church without mercy, “breathing out threatening and slaughter” (Acts 9:1). The same enthusiasm carried over into his preaching and teaching as a Christian “…publicly, and from house to house, I ceased not to warn you night and day, with tears” (Acts 20:30-31). Compare 2 Cor- inthians 11:28 “care for all the church… the weak, those who are offended, etc.”

9. Desire to participate in a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Reconciliation means bringing back together and uniting in peace those who are or have been enemies. Compare Colossians 1:21, Ephesians 2:1-2). The only means of reconciliation is preaching the gospel of Christ and having it obeyed by those who hear it (1 Corinthians 1:21). God depends upon the saved to share with others “the word of reconciliation.” He does not depend upon the devil, the world, or national governments. God has committed His plan to the church.

10. Confidence in the Lord, in His word and His promises, and in the strength that He supplies to those who want to do His will (Philippians 1:18-21, 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:12).

11. Responsibility to God (Romans 6:17-18). Make proper use of time and opportunities (Ephesians 5:16 “redeeming the time”). Note Acts 20:24 “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life as dear to myself; so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of grace…”

12. Desire for treasure in heaven (2 Timothy 1:12, 4:8 “crown of life,” “prize” Philippians Philippians 3:14). As a minister of Christ on earth, Paul had nothing, yet possessed all things by being poor and making others rich (2 Corinthians 6:10, compare Acts 3:6). His treasure in heaven, the joy he anticipated there, was in people – those he was able to bring into Christ with him.(Romans 1:13 “fruit among Gentiles,” Philippians 4:1 “my joy…my crown”).

13. Fear of being lost (1 Corinthians 9:27, 10:12). Paul understood that all his years of faithful service would not keep him saved if ever he discontinued his service to Christ, his ministry in the name of Christ (“Forget the past and press on…” Philippians 3:12-14). He would have been condemned had he refused to preach the gospel, or had he preached something other than the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16 and 1:17).

14. The desire to be like Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). When Jesus sent His disciples on the “limited commission.” He told them that “it is enough for the disciple to be as the Master” (Matthew 10:25). Paul said, “Follow me as I also follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

15. Above everything else, the desire to glorify God (to bring glory to God by his ministry), and so to “magnify Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Corinthians 9:13, and Philippians 1:20).


There may be some truly wonderful things about any congregation: happy, friendly people who love each other; generally at peace – no serious internal conflicts. But it would be gratifying to all of us – surely important if the church is to grow, souls be saved, and God be glorified – if more evangelistic zeal was demonstrated. Not only at home, but world-wide, with more churches willing to participate in missions. <><>

#geraldcowan #evangelism