Old Doxoblogy

Monday, May 22, 2006

Calvangelism 2: Election Day

In the previous Calvangelism post I tried to show that even some of those who are normally reckoned to be hyper-calvinists are not so. Even they are not opposed to sharing the Gospel of Christ. I also tried to show that the Calvinist understanding of Scripture's role in regeneration precludes any anti-evangelistic sentiments. Now I want to show how that the doctrine of Unconditional Election does not thwart mission activity, but rather gives evangelism it's backbone, so to speak.

Usually the allegation is made that Calvinists shouldn't evangelize if they really believe that God has from all eternity decreed that the elect will be saved. But what those who make the allegation do not understand is that God has not only decreed that the elect will most surely be saved, He has also decreed the conditions and means of their salvation. What this means is simply this, the doctrine of election guarantees that Calvinists will be missionaries!

First, God has decreed the conditions of salvation by which the elect will be saved. What are these conditions? Faith in Christ and repentance of sin are God's conditions to salvation. (Mark 1:15) God has ordained that all of His elect will be saved by belief in the truth of the Gospel. (Acts 13:47-48) In other words, God does not elect a person and then leave him without a Gospel witness. (Romans 10:14-17) Those who have not believed the Gospel cannot be saved. Faith is a requirement to salvation.

Second, God has decreed the means of salvation, namely, the proclamation of the Gospel, to save those who will believe. (I Corinthians 1:17-24) God has bound up salvation in the Gospel message. No one will ever be saved apart from that message.

So then, it follows that if it is true that God has sovereignly chosen certain men to salvation, then He has also sovereignly chosen to send men to preach the Gospel to those whom He has elected. It is not our duty to know who the elect are, but our duty to preach the Gospel to every creature, knowing that God has chosen some to salvation. In this way we can say that the doctrine of election actually proves that those who truly believe it will be evangelists. If God has a remnant then He also has those messengers who will take the good news of salvation to them.

Finally, the fact of an chosen people gives Calvinists a great incentive to go and spread the Gospel. If it is true that God has a people who will believe, then Calvinists can relax their confidence in themselves and depend on God to work through His means to produce the conditions necessary to bring His people to Himself. Not that Calvinist become lax in the area of Gospel preaching, but that the realize that they themselves cannot change the hearts of men and so while doing their duty of preaching the Gospel, they can rest in God's sovereign working through their preaching. At the same time, they can have confidence that some will come to faith in Christ through their preaching since God has sent them to preach. And they know that God sends His message to the elect, and the elect will most certainly believe. What a great confidence for the Calvinist!
Much better than depending on methods and men to produce a change, don't you think?


Garry Weaver said...

As intelligent, spiritual,and eloquent as I am, I couldn't have said it better.

Oops! I forgot to mention that I'm humble too.

Great post!

D.J. Cimino said...

Yes Jeremy, it is soooooo much better than using schemes/programs/entertainment to produce (false) results.

Rose~ said...

We depend on the Gospel and the Lord through His Holy Spirit to convert. Methods? How about people preaching the gospel this way:

11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We IMPLORE YOU on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5)

Do you think this is talking about
1. Christians being reconciled to God or
2. unbelievers coming to Christ (or being regenerated - however you want to say it)?

Friendlily, (is that a word?)

Jeremy Weaver said...

What's your point Rose?

I never said that we were to be indifferent to the plight of humanity, only that a firm grasp of election and God's sovereignty in salvation takes the pressure off of us to produce the results and therefore receive the glory that God has reserved for the Gospel and Himself.

It seems no matter how many times this 'caricature' of the Calvinist happy about the prospects of humanity in hell is debunked by history or sound reasoning that the opponents of Calvinism only grow firmer in their conviction that the 'caricature' is true.
What gives?

Would William Carey, David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, etc. have risked their lives to spread the Gospel if they had been happy about the plight of unsaved men's souls? I don't think so. Yet they were all committed and consistent Calvinists. Would Edwards, Whitefield and Brainerd have risked their own health in order to spread the Gospel if they were not passionate about the lost? Absolutely not.

These men are what consistent Calvinism looks like.

Rose~ said...

Hi Jeremy,
I don't know that I was really trying to make a point. I actually agree with you that many of these "methods" are not right.

I didn't mean to pet the cat backwards or anything - and I did not present a caricature. I don't know that I would accept a caricature of a Calvinist happy about the prospects of humanity in hell. I have never said that. I just happened to be reading that passage today and I thought it was great. I did wonder what your take on the audience was.


jazzycat said...

I will agree that you should never pet the cat backward. Calvinist do try to persuade men as Paul said. That does not mean we really believe it is in our power. To not try to persuade would be going through the motions without passion. Paul had passion. Rose, there is no inconsistency here whatsoever and ability is not addressed.


Rose~ said...

Jazzycat found Doxoblogy - how grand!

I wasn't observing any inconsistencies Jeremy and Jazzy. I was actually trying to be agreeable about this: I also don't like a lot of the high-pressure sales-type techniques.

I wasn't trying to argue or challenge, really.

Jeremy Weaver said...

My take on the audience is both a. and b.