We have emphasized that evangelism is preaching the gospel and that whether in the church or in missions it is the whole gospel - the whole counsel of God - that must be preached (Acts 20:26-27). It is wrong to neglect certain revealed truths or to suggest that they are a hindrance to evangelism.
Reformed evangelism, however, not only preaches the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace, but it is controlled by them as well. We have already seen how the doctrines of grace control the evangelistic message in that they require a message that does not declare a Christ for all, a will of God to save all, or a universal love of God.
The sovereignty of God also controls the goals and methods of evangelism. For one thing, God's sovereign command limits the means of evangelism to the preaching. As important as such things may be, medical work, education, building and agriculture are not evangelism and are not the calling of the church as she engages in evangelism. In Scripture there are no such things as medical and agricultural missionaries. These things may and even ought to be done alongside the work of evangelism, but they are not the church's work, nor does one need to be ordained and sent by the church to do them.
So too, we would emphasize the Biblical truth that evangelism is the work of the church, not of mission boards and societies. The command to preach the gospel is a command that Christ gave to His church and to no one else (Matt. 28:19-20).
And, since Scripture teaches that evangelism, the preaching of the gospel, is the work of ordained men, there is no place for women missionaries. We find it very curious that churches who would never allow women to preach and hold office at home, see nothing wrong with sending them out as missionaries to preach the gospel to the heathen.
Nevertheless, the Sovereignty of God does not only control evangelism in requiring preaching as the God-ordained means of evangelism. The doctrine of God's sovereignty controls even the aims of evangelism.
For example, a church that believes in election ought not think that the goal and purpose of evangelism are to "give everyone a chance." In that case her goals in evangelism contradict the truths of predestination and limited atonement she confesses.
Nor is the goal of evangelism to save everyone. In preaching the gospel both in the church and on the mission field the evangelist (preacher) must understand that preaching has a twofold purpose. That purpose is the salvation of God's elect and the hardening and condemnation of the rest (Rom. 9:18, 11:7, II Cor. 2:14-17).
Those who are not willing to preach the gospel on those terms ought not be engaged in the work. Indeed, Paul suggests (II Cor. 2:14-17) that ignorance of this twofold purpose of the preaching is the reason many corrupt the word of God as they do today by hiding, neglecting, or rejecting certain truths of Scripture in their evangelism.
The goal of evangelism is not even preaching to everyone. Both in the OT and in the NT the gospel is sent by God when and where He wills (Acts 16:6-8). There are those who lay a huge burden of guilt upon the church by suggesting that the church is not fulfilling her calling as long as the gospel is not preached to every living person, when the Lord has given neither the opportunity nor means to do it. This is wrong. Our sovereign God determines also when and where the gospel will be preached.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 22
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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