Summary: This sermon deals with, If God is going to save whom He has chosen, why evangelize? Why should I go through the hassle of doing it?
Election and Evangelism
Preached at Life Bridge May 7, 2017
This morning we’re going to address a question that many think but few verbalize. The question is embedded in this morning’s sermon title…
What’s the point of evangelism if God has already chosen who will be saved?
Now I understand this question means very little to those who believe that salvation is purely of man’s free will, meaning everyone has an equal shot at the kingdom. If you’re in that camp the question is, “If I choose not to do my part in witnessing to others, am I complicit in sending people to hell?” That too is an important question, but this morning I want to speak to those of us who believe that God, according to His mere good pleasure and sovereign will, chose from all the peoples of the world, a peculiar people to be His own before He made anyone or anything. That’s the essence of election.
The doctrine of election teaches that, in the final analysis, those who are saved are saved because Christ chose to rescue them.
This is a difficult doctrine to fathom. Our culture values “fairness” and “free will” as though they are “givens,” inalienable rights given to us by God. (BTW, never ask God to be fair. Ask for more of His mercy and grace, but never ask for fairness. If He was fair, none of us would be here this morning.”
I realize the Bible speaks of freely coming to Christ too. So we have a paradox…a seeming contradiction…which is no contradiction to God, but it is for us.
My Goal is Not to Debate…
But my goal this morning isn’t to debate which view is correct!
That’s another whole sermon series. ?
No, I want to talk to those who believe in the doctrine of election, but struggle with its’ impact on evangelism.
Let me be blunt: I want to speak to the “chosen” who are “frozen” when it comes to witnessing to others. Somehow, in some way, the doctrine of election has led to a frozen or cavalier attitude in sharing Christ with others.
Why not kick back and take it easy? If God is going to save whom God is going to save, why bother praying for my neighbor’s salvation and take the risk of being rejected or stepped on when I open my mouth to share Christ?
Paul did not reason this way…
Before we go further I want you to know that Paul, and the rest of the New Testament writers did not think this way, even though they firmly believed in God’s electing work.
Here is what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8-10
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound in chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain (future tense) the salvation that is in Jesus Christ with eternal glory.”
This passage marries election and evangelism. In Paul’s mind the two are inseparable. Please, please note that election didn’t drive him to complacency…no, quite the opposite. It drove him to intense suffering and even imprisonment for the sake of winning the elect!
In Romans, chapter 9 and you will see that Paul clearly understood and embraced God’s sovereign work in salvation…that it was all a work of God and that God has a right to have mercy on whomever He wills (v18).
He gives three examples of this: Jacob and Esau, Pharaoh, and a lump of clay in a potter’s hand.
I wish I had time to walk you through chapters 9 thru 11 for all address the interplay between God’s sovereign hand in both election and evangelism.
What I want point out right now is Paul’s response to God’s electing purposes.
First, knowing that God had passed over the Israelites and was now bringing the Gospel to Gentiles (non-Jews) Paul said…
“…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
Paul wishes that he could be damned to hell if it would help some of his Israelite kinsmen come to Christ.
The word “great” comes from a Greek word “megas” which means “loud and profound” sorrow that will not go away.
It’s the kind of sorrow a parent has for a son or daughter who is profoundly lost. You know what I mean. You think about them constantly. You weep as though they are dead, for that is what they are…dead without Christ. Whether it be at home or in your car, you “megas”…cry out loudly to God…please save them!