Yeah, OK: by now you have seen my first (and, if all things work out for good for those who Love God, last) post at BHT about Francis Chan's evangelism video and whether Calvinists who bristle at the statement "God doesn't want to send you to hell" are right-minded or not. And I promised a sign of good faith to the Tavernistas here at TeamPyro, so here is that sign of good faith.
So ... have I jumped the shark here? Have I gone mad with blogging? No -- I'm trying to do some good here both for the sake of those who have a grudge against "Calvinists" and those who are calvinists (note the small "c") against which there may be some grudges.
So let's start here: What is the Gospel? Seriously -- what is it? Do you know? If you have been following this discussion over the last 2 years at my blog, it is "Christ died for our sins in accordance with Scripture; he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with Scripture", right?
Now, the Calvinist makes the following point: "us" is not everybody -- "us" is a particular group, which the Bible calls "the elect". In that, Christ died for the sins of the elect. The intention of the Cross is for the elect. And, I think, it's hard to argue against that -- even though some people do. And that's an argument which I am not going to take up here.
What I am going to take up here is this: "us" may be a fixed number in the eternal sense, but it is a growing and fluid number in the immediate sense. That is: right now, today, no matter how calvinistic you are, you do not know the number or the phone numbers of the elect. And in that, the great commission is not a telemarketing scheme by which we only call the phone numbers of the elect.
We are to preach the Gospel to all nations, people. All nations. Yes: the elect will come -- and amen! Praise God that the elect will come. But the message is not, "and the elect will come": the message is "Jesus died for sin, and was resurrected because God said it would be that way! Repent and believe!"
Now, the prickly calvinist will come forward, a little angry at this point, and say, "Frank, dude: slow down. Does that really mean we can just say, 'God doesn't want to send you to hell'? Isn't that formula a little vague or a little loose for the discerning disciple of Jesus Christ?"
The answer, of course, is, "Yes". And "NO." The example in play is actually a video by Francis Chan, and the question you have to ask yourself is this: does pastor Chan only present a weak-tea view of God's opinion about sin? That is, is "God doesn't want to send you to hell" a summary of his whole theology, or a summary of the good news of Jesus Christ to sinners?
If the video was 00:01:30 long, and that's all that Francis Chan said, of course that's not good theology -- of course that's not the Gospel. But pastor Chan has done far more than simply limp out the God of Precious Moments on the beach: he took great pains to spell out the problem of sin and implicit in his presentation is the affirmation that the consequence of sin is hell. The statement from him that "God doesn't want to send you to hell" is seasoned with the clear implication, but that's where you're headed, bub.
The Gospel is the message that all men are going to hell, but Christ is the savior of those who believe in him -- we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
And that's the message of the video in question. If you're a calvinist and you can't deliver that message to every man, your learning is in the way of your loyalty to Christ. You're too worried that you will make a false hope out of Christ, when in fact He is the only hope any man can have. Listen: preach the good news of the only name by which men must be saved, and then you can make calvinist pots out of them in Sunday school or something. Make the appeal God has sent us to make. Implore all men to be reconciled to Christ. The offer is real, and if the only way you can think of to make it is to say, "God doesn't want to send you to hell," as long as you have made it clear that hell is where the person is going right now, what have you done that Ray Comfort doesn't do?
In all of that, be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day, and try to muster up the courage to tell people that Christ is the savior from their sins.