Big Questions – Day 4

Question #4:
What message of Good News are we supposed to bring to people in light of God’s Sovereignty? Do we tell people that aren’t Christians yet that it is in fact God’s choice whether they will be saved or not? What would this message sound like?

I think a lot of people in the Reformed camp are confused about this, and don’t really know how their theology should practically work itself out in their lives. The best thing I can say to you on this question is that you shouldn’t let your theology get in the way of clear commands from Scripture. While it is very true that God is the one who brings souls to himself, he is also clear in commanding us to go and share the gospel with nonbelievers. Even though we don’t know who will respond in faith and be saved, God does – which lets us share the gospel confidently, knowing that God will ultimately act for his glory, whether the person we’re talking with comes to faith or not. It is simply not in our hands. It is not our job to predestine, but it is our job to obey our Lord Jesus and follow the commands he has set for us (Matthew 28:18-20).

So in a sense, the message would sound no different. We are to call people to repentance and a saving faith in Christ, and then the process of discipleship should kick into high gear. When we proclaim the gospel, only those whom the Holy Spirit has already started working in will respond – those who are still dead in their trespasses and cold toward the gospel will merely shrug it off and go on about their business.

I think another misconception about Reformed theology and gospel presentations (especially trips to other nations) has to do with us ‘bringing the gospel’ to that place. We don’t ‘bring the gospel’ with us… God is already at work in that place, beginning to stir in people’s hearts to bring them to repentance and saving faith. The gospel working and bearing fruit doesn’t depend on our presence, and it doesn’t depend on our ingenuity or our well-articulated phrasing of biblical truth. Rather, it rests in the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, and we as the ones who are there sharing the gospel are just spectators and get the incredible opportunity to see God’s hand at work saving people. Going on ‘mission trips’ is more about obeying God’s call and getting to see God at work rather than ‘taking the gospel’ somewhere because ‘if we don’t, they won’t hear the gospel and none of them will be saved’.

A while back I heard someone that I greatly respect say that we should ‘believe like a Calvinist, and act like an Arminianist.’ By that he meant that we should trust God to bring souls to himself, but we should also co-labor with God to bring them to faith in Christ. We as humans with a limited perspective do not know who will be saved – we can only know who true Christians are by their fruit and works (James 2:14-26; Galatians 5:16-26; Matthew 7:15-20, 13:1-9, 18-23). That should take the pressure off of us when we share the gospel and realize that there’s nothing that we can do to screw up God’s plan to bring someone to salvation, and on the flip side of that coin there’s also no amount of creativity or attractive speech that will bring someone to genuine repentant saving faith if they are lost and the Holy Spirit is not working in them.

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