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Description: The Marks of an Evangelist 2
The Marks of an Evangelist
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
Take a Bible please and look at Ephesians chapter 4:11. “And his gifts were that some should be
apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers.” And we have talked about
that meaning that God ensured that the right people were in his Son’s Body in the church. And he
gave some to be ‘evangelists’. And a couple weeks ago I mentioned to you that evangelist comes from
the two Greek words: “eu” which means “well” and “angelus” which means “a messenger”. So it is
really a “well messenger” or a “good messenger”, or we’ve normally translated it, “Glad tidings,”
the people who bring good news. That is really the terminology that we use. We are the people who
bring good news.
What always baffled me was that it seemed that my “good news” to the owner of a store was that,
“You’re a sinner!” And then once I’ve really convinced you of that, then I’ll lay on you the “good
news that Jesus died for your sins!” And I know that that is regarded as the normal gospel. I just
think that it isn’t immediately perceived by the store owner as great news [laughing]. And it does
seem that most people who call themselves Christians have managed to give the opposite impression to
the ordinary man in the street. That is we give the impression that we are not people who bring
good news. I mean we say we are and to that extent we seem kind of strange to them, because they
say, “You are always telling us we are sinners. You are always telling us that we are doing the
wrong thing. You are always looking upon us as not as good as you. You are always looking upon the
outsider.” And I’m afraid that that is the case that the religious people or the Christians have
given that impression to people.
And I think that is often the paradox that you feel when you go in to sell jewelry into a store [the
majority of the audience are jewelry sales reps]. And somehow or other you’ve got to get this thing
twisted round, so that it comes as good news to the store owner. And it is a bear. It’s very
difficult to do it without getting yourself into all kinds of logical contortions, and, as we’ve all
experienced, philosophical mumblings that don’t mean too much to most ordinary people. And we
usually end up rather dissatisfied with our performance and feeling generally that we haven’t been
an evangelist. I think that is what we feel. We feel we haven’t been an evangelist. We haven’t
done what we are supposed to do because we have a kind of strange idea of ‘what’ we are supposed to
do. And we feel we haven’t done that at all, and we feel we have just failed pretty miserably, and
all we can do is pray and hope that God shows them something that we can’t.
I just think it is a complete misinterpretation of the “good news.” And I think the good news is
what we have been talking about over these years. I know it bores you to tears and I’ve already
dealt with it partially when we dealt with this word a couple of Sundays ago. But the good news is
really, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that he has prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.” That is the good news. What God has done to us and for
us, and where he has placed us, and who we really belong to, that’s the good news. Ordinary people
would rise to that if they glimpsed it at all. But, of course, nobody tells them that in a way that
they can take seriously. And so I think, first of all, our job is to live that way ourselves.
I do think we need to deal with any lack of joy in our hearts. And not, “Oh boy, I’d better whistle
up a bit of joy in here before I go into this store.” Not that game at all, but really dealing with
God, “Lord, I’m supposed to be filled with joy, because of the reality that you have made me inside
Jesus, and I’m with you two every moment of my life, and you’ve solved everything and you’ve planned
this whole wonderful journey for me through this world. Lord, what is wrong with me? Am I not
getting it somehow? Am I not grasping that? Am I not living in light of that? Or am I letting the
cares of this world to come in and overwhelm me? Lord, what is it? Am I so filled with myself? Am
I so preoccupied with my troubles, ‘poor me’, and the things that I have to do? Am I so unbelieving
that you have the whole thing figured out, that I can’t have joy?”
I think that is the first place. So that we really do get down to things with our Lord, and we sort
out, “Lord, I’ve read that the chief mark of the saints is joy. So here I am. I’m heading out
today in this car. I know I’m not bubbling. Now, Lord, what is it?”
And I do think that that is the first thing. Just, let’s sort that out with our Father and the Holy
Spirit. I agree with you. It is only the Holy Spirit that can bring “love, joy, and peace” that we
need. But there is some way that we don’t recognize him or we’re not allowing the Holy Spirit to
govern our feelings. So it is something that we have to sort out with God.
Obviously the first way we can be “good news people” is ourselves. It is very interesting. If you
reflect for a moment what the commercial traveler is about — I mean dear love him, he knows nothing
of that, but he does know he’d better be “up” when he goes into that store. “Good Morning, Mrs.
Steeles! Isn’t it a wonderful day?” Whether he feels wonderful or not, he performs. Of course, we
all know that when it is done in that spirit the last thing it is doing is bringing good news. It
is not bringing good news at all. It is bringing human well-being and human energy and soulish
“whistle in the dark,” that kind of approach. Of course the store owner knows fine well. They can
distinguish between somebody — you’ll hear them say, “That person is really happy. This person
comes into my store and they seem content; they just seem content. Well, I have a guy that comes in
and sells jewelry — I just feel better when he is there, because he really does see the bright side
of life and he seems happy in himself.” They know; they know.
That is why I say, “Our first responsibility is to live joyfully in the light of the life that God
has given us,” in other words to be an expression of the good news. After that I think there are a
thousand little things that we can say. If you once think about it; if you once think about
Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has
prepared before hand that we should walk in.”
There are a thousand little things. “Wasn’t it terrible, that hurricane? [Reference to Hurricane
Katrina in New Orleans]”
“It was terrible.”
“And what those Americans over there did — I mean what they didn’t do for the poor blacks!”
“Yes, it really makes you glad that Somebody is in charge.”
You just say that! [Pastor laughs] You just say that!
And they say, “Well, he wasn’t in charge, was he? That Bush [America’s then president, George W.
Bush], he didn’t…”
“Yes, but it is good to know that there is Somebody else in charge, isn’t it?”
And it can be anything. It doesn’t need to be looked down upon by you to say, “The Man Upstairs.”
It doesn’t need to be looked down upon. Sure John Wayne talked about the “Man upstairs,” but it
does it. It does it.
Either that, or “It is good to know that there is a God.” And so it goes on. It just goes on in
hundreds of other things that could be said. “Yeah, it just makes me….” And you do it. You don’t
need to preach it. You just take advantage of the fact that you are a free human being who can say
things that you think. And it really is possible to say, “Yeah, it really makes me glad to know
that I’m not just my dad’s child.” “It makes me so glad to know that I’m not just my mother’s
daughter, that I really — there is Someone else.”
“Oh, you’re a bastard?”
“No [laughing], No, I’m not a bastard. No, I’m just glad to know — You remember that bit in the
Bible where it says, ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.’ It just makes me
There is a lot you can get away with that is just natural and normal, and isn’t all preachy, and it
isn’t all devout.
And then you get into the whole thing that everyone is conscious of: the uncertainty of life. All
that stuff they just bought, or they bought from the last sales person and it is sitting there, and
the whole uncertainty of the economy. ‘And what is going to happen to this European thing?’ ‘And
where is my life going?’ That is to say nothing of the little disasters that they all have. Where
somebody has a disaster in the family, or a mother dies or somebody gets sick. And it all opens up.
“It’s just — I have no…”
“It is comforting isn’t it, that there is at Someone who knows where all this whole thing is going.
“You know yourself, things happen in your life, and you know fine well, you didn’t bring them about”
Of course they all immediately know that. “You’re right! You’re right! I remember when I met ‘So
and So’; why that came about!”
It echoes! What does the lady [Eva Cassidy] say? “I hear the real though far off hymn that hails a
new creation!” They hear it. “It finds an echo in my soul, how can I keep from singing?”
They are in that same spot. There is an echo. They have an echo in their soul. “Yes, sometimes I
wonder. Things have happened in my life. I can’t explain. If I hadn’t been doing that, that
wouldn’t have come about.”
And sure there are plenty of people who say, “That’s luck!” But most people, even if they say that,
they don’t fully believe it. They think, “Luck couldn’t explain this and this and this.” So most
of them have that kind of at least that old, what we call wrongly, I think often, “Puritanical or
Calvinist” belief that, “It had to be.” Every time we meet Ken [friend of Pastor in London] in the
Lavantour, and we met him two different occasions — he hasn’t been in there for months. We haven’t
been in for 12 months, and we end up there at the same time. He would say, “You know, Ernest, it
had to be.” So everybody is that way. Everybody has the suspicion that, alright, they may talk
about their “Big Bangs”; they may talk about their chaos; they may talk about their chance; but
everybody [chuckling] thinks, “There are things here that you can’t explain other than that Somebody
intended it to be.”
So there are thousands of opportunities. You don’t need to quote Ephesians 2:10. You don’t even
need to talk about the Bible if you don’t want to. But it is, on the other hand, very natural in
some situations where you have come to know people, it is very natural to say what you think. But
that whole thing is the first little bit of “good news”. It is the first seed of “good news”. You
don’t need to water it like crazy, that same conversation to get it to grow. You just need to say
what is normal and natural to people who live in the midst of “good news.”
But that whole reality that we are actually created here for some purpose, and that it is actually a
purpose that somebody is very clear about, “You know Mrs. Jones, it looks as if you were meant to
run this shop. It looks as if you were meant…” There are some people, you find they match the shop
and the shop matches them, and you feel — you come into certain shops and you feel, “This person
was meant to be here.” She or he may say, “You know, I’ve felt that myself at times.” You know
what the place is coming down, and they are in desperate financial trouble. It is remarkable how
many of them have the feeling that they were made for this.
So there are endless opportunities. It does not need to be that contorted forensic explanation of
the atonement. It simply needs to be a plain, unembarrassed, simple, non-pushy statement of the
truth that “we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has prepared beforehand that we
should walk in them.” And somehow as that is built up in hearts there are other things that come.
Reality will out. That is it. Reality will burst out however much you try to keep it down, reality
will burst out. Other little things will happen that will confirm it in their minds. And
gradually, gradually… In other words people can get used to moving in a realm of faith. They can
get used to moving in the faith that God has given us in Reality. They don’t need to move in
unreality. They don’t need to continue to move in deception. In fact it is quite hard to maintain
that deception in God’s world, because God himself is always bringing along things that confirm what
he has shown us.
So I would encourage you to think seriously about the whole joy of being an evangelist, and the
tremendous opportunity you have to be an evangelist. Actually, this [meaning in a church service]
is the worst place — I mean it is a glorious place for us, for those of us who are inside Jesus in
their own consciousness, but for others, this is a silly place to start evangelizing. And the place
that you and I are in is far more powerful and has great opportunities.
So today as we enter his own presence let us allow him to take us over completely and to touch and
influence all our lives and the way we speak and the way we think so that we are absolute
presentations of truth and reality ourselves.
Let us pray.