Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
If God is Sovereign, why Evangelize?
by Tony Warren
n many theological circles, when the topic of predestination comes up, the question is often posed, 'how do Sovereign Grace Christians reconcile their belief in God's sovereignty over man, with the responsibility of man?' Others go straight to the point and succinctly ask, 'if God is sovereign, why evangelize?' The question on the surface may seem innocuous and fair enough, but peering deeper it is actually convoluted and borne out of man's own inflated ego. Because the word of God does not teach that God's Sovereignty means man is without volition or will, nor that he doesn't have the power of choice. Rather, it teaches that because of man's fall in Adam, given the choice, the will of man is constrained or in bondage to the sin nature. In other words, by his fallen nature he is willfully inclined to choose evil. So there really is no, either / or. Man is answerable for his actions and decisions because he was created in the image of God, and God's sovereignty in no way negates man's responsibility.
Let us start with the basic fundamental Biblical truths of Scripture, which will prevent us from falling into untenable conclusions. First, the heart of man is dishonest above all things, and none of that inherent wickedness and dishonesty is hidden from the Lord.
Mankind is this was because he is ruled by his flesh. Because of the sin of Adam, the will of man is in effect in bondage to sin causing him to be a spiritual slave to his own desires over righteousness. Nevertheless, that doesn't excuse him, he is still accountable for his sinful actions. Predestination or the "Sovereignty of God's will," does not negate this human responsibility. Rather, God's sovereignty is the scriptural declaration of the unmerited gift of God in propitiation for it. Sovereign grace is favor of God bestowed upon those who do not deserve it. It is only in Christ that irresponsible man will regain God's favor that was lost in the garden of Eden. Let us not forget that it is God's sovereign right to have mercy and redeem whosoever he elects or chooses from among all the wicked. God is not constrained or obligated to save whoever chooses Him, sovereignty demands God save whomever He chooses. Otherwise it's not sovereignty. It is His divine right to choose whomever He wants, and for any reason He wants. God is not a man that he must answer to our interrogations (Romans 9:20) oncerning His righteousness in doing so. As our creator and Lord, we bow to His will and choices--not vice-versa.
- "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
- I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
Declaring that God chooses those who choose Him effectively "robs" God of all sovereignty concerning who He can have mercy upon. Those who create a artificial distinction in asking how we can reconcile God's Sovereignty with man's responsibility, the truth is that there is nothing to reconcile. These two things agree and are in perfect harmony with each other. Man is responsible for his sins, and God can forgive those sins in having mercy on "whomever He wants," regardless of the nature or severity of those sins. There is no dichotomy between those two things. Both truths are clearly taught in the Scriptures, and are mutually compatible with each other.
- "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
- "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
- Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His Will,"
- "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."
These Scriptures don't clash in an inharmonious arrangement, they agree together when taken as a whole as absolute truth. Wisdom is in 'receiving' all these Scriptures as truth, and understanding that they do not contradict and are clearly delineated in the Scriptures as undeniable truth. i.e., yes, we are obligated and called to obey God's Word. Yes, we both have choices and make choices. No, nothing in the Bible abrogates our responsibility for the choices we make. The Bible teaches the wages of sin is death and that the soul that sinneth it shall die! But none of these things preclude God from having mercy on whomever He will. Because the Christian's choices concerning his righteousness are by the Spirit of God in them, and are thus 'within God's will,' not something that is apart from it. We are moved to righteousness, not merely commanded to be righteous. If that were the case, none of us would be saved. Christ not only secured for us the path of righteousness, but also the will to it. When He took upon Himself the responsibility for the sins of His people, He set those people free from their bondage to sin. It is because of His Spirit in them that they "can" do God's will. For they are now endowed with such power.
- "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die."
When faithful Christians chooses to evangelize and go forth doing the will of God, not being omniscient, it may appear to them as if the integrity is all theirs. But in reality God is moving them to righteousness that their will is to do His will. Moreover, He watches over them that they are not tempted more than they can withstand. He restrains us from doing things that we might otherwise do, and in all honesty we cannot take any credit for it. We just "humbly" thank God for His favor and His mercy upon us. A perfect example of this principle of divine concealed guidance and preservation can be seen in the episode concerning Abimelech as recorded in Genesis chapter 20.
- "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
God declares that it was He that had not suffered (would not allow) Abimelech to touch this woman. For a brief moment here God pulls back the veil of His sovereign work and reveals His working within man. He illustrates here that His will and purpose shall not be thwarted by the will of man. In a word, "Sovereignty" or supreme potentate over all things. Even though this king was sure that it was because of his "own integrity" that he didn't touch Sarah, God pulls the curtain back to reveal "that" was not the true reason. It was only because God had withheld (restrained) this king from doing this. It was God Himself who had suffered this king not to touch her. This is an example of the Sovereignty of God at work without man's knowledge. And this is something that we should know by our consideration of the Spirit. For God is not an idle bystander who is nervously wringing His hands hoping that man won't mess things up. Sadly, that is the picture that some theologian's doctrines paint of Him. Nevertheless, He is active, omniscient, omnipotent God, with eyes over all things making sure that ultimately they will go as He has foreordained or determined, according to His own will. Rather than being at odds, predestination, sovereignty of God, responsibility, and evangelizing, are inextricably tied together. They are all the power of the Holy Spirit of God working in the earth for the sake of the Elect. It is according to His mercy, not our reaction to responsibility.
- But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
- Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
- And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her."
1st Peter 1:2-3
Through the Spirit we are made holy unto obedience. It is not our obedience that makes us holy to God. Though these truths are often misunderstood, sovereignty is not an enemy of responsibility, it is its constant companion. Christians act responsible 'because' God restrains our sin to allows us to do His will. It is not because we are righteous or better than others to act out of our own (alleged) free will. The truth is, left to our own will, devices, or designs, man would have long ago destroyed both himself and the world. It is only the sovereignty of God over all things that prevents this. For though the heart of man is desperately wicked, not one hair of our head will be harmed without God's permissive will.
- "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,"
God has control over the very number of hairs on your head, so hy should we vainly imagine He has no sovereignty over who is saved? Our salvation, or the ability to hear spiritually and act upon what we hear, is manifested through the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a gift of God bestowed upon whomever He decides to have compassion upon. This is regardless of their own personal choices or feelings of piety, virtue or respectability. Did not Esau cry his eyes out seeking repentance, and yet he found none "because" it wasn't God's will to grant him repentance.
- "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
- But the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Why did God choose the people of Israel and not those of Canaan? Was it because they were better people or that they were more righteous? God says, no! The people of Canaan were cast out because of their sins, but Israel was not placed there because of their righteousness or because they were better people. That is a lesson for all of us that God will have mercy and compassion on whomever He wants.
- "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
- For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."
Israel was warned not to think that they received the land because of their superior righteousness, because they were obviously a stubborn and sinful people--but the Lord cast those people out of the land because of their sins, and gave it to Israel because it was His sovereign good will and pleasurel to do so. It's His right to have mercy and compassion on whomever He will, and to not have mercy on whomever He will.
- "Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
- Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people."
Again, we can see this in the New Testamment example of the Pharisee Saul. He was on the road to Damascus looking to persecute Christians, wherein in no way was he thinking of making a free choice to come to Christ. It was God who suddenly struck him down with blindness--even as he was on his way to afflict and oppress God's people. In our earthly minds we would think that would be the last person God would want leading the church, and yet that is who God ordained and chose. God Spiritually drew Saul that he joined the very same band of rabble rousers that he had up until that point hated and was violently opposing. Whose choice was this, God's or Saul's? Without this action of God, Saul would still be persecuting Christians with threatening and slaughter (Acts 9:1). But with God Spiritually moving him to salvation, that which he hated became his love, and Him whom he fought against, he obtained peace with. Saul became Paul not because it was his will to do so, but because God ordained it before, and by His Spirit brought it to pass. Could Paul take credit for his sudden blindness as by his own free will? The Apostle was sovereignly blinded by God so that he might see. Thus Paul, unlike many theologians today, confessed that it was not him at all, but God that worked in him both to will and to work (do). God provided the will and the energy.
It is His Spirit that is working within you to influence what you do that is pleasing to Him. So while it may appear to some that the responsibility of man and the Sovereignty of God are mutually exclusive ideas, that is only because man finds it so difficult to understand the full nature of the sin influence over him so that apart from the intervention by God, we will never be righteous the way God requiress. So permeating is the stain of sin, that if God didn't act by His own sovereign will, not one of us would ever come to be saved. Because we were all spiritually as a dead corpse before God intervened and quickened us unto new life in Christ Jesus.
- "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Not while we already loved Christ and were by our own free will coming to Him, but while we were yet still dead in that sin nature, while we were the children of wrath, unable to do anything as a corpse is. While we were in this state of unbelief and bondage, God drew or dragged (John 6:44) us to Him and raised us up to new life. Were we responsible for our sins when we were still these children of wrath? The answer is yes, of course we were! We were on our way to hell just as others, and except God had first loved and had compassion and mercy upon us, we would still be dead in trespass and sin. We would still be under bondage of the unrighteous will of man. Moreover, we would be judged accordingly, righteously and justly. It was His right as God to choose whom He favored, regardless of how bad or obstinate they might have been. That's what "Sovereignty of God" truly delineates. That when all is said and done, it is His choice, not ours. It was His right, His selection, His choosing, not ours. It was according to His purpose and will rather than free will.
- "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
- But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
- Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
- And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:"
Christ gave Himself for our sins, not according to how good a person we thought we were, or according to if we had said the sinners prayer, or according to if our free will was to do the right thing. He saved us, delivered us from our carnal will in this evil world, according to His will and purpose.
- "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:"
The problem is, man in his stubborn heart wants to argue the finer points of his own merit with God. No, he's not going to say he's arguing with God, but by arguing with His word, that's exactly what he is doing. He objects to this Sovereignty because he has imagined in his heart that letting God choose whomsoever he wants, regardless of if they freely come, would somehow be unfair. Without actually saying it, he believes that God is unrighteous and contradictory to do that. Nevertheless, there is no contradiction between God's sovereignty over man, His preeminent choice, and the responsibility of man. Nor should faithful Christians make apologies for the truth of sovereignty, or be embarrassed about the 'right' of God to save or to not save, according to His own will. It is a Biblical fact that whomever He chooses to save will be saved regardless of what type person he is (e.g. the thief on the cross, Saul, etc.). And He has every right to do it based on nothing more than His own good purposes and will. And who is man to argue with Him about the fairness of it? The unpalatable truth is, anything less than sovereignty would be a works gospel where man is basing his salvation upon the (alleged) merit of his free will in coming (good works) God saw that caused Him to save them. That is both a unbiblical and untenable theory, as well as a contradiction to what is written.
Even so, many theologians continue the parrot the question, "why evangelize if God has decided ahead of time who will be saved, and who will not be saved?" How about, "Because God said so!" Isn't that reason enough? Or do we have to philosophize and rationalize and theorize everything until it fits our own personal interpretations. To not evangelize is fatalism, or the belief that nothing can be changed so you might as well accept all things as inevitable. It's nothing more than the carnal and worldly religion of submitting to fate. That is not the attitude of the Biblical Christian no matter what "straw men" are constructed by theologians to allege it. Shall we sin that grace may abound? The answer is a resounding No! Likewise, shall we sit around and do nothing that work may be done? Again, the answer is a resounding, No! We do not take an attitude of, 'nothing can be changed, so let's not do anything.' On the contrary, the faithful Christian takes an attitude of, 'God is in control of everything, which is why He has instilled within us to do His will and to spread His gospel to the ends of the earth.' God uses us, as we are His vessels unto the salvation of men. We evangelize because we love His word and are commissioned of God to take it to the world. We work because the Spirit moves us in it's "power" to call the chosen unto Christ. When man makes these statements alleging contradiction, he is really making judgments upon God's sovereign right to save the 'totally' unworthy, and to place within His people the earnest will to work toward this goal. For God's word is very clear on both evangelizing, and why Christians do it.
We evangelize, because we are sent to evangelize. And people hear our preaching because the Spirit of truth reveals His glory and opens the understanding of the witnessed word to them. By the voice many hear, but by the spirit few will ever receive what they hear. But those who do, do so by working of God, the true Revelation of the witness of the word.
- "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
- And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"
In short, the pervasive reason we evangelize is love unto obedience! God works out His will and purposes through the Spirit in the vessels which He has created unto this work. He has ordained us (the indivisible church) as the means by which 'His people' are called. Many may come to realize their election through 'our' preaching of the gospel message. That's the way God has ordained it. For He is not thundering today from the mountain, or talking to man from a burning bush, thus He uses His Christian shepherds to feed His sheep, accomplishing the task of making His word known to the Elect.
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14
God didn't make us a 'new creation' to pursue our own glory in politics, riches, or to see how much pleasure we could get out of this world. He created us vessels chosen unto Glory in Christ. We are commissioned to take personal initiative, to do and to work. Every man is responsible to abide by the law, but only the 'God Helped,' can. And they can because in Christ their mindset is that their work of evangelizing will become fruitful. Sovereignty wherein Christians are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, is clothing that has no part in the "Straw Man" of fatalism, for the faithful Christian knows that his work is ordained to avail much in Christ.
- "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
- Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Do we retort and say, "well why pray for something if God knows what He is going to do ahead of time?" The alternative to this is that God doesn't know what He is going to do. That He isn't really Omniscient! And that is blasphemy, a clear denial of His inerrant word. Our comforting, work, evangelizing and prayers are not in vain, but were ordained the method God uses to accomplish His will. This is what our work is for, this is our hope, and this is our prayer. The whole business of our becoming a child of God is God's work anyway, so that it is inextricably tied to why we evangelize or work toward spreading the gospel. God uses us to accomplish His tasks on earth.
- "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
By contrast, while those of the world are also vessels created by God, they lack Christ's virtue, and thus glory in themselves and in their own deeds and abilities. These are two distinctly different creations or vessels. And they were created by God for two different purposes.
2nd Timothy 2:20
It's not even a question of if there are different kinds of vessels created, but one of if it is God's sovereign right to do that. Isn't that the real question being debated?
- "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour."
Is it really a argument of theology, or an argument with what God says? Does God "really" have the right to love Jacob and hate Esau even before they had even done any wrong? Isn't that the real crux of the matter? Does it make God unrighteous to bless Jacob and abandon Esau, and to do it before the were even born? Are we making judgments on God's justice, and His right to choose one over the other simply because of His own good will and pleasure? Is it unethical for God to choose without regard to either one of them being somewhat better than the other? That is what is at the heart of most of these debates. In other words, man is questioning or unconsciously thinking that this type action makes God "unfair!" It is an objection that God answers in Romans as He warn, who is man that He can retort against God in matters of election? Is God a man that we can argue with Him over the fairness of choosing Jacob over Esau? No, He is God, and these sort of objections bring into question His righteousness and justice.
- "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
- And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"
The fact is, God is not obligated to treat everyone equal. That's what man can't seem to get through his thick skull. God can do whatever He wants with His own, and no sinful man could complain that this is not right. Man acts as if he knows more or better than God. Was God obligated to treat the people of Canaan the same way He treated the people of Israel? No! Is our idea of fairness, God's idea? No, absolutely not! Because God is omniscient and we are finite beings laden with sin. Who are we to argue with God over this? It always gets back to God's declaration on the matter, and whether or not man will receive it or continue in spiritual warfare against these clear principles of the sovereign determination of God. He always has been sovereign over the choice of who is picked, and who is not. Because it's clearly His call!
- "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
- Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"
It is not of him that runneth (works), nor of him that willeth (the will of man), but of God who shows mercy on whomever He will. And unfortunately, this is what man's sinful narcissistic nature won't let him accept. That he (man) does not have the power, cannot grab credit, and is not in control, God is!
- "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
- What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
- For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
- So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
God was not obligated to save Pharaoh, He was not obligated to save anyone because we all deserve to be cast into Hell. Therefore, it's His sovereign right to have mercy on whom He will, and to have compassion on whom He will. And when He does, shall we ask, "God, why should we evangelize if you are sovereign and will save your own anyway?" No, we will evangelize because we have an earnest desire to do God's will, and to keep his commandments, and to love Him because He first loved us. Those not elect will have no desire to evangelize (in the true Biblical sense). They don't really care that God has commissioned us to go forth to the ends of the earth with the gospel. To the unsaved people of the world, these are "just words." Likewise, to those who hold to free will doctrines, they are looking at the word responsibility as if it precedes the righteousness of Christ in us. On the contrary, Godly responsibility is something we could never achieve, apart from Christ. We must not be prideful, but in humility reject the idea of God responding to our good actions. It is the natural man that feels insulted by words like "Sovereign Grace," or "Predestination," or "Ordained." They squirm in their seats when we declare that we didn't come to Christ by free will, but were drawn or dragged by God to Christ unto good works.
- "For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
- Therefore hath He mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."
If we could come to Christ freely of our own will, then Scripture is all a lie and we need to find some other use for our time. But it is true. And we don't squirm in our seats when we read this, we humbly accept it as absolute truth. We should feel privileged to be drawn/dragged by God to come to Christ and 'used' for His own purposes and will. Does that make us robots? No, it makes us sheep and God the shepherd who will not just tell us what way to go and leave us on our own, but as the good Shepherd will physically move us to that direction. This is true humility, not being appalled that you aren't good enough to freely come to Christ or do His will. And we understand that we feel this way not because we are smarter, better people, or more righteous, but only by the Spirit which dwells within us, to the Glory of God.
- "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
We don't ask why we have 'the Spirit of evangelizing,' the power of the Gospel which drives us to do the will of God is reason enough. Those who think that they work because of their own free will, are deceiving themselves. We are chosen vessels of God, made alive unto this service, and we weren't put here for our own vain glory that we believe we are responsible for the good we do. But to read Scripture faithfully and receive God's word that it is He who moves us, to the Glory of God. Our Glory is in the work Christ has done for us, not in the work we do because of it.
- "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;"
Two vessels. One who will work for his own pleasures and purposes, and glory in his own abilities (alleged free will), and another who hath had the riches of the Glory of God placed upon them, that he will do the will and pleasure of God, to the Glory of God. The Elect understand the bondage of the will. For the idea that the will is free is a sad misnomer. The spirits are in prison that the will is a slave, except it be set free in Christ.
- "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
- And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"
The Lord came to set us free from our prison houses that we might do the will of God, not to save those who (allegedly) already had free will to come to God.
- "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
- To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."
In conclusion, the question, "Why evangelize if all is set," is a question from a mind that may not really be sure that God 'is God' and as such has ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY. Because if God doesn't have it all set, then there is logically the distinct possibility of failure, because (according to this philosophy) God does not "force men" to come to Him. Which rationally means that man's salvation is all in his own hands. More importantly, if not, then the only alternative is that salvation is not in man's hands, God is controlling it all, and will have His will and purpose done on earth. No one can have it both ways. Either God is Sovereign over all, or He isn't. It's as simple as that.
How many would say, the people must freely choose their own inheritance, or freely subdue the nations of their choosing? man could never do that, he can only do what is within God's plan. Likewise, because of his sin nature, man would never seek God (on God's terms) by his own free will. God declares that plainly, there is none that seeketh after Him, no not one (Romans 3:11-12). Therefore he can only come to Christ by being drawn, and that way he may have communion with God. Not by his inherent free will, but by the will of God. We are again brought back to the Sovereignty of God. Because nothing is consistent without it. All things are after the counsel of His will, and if that is true, then how can anything be allowed which will thwart His Sovereign good will? It makes no sense! While if it is true, then the believer is both secure, and determined to work all things to the Glory of God.
- "For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
- He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.
- He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah."
How we can be predestinated after "the counsel of God's sovereign will," and yet it is alleged it is by our own free will, is a conundrum beyond all rational explanation. And if all isn't really set, then the prophecies of the Bible are not really immutable are they? All I can say is, God Forbid! God 'IS' Sovereign, God does know all, and He makes sure all vessels He has Chosen will work to accomplish their tasks. It is not left up to wicked men in some alleged free will philosophy, it is in God's hands. It is God who sets the bounds of who lives of who dies, who is drawn and who is judged, who He chastens and who He refuses to chasten. This isn't all just vain words, it is the unabashed truth of Scripture.
- "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
- That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ."
- "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
- Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
- The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?"
In the Old Testament, was God sitting around wringing his hands because all wasn't set, or did God actively deliver the wicked into Israel's hands? The answer is obvious! These wicked had no free will to beat Israel in battle because they had better weapons. God ordained that they would be defeated, and they were. Man's own will had nothing to do with it! God's will prevailed! It's the same 'type' picture all throughout Scripture. God making sure His will and purposes are accomplished, and He uses both His people and the wicked in this task. Did those learned Israelites sit philosophizing and sarcastically asking, "if this battle is all prophesied and set won by God before, why go to battle?" No, because the question itself is indicative of a rebellious heart against God! God said this will come to pass, so all that was for them to do was obey. They don't retort, "why do we have to go if God has preordained the outcome ahead of time?" But that is exactly what those opposing Sovereignty of God are doing.
- "And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee."
"Why Evangelize?" Because it is the purpose that we were put on this earth to do. It is our "PRIMARY JOB." This is no different than God commanding we "go to the ends of the earth with the Gospel," and if we were to reply, "why, we know the whole world will get the gospel anyway." Every professing Christian knows that God commands our evangelizing. Every Christian knows God will not only triumph, but that it is impossible that He won't. We know that we are told to preach this gospel, so indeed, what is the "REAL" purpose of the question, "why evangelize?" Is it to say God is not really sovereign and we are the real ones who, by our work, ultimately decide who is saved or not? That is the logical conclusion of such thinking and such questions.
The balanced position which the Scripture takes is that God has the crucial role of making sure His Will gets done, and we have the subservient role of being the vessels that He uses to get it done. It is an honor that God has bestowed upon the Elect this work of accomplishing what has already been fore-ordained. Whatsoever we shall bind, having already been bound in heaven. And whatsoever we shall loose, having already been loosed in heaven. Shall we then be resentful that we can't take the credit (glory) for coming of our own free will? No, we glory in the working of the Lord in us, not in commending ourselves for responding. For when the Lord draws, who can but come?
2nd Corinthians 10:17-18
We have a responsibility to go forth with the power of the gospel. And understanding that the Bible teaches both sovereignty and human responsibility is not something that needs reconciling, it is something already in harmony. We are responsible for our actions, and God would have been both just and fair if He had cast every single one of us into hell. For we all rightly deserve that punishment for our sins. But God was pleased to save "some" of us, and He cannot be charged with any unrighteousness for not saving all (Romans 9). Believers should not question God's Sovereign right to do this, we should be so grateful and thankful that it pleased Him to have mercy on such unworthy subjects as ourselves.
- "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
- For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth."
Some will ask, "why does God save only some?" Frankly, that's God's business known only by Him alone. But the main point is, it's not only His business, it's His right "as God!" And because every true Christian knows unequivocally that God is fully just in His actions, it's not a question that needs debating. For in this life we understand only in part, and are not called to fully plumb the depths of His riches. We are called to believe, trust, have faith, obey, and evangelize, humbly accepting His ultimate justice, righteousness and revealed word. We don't make the artificial distinctions between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. For we are called to have a spirit meek enough to accept both. We are not called to counsel the Lord on what we think is just, but to receive counsel of the Lord knowing all His judgments are righteous.
Why evangelize if there is predestination? Because God commands us to, and allows us the privilege of participating in this saving work, and that is reason enough for me. I don't have to try to figure out the infinite plan of God, for who can really know the mind of the Lord (Romans 11:34). We are not His counsellors, we are the counselled called in humility to be as pots of clay wherein the gospel message dwells. Obedience is one of the evidences of 'true' salvation. We receive His command as a child would receive the command of His father. We accept His words as law, and as such, the ultimate authority.
- "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
- For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?"
Perfect counsel from the perfect counsellor. May the Lord who is gracious above all, and rich in His compassion and mercy, grant us the wisdom and understanding to discern what is the truth, the will to surrender to it, and the humility to accept His sacred precepts.
- "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."
Copyright ©2001 Tony Warren
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