The gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today! You have heard that haven’t you? It is taught in some Bible colleges and believed by more than a few pastors and denominational leaders. A friend of mine wrote recently that his former pastor told him that evangelists are like apostles in that their function has ceased because God now does all of his work through the local church! I assume he meant through pastors, but I could be wrong in my assumption. And you know what? I actually think he may be right. Here are three reasons why the gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today.
- The gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today because there is little or no need for a specific gift to the church that would focus on going into all the world and preaching the gospel. Since there are only 4 billion or so people that yet need to hear about Jesus Christ there really would be little need for God to continue to call men to preach the gospel as the primary emphasis of their ministry. Because there was such a great need in the first century, he did call Paul to do that. Paul continually “evangelized” (that is the verb that describes his ministry) and he emphatically stated that he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” Paul lived his life to take the gospel to the “regions” beyond and a simple perusal of the maps in any Study Bible would indicate that he did it astonishingly well, especially in a day when travel was difficult at best and almost impossible at worst. There was a great need of getting the church started in those first years when Christianity was young, but once the church was firmly established God would obviously have had no need for the specific gift of the evangelist. From that point on, the church would carry the gospel to the world without a need for such a gift.
- The gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today because there is little or no need for a specific gift that would “partner” with pastors and teachers to help local churches “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” so that they would “henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness” and who would speak “the truth in love.” The early church most certainly needed that gift and God graciously and wisely called men to be evangelists. However, it is unlikely that churches today would have a need for a gift that would help them to grow in such a way as Ephesians 4 mention. Again once the early church had been firmly established, the cause of revival and soul-winning and world evangelism could be carried out without that gift. In fact, many denominations have proven that the could function very well without the gift of the evangelist. The Methodist denomination, for instance, sprang into existence because of the work of numerous evangelists who traveled extensively and preached the gospel in Europe and even into the “new world.” John and Charles Wesley were two that are quite well known, and even many Baptists will almost weekly sing the hymns that Charles wrote as he traveled and preached the gospel, started local churches, and returned from time to time to strengthen those churches that were assembling across the land as a result of his ministry. Here in the USA, our history is full of Methodist evangelists like Peter Cartright, and Bob Jones, Sr.! Eventually, however, the Methodist churches no longer needed or wanted the gift of the evangelist. The results are well-known. The Methodists have steadily marched onward standing firmly for the Fundamentals of the faith and are known for aggressively preaching the gospel here at home and around the world. One might even argue that they very obviously made the right choice regarding the evangelists in their particular congregations.
- Finally, the gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today because there is very clear Scriptural teachings that it has ceased to function. God is no longer calling men like Philip to preach the gospel or like Paul to travel to help local churches. The Bible clearly teaches that over and over again!
So, as you can see, I certainly agree that the gift of the evangelist is most likely not for today! We should simply train men to be pastors and teachers. Some can serve here at home and others can be sent to pastor in economically difficult areas. Some can even teach “nationals” to pastor as well. There is just simply no need to train men to be evangelists! That would make no sense at all.
Or would it? 🙂
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,