By now, we have written several articles supporting Reformed theology, and why you should believe it. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who calls themselves a Calvinist has solid theological grounding.
In fact, some people’s Calvinism is worthless. And since they have misunderstood and poorly handled Scripture, they may even have misled ideas surrounding evangelism and our role in God’s work.
One of the most common objections raised against Calvinism is that it puts a damper on the need for evangelism. If God is going to save the elect, and this is no less certain now than it was before the foundation of the world, why do we need to evangelize?
This complaint is often heard from those just encountering Calvinism for the first time, but I have also heard this from pastors as well.
History proves otherwise – some of the world’s greatest evangelists of all time, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and Charles Spurgeon were Calvinistic in their theology. But that doesn’t prevent people from raising it.
My answer to this question is this: If you think that your evangelistic efforts are the cause of someone’s salvation – then I agree – there is no point! Scripture’s consistent witness is that it is God who changes hearts and lives, not man. No matter how brilliant, articulate, and loving we are (although we should seek to have these traits) we have exactly zero power inherently. However, God has promised that through the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 1:16), He will save people and change hearts.
God doesn’t need you or me to accomplish his purposes, but he uses us nonetheless. It is one of the great privileges of being a Christian; an example of the works “…which God prepared beforehand” for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). It always surprises me when Christians believe God created the world from nothing, upholds it with the word of his power, yet he cannot ordain the means by which people are redeemed (by the foolishness of the Gospel preached) as well as the ends (salvation as a result of being predestined).
When I was first considering/embracing the doctrines of grace, I was considering its impact on my personal evangelism. At the time, I didn’t think it really changed anything. I still wanted to preach the Gospel to everybody I could, with grace and truth. So whether someone is Calvinistic or otherwise, why does it really matter?
As a few years have gone by however, I have come to the realization that it changes everything.
When we witness, we absolutely have the goal of seeing people saved. But even deeper than that is the desire to bring glory to God. He is glorified by his people stepping out in faith, even if no one responds to the message positively. We see this all throughout the New Testament, although we also see in Scripture a faithful Gospel message usually results in converts, amongst other responses. But even Jesus, the Son of God, who was the best preacher who ever lived, did not save everyone who heard him. Did he not have the power to do so?
Our understanding of salvation gives us the confidence of knowing that no mere human will can thwart or frustrate the will of God. That is a strong statement, and an objectionable one to many people. Our offerings to God through biblical evangelism will always have 100% effectiveness.
Some people’s Calvinism is worthless. It hasn’t brought them joy and thankfulness, and hasn’t lit a fire in their souls to go out and expend themselves for the sake of God. To these people, I would say this: just drop it.
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