Contend Earnestly: Calvinistic Evangelism is not Jumbo Shrimp

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Calvinistic Evangelism is not Jumbo Shrimp


The one thing that tires me the most with those who try and defame Calvinism and the doctrines of grace is the fact that the haters always say that Calvinism kills evangelism. What is weird is that if they even read a little about church history, and I mean very little, they will see that some of the most amazing evangelist in church history were Calvinists. To name a few, check out John Calvin himself, John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, J. Gresham Machen and Asahel Nettleton. Again...start there and when your head stops spinning, call me and I will give you more. No doubt there have also been some great Arminian evangelists as well, but I don't hear any Calvinists saying that Arminianism kills evangelism so there is no need to go there.

I hava a good friend who is an evangelist in Austria and also goes into Iraq every once in a while to play "preach Jesus and hope you don't get shot." He is an evangelist also to some guys at the United Nations. He has been leading a small group Bible study there for years and has some pretty amazing contacts as he has been able to preach Jesus to many "high-ups" for many different nations across the world. His stories that he tells me about are far above amazing and I can't put everything here that has been said, and I can't even type his name as it would put him in to danger next time he heads into Iraq.

We talk about every month to catch up and encourage one another in prayer. Try telling someone who leads a Bible study at the U.N. and goes to Iraq for the purpose of proclaiming Christ, that ministry is difficult. I almost laugh everytime I ask him to pray for me in these areas, but he is very patient and very gracious and truly prays for me and never scoffs at my requests.

Last week we had our time of conversation and he told me a story of a certain high up bio nuclear scientist for a certain nation. I really can't give specifics on which nation he represents as it is just too dangerous. This scientist used to meet at this small group Bible study and then some years ago told my friend that he would no longer attend because he just didn't believe anything that was said at the small group. My friend wanted to keep in contact so they continued to go out to dinner every three months to make sure that the friendship was kept in tack.

This past month they were at dinner for over three hours and this scientist admitted that my friend's thoughts on Jesus and the Bible were now starting to "make sense" and that he felt like "something inside him was convicting him of these truths." One of the scientists issues was the fact that if he believed in what my friend was telling him that his whole life (the scientist is in his 60's) would have been a waste, because everything he believed would be put to the side. My friend said, "What if God was using everything in your life until now, to bring you to this very point of understanding?" The scientist was blown away, and merely said, "good point." The scientist then remarked that he would "lose face" with many of his friends and co-workers. My friend simply asked, "Who do you want to 'lose face' with more, your friends or the one who will judge you when you die?" Again...touche.

At the end of the night, the scientist simply said that he wasn't ready to completely surrender to the truths that were being represented.

Before we move on from here, let me ask, "How would you respond to someone who you have had contact with for years, seems like they are ready to surrender to Christ, but then they simply said, "I am not ready tonight." What would you say? Would you beg and ask, "What if you die tonight?" Would you think that you don't want this to "slip away?" Would you try and get him to "repeat after me and you will be saved?"

Here is what my friend said:

That is okay. God has a hold of you and he won't let you go. Take your time, you don't have to decide tonight.

I wonder how an Arminian would have responded?

The one who believes in complete sovereignty in salvation isn't looking for a prayer but looking for God's timing. The Calvinist can sleep at night knowing that God has his plans for his elect and it will happen in his time. The Calvinist doesn't have to try and convince even further at the dinner table in fear that the man might get hit by a truck on the way home and "surprise God."

The Calvinistic Evangelist rests all his hope, not on the method of evangelism, but on the sovereignty of his Creator and the sustainer of his faith.

You see, Calvinistic Evangelism is not Jumbo Shrimp. It is not an oxymoron, but it is the complete rest in the sovereignty of our Lord who bought us with a price. Calvinism doesn't kill evangelism but allows evangelism to rest not on the presenter, but on the Creator. It puts away pragmatism and places it's hopes on the glory and will of God. I believe that the Calvinistic Evangelist is the best way to evangelize and the way that the trust in God is completely at rest.

So, tonight, if you are a Calvinist and you have friends that you continually share the gospel with, sleep well and eat some jumbo shrimp tomorrow.

7 comments:

Bob Hayton said...

Great post, Seth. Of course, Arminian and Calvinist alike will pray that that fellow gets saved. Now who is more consistent with their theology when praying such a prayer?

Seth McBee said...

Bob.
Good question...I think what I will do is give an "example prayer" that I pray when praying for those that I evangelize to...

Will post tomorrow on this...good thoughts

R. D. Bailey said...

i find so much more comfort and logic in evangelism with an approach based on Calvinistic doctrine. of course i would, God called me under the teaching of Curtis Thomas.

Puritan Lad said...

In my own personal observations, it seems to me that Arminianism kills the gospel. That may seem harsh, but I have been a part of several Arminian churches in my life. While they begin by preaching a solid gospel of sin, judgment, atonement, and repentance, it takes less than a generation for these churches to move toward the "seeker sensitive" therapy gospel. Indeed, it is a sad thing to watch.

R.A. Servin said...

Awesome post Seth. I agree that the Calvinist can truly rest in God knowing full well that He will accomplish what He wills in His own timing. The Arminian can not rest the same as we can. He goes to bed at night thinking of different things he can say to further "convince" the person to come to Christ on his own accord.

Grace & Peace brothers!

R.A. Servin

R.A. Servin said...

The prior comment didn't link my blog. Sorry.

Kaitiaki said...

I guess, then, by your description, Paul was a Calvinist evangelist. Certainly the message he gave on Mars Hill didn't seem to include an appeal or a "bow your head and pray after me ..." at the end. The hearers were left to return home or make an approach to him if prompted to by their conscience.

I wonder how many other Apostles would be classed (by your post above) as Calvinist evangelists (ok so it's anachronistic but an interesting point nonetheless)

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