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THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, November 25, 2012

“Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).


The word translated “evangelist” appears only three times in the New Testament. It is given in our text, and in Acts 21:8 and Ephesians 4:11. The Greek word “denotes a preacher of the Gospel” (Vine). In Ephesians 4:11 “evangelists” are listed as gifted men, following “apostles” and “prophets.” The “evangelists” were men who were given to the churches by God to preach the good news of salvation in Christ to the unconverted. Timothy was a pastor, whom the Apostle Paul told to “do the work of an evangelist.” That means a pastor should do this work by preaching the Gospel to the unconverted who attend his church, and also to those unconverted people who come into the church from the world. What the Apostle told Timothy, then, applies to all preachers, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) said, “To do the work of such an one is not to read lectures of morality...but to preach peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation alone by Jesus Christ, and through the free grace of God” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 340; note on II Timothy 4:5).

Now that should seem simple enough. Pastors are told to preach salvation through Christ alone. And that is what preachers did for centuries. Yet, in these last days, far too many preachers have gotten all mixed up. As Solomon said, “God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

Instead of preaching evangelistic sermons, many pastors give so-called “expository” sermons, with an invitation “tacked on” at the end. Many of them don’t even know how to prepare an evangelistic sermon any more! And the “invitations” they put at the end of their “expositions” often are given without even mentioning the Gospel – with no mention at all of the death and resurrection of Christ! To me, this is deplorable. We need to do what the Apostle told us to do in very plain language – “Do the work of an evangelist”!

We must never assume that people know that Christ died for their sins! We must never assume that they know He was raised from the dead for their justification! I remember speaking with an elderly Chinese lady who had attended a church for years where she was given intricate Bible “expositions.” But when I asked her how a person is saved she had no better understanding than a lost Roman Catholic! We must never, ever, assume that our hearers are saved, or even know the basics of the Gospel!

One man in the New Testament was specifically called an “evangelist.” He was called “Philip the evangelist” in Acts 21:8. In the passage Dr. Chan read before I preached this sermon, we read about an evangelistic meeting conducted by Philip the evangelist. Many of the features of an evangelistic meeting are given in that passage. Without going into the details that were peculiar to that particular evangelistic meeting, I will point out several general features that accompany God-blessed evangelistic services.

I. First, when Philip preached it was tremendously exciting.

I will read the passage Dr. Chan read before this sermon again.

“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 8:5-8).

I think you can feel the excitement just by reading that passage. This was an evangelistic meeting that turned into a revival! I have seen that happen several times. There is nothing more thrilling and, for want of a better word, exciting than to be in such a meeting. No one would even think of looking at his watch in such a meeting! I was present at a service like that in a fundamental Baptist church in a Southern state several years ago. The meeting went on until midnight. It was scheduled to end at about 7:30 PM, but it went on and on. Guess what? Not a single person left the auditorium! Not one! There were mothers with babies in the nursery, but they forgot all about them! Everyone was transfixed on Jesus Christ, after hearing a very simple Gospel sermon. Seventy-five people were hopefully converted in that evening service. People were weeping. People were shouting. People were singing. It was very stimulating – one of the most thrilling services I have ever attended.

But I have often experienced excitement to a lesser degree in many evangelistic services. The singing has a special power in it. The preaching is captivating, and the prayers hold everyone’s attention. One senses that God is going to do something life-changing in a service like that! That’s the way it was in Samaria – and that’s the way it is in a good evangelistic service!

II. Second, Philip preached Christ.

“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (Acts 8:5).

That’s the way they did “the work of an evangelist” throughout the Book of Acts! They preached Christ! They preached Christ! They preached Christ! That’s the way it was in Samaria. Philip the evangelist “preached Christ unto them.” That’s the way it was when Peter preached to the Gentiles of Cornelius’ household. Peter said,

“[We] did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:41-43).

Peter preached Christ to them! That’s also what happened when the Christians of Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and “spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:20, 21). And that was the way it was all through the Book of Acts! Christ was preached! Christ was preached! Paul was so carried away with the evangelistic message that he told the startled Corinthians,

“I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

Their evangelism was so Christ-centered that the Emperor Nero is reported to have said, “These Christians worship a dead Jew!” Ah! But he was only half right! Yes, Christ was dead, but Peter boldly spake to the angry Sanhedrin Court,

“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:31-32).

That is Gospel preaching! That is real evangelism! That is doing the work of an evangelist! Would to God that every preacher in America, and the world, preached Christ like that today! Sing number 6 on your song sheet!

I love to tell the story Of unseen things above,
   Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, Because I know ’tis true;
   It satisfies my longings As nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory,
   To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; More wonderful it seems
   Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, It did so much for me;
   And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory,
   To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; ’Tis pleasant to repeat
   What seems, each time I tell it, More wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, For some have never heard
   The message of salvation From God’s own holy Word.
I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory,
   To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story, For those who know it best
   Seem hungering and thirsting To hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
   ’Twill be the old, old story That I have loved so long.
I love to tell the story, ’Twill be my theme in glory,
   To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.
(“I Love to Tell the Story” by A. Catherine Hankey, 1834-1911).

The night before He was crucified Jesus took His Disciples into the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane. The Disciples went to sleep while Jesus prayed. The sins of the world were placed upon Him in that Garden. The weight of our sins crushed Him, and He “sweat...as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). As He prayed a group of officers from the chief priest came and arrested Him. They took Him to the high priest. They “struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). They pulled out pieces of His beard and spit in His face (Isaiah 50:6). Then they led Him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate had Him scourged across the back until the blood ran down His legs. They wove a crown of thorns and pushed it down upon His head. The blood ran down His face and into His eyes. They placed a cross on His bleeding back and led Him away to the place of crucifixion. They pounded nails through His hands and feet. They raised His cross. He hung there as the crowd yelled at Him and mocked Him. He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At last He cried with a loud voice, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He said, “It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).

They took His dead body down from the cross and put it in a new sepulchre. They sealed the tomb and placed Roman guards there to protect it from grave robbers.

Early on Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and another Mary came to the sepulchre and saw the angel of the Lord sitting on the stone that had been rolled back from the door. The angel said, “Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5, 6). That night the risen Christ appeared to His Disciples. He ate with them, and they saw Him many times during the next forty days. They handled Him and saw that He was not a spirit, but had a “flesh and bone” resurrected body (Luke 24:39). He taught them many things during that forty days. At last, He said to them,

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51).

It is my assignment to tell you that story! That is the Gospel! That is my assignment! That is every preacher’s assignment! “Do the work of an evangelist”!!! Ah! But there is more!

III. Third, Philip commanded their attention.

“And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake” (Acts 8:6).

Philip exercised authority over that crowd of heathens! You cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, conjure up a vision of him giving a soft spoken “Bible exposition” to them! The wishy-washy prattle, the frothy twaddle dished out for thirty minutes on Sunday morning in many of our churches would have been scorned and mocked with disdainful contempt by that wild crowd of Samaritans! But that was not how Philip preached! The people “gave heed” to Philip’s sermon because his “preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Corinthians 2:4).

That was the way Philip preached. That was the way Paul preached. And that was the way Peter preached at Pentecost. God’s Word says Peter “lifted up his voice” at Pentecost (Acts 2:14)! That’s the way Whitefield preached! That’s the way Wesley preached! That’s the way Howell Harris preached! That’s the way Daniel Rowland preached! That’s the way Christmas Evans preached! That’s the way Richard Baxter preached! And that’s the way we need to preach today – yes! That’s the way we must preach now – in the age of Obama – at the end of the world! God help us! “Do the work of an evangelist”!

IV. Fourth, Philip stirred up their emotions.

Real evangelistic preaching always does that! “For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them” (Acts 8:7). There is always an emotional response to real evangelistic preaching – and often a demonic response as well! You simply cannot do the work of an evangelist without stirring up people’s emotions. It can’t happen! Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “Where is the passion in preaching that has always characterized great preaching in the past? Are not modern preachers moved and carried away as the great preachers of the past so often were?...I say again that a man who can speak about these things [without passion] has no right to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one” (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Preaching and Preachers, Zondervan Publishing House, 1971, pp. 90, 97).

I was at the retirement banquet for Dr. Murphy Lum a couple of weeks ago. There were many people there that I knew at the Chinese church. When Dr. Lum’s own son spoke, he mentioned that he heard me preach a sermon on the Second Coming of Christ, and it frightened him, and he got saved. A man who was seated at the same table with me said that he heard me preach a sermon on Hell, and it made him very, very angry with me. “But,” he said, “all of a sudden I felt that I had to be saved,” and he trusted Christ. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. “Do the work of an evangelist.”

To do that requires more than just telling you about the Gospel. You won’t take the Gospel seriously unless you are moved emotionally – angry or scared! Your heart must be moved, “for with the heart man believeth” (Romans 10:10).

I tell you that Christ is coming to judge this world. The judgments are already falling. Look at the monster hurricanes. Look at the monster floods, the monster snowstorms, the parched Midwest, the terrorists that could wipe out whole cities with a dirty bomb. Don’t you see it? What will happen to you when the “big one” hits Los Angeles – when the ground opens up and you fall into Hell? What will happen to your soul when your body lies cold and stiff in the morgue? What will happen to you if you go on like you are – playing a game at church! Playing a game with your soul! Playing a game with God – and God will not let you go without punishing you, for our God is a consuming fire!

Is it all a game to you? Have you spurned the Holy Spirit? Have you committed secret sins that you think will never be detected? Is your heart full of evil thoughts and blasphemy? Oh, I tell you tonight, it is almost too late for some of you! And it is too late for someone here – if you go on another day without the pardoning Blood of Christ! Don’t turn away from Him! Don’t do it again! Don’t do it again! I warn you – don’t turn away from Him. This could be your last hour to trust Him before judgment falls. It is my duty to warn you. It is my duty to do the work of an evangelist. Please stand and sing hymn number 8 on your song sheet.

Too long I neglected the Saviour. Too long as I held to my sin.
   Too long I excused my rejecting, And now I am lost without Him.
It is late, oh, so late! Yet He knocks at the door.
   And Jesus, sweet Saviour, is calling once more.

Too late when is burned out my conscience, Too late when my heart is like stone.
   Too late if the Spirit forsakes me! Too late when my life breath is gone.
It is late, oh, so late! Yet He knocks at the door.
   And Jesus, sweet Saviour, is calling once more.

Too long, is one hour Christ rejecting. Too late it may be in a day.
   Today is the day of salvation. O Jesus, I turn not away.
It is late, oh, so late! Yet He knocks at the door.
   And Jesus, sweet Saviour, is calling once more.
(“Too Long I Neglected” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

If you would like to speak to us about being saved, please step to the back of the room now. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk with you about trusting Jesus. Mr. Lee, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 8:5-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Too Long I Neglected” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).

(Ecclesiastes 7:29)

I.   First, when Philip preached it was tremendously exciting,
Acts 8:5-8.

II.  Second, Philip preached Christ, Acts 8:5; 10:41-43; 11:20, 21;
I Corinthians 2:2; Acts 5:31-32; Luke 22:44, 64;
Isaiah 50:6; Luke 23:34, 46; John 19:30; Matthew 28:5, 6;
Luke 24:39; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:51.

III. Third, Philip commanded their attention, Acts 8:6;
I Corinthians 2:4; Acts 2:14.

IV. Fourth, Philip stirred up their emotions, Acts 8:7;
Romans 10:10.