Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

In Defense of Evangelism in the Reformed Faith by Shane C. Montgomery

Thursday, December 9, 2010
   My heart is often broken by people who are most like me in worship and doctrine.  Being a Calvinist and one who adheres to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I am confident in my directives to worship based on Scripture and my confession.   These same directives also teach on how my walk with Christ should proceed.  How I should mature and grow in God's grace.  Many people believe and trust in these directives the same as I do......... up to a  point.   

The "Point" I mention is the absence of Evangelism in the Reformed believers life.  The vast majority of fellow Calvinist do not believe we should engage in outreach of any form.  This to me is hard to understand.  Does part of this grow out of a entire life spent in the Reformed faith?   Meaning, I began my Christian life as a devout Arminian.  My teens years spent in the Wesleyan Church and my post Army years in the United Methodist Church for some years, including a brief stay in the Bible Baptist Church.  So I was brought so to speak in outreach.  These churches are all driven to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost society.

  God long ago delivered me from the heresy's of these churches, and I do not say this to degrade anyone who remains in these churches, in a way they all taught me some what about Scripture and to have a servants heart, along with the Holy Spirit of course.  But lets speak the truth for a moment, these churches are preaching another gospel in most cases.  The open theism they often teach along with man's will to choose Christ is just wrong.   All these churches do outreach and evangelize the lost, so what does this say about us in Reformed Churches?   Does this mean if we witness we are Arminian?   Does the fact that these churches evangelize that we should not?   Are we afraid we might have something in common with these churches so we avoid this practice?

  Do we fear "Guilt by Association?"   I am often told that I should not encourage outreach of any kind to my flock.  Not long ago I was told these very words... "Reformed people normally do not do outreach!"   Is this true?  Am I wrong to promote, teach and beg the flock to pray for the lost?   To hit the streets with the Good News of the Gospel?  To help others in need and those not to show the Love of Christ to those dying in their sins?   Am I wrong?   I guess the first question, being Reformed and following one of our credos, "Sola Scriptura" we should look first to Scripture, is there any basis for this?     "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."  Mark 16:15 (KJV)

  We can debate on whether or not the last ten verses of Mark were originally included in the text or added later by a scribe, some debate with the documents found in the Dead Sea Scrolls points to this being the case.  But even with that we see verses that point to the commissioning of His saints to spread the Gospel.  "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"  Matt 28:19 (KJV)  Now, is this directive given only to His disciples or is it for every believer?

 Now lets move away to another example, the 2,000 year history of the Church itself.  Lets look at some of the men that God raised to edify us throughout history.  Lets go one better, lets look at some of Reformed men, those from within our very faith and them we often read and learn from.  What did they say?  Did they evangelize?  

One of the greatest evangelists ever to set foot on American soil was George Whitefield. Read carefully the following quote and note his pleading with sinners.-

George Whitefield was a staunch Calvinist. You may argue  with that point, but he did not think like we so often do in the Reformed Church today.  Whitefield preached the Gospel to the lost, not just to his flock, but to the lost where ever they may be!   Take Charles Spurgeon, who would argue he did not evangelize?    Read A.W. Pink,  J.C. Ryle, J.C Philpot and other great Reformed writers, maybe they may or may not be Reformed enough for you but the point remains they very well preached the same doctrines of grace the Bible teaches and that you believe.  I have gone far too long on this post already, I do not intend to write a complete paper on the arguments of evangelism in the Reformed faith but to simply open a few eyes to the need for us as Calvinist to remain faithful to the Great Commission, to share the Good News of a Savior in Jesus Christ.  I do not deny my beliefs when I claim Calvinism and still preach on witnessing, I do not promote in any way the sinners ability to save himself outside of grace neither do I promote the teachings of man's will to do anything other than sin!  Man will always choose the tooth rotting sweetness of sin over the divine holiness of God!  Salvation is all of grace, from Justification through Sanctification and into Glorification is all of God and none by man.

  My point is simple, the Scriptures tell us evangelize, so are we encouraged by the great men of the Reformed faith from years past.  Please do not let the modern teachers of today lull you into a false sense of inactivity or to think more into Scripture than what is there already, many Calvinist will take the idea of Predestination to far and are guilty of Eisegesis over Exegesis in their interpretation of the Bible.   We cannot let our preconceived notions effect what Scripture has to tell us and to say that Calvinism frowns on witnessing is do just that.  Let me take a passage from Calvin's Institutes and use it to end this post.....  

 "Human curiosity renders the discussion of predestination, already somewhat difficult of itself, very confusing and even dangerous. No restraints can hold it back from wandering in forbidden bypaths and thrusting upward to the heights. If allowed, it will leave no secret to God that it will not search out and unravel. If this thought prevails with us, that the Word of the Lord is the sole way that can lead us in our search for all that it is lawful to hold concerning him, and is the sole light to illumine our vision of all that we should see of him, it will readily keep and restrain us from all rashness. For we shall know that the moment we exceed the bounds of the Word, our course is outside the pathway and in darkness, and that there we must repeatedly wander, slip and stumble. Let this, therefore, first of all be before our eyes; to seek any other knowledge of predestination than what the Word of God discloses is not less insane than if one should purpose to walk in a pathless waste (cf. Job 12:24), or to see in darkness. And let us not be ashamed to be ignorant of something in this matter, wherein there is a certain learned ignorance" (Institutes, III. 21. 1-2).

Be Holy!
Shane C. Montgomery


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