Posts Tagged ‘Calvinistic Evangelism


Calvinistic Evangelism-Chapter Eight-The Attributes of God

Before we begin to talk to people about God, it is important that we know what the Bible teaches about his nature and attributes. The modern church has almost completely lost touch with the biblical doctrine of God and the evidence of that ignorance is clear in the results it has produced in our anemic doctrinal instruction and in our unbiblical practices. It is my belief that ignorance of God is the root of all error in our doctrine and practice. We will never return to biblical practices in evangelism unless and until we begin to understand something about the attributes of God.

The following is only a brief sketch of what the Bible says God is like. Volumes of no small magnitude have been written in an effort give us a glimpse of God’s glorious attributes, but even the most voluminous of them have scarcely scratched the surface. It is clearly beyond the scope of this study to provide a detailed study of this subject. If you are serious about studying God’s attributes, I would suggest you find and read the following books

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God,

Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God,

C. H. Spurgon, The Attributes of God

William Bates, A Harmony of the Divine Attributes in the Contrivance and Accomplishment of Redemption

J. I. Packer, Knowing God

God is the Creator of All Things

Early Christians addressed God in this way, “Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, . . . (Acts 4:24).  Not only do the Scriptures teach us that God has made everything out of nothing (Genesis 1:1); they also teach us that he has made everything for his own pleasure. He has made all things for himself. Like everything else in God’s creation, you were created to bring him pleasure. You were made so that, through you, God might demonstrate what he is like.

God Is Spirit

God is a spirit being. He does not have a body like ours. We cannot see him with our physical eyes. He cannot be confined in a single location. He cannot be attacked with physical weapons. He can neither die nor decay.  “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)

God is Eternal

When the Word of God tells us God is eternal, we are not merely to understand that God will never cease to exist. We must also believe he never began to exist. This is not merely a deep truth; it is an unfathomable truth. Eternity cannot be measured in terms of time. Eternity is an entirely different dimension. God does not dwell in time nor is he limited by time. God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).

God is an Infinite Being

The Bible teaches that God is an infinite being. By this, the biblical writers intended to convey the idea that God is without bounds or limits. In terms of space, the infinity [limitlessness] of his being translates into immensity. Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, Jeremiah, asked, “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? says the LORD; Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD (Jer. 23:24). Consider again Solomon’s words during the dedication of the temple. He said, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (2 Chr. 6:18)?

In terms of the duration of God’s existence, infinity translates into eternity. God is without beginning and without end. Not only is God, as an inhabitant of eternity, present at the beginning of time and at the end of time; he is present at the beginning and end simultaneously.

God is Self-Existent

All other beings in the universe owe their existence to God, but he owes his existence to no one.  God is self-existent, self-sufficient and self-satisfied. He does not need anyone to sustain his existence or to add to his happiness. “He does not dwell in temples made with hands; Neither is [he] worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24-25). We are totally dependent on him but, he does not depend on us at all.

God is the Ruler over All Creation

God is not the helpless, old man upstairs many imagine him to be. He is the almighty sovereign who rules heaven and earth. He is the only being in the entire universe who has the absolute right to do as he pleases. No one has the authority to call him into question for anything he has done. The Psalmist wrote concerning him in contrast to heathen idols, “. . .our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). After the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, had been humbled before the Most High God, he spoke these words,

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

And His kingdom is from generation to generation.

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;

He does according to His will in the army of heaven

And among the inhabitants of the earth.

No one can restrain His hand  Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4: 34-35).

God Is Unchangeable

God does not change. He is the same today as he has always been and will continue to be the same forever. His nature does not change; his character does not change; his demands do not change; his promises do not change. He cannot change for the better since he is already perfect; He cannot change for the worse since then he would cease to be perfect.

Everything else around us is subject to change, but God remains the same.  The psalmist wrote,

Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and your years will have no end (Psalms 102:25‑27).

He is not like pagan gods who are capricious in their decisions. His eternal plan needs no alteration. No change can surprise him, prompt him to alter his course, or cause him to abandon the blueprint he has chosen for his everlasting government.

Nothing is Impossible for God

God is able to do all his holy will.  Nothing is too difficult for him to accomplish. Through the mouth of his prophet, Isaiah, God asked, “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing” (Isa 40:25‑26).

God is Everywhere

There is nowhere in the universe where God is not present. It is not simply that some of God’s essence is everywhere; it is that all of his essence is everywhere at once. Concerning God’s omnipresence, the psalmist wrote,

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and our right hand shall hold me (Ps 139:7‑10).

God Knows Everything

We can hide nothing from God. In the Psalm cited in the immediately preceding paragraph, the psalmist wrote,

For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to you (Psalms 139: 4, 11-12).

God knows every word we speak. He knows all our thoughts. Not one of our actions, however cleverly concealed from human observation, escapes his notice. Someone has rightly observed that secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

God is Holy

When, in the Scriptures, God makes himself known as “the holy one,” he intends us to understand that he is absolutely separate from sin. God is infinitely pure. “As God’s power is the opposite of the native weakness of the creature, as his wisdom is in complete contrast from the least defect of understanding or folly, so his holiness is the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement” (Pink, nd., 43)

God cannot sin. He cannot tempt his creatures to sin. He cannot overlook sin or smile with favor on it.  God is loving and gracious, forgiving a multitude of sins, but he cannot forgive sin at the expense of his holiness. Above everything else that God is, God is holy. He makes himself known as “the holy one.”

All God’s other attributes are affected by his holiness and retain the character they possess only because conditioned by it. “Without it, his patience would be an indulgence to sin, his mercy a fondness, his wrath a madness, his power a tyranny, his wisdom an unworthy subtlety” (Charnock, 1971, 451).         

Holiness is the brightest jewel in his crown. Above everything else that God is, God is Holy. “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy his bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty” (Charnock, 1971, 450).

God is Just

The Scriptures reveal that God is righteous and will always do what is right. By this, they do not mean God conforms himself to a standard of equity imposed on him from outside. It is never right to conclude that God is unfair [unrighteous] because he did not act in a way that meets our standard of right and wrong. God is the standard of right and wrong and has pledged himself always to act like himself.

He cannot deem his creatures righteous unless we conform to the standard of righteousness he has revealed. This standard is strict and unbending; every deviation from it, however slight, must incur God’s displeasure. He will not overlook one sin or fail to punish even one act of transgression of his revealed will. The Bible describes him this way, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity” (Ps 5:4‑5).

To the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness . . .” (Romans 1:18).  When we think of God’s wrath, we should avoid the idea that God flares out of control in a fit of rage.  Instead, we need to understand that God’s wrath is his settled indignation against all that fails to conform to his righteous standard.

God is Good

Once again, when the Bible tells us God is good, it does not mean he conforms to a subjective standard someone has imposed on him. In other words, goodness is not what we imagine it to be; instead it is all that conforms to God’s perfection. We know what good is by knowing what God is. God is good.

God’s goodness includes such virtues as love, mercy, graciousness. God acts for the benefit of his entire creation. We sometimes refer to this as the common grace or mercy of God.  Such acts of kindness should tend to bring sinners to abandon their sinful ways and return to God. The Apostle Paul asks sinners a pointed question, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom 2:4)?

Due to the defiance that characterizes the human condition, common grace is not sufficient to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of God. It requires a special display of God’s goodness to break sin’s tyrannical reign and introduce sinners to Christ’s kingdom.

God is Faithful

God can be trusted to keep his promises. Faith in God is nothing more and nothing less than a heartfelt conviction that God to keep his covenant promises to those who believe.

This is what the Bible tells us about God. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Deut. 7:9). Time after time the biblical writers reaffirm this truth to their readers. We can trust God to do all he has promised. He will always be true to his Word.

Pink, A.W. , The Attributes of God, (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, n.d.), p.43.

Stephen, Charnock,  The Existence and Attributes of God, Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1971), p. 451.


Calvinistic Evangelism–Introduction

I am in the process of writing a short book on Calvinistic evangelism. I intend to consider such topics as the following:

The necessary prerequisite to evangelism
The need to remove non-biblical rubbish,
An examination of apostolic evangelism,
The theological foundation for evangelism,
Lessons from Jesus’ evangelistic ministry,
The standard of evangelistic success,
The issue and goal in evangelism,
A history of Calvinistic evangelism.

It is my intention to post these chapters here as I write them. As usual, your questions and comments are welcome, but please read and conform to the rules for commenting. If you do not abide by the rules, your comments will be summarily deleted.



This title might seem like a contradiction in terms to some people since the common notion is that Calvinists do not believe in evangelism. The perception is that even if they believe in evangelism it is clear they are not too concerned about it. Some have alleged that a Calvinist would sooner fly across the country to debate with an Arminian than to walk across the street to witness the gospel to an unbeliever. They believe Calvinists simply do not think evangelism is necessary or important. One of my purposes in writing this short book is to show that this has not been the case historically and is not true in the present day.



Contrary to popular opinion, a Calvinist is not a follower of John Calvin. The term “Calvinist” is merely a theological nickname for those who believe the salvation of sinners is all of God and all of grace. The Calvinist is a person who believes that sinners do not cooperate with God in their salvation in the sense that God does his part, the sinner does his part, and the two working together produce salvation. This does not mean the Calvinist denies the sinner’s responsibility to believe the gospel and turn to God and away from his idols. He simply denies that either the preacher or the sinner is able to produce these responses to the gospel.


It seems the impression that Calvinists are not concerned about evangelism has come from differences of opinion about what constitutes evangelism. If a person does not use the accepted vocabulary and follow the evangelistic procedures and methods that have been established by the advocates of free will decisionism, he is perceived as non-evangelistic. For example, someone has defined evangelism as “getting sinners across the line for Christ.” If this is what evangelism means, it is true that Calvinists do not believe in evangelism.

What do we mean by the term “evangelism?” The term itself is derived from the word euangelizo which simply means to tell or proclaim good news, but that good news must have a context. Before the good news can have significance, sinners must understand the bad news. For this reason evangelism must include a clear communication of the biblical teaching concerning the great chasm that exists between God and the sinner. The sinner needs to know what the Bible teaches about God’s character, his purpose in the world, and his own rebellious condition and guilty standing before God.

Evangelism should also include an urgent call for sinners to obey the commands of the gospel and bow before God’s sovereign throne in humble adoration. As we shall see, the issues of the gospel concern far more than whether the sinner is destined for heaven or hell. It is an issue of whom or what he will worship.

Finally, evangelism should include a communication of the good news that God has promised to save guilty sinners who will call on him to forgive them based on Christ’s redemptive work.
We can define evangelism as the proclamation of the good news that God has universally published his terms of peace. It is the announcement that he has promised to pardon every guilty rebel who will discard the weapons of his insurrection and bow in humble submission and grateful worship before his sovereign throne. Finally, it is the declaration that this proffered pardon is not based in any sense on the sinner’s willingness to return to God or on his believing acceptance of the terms of peace. Pardon is based solely on Jesus’ redemptive accomplishments on the sinner’s behalf.
I plan to return to this definition later since it is critical that we understand its component parts if our evangelism is to comport with the biblical pattern.

Zeal without Truth

It is true that many Calvinists would fly across the country or even around the world to debate issues that concern God’s salvation. This is not true because Calvinists enjoy debate so much but because we are interested in the accuracy and purity of the message we Christians proclaim. It does not matter how zealous a person may about the matter of evangelism if his message and methods are faulty.

Perhaps you will recall the events surrounding Absalom’s death recorded in 2 Samuel 18. There was a messenger named Ahimaaz who asked Joab to allow him to carry the news of Absalom’s death to the king but Joab denied his request and sent a man referred to as “the Cushite” instead. Ahimaaz asked that he might also run after the Cushite and Joab allowed him to do so. Being a zealous and rapid runner, he was able to outrun the Cushite, but when he arrived he had to confess–“When Joab sent the king’s servant, your servant, I saw a great commotion, but I do not know what it was” (2 Samuel 18:29). Whether we should be zealous about the task of evangelism is not at issue here. The king’s business requires haste. The question is what message will be on our lips when we begin to tell the good news. Will it be God’s truth or will it be a garbled approximation of the biblical gospel?

A Radical Restructuring

What I am going to propose in this book will require a radical restructuring of the Church’s evangelistic message and methods. For many, this will require a complete paradigm shift in their thinking about doctrine and practice. Such a proposal will be terrifying to many who read these pages. It is far easier to continue in the well-worn paths to which we have become accustomed than to sincerely follow the truth.

Let me try to put your minds at ease by making you a promise. I will not ask you to reject any evangelistic practice or any evangelistic terminology for which you can find precedent in the New Testament Scriptures. What I will ask you to do is reject the concepts, the jargon, and the methodology that is absent from or contrary to the biblical pattern.

This is not intended as another “how to” manual on evangelism. In reality, such a manual would be impossible to write from a biblical standpoint. There is no “one size fits all” method. There are certain factors in the evangelistic process that do not change, but every individual has specific needs that should be met as we engage them in conversation. If we study Jesus’ evangelistic ministry it becomes very clear that he never dealt with two individuals in the same way. In some cases we must spend a significant amount of time instructing people about the character and attributes of God. In other cases, we will need to focus on the worthlessness of their own righteous acts as the basis of their acceptance with God. In still other cases we may need to focus on God’s willingness to accept them and forgive them, their vileness and wickedness notwithstanding. Although every sinner has the same basic needs, those needs do not always manifest themselves in the same way. Someone has said that the preacher’s task is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. In reality, the best way to prepare for biblical evangelism is to be well armed with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures so that one will be prepared for whatever issues may arise when we urge sinners to be reconciled to God.

Instead, my purpose is to contrast modern evangelism’s message and methods with the biblical pattern and suggest a more biblical approach to this important aspect of the Christian life. What I am asking you to do is to obey the LORD’s admonition in Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”