Gift of "Evangelist" Discussion
Gifts and Our Relatedness to Giftedness
Question: What if another sister and I are spending time with a woman we are sharing Jesus with and after a time there still seems to be something lacking in our presenting the gospel to her. How do we know if we may need to bring in someone with the evangelistic gift? Could it be that we just need to spend more time with her planting seeds and walking with her? How would we know if we need to bring in someone with that particular gift?
Answer: It could be either. It could be that it would just take more time because the sowing and the watering and God giving increase—that’s a time process. But do also consider, as you apparently have, that there is a need for drawing on His Gifts. We do “have need of one another.”
An example: There are different techniques for growing different vegetables. If you try to grow cucumbers you need to make little mounds four feet apart. I don’t know much about farming or gardening or plants, but there are certain ways to do things that we must cooperate with to maximize life and fruitfulness. Perhaps in the sowing process, in the natural world of gardening the seeds are good and the soil is good, but the technique is wrong. Different kinds of seeds need a different sort of care. Climate is obviously important, also certain techniques, wisdom of plant life, etc. to make it all work out to its potential.
(So back to your desire and efforts to show another person the Risen Christ), perhaps in the process of hitting a frustration point—you see a hunger and a searching, but you can’t quite get through the barrier and they don’t see Jesus. Again, if confused or thwarted, you may want to ask some questions of those gifted as “evangelist” (bearer of good news). That process of asking might shed light on the fact that someone else needs to get directly involved. Or maybe that indirect involvement is sufficient from an equipping standpoint.
Evangelists equip the saints for the works of service of God. By and large if it’s an evangelistic, Good News outreach sort of opportunity that God has put in front of you, probably you need to draw on those with those gifted as “evangelist,” who have a green thumb spiritually more so than others. In my front yard, Brad (a landscape architect) plotted the overthrow of the previously existing chaos, and “saw” the potential there. I didn’t know what to do with it. Brad’s got a “green thumb.” Brad knows how to make dogwood life thrive. I don’t. So in the spiritual realm, you’re going to want to involve green thumbs in anything that you do in their area of Life.
At times the “evangelist” gift will attack a city, such as Philip in Samaria. But certainly that gift will be actively involved in “equipping the saints for works of service,” not just doing the work themselves. So count on involvement from that gift in your endeavor to bring men to Jesus.
I’ll just touch on the analogy again about the landscaping in the natural sense. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got good seed. But once you know you’ve got good seed, there is a very important key in learning to “cooperate” with dogwood life, as an example. There is something in the genetic code of every form of life that dictates what sort of environment or food will cause that “life” within to flourish or wither. The way to cooperate with dogwood life is different than cooperating with pine life or redwood life or oak. Likewise, in the Spirit there’s a key often times that unlocks the door in a person’s heart. Jesus said there are different kinds of hearts. So there are keys that will unlock the door in one kind of heart that are totally different than another kind of heart. The woman’s heart that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears was different than the man that had the withered hand, which was different than Nichodemus, which was different than the rich young ruler. But somehow the gift of evangelist and those that have learned the ways of the evangelist (such as Timothy, apparently) can “see” what the right timing and way to reach those different types of hearts might be... They have a natural “unmerited” green thumb kind of gift that can “see” what’s really at stake. It is a part of Jesus’ heart and giftedness that He lived in when He was here physically—the part of His giftedness that knew how to handle the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the Roman soldier, Nicodemus, the gathered crowds, the rich young ruler, and Herod. All totally different situations, yet He “knew” what was right in each case. This is the gift of evangelist, now imparted to those of His choosing for the purpose of equipping the saints for the Work, and for changing the world by His good news, the power of God for deliverance.
Philip was an evangelist. Timothy apparently wasn’t. Timothy was to “do the work of an evangelist.” We can learn the process of cooperating with dogwood life and maximize dogwood growth. Evangelists can equip the saints for the works of the service, but that doesn’t make them one that can “see” dogwood life. They can learn the techniques to know how to cooperate with it.
It is the same way with winning souls. Some can see it. They see right into the heart of the matter and they know why a person won’t respond, and how to motivate them. Perhaps it will be, “Come, follow me. I’ll make you a fisher of men. Stick around me for thirty days and I’ll show you why God has a call on your life and it’s better to lose your life than to try and save it.” To someone else it’s, ”You have murdered the Son of God and if you don’t repent you’re going to pay a price for murdering God’s only Son. You don’t really want to do that, do you?” One response would motivate the person, but not the other. The gift of evangelist is one that can see a dogwood versus a cucumber versus a pine and know how to maximize dogwood life in the climate that it’s in and then equip others to do the same thing.
Question: Would they necessarily need to be directly involved?
Answer: They can equip. But that’s indirect.
Question: But that’s just learning about it. It’s not having the actual gift.
Answer: If Brad told me enough about how to raise a dogwood, I still wouldn’t have the feel for it that he does because that’s who he is. It’s not who I am. But I could learn enough about it where I could actually begin to do some of those things. But throw me one little curve ball and I’m in trouble all over again... a curve ball such as finding out there are different kinds of dogwoods. Brad knew that, he just never told me that because it never came up. So somehow we will always be at the mercy of God’s gifts in that you cannot substitute knowledge about something—even equipping for years by that something—for the real gift. But you can sure be very useful to God by learning and growing in those things that are of God through that gift. That gift isn’t for the purpose of “doing it all.” That gift is to help equip us all to do it all, eventually. But that gift will always be needed since there will always be new variables that we didn’t “see,” but the ones with the unmerited gift knew without even knowing they knew it. You ask them a question that they have never thought about before, and they have the answer. They know it; they just know. They didn’t learn it anywhere. They just knew. That’s the difference between having the gift and being equipped for the works of the service.
If, as one without a particular gift, I come up against something I can’t handle, I can either write that off as, “I guess I couldn’t handle that one. I guess I must be a bad person.” Or I can say, “I may not be able to handle *everything* next time, but I want to be able to handle THAT thing. I may not be able to have the gift of evangelist, but I don’t ever want to fail in that area again. How did I miss it? What didn’t I see?” Be persistent in being equipped for works of service.
There’s no general training program like, “I want to be a strong Christian. Okay, equip me.” But when real opportunities come up, you say instead, “I want to know what happened and why. I don’t want to make that same mistake again. I don’t want to miss that opportunity again. Why did you say what you said?” The disciples did that constantly. When Jesus was teaching on the hillside and then walk away, the disciples would say, “What were you talking about over there?” They didn’t just think, “That was interesting.” They bugged Him about it. If something came up that they didn’t quite understand, they would say, “Explain it. I want to know why You said that. Why is it that this is true? Why is it that that is true? Who then can be saved?” They pulled Him aside after He said the rich man would have a really hard time going to heaven. They all likely looked up to the rich young ruler. They heard him say, “...from the time he was a youth.” And they said, “Man, I was a drunkard, I was a this, I was that. And from the time you were a youth, you obeyed God?” And now the committed man walks away sorrowfully. And the disciples say, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus then goes on to teach them a lesson on the nature of faith being the issue, not obedience. “With God all things are possible. This depends on God, not on you.” And they said, “Oh.” Then they would remember years later what Jesus taught them when they faced their rich young rulers. The point is that when specific things come up, you can be lazy about it or be aggressive in finding out why.
“Okay. I was in this room full of people and obviously somebody over there had an attitude. You didn’t do anything about it. Why not?” Or, “This person over here was sleeping and you didn’t say anything about it. Why? I was ready to get up and throttle him, but you didn’t say anything about it.” And the response could be, “Well, what you don’t know is....” Or in another situation with an unbeliever... “They seem so sincere and so hungry and you punched him in the nose spiritually. Why?” Like the rich young ruler, they would have welcomed him. He’s got the talent, he’s got the commitment. Seems like a great addition to the Kingdom of God. But Jesus sent him away. “Why did you do that Jesus, I don’t understand.” So the process of being equipped isn’t some universal thing of “make me a...” whatever. But it’s, “All right, here’s a situation—why?” Or, “In pursuing this, I failed in that area. Why did I fail in that area? Versus, “I’m a bad person. Someone else is a better person,” and so I slump back. That’s not the way disciples learn.
Disciple—the Greek word is apprentice—how does an apprentice learn? Sometimes when he gets shocked as he is trying to learn wiring schemes. How does he learn when something happens in the process of following a schematic that isn’t what he thought it was going to be? He’s got to pursue to find the answers for that problem. This symbol here means capacitor, and capacitors have a residual charge at times and can be dangerous! “Oh, I didn’t know that.” Just basic stuff that you learn as time goes on, if you pursue that way.
It goes back to Hebrews 12 where God talks about those that are willing to be trained by discipline, and that it yields a harvest of peace and righteousness. The implication is that you’ve got to be willing to be *trained* by it. I’ve got to find out why my dad spanked me. The fact that he is spanking me—I can interpret that as just or unjust and still never really learn anything from it. I’m liable to be embittered by it. Whereas God says if you are willing to be *trained* by it; if you’re willing to find out why you’re being spanked, then you won’t make the same mistake next time. If you just resent it, go in your room, cower in fear because of the discipline, or maybe you submit willingly like a martyr because of the discipline—all of that is wrong if you don’t learn why you’re being disciplined and then change as a result. So there’s an aggressive process in being an apprentice or a disciple, being “equipped for works of service,” that says, “I want to know why I failed. The fact that I failed isn’t nearly as important as why I failed.”
A lot of people judge themselves on whether they fail. They judge others on whether they fail. A disciple, that is a wise disciple of Jesus doesn’t really so much care if they failed or not. It’s just if I have failed to learn, then I’ve failed. It’s not whether or not I succeeded, it’s whether or not I have succeeded in learning. Learning is the goal. That’s what a disciple means—a learner, an apprentice. Learning is the goal. It’s an end in itself. It’s not a means to an end. I don’t learn so I can be successful. I learn because learning is the goal. So my success is not based on whether I’m successful and whether I’ve achieved something. If I brought someone to Christ, I’m not successful. If I have failed to learn as I have brought someone to Christ, I’m a failure, and God is merciful and saved their soul anyway. But I need to learn what I can learn by bringing someone to Christ (Philemon 6). Then I’m successful. If it’s changed me, then I am successful. If it’s changed them, it’s good for them and it’s good for God, but I still failed if it didn’t change me. So it’s the learning process that is the issue as a disciple. And anybody can be successful at that if they have the right attitude. A lazy person is in big trouble no matter what their gifts or talents are. If they are lazy hearers, they are dead.
Question: God has given us people that have specific gifts so that they, in turn can enhance the things God is doing in our lives. And you need to seek the equipping from those with the gifts. Are those with gifts not to do the work for us, but to help us to do the work only?
Answer: There are some things that they need to do themselves. Like when Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples couldn’t cast out the demons and Jesus did immediately do so. And He said, “You guys could have done that. But some kinds only come out by prayer and fasting.” There was something that needed a supernatural jolt that was greater. They were really surprised when they couldn’t cast them out. They really thought that they would be able to do that. But what they weren’t aware of is that some kinds only come out by prayer and fasting. In other words, it takes a supernatural jolt that’s beyond the norm, and so sometimes indirect involvement by equipping from others is sufficient. Other times, it will take Peter and John to deal with Simon the sorcerer because that’s who they are in Christ and their gifts in Christ. Philip, who did many wonderful things in Samaria couldn’t deal with Simon the sorcerer. It took Peter and John with their particular gifts and who they were to deal with what Philip couldn’t in spite of the fact that he was doing miracles—full of the Holy Ghost and full of wisdom, bringing multitudes to Christ. But there were certain things that he couldn’t do. Peter and John weren’t equipping Philip to deal with Simon. They did it themselves because that’s who they were. So maybe Philip grew from that process. But Philip would still not have their gift simply because he saw them do that and learned something about it. God deposits certain things in people for certain tasks and many of those things can be done by being equipped. Some things on occasion only come out by prayer and fasting—only come out by Peter and John, not by Philip.
Some things God just ordains to be different. Dorcas being dead didn’t require a group of saints to raise her. It required going to get Peter from the next city to raise her from the dead. So we’re always going to need each other. The gifts are always going to be something that only God can do. It’s unmerited favor, which means it’s God’s sovereign choice on how He deposits those things. You can never merit it. You can never be mature enough to be able to have a particular gift. You can do many of the things that that gift does, like Philip being an evangelist and Timothy doing the work of an evangelist. There’s definitely an overlap there. But while one can duplicate many of the efforts of a gift, it’s not exactly “who they are” and they’re going to miss some things. As we’ve said before, for the one with the Sovereign gift, it comes so naturally and they don’t even know why. It’s never come up before, but very naturally they are able to resolve this thing that has never ever happened before. Just like a hot knife through butter, they feel it because it’s the gift that God has deposited in them. There is no striving or struggling or grasping; it just happens. Maturity never gets to that point. Maturity works hard to accomplish what gifting does very naturally.
Question: How are we always going to know if it needs to be direct involvement of those with that particular gift or just equipping from someone with that gift?
Answer: Well maybe you were equipped last year for this thing that happened today and you need no additional equipping, but it’s now something that you’re walking in to where you are able to be used by God with no additional equipping. You’ve already been equipped. If I showed you at Rand McNally how to do a task this month, I’d hope next year you wouldn’t need to come back for exactly the same task. Maybe there’s a new level of that task that you would pursue and desire depth of understanding and experience about. And maybe there would be some things that only I could do there. But certainly there wouldn’t be an unhealthy dependence to where we never learn or become where God can use us. But there shouldn’t be an unhealthy independence that assumes we’ve arrived at something that we hadn’t. We have need of one another as opposed to not having need of one another—as Paul said would be a large-scale error.