Mission: Who Saves?

September 18, 2013 by Dave Trepanier 0 comments

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This post continues a short blog series on the mission of the church. I have already addressed the reasons that we fail to fulfill the mission of the church in these two previous posts: why we don't evangelize and why we don't disciple. Today, I want to ask and answer a fundamental question that carries certain implications for evangelism. This question is this: who saves? I know that sounds extremely basic and easy enough to answer, but I believe if we truly embraced the biblical answer, our approach to and attitude in evangelism might be affected.

The Bible answers this question with crystal clarity: God himself is the one who saves men and women (Matt 1:21; Acts 2:47; Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:5). Notice, I am not asking who the savior is; rather, I am asking who effectually saves people from their sin. I hope all who read through the New Testament would understand that Jesus is the Savior, but unfortunately, many who read both the Old and New Testaments fail to grasp that God effectually saves people. He is the one who chose (Acts 13:48; Eph 1:4; 1 Thess 1:4; 2 Thess 2:13), draws (John 6:44), who effectually calls (Rom 8:30; 1 Cor 1:2), who opens hearts (Acts 16:14) and regenerates through the Spirit (John 3:1-8; 1 Pet 1:3). Although many American evangelicals buck against the idea of God's sovereignty in salvation, the Scriptures clearly teach this truth. God is sovereign in salvation.

Why bring this up in a post on evangelism? The truth of God's sovereignty in salvation should shape my understanding of evangelism. Consider the following three implications and how they might effect evangelism:

I cannot save anyone. Do you believe this? If it is true that we cannot save anyone, we should be emboldened to preach the Gospel since the results are not left up to us. God saves; therefore, we simply preach the Gospel and call people to embrace the Savior. The pressure lies not on our shoulders to save people. I remember hearing a testimony in college in which a pastor explained that his church required him to lead "x" number of people to Christ each week. It was part of his job requirement. Needless to say, this pastor quickly burned out because we cannot guarantee the salvation of any one. 

I should stick to my role. Since I cannot save anyone, I simply ought to stick to my God-given role of preaching the Gospel. Paul reminds us that ministers in particular and believers in general serve as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). Like ambassadors, we simply deliver the message of our superior and let the chips fall where they may. This does not mean we deliver with the message without passion or compassion. It simply means that we stick to our role as ambassadors, pleading with others to embrace Christ.

I ought to pray constantly. We declare the Gospel, and then we pray that God might save. We come before God like the persistant widow of Luke 18:1-8, pleading and pleading and pleading for the salvation of those to whom we share the Gospel. We invite people to embrace Christ, while we pray that God would draw them. J. I. Packer observes, "In prayer, then, you know that it is God who saves men; you know that what makes men turn to God is God's own gracious work of drawing them to Himself; and the content of your prayers is determined by this knowledge" (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 15). 

And so, knowing that God sovereignly saves, let's get out of our comfort zones and share the Gospel fo Jesus Christ!

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