Thomas Cosmades






Evangelism means spreading the Good News.  It was instituted by the Lord himself who provided its essence, i.e., the vicarious atonement for the forgiveness of sinners.  God’s life-transforming, eternity-assuring offer on the Cross is set forth in uncompromising terms in his inspired word.  Furthermore, it is communicated by the Holy Spirit.  This has always been the cardinal message to all mankind.  Starting from the prophets of the Old Testament, who prophesied about God’s salvation and its proclamation, it has been the chief concern of everyone driven to declare it to all people. 

The ministry of evangelism offers great pleasure to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was foretold by Isaiah (ca. 700 B.C.), the great evangelist of the Old Testament.  “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).  At all times the evangelist is associated with bringing fruit for Christ. His aim is to bring about the reward for his master’s travail. The evangelist-prophet who experienced both blessing and imprecation in his whole-hearted service sings the praises of his unflagging ministry: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings good tidings, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).  The renowned evangelist of the New Testament, whose experiences were similar to those of his Old Testament predecessor, joyfully adopts this axiom in regard to his epoch-making endeavor: “As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!’” (Romans 10:15b).

The one God has an unexcelled herald to the human race.  God’s peerless message cannot be proclaimed by angels or any other agent, but only by those who are recipients of his salvation through faith.  This is the Good News which cannot be kept to oneself.  Jeremiah, the weeping prophet-evangelist, says, “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).  Paul speaks with equal persuasion: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”(I Corinthians 9:16b). 

Evangelists are not made, but endowed from birth with this gift (cf. Ephesians 4:11). While all Christians are called to be evangelizing agents to those around them there are certain people apparently endowed with this spectacular gift of the Holy Spirit.  The rostrum of Christians is replete with many contributors to the cause of Jesus Christ:  theologians, Bible expositors, church historians, pastors, missionaries, etc.  While all these draw our admiration and appreciation we may dare to say that evangelists are a special class.  Beginning with Paul and the rest of the apostles these gifted people stand out as those who addressed multitudes with this particular yearning: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20).   In the history of evangelists and evangelism, we observe that many glorious revivals have been the outcome of fervent evangelism.  The subject of this book shows this clearly. 

Any listing of well-known and admired evangelists is bound to do injustice to the company of lesser luminaries.  Therefore, we should avoid formulating an index of evangelists as they appear in the annals of church history.  Their complete list is in the book of remembrance kept by God (cf. Malachi 3:16,17).  There not one of them will be missing!  What an illustrious company of everybody who made some contribution to Christ’s kingdom!  In the book of remembrance there will be household names as well as little known ones.  In the latter company, there will be those without much education, any organization or wide recognition.  Nevertheless, they will be right there among giants who made a lasting imprint in the annals of those who brought men and women, boys and girls, to the Savior.  The saints gathering for the joyful celebration will come to know men and women recorded in God’s book of remembrance.  The rest of us who perhaps did not fully respond to personal or other forms of evangelism will be delighted to meet the unknown warriors shining like the stars forever. 

We will receive joy from the Lord’s recognition of those deserving it, while probably feeling a solemn regret for having neglected to do our share in evangelism.  Among those whose names are in the book of remembrance will be many who labored in hostile environments, some even losing their lives while exalting the name of him who gives life.  “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35). One of the singular distinctives of evangelism is the adversity and animosity often encountered.  The learned evangelist is aware that fallen man has a built-in resistance to the message of redemption.  The faithful evangelist puts forth every effort, beginning with prayer, to combat this determined resistance put into the heart and mind by the arch-enemy of the Gospel.  On the day of that blessed celebration when all known resistance will have vanished, the evangelist will rejoice in his Master’s presence with the realization of ultimate victory.  He will praise God for many who were ushered into Christ’s kingdom and alas, he will lament for the eternal destiny of those who disregarded his life-transforming message. 

 Thomas Cosmades   



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