Skip to comments.Calvinism and Evangelism
Posted on 08/21/2008 1:45:32 PM PDT by Gamecock
Imagine, if you will, that you are a missionary. You have taken the classes you will need to get around in this new country. You know the common language well enough. You understand the customs and are confidant you wont make a scene your first day on the ground. There has been very little progress made in this locale, and that is why you were sent. It is your first missionary assignment, and you hope that God will use you to do great things among the people.
You are in a high place. The top of a building, or maybe a helicopter. You look down and see an ocean of humanity. From your classwork, you know that the crowd below you is not one that will be conducive to the gospel. Perhaps the country already has an established religion. Maybe atheism is the state sponsored religion. Either way, the reports show that less than one percent of the population is Christian. Youre still wet behind the ears and all of your ideas of building a church and waiting for the people to pack in to hear your masterfully orchestrated messages are beginning to fizzle.
What do you do? You despair of even making a dent for the gospel, let alone sparking a revival!
This is a makeshift scenario that has been met by many missionaries in the past. If you allow for the details of the setting to be adjusted, I would guess that most missionaries have faced a situation where there seems to be so much work to be done among a people who are so tuned out to the gospel that it seems pointless. That is where theology must come in. You must make a stand somewhere, and that stand can be made on your efforts or on the power of God to transform the sinner.
This is where Calvinism meets evangelism. Many have said that the two are at odds with one another, but that is not so. Calvinism will change the way you evangelize, but it will not keep you from reaching out to the lost. What it does do is affect our message, our methods and our motivations.
A Calvinist will not tell the unregenerate man that God loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life. It is not our place to give any man a false sense of security through a narcissistic message, no matter how well the lost man responds to such a message. If it is true that the heart is deceitful above all things, the Calvinist cannot, in good conscience, preach a gospel that speaks only to a deceitful heart. It is not our place to declare anyone righteous to any degree before God. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts men of their sin and who drives them to the cross. This work is accomplished through the word of God, empowered by the spirit of God.
Our methods can take on similar forms as the world around us, and that is often to our discredit. But consider this, you wont find many Calvinist bumper stickers on the road today. That is because we have seen too many examples of flash advertising that cheapens the name of Christ and because we have no desire to boast of our salvation. Try Jesus one sticker reads, as if Jesus offered test drives. Wise men still seek Him is another. Funny, I thought we had it on apostolic authority that nobody seeks after God. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. As if nothing is settled until you agree with what God said? The God of the Bible is replaced in the American psyche with an image of a detached Santa Claus, who really really really wants to give you a pony this Christmas. Assuming youve been good, of course.
Back up for a moment to the missionary example I gave earlier. A young missionary with high aspirations may wonder how he is supposed to reach all of these people. Why, they have supporters back home who expect results if their investment is to continue. You can look over the sea of faces and despair over how to go about winning this crowd to Christ or you can back up for a moment and remember that it is not your job to win anyone to Christ. Not a single person. When you go out into the field, your job is to preach the gospel to whoever will listen. Thats it. Sure, you may help in a hospital setting or some other pursuit, but your primary mission is to spread the gospel.
You will never know who is of the elect and who is not until God reveals them to you as new brothers and sisters in Christ, and you will rejoice all the more as a witness to a miracle no less incredible than the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And even if God grants you no converts, you can rest assured that God is using you to plant seeds. Another may come to water. But it is always God who gives the growth.
Calvinists are planters and waterers. We are not ones to try and take on the role of God by forcing growth where there is no growth. There are people who will accept the gospel and people who will reject the gospel. Whether the gospel is accepted or rejected, we strive for that gospel to be proclaimed in all of its truth. If we are to be messengers of the king, how can we be good and faithful servants if we do not proclaim the message we have been given?
We, of all Christians, should approach evangelism with the confidence of the efficacy of the Gospel.
I will go with John Wesley on this subject.
“Answer all [the Calvinists’] objections, as occasion offers, both in public and private. But take care to do this with all possible sweetness both of look and of accent...Make it a matter of constant and earnest prayer, that God would stop the plague.”
Interesting thought coming from an Arminian.
I consider Wesley more of a Methodist who believes that God loves everyone and doesn’t treat his creation as no better than ants.
But still an Arminian who believed God is sitting in Heaven wringing His hands hoping that some will choose Christ, but not daring to intervene.
Now I know that Arminians will deny that caricature, but the end result is the same.
Narcissistic? Hmmm. . .so Calvinists never say that God loves anyone? Then pray tell, how in the world do they share the gospel? Do they avoid verses such as John 3:16 that speak of God's love?
I just don't see how anyone can evangelize without mentioning God's love.
Wesleyians don’t believe God is sitting back and waiting. But God is active making himself available to all.
If God has already chosen then why did Christ die for the world’s salvation? Seems a little bit of a waste of time.
Sounds familiar.... The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. (Luke 18:11)
And I think he was probably really glad he wasn't like one of those evil Arminians.....
Tell you what, FRiend -- a man who can talk as ugly as you can about a fellow Christian has no business posting self-righteous screeds about evangelism.
How can you have a revival when there has never been an establishment of said items in the first place?
Furthermore, why is the aforementioned completely inexperienced, still-wet-behind-the-ears given such a daunting missionary assignment, and apparently by all by himself? Is it some sort of test re: his dedication? Why would not a more experienced missionary be given this assignment, or at least accompany the newbie?
If you are a Calvinist you need no training or support. God has already decided. The Calvinist missionaries main job seems to be to drive around the countryside and yell JESUS!
God did the rest eons ago.
I am a methodist elder and Wesley was wrong to call calvinism a plague. He acknowledged as much in his final reconciliation with George Whitfield.
Wesley and other remonstrants really hadn’t considered the implications of absolute foreknowledge, and arminians still do not. I believe they’ve misunderstood Arminius. Perhaps Arminius misunderstood the implications of absolute foreknowledge.
1. Does God know everything?
2. I cannot argue that Wesley believed Calvinism to be right theologically, but he came to believe that his friend, George Whitfield, was not a plague. In fact, he considered Whitfield to be a blessing.
As with so many things why He did this will have remain a mystery. Just as it is a mystery to me why Christ had to die for the sins of people God has already selected for eternal worship.
Before creation did God know that you would accept Christ and be saved?
Before creation did He know that Aldous Huxley would not accept Christ and be damned?
Narcissistic? Hmmm. . .so Calvinists never say that God loves anyone? Then pray tell, how in the world do they share the gospel? Do they avoid verses such as John 3:16 that speak of God’s love?
I just don’t see how anyone can evangelize without mentioning God’s love.
you betcha. They avoid John 3:16 or say that world doesn’t exactly mean everyone.
As God knows everything then I’m sure He does. The issue is what do I know. According to Calvinism none of us know for sure. Calvin himself said that a reprobate can act as the select do. He talks of temporary faith and other nonsense. This makes God out to be a liar. Forcing untrue feelings on His creation in order to deceive them. A clear contradiction to Titus 1:2.
When did God know that you would be saved and that Huxley would be lost, before He created or only after He created?
God is omniscient. God is omnipotent. But I would ask the question, "Can God do anything? Answer: No.
Probably at the exact second He knew Paul would write this.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6, NKJV).
I agree. For example He can’t lie.
He can do nothing which is contradictory to His nature. He cannot lie. He cannot tempt. He cannot be unjust. It has always been an enigma to me that Calvinists say God has directed his chosen to go to a group of people and lie to them...ie....to say If you believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His death, burial, and ressurection, that you will be saved,...knowing Calvinism teaches that they, if not the elect, will never, can never be save. Why would God order us, “Thou shalt no lie.” and then tell Calvinists to lie to those reprobated unto damnation, for all eternity, for His good pleasure...I think that is the statement of the Pope of Genieva.
My, a little thin-skinned, aren’t we?
True. But then, why would He?
According to the Calvinists, God isn't wringing His hands over anything. It's all a done deal, and a large part of humanity will eventually join that great fry cook down below. There is no choice, they were born for that fate. Or isn't that so?
No, not really -- the comparison was just so apt I had to make it.
LOL! Preach the gospel unto all the world, even though you have to put up with all those vulgar unelected that think they're saved according to the gospel.
Once in a while you might get lucky and find one of the real elect. You'll know because they'll immediately start telling you that they're elected and everybody else isn't!
Yes, it is settled in God's mind. But what is that to us, seeing that we cannot know His hidden will? Is it not an encouragement to the missionary, moreover, that He has his elect out there, that fields are white for harvest, and that what lies ahead has been planned from eternity? Seems like a cause for optimism, not pessimism.
Actually, according to Calivinism, God doesn't convict anyone for their sins; He predestined them to sin and hell before the world existed, before they even had a chance to sin! LOL!
Yup, that's Calvinism for you.
I think far more highly of God than you, because I trust His word.
"The Bible does not say For God so loved the elect, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." And so when I read "God is not willing that any should perish" in II Peter 3:9, I take it to mean that, quite literally, God does not want anyone going to hell.
Every verse Calvinists use in their arguments is that God is promising ONLY their self-described 'elect'.
While the descriptions Gamecock & Lexinom gave are dealing with the comfort and confidence that we can have in an all-wise, all knowing, transcendent God of Heaven and Earth, you seem to argue “free will” is kinder.
Please notice, if the incorrect statement “God has done all He can, now it is up to us.” is true, it is a monstrous portrayal of God. Why doesn’t He write in letters 10,000 feet high across the sky, “Wake up people!” Are you telling us He has done ALL that He possibly could? All? If He has, then He hasn’t worked very hard at convincing the stubborn, ignorant millions that love darkness.
Stand back for a minute and ask yourself if you really think the Bible is portraying a God that doesn’t control every minute detail of every situation? Is there a maverick molecule out there? That makes your softened heart even a greater miracle than you thought, if He made the change while you were at war with Him. And the same goes for those He is leaving to the hardness of their hearts. “You will say to me then, How can He still blame us, for who can resist His will?” Rom. 9.
Who are you to answer back to God, o man?
Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
So you see that no one is arguing that God takes pleasure in the death of the wicked, yet he hates the worker of iniquity who turns not. Yet God cannot deny Himself and His attributes. He is just. He is merciful. He is holy. How can His justice be reconiciled with his mercy?
If He were to send His Son to die for sin with the hypothetical possibility, according to free-will reasoning, that not a single person would be saved, then of what value is such an ineffectual atonement?
No, my friend, it is God who saves; nothing is too hard for Him.
As far as election, it is a repugnant notion to the natural man, yes, ingrained as we are with the original sin of pride ("You will be like God, knowing good from evil.").
There's that one, little tiny piece that we don't want to give to God. We don't trust Him when it comes to our eternal destiny. We think we know better. My friend, do not trust your deceitful heart. Consider the brevity of man's days, how he is like a mist (Ps. 144). Put your trust in Jesus, as your heavenly shepherd! Ask Him to conquer your proud heart and till the hard soil, to keep you from the sin of the Pharisees (Is. 58:3). He is faithful and true!
He was an Anglican.
Read the thread, the 'comfort and confidence' is only meant for the elect. John Calvin, the former lawyer and excellent legalist said it was His choice. The Calvinists have ignored all the scriptures that support free will which offers everyone to have the choice of accepting or rejecting salvation from Jesus as according to the Bible.
Who are you to answer back to God, o man?
The same way I do everyday with prayer and supplications. How do you answer back to God? Like a good Calvinist Pharisee that knows the letter of the law but not the Spirit? Jesus knew your kind, and He didn't like them.
I think you just shot yourself in your Calvinist foot; in this verse God gives them free will, they have a choice. Their fate is not already ordained, they have a free will choice.
Ouch! But, I was referring to you and all other believers. Of course the comfort and confidence is for the believers, even you don’t think the unbeliever has a claim on the “peace that passes understanding”, do you?
The spirit of Pharisaism is that a person gets favor from God because they have it coming. I am admitting I cannot do the letter of the Law, and neither could John Calvin. If that’s what you think the reformed thinking is about, then shame on us. We have utterly and completely misrepresented the Scripture. I wouldn’t like me either, if I give you the impression this is due to any good thing found in me. It is not. The remark, “Who are you...” came from Rom. 9, not me. Paul is the speaker, not me.
So, if you think that you are rescued because you chose, you decided to seek God, you came to your senses, I am just explaining that a Calvinist thinks the opposite. We do not possess the wherewithal to make the choice, we do not seek God, we don’t come to our senses. Believers are sought and rescued by the Shepherd, not because they sought Him, but because He came and invaded our lives and made us alive, while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sin. “I chose you, you did not choose me.” Grace really is “unmerited favor”. I am not excluding you, I am pointing out what a Grace has been poured out on you. Acts 13:48 “...and all that were appointed unto eternal life believed.” That’s you too.
He was an Anglican
In Wesley's lifetime, ALL Methodists were Anglicans--except in America, where the Methodist Episcopal Church was a separate body following Wesley's consecration of Dr Thomas Coke and Rev Francis Asbury as the first two Methodist Episcopal bishops.
Further, in the sense that the previous poster was using the term, he meant Methodist as opposed to Arminian/Calvinist. Another term for it is Wesleyan-Arminianism (or High Arminianism), which is, to quote Wesley, "a hair's breadth from Calvinism."
Well, you since ignore your own advice, I feel free to lift some single verses to support my side of the debate.
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
"Who (speaking of Christ) gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Timothy 2:6).
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Corinthians 5:14).
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).
"Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).
Calvinist doctrine says God instructs them to tell all men, including the reprobate, that if they believe in the death, burial, and ressurection of Jesus Christ and accept his sacrifice they will be saved. According to Calvinist doctrine those reprobated unto eternal damnation for His good pleasure (John Calvin-Institutes) are damned to eternal punishment and therefore are to be told a lie (according to their doctrine)
It’s not so much a lie as an exercise in futility. In the Calvinistic scheme, IF the reprobate repented and believed, they would be saved—but the catch is that since they are reprobate, they WON’T.
I do not understand your point. In Reform theology all men are reprobate. Then the elect are imbued with irreistable grace which allows them to be regenerated (involuntarily) (born again-a new man). At this point one is "born again" as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3. So far there is not a drop of blood shed in Calvinism. The elect are regenerated so they can then have faith (involuntary) followed by a voluntary exercise of faith. But that would mean 'faith' is a gift of faith that is not equal to believing in Christ. In other words, as money muct be spent, so faith must be exercised. Can Biblical faith, which is saving faith, be viewed as anything less than, or short of, faith in Jesus Christ.
As Sproul says, "The elect are saved to have faith." The Bible says, "Those who have faith are saved".
KThere is no ambiguity regarding the sequence of events that occur for the elect to be saved.The Calivinist could say, faith can precede and lead to justification and still not allow a man to take credit for justification because the fith that lead to justification is a gift from God. Scripturally speaking, however, since faith is neither a work nor a meritorious act of any kind God can require a man to believe as a condition of justification, or regeneration for that matter, without surrendering any of the credit to man. But they do not because of the Calvinist distinctive of total depravity. So the entire schema of Calvinism is designed to fit the decrees of the Pope of Genieva.
I do not care so much about winning a debate, but am concerned about your welfare and others'. I would ask that we consider if what has been written has been written in love. Consider all in the light of eternity (our days are numbered here), and consider carefully the motives, whether carnal pride (the "yeast of the Pharisees"), or conviction of sin, or out of genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of others. Churches today are full of fleshly and world-centered appeal, and filled with people who are blithely marching down the road to Hell. I realize this is neither popular nor comfortable to consider. Alexander Comrie wrote that many become Christians with a "skip and a jump" and then continue on as though nothing in their lives had changed. That was in the 1700s, and man's nature (incl. yours and mine) has not changed since. We do not want to hear those dreadful, final words: "I never knew ye; depart from me, ye workers of iniquity." The warning you cited, Acts 17:30, applies to you and me as well - even as professing Christians! - and not just one time, but all our lives.
Now I command you Calvinists, says the Lord, to go and lie to the reprobate. The inconsistency of Calvins inscription on God Himself is an abomination against the very nature of God.
An irresistible call is a forced response. Force does not prescribe our love to God. We have no choice in the Calvinist distinctives. Uncondititional elecation is an invention necessitating the invention of irresistable transformation. Both are theological inventions and are therefore meaningless as to regarding Biblical teachings. God has factored into our natures 'volition'. Calvinism asks Christianity to embrace a God who dissociates His Holiness from His Sovereignty.
Why does Calvinism deny God the right to save by Grace through Faith as the Bible says?
If God knew before creation that “in due time” our “Christ” would die “for the ungodly.”, AND He knew that Huxley would be lost, then what does it say about whether ANYTHING would ever have saved Huxley?