Biblical Foundations for Evangelism (Part 1)

 

The sovereignty and election of God

When we talk about the sovereignty of God we mean that God is in absolute control over everything that He made. As Jesus Christ said: “not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of my Father” (Matthew 10:28). Everything that happens in this world, that has happened and will happen occurs because God wills or permits it to happen. He can stop the birds from flying in the sky. He can stop your baby boy from crying. He makes the son to shine at the exact temperature He wants it to shine. He controls the winds (John 6:12) and the rainfall and the droughts on this planet. He works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Whatever He pleases He does, in the heavens above and on the earth beneath (Psalm 115:6). No one can sway His hand, no one can thwart his purposes. What He has purposed he will do (Isaiah 46:9,10). He sets up thrones and rulers and He makes them to perish. He makes one rich and another person poor (1 Samuel 2:1-10). He makes alive and He kills (Deuteronomy 32:39). Every person dies at precisely at the time God wants them to die (Psalm 139:15,16).

Although God rules on high and although God is involved in the minutest details of every living thing, and although no cell in the human body can function without God’s sustaining hand, we are still responsible human beings and we are accountable for the lives that we live before Him. God is not the author of sin and evil and He is not responsible for the sin we are involved in. Having said this God still can stop people from sinning against Him if He so pleases. God orders everything in the world we live in exactly as He wants, yet He is not responsible for our evil motives, actions, attitudes or words. We call this the doctrine of concurrence. If we look at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and how He died for us we know that it was according to the predetermined counsel and plan of God that Jesus had to be crucified, (Acts 2:24) yet the Romand soldiers who crucified Him, the Jewish authorities who accused Him, Pontius Pilate who allowed it, Judas who betrayed Him, the disciples who fled and Peter who denied Him, all grievously sinned against God in the events that led to His crucifixion. And so it is with life in general. God allows many evil things everyday to happen in this world, but He can stop every sin if He so pleases, but He does not. And because of this truth, although we cannot understand the complexity of daily living fully with our finite minds, we worship God for who He is and pray to Him that He would save those whom He has appointed (Acts 13:48).

When we talk about the sovereignty of God in evangelism we believe that the work of the evangelist and believer in Christ is not in vain (Isaiah 55:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58). The work that God has called every believer to do will accomplish its purpose. God has a people across the world and when they hear the gospel being preached to them the first or second of hundredth time, they will believe as the Holy Spirit makes them alive to the truth of the word (John 3:3-6). When Jesus Christ came to this earth He came to give His life for the sheep, not for the goats (John 10:14-16). Jesus Christ came to give his life as a ransom (Mark 10:28) for many, not all people everywhere. Jesus Christ did not pay the debt of all people who have ever lived. If He did that then all people will go to heaven. If unbelievers don’t believe in Christ they go to hell. If Jesus died for the sin of their unbelief then even the sin of not believing in Him will be forgiven. But it will not. The Bible makes it clear that those appointed to eternal life will believe and be saved (Acts 13:48). All that the Father will draw to the Son will come to Jesus Christ (John 6:44) and those who come to Him in repentance and faith will never be cast out (John 6:37-40). When Jesus prayed before he went to the cross recorded in John 17:3-21, He prayed not for the world but for those who the Father gave Him and those who would believe in him by the word of God.

God has purposed that people from every people and language and tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9;7:9) will be saved and be there praising the Lamb and the Father forever and ever. Because God secured and purchased the elect’s salvation by the blood of Jesus, the appointed number will believe and God’s kingdom will have no end. Of the increase of Jesus’ government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-9). The eternal salvation of the elect of God is sure and steadfast and immovable. Jesus Christ did not only make salvation possible for humanity. He actually secured salvation for those who will believe. The sheep hear Jesus’ voice, God knows them and they follow Him. God gives them eternal life, they shall never perish and no one will pluck them from His or the Father’s hand (John 10:27-30). Before the foundation of the world God has chosen the sheep in Christ to be holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4).

Because God has a people we as evangelists and Christians and missionaries can go out in the world and proclaim the gospel, knowing that those who hear and are effectually called and those who repent and believe will be forgiven their sins and be declared righteous by Christ. Because God is ruling, because God is sovereign, because God’s purposes cannot be thwarted, because all authority in heaven and on earth has been give to Christ, because Christ accomplished salvation for those who will believe, because Jesus Christ conquered the grave we can have all the confidence to go out and proclaim the glorious gospel and expect those whom God will effectually call (Romans 8:28-30) will be saved. As Romans 8:28-30 declares:

“All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. For whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. And those whom He predestined He called and those whom He called He justified and those He justified He glorified”

And as Romans 9 states salvation doesn’t in the final analysis depend on human effort but on God who chooses. This is not an easy thing to hear but these truths are based on Scripture (Romans 9:13,14; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 3:24-28). The election of God and the sovereignty of God remains to a large degree a mystery to human beings. God’s judgements are unsearchable and his ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33-36). God’s glory therefore remains.

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