“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:4-8)
My calling as a Bible preacher requires me to be available and follow Christ. This I still want to do. I believe the office of an evangelist is still a calling God uses today. It is still a valid New Testament calling. However, much of what passes for evangelism in our day is not very biblical. Not only is an evangelist to go from place to place bearing the good news, but I believe from the example of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts, we can see an evangelist does the following:
1) Philip was led of the Spirit (Acts 8:29).
2) Like the apostle and the prophet he traveled to different places in itinerant ministry (Acts 8:4).
3) He expounded and explained God’s word (Acts 8:12, 31).
4) He preached Christ (Acts 8:5, 35).
5) He baptized new converts (Acts 8:12, 13, 38).
6) He planted churches (Acts 8:5, 38).
Some may take issue with the last example, but the fact that there were many converts saved and baptized was the beginning of the Samarian church, and the Ethiopian eunuch was the beginning of the Ethiopian church. Philip did all these things in an age where there was no modern transportation; no convenience stores; no air conditioning; no churches or praying people. There was much opposition and resentment. Yet with all this primitiveness, God worked and saved men and women according to His will. At first only Philip preached in Samaria (Acts 8:5). Then the apostles at Jerusalem heard about it, and Peter and John were sent also (Acts 8:14). Acts 8 gives the most detailed view of the work of an evangelist in the Bible, but there are other ones.
Over the centuries there have been a number of evangelists (often called itinerant preachers). Perhaps the most famous evangelist in history was George Whitefield. He certainly was mightily used of God. In Britain, and in America, God used this man. He was an instrument in the Great Awakening of the 1700s in New England. He came over from England seven times to preach, and wherever he went there were the crowds, and usually the power of God was there. He actually died in Newburyport, Massachusetts on September 30, 1770, and is buried under the church pulpit there at Old South Presbyterian Church. His last sermon was preached there.
After reading the two volumes Life of George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore, published by Banner of Truth, and also by Crossway here in the USA, I was inspired in my evangelism and missionary work. Whitefield, without a doubt was the most famous evangelist since Philip. Seeing all the good done by him impressed me, especially since we need revival today as much as they did back in the 1700s. I visited his burial place in Newburyport in 1981, and wept as I was there, as I recounted his life in my mind from my recent reading of those books. As I wept I prayed to God “Please Lord, send us another man or two like this one, to preach in power your word”. Oh, that God would bless us with revival in this day in this 21st century! We need it!
One more thing about George Whitefield. Several churches live today that he started in England, Scotland and America. He was a church planter, as well as an exhorter. Yes, we must pray that God will use some of us in that way today. We have some good churches in the land today, but sadly, not as many as we once had. Things are stale. Things are corrupted. Some are simply playing church! Many do not preach the truth of the gospel. Many do not stand against sin. Many are asleep! Can we cry “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5:14) “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2) “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Show us thy mercy O LORD, and grant us thy salvation” (Psalm 85:6,7)
Please ponder and pray about this as we wait upon God. It is so true. Thank you!
GREAT SIFTING ON THE LAST DAY-J.C. RYLE (1816-1900)
The visible Church is now a 'mixed' body. Believers and unbelievers, holy and unholy, converted and unconverted, are now mingled in every congregation, and often sit side by side. It passes the power of man to separate them. False profession is often so like true; and grace is often so weak and feeble, that, in many cases, the right discernment of character is an impossibility. The wheat and the chaff will continue together until the Lord returns.
But there will be a dreadful separation at the last day. The unerring judgment of the King of kings shall at length divide the wheat from the chaff, and divide them for evermore. The righteous shall be gathered into a place of happiness and safety. The wicked shall be cast down to shame and everlasting contempt. In the great sifting day, every one shall go to his own place.
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke Vol 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 97, 98.
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: firstname.lastname@example.org