The first time I met a person who embraced the doctrine of election, the first question that came to mind was, “Okay, then why evangelize?” If God, before the foundation of the world, chose those whom He would save, then what point is there in spreading the gospel to all people?
After embracing the doctrine of election a number of years later, I found that my “evangelism objection” to this doctrine had been rooted in an unbiblical view of the gospel message as well as an unbiblical view of my role in evangelism. I hadn’t fully understood the concept of absolute depravity that we find in Eph 2:1-3, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins… Unsaved people are dead. In other words, they are incapable of obeying God and they are incapable of willing themselves to faith. God alone can bring a dead sinner to life, give them repentance and faith, and save them. As Paul writes in v10 of that chapter, For we are His workmanship.
Realizing for the first time that all people are completely helpless until God regenerates them and gives them faith, I quickly adopted a far more humble understanding of my role in evangelism. Back when I believed that anyone could will himself to faith in Christ, I understood my role in evangelism to be that of a salesman. It was my responsibility to convince that lost person to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. Just like the goal of any salesman is to close the sale, my objective was not merely to share the gospel but to “win souls.”
Evangelism as “closing the sale” characterized much of what I had seen at church camps as a child and teen. The painfully long altar calls, the blatant emotionalism, the softening of the gospel. All of that was built on the conviction that it is the responsibility of the sharer to produce a conversion. After becoming convinced of the truth of election, much of my thinking regarding evangelism needed to be changed.
"Tell the Truth" by Will Metzger. The book was recommended at a conference I went to several years ago and I immediately went to the bookstore to buy it.
To many, Will Metzger is a walking contradiction. He is a five-point Calvinist who is absolutely passionate about evangelism. As he explains in his book, these two things are not contradictory, but must necessarily go together if one allows the Bible to dictate his message and responsibility.
The subtitle of the book is “The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People.” In the first section of the book, Metzger describes the whole gospel. This includes not only the message of the gospel but also our role in its propagation. We do not produce conversions – only God does that. Our role is simply to plant and water seeds by sharing the complete gospel. Metzger clearly outlines this gospel, and exposes the “reduced” gospel, so popular today, that exalts man and saves no one.
In subsequent sections, Metzger exposes the difference between true conversion and nominal belief, explains how the sovereign grace of God works in saving sinners, reveals our most biblical motive for evangelizing, and gives practical instruction on how to share the gospel clearly and concisely. This book is both a theology of and training manual for evangelism.
Since discovering the book in 2006, I have heard numerous scholars and well-known reformed pastors recommend “Tell the Truth” for its thorough presentation of doctrine and its simple, yet faithful methodology. It has been a great help to me and I heartily recommend it to you.
Posted by Greg Birdwell