Before ascending into heaven and unleashing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, Jesus gave His followers specific directions about their mission:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28b:18–20).
These words have come to be known as the "Great Commission." And the Book of Acts reveals how the disciples brought Jesus' assignment to life. We get to see the kingdom of God expanding exactly how Jesus prophesied:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, emphasis added).
The gospel breaks out of Jerusalem
In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit descends during Pentecost, and over 3,000 people end up following Jesus. After Stephen was stoned to death and became the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54–60), persecution against the church erupted. Luke tells us that "a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1, emphasis added).
Saul, a Pharisee at the center of this oppression, had a profound conversion experience (Acts 9:1–9) and became integral to the spread of the gospel. His missionary journeys covered more than 10,000 miles and established churches throughout the known world.
Believers are called to share the good news of God's salvation through Christ with everyone on earth. Jesus' words that He is with us until the very end of the age are not only intended to be words of comfort, but they're also a sign that this mission is to continue until He returns. It wasn't a mission intended only for the disciples.
Overcoming our nervousness
The word "evangelism" is derived from the Greek word euangelistes which literally means "bringer of good news." When we think of evangelism we tend to think of spiritual giants like the apostle Paul, Billy Graham, or Bill Bright. But the truth is that we're all called to share the good news.
This responsibility can be overwhelming for some. Sometimes we're afraid to share our faith because we've picked up wrong impressions about what that looks like. Here are some ideas to consider when thinking about sharing your faith.
1. Persuasion is more important than an argument
There's no question that sharing the gospel requires a bit of persuasion. We're not just laying Jesus' truth out before people and hoping they're interested; we want to influence them to truly consider it—but not through an argument.
We need to actually listen to others, understand their objections, and lovingly communicate why we have placed our hope in Christ. It requires sensitivity and care. We’re not to see others as opponents that we have to overwhelm and best in an argument, but people that God desperately longs to be reconciled with.
Peter tells us, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). This is something anyone can do.
Too often people get the sense that they've got to have a response for every counterargument, but that's not the case. You should simply be able to articulately explain why you believe.
2. The gospel makes people uncomfortable
Let's be completely honest; talking to others about Jesus makes others (and ourselves) feel tense and uncomfortable. We're encouraging people to see the world differently, and we're challenging the cultural idea that every opinion and perspective is equally valid.
People spend a lot of time looking for a way to evangelize that doesn't ruffle any feathers. This typically means that their conversations about Jesus don't have a lot of teeth. On some level, we are compelling and encouraging people to make a decision about their eternal destiny.
Once we accept the fact that sharing the gospel isn't easy, the awkwardness stops being an obstacle. We recognize that Jesus' love for an individual trumps our uneasiness. And we're willing to wade through the tension to help someone discover the light of the gospel.
And the more we step out in faith, the easier it becomes.
3. The world desperately needs the gospel
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus says:
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14–16).
Imagine a world without electric light. The small lantern in your home is a gift to everyone in the house—a protector of shins and toes. To hoard the light and leave everyone else in darkness seems unkind.
In the same way, enjoying the benefits of mercy, forgiveness, and redemption without feeling the responsibility to share this gift is cruel. The gospel isn't something that people are doing just fine without. God is at work reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, and He has committed us to the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
What do I need to know to share the gospel?
So you might wonder what basics you need to understand to share the gospel. Let's look at some Scripture and what it means.
The curse of sin
The Bible points to a severed relationship between God and humanity. We were created in God's image, but our disobedience has resulted in a broken relationship between the Creator and His creation. This shattered bond led us to spiritual death and an inability to enjoy a relationship with God and others.
We can't bridge this chasm between ourselves and God. There's no religious act, good deed, or sacrifice we can conceive of that will repair what has been broken. Religion can't fix us, and that was the problem with the Jewish law.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:19–23).
Grace and redemption
Jesus infiltrated the world in a grand act of redemption. His goal wasn't to condemn people but to save people who already stood convicted.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:16–19).
As the prophet Isaiah foretold, Christ would take upon Himself the sins of the world.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4–6).
And at the cross, Jesus demonstrated the mercy and grace of God.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Justification by faith
As we've seen, humanity has a problem with sin that infects everything. It impacts our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. It diminishes our ability to truly experience community with others. And it ruined any opportunity for humanity to experience communion with God.
Jesus came into the world, lived a sinless life, died on our behalf, and conquered death by rising from the dead. In His death, Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world. And through Jesus, we are reconciled to God.
But how does that happen? Through faith. Paul tells the church at Ephesus:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:8–10).
Through faith, we recognize our spiritual bankruptcy and our inability to earn God's favor. And through faith, we receive what God has done on our behalf.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25–26).
Adoption into the family of God
The words "children of God" aren't a philosophical abstract—God adopts us into His family. Was there a time when we didn't have that luxury? Yes. Paul tells the Ephesians to "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12–13).
But C.S. Lewis sums up how Jesus changed that reality, "The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God."
Paul explains it this way:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:14–17).
Becoming part of God's family is more than a change in title. Everything that comes with being a family member is attributed to us. We are heirs who will inherit eternal life, bodies that will not deteriorate, and a new heaven and earth.
How can I care more about sharing the gospel?
You may have gotten this far and you’re thinking, "I get it. I love what Jesus has done for me, but I struggle with the desire to share the gospel. What can I do to make myself more enthusiastic about sharing my faith?"
This is the right question! It doesn't do you any good to feel guilty about not telling others about Jesus. Instead, it's important to consider ways you can make yourself more passionate about doing so. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Pray for the lost
If you're serious about igniting a fire in your heart, prayer is the place to start. It's OK to be honest with God. Confess to Him that you lack enthusiasm for those who don't know Jesus, and you want that to change.
Next, you want to pray for the people in your life (and the world) who need to hear the gospel. Praying is something God uses to turn our apathy into passion. It's almost impossible to regularly pray for something and remain indifferent.
2. Ask people to share their testimonies
It's easy to forget the value of sharing the gospel—until we start experiencing other people's stories. Testimonies remind us that every Christian had a moment when someone explained the gospel to them.
When you’re spending time with other believers, ask them to tell you why they chose to follow Jesus. It's incredibly inspiring and a powerful reminder of what happens when people are faithful to the Great Commission.
3. Give to evangelistic causes
Jesus gave us valuable financial advice in the Sermon on the Mount:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19–21).
Not only does He want us to understand that we can invest our resources into eternal concerns, but He also wants to let us in on a little secret. Wherever we invest our treasure, our hearts will follow.
Usually, we give to causes we're already passionate about and it makes us more passionate. But Jesus seems to be suggesting that you can hack the process. When you divert your treasure toward areas where you wish to be more passionate, your focus shifts. It kick starts your interest and commitment.
Want to care about the lost? Invest in organizations that share the gospel.
Take a step out in faith
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you have to be perfectly ready to tell others about Jesus. As the saying goes: God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called. Christians have been called to share the good news. As you respond to His call, He will reward your obedience!
Have an awesome story about a time you stepped out in faith to share the gospel? Leave us a comment below and let us know how it went!
All Scripture references quote the New International Version unless otherwise noted.