The Unfolding Story
The Bible is an unfolding story. The Lord reveals His truth over time. Genesis is not the only book of Scripture we have. There are 65 other books. There are twists and turns in the story of Scripture that we need to notice. One twist concerns evangelism. Here’s the question I want to tackle: When did the task of evangelism begin for the people of God?
The OT does not contain the command to evangelize the lost. In the OT, the model of bringing people to God was an attraction model. The salvation of God was localized to Israel. Jews were to act as a light to the nations to attract them to YHWH, to Israel, to the temple. One exception might be Jonah. However, I don’t see Jonah as normal for the people of God in the OT. I see Jonah as a unique, non-repeatable mission that God gave exclusively to Jonah. Jonah’s mission was not the mission of Israel.
In the NT, we see God give a new mission to His people: evangelism. Jesus foretells of this task of evangelism in the Gospels. However, it isn’t until after the ascension that the task begins. Jesus ascends, the Spirit falls, and the church bears witness to the resurrected and ascended Christ. These events happen in the NT, not in the OT. Evangelism has a start date, and that start date took place in the book of Acts.
As you read Scripture, look for these “hinge” events. These events show us that God has a plan. God reveals His plan over time, not all at once. As the story develops, it gets better. The new covenant is superior to the old, Jesus is greater than Moses, and the new heavens is superior to the Garden of Eden. Just imagine what eternity will be like—an eternal progression of us learning who God is!