Evangelism: Making God's Name Great

Evangelism: Making God’s Name Great

God is on a mission to make His own name great. This isn’t because God is narcissistic; it is because God is good. God is too good to let Himself be forgotten by myriads of self-serving narcissistic sinners.

 God Glorified in the Old Testament

The story starts out with Adam. As early as the first chapter of the Bible, mankind was given a mandate (today, we call it the Creation Mandate, in Genesis 1:28). Adam was directed to reproduce, filling the earth with other humans who would likewise bear the image of God throughout the world. As he did so, Adam and his descendants would bear loving dominion over creation as the loyal stewards of God. Yes, as early as the Creation Mandate, God intended to fill the earth with those who carried His image.

Man sinned, and God started again with Noah. Once again, Noah was directed to fill the earth with God’s image-bearers, but humans had another plan. They decided to build a tower, concentrating their population in one place. When God confused their languages, it is as if He said, ‘Don’t focus on what you can do. Don’t try to get a name for yourselves. Be fruitful, venture into the world, and fill the earth with My glory, not your own!’

Indeed, humanity began to venture into the distant corners of the world, but as they did so, they forgot their Maker. God determined to intervene. He chose Abraham and made a covenant with him, determining to use Abraham as a fountain of blessing. God’s blessings were never meant to stop with Abraham and his descendants. They were only supposed to begin with him. Abraham’s nation was to be a beachhead in God’s reclamation of the world, not a barrier.

Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites, went through numerous trials and tribulations, but God used those difficulties to exalt His name. He tells us that he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, who refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt. He did this so that he would get glory over Pharaoh and his armies, and so that the Egyptians would know that He is the LORD (Exodus 14:4). Once again, God at work glorifying His own name.

Moses was given a secret glimpse of God’s ultimate purpose in rescuing the Israelites and bringing them into Palestine. God testified to Moses that “…all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Numbers 14:21).

The world-wide nature of God’s glory was not lost on the great prophets and holy men of ancient Israel. David[1] recognized it, encouraging all the earth to sing to Lord, and urging God’s people to “declare His glory among the nations” (Psalm 96).

The prophet Daniel, likewise, promised a glorious jewel for all who engage in this sacred task of evangelism, even in our own day. He prophesied that “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

Centuries after God spoke to Moses, God revealed that He was still about His sacred work: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Yes, even in the Old Testament, God was interested in making His own name great throughout the world.

God Glorified in the New Testament

Jesus continued this sacred mission. He traveled into Galilee of the Gentiles, a region notorious for its spiritual darkness and the many ethnicities that resided there. In doing so, He brought them the knowledge of God, fulfilling the promise that “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).

Then, shortly before Jesus returned to His heavenly home, Jesus gave to His disciples the task of making God known. He told them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul understood that he was tasked with spreading God’s light to others. God’s commission to the church was an evangelistic commission, one that says to us, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:47).

Conclusion

Yes, God is on a mission to glorify His name. Evangelism is not a new idea, something that the apostles invented. From the beginning of the Bible, God has been working to spread the knowledge of His name throughout the earth, and we are responsible to ‘declare His glory among the nations,’ starting in the nation that we live in.

[1] See 1 Chronicles 16, where we are told that David was the author of this Psalm.

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