It is the purpose of this article to investigate the term ‘Evangelical’ – and its associated practice of ‘Evangelism’. Just who is an evangelical? and what is evangelism?
1. THE EVANGELICALS
To some extent one’s understanding of who or what an ‘evangelical’ is may be influenced by one’s particular denominational position. If one belongs to the Church of England one would immediately think of the wing of that church so labelled, in contrast with its opposite – the Anglo-Catholic; low-church as opposed to high-church. A Roman Catholic would probably link ‘evangelical’ with ‘protestant’, and a person so defined would at once be described as a heretic or a separated brother. Again, a member of an F.I.E.C. affiliated church would take pleasure in affirming ‘I am an evangelical’.
It is by no means clear that there is a united opinion as to what constitutes a true evangelical. Some view the term with utmost suspicion, and link the position of an evangelical with those who adopt a lighter, less traditional and more innovative form of worship. For them this whole matter is to be avoided as savouring of the flesh. On the other hand there are those who feel that for far too long, many who hold to the doctrines of grace are too introspective, and have overemphasized the aspect of religious experience, and that a more evangelical outlook is required if churches are to survive and grow.
Neither of these views is satisfactory, and if we start from either of these points we would end with a very limited if not a warped view of the subject. We therefore turn to the Word of God to discover what it has to say on this subject, and then to consider the claims of present-day ‘evangelicals’ in its light. The term is derived from the Greek word ‘euagellion’, translated as ‘gospel’ in the Bible; and the gospel is the good tidings of salvation brought to sinful man by those appointed by God to do so. Thus in Luke 2.10 “the angel said unto them. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings (euaggelizomai) of great joy, which shall be to all people.” An evangelist is therefore one who announces good tidings. This word is used only three times in the Bible; firstly in Acts 21.8 where it is used to describe a particular person, namely Philip; secondly in Ephesians 4.11 where it is used to describe one of the gifts of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Church; and lastly in 2 Timothy 4.5 where
Paul exhorts Timothy, his son in the faith, to “do the work of an evangelist”. It follows that ‘evangelical’ is the adjective used to describe that which pertains to the Gospel; or the noun used to describe “one who professes or maintains evangelical principles especially the doctrine that salvation is by faith in the atonement of Christ” (Nuttalls Dictionary). From this it is clear that both the evangel and evangelism should be matters of great concern to every believer, and in a particular sense to every man called by God’s Spirit to preach the gospel, for it is the ‘euagellion’ that he has to preach (Mark 16.15, 1 Thess. 1.5, 2.2,4,9 etc). It is likewise clear that we need to be extremely careful how we use this term, and what we describe as being ‘evangelical’. We may summarize the position in this way. (1) The evangel is given by God and clearly defined in His Word. (2) One great aspect of the work of His eternal Son the Lord Jesus Christ when on earth was to preach the gospel (Luke 4.18 & 7.22). (3) It is the will and command of the Lord Jesus Christ that this gospel should be preached in all the world (Matthew 26.13 & 28.19), and that after the times of the Apostles it should be committed to other faithful men. It is the ‘everlasting gospel’ (Rev. 14.6), and it is to be preached to the end of the age. (4) We can therefore honestly describe as evangelical only those endeavours which are consistent with God’s gospel, or those persons who believe the good news of salvation by grace. It is honour indeed to be truthfully so described. These points are so important and crucial to our understanding of the subject that they must be considered in more detail in the next section.
2. DOES IT MATTER WHAT I BELIEVE?
In our multi-racial and multi-faith society the idea is becoming increasingly prevalent that it does not really matter what a person believes, so long as he is sincere in his beliefs. All religions lead to God, it is argued, so the Protestant can learn from the Roman Catholic, the Christian from the Moslem. Indeed it is thought to be uncharitable and even unchristian to question the correctness of another person’s beliefs. Opinions expressed by leaders of the Ecumenical Movement also encourage the idea that it is somehow wrong to proselytize, or to attempt to persuade anyone to abandon his previously held belief, or disbelief, in favour of a new set of doctrines. Is this outlook correct? It is my submission that this viewpoint, whilst having the appearance of charitableness, is utterly
false and completely condemned by the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Consider the following quotations. (1) John 14.6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (2) John 10.7-8 “Jesus said unto them again. Verily, verily I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.” (3) Acts 4.12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men,
whereby we must be saved.” These passages, among others emphasize the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. There is no room for an alternative point of view, or rival Saviour. The sharp thrust of the Christian Gospel is:
Believe on Jesus Christ and be saved, reject Him and be lost and damned for ever.
But how are we to look upon those people who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the only Saviour and way to God? How did the Lord and His Apostles view them? (1) Matthew 15.14 “They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” These are the words used by Christ to describe the Pharisees. He also called them hypocrites, fools, blind guides, whited sepulchres, “which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead mens’ bones, and all uncleanness”, serpents, and a generation of vipers. (2) Galatians 1.9 “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed”. (3) 1 John 4.2,3 “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist”.
The Apostles were convinced that the Gospel they brought and taught was absolutely true; that all who opposed them, however fair and reasonable they might appear outwardly, were deceived and accursed; and that those who imbibed their teaching did so to the peril of their souls. In an age of woolly thinking and compromise these stark truths need to be presented to men in all their biblical solemnity. If we grasp these truths we shall examine ourselves and our beliefs in the light of God’s word, and “give diligence to make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1.10). Also, understanding the perilous position that those are in who reject the teaching of Christ, our prayers will be quickened for their deliverance from unbelief, even as the Apostle Paul described his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for (unbelieving) Israel is, that they might be saved” (Romans 10.1).
3. WHAT DO EVANGELICALS BELIEVE?
We must now define and establish the substance of what Christ and His apostles taught as their gospel, because this is the only conceivable basis for the faith of an evangelical, or gospel believer. The following is a brief summary of the salient points.
(1) Creation. The world we live in is God’s world. He made it, and He made man as explained in Genesis 1-2. As it was written to the Hebrews (11.3), “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”. It is vital to see by faith all the glorious and amazing events connected with man’s redemption as taking place in the world which God has made.
(2) The fall of man. Only the Bible provides us with an accurate assessment of the natural state of man (“there is none righteous no not one”; “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”). It
also informs us how man came into this deplorable condition. When Adam broke God’s command, he died spiritually as God had said he would, and as a result of his original sin all mankind ‘died’ in him (“As in Adam all die” 1 Cor. 15.22).
(3) Man’s need of Redemption. As a result of the fall of Adam, all men are totally depraved (i.e. there is latent in the heart of every babe that is born the seed of every sin), and totally unable to do anything to remedy their condition. There is neither the desire to obtain deliverance, for man is in love with his sin; nor the spiritual capacity to appreciate the true state that he is in. So the Bible as early as Genesis 3.15 promises a Deliverer. This theme is developed through the Old Testament, illustrated in the details of the sacrificial law, and propounded in amazing detail in the writings of the prophets, as for example Isaiah chapter 53.
(4) The identity of the Redeemer. He is “the seed of the woman” (i.e. human). He is the messenger sent from God-Malachi 3.1 (i.e. divine). He is the “lion of the tribe of Judah”. He is to be born of a virgin in the city of David (Bethlehem). He is to be called a Nazarene – and so must live at Nazareth. He is to be called out of Egypt. He is to be despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. He is to be put to death, make His grave with the wicked, and then rise the third day from the grave. He is “the chiefest among ten thousand”, “the altogether lovely”, and the one thing needful. He is the Shepherd of His flock, the Captain of His people’s salvation, the light of the world, the head of the Church, the faithful witness, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. He is “the way, the truth and the life”. He is Jesus Christ, the dearly beloved and only begotten Son of the Father, worshipped by the heavenly hosts, believed on in the world by His people, but rejected and discounted by men of the world. He saves by grace, redeems with His own precious blood, loves with an everlasting love, and is made unto His people wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
(5) God the Father’s approval and acceptance of the person and work of His eternal Son. The Father gave eloquent testimony to this at Christ’s baptism, and at His transfiguration – “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him”. But the supreme proof is provided in the resurrection – God raised His Son. God is completely and eternally satisfied, yea delighted in the finished work of Jesus Christ. So that all a lost, ruined sinner needs to deliver him completely from the guilt and power of sin and to present him faultless before the Father’s throne, is provided and treasured up in Christ.
(6) The way in which the perfect merit of the Lord Jesus Christ is transmitted to those who need it. Or, how can a sinner be saved? The Bible provides the answer, “By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2.8). Salvation is God’s work from first to last, and the quickened sinner
believes this because God has said so. Faith is the appropriating agency, but no man can create faith – this also is God’s gift. Paul wrote to the Romans “being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5.1), and similarly to the Galatians: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.” (2.16).
(7) How an unbeliever becomes a believer. This cannot be achieved by attending to rites such as baptism, nor by the exercise of a man’s own will, neither of which is possible in one who is “dead in trespasses and sins”. Hence there is a need for a new beginning or a new birth, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus “Ye must be born again”. The quickened person hears, and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. Jesus Christ is thus described as “the author and finisher of faith”.
(8) The Scriptures. The Word of God having been used by the Holy Spirit in regeneration, a quickened soul is led to read, and to feed upon the Word. He is clearly shown that the Word of God is “quick (alive) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4.12). Furthermore an evangelical believes that the Scriptures are given by inspiration of God who so directed those men whom He used to write the various books of the Bible, that they wrote exactly what He intended. Scripture alone provides the evangelical with the infallible authority for all aspects of his faith and practice.
(9) God Himself. All man’s preconceived ideas about God have to be abandoned in favour of what he discovers through the blessing of the Holy Spirit on the reading and preaching of the Word. There it is revealed that there is only One God, who is a Spirit, and who is to be worshipped in spirit and truth. This God is infinite and eternal, and in the Godhead there are three coequal and coeternal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
(10) God’s covenant purposes. An evangelical believes that God has decreed all that comes to pass, and that the state of salvation upon which he has entered by grace, was decreed by God. By this decree God has predestinated a numberless multitude to eternal life. Thus the believer makes his “calling and election sure” with joy and trembling. He views with wonder the covenant engagements planned by God the Father from eternity, executed by God the Son in time, and applied and sealed to him by God the Holy Spirit.
(11) The present safety and future blessedness of’believers. No man is able to pluck them out of the Lord’s hands, hence they will be preserved through the temptations, trials, and afflictions of this life, and will endure to the end and be saved. At death the body returns to dust, and the spirit to God who gave it, and for the believer there is the joyous prospect of being eternally with Christ which is far better. Furthermore the believer looks forward to the day when, through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, his own body will be raised from the grave, reunited with his soul, to be for ever with the Lord.
(12) The position of unbelievers. The evangelical discovers that the Scriptures reveal that those who live and die impenitent have evidently been sovereignly left in sin to their just condemnation. “God is angry with the wicked every day”. At death the wicked are cast into hell, and at the final resurrection they will receive their just doom, to remain under the wrath of God for ever.
(13) The ‘evangel’ is to be proclaimed. After His resurrection the Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to go and teach all nations. The Holy Ghost equipped, emboldened, and enabled the Apostles and those who succeeded them, to go when and where He led them to preach the gospel. Their labours were abundantly blessed and many, even “as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed”. Those who believed were required to be baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28.19-20, Mark 16.15-16, Acts 8.35-8). The ordinance of Baptism is of perpetual relevance to all who believe the Gospel. It sets forth the sufferings and death of Christ, the believers’ union to Him in those sufferings, and the effect of that union in the washing away of sin, death to the old life, and a rising with Him in newness of life.
(14) The Lord is to be continually remembered by His people. The ordinance of Lord’s Supper is to be observed frequently by those who have been baptized and added to the Church. This consists in eating broken bread which signifies the broken body of Jesus, and drinking wine which signifies His poured-out blood. By these signs the Lord graciously assures His followers that His body was broken for them, and His blood shed for them.
(15) The Church. It was the practice of the Apostles to bring together those who had been gathered out of the world in a particular locality, and form them into a recognized group or church. The churches continued together in the Apostles’ doctrine. Elders or Pastors were appointed to minister the word of life to the people, and to rule the flock of God by a good and holy example. Deacons were appointed to minister in providential things to the poor and needy amongst the people. Members of local churches enjoyed spiritual fellowship with one another, and the life of the fellowship was sustained by prayer.
4. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL
We must now consider the various methods of evangelism which are adopted by men in seeking to spread the gospel. As a fundamental rule, since the Gospel itself is God’s, and the command to teach all nations is issued by the Lord Jesus Christ, the methods used should be consistent with the gospel and with God’s revealed will.
The first method of evangelizing, or proclaiming the Gospel, is by teaching and preaching. In addition to the scriptures already referred to, consider the following expressions in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus:-
“Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”. (1 Timothy 4.13). “The things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2.2). “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2.15). “Preach the word…. reprove, rebuke exhort….” (2 Timothy 4.2). “Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4.5). “Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2.1).
Such quotations could be multiplied, and they serve to emphasize that the main thrust of evangelism is through the teaching and preaching ministry of men sent by God Himself. We shall consider three aspects of the preaching ministry – its place, its method, and its content.
First, its place. We are accustomed to identifying preaching with the pulpit in church or chapel. But clearly many of the Lord Jesus’ sermons were not delivered in the quiet and secluded atmosphere of a building dedicated for that purpose, but in the open air, in fields, by the wayside, and on the grassy slopes of a mountain. He sent His disciples out into “all the world”, and they too preached in the open air as well as in the synagogues of the Jews. The desert of Gaza, the riverside at Philippi (and the gaol!). Mars Hill in Athens, the sea shore at Miletus, and even the heaving deck of a doomed ship in the Mediterranean, all echoed to the sound of the everlasting Gospel from the lips of the Lord’s ministers. However, a careful reading of the Gospels and of the Acts of the Apostles leads to the conclusion that both the Lord and the Apostles went first to the synagogues, but when they were expelled from them, they conducted their ministry elsewhere. The same point is illustrated in the life of George Whitefield who resorted to the churchyard to preach when the doors of the church building were closed against him. As a general rule therefore we should expect the gospel to be preached in the midst of the assembled church. In times of persecution or rejection of the truth however, we have the clearest possible sanction from scripture to conduct the gospel ministry in house or barn or wood or hillside, in the certain belief that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst.” It must also be admitted that the same Spirit who directed Philip to Gaza’s desert and Paul to Philippi’s riverside may give special direction to some of His ministers to go “without the camp” carrying the good news of salvation to needy souls.
With regard to the method of preaching, we are accustomed to hearing the preacher announce a ‘text’ – a verse or verses from the Scriptures – and then proceed to expound and apply that portion. This method has much to commend it, in that the text provides a focal point both for preacher and hearer, it is a help to orderliness of thought, and there are clear scriptural precedents for this method. When Philip preached to the Eunuch “beginning at the same scripture he preached unto him Jesus”. It may also be said that this
method has enjoyed the blessing of God over much of the long history of the Christian church.
However this is by no means the only method adopted by the Lord and His Apostles. So far as we know the Sermon on the Mount had no text. The Lord frequently introduced His teaching by referring to some of the familiar sights around Him, such as the lilies of the field, or the five sparrows sold for two farthings. The martyr Stephen delivered his last sermon, it would seem, without any text, giving his hearers a profound lesson in divine history. Paul’s discourses were sometimes in the nature of an apologia covering both his own experience of the power of God in conversion, and the whole field of Christian doctrine. One concludes therefore that the exhortation “preach the Word”, will embrace not only expounding and applying an isolated text, but also the systematic exposition of longer portions, or even whole books of the Bible, and also dealing with specific subjects or themes.
Finally, its content. This must be “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20.27). It is unscriptural to think of an evangelistic message which is based solely on a selected number of texts like John 3.16, and which consists simply of an effort to woo sinners to Jesus Christ. As all scripture is given by inspiration of God, the content of preaching must embrace all the doctrines of the Word. When the Lord spoke to learned Nicodemus he confronted him with the doctrine of the New Birth. The Samaritan woman was taught concerning the person and office of the Messiah, and then given a withering view of God’s knowledge of the most intimate details of her life. The Syro-phoenician woman was brought face to face with the doctrine of election.
Time and time again the Lord Jesus spoke of the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. “All the counsel of God” will also involve preaching from every book in the Bible, for in every book there is a unique, divinely inspired message. A ministry which ignores whole sections of the Bible is at best incomplete, and at worst warped, and will leave its hearers with a very one-sided view of God’s truth. The Lord commended searching the scriptures and a reading of “Moses and the Prophets” to all who were in earnest about the salvation of their souls. The ignorant charge of being “letter preachers” is sometimes levelled against those pastors who seek to instruct their people in “all the counsel of God”. But this accusation is completely unfounded when there is also a balancing emphasis on the need for an inward gracious experience of the power of the Word, and an outward walk which is consistent with its teaching.
An ‘experimental ministry’ has long been highly valued by many believers and this is undoubtedly a part, but by no means all, of the counsel of God. The Apostles were not academics, teaching their hearers in a detached way a set of doctrines, but men who spoke of “that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life” (1 John 1.1). They were deeply and prayerfully concerned that the ‘Word’ which had so fundamentally changed
their own lives, warmed their own hearts, and saved their own souls should have, under the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the same effect in those to whom they preached.
“All the counsel of God” will also include a thorough teaching of the precepts of the New Testament. Christianity is a practical religion. “Faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2.20). So men whose minds have been illuminated by the entrance of God’s Word, whose hearts have been humbled and enlivened by the “love of God shed abroad” there, need also to become doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving their own selves.
The second way in which the evangel is to be spread is by the ministry of literature. This was the method adopted by Luke; his first treatise being the Gospel which bears his name, and his second being the Acts of the Apostles. It was a method also used frequently by Paul, as witness his epistles. He who is engaged in writing about the wonderful works of God is conducting a ministry which under God’s blessing may reach many whom he could never contact personally. Also there is sometimes a greater permanence about the written word than the spoken word. One of the more encouraging aspects of the life and witness of the Church of God in this twentieth century has been the renewal of interest in the writings of the Reformers, the Puritans, and more recent evangelical authors. May God prosper all who seek His glory by publishing such literature, from the humblest tract to the weightiest tome, which has in view the furtherance of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Finally, the Gospel is to be spread by personal contact. This brings the subject within the scope of each individual believer, to whom this word is addressed – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5.16). It was personal contact which was used by God to bring Ruth the Moabitess into this Kingdom, likewise Zaccheus, the woman of Samaria, and many others of whom we read in the Gospels. How many have been brought to a knowledge of salvation through a Christian’s introduction of a good book, or to the preaching of the Gospel, will never be known until the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed.
5. WHAT ABOUT METHODS?
Many methods employed by evangelicals in seeking to promote the furtherance of the gospel are not referred to in the preceeding section. We now look briefly at some of these. If some conclusions appear controversial, it is not because I seek controversy; in fact my desire is to be as helpful as possible in dealing with a subject of immediate importance.
In approaching this matter we should be guided by two principles. They are:-
(1) That we should be able to demonstrate that any proposed method is consistent with the general teaching of the Lord and His Apostles. Though there will not be specific reference in the Bible to
such recent developments as radio, television, tape-recorders etc, there are clearly defined principles which must be applied to these things.
(2) That we need to be kept from a prejudiced mind which, if left to flourish, approves or condemns a thing for no other reason than personal like or dislike. This is the teaching of Luke 9.49-50. John was ready to condemn someone who was casting out devils in Jesus’ name “because he followeth not with us”. But Jesus gently reproved His beloved disciple with the words “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us”.
The first method I would like to consider is door-to-door visitation. During recent months I have received visits from representatives of the Church of England, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and a new Evangelical Church recently opened in my area. In two cases literature was pushed through the letter-box, and in one case a personal interview was sought. The Mormons had the novel idea of pushing a cassette tape through the letter-box, and then calling back a week later to ask what I thought of the message it recorded! This is fairly typical of what is going on, but the question arises. Should evangelicals be doing the same thing?
On the surface such a venture appears to fall within the scope of personal contact referred to in the previous section. But, does it? The scripture usually advanced in support of this method is Luke 14.23 “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”. It should be borne in mind that this verse is part of one of the Lord’s parables, and we should therefore seek to discover what the Lord’s teaching is in the parable as a whole. It deals with those who will eat bread in the kingdom of God. Those who were originally invited refused to come for various reasons, and so the Lord sent His servants out into the streets and lanes of the city to compel others to come in their place. Does not this set forth the sad fact that the Jews, to whom the Gospel was first preached, rejected it, and so God sent His servants to the Gentiles? For the purposes of our discussion, we need to discover what is the spiritual significance of streets, lanes, highways and hedges, in the world today.
It would seem that these terms apply to those who are outside of the normal sphere of influence of the church; persons who have not previously received an invitation to come to the Gospel feast. If this is correct, at what point should the church seek to extend its witness to these characters? The parable would appear to teach that when those originally invited refuse, then is the time to convey the everlasting message to those who have not heard it. The first work of a true gospel pastor is in the midst of the gathered congregation. He will, both in his public prayers and preaching, set forth his earnest desires for the salvation of all his hearers, but also for their unconverted relatives and others in the world. It is incumbent upon the church to ensure that its witness to the world is presented in such a way that it is evident that those outside are welcome to attend its services. Most of the Lord’s ministering servants have experienced
the anguish of seeing some in their regular congregations “rejecting the counsel of God against themselves”, and it is often at this point that their exercise of soul concerning others is deepened.
There is another situation that may be linked up here – suggested by Acts 16.5, where the church is established and one phase of the Lord’s work reaches its divinely appointed conclusion. This is no time for resting or self-congratulation – the Lord’s work is to go on, and again the pulse of prayer will be quickened “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” This reference to Acts 16 is important because it highlights the vital person and work of the Holy Spirit in this situation. Paul and his companions were deeply aware of the work of the Holy Ghost in forbidding them to preach in Asia, suffering them not to go into Bithynia, and calling them to go to Macedonia. There is no general rule for the churches, but each is to seek the Lord’s leading concerning where the “streets, lanes, highways, and hedges” are in relation to God’s purposes in their own locality. To take up mechanical door-to-door visitation without the leading and help of the Holy Spirit will not bring glory to God or benefit to sinners, and will almost certainly cause much inward confusion and spiritual depression. On the other hand, to see the hand of the Lord in opening doors and directing our paths in answer to our prayers is to be assured that our labour is not in vain in Him. The messages of God to the seven churches in Asia (Rev. 1-3) show how intimately concerned He is with the life and witness of His Church, how individually accountable to God we each are, and they encourage us to believe that He will not fail us when we ask for wisdom from Him.
Closely allied to the foregoing method of evangelism is another-that of tract distribution. When meeting people for the first time, and indeed on subsequent occasions, it is considered to be useful to leave a tract with the person in the hope that after the visitor has left he will sit down and read it. I am not aware of any specific scriptural authority for this practice, and so we must ask, does it fall within the limits of the general commandment of the Lord to preach the Gospel amongst the nations? It appears to fall within two areas mentioned earlier, namely the ministry of literature and of personal contact. The answer to the question I believe is