A subscriber in Oklahoma writes, “If God already knows who will finally be saved, why should we even bother to spread the gospel? I would appreciate whatever light you can shed on this issue.”
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Jesus personally spoke of those whom the Father had given to him (John 6:37, 39; 17:2, 24). All those people will come to him, he said. He will lose none of them but will raise them all on the last day and give them eternal life. Both Paul (Rom. 8:28-31; 2 Thes. 2:13-14) and Peter (1 Pet.1:1-5) wrote the same thing to believers, whom they considered to be in that company. But if God is sovereign in salvation, why should we take the gospel to every person? I suggest two reasons for starters.
First, we should do so because Jesus commanded it and he is our Lord (Matt. 28:18-20; Lk. 24:46-47). The fact that he told us to spread the gospel is reason enough. Second, we ought to spread the gospel because God normally employs human instruments to accomplish his own saving purpose. As Luther rightly said, “The Holy Spirit comes riding in the chariot of the gospel.” Only the assurance that God has an elect people who will surely come when they hear from him, provides any basis for confidence that our evangelizing will bear fruit. When the Apostle Paul once grew discouraged, God cheered him with this word: “Go on speaking and do not be silent, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).
The fact that God takes the initiative throughout the process of our salvation is cause for praise and not debate (Eph. 1:3). It stirs us to action and inspires us to persevere (2 Thes. 2:15). When we read this word we naturally ask, “What then shall we say to these things?” To that question, the inspired answer is clear: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31).