I think one of the main reasons we struggle to tell people about Jesus is that deep down we just don’t think it will ever work. We think we’ve already tried to share with people before and nobody was interested. We imagine sharing our faith to be nothing but muscling up our strength to go do our duty and embrace failure. We soldier on, expecting fruitlessness, so we can say, “I did it, pastor.”

Most of us lack faith that God actually has people prepared for us who will listen. This is where the doctrine of predestination is the best news in the world. We have not yet exhausted the number of God’s elect. God has more people to be saved, so keep on sharing.

When Spurgeon was asked why he kept preaching the gospel when he believed in election, he replied, “Because the elect don’t have yellow stripes down their back.” In other words, he could not see who was elect and who was not, so he had to keep sharing, believing that God had more people who would listen.

The sovereignty of God is the greatest motivation for mission. God still has people, preordained from the beginning of time to be responsive to the gospel message. You may think that you have already shared with everyone who would possibly be interested in the gospel, but it is not so. Remember: that the Spirit of God goes before you. As the it says in Zachariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

God is more interested in saving people than we are in telling people how to be saved. So as we keep sharing, he will keep providing some to be saved.

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14 thoughts on “Not By Might, So It Just Might Work”

  1. Wesley says:

    Always appreciative of fuel for my personal evangelism fire. Man, between you and Thabiti we ought to all be pseduo-Grahams by now!

  2. L. Westerlund says:

    Very, very rarely do I find myself disagreeing with my esteemed scholar-brother Kevin DeYoung, but in my experience and observation,what kept me back–and keeps others back–from sharing the Good News was a lack of spiritual reality in my own life. Evangelism was a guilt-producing obligation! I needed to grow in the knowledge of God. (II Pet. 3:18). To know God is to love Him. To love Him is to love what He loves–the lost sheep. To seek Him each day, and lay this day at His feet means being open to whomever He brings into our life. As He fills our heart with His love(Rom.5:5), we cannot keep from loving others, and we cannot keep from longing to be able to talk to them about the Lord we love and they need. But–and this is crucial–first we have to listen. Jesus, being Jesus, knew when He met a person, what was between them and God. We do not. We need to genuinely listen–I find most people are eager to tell you their life story–and then you can pray for wisdom, exactly how to respond.

  3. It always amazes me how vulnerable telling the Gospel seems. It really does seem weak but God’s promise has been placed on the message.

    When I approach some to dialogue about the Good News, I’m always struck at how much courage is required of me. But when I have spoken, I feel like they could feed me to the lions right then and there. After the vulnerability comes the sense of honour. Honour from having spoken well of the Lord.

  4. Nigel, Birmingham UK says:

    As our church plans and prepares for a local witness initiative this is exactly the God-centred encouragement we need. Thank you brother.

  5. JohnM says:

    Surely the real reason Spurgeon had to keep sharing was that he was predestined to do so. :)

  6. Gershom says:

    Love this post

  7. Apathetic Calvinist says:

    Honestly I have found that since I have become a Calvinist evangelism has been a hundred times harder than it was when I was a dumb as a stump over-zealous new Christian. Now that I am older and reformed trying to do evangelism just seems like I am to learn to speak Portugues. And on top of that it feels impossible without coming across like a schlocky sales person. I keep telling myself that since friendship evangelism is the way we reformed types do evangelism I’l just wait for the natural/ organic way to slip it into conversation, but then I tell myself that I just don’t really know this person enough to even go there.
    I just can’t help but wonder if being a Calvinist has made me lazy when it comes to this. Not just because I believe God will save who he will save, but also it just feels like by having a reformed life and worldview I can now enjoy the things of this world like art, music, food, film culture, etc. All the stuff that I gave up to become a Christian in the first place. So now I don’t really feel the need to be set apart and the spiritual reality of Heaven and Hell just seems a million miles away. Now there isn’t this sense of urgency for sharing the Gospel as there was before. I wonder if this is the real reason why we Presbyterians are so bad at evangelism. There just doesn’t seem like there is much at stake anymore.
    It also doesn’t help that when I was younger people used to at least have some slight interest in religion or spirituality. Now people will listen provided its not orthodox evangelical Christianity. Otherwise you mine as well be a Jim Crow hillbilly who sells crystal meth.

  8. L. Westerlund says:

    Thank you for an interesting post. I was struck by your writing,,,”the spiritual reality of Heaven and Hell just seems a million miles away. Now there isn’t this sense of urgency for sharing the Gospel as there was before.” Sadly, in today’s theological climate, I see an increased emphasis on “cultural transformation” and a decreased emphasis on the necessity of the new birth. Do we really believe in eternity, or just say we do? Biblically, this life is a vapor, a blip, a moment, compared to the awful reality of eternal commendation, or the inexpressible joy of everlasting fellowship with God.

  9. John Thomas says:

    Did Gods Sovereignty motivate Jesus to die for sinners (Romans 5:8)? Despite the well intentioned but cold in practice idea that somehow Gods Soveringty motivates people, love still gives people hope when nothing else does. That is the truth!

  10. John Thomas says:

    By the way, love your sight! Just thoughts from a pilgrim :).

  11. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
    it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just
    posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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