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Edward Fudge

WHY EVANGELIZE IF GOD IS SOVEREIGN?

After I said that God must regenerate one who is "dead" in sin before that person can believe, a subscriber responded, "So, why worry about preaching the good news to them? Why worry about them believing it?"

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The person who knows that salvation is of God's sovereign initiative doesn't "worry" about any of these things -- the whole process is in very good hands! All those whom the Father has given Jesus will come to him (John 6:37). Jesus will give them all eternal life, and they will be with him and share his glory (John 17:2, 24). People may join churches and perform religious rituals as they see fit, but no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or her (John 6:44). However, all those who "hear" and "learn" from the Father do come (John 6:45).

The person, on the other hand, who thinks that salvation depends on human initiative, ability and effort has good reason to "worry." (What if I can't convince them? What if nobody believes? Will others be lost because of my lack of ability? If I don't do my part, will God's plan fail?)

If the question is, "Why preach? Why believe?" it is enough answer for my feeble mind to be told, "Because Jesus said to do it." God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and I have far more questions than answers. But God has told us enough for us to rely on him and to follow him and to enjoy his company now and in eternity. We can
safely affirm what he declares, whether we understand it or not. It is to obedient disciples on mission that Jesus promises, "Look, I am with you always, even to the consummation of the Age" (Matt. 28:20).

Besides that, Scripture indicates that God normally uses the good news about Jesus to bring people to faith. As Luther put it, "the Holy Spirit comes riding in the chariot of the gospel." This also means that God allows us the privilege of participating in his saving work, as we become "clay pots" in which the "treasure" of the gospel is placed -- but the "power" is always God's and never ours. And what a joy we are privileged to share, as we see God do things and accomplish results we know could not occur or be achieved through merely human power!

For anyone wishing to do a deeper study of the implications of God's sovereignty for evangelism, I recommend J. I. Packer's volume, now a quarter-century old, entitled Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

For more on missions and witness, click here.
For more on divine sovereignty and human choice, click here.