British-born Canadian theologian J.I. Packer addresses a common question asked of those who are Calvinists – “Why evangelize if God predestines?” He points out that it is our job to proclaim the Gospel, it is God’s job to save. It is our job to be faithful in sharing Christ, it is God’s job to be fruitful. The results of our evangelism don’t (praise God) depend on our intentions or ability, but on God’s will. Packer writes in his classic work, Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God:
If we regarded it as our job, not simply to present Christ, but actually to produce converts – to evangelize, not only faithfully, but also successfully – our approach to evangelism would become pragmatic and calculating… This shows the danger of forgetting the practical implications of God’s sovereignty. It is right to recognize our responsibility to engage in aggressive evangelism. It is right to desire the conversion of unbelievers… But it is not right when we take it on us to do more than God has given us to do. It is not right when we regard ourselves as responsible for securing converts, and look to our own enterprise and techniques to accomplish what only God can accomplish. To do that is to intrude ourselves into the office of the Holy Ghost, and to exalt ourselves as agents of the new birth. And the point that we must see is this: only by letting our knowledge of God’s sovereignty control the way in which we plan, and pray, and work in His service, can we avoid becoming guilty of this fault. For where we are not consciously relying on God, there we shall inevitably be found relying on ourselves, (pg. 27-29).
We we focus on faithfulness rather than fruit we lessen the risk of diminishing the Gospel. There is less temptation to water it down in order to make it more palatable to a nonbeliever. We recognize that ultimately the Holy Spirit is the Evangelist who convinces, not us. When we rely on God in evangelism rather than ourselves, then evangelism comes naturally… at times when God opens the door and isn’t forced.
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