A Correct Application of Reformed Theology in Missions and Evangelism

One of the common stigmas attached to those who believe in Reformed theology is their supposed unwillingness to do evangelism and missions. This is — again, supposedly — due to their belief in the doctrine of unconditional election and limited atonement which puts the salvation of a sinner solely in the hands of God who is sovereign over all.

In the defense of the many who say this, there remains a strand of those who claim to be Reformed — the ones who are called hyper-Calvinists — who believe this common stigma to be true, and thus they no longer do evangelism and missions. But this has to be clarified: I strongly believe that this is a wrong application of Reformed theology.

In a correct application of Reformed theology, the passion to share the Gospel to the nations is never dimmed, weakened, or stopped. It is rather corrected and guided. The endpoint of evangelism is not “more Christians” and “more people in our congregation”, and certainly not obedience to any tradition or sentiment, but rather ALL THE GLORY TO GOD.

In a correct application of Reformed theology, the passion to share the Gospel to the nations is never dimmed, weakened, or stopped. It is rather corrected and guided. Click To Tweet

The method of evangelism is sharing the Gospel – the correct and biblical one, and not some version that makes it easier to say yes and gets more people inside our churches. The Gospel that is shared reminds people of a holy God, our sin that should condemn us to his wrath, and the saving grace of God through Christ and the cross.

Reformed theology also corrects our motivations in that we are made to understand that we — our strategies, our ways, our skills — have absolutely no capability to save people. It is God who does the saving, and we are only obedient followers who have received the same grace that we share.

So it is wrong to think that the Reformed do not share the Gospel and do not have a heart for the lost. In fact, this is the opposite. Our hearts extend to the nations, because we know what depth of sin they live in (we used to be there), and that only Christ can save them. Our hearts even extend to people who heard a wrong “gospel”, because we know that even if you sincerely believe in something wrong, that twisted version of the Gospel cannot save you.

Our hearts extend to the nations, because we know what depth of sin they live in (we used to be there), and that only Christ can save them. Click To Tweet

So in the end:

Sola Scriptura – the Word alone contains the Gospel that saves. Any material that is not biblical will not be able to show us the Gospel.

Sola Gratia – this Gospel proclaims the only Grace that saves. And we are saved only by the mercies of a gracious God who gave us what we didn’t deserve and didn’t give us what we actually deserved.

Solus Christus – Only Christ alone saves, not anything created by man, or any effort that we can give. We give our efforts in missions and evangelism as obedience and response to Christ’s saving grace.

Sola Fide – we all need to have faith in Christ to be saved. Christ completed the work of saving us, so we believe only in him who saved us.

Soli Deo Gloria – we do missions and evangelism only for the glory of God, not for anything else. Any motivation other than this is lower and does not deserve our efforts.

Believing in the doctrines of grace (you may commonly call this ‘TULIP’) does not and should not diminish our drive and zeal to share the Gospel to people. Rather, it gives us correct motivations and liberates us to do the work without placing the burden on ourselves and our strategies to do the work for us. Salvation remains solely the work of God, and it remains so.

John Hofilena Editor

John is currently the lead pastor of Joy Christian Fellowship, a thriving Bible-believing church which meets in the heart of the old city of Manila (in Intramuros). He is married to Kali, and they are both passionate about disciple-making and Gospel-centered ministry. In his spare time, John plays the guitar, enjoys watching movies with Kali, and plays computer games.

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