At NCC, we recently spent a couple of weeks unpacking Christ’s words from John 20:21, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” This brought up our mission in proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples.
During a couple of discussions after the worship service, some additional questions regarding God’s Sovereignty (God’s supreme rule and legal authority over His entire universe which includes His divine plan and outworking of redemptive history). I was asked how I understand man’s choice in rejecting or believing the Gospel in light of God’s sovereignty.
“The biblical teaching of Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility has created tension in my walk but it has never created contradiction.”
The biblical teaching of Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility has created tension in my walk but it has never created contradiction. God is the Sovereign of the universe and He controls and orders all things including human activity which includes saving faith in Jesus Christ. On the flip side, the Bible teaches that man is thoroughly responsible and accountable for his sin against God and rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I live my life transparently before my congregation and my neighbors, I step out in obedience and proclaim the good news of the Bible. If at any point I felt like it was up to me to persuade a lost person, who is facing the eternal wrath of God, into the Kingdom, I would fall down crippled with fear of failure.
“Divine Sovereignty gives me confidence and boldness to proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in my weakness, knowing that God’s Word will accomplish His purposes and He will draw the elected sinner to His Son by His Spirit.”
Divine Sovereignty gives me confidence and boldness to proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in my weakness, knowing that God’s Word will accomplish His purposes and He will draw the elected sinner to His Son by His Spirit. If I did not have that assurance, in my sinful heart I would quickly abandon the simple presentation of the Gospel for a more pragmatic means of gaining a response and probably puff myself up with my successes or stop evangelizing due to my failures.
My purpose in evangelism is not to create the results. I am an instrument in the hands of the Sovereign God who uses me to proclaim the Personhood and work of His Son. I do this in full recognition that it is God alone who ordains the Gospel presentation, the response, the conviction of sin, and the gift of faith and repentance necessary for salvation. All of the glory rests in the hands of the Almighty and none of it falls in my blood stained hands.
If God’s election of sinners, in whom I am not privy of knowing who falls into that category, were to inspire me to inaction, then I would be like the wicked, disobedient servant who buried his talent. So I step out in faith, with the goal of seeing conversions for the glory of God, out of love for God and love for my neighbor, and proclaim saving truth.
“So I take confidence not in my efforts, but in my God who brings sinners to repentance and faith in Christ by the power of His Spirit.”
The knowledge of humanity’s guilt and responsibility before God, coupled with Divine Sovereignty brings me on my knees in dependence and humble adoration of the God that we serve, who sent His Son to die in our place, and to reconcile His enemies to Himself. Because of this, my evangelism is not worthless. Men go to hell because of their rejection of the Gospel and all of humanity, apart from God’s saving activity, stands completely dead in their transgressions. If it were not for God’s election, my efforts in evangelism would yield zero fruit because of our inability to respond to spiritual matters apart from God. So I take confidence not in my efforts, but in my God who brings sinners to repentance and faith in Christ by the power of His Spirit.