As any missions-minded Christian would understand, evangelism begins not with the Great Commission in Matthew 28, but is deeply rooted in the Old Testament.
When God called Abraham, God’s promise of spiritual blessing was universal. Why? Because God wanted “all peoples on earth” to be blessed through Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God dried up the waters so they could walk over on dry land. Why? “So that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful” (Joshua 4:23-24).
When young David announced to Goliath that he would be slain, he also declared that an Israelite victory over the Philistines would take place. Why? So that “the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).
When Solomon dedicated the Temple, he prayed that when foreigners from distant lands who do not belong to God’s people Israel would hear of God’s great name and his mighty hand and his outstretched arm – that they too would pray to the true God and come to know God. Why? So “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other” (1 Kings 8:41-43, 59-60).
Israel was called to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6). Jonah was called to be a witness to one nation, the godless Nineveh. The whole Bible is a missionary book, because our God is a missionary God.
John Dickson in his new book, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, pushes evangelism back even further to the most basic doctrine of Genesis 1:1 – there is one God. “If there is one Lord to whom all people belong and owe their allegiance, the people of that Lord must promote this reality everywhere” (page 31, 35, 115).
Our mission is evangelism. And John tells us how to get it done with, and especially without, the gift of evangelism.