One of the unfortunately bad raps that are often given to people from a reformed or Calvinistic church is the false belief that those who believe in sovereign election do not call for people to respond to the gospel. This, of course, is a caricature. While there are some who may hide behind their doctrine to refuse to obey the commands of the Lord or to follow the example of his disciples, genuine Calvinists will most certainly share the gospel. It is only hyper-Calvinists, those who believe it is wrong to share the gospel with others who have not shown signs of being chosen by God, who avoid sharing the gospel. And any biblical Christian will reject hyper-Calvinism out of hand. But the reformed, genuine Calvinists, will always be ready to share the gospel and give a reason for the hope within them just as God commanded us in 1 Peter 3:15.
No matter what you believe about sovereign election, you must not ignore the commands of Scripture and the example of the apostles.
2 Corinthians 5:20 – Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Notice what Paul wrote here. He implores people to be reconciled to God. Paul, who said in the previous chapter, “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:2), also says that he passionately calls on others to turn from their sins so that they can be made right with the Lord.
What must we learn? A commitment to Scripture, to sound doctrine, to the word of God and his way of ministry necessarily includes genuine appeal to others to be saved. If you are a Calvinist, you believe that you agree with Paul in his understanding of election. But Paul’s understanding of election still led him to implore the people of Corinth to be reconciled to God. Therefore, a biblical view of election most definitely includes a sincere call for others to be saved.
Christians, do not, no matter what your doctrine, stop calling people to respond to Jesus. No, never use tricks or gimmicks. Never twist Scripture. Never hide the truth of the gospel including the call to repent and to the Lordship of Christ. Never hide the hardships of the faith. But also do not hide the horror of the judgment of God. Do not hide the beauty of heaven. Do not hide the stunning love of Jesus.
Do not, whatever you do, refuse to call people to be reconciled to God. Tell people that they need a Savior. Tell them that, by God’s grace through faith and repentance, they must be saved. Ask them to commit their lives to Christ and find mercy. Tell them not to wait, because they do not know that they will have another chance. This is consistent with Paul’s practice.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 – 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
How does this fit with a belief in sovereign election? For the biblical Calvinist, it is a great comfort. As we share the gospel with people, we also understand that the salvation of others is not based on our ability to persuade. My own personal cleverness or salesmanship has nothing to do with a person’s eternity. I am simply called to be honest, to make an honest appeal, and to leave the results to the Lord.