What the Bible says about evangelism and the spoken word

1 Chronicles 16:23, 24 shows that even before Jesus came, those who knew the Lord were to proclaim Him to others with joy: Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.”

Isaiah 61:1 is a messianic prophecy in which we see that preaching and proclaiming are important aspects of ministry to those who are suffering: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”

In Luke 4:18 Jesus repeats the above prophecy almost verbatim, proclaiming Himself the fulfillment, and validating once again the importance of the spoken word: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

In Mark 1:38 Jesus reiterates that proclamation is crucial to His purpose and practice: “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” (cf. Luke 4:43)

In Matthew 10:27 Jesus instructs His followers: “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. (cf. Mark 3:14, Luke 9:2, Luke 9:60) And in Mark 16:15, Jesus commanded His followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

In Acts 14:15 Paul is careful to identify with his audience when preaching, yet he is still very direct in his proclamation: “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them…”

Acts 17:23 also shows that being relevant and being direct can go hand-in-hand: “…for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you.”

Romans 10:14,15 makes it clear that without proclamation, no one can be expected to receive the gospel: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’”

1 Corinthians 1:23 explains that rejection is to be expected when preaching the gospel: “…but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness…”

2 Timothy 4:2-4 warns that we have to be ready to preach the truth whether or not it is convenient for as long as we can, because eventually people will only hear what they want to hear: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 makes it clear that we are the messengers, not the message, and that our imperfections should not keep us from proclaiming the gospel. In fact, our imperfections serve to show that salvation is from God and not from us: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”