Do the Work of an Evangelist
January 20th, 1963 @ 10:50 AM
2 Timothy 4:1-5
DO THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Timothy 4:1-5
1-20-63 10:50 a.m.
On radio and on television you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled Do the Work of an Evangelist. The passage this morning is in 2 Timothy, beginning with the last verses of chapter 3; and, if in your Bible you would turn to the text—it is a mighty one, a significant, a meaningful one—and especially as we stand at the threshold of our greatest year.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be mature, grown-up, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
[2 Timothy 3:16-17]
I like that old King James English: “thoroughly furnished,” all the way furnished. “I charge thee therefore. . . .” Isn’t it a shame they put a chapter heading between that magnificent description of the inspiration of the Word of God?
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom;
Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears:
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
[2 Timothy 4:1-5]
He placed that making full proof of his ministry, doing the work of an evangelist. The sermon this day is a subject sermon—just briefly, an exposition of the text. The apostle, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has written here that a true ministry that belongs to God, and is of the Lord, has in it two distinguished and distinguishing elements.
First: it is a building up of the household of faith. It is a shepherding of the sheep. It is a feeding of the flock. It is a teaching and instructing ministry. These Scriptures—all of them—are given by inspiration of God; and they are to be used for our teaching, for doctrine, for our reproof and correction, for our instruction in the righteousness of God [2 Timothy 3:16].
So a man who has a true, God-called ministry will give himself to the building up of the people of the Lord. He will feed his people. He will speak to them of the things of God. He will seek to be God’s messenger to mediate the truth of heaven to our souls.
Then the second thing the passage says about a true ministry: it is also one of evangelism. “But watch thou in all things. . . . do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” [2 Timothy 4:5]. Not only to care for the sheep, but also to care for the borning of lambs, for wool, and for lambs—our harvest, our increment, our increase—by which we would glorify our Lord, bearing much fruit unto Him.
Now in the message this morning, and in the beginning of the work of this tremendous year, I speak of the second godly assignment. “Make full proof of thy ministry, do the work, do the work of an evangelist” [2 Timothy 4:5].
I need not speak to our hearts of the colossal need of that in our midst. I listen to these statistics concerning the vast darkness of this lost world. Every time I hear them, my soul is moved just to think, after two thousand years, the great throngs and hosts of the populations and nations of this earth still have yet to hear even the name of the blessed Lord Jesus. These truths move my soul. But these things also are largely true of our own people, of our own cities, of these who live in our country who breathe our air and speak our language.
You know, these laymen—you could learn more from a layman in his reaction to the principles and propagation of the Christian faith than you can in a thousand books. Here’s a businessman, and he lives in Texas. And he says, “In my town, the sign out there on the edge reads, ‘Population forty-two thousand and a few souls.” And he said, “For many Sundays, I made a survey of my town. And on any regular Sunday—by actual count—there are never more than about six thousand people in church: out of forty-two thousand, on any regular Sunday, about six thousand.”
Then he says, “As I go around and see the people in our city in church,” he said, “I have found that about one-third of those churches are ritualistic, where no gospel is preached at all.”
Then he said, “I learned that several of those churches have modernists in their pulpits, who do not believe the gospel at all.” So he said, “In my town, actually there are a very few of the people who know how to be saved, who listen to the gospel of the Son of God, and who have been won to the Lord Jesus.”
You know, I never think of doing that. That’s a layman. Then I heard another layman. He stood up, and he said, “I was called to speak at a certain place in Missouri, one of those typical county seat towns built around the square.”
Being a godly businessman, having the Lord in his heart, he said, “Arriving on a Saturday afternoon when people were pouring into the county seat town from the countryside,” he said, “I stood at the corner of the square and decided to do something. I decided to ask people who were passing by, talking with me, if they would pause long enough—and country people will,” he said, “I decided to ask them what I had to do to be saved.”
So he said, “In the afternoon, I talked to twenty-nine people; and they were kind and courteous. And I asked them what a man had to do to be saved, to go to heaven when he dies.”
And he said, “To my surprise, there were twenty-two of those twenty-nine grown people I talked to who had no idea how to respond or what to say. There were seven out of the twenty-nine who knew how to be saved.”
When we talk about need, and about a frontier, we are not talking about across the seas, or ten-thousand miles hence and yon. The frontiers of the Christian faith run through every city. They go down every street. They pass in front of our own homes. These who need Christ are everywhere. They are yonder, yes. They are also here.
Now how are these people to know about salvation and to be introduced to our Lord? They need to be taught. They need to be won.
And the eunuch replied, saying, I do not understand the passage. And how can I, except some man should guide me?
And he desired Philip that he would come and sit with him in the chariot. . . And Philip . . . began at the same Scripture and preached unto him Jesus.
[Acts 8:31, 35]
“How can I, except some man should guide me?” [Acts 8:31]. Now that is our commitment: superlative, supreme, all-pervading. That is our commitment today for this year, and for next year. And if God pleases—as Brother Randall shall say—“To give ourselves to it.” Ah! As we have never sought to dedicate our lives to a ministry ever before—now doing the work of an evangelist [2 Timothy 2:5], how shall we do it?
All of us need to have something we can put our hands on: as so many say, “put our teeth in.” It is well for the preacher to encourage us, and for our prayer meetings to name us before God; but we need something by which we can help. “This is a task that I can see, and I know I can do this!” It will surprise us how many are yielded, and ready, and willing, and eager to do a work for God, if it is just something that they can do, they can touch, they can reach.
Now these are our assignments; and I have tried to find the directives in the Word of God. Now these are some. In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul is speaking of the Lord Jesus, there in a city—a tremendous one, a mercantile city, like Dallas—named [Ephesus]. And he was met with violent antagonism and persecution. So he withdrew the believers that God had given him, and he departed and separated the believers, and daily—and daily, he preached the gospel in the hall, in the assembly, in the school of one named Tyrannus [Acts 19:9]. There is one way we shall dedicate ourselves in this year of soul-winning appeal. We are going outside of this auditorium and beyond these four walls, and in different places we are going to try to preach the gospel of the Son of God.
By that, I mean this: for example, this coming fall we’re going to the bull-dogging, cow-milking, wild cow-milking, calf roping, steer branding, hootin’ shooting-them-out coliseum out there, where they have the rodeo and the livestock show, and we are going to have a great revival meeting out there in that coliseum this fall, out there in the State Fairgrounds. We’re just going to ask God to send us people out there that never would come down here to hear the preacher preach. We’re going out there where they are, and we’ll be visiting, and we’ll be praying, and we’ll be asking God’s blessings. And out there we’ll be holding a revival meeting this fall. That’s just one out of several.
For example, next spring—not this one, but next spring, your pastor is going to gather all of his flock together, and we’re going down to the Dallas Memorial Auditorium and hold a revival meeting in that great Dallas Memorial Auditorium. And your pastor is going to ask God to help him to preach in those days of revival. Just like Paul did in the mercantile city of [Ephesus]—in a hall, there he was preaching the gospel of the Son of God. And that’s what we’ll be doing all over the city in different areas. We’ll be holding revival meetings, asking the Lord, wonderfully, to bless and to remember us.
Then again, according to the Word of the Lord, we’re going to take our faith and our message and our appeal into the homes—homes, homes, homes of the people. That is about as near to real, genuine, practiced, early, primitive New Testament Christianity as one can find. This first congregation in Jerusalem—here it says, as it describes the beginning of that ministry that they continued daily, from house to house, breaking bread, praising God together in the home [Acts 2:42, 46-47].
In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, in the great ministry at Ephesus, when Paul was persecuted and cast out, he entered into a certain man’s house named Justus. “And Crispus, the chief ruler, believed, on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” [Acts 18:7-8]. And he carried on his ministry in the house of that man named Justus [Acts 18:7-11].
In the marvelous salutations and greetings of the apostle Paul to the church at Rome, he says, “Tell Aquila and Priscilla, my helpers in Christ Jesus, God bless you, and I thank God for you. For you laid down your life for me. Likewise, greet the church that is in their house” [Romans 16:3-5].
“Greet the church that is in their house.” And I turn the page. And in his greeting from Ephesus to the church at Corinth—this couple, Aquila and Priscilla, are in Ephesus. And he says, “The churches of Asia salute you. And Aquila and Priscilla salute you in the Lord, and, also, the church that is in their house” [1 Corinthians 16:19].
Then in the last chapter of the Colossian letter, Paul says, “When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans” [Colossians 4:16]. Then he says, “Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house” [Colossians 4:15].
Now may I ask when we come, don’t be reluctant. Open the doors of your house. We want to come and have a service in your house. If I could, I’d do it all myself. I’d have a service in every house of this great congregation. I haven’t nights enough, or strength enough. So all through this city—and not one time, but many—all through this city, all over the city, we’re going to ask you to invite us to come into your house. And I will come every night I can.
There are about seventy-five ordained ministers who belong to this church. They will come. And there are godly deacons and men and Sunday school teachers, they will come. And we have a great staff, and they will come. And night after night, and all over the city, we’ll be in the house, having services in your home.
Now what would we do in the home? Sometimes, it might be nothing other than read a passage of Scripture, a promise of God; maybe somebody to give a testimony, and then to have a prayer and sing a hymn, maybe that’s all. Maybe God will come down and do something to our houses, and to our homes, and to our hearts like we’ve never seen before. You don’t know. You don’t know, but let’s just try. Let’s just give it to the Lord. It is a remarkable thing what God sometimes does, in most unusual and unexpected ways.
I don’t know why I’ve got these laymen on my mind today. But here’s another one that I call to mind. He was kind of an awkward fellow, who had never stood up to say anything, but he’d been saved. So before one of those little groups—by which neighbors had been invited, through which others had been encouraged to come—why, he’d just been saved. And he was called on to tell what the Lord meant to him.
Well, he was thumbs, and he was all big toes, and he was all choked up. And he was all set out in his mind—just like most every man is when he first stands up to speak—but he said the word, Lord Jesus, something about Christ. And that blessed his heart; and he got a hold of himself, and he began to say what the Lord meant for him, saving him.
And while he was talking, a spirit whispered in his soul and said, “Give an invitation. Make an appeal for somebody to accept the Lord. Do it.” And that stumbling layman, in his first testimony, made an appeal for Christ, and asked any there who would accept the Lord as their Savior to stand up and come and give him his hand. And there were four grown people in that little group who stood up, and came forward, and gave that layman their hands.
Ah! It is remarkable. It is remarkable. Why, man, endless services have we held here, with thousands of people in this auditorium, and have not had four converted—many times, many times. You don’t know. You don’t know. Just giving God an opportunity is a thing that the Lord can bless mightily under His hands. He does it.
Could I take a leaf out of my own life? These things press on my soul as I begin thinking about them. There was a businessman who was oh so hard, so very hard. No need to go see him. No need to talk to him. No need to invite him. He is too hard. Well, at the insistence of friends, I went to see the man. When I walked into his office, he was there at his desk, with his head bowed in his hands, crying like a little child would cry. Well, I—have I come at the wrong time? What is this? I put my hand on his shoulder; and he looked at me. Ah! The Lord had sent me. That man—I will not say what it is—that man had just been made aware of one of the most catastrophic sorrows that could ever happen in a man’s home, in the circle of a man’s family. And he was there at his desk, broken beyond any man you could describe, crying his heart out.
Why, it was, it was the next thing to just walking with him into the kingdom of God. And I have baptized him, and he is one of God’s great Christians today. You don’t know. You don’t know. The Lord is in this work. “Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” [2 Timothy 4:5]. And leave the results to Him. Let Him prepare the way. Open the door and see what God is able to do.
This is a long piece of doggerel. It’s not poetry, but whoever wrote it had an idea of the ableness of God that blessed my heart as I read it. It’s about this thing of just obeying—just doing what God assigns us—and then leaving the miracle to Him. This is it.
Whatsoe’er He bids you, do it.
Though you may not understand,
Yield to Him complete obedience.
Then you’ll see His mighty hand.
“Fill the water pots with water,”
Fill them to the very brim.
He will honor all your trusting,
Leave the miracle to Him!
Bring your Isaac to the altar.
Bind him there with many a cord.
Oh, my brother, do not falter.
Can you fully trust your Lord?
He it is who watches o’er you,
Though your path may oft be dim.
He will bring new life to Isaac,
Leave the miracle to Him!
See them march around the city,
Scarce a sound from day to day.
Scoffers from the walls deride them,
“Jericho can stand such play!”
But the Lord’s time cometh quickly,
And the noise makes such terrible din.
Look! The walls are tottering. They are falling.
Leave the miracle to Him!
Face to face with hosts of Midian,
Gideon’s men are sifted out.
Forth they go, those chosen heroes,
With no sword to the foe to rout.
Do you wonder if the vict’ry can be gained,
With bands so slim?
See! Jehovah’s sword is gleaming.
Leave the miracle to Him!
Watch that scene on plains of Dura.
See that Hebrew martyr band,
firmly standing for Jehovah,
Trusting in His hidden hand.
He is mighty to deliver
from the power of death so grim.
Fiery furnace cannot harm them.
Leave the miracle to Him!
Bring to Christ your loaves and fishes,
Though they be both few and small.
He will use the weakest vessels,
Give to Him our little all.
Do you ask how many thousands
Can be fed with food so slim?
Listen to the Master’s blessing,
And leave the miracle to Him!
Oh! Ye Christians, learn the lesson.
Are you struggling all the way?
Cease your worrying, change to trusting.
Then you’ll triumph every day.
“Whatsoe’er He bids you, do it.”
Fill the water pots to the brim.
Ever remember, ‘tis His working.
Leave the miracle to Him!
Listen, Christian worker, looking forward
To the ripened harvest field.
Does the task seem great before you?
Think how rich will be the yield!
Bravely enter with your Master,
Though the prospect may seem dim.
Preach the Word with holy fervor,
And leave the miracle to Him!
[“Leave the Miracle to Him,” anonymous]
Let’s try. Let’s try. This last year, this last year we baptized almost as many as we have ever baptized in our history. Last year we baptized about four hundred six. This year we are asking God to give us half again as many; to win for the Lord this year more than seven hundred souls. I don’t like numbers like that. This is in the hands of God. It just partly maps out our great assignment. This is what—with His blessing, and in His will—we seek to do for Jesus. These are just some of the ways that we shall try. But to do it, God needs you. God needs us, and that is why this beginning soulwinning commitment day.
Mrs. Forrester, just play, if you will—just play the song we’re going to sing quietly, earnestly, prayerfully, “I Can Hear my Savior Calling.” While she plays, while she plays this invitation hymn, we’ll sing in just a moment.
In front of you—and you deacons, you may have to look back of you—Mel, you may have to give them one—you’ll find a little card. It’s a very simple little card. It’s a soulwinning commitment: “My Soulwinning Commitment.” It’s a very plain and simple little card. “I prayerfully commit myself to win at least one person to Christ this year.” To be signed, to have an address—would you fill that out now—prayerfully, earnestly? While we have this one stanza played, if you will, if you will, this soulwinning commitment day. “I prayerfully commit myself to win at least one person to Christ this year— as God shall help me, and as His favor and blessing shall rest upon me—I’ll do my best to win somebody—one, at least—to Jesus this year.”
And when you have filled out the card, leave it on the seat by your side. Just leave it on the seat. And in the course of these days of training and soulwinning, and in the course of the months that lie ahead, we shall be working together, and praying together, toward this holy and heavenly end.
Now we’re going to sing the song:
I can hear my Savior calling,
Take thy cross and follow Me.
Where He leads me, I will follow.
[“Where He Leads Me,” Ernest W. Blandly, 1890]
And while we sing that appeal, somebody you to give your heart in trust to the Lord Jesus, “I will come. I’ll give the preacher my hand. It is the token I publicly accept the Lord as my Savior” [Romans 10:9-10]. Is there a couple today to come into the fellowship of our precious church? Do it now. Make it today. Is there a family? “Pastor, my wife, these our children; all of us are coming today. Here I am. Here we come.” Or, just one somebody you, as the Spirit of God shall lead in the way, shall say the word, make it now. Make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
WORK OF AN EVANGELIST
Bible preaching consists of two elements
up of the household of faith – shepherding the sheep, feeding the flock,
teaching and instructing(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
winning the lost(2 Timothy 4:5)
II. The need of an evangelistic ministry
a Texas city, a layman carefully surveyed population
Of a population of 42,000, only 6,000 in church on a regular Sunday
One-third of the churches are ritualistic; no gospel preached
Some churches have modernist preachers, who do not believe the gospel at all
The great host of the city untouched by the gospel
a Missouri town, on the square a layman called to speak
Stood on the corner and asked people to tell him what he had to do to be saved
Twenty-two of the twenty-nine people he asked had no idea
The frontiers of the Christian faith run through every city
need to be taught (Acts 8:31-35)
III. Doing the work of an evangelist
The hall (Acts 19:9)
fall at the livestock arena we are having revival
This spring we are having a revival at Memorial Auditorium
The home(Acts 2:46, 18:7-8, Romans 16:3-5, 1
Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15-16)
in the home
Scared layman before a small discouraged group began to speak what Jesus had
done for him – gave an invitation and four came forward
Poem, “Leave the Miracle to Him”