Some Christians believe that basically all activities of the church are evangelism. They justify this idea by stressing that at least in some abstract way, evangelism is at the heart of everything the church does. That would be wonderful if true, but unfortunately it isn’t. The fact is, many churches are involved in multiple activities that are not equivalent with sharing the Gospel intentionally with a lost person. A better umbrella term for “everything the church does” might be ministry, but it certainly shouldn’t be evangelism.
For instance, working in the nursery is ministry, but it is not sharing Jesus. Likewise, parking cars for senior adults is ministry, but it is not sharing Jesus. Greeting people at the church door and welcoming them is a valuable ministry, but technically it is not sharing Jesus. Even though caring for children, assisting senior adults, and welcoming people to the church campus all assist the preacher as he shares the Gospel of Jesus in the worship service, these are not intrinsically forms of “sharing Jesus.” All ministry is not sharing Jesus.
Churches of a more liberal theological persuasion often view social ministry—meeting a hurting person’s physical needs—as a form of sharing Jesus. I have talked with theologically liberal pastors who contend that when they reach out in compassion and love to meet the physical needs of others, they are in their own way “leading” those people to the Savior.
Christians are indeed commanded to meet the needs of our fellow human beings who are suffering and hurting, but if all we do is meet their physical needs without seeking to meet their more important, spiritual need for salvation, then we only make their situation in life a better place from which to go to Hell. Social ministry and meeting the physical needs of others can provide an excellent platform for sharing Jesus, but by itself, it is not New Testament evangelism.
I have also known of liberal churches and Christians that teach that all people will eventually go to Heaven. Theologically, such people are called Universalists. They believe God’s salvation is universal in that God will “universally” grant salvation to all people. They assert that God is love (1 John 4:7-8), and being a loving God, He would never send anyone to Hell. But the same Bible that says God is love also says He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15). He is righteous (2 Tim. 4:8), and He must punish sin (Nah. 1:3; Rom. 6:23). God is even referred to in Scripture as a God of wrath (Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6).
Jesus Himself spoke frequently about the reality of both Heaven and Hell. He spoke not only of a Heaven to gain but also of a Hell to shun (Matt. 25:46). According to Scripture, all people are not going to Heaven. Jesus actually taught that most people will go to Hell (Matt. 7:13-14). In fact, Jesus said that many who think they are saved and on their way to Heaven will actually be informed by God at the final judgment that they are lost and on their way to Hell (Matt. 7:21f).
Jesus taught that people go to either Heaven or Hell based on what they do with Him during this short life on earth. Thus, sharing Jesus is not telling everyone that they are already saved, regardless of his or her relationship with Jesus. Telling them that would be a lie. And a lie is not “good news.”
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