Wednesday, May 25, 2005did calvinism kill the evangelism star?
I get it all the time. People who, after reading/hearing that I am involved in street evangelism, and that every week, say: "but you're a Calvinist! why do you bother?" You see the rationale is this: Calvinists believe that God foreordained the salvation and the condemnation of all men before the world began, so why should a Christian be responsible to evangelize the world? When everything is already decided, and nothing can go awry, why bother? Why not just let God take care of it all?
This objection, this whole line of questioning has it's roots in PRIDE. Yep, the sin of pride. We love the concept of being "masters of our own destiny". We like to think we're very, very important in the world. We see our actions as being pretty critical and absolutely necessary. You see, an unsanctified Christian reads the Great Commission in the Gospels, and immediately thinks: "I have to share the Gospel with people, or else they won't be saved!" Note the attitude here: if I don't do "this", then God can't or won't do "that". P-R-I-D-E.
So, why does a Calvinist evangelize?
1. Because God commands us to do it.
Simple enough isn't it? I never could understand why, for so many Christians, obedience to the Word of God only happens if what the Bible teaches makes sense to them. God said:
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)
That's good enough for me. I don't need any promises of results, or any explanations as to why I should bother obeying that commandment. The fact it is there, and in all three other Gospels is all I need to get evangelizing.
2. God has purposed to save His people through the preaching of His Word.
"Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." (Acts 20:26-27)
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
"For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1 Corinthians 1:21)
God saves His elect through human evangelism. He didn't opt to use angels or any other part of His creation to bring His people to salvation. He chose "the foolishness of preaching". It is God's command to us, it is our responsibility. Paul could say that he was pure of the blood of all men because he had faithfully presented the Gospel to everyone around him; he had done all he could do. The rest was up to God. Paul's words and actions didn't effect salvation in any man; it was God using Paul that effected salvation in His elect that heard Paul's words. You want proof? Here it is:
"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:48)
Note that not everyone believed, though all had heard the exact same message by Paul and Barnabbas. Rather, all whom the Lord had predestined to eternal life, believed.
3. There are blessings/rewards for those who obey the Great Commission, woes to those who don't.
"So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." (1 Corinthians 3:7-8)
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel." (1 Corinthians 9:16-18)
Obedience to the Great Commssion will have ABSOLUTELY NO impact on the number of souls that enter Heaven. As seen in previous posts, God has determined the exact number of those He would justify before there even was a world (John 6:39, Ephesians 1:4). Obedience in fulfilling the Great Commission will be used of God to save His elect, and will bring blessings to the faithful soul who did the work of evangelism in obedience. If you will not be that faithful soul, God will use another believer to get the work of salvation done in whom He wills.
Calvinists are not fatalists. We do NOT take the position that God will take care of saving His people minus the involvement of men, and all we have to do is stand by for the day the Lord calls us home. This type of fatalism is sometimes attributed to so-called "hyper-Calvinist" cults, though, to be honest, I never met such a soul. I have however had the displeasure of meeting Calvinists who were quite cold to evangelism and took comfort in the fact that God will nonetheless save His elect. This is sin. But things aren't any prettier on the arminian side, for I have met scores and scores of arminians who are also cold to evangelism, and that, even though they actually believe that the amount (and method) of evangelism will actually save more/or less souls.
In conclusion, the doctrine of Evangelism and the Doctrines of Grace are not in conflict. Both are clearly taught in Scripture, and must be accepted and obeyed by all who call themselves Bible-believeing Christians. When I prepare for my Friday Night of Street Preaching, I pray that the Lord would bring His elect out to hear the Gospel. I preach to all because God did not tattoo His elect for me to know which ones are His. While I preach to all, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that the only place the seed of the Gospel will grow, is in the good ground found in the hearts of those God has regenerated (or quickened - Ephesians 2:1).
My dear readers, I pray that by God's grace, the Holy Spirit would teach you to be faithful to these two very important doctrines: God's Sovereign Election, and His Great Commission.