Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Election, Free Will and Evangelism

If man comes to Christ through only free will, and not through the sovereign election of God, then that means when you (if you are a Christian) witness to someone, if they do not accept Christ, it is at least partially your fault, because if you had done a better job presenting the gospel, they might have come to Christ. So therefore, their eternal damnation could be in part because you did not do a good job evangelizing. So therefore, from that perspective, we are partially responsible for someone's salvation or damnation. If the lost person is free to choose or reject the gospel, and if it is completely up to them alone, then if the Christian who is witnessing to them doesn't present the gospel in a way that persuades that lost person to want to accept it, then that Christian presenting the gospel is at least partially at fault, because if they had done a better job, that lost person might have been saved. When a Christian witnesses to people and presents the gospel to them, and people do not respond – if that Christian really thought that it really depended on them (the fact that the lost person didn’t respond), it is feasible that the Christian could possibly even become extremely depressed and, in guilt and anguish...well, I could even imagine an extreme instance where a Christian who believed that, might even go home and pull out a knife and plunge it into their heart because they were such a failure, and because that lost person, or those lost people, going to Hell would be partially their fault, because their gospel presentation was not compelling enough.

On the other hand, if salvation is up to God's sovereign election, then when we witness to someone, all we are responsible for is to tell them, and we don't have to worry about the outcome, because that is up to God.

Ultimately, the salvation of souls depends upon the Lord God, and he has graciously given us the opportunity of being instruments in the accomplishment of his work. We (if we are born again, regenerated Christians whose lives have been radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit) are called to partner with Him and share in the great and glorious work of the Great Commission. We get the easy part (telling), and He does the rest. No higher calling could any individual ever have than being a co-worker with the Lord.

6 comments:

Russell Norman Murray said...

'On the other hand, if salvation is up to God's sovereign election, then when we witness to someone, all we are responsible for is to tell them, and we don't have to worry about the outcome, because that is up to God.'

We can experience blessing in witness.

Good reasoning sir.

Jeff said...

Thank you, Dr. Murray.

Greg said...

And yet, dear Brother, if salvation is all up to God, requiring not even obedience from us, what's the point in witnessing to anyone at all? This is where I think Calvinism and Reformed Theology make no room for the Great Commission.

While it is our responsibility to witness, "it is God that giveth the increase," so I don't have to be suicidal just because I didn't "win" a soul to Christ. My responsibility is to fight, His is to win.

Ironically, I just did another post on Calvinism and Arminianism yesterday, before I even checked out your blog! Even after all these years, you haven't aged a day! ;)

Jeff said...

Greg said...

And yet, dear Brother, if salvation is all up to God, requiring not even obedience from us, what's the point in witnessing to anyone at all? This is where I think Calvinism and Reformed Theology make no room for the Great Commission.


People tend to merge four-point Calvinists and five-point Calvinists into the same category. They also don't take into account that some Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists and others are not. According to GotQuestions.org:

"Hyper-Calvinism is the belief that God saves the elect through His sovereign will with little or no use of the methods of bringing about salvation (such as evangelism, preaching, and prayer for the lost). To an unbiblical fault, the hyper-Calvinist over-emphasizes God's sovereignty and under-emphasizes man's responsibility in the work of salvation.

An obvious ramification of hyper-Calvinism is that it suppresses any desire to evangelize the lost. Most churches or denominations that hold to hyper-Calvinistic theology are marked by fatalism, coldness, and a lack of assurance of faith. There is little emphasis upon God's love for the lost and His own people but rather an unbiblical preoccupation with God's sovereignty, His election of the saved, and His wrath for the lost. The gospel of the hyper-Calvinist is a declaration of God's salvation of the elect and His damnation of the lost.

The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign over the entire universe (Daniel 4:34-35), including the salvation of men (Ephesians 1:3-12). But with God's sovereignty, the Bible also teaches that His motivation for saving the lost is love (Ephesians 1:4-5; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10) and that God's means of saving the lost is the proclamation of His Word (Romans 10:14-15). The Bible also declares that the Christian is to be passionate and determined in his/her sharing with unbelievers; as ambassadors for Christ, we are to "beg" people to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).

Hyper-Calvinism takes a biblical doctrine, God’s sovereignty, and pushes it to an unbiblical extreme. In doing so, the hyper-Calvinist downplays the love of God and the necessity of evangelism."

While it is our responsibility to witness, "it is God that giveth the increase," so I don't have to be suicidal just because I didn't "win" a soul to Christ. My responsibility is to fight, His is to win.

I agree. The Great Commission commands Christians to go and tell others, but only the Holy Spirit can regenerate the person. We pray to ask the Holy Spirit to prepare the lost person's heart to receive the gospel, but all we can do is present the message to the person. However, my point was that if there is only free will and not Election, then the responsibility would be ours, because it would then be up to us to give a convincing and persuasive enough argument and convincing proofs to lead them to accept Christ. If they refuse to accept Christ after we present the gospel to them, and if there is only free will, then the responsibility for their rejecting Christ lies partially with us, because we were not convincing enough. However, if Election is true, then the burden of whether they accept or deny Christ is removed from us, because it is up to God, and not up to our convincing presentation. At the same time, we are still commanded in the Great Commission to tell others the gospel, and God still expects us to partner with Him in this great work of evanglism and spreading abroad His kingdom and making His Name known. In fact, it is a privilege.

Ironically, I just did another post on Calvinism and Arminianism yesterday, before I even checked out your blog!

Interesting.

Even after all these years, you haven't aged a day! ;)

LOL, or at least my photo hasn't!

Greg said...

Thanks for clarifying, Jeff. I do need to be careful to not lump all the branches of Calvinism or Reformed Theology together; there are indeed degrees.

But you know, God can use your persuasive skills for His glory... I'm sure He already has. :)

Jeff said...

Thank you, Greg, and your kind comments are much appreciated.

I just now copied the URL address links to your six blog sites, and I'm going to post the links on my Facebook page in a few minutes. Hope you don't mind.