I know that when I began to think about the sovereignty of God in the terms that I described on Sunday night, I had to wrestle with a lot of questions (and I still do). I am somewhat afraid that I might have communicated that I had it figured out. I don’t. I know that God is sovereign and that in some way we are still free. I did my best to explain how those two things are “compatible”, yet I know that in some ways this explanation is unsatisfying. It is for me. The tension is still there, but it is a tension I can (must) live with, because I think the Bible creates the tension.
But beyond the theoretical questions, it raises some practical questions also – questions like “why pray?” or “why bother evangelizing?”.
Let me again tell you how I have come to think about these things. First, I pray (though admittedly I need to pray more) because God has told me to (1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing”, ESV). To neglect prayer would be disobedience.
Moreover, I have come to think about prayer less as trying to get something done and more about aligning my will to God’s and keeping the relationship I enjoy with God vibrant.
Finally, I believe God has ordained the means and the ends. What do I mean? If God has ordained that he will heal my dad, it is possible that he has also ordained that he would heal him in response to my prayers – prayers he has also ordained.
In many respects, the same thing goes for evangelism. Why share the gospel? Because it is our mandate. We were told to do so (Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”, ESV)
Also, God has ordained the means and the ends. If my sons are to receive Christ (and I pray they do at a young age), then it is certain they will do so in response to someone explaining/preaching/teaching the good news of Jesus to them (Romans 10:14, “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”, ESV). If they do, it will be because God has ordained it (Acts 13:48, “and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed”, ESV) and because God has ordained that some preach to them. Goals aren’t accomplished without means.
Finally, we evangelize because it is our joy to do it. I believe that when we are enthralled with God, we won’t be able to help tell people about the joy we have in Christ – it will ooze out of us. It’s natural to tell people about the best beach you’ve been to, the best pizza you’ve had, the best date you’ve been on. In fact, part of the joy is telling others about it. To keep it to yourself robs you of a measure of joy. So it is with our relationship with Christ. The more we testify, the more we enjoy, and the more people respond, the more our joy increases as we see Christ being glorified all the more. Pretty cool chain reaction huh!