The early church did evangelism right, and God mightily blessed it. Here are three reasons why…
Street preaching in a market in Manila.
1. The early church evangelized prayerfully
The early church did not just rush headlong into the streets and begin preaching. They waited on God, agonizing in prayer (Acts 1:14) as Christ had commanded them (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). Scripture tells us as the result of this prayer meeting, “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…” (Acts 2:4).
After seasons of intense prayer, the early church stormed the streets with the gospel. This is exactly the pattern Christ had set for them.
Sinners trembled and cried out under conviction as Peter thundered forth the Word. He and the early church had labored in prayer, and God filled them with power.
If we would evangelize like the early church, we must first pray like the early church.
2. The early church evangelized publicly
The only reason sinners heard the gospel was because “Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice” (Acts 2:14).
This method of public preaching was nothing new. Remember, Christ and his apostles practiced street preaching long before the day of Pentecost. You’ll remember,
- The Lord Jesus Christ was an open-air gospel preacher.
- The Great Commission demands public gospel preaching.
- The Apostles practiced public gospel preaching.
- Later in Acts, preachers who were not apostles were also open-air street preachers (i.e. Stephen).
If anyone knew what Jesus meant in the Great Commission, his apostles knew.
The Apostles' evangelistic methods were forged on Christ’ own anvil. These methods are infinitely superior to anything Christian leaders can invent today.
Today, “evangelism” usually means “let’s invite sinners to come to church to hear the gospel.” But to the early church, evangelism meant “let’s go out and preach the gospel to sinners where they are.”
Before God converted anyone that day, He first caused them to hear the gospel…
- “every man heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6)
- “…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11)
- “Ye men of Israel, hear these words” (Acts 2:22)
- “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37)
Notice how many times in this passage Scripture mentions “hearing.” Remember, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17).
We must never under-emphasize the necessity for sinners to hear the gospel message.
Acts 2:14-40 records Peter’s public evangelistic sermon. Peter did not stay in the upper room hoping sinners would attend and hear him preach the gospel. Instead, the early church poured out of the upper room into the streets, publicly preaching the gospel. They didn’t wait for sinners to come hear the gospel. They made sure sinners heard the gospel.
If we would do evangelism like the early church did, we must go to sinners in our Jerusalem and fill their ears with the gospel.
3. The early church evangelized purely
What is “evangelism” anyway? In Scripture, “evangelism” means “gospelism”.
Evangelism is the act of declaring the gospel to sinners in a plain, clear, urgent way.
If we don’t have the gospel message right, we can’t evangelize right.
Peter preached the gospel in all its power, purity, simplicity, and Christ-centered glory.
Peter’s gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost contained at least six main elements, as it was:
- A confirmed message
- A Christ-centered message
- A convicting message
- A calling message
- A comforting message
- A converting message
If we, like the early church, want to evangelize right, we must get the gospel message right.
We’ll take time in the next article to cover these six necessary elements of the gospel message.