“Why must the church be evangelistic?”
1. Your first response to the question may prove the need for it.
2. One aspect of the armor of God offers part of the answer: the shoes.
1. Where a little more detail is necessary
a. Armor would be incomplete without something “as shoes for your feet.”
i. “Shoes” we understand.
ii. “Having put on” shoes we understand.
iii. We even understand the need for having the right shoes on.
b. The question is, what are they?
i. At first glance, we think the shoes represent the gospel.
ii. Upon closer investigation, though, it seems it’s not the gospel but “the readiness” given by the gospel that the apostle has in mind.
iii. What does he mean? And what does this have to do with both being able to stand and the spirit of evangelism?
2. Investigating “the readiness”
a. You can see how “readiness” could be a good parallel to “shoes.”
i. A soldier’s shoes are what enabled him to move freely, quickly, and effectively.
ii. They were bound around his feet and ankles with leather strips, and they had something like cleats through the soles. Josephus described a Roman soldier in Jerusalem who “had shoes all full of thick sharp nails, as had every one of the other soldiers.” (Wars 6.1.8.)
iii. Shoes like that were not just for appearance. One shod like this had two great advantages.
(1) Protection that makes him ready to travel over rough ground.
(2) A firm footing that makes him able to stand firm in conflict.
b. In which of these two senses are we to take “the readiness” here?
i. Does it mean “preparedness” in going forward with the gospel? Or does it mean having “a prepared foundation” for a firm foothold?
ii. The translations illustrate the question.
(1) NIV has, “And with you feet fitted with the gospel of peace as a firm footing.”
(2) NRSV puts it, “As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”
iii. Both thoughts, of course, may be included, but think about this: Can anyone maintain a firm footing in the gospel without having a readiness to pass the gospel along to others?
3. To the point of our question
a. The spirit of evangelism is what keeps the church out of a rut.
i. Shoes made of the readiness given by the gospel of peace are designed for action.
ii. People who are wearing them do not occupy static ground. They are not in a rut. Being shod this way means advancing with the gospel.
iii. As it has been said, “The best defense is a good offense.”
b. Interest in passing the gospel along is an essential part of our protection.
i. In sharing the gospel we enjoy double protection by operating offensively and defensively. Interest in “proclamation” is what gives “preparation” a real substance.
ii. A Christian engaged in this effort has less time and energy for entertaining temptations, and less interest in satisfying them.
iii. Leave off evangelism, and what do you get? It becomes more likely that we will be preoccupied with ourselves, more critical of each other, and more out of tune with the heart of God.
c. Sharing the gospel of peace is part of “our wrestling.”
i. This isn’t a task reserved for religious experts, nor is it something to take place only a some times.
ii. The whole church must carry the whole gospel to the whole world by having the task on our hearts the whole time.
iii. “A church or a Christian without an evangelistic outreach is shoeless.” (B. Hendren, 171)
1. The kind of readiness we are talking about is “given by the gospel of peace.”
a. Isaiah 52:7
b. Romans 10:15
c. Ephesians 3:8
2. The real root of our question is this one: What do we think of the gospel ourselves?