If God chooses some for salvation, why do we risk our lives to share the gospel? God’s sovereignty does not replace human effort in ministry; it fills it with power. In this lab, John Piper pulls at the tension and draws several conclusions about our personal ministry to the lost.
Principle for Bible Reading
Some difficult texts or questions in Bible reading are solved by bringing in other texts to make sense of words or ideas in this one. For instance, someone could read an isolated verse about election and conclude evangelism is unnecessary. That utterly fails to deal with a score of other verses that say exactly the opposite.
- Paul says he suffers everything “for the sake of the elect” (2 Timothy 2:10). Why is he willing to suffer (sit in prison) for those God has sovereignly chosen for salvation? Why not leave it up to God?
- Read Ephesians 1:3–4 and Acts 18:9–10 (Paul), and John 17:6 and John 6:37 (Jesus). What do you learn about the relationship between election (God’s sovereignly choosing some for salvation) and evangelism (our role in speaking the gospel)?
- If salvation of the elect happens through means (someone preaching the gospel), and the salvation of the elect is sure, what does that mean for your evangelism/ministry?
Suffering for the Sake of the Elect (01:58–04:08)
- “Therefore . . . ” (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul endures everything (e.g. imprisonment) because the word triumphs through suffering (2 Timothy 2:9).
- Paul suffers everything for the sake of the elect, those chosen before the foundation of the world. (2 Timothy 2:10)
- Why? So that they receive salvation. He is the means of their being saved. (2 Timothy 2:10)
- God chooses (election) some for salvation. Paul is doing everything possible to see that those who have been chosen by God are saved. He doesn’t rest, but works even harder.
Election and Evangelism in the Bible (04:08–07:23)
- Paul says God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:3–4)
- So what did that mean for Paul’s evangelism?
- God tells Paul to go on speaking because God already chosen people. (Acts 18:9–10)
- Jesus describes this election saying, “Yours there were, and you gave them to me.” (John 17:6)
- And again in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me.”
- So does Jesus stop speaking and trust God’s election? No. He says, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (John 10:16).
Unfailing Power for Evangelism (07:23–10:57)
- Paul sees his ministry (and all its suffering) as an essential means of bringing the elect to salvation. (2 Timothy 2:10)
- The salvation of the elect happens by human means.
- The salvation of the elect is sure (God never loses any that he’s chosen).
- Therefore, God makes the means of their salvation sure.
- Therefore, as God’s means of saving his elect, you have omnipotent and unfailing help in your evangelism.