Q & A - Election and Evangelism with Pastor John Samson
SINCE THE BIBLE TEACHES DIVINE ELECTION, WHY SHOULD WE EVANGELIZE?
The first obvious answer to this is because God tells us to. The same Bible that teaches Divine Sovereign Election in Romans chapters 8 and 9, also gives us Romans 10, saying "how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10 is in no way a contradiction to Romans 8 and 9. The simple answer to this question is that God has ordained both the ends and the means. The ends are His elect coming to Himself in saving faith. The means is the proclamation of the Gospel.
The Lord spoke to the Apostle Paul, in the middle of an intense situation, telling him to stay in a certain city. Why was this? Well let's read the text in Acts 18:9-11: And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city." And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. In other words, the Lord said to Paul, "Stay here, for I have many people in this city... I have many of My sheep here that will hear My voice and follow Me as you preach in My Name."
Notice also the experience of the early Apostles in Acts 13: 43-48 - And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "' I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
God ordains both the ends and the means. The ends are His chosen sheep who will hear Christ's voice. The means are prayer, and the preaching of the Gospel to all. And all who are ordained to eternal life will believe.
A. A. Hodge once asked, "If God has eternally decreed that you should live, what is the use of your breathing? If God has eternally decreed that you should talk, what is the use of your opening your mouth? If God has eternally decreed that you should reap a crop, what is the use of your sowing the seed? [God] demands that we should use the means, or go without the ends which depend upon them.â€ The fact is, we don't know who the elect are. They are not walking around the countryside with the letter "E" for â€˜electâ€™ stamped upon their foreheads. We are therefore to go into all of the world, preaching the Gospel to everyone, knowing ahead of time, that only His elect will respond with genuine saving faith.
As Dr. Michael Horton noted, without Divine election, evangelism would be much like a salesman trying to sell his products in a graveyard. Mankind is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), and only through the gracious act of God in electing, predestinating, and regenerating a specific people, will anyone ever turn to Christ. "If the final decision for the salvation of fallen sinners were left in the hands of fallen sinners, we would despair all hope that anyone would be saved." (R.C. Sproul)
Even a casual look at Church history shows that rather than belief in election causing evangelism to wane, the exact opposite is true. A case could be made that in the history of the Church, the men most used by God in the cause of missions and evangelism were passionate believers in God's Sovereign Grace in election. Again, God ordains both the ends and the means. Prayer and evangelism are vital components of the means.
"I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will. Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven." - C. H. Spurgeon