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 (Manna 75: Towards Maturity)
Personal Evangelism—the Example of Jesus
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Personal Evangelism—The Example of Jesus

Based on a sermon by Derren Liang—Irvine, California, USA

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Mt 9:35)


A comparison of the ministries of Jesus and John the Baptist reveal interesting similarities as well as differences. Both proclaimed the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 3:2; cf. Mt 4:17). However, they differed in the extent of their community interaction. John the Baptist chose an ascetic existence in the wilderness, surviving on locusts and honey, and making a habit of fasting. To pave the way for Jesus, John the Baptist had to undertake the difficult but necessary task – like Elijah—of turning “the hearts of the people … the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” He was the lonely voice in the wilderness preaching repentance in order to bring people closer to God’s kingdom.

In contrast, as Jesus went about different cities and villages, He made a conscious effort to enter into and participate in people’s lives. He regularly dined in people’s homes and attended wedding feasts; He met people from all walks of society. When He was criticized for eating in the company of tax collectors and sinners, Jesus pointed out, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mk 2:17). Clearly, Jesus deliberately associated with the spiritually needy in order to save them.

The lives of Jesus and John highlight two key aspects for our life of servitude. First, we should aspire to a simple life where we can find quiet moments to draw close to God. This will then help us cultivate the determination to serve Him. Those preoccupied with multiplying their financial worth or climbing the corporate and social ladders will have little energy or will left to serve God. But those who are contented with their simple lives will find it easier to focus on the matters of God.

Second, we need to work by God’s power (cf. Zech 4:6). As humans, we are often tempted to fall back on our own abilities, experience, or human contacts. But these are limited and often unsustainable over a long period. If our ministry is to grow sweeter the longer we serve Him, then we must be connected to an eternal and unchanging source of power. When our hearts are focused on God, we can draw divine power from Him. But when our hearts are in the world, we lose this connection to Him and His power. Jesus regularly retreated to the wilderness for prayer and communion with His Father. This was how He gained divine power and determination in order to walk tirelessly through the cities and villages, preaching the message of the kingdom.


Following Jesus’ evangelistic footsteps does not necessarily mean we have to give up our careers and devote our lives to full-time ministry. What His example does teach us is that we must spread the gospel wherever we go. If we relocate for reasons of work or study, we must always remember our higher purpose, which is to bring the Lord’s chosen flock into His fold. When each of us preaches in our respective localities, it will be as if Jesus Himself is walking through the cities and villages.

Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). We should not passively wait for people to seek the truth; instead, we must be proactive in bringing people to God’s church, guiding them to learn the truth, and interceding for them. We must feel the same urgent sense of mission that Jesus felt when He preached in all the cities and villages. By preaching the gospel of God’s kingdom, we bring peace, hope, and salvation to a spiritually impoverished world.


Through every account of His evangelistic sessions, Jesus preached with power and authority. The church, which is the body of Christ and the dwelling place of God, should have the same authority. Authority from God is manifested in three ways:

Words that Cut to the Heart

Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Mk 1:21–22)

What does “having authority” mean? It means that the Lord’s words were like a sword that cut to His listeners’ hearts, moving them to confess their sins, deny themselves, and follow Christ. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, he spoke with such authority. Three thousand people were cut to the heart by his sermon and were compelled to believe in Jesus (Acts 2:37–41).

The church today must also be able to manifest God’s authority in her evangelistic activities. As members, we must constantly pray for her. God works with a prayerful church and He gives authority to her workers. Visitors who hear the word preached with power will be moved to believe.

Casting Out of Unclean Spirits

And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him." (Mk 1:26–27)

God has given the church the authority to cast out demons (Mt 10:8; Mk 16:17). In this context, the gospel of the kingdom can be both heard and experienced (Mt 12:28). There are many testimonies in the True Jesus Church about how demons have been cast out by the power of the Holy Spirit. In one church, there was a man who had been attending services and studying the church’s doctrines for a long time. Although he was familiar with the Bible’s teachings, he found it hard to completely believe because he felt he could not yet see God. But on one occasion, he witnessed the church members casting out an unclean spirit; he saw for himself the demeanor of the demon-possessed person and the effects of the members’ fasting prayers. This left him in no doubt about God’s power and the authority given to the church. He and the one who had been demon-possessed went on to accept water baptism.

Healing of the Sick

So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them. (Mk 1:31)

Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law with a simple touch. This was evidence of God’s empowerment (Acts 10:38):

[…]God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Jesus was from Nazareth, an unremarkable place (Jn 1:46). Yet He was anointed with power to heal the sick and the demon-possessed. Today, His church, with the same lowly status, has likewise been granted power to perform the ministry of healing and to glorify God’s name.


Signs and miracles are critical complements to the gospel. Spiritual authority is more than a powerful sermon: if a listener does not experience God, it will still be difficult for him to believe.

Jesus said: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit before they went forth to preach the gospel. They obeyed, staying in Jerusalem until the downpour of the Holy Spirit gave them God’s authority. Subsequently, they went on to fulfil their commission with joy and courage.

Therefore, planning evangelistic work must never be approached in the same way as secular events. In the latter, we apply our knowledge and past experience, and then hope that things will go smoothly. For evangelistic events, we must first, constantly and earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We seek to proceed not by our own will but with the power and authority of God. Only with the Lord’s abidance can the gospel be preached effectively; only then can the word of God enter and work in the hearts of the listeners.


But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Mt 9:36)

And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. (Mk 6:34)

What motivates us to preach? Is it external, say, from ministers encouraging us? Or is it from within, stemming from the abidance of God’s Spirit, compelling us to share the good news with others?

External stimulation may prod us to be involved. But the burning fullness of God’s Spirit will drive us to be committed. This is because the Spirit of Jesus enables us to see others in the same way that Jesus did. We shall be acutely conscious that people in the world are weary and scattered like sheep without a shepherd—vulnerable to attack, devoid of care, and lacking in sustenance for their very souls. And, like our Good Shepherd, we will be filled with compassion which, in turn, spurs us to urgently share the Good News with them. Filled with God’s Spirit and love, we will look beyond a person’s worldly credentials and circumstances; we will be motivated solely by the love of Christ to see a person’s spiritual need.

Once, Jesus and His disciples sailed to a deserted place to rest, after a busy day when they did not even have time to eat. But when the multitudes saw where He was going, they rushed ahead, arriving at the destination before He did. Moved by their actions, Jesus went ashore to continue teaching until late into the evening. Afterwards, He even fed the multitudes with bread before sending them away.

During the course of our lives, there may be times when we feel we have good reasons for not participating in the work of evangelism. Perhaps we have been facing personal issues that demand all our time, energy, and focus. In such situations, we should learn from Jesus and look into the hearts of those who have yet to believe. Seeing how much they need God will rekindle our compassion and stir us to overcome our physical or mental challenges and resume God’s work.


Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” (Mt 9:37)

Evangelism is more than simply bringing people through the doors of the church; we also need to undertake follow-up work. As there is so much to do and limited time to do it, Jesus urges us to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38). So besides prayer for evangelistic work, we must also incessantly ask God to stir up the hearts of members. When God moves people to do His work, they will do it willingly and joyfully. More importantly, they themselves will benefit from their commitment to the commission. In the process of saving others, seeing God’s love and mercy in action will also build up their own faith along the way.


In conclusion, our Lord Jesus Christ has much to teach us in terms of personal evangelism. We must follow closely in His selfless and untiring footsteps leading forth into the cities and villages. We must pray before and throughout our ministry, asking Him to guide us with His Spirit and enabling us to preach the gospel with authority and power. We must not be hirelings but be motivated by a heart of compassion. Importantly, set aside quiet times to draw close to God on a regular basis so that we can find strength and nurture our determination. By God’s grace, the evangelistic work of the church will prosper, and the longer we serve Him, the sweeter He grows.

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Author: Derren Liang