Predestination and Evangelism
“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!’ ” (vv. 14b–15).- Romans 10:14–15
Questions are raised nearly every time the biblical, Augustinian doctrine of election is presented, many having to do with divine justice, human free will, and other matters. To conclude our brief study of the biblical doctrine of predestination, we will consider one last question that people often ask when they hear that God, out of the good pleasure of His will alone, has chosen only some for salvation. This is the question of the necessity of evangelism. If the Lord has chosen those who will be saved, and if they are certain to be saved, what is the point of evangelism? Does not this teaching on predestination mean that we do not have to preach the gospel because God is going to save His elect anyway?
The simplest response is that we do have to preach the gospel, and we have to do so because the Lord has commanded us to preach the gospel. After all, in Matthew 28:18–20, Jesus commands His people to go into all the world and preach the gospel, making disciples of every nation. No one can hold to the Augustinian, or Calvinistic, doctrine of election without also believing in the sovereignty of God. He is the King of creation, with full authority to command our obedience. What He orders us to do, we must do, regardless of whether we fully understand it.
We evangelize because our Creator commands us to evangelize, but that is not the only reason we engage in evangelism and world missions. The doctrine of predestination means that the Lord does not ordain the end (salvation) without also ordaining the means to that end (the way in which people will receive salvation). God’s plan is comprehensive. He works out all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11), and the counsel of His will has determined that He will use His people to reach the lost and call them into His kingdom. He has decided that in the ordinary course of events, people will be saved through the explanation of the gospel on the part of Christians.
The necessity of preaching is found in many places in Scripture, including today’s passage, in which the Apostle Paul notes that the salvation that comes through faith in Christ alone will not be extended without the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:14–15). God sends His gospel to the world through the church and its preachers, teachers, and evangelists. This is a great privilege—to be used of the Lord in redeeming people for all eternity.
Being used by God to reach the world and call the elect to faith is a great privilege. Of course, the Lord will save all those whom He has chosen, which is good news because it means our outreach failures cannot derail God’s plan to save all His elect. But this should not make us complacent. When we preach the gospel, we are participating in the greatest rescue mission in all of history, namely, the salvation of sinners. What could be more motivating than that?
Passages for Further Study