Why Share the Gospel If God Has Already Decided Who Will Be Saved?

by Bibles.net
| Time: 6 Minutes

There’s a well-known story about a young British man who lived in the late 1700s. His desire was to take the good news about Jesus to foreign lands that had not been exposed to this message of hope. This newly ordained minister argued that his church denomination was not doing enough to share the gospel. 

Surprisingly, he was rebuffed by a senior pastor who told him, Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me. 

Fortunately, the young man was undeterred. He went on to become a missionary to India where he served for over four decades without taking a furlough. This man, William Carey, is widely considered the father of the modern missionary movement. 

Why Share the Gospel If God Has Already Decided Who Gets Saved?

That’s all we’ll say about Carey. In this article, we’re more interested in the attitude of Carey’s senior pastor. This is an attitude shared by many people who embrace what we call the doctrine of election—the belief that God decides who will be saved. 

God does, in fact, decide who will be saved, as Paul wrote to believers in Ephesus,For he [God] chose us in him [Jesus] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehe predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV). The Bible gives us the doctrine of election.

This article aims to respond to the most common objection against election: If God chooses or elects those who will be saved—doing so before he even created the universe—doesn’t that make evangelism and missions unnecessary?

Enter that senior pastor. His attitude sounds similar to those who have made the doctrine of election a cornerstone of their theology. Commonly called Calvinists, many of these Christians sound just like that senior pastor. “God has already decided who will be saved, and he doesn’t need your help to save them!” 

So why should we share the gospel if, so to speak, God has already stacked the deck? 

Reason #1: God Said So

For starters, God commands us to take the gospel to the nations. This should be enough to end any protest. 

ObjectionWhy should I share the gospel when God has already determined who will be saved? 

Answer: Because God commands you to do it.  

Hear Jesus’ words: 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

It’s precisely because Jesus has all authority—the authority to save, the authority to judge, and the authority to tell his followers what they should do—that we must share the gospel. It isn’t optional. This isn’t a suggestion—it’s a command.

In fact, it’s the last thing he said before his ascension into heaven. When faced with just one more thing to say to his disciples, this is what Jesus chose to say: “Go tell and teach others about me.”

Peter, one of Jesus’ original disciples, echoes this command when he writes: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15 NIV). Do you notice that Peter ties the command of sharing our faith to the lordship of Christ? This makes good sense. Peter could perfectly recall the last words his Lord told him on this earth. 

It’s sheer arrogance for anyone to argue that belief in a biblical doctrine supposedly negates our obedience to a direct command from Jesus. No theological gymnastics can negate that direct command. And anyone who genuinely loves Jesus will trust him and obey what he calls us to do (John 14:23). 

Reason #2: God Wants Your “Help”

But there’s another reason for us to share our faith other than a command from Jesus. 

Objection: Why should I share the gospel when God has already determined who will be saved? 

Answer: Because God has granted you the privilege to participate in his plan of salvation for a fallen world. 

To be clear, God doesn’t need us to spread the gospel. He could easily use angels, speak to each person in a booming voice from heaven, or raise up rocks for the job (Luke 19:40). But what God has determined to do is give us the opportunity to take the gospel to others, and to witness the Spirit’s work in resurrecting a spiritually dead heart. He has invited us into his plan. 

So yes, it’s true: God decides before the foundation of the world who his chosen people will be. Yet he grants us the privilege of coming alongside him, declaring the message of hope and salvation to sinners 

As Paul writes, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). This means that every good work we do (evangelism included!) in partnership with God has already been arranged by him. The beauty of this truth is that we can always expect fruit to come from our labors. Our work for the Lord is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). 

Some of the good work God has prepared for us to do is introducing individual people to Jesus, that he might work faith in their hearts.

Working for (and with!) the God Who Saves

Yes, the God who could raise up children of Abraham from stones (Matthew 3:9) and could cause rocks to praise him (Luke 19:40) needs nothing from us. He requires things of us solely for our benefit because he wants to have a relationship with us. Our obedience to his commission for us to spread the good news about Jesus is a means through which God has determined to work in the lives of others. It’s incredible! You get to watch our gracious God work.

So next time you’re tempted to find a theological loophole for sharing your faith, remember that, regardless of your reservations, your Lord commands you to share. Remember also, that all his commands are for your joy, that you might get to witness his power at work in the world and know him better as you join him in bringing his Kingdom to earth. 

Let no one discourage you from sharing the good news about Jesus. Seize the privilege to share it with others.

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