A properly Biblical doctrine of predestination – one that properly interacts with God’s nature and the nature of human being in God’s image – is not only compatible with evangelism and a call to conversion, but requires and motivates both.
Reformed theology holds that the Bible asserts that the Triune God does indeed choose (“decrees”) who will be saved (“the elect”) and who will not (“the reprobate”) (Deut 7:6-11; Deut 9:4-7; Isaiah 41:8-10; John 10:26-30; Rom 9:11-16).
But this Triune God is not an impersonal force, but a personal being who enters into personal relationship with his image-bearing creatures. He gave Adam the vocation of tending his – that is, God’s – garden (Gen 2:7-9), and called Adam to be faithful to that vocation – a vocation which Adam forfeited by his disobedience. The nation of Israel was supposed to conform her life to God’s revealed word – his law – as an example to the neighbouring Godless, idolatrous nations (Deut 4:5-7). Instead, they rebelled against God more than the neighbouring nations (Ezek 6:6-8). This is why, in one sense, Jesus Christ is not only truly human, but the only true human – he is the only one who conformed his life to God his heavenly father the way God intended (Matt 4:1-11; Rom 5:12-21; Heb 4:15).In another sense, everyone who is conceived by human parents is truly human, because God stamps his image upon us.
If God is personal, then his decrees cannot be impersonal, but operate in a way that expresses the personal, relational nature of both God and humans. Therefore, while God’s choice is prior to human choice, humans really do “choose” to trust and follow Christ. Consider Lydia, the first convert in the Roman province of Europe. She only responded to Paul’s gospel explanation because God enabled her to do so – “the Lord opened her heart” (Acts 16:14). But, when God enabled her to respond, she really did respond in a personal way – “the Lord opened her heart to respond”, “to pay attention”, “to Paul’s message”. And she expressed her faith in her deeds of hospitality (Acts 16:15).
No-one “naturally” follows Jesus. Sin makes us not want God. Under conditions of sin, we “naturally” turn away from him. God’s saving grace works through people hearing the message of the gospel (Rom 10:17). And the only way people can hear and respond to the crucified and risen Jesus is if someone tells them (Rom 10:14-15).Or by them reading the Bible, or a portion of the Bible, either on paper, or on the internet, on or an app. Or by them reading or hearing a gospel outline, again on paper on online or on an app. Praise God for modern technology – it has vastly increased the ways we can propagate the gospel! The Triune God works his decrees in and through his people faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
May 2017 be a great year of evangelism. And may God work through your prayerful efforts to draw many to himself.
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|1.||↑||In another sense, everyone who is conceived by human parents is truly human, because God stamps his image upon us.|
|2.||↑||Or by them reading the Bible, or a portion of the Bible, either on paper, or on the internet, on or an app. Or by them reading or hearing a gospel outline, again on paper on online or on an app. Praise God for modern technology – it has vastly increased the ways we can propagate the gospel!|