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The Value of Evangelism in Reformed Theology

TibiasDad

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I have just begun reading the book Deconstructing Calvinism, by Hudson Smelley, and in the prologue found this statement:

Calvinism completely compasses God's redemptive plan and teaches that God saves a small percentage of humanity based on His elective determination before creation and passes over the rest. Since God's redemptive plan excludes most people, there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things. Indeed, it is difficult to see how we could make any honest gospel presentation knowing most people are by God's purposes not savable. Not only that, since salvation hangs on God's elective determination before creation and not on a present decision for Christ, we must make this TULIP reality personal. We must come to grips with the fact that many of those we know, and perhaps some of those closest to us, have no possibility of being reconciled to God because they are not elect.

What caught my eye is the idea that "there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things."

I had always thought the Calvinistic evangelism was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack,, the rare Elect person in the mass of reprobates, but had never thought of the effect of the presentation of the gospel to those who would never be able to experience it. Smelley terms it "misleading" them to think that they might be savable, when in fact, there isn't a sliver of hope that this would happen.

What are your thoughts, either pro or con to Smelley's thought?


Doug
 

JLB

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I have just begun reading the book Deconstructing Calvinism, by Hudson Smelley, and in the prologue found this statement:

Calvinism completely compasses God's redemptive plan and teaches that God saves a small percentage of humanity based on His elective determination before creation and passes over the rest. Since God's redemptive plan excludes most people, there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things. Indeed, it is difficult to see how we could make any honest gospel presentation knowing most people are by God's purposes not savable. Not only that, since salvation hangs on God's elective determination before creation and not on a present decision for Christ, we must make this TULIP reality personal. We must come to grips with the fact that many of those we know, and perhaps some of those closest to us, have no possibility of being reconciled to God because they are not elect.

What caught my eye is the idea that "there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things."

I had always thought the Calvinistic evangelism was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack,, the rare Elect person in the mass of reprobates, but had never thought of the effect of the presentation of the gospel to those who would never be able to experience it. Smelley terms it "misleading" them to think that they might be savable, when in fact, there isn't a sliver of hope that this would happen.

What are your thoughts, either pro or con to Smelley's thought?


Doug

I would have to say that Calvinism seems to make the work of Evangelism, Pastoring and Teaching pretty much a waste of time since these ministries have no bearing or input into the salvation and or transformation of each child of God, based on concept that Calvinism promotes, in which each child of God has been chosen already and there is nothing anyone can do or not do to change that.


Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9



I wonder how those who teach the precepts of Reformed Theology view this scripture, in light of their doctrine?





JLB
 

jasonc

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hyper Calvinism ,well truth be told based on observation ,most Arminism churches have gone south while the reformed pca,pcua and arp(my church denomination)haven't.this doesn't mean these are not in trouble as my church leadership has pushed for evangelism .

I know a reformed missionary in India that says we don't know who will be saved or not but are called to tell the world .my pastor and elders have said this ,many old 100 or 50 year old churches are closing or dying here .I pass by a church that died after 60 years,its mother church to,the west of it ,is also dying . currently the shell of it is used as a satellite church for a larger Baptist church .

so its not just Calvinist who don't win souls but all manner of churches
 

for_his_glory

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There are seven things that please God.
1. Have faith in Him - Hebrews 11:6
2. Be Spiritually minded - Romans 8:6-8
3. Fear (respect) God - Psalms 147:11
4. Study and follow Jesus - Matthew 17:5
5. Obey God - Hebrews 13:20, 21
6. Do God's will Hebrews 13:20, 21
7. Give the sacrifice God wants - Hebrews 13:15, 16
 

TibiasDad

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I would have to say that Calvinism seems to make the work of Evangelism, Pastoring and Teaching pretty much a waste of time since these ministries have no bearing or input into the salvation and or transformation of each child of God, based on concept that Calvinism promotes, in which each child of God has been chosen already and there is nothing anyone can do or not do to change that.


Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 9



I wonder how those who teach the precepts of Reformed Theology view this scripture, in light of their doctrine?





JLB
I would tend to agree! The meticulous predetermination of Reformed thought means that we will do exactly what we are predetermined to do, good or bad. There is no real need, for God has already fixed the outcome and the means to that end. Philosophically, it's logical end is pessimistic and unmotivating. There is no reason to do anything but assume that what you do is exactly what God intended for you to do.


Doug
 
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TibiasDad

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hyper Calvinism ,well truth be told based on observation ,most Arminism churches have gone south while the reformed pca,pcua and arp(my church denomination)haven't.this doesn't mean these are not in trouble as my church leadership has pushed for evangelism .

I know a reformed missionary in India that says we don't know who will be saved or not but are called to tell the world .my pastor and elders have said this ,many old 100 or 50 year old churches are closing or dying here .I pass by a church that died after 60 years,its mother church to,the west of it ,is also dying . currently the shell of it is used as a satellite church for a larger Baptist church .

so its not just Calvinist who don't win souls but all manner of churches
Hi Jason, thanks for joining the discussion. I would agree that most churches and denominations are in decline, especially in the west, i.e., the US, but third world lands are a different story.

This said, I don't think this is what Smelley has in mind with his statement. What I hear him saying, is that Calvinists, if they are being true to their precepts, cannot honestly say to any given person that a) God truly desires their salvation, and/or b) that there is any definitive hope for them in eternity because they know , in their system of thought, that God has not elected the majority of people, but only a few, but no mere mortal knows who these people are.

Ultimately, they have to be very, very selective in how they present the gospel, or they would misrepresent the message of grace, and would potentially be misleading some that they have hope, when, in fact, they do not!

Doug
 

jasonc

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Hi Jason, thanks for joining the discussion. I would agree that most churches and denominations are in decline, especially in the west, i.e., the US, but third world lands are a different story.

This said, I don't think this is what Smelley has in mind with his statement. What I hear him saying, is that Calvinists, if they are being true to their precepts, cannot honestly say to any given person that a) God truly desires their salvation, and/or b) that there is any definitive hope for them in eternity because they know , in their system of thought, that God has not elected the majority of people, but only a few, but no mere mortal knows who these people are.

Ultimately, they have to be very, very selective in how they present the gospel, or they would misrepresent the message of grace, and would potentially be misleading some that they have hope, when, in fact, they do not!

Doug
this is a slippery slope ,look I'm,not,even a Calvinist ,we can't know Gods decisions on who is saved ,that's there words.

an equal problematic statement is Arminism one salvation its on you,when no .not one seeks God he iniayes the reconciliation,no man can thwart God
 

JLB

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Thank goodness, we don’t have to go by the teachings of man, and man’s labels that only serve to divide us.


The truth is... For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


Whoever believes in Him, not whoever is predestined for salvation.



Amen.




JLB
 

jasonc

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men read the bible ,while I'm,not anti pentacostal ,I can go into Gifford and takes photos of such churches within a short walk and most are saying this church is called by God and a few down the street from each other ,is that God .?
 

tdidymas

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I have just begun reading the book Deconstructing Calvinism, by Hudson Smelley, and in the prologue found this statement:

Calvinism completely compasses God's redemptive plan and teaches that God saves a small percentage of humanity based on His elective determination before creation and passes over the rest. Since God's redemptive plan excludes most people, there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things. Indeed, it is difficult to see how we could make any honest gospel presentation knowing most people are by God's purposes not savable. Not only that, since salvation hangs on God's elective determination before creation and not on a present decision for Christ, we must make this TULIP reality personal. We must come to grips with the fact that many of those we know, and perhaps some of those closest to us, have no possibility of being reconciled to God because they are not elect.

What caught my eye is the idea that "there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things."

I had always thought the Calvinistic evangelism was like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack,, the rare Elect person in the mass of reprobates, but had never thought of the effect of the presentation of the gospel to those who would never be able to experience it. Smelley terms it "misleading" them to think that they might be savable, when in fact, there isn't a sliver of hope that this would happen.

What are your thoughts, either pro or con to Smelley's thought?


Doug
The problem with this straw man argument is that it confuses they why with the how. Why a person is saved has to do with what God does in a person's heart that leads to salvation, for example Acts 16:14
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."

"Whose heart the Lord opened" - to claim that a person is on their own to make a decision for Christ (or to say that a person has to be manipulated into "accepting Christ" by their own free will by means of pressure and persuasion) - is to claim that a person can make themselves righteous enough to make a spiritually right decision before God, without God's help. The fact that the Bible teaches that God does a sanctifying work by the Holy Spirit in everyone who believes is clear.

In regard to the HOW, the Bible is also clear and explicit in saying that it is by the preaching of the gospel. God uses this means to do that very sanctifying work in the elect. Therefore, Reformed Theology is very much in favor of evangelism for that reason. Anyone who denies this has not carefully considered the reformed confessions such as the Baptist confession of 1689, the Westminster Confession, the Helvetic Confession, and others.

One of the most prolific evangelists of the 18th Century was George Whitefield, who strongly believed in Reformed Theology; another was Jonathan Edwards. Reformed Theology teaches that "salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). It means that salvation is caused by God making a person born again by the Spirit (John 3:3, 1 Pet. 1:23).

Here are the facts:
1. Missionaries say that 1 out of 25 people they encounter are being saved (that's 4%), so few are actually being saved.
2. Jesus passed by many people, dealing only with those He chose to deal with, and mainly those who already exhibited faith in God.
3. Jesus preached to the crowds saying "your Father in heaven," knowing full well that many of them did not believe and would not be saved.

There may be many other facts to consider, but this should be enough to dispel the above straw man argument. In fact, even salesmen know that they have to try persuading 100 people in order to get 1 to buy his product, and this is a natural process. A supernatural process like God sanctifying the elect and causing them to spiritually understand the gospel is similar only in the sense that we must speak to many people, not knowing who the elect are, but assuming that someone listening is the elect, and that God is at work in that person's heart. This requires faith, because it puts control in God's rightful hands, since the preacher has no (zero) control over what God does in a person's heart.

Therefore, I stand contrary to Hudson Smelley's straw man argument, and deem it to be ignorant of not only Reformed teaching, but also of the teachings of scripture. IMO he is confused between natural and spiritual process. The fact is, God gives everyone a chance to make a decision on his own, since the message "has gone out to the ends of the Earth" (Rom. 10:18). And since "no one understands, no one seeks for God," those whom God does not do the sanctifying work necessary for spiritual rebirth will not believe nor will they repent of their wickedness. Salvation is an act of God, not men.

Therefore, this kind of faulty reasoning like Smelley's is equivalent to atheists and evolutionists looking at particular evidences and coming to faulty conclusions based on their personal agendas and biases.
TD:)
 

JLB

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The problem with this straw man argument is that it confuses they why with the how. Why a person is saved has to do with what God does in a person's heart that leads to salvation, for example Acts 16:14
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."

"Whose heart the Lord opened" - to claim that a person is on their own to make a decision for Christ (or to say that a person has to be manipulated into "accepting Christ" by their own free will by means of pressure and persuasion) - is to claim that a person can make themselves righteous enough to make a spiritually right decision before God, without God's help. The fact that the Bible teaches that God does a sanctifying work by the Holy Spirit in everyone who believes is clear.

In regard to the HOW, the Bible is also clear and explicit in saying that it is by the preaching of the gospel. God uses this means to do that very sanctifying work in the elect. Therefore, Reformed Theology is very much in favor of evangelism for that reason. Anyone who denies this has not carefully considered the reformed confessions such as the Baptist confession of 1689, the Westminster Confession, the Helvetic Confession, and others.

One of the most prolific evangelists of the 18th Century was George Whitefield, who strongly believed in Reformed Theology; another was Jonathan Edwards. Reformed Theology teaches that "salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). It means that salvation is caused by God making a person born again by the Spirit (John 3:3, 1 Pet. 1:23).

Here are the facts:
1. Missionaries say that 1 out of 25 people they encounter are being saved (that's 4%), so few are actually being saved.
2. Jesus passed by many people, dealing only with those He chose to deal with, and mainly those who already exhibited faith in God.
3. Jesus preached to the crowds saying "your Father in heaven," knowing full well that many of them did not believe and would not be saved.

There may be many other facts to consider, but this should be enough to dispel the above straw man argument. In fact, even salesmen know that they have to try persuading 100 people in order to get 1 to buy his product, and this is a natural process. A supernatural process like God sanctifying the elect and causing them to spiritually understand the gospel is similar only in the sense that we must speak to many people, not knowing who the elect are, but assuming that someone listening is the elect, and that God is at work in that person's heart. This requires faith, because it puts control in God's rightful hands, since the preacher has no (zero) control over what God does in a person's heart.

Therefore, I stand contrary to Hudson Smelley's straw man argument, and deem it to be ignorant of not only Reformed teaching, but also of the teachings of scripture. IMO he is confused between natural and spiritual process. The fact is, God gives everyone a chance to make a decision on his own, since the message "has gone out to the ends of the Earth" (Rom. 10:18). And since "no one understands, no one seeks for God," those whom God does not do the sanctifying work necessary for spiritual rebirth will not believe nor will they repent of their wickedness. Salvation is an act of God, not men.

Therefore, this kind of faulty reasoning like Smelley's is equivalent to atheists and evolutionists looking at particular evidences and coming to faulty conclusions based on their personal agendas and biases.
TD:)

How do Calvinist's view John 3:16 in light of predestination?


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16


"Whosoever" indicates than anyone who believes can receive eternal life.


JLB
 
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jasonc

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How do Calvinist's view John 3:16 in light of predestination?


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16


"Whosoever" indicates than anyone who believes can receive eternal life.


JLB
not a Calvinist myself but the church i attend is and they push winning souls ,

its Gods job ,not ours to win souls ,we can allow him to use us or not but he alone does it ,do you,disagree that is my,elders words
 

JLB

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not a Calvinist myself but the church i attend is and they push winning souls ,

its Gods job ,not ours to win souls ,we can allow him to use us or not but he alone does it ,do you,disagree that is my,elders words

God works through us, through our actions of obedience.
 

jasonc

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God works through us, through our actions of obedience.
God works through us, through our actions of obedience.
pentacostal believe that their defiance of the order to,preach to the lost ,and that God won't work around that to to save whom he will.

its not all but yes I have heard it said .if God knows our lives eons ago ,do you,really,think he just allows our wills to hinder his?
 

JLB

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pentacostal believe that their defiance of the order to,preach to the lost ,and that God won't work around that to to save whom he will.

its not all but yes I have heard it said .if God knows our lives eons ago ,do you,really,think he just allows our wills to hinder his?

I dont really understand what you are asking.

Do you agree that God works through us ?
 

jasonc

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I dont really understand what you are asking.

Do you agree that God works through us ?
the reformed do.I quoted my elders on this .I,mentioned the idea that we make plans and God can override our plans .we can't out think or deny God's will .

God choose the jews over the gentiles and only,they not,the church can that be said about ,the church came after the foreknownn rebellion ,not a plan b but the plan as God told Moses isreal wouldn't listen .

God knows who will be willing to follow ,don't get hung up on his ability to allow us to deny him and his willing to let us do just that with semenantics in what side if the temporal view of the living ,God knows who will reject him and who won't ,we don't ,
 

jerry63935

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Calvinism completely compasses God's redemptive plan and teaches that God saves a small percentage of humanity based on His elective determination before creation and passes over the rest. Since God's redemptive plan excludes most people, there is no basis for us to tell a lost person that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, that they should believe in Christ for salvation, or that there is hope beyond the grave. If the lost person is not elect, we would be misleading them if we said any of those things
here is my problem with this statement one it promotes calvinism as the superior doctrine . 2. as to clarify those who are not calvinist promote evangelism . paul wrote in ephesians 4

Walk in Unity​

4 I, therefore, the prisoner [a]of the Lord, [b]beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in [c]you all. i have no problem with calvinism provided the Holier than thou attitude that is taught is dropped.

i am well acquainted with calvinism doctrine . but this above remark resembles division calvinism is truth any thing out side that is false.. 1 Body of Christ one Holy spirit one Lord one faith one baptism one God and father .

now then unless you have a different Jesus than i do . i would like to remind you the Body Of Christ has MANY members / so lets keep things in perspective. every Church denom is trying to the best they can. . lets keep the unity Paul is teaching
 

jerry63935

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do you,really,think he just allows our wills to hinder his?
BIG QUESTION . sometimes our will keeps us back from doing his will . for a long time i knew i should get saved but it took a trip to fed court and 2 years later to submit to his will
 

jasonc

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BIG QUESTION . sometimes our will keeps us back from doing his will . for a long time i knew i should get saved but it took a trip to fed court and 2 years later to submit to his will
reformed in,a nut shell,God's will bring,mightier and His omnipotence broke your will .
 
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