Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
I was having a conversation the other day with a close friend regarding the relationship between the sovereignty of God and evangelism, and the question was posed: If God sovereignly foreordains from eternity past who will be saved—and thereby passively foreordains who will not be saved—then why evangelize? Does sharing the gospel even matter? The question stems more from a misunderstanding of the purpose of evangelism than from a perceived conflict with the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.
Arthur W. Pink once rightly stated: “The gospel is not an invitation, but a proclamation. And it is not a proclamation concerning sinners, but a proclamation concerning Christ and that glorious thing which he accomplished at the cross.” In numerous places the Bible makes clear that humans were created to glorify God. In Isaiah God says, “I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made"
(46:6-7 ESV, emphasis mine). And in 1 Cor 10:31 we read: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (emphasis mine). God did not create humans because he was lonely or because he needed someone to love him or needed someone to love. God created humans because he desired to be glorified and worshipped.
Of all the many ways we can glorify God, there is no greater way than to proclaim to the world that glorious thing which Christ accomplished at the cross, to proclaim to the world God’s amazing grace and mercy, to proclaim to the world the story of how a just and holy God was willing to step out of the glories of heaven in the person of his son, Jesus Christ, and become a man, to keep the law of God perfectly on behalf of sinners, and to satisfy the Law’s demands on behalf of sinners by being nailed to a Roman cross for those willing to believe. If you really want to glorify God in your life—then share the gospel with anyone and everyone willing to listen.
A second purpose for evangelism is that no one will be saved apart from the hearing of the gospel. In the letter to the Romans the apostle Paul says this: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16, emphasis mine). The power to regenerate sinners is not found in our intelligence, our articulateness, our depth of apologetics nor in maintaining long-term relationships. The power to regenerate sinners is found in the gospel message itself. And the gospel message is simply this: All humans are sinners who have violated God’s law (Rom 3:23). Consequently, we are all deserving of eternal damnation (Rom 6:23). However, God offers us the free gift of eternal life through his son, Jesus Christ (Rom 6:23). This is possible because God demonstrated his love for sinners by sending his son to die for us, so we don’t have to (Rom 5:8). This free gift of eternal life comes to those who submit to the Lordship of Christ and believe he died on the cross for their sins (Rom 10:9, 10). Sinners are regenerated when the Holy Spirit works with the gospel message and raises spiritually dead people to life (Eph 2:4-7). Nevertheless, the gospel message—however simple--must be presented. The apostle Paul makes this emphatically clear when he states that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17, cf. vv.13-16). There can be no salvation apart from the intellectual receiving of the gospel message. We can befriend people for years, serve them tirelessly, love them unconditionally, minister to them sacrificially, but unless they are presented with the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will never be saved.
The gospel message is the greatest means by which we glorify God and is the power of God unto salvation.
11/24/2016 12:09:42 am
Is it not the Holy Spirit who regenerates? How does the Word of God do this?
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