Do Calvinists do Evangelism?

Often when a Christian hears that salvation is God's work from beginning to end, his first response is to exclaim, "Whew, then I don't have to worry with evangelism."

I think this response comes as a result of having toiled for years under a burden of guilt associated with evangelism. We have basically believed that if one of our friends goes to hell, we are partially responsible since we were not better witnesses.

I don't want anybody to feel the weight of that burden. I do want you to proclaim the gospel as freely and as often as you can, but not out of guilt. The love of God and love for your neighbor should compel you, not the weight of guilt.

Rightly understood, the doctrines of grace should awaken your heart to the awesome depths of God's love for you and make you more likely to tell others what he has done for you. As you acknowledge your own depravity, your heart should melt toward the inability of your neighbor to change his own life. You will know from experience that calling out to Christ is his only hope for change. Calvinists should be the best evangelists.

If that seems contradictory, take a second to reflect on what you already know.

First, you already know God is sovereign. You confess that every time you pray. If he couldn't change things why would you bother to ask him? If he could not save your friends, why would you pray for their salvation? (I owe this reflection to J.I. Packer's excellent book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.)

Second, you already know God accomplishes his will through ordinary means. He wills your safety, so you wear a seatbelt. He wills your nourishment, so you eat. He has known my children since before the foundation of the world, but I played a part in making them.

For years some have tried to say that if God is responsible for something, then man must play no part in it. God has not chosen to work that way. He had Jesus born through the womb of Mary, and had him crucified by the hands of sinful men  (Acts 2:23). He works through human means.

Third, you already know that you cannot change another person's heart. You can't make your children like green beans. You can't make a Sooner fan cheer for the Cowpokes. And you certainly cannot make an atheist bow down and worship Christ (John 5:39-40). Something must work within them to convince them of their need and his willingness to save.

So do Calvinists do evangelism? Yes, joyfully and confidently. 

First we do it from our knees, praying for God to save the lost (Acts 11:18). Second we do it our of love for our neighbor, because no one will be saved without hearing the gospel (Romans 10:14). And finally, we do it confidently believing that God's word will not fail but all who are appointed unto eternal life will believe (Acts 14:23). 

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