Social exercise as an opportunity to present the gospel is contrary both to the Great Commission with its divinely mandated heralding or preaching ministry of the church and to the complete sovereignty of God in personal salvation. Such a technique reflects an Arminian, woefully inadequate view of human depravity and inability. Biblical witnessing, preaching, or presenting the good news of saving grace is addressed to people in their lostness and their absolute inability to respond or make any kind of overture to God of their own unaided free will (Rom 3:11; 1 Cor 2:14). The gospel is not addressed to mankind in its physical, social, or emotional turmoil; these are but the symptoms of the problem, which is the innate hostility of the natural man to the living God (Rom 8:6–8). Society’s injustices and inequities are due to the total depravity of individual human beings, and the gospel remedy is the unilateral divine intervention of saving grace that results in total surrender to Christ and complete abandonment to the truth-claims of Christianity. The gospel is the only solution to social ills, and this is the church’s message to a mixed society (i.e., saved and unsaved) of hurting people. Repentance is a gift from God (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim 2:24–25; Zech 12:10) and so is faith (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 1:9; Heb 12:2; 2 Pet 1:3), and these both come by hearing the proclamation of the Word of God (Rom 10:8, 17) as it is accompanied by the transforming work of God’s Spirit (John 6:65; 1 Cor 2:1–5). The belief that the natural man with an empty belly cannot respond to the call for repentance and faith is strange theology indeed. It is Arminian, if not Pelagian, in content; it assumes that one’s stomach ultimately controls his response to the gospel, or else it presupposes some form of volitional equilibrium by which a person has no inclination for or against the gospel except through the glands. This is not only unscriptural, it is inherently unstable and self-destructive because it has no limiting notion. How much hunger must be satisfied before someone will respond to the gospel? Perhaps a chilly or cold person cannot exercise faith until he is given warm clothing or a heated house; if so, how warm must he be? This is to say nothing of his diminished self-esteem that must be shored up and his hierarchy of needs correctly aligned before the natural man is ready to surrender to Christ. But how psychologically adjusted must he be? In other words, the felt needs that must be satisfied before the gospel can be presented are endless, and evangelism based on meeting such needs is totally unproductive and thus of no use. Such an approach is an insult to God’s sovereign grace and unlimited power to save whom He will by the means He has clearly established. (McCune, Rolland. Promise Unfulfilled: the Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism, 273.)
Redeeming the Culture
Pastor, Exhorter, Cyclist
Frank Jones is presently pastor at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia.