Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why Calvinists Evangelize

Several times I've run into the objection: "If you believe that God has already chosen those who will be saved, why bother evangelizing? Won't God just do it without us?" Here is my quick answer:

1. We evangelize because God tells us to.

The Great Commission is the reason the church has been left in the world. It is a command. It is not optional. So, first and foremost, evangelism is an act of obedience. It is more than that, for sure, but even if it wasn’t, the fact that God has commanded evangelism should be enough for anyone to obey – no matter how they understand the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human freedom. I’ve got no time for hyper-Calvinists for that reason.

2. Evangelism’s foundation is the total, absolute sovereignty of God.

Look at Matthew 28. The first words of the Great Commission are not, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” They are, “All authority (Greek exousia, “power” or “authority”) in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Christ has the authority and power over us, to send us – that’s why we obey. He has all authority and power over the whole world – that’s why we’re authorized to go to them. And He has all authority over all people, all their hearts, including their wills – that’s why we go to them expecting any response to the Gospel at all. I see no limit on Christ’s authority or power in any sphere at all, and that is the foundation of evangelism.

3. Evangelism’s motivation is the glory of God.

We do all things to the glory of God. Preaching and proclaiming the Gospel is an end in itself, before we even consider the response to it. The very act of sharing the Gospel brings God glory, whether the person responds positively or not. The “success” of evangelism, therefore, should not be measured by numbers, but by faithfulness – faithfulness to the message, and faithfulness in diligently and persistently proclaiming the message. Hyper-Calvinists think you can somehow determine who is the elect before sharing the Gospel, and this is wrong – wrong because the evidence of election is faith in response to the Gospel, and wrong because it robs God of the glory he would receive in having His message proclaimed to every creature without discrimination. A rejected Gospel presentation is not a failure – it was an act of worship on our part, and a divine judgment on the sin of the unbeliever to the glory of God.

4. Evangelism is done for the sake of God’s elect.

However you define the “elect,” the Bible makes clear that Paul did all things for their sake (2 Tim 2:10, Tit 1:1). And when Paul was discouraged, facing stubborn Jewish opposition in his outreach efforts in Corinth, God reassured him by telling him, “Fear not – I have many people in this city” (Acts 18). Evangelism proceeds on the assurance that God’s elect, whoever they are, are out there and that they WILL respond (John 6:37-39). Election is a great encouragement to evangelize, because it is an assurance of success!

5. Human evangelism is God’s means to carry out His ends in election.

Much of the confusion over election and predestination is founded on a bad assumption. Why evangelize if the outcome is already decided? Why pray if the outcome is already decided? Because God has given us the privilege of participating in the outfolding of His plan. Or, to put it another way, God has ordained everything that comes to pass – not only the ends or results, but also the means by which they happen. God could have just “saved” His people without proclamation, by way of visions or dreams – but He didn’t. He has revealed in Scripture that the exclusive means by which people are brought to faith is through human evangelism (Romans 10:13-17). Our actions matter precisely BECAUSE God has ordained them as part of His plan, not in SPITE of election!


Post a Comment

<< Home