Predestination: If You Believe in it, What about Evangelism?
I like to begin a lot of my writings by defining my intended audience. This has been helpful in avoiding argumentation.
Those who I am seeking to persuade, inform, or teach are those who believe Jesus is Lord according to the bible. I like to write to Christians because we can then find common ground in the scriptures, which makes it easier to relate ideas and principles. We also don't need to spend time convincing one another of the truthfulness of scriptures from which then we can exhort, correct, rebuke and teach one another. (2 Tim 3:16)
If you do not believe, feel free to read anyways. If you have something to share, then feel free also. All I ask is that you remain within the scope of what I write about.
Predestination, according to the scriptures, is simply the act of God choosing who will be justified/saved from their sins. This can be seen from one outstanding verse found in the first chapter of Ephesians, verses three through six:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Emphasis mine)
Here, in a verse where the author is describing the goodness of God's blessings, he reveals how God 'chose us in him before the foundation of the world' and 'predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.' It would then be suggested that the author, commonly understood as Paul the Apostle, was writing to an audience of believers. (The beginning of his letter addresses 'the saints who are in Ephesus.')
This would then lead to an understanding of the "us" in the above scriptures as an exclusive reference to believers in general. So we could say, "God predestined 'we who believe' for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ."
There are several other verses that can be understood in this manner and I would suggest it is biblical and safe to do so. If you disagree with the conclusions, it is ok, but I just want you to follow and understand the point of what I am going to say next. (In other words this isn't meant to be persuasive, but informative.)
Evangelism and Matthew 28
Now to leave the realm of election for a moment, I want to share some basis for evangelism.
Perhaps you would suggest the whole reason we share the gospel is so men and women can be saved. You could even run a scenario in your mind, one where you see an instance when you didn't share with a particular person and you feel guilty because they have a strong likelihood of never hearing it from someone else. Urgency does flow from this way of thinking, but so does anxiety and perhaps an unhealthy guilt.
While I wouldn't say this is wholly wrong I do object for this being a basis for evangelism which I will flesh-out in the next section.
If you are familiar with evangelism, then you are most likely familiar with this particular verse:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," (Matt 28:19)
You are also familiar with who gave these orders, but if you aren't, it was Jesus.
Now I don't believe this was meant to be an option for the men who Jesus shared this with, but a command. One that we can infer to ourselves. I believe this is true despite what you believe about election and if you ever take a stance that evangelism is optional or unnecessary, you are being disobedient.
So to conclude this section, urgency for the souls of men and women is a good reason to evangelize, but your number one intention for sharing should be obedience to the Word of God and love for His commandments.
God's Method of Saving Men and Women
Now I feel you can still ask, "Why command Christians to share if there are already those who are chosen?"
I would suggest it is the proclamation and obedience to God's commands that bring about glory and praise, but also God has a greater purpose in allowing us to participate in this endeavor of bringing all the nations to an understanding of Him.
It could easily be suggested that God just needs to flip a switch and turn on the belief of all those He has chosen. While I am not absolutely positive why God doesn't do this, I know that this isn't how He does it and He shares how He wants His elect to come to belief. This is through the preaching of the word.
"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Rom 10:14-15)
There might be a lot of reasons we say God does it this way, but we do not need to know why to be faithful to it. It isn't inconsistent or ignorant to not have an understanding of why God does everything.
But we can see from so many examples of men believing because they have been shared with, when God could have just made them believe otherwise, that we can conclude this is God's will for bringing about His elect.
God's Purpose in Evangelism
This is a challenging section but I feel it is fully biblical and crucial for developing a love for God that will reap joy and righteousness.
The purpose of evangelism is the same purpose God has for anything He has created or commanded: the praise and glory of His name.
If this is true, then I feel like I can quickly point why basing your belief in evangelism to save men and women can be detrimental and dangerous to your evangelism. Thinking in such a manner is essentially Humanism and you replace the praise and glory of God in sharing the gospel for the interests and comforts of men and women. Now if you have thought that way, I am positive that you wanted the best for people, because you love God. It isn't a mistake as much as it is a straightening of priorities.
If it is hard to believe that God would prioritize His praise and glory above all else, I want you to consider a few verses, first being the one I used above, Ephesians 1:6, 12 & 14. In each one Paul describes something God does for his creation and then describes why, "To the praise of His glorious grace...", "...to the praise of His glory..." and "...to the praise of His glory."
You know, listing verses can be boring and hard to read. I challenge you read yourself and find how Jesus, God the Father, and the Spirit all work to the end of glorifying themselves. "From the rising of the sun, to its setting, I the Lord will make my name great amongst the nations..."
If I get enough requests I will gladly create a list of verses demonstrating this truth.
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