Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Understanding Depravity Encourages Evangelism

And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10).

At T4G 2008, John MacArthur presented a searching exposition of the doctrine of total or pervasive depravity. In the panel discussion that followed, Mark Dever commented on how contemplating the doctrine of depravity actually encourages evangelism:
I was encouraged. Not just in the personally affecting way… but I’m encouraged in my evangelism. Because when I know I’m preaching to corpses, I don’t have to figure out how to make them believe. I just need to work on loving God and preaching the Gospel faithfully.

You know it is the most amazing thing when people contrast belief in election and say that hurts evangelism. In Acts 18 when Paul was discouraged, what does the Lord give to him? An understanding that “I have many people in this city.” Does He mean there was a lot of population? No! He means He has chosen many people in that city, so Paul, go ahead. There will be response. You don’t have to see any signs of it. Go ahead and preach the Gospel.
If faith comes by hearing, it cannot be manufactured by coercion. So understanding depravity, among other things, frees us to proclaim. The doctrine of depravity does not inhibit evangelism, it liberates us to evangelize.

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