God Is Sovereign...So Why Share the Gospel?
by Jesse Randolph
As a pastor who has spent several years leading, mobilizing, and equipping church members to share the gospel with lost people in our community, one of the more common sources of foot-dragging (if not outright objection) I have heard in response to the call of all Christians to evangelize is a statement which sounds something like this: “Why do I need to share the gospel? God is sovereign, and He is going to save who He’s going to save.”
Indeed, God is sovereign! He is sovereign over the wind and the waves. He is sovereign over Tokyo and Topeka. He is sovereign over the twenty-first century just as much as He was sovereign over the eighth century. He is the sovereign Ruler of everyone, at every place, at every time. And yes, in His perfect and infinite wisdom, God is sovereign over the hearts of men (Prov 21:1)—meaning, He knows (because He has foreordained) who will respond to the message of the gospel with repentance and faith, and those who will reject that same message (Acts 13:48; Rom 9:15-16).
So, acknowledging that God is sovereign, why should we, as followers of Jesus Christ, share the gospel? If the deck is already stacked (so to speak), why share?
There are several reasons why the sovereignty of God in salvation not only must not be an impediment to our gospel witness, but instead should fuel our evangelism. Five of those reasons are given below.
1. It Is Logical.
If you are reading this article, you are likely a Bible-believing, and Bible-affirming, follower of Jesus Christ. Meaning, you believe what the Bible teaches about a literal hell (the eternal abode of the damned—a place that is exceedingly and eternally hot, dark, and fearful) as well as what the Bible teaches about the eternal destination for followers of Jesus Christ (an unspeakably glorious new heavens and new earth—a place where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13) and where inhabitants are basking in the radiant glow of the light of the Lamb (Rev 21:23)).
Knowing these realities about heaven and hell, coupled with a genuine love for lost people, ought to stoke in each one of us a zeal for sharing the gospel. Yes, it is worked out in the mind of God who He has appointed unto salvation. But in our fallen and finite minds, those details are beyond us. So we share. Our job is not to figure out who is among God’s elect. Our job is to share the gospel.
2. It Is Our Duty.
Not only is it a logical act of love to share the gospel, it is our duty. It is the duty not only of pastors to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4:5), it is the duty of all Christians to do so (Matt 28:19-20).
Our Savior has made it crystal clear for His followers that our chief charge in this world—indeed, the Great Commission He has assigned to us—is to “go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19). So, we “go”! We “go” because the first step in “making a disciple” is to share the gospel with lost people. A disciple cannot be made without this necessary first step of evangelism.
We “go” irrespective of where we stand on Calvinism or Arminianism. We “go” no matter our views on the extent of Christ’s atonement. We “go” no matter how deeply we have worked through the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. We “go” because Christ tells us to “go.”
3. It Is a Privilege.
On the one hand, Scripture is clear that Christ has given us a command to share the gospel as we “make disciples.” When Christ told His disciples to “go,” He was not giving a polite suggestion or making a hopeful request. Rather, when our Lord calls us to “go,” He means it. It is an imperatival statement. It is a command.
But on the other hand, followers of Christ must not lose sight of the great privilege it is to be able to “go” out with the gospel message! Consider how Scripture describes those whom God has called to “go.” According to the Bible, we are ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20). We are dignitaries for the King of King and Lord of Lords.
He is the One who, through His Spirit, presses in on the consciences of those with whom we speak, and white flags of surrender can often be hard to come by, but we—with joy and in faith—entrust the results to Him. We do the proclaiming, and He does the saving. This means there is no pressure on us, as His ambassadors. What a privilege!
4. It Works.
We share the gospel, in light of what we know about God’s sovereignty, because it works! Scripture makes clear that it is the very message we proclaim—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). The power does not rest in our way with words, our cleverness of speech, or our turns of phrase.
The power is in the message of the gospel itself, and standing behind that gospel message is the God of heaven and earth, who has sovereignly ordained all things that transpire on planet Earth and in the furthest corners of the cosmos. What this ought to help us see, as we employ Jesus’ terminology that we are “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19), is that when we evangelize, we are not aimlessly casting our nets into the deep ocean of mankind. Rather, as we share the good news message of the gospel with those individuals the Lord has put in front of us, we inevitably will come across “fish” that have been “hooked” before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). Meaning, they are already on the line, and we have the privilege of reeling them in as we call on them to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is not an aimless exercise, and it is not a man-centered exercise. It’s a God-centered exercise. It is a God-ordained exercise. And because God’s hand is on the entire process, it works.
5. It Brings Glory to God.
It ought to be the aim of each and every follower of Jesus Christ to bring glory to God (Rom 11:36)—the God who created them, the God who saved them, and the God who has commissioned them to call on lost people to bow the knee to His Son. Obedience to the commandments of God, and faithfulness to His Word, always brings God glory.
So, when we share the gospel message with the unregenerate, we are following the Great Commission, we are obeying the Lord, and we are otherwise being faithful. And in this, God is glorified. We do the proclaiming, He does the saving, and He gets all the glory.
In summary, while it is essential that we be committed to biblical truth and sound doctrine—which reveal the truth that God is sovereign over the salvation of sinners—it is no less essential that we be obedient to Jesus’ command to “go” and make disciples, which begins with sharing the gospel with the lost.
God’s sovereignty in salvation, and man’s duty to proclaim the gospel message, are not contradictory. Rather, they are complementary.