The Ephesians 4 Project: ArticleXI
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man's spirit by God's Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Unifying Principles of Article XI.
One of the reasons that I am most proud to be a part of the SBC is the fact that we are a “go and tell” denomination. The Baptist Faith & Message reminds us of this with its statement on evangelism and missions. I praise God that Southern Baptists are unified on this great “duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ.” No matter our varying theological stripes, we are united by our “love for others” as imparted by the Holy Spirit. While our methodologies may vary, the BF & M allows for this among Southern Baptists by stating that evangelism ought to be pursued “by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.”
Here we must make an especially heartfelt cry for unification. There are some in our denomination that accuse their fellow Southern Baptists who have a more Reformed understanding of salvation of not “believing in evangelism” or not being “passionate about evangelism” or even “refusing to evangelize.” The fact remains, that as long as a Southern Baptists can conscientiously sign the BF & M, then they are affirming their commitment to our Lord’s command to preach the gospel to all the nations.
Therefore, we must refrain from spouting such slanderous accusations against our fellow brothers in Christ. The reality is that all of us could use an extra unction of God’s Spirit for the purpose of personal evangelism and missions. In the end, this accusation is nothing more than a straw man designed to tear down another for three main reasons: to promote one’s own theological understanding, to boast of one's own evangelistic pursuits, or to shift attention away from one’s own evangelistic negligence. With any of these, pride is the culprit. Let us humble ourselves before the LORD our God, think the best of our fellow believers in Christ, and link arm to arm in the preaching of the gospel!
For His Glory,
I love how you characterize us as a "go and tell" denomination. Very good! Although we do sometimes get a little mixed up and do a lot of "come and tell," we by and large get out there and beat the bushes.
In terms of evangelism, one of the theolgical terms that I hear misused and thrown around a lot is the term hyper-Calvinism. What the user usually means by that term is simply a full-fledged Calvinist, a 5-point Calvinist. But that is not what a hyper-Calvinist is. A hyper-Calvinist is one who believes that God saves people apart from evangelism, even apart from faith itself. A hyper-Calvinist believes there is no reason to evangelize because God is going to save whomever He's going to save regardless of what we do. Let me state for the record that hyper-Calvinism is absolute heresy.
Even though they are similar in name, hyper-Calvinism is NOT Calvinism, even 5-point Calvinism. As best as I understand it, Calvinists believe the Scripture to teach that:
1) nobody is saved unless they hear the gospel and believe, making evangelism and explicit faith necessary
2) everybody who wants to be saved will be saved, meaning that the "whosoevers" of the Bible are valid offers unto salvation
3) a person knows they are elect only if they repent of their sin and believe on Jesus
So, in summary, even for the Calvinist, no evangelism = no salvations. We must get out there and share the gospel, calling all who will believe to be saved!
I agree that we've become more of a "come and tell" denomination in the past 50 years, but thank God "by and large [we] get out there and beat the bushes." I'm glad that you addressed the false understanding of 5-point Calvinism. It is a shame for fellow Southern Baptist brothers in Christ who hold to even all 5 of these doctrines to be accused slanderously of denying the need for evangelism and even personal faith when this is not the truth. Let me affirm what you have said, "LET ME STATE FOR THE RECORD THAT HYPER-CALVINISM IS ABSOLUTE HERESY." There is no salvation for anyone apart from personally hearing the gospel and personally believing the gospel because God has preordained both the end and the means to that end. Further, whether a person personally hears the gospel or hears it and rejects it, they will be held accountable for their personal sin against a personal God either way.