In his final letter, Paul charges his son in the faith, Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). With these words, the aged apostle establishes the timeless standard for pastoral ministry, not only for young Timothy, but for all pastors in every generation. With apostolic authority, this imperative command comes with binding force. All pastors must do the work of an evangelist. They must earnestly proclaim the gospel message, urging people to put saving faith in Jesus Christ. So, where should this pastoral evangelism be exercised?
First, every pastor must preach the gospel to himself. Before any expositor can call others to repent, he himself must believe in Jesus Christ. Paul exhorts Timothy, saying, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16). Furthermore, every preacher must examine his own soul. The success of one’s evangelism is principally dependent upon the reality of Christ in his own life. Charles Spurgeon writes:
A graceless pastor is a blind man elected to a professorship of optics, philosophizing upon light and vision, discoursing upon…the nice shades and delicate blendings of the prismatic colours, while he himself is absolutely in the dark! He is a dumb man elevated to the chair of music; a deaf man fluent upon symphonies and harmonies! He is a mole professing to educate eaglets.
Second, every pastor must preach the gospel to his family. Evangelism continues in the home with an expositor’s wife and children. I will never forget an elder’s meeting in which one of our pastors shared that his wife had been converted the previous night. She was one of the nicest people in the church and, yet, unknown to us, she was unconverted. How often is this the reality? To this end, every pastor must give attention to the spiritual state of his wife and children. Like Noah, he must get his family on board.
Third, every pastor must preach the gospel to his flock. There must be the proper realization that not all in church are in Christ. Every pastor’s evangelistic work must include regularly presenting the gospel with clear, decisive appeals. He must implore his congregation to believe in the message of the cross. There should be a distinct tone of urgency in his voice, as he exhorts, even pleads, for his flock to be converted. Our gospel preaching must come with bold proclamations of Christ crucified and have warm appeals to come to Christ. They must come both in and out of the pulpit. Pastors must give loving appeals to be converted and severe warnings of eternal consequences where there is obstinate unbelief.
Fourth, every pastor must preach the gospel to the world. The strategies for outreach will differ from one man to the next, depending upon his gifts and opportunities. As a fisher of men, he must go where the fish are. He must leave dry land, sail out into deep waters, and cast and draw his net. Pastors must regularly extend the free offer of the gospel and urge people to believe upon Christ.
The greatest joy in life is knowing Christ, and the second greatest is making Him known. May every expositor must enter joyfully into this privileged task of doing the work of an evangelist and winning souls to Christ.