Evangelism and God’s Power -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 05:1 (Spring 2001)
Article: Evangelism and God’s Power
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner


Evangelism and God’s Power

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminary. Recently, he completed a commentary on Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary Series. Currently, he is working on a theology of the apostle Paul and is co-authoring a work on perseverance and assurance (both due from InterVarsity Press). He is also serving as the preaching pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

At Southern Seminary we celebrate the truth that salvation is of the Lord. He is the one who makes his light shine in our darkness so that we see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). When Lydia embraced the gospel, the “Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). When we teach and speak to those who oppose our message, we do so “in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:24). We preach the gospel with confidence and boldness because we know that Christ has purchased some “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). We have God’s promise that his word “will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11). No evangelist or missionary ever saves anyone, for salvation is always and only of the Lord.

Some people draw an erroneous conclusion from the truth that God alone saves. They conclude that if salvation is of the Lord, then we are absolved of all responsibility. They reason as follows, “If the Lord does all the work, then I don’t need to do anything.” This line of thought must be emphatically rejected, for nothing is clearer in scripture than our responsibility to preach the gospel to all people, in all places, and at all times. The great commission text in Matthew makes this clear, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19–20). The text does not say that we should preach the gospel to some nations. Jesus does not command us to proclaim the gospel only to those of our own culture. The command is not that we should limit the good news to those who share the same racial background. The injunction is clear. As disciples of Jesus Christ...

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