We proclaim, God saves
We’ve all been there. Bending over backwards in our attempts to push our friend who has expressed an interest in Christianity to give their life to Christ. We sniff out opportunities to sprinkle the gospel invitation into conversation wherever possible. We bring them to church whenever we can. Weeks become months and months may even become years. At times it feels as though there’s nothing more we can do. However, no matter how helpless we may feel, there is great hope in this simple truth: God is sovereign in salvation.
Our role cannot be understated. God has entrusted us as His mouthpieces who will declare the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-19). We proclaim the message of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, loving our friends and patiently journeying with them. Their salvation ultimately comes down to God being the great initiator in our conversion and in our new birth. It is He who draws the person to belief in accordance to His sovereign will. We proclaim, God saves.
Introducing The Doctrine of Predestination
Predestination is one of the most controversial doctrines in Christianity; central to it are election and reprobation. Click here https://linktr.ee/oggm and listen to episode 6 of The Pulse entitled ‘Does God Predestine people to go to hell?’ For the purposes of this article, the focus will be placed on election.
Election is an act of God, before creation, in which He chooses those who will be saved. This act is entirely based on His will and good pleasure rather than any merit of their own, as shown in Ephisians 1:3-6, 1:11-12. This means that God has decided before the foundations of the world those He will save unto Himself and those He will pass over.
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul speaks of how God chose Jacob and not Esau (Malachi 1:2-3) so that His purpose of election may be made evident and continue.
11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Some among the nation of Israel were saved and others were not; the elect and non-elect. (Romans 11:7-8). In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were preaching to the Gentiles in Pisidia, Antioch. Luke writes that upon hearing the gospel, ‘as many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48).
Do We Even Have A Choice?
Does predestination enable your friend to free choice? Most definitely. All people are invited to respond to follow Jesus, making willing choices as to whether they accept or reject the gospel (Matthew 11:28, John 7:37-38 and Revelation 22:17). God sovereignly works through our voluntary choices, He guarantees that our choices come about as He has ordained. Therefore, this does not contradict John 3:16.
But Doesn’t God Desire for All to be Saved?
11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
1 Timothy 2:4 also teaches this. However, we have to interpret these scriptures not in isolation but in light of what the entirety of scripture says on the matter. When considering these passages alongside all of the above, we can conclude that these two assertions are true of God. He desires for all to be saved but, has also chosen from the foundations of the world those He would save from his wrath. God is not schizophrenic, He is most concerned with displaying His glory as greatly as possible and this is His entitlement as the creator of the universe.
Election is one of the ways he chooses to do so. We may not fully understand it, but that’s what happens when our fallible minds attempt to fully comprehend an infallible God.
According to John Piper, there are two wills at work in God because:
‘This allows the manifestation of the full range of God’s glory in wrath and mercy (Rom. 9:22–23) and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all credit to God for his salvation (1 Cor. 1:29).’
How Does This Inform Our Evangelism?
Predestination does not make evangelism pointless, contrastingly, it emphasises the importance of witnessing. Your friend cannot be saved unless they hear the gospel, stressing the importance of the role that God has given us as bearers of the good news.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[g]
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[h] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Paul practiced what he preached. Election assured him that his evangelistic labours would not be in vain. He knew that wherever God sent him, there were many who would be saved. Paul saw this as a source of encouragement to evangelism.
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore, when the Lord told Paul ‘I have many people in this city [Corinth]’ (Acts 18:9-10). This did not lead Paul to inaction. He responded by remaining in Corinth for a year and six months, tirelessly preaching the Gospel for their sake. With exception to Ephesus, this was the longest time he had remained in any city. We should follow his example and enable predestination to steer us toward greater efforts.
What a great encouragement we have in knowing that we are guaranteed some success in witnessing. The friend you’re journeying with may be among the elect. There is a good chance that they will eventually come to saving faith. Let this increase your efforts, devotion, and commitment to sharing Christ with them.