THE TWELFTH DAY OF APRIL IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN
Today we are accustomed to hearing the gospel presented as if it were addressed to one person at a time, assuring him or her of Gods provision for sin through Jesus death and resurrection, and urging that person to make a decision for Christ, to profess faith in him, to be baptized and begin to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The payoff or reward for this will be to escape the punishment that awaits the unredeemed, and to enjoy eternal life with God and with his people forever.
It is not that those details are incorrect or untrue, for taken one by one they all are found somewhere in the New Testament. However, when we read what Jesus said about himself and his mission, and when we read summaries of first-century gospel proclamation as reported in the Book of Acts, what we see is quite different in terms of the big picture, the emphases, and the particular details.
To be specific, if we compare evangelism as done by the disciples and their associates, with evangelism as commonly done today, we discover that apostolic evangelism differs from much of todays variety in at least four ways:
It sounds more like telling a story and less like giving instructions;
It emphasizes what Jesus did and suffered, instead of what we do;
It shows God acting in Christ to redeem the world, instead of working many individual acts of individual salvation;
It speaks in a context of End-times and of the transition from the Present age to the Age to come.