In Reformed theology, we often hear the word “election”. We believe that God has elected His people before the foundations of this world were laid. But many Christians struggle when it comes to the notion of God’s sovereignty, and how evangelism comes into play. Since God has chosen, what difference would it make to preach the Gospel? Saved or not, there is nothing that we can do to alter what God has predestined – and simply because His will prevails nonetheless. This is where we need to be careful. If we continue, it could wrongly lead us to conclude that God’s sovereignty excludes the activity of evangelism, when this seeming paradox in fact works together hand-in-hand.
The Origins of The Elect
First, let’s dive into the concept of “election”. Let us travel back in time, all the way to before our universe was created.
Welcome to “Eternity-Past”.
Here, there is no specific time, but we can be sure that we have travelled far beyond the “olden-days”. In case you didn’t notice, we don’t exist yet. The planet we call ‘earth’ has not yet been created. Before us lies a dark and mysterious void. But in the midst of all this nothingness, we are not alone. There is a supernatural being who has been here for longer than we know: The Triune God. Although the universe and everything in it, including us, is still non-existent, we have in fact been in God’s mind this whole time. God, in accordance with His omniscient attribute, has already planned and knows the who, what, where, when and why’s. From every planet’s position in the solar system to all the human beings that would ever live, God knew it all. And, He knew that we would fall into sin and choose to hurt Him too. But God, in His grace and mercy, proclaims His love for us through His great plan for Salvation.
We read in Ephesians 1:4 that “….He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him….” As a matter of fact, this is where the story of salvation begins – before “people” even existed! This, in Reformed theology, is what we call “election”. From “eternity-past” God had unconditionally elected a group of people that He would save, through His Son, Jesus Christ. His choice was unbiased, not based on any meritorious deed that He knew we would do in the span of our lives. These are the “chosen people”, the “elect”; those who are guaranteed to be with God.
Why, then, should we bother to preach the Gospel? If God has already chosen His people, why bother talking to those who might not even be a part of the Elect? God is sovereign after all, and there’s nothing in our power that can change what God has already determined.
Even if we did, those who have not been chosen will reject it anyways, and for those who are, will God not have a way to bring them to Him apart from us?
Because He Says So
Remember the story of Jonah? The one who got thrown off a boat and swallowed by a large fish because He decided to run away from God? Well, in short, after running from God’s command at every turn, he eventually goes to the city of Nineveh. Jonah preaches and conveys God’s message that if they do not repent, the city would be overthrown in forty days. The people of Nineveh believed and repented, including the king. Yet, fast forward through the story, we learn that in the end, Nineveh returns to its evil ways and perishes. “What was the use then?”, you may ask. “Why did Jonah travel for three whole days just for his preaching to be ignored later on?”
One of the fundamental principles in the Christian faith is obedience. In John 14:15, Jesus says to His disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And Matthew 28:19-20 reveals our great commission. It reads: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Why should we still evangelise? Because God says so! Or rather, because He says “go”. If we are truly His followers, we will do what He says. And if God says to “go” and proclaim the Gospel, so be it. Notice that Jesus also says “all nations” and not just “His people”. For one, we do not know who will be saved or not, just like Jonah who didn’t know that the city of Nineveh would perish in the end. But God uses us as a means to call the elect. We are His sowers and the seed is His Word. For there to be fruit, the seeds must be planted first. Therefore, understanding will only grow in the hearts where the Word of God has been sown. At the same time, we must be aware that we are not an essential part of God’s plan for Salvation. God will finish and accomplish His work and He can do it easily without us. Yet He decided to include us, even in our sinful and imperfect state, equipping us to do His work here on earth. Praise God for this wonderful act of grace towards His people!
A Lesson To Learn
Evangelising is indeed not easy. But God has appointed us to be His sowers and spread the Good News. We may struggle, just like Jonah who learned to obey the hard way. But God has called us for a purpose, for there is a lesson to learn. Often God uses different means to teach us a thing or two, and that includes the activity of evangelism. In Jonah’s case, God convicts Jonah of his selfishness and lack of empathy towards the people of Nineveh.
As teens living in a secular world, God is calling us to evangelise in our respective environments. May we all learn and grow together as a community of Gen-Z teens.
Samantha Winata (15) is one of the many teens that write in RE Generation-Z. She strives to share the light of the truth through her articles and bring more teens to Christ. If she isn’t reading or playing piano, you’ll find her filling the pages in her books with drawings.