Why should we as Christians spend our time and energy evangelizing if God has already predetermined before the foundations of the world who will be saved and who will not be? If God has an elect group of people, will they not just come to faith no matter what happens? Why do we need to preach the Gospel? These were all questions that I had prior to becoming a Calvinist. I’m sure there are many people out there today that are asking similar questions (I know, because I see them in anti-Calvinist threads on an almost daily basis!).
As a young Christian, I had vehemently opposed the idea that God had predetermined the fate of humanity before the foundation of the world. It just did not sit right with me (partly because of my pride, and partly because I didn’t understand my own sinfulness at the time). I could not for the life of me understand why we were commanded to evangelize if it was all a “done deal”.
To make a long story short, God in His grace began to peel back the layers of my own pride and ego, and began to show me my own sinfulness before Him. Over time, I came to understand that the sovereignty of God and evangelism actually are not enemies at all, but rather they are the very best of friends. It is my intention to help others that may be struggling as I was to understand how God’s sovereignty and evangelism are actually friends, rather than enemies.
Why Evangelize If God Is Sovereign?
God ordains not only the end, but He also ordains the means to that end. The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 tells us that the Gospel is “God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes”. In Romans 10:13, he tells us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. So we see that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, and that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. From there, the apostle begins to delve deeper. He asks “but how will they call on Him they have not believed in and how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15 HCSB).
To lay out Paul’s thinking, it would look similar to this:
- The Gospel is the power of God for salvation,
- and all that call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
- But, how can they call on the name of the Lord if they haven’t heard about him to begin with?
- How can they hear about Him and this power without a preacher?
- How can they preach about Him and this power for salvation if they are not sent out?
Paul knew that God is sovereign, and had already ordained the end. But, he knew that the means was essential to get to that end. He talks about God’s glorious and mighty sovereignty so strongly in chapters 8, 9, and 11 of Romans. But here in chapter 10, smashed right in between those chapters, he addresses the importance of sending out preachers of the Gospel to evangelize; “how will they call on Him they have no believed in, and how can they believe without hearing about Him? How can they even hear about Him and what He did for sinners without a preacher?” (1)
The Gospel – The Ordained Means For Salvation
This is why we evangelize. God is indeed sovereign, and he has ordained the end and the means to that end. That means is the proclamation of the Gospel. The elect of God cannot come to God without believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and they cannot respond to this Gospel message without hearing it being preached. We do not know who the elect are. They are scattered all throughout the world. They are a part of every tongue, tribe, and nation. So, we preach indiscriminately to all and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as Jesus commanded.