THE OFFICE OF THE EVANGELIST
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
‘God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all,’ (1 John 1:5). The prophet Isaiah prophesied as follow, ‘Pay attention to Me, O My people; and give ear to Me, O My nation; for a law will go forth from Me, and I will set My justice for a light of the peoples. My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,’ (Is 51:4-5).
God is righteous and God is just, shining forth as light in a dark and sinful world. If light is a symbol of righteousness and justice, then darkness is the symbol of sin and lawlessness, (1 John 1:5-10; 1 John 5:17). The apostle Paul clearly states, ‘For this you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience,’ (Eph 5:5-6).
The good news of the Gospel can never be severed from the basic understanding of the aforementioned principle – man is a sinner and is separated from God due to sin, (Is 59:1-2). This has always been and should remain the message of every one who claims the office of an evangelist. John the Baptist, preparing the way for Messiah, proclaimed, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matt 3:2), and so did Messiah, (Mat 4:17). Preaching a gospel without calling sinners to repentance is not the Gospel at all! The apostle Paul, the evangelist to the Gentiles, was called, ‘to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me (Messiah),’ (Acts 26:18). [Insertion added by the author.]
A foundation of the elementary teaching about Christ (Messiah) was laid down by the author of the book of Hebrews. On this foundation, faith toward God is preceded by ‘repentance from dead works,’ while faith in the Gospel of Messiah is followed by ‘the instruction about washings,’ (Heb 6:1-2). If we study the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we witness this exact order, namely, repentance from sin, followed by accepting the good news of salvation by faith, leading to water baptism as a testimony of repentance, (Acts 8:4; 8:12-13; 8:25-38; Acts 10:42-48).
Let us consider this foundation of the Gospel for a moment. Commissioning His disciples to evangelize the world, Messiah said, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem,’ (Luke 24:46-47). It is clear that repentance precedes forgiveness! The Greek word ‘repentance’ is ‘matanoia’ literally means “to know after” or “after knowledge,” and it signifies “a change of mind consequent to the after knowledge indicating regret for the course pursued.” Repentance thus indicates a change of mind resulting in a change of conduct. The act of ‘repentance’ will lead to the remission of sin according to the Gospel of Messiah, (Luke 24:46-47).
Repentance from dead works and faith toward God, according to the elementary teaching of Messiah, will be followed by the ‘instruction of washings’ (Heb 6:1-2), namely, baptism. Baptism is a testimony, an act of obedience, through which the repentant sinner testifies that he ‘buries his old life with Messiah’ and is ‘raised up with Him in a new life,’ thus signifying to the witnesses present that he is “turning away” (repenting) from his ‘old lifestyle of sin’ to live ‘a new life in Christ’ (Messiah), (Col 2:12; Rom 6:3-11). The apostle Paul explains that baptism essentially indicates a “circumcision of the heart;” an unseen act of the Holy Spirit to “remove the body of flesh by the circumcision (death) of Christ,” (Col 2:11). [Insertions added by the author.]
One who has received the gift of an evangelist, like Philip (Acts 21:8), will call sinners to repentance and present to them “the good news,” namely, that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, died for their sins in order that Almighty God will ‘pass over the sins previously committed,’ (Rom 3:24-25); and, ‘Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, (they) we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him,’ (Rom 5:9). [Insertion added by the author.] The evangelist will then also baptize the repentant sinner, establishing a testimony to the visible (humanity) and invisible worlds (spiritual realm), that the one who is baptized has ‘turned away from a lifestyle of sin to become obedient to righteousness,’ (Rom 6:16-18).