The Motive, Message, and Aim of God-Centered Evangelism

For your consideration:

The Reformed faith provides the strongest and noblest motive for evangelism. Love for unworthy self and love for unlovely man are indeed worthy motives, but neither of these is the ultimate motive. The ultimate, hence the most compelling, motive must be for the altogether adorable God.

The Reformed faith presents the purest and most comprehensive message of evangelism. It emphasizes with unswerving consistency the Scriptural teaching of salvation by the grace of God. On that most significant score it is at complete odds with modernism, but is also surpasses Lutheranism, with its synergistic conception of salvation, and Arminianism, which makes God dependent on man in the personal appropriation of salvation. And it embraces ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27), the seemingly contradictory, yet to the mind of God perfectly harmonious, teachings of particular divine election and universal divine love included.

The Reformed faith proposes the highest aim for evangelism. It is not the salvation of souls. Nor is it the growth of Christ’s church. Nor yet is it the coming of Christ’s kingdom. All those aims of evangelism are important, even of inestimable importance. yet they are but means to the accomplishment of that end for which all things were brought into being and continue to exist, unto which God does all that He does, in which the whole of history will one day culminate, and on which the never-ending ages of eternity will be focused–the glory of God.

In short, the Reformed Christian, of all Christians, ought to be most zealous for evangelism. If he is truly–not just nominally–Reformed, he will be.”

– R.B. Kuiper, God-Centered Evangelism (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2002), 184.

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11 Comments on “The Motive, Message, and Aim of God-Centered Evangelism”

  1. ChrisB Says:

    Timmy, you’re not going to calm SBC fears by quoting Calvinists. You’re going to have to show them data that says that Calvinist churches today produce missionaries and evangelists at a higher rate than non-Calvinist churches.

  2. Jerry Says:

    One of our biggest challenges is due to the fact that genuine conversion is difficult to measure.

    As long as the SBC uses “decisions” and “baptisms” as the measuring stick, Calvinists are going to be at a disadvantage. I crings whenever evangelism is described as “praying to receive Christ” in our Baptist publications.

  3. ChrisB Says:

    Jerry, I agree. Unfortunately baptisms are easier to count, and less subjective, than members living Christ-like lives.

  4. ChrisB,

    I’m sorry that I am a little slow to responding (these posts today have been scheduled prior to posting, so the timing does not reflect me being online).

    Regarding current data, I would encourage folks to consider Ed Stetzer’s recent research which can be found here:

    In it, Stetzer makes five observations from the data:

    1. Nearly 30 percent of recent SBC seminary graduates now serving as church pastors identify themselves as Calvinists.

    2. In the last year of the study, 34 percent of those serving in SBC churches identified themselves as five-point Calvinists.

    3. Calvinistic recent graduates report that they conduct personal evangelism at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinistic peers.

    4. 27 percent of 1,234 recent seminary graduate respondents serving in SBC church leadership positions “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” that they are five-point Calvinists, while 67 percent affirmed that God’s “grace is irresistible” and 58 percent said they believe “people do not choose to become Christians, God chooses and calls people who respond to him.”

    5. Calvinistic churches, though they baptize fewer persons each year, have a “baptism rate” virtually identical to that of non-Calvinistic churches. Baptism rate is the number of annual baptisms relative to total membership, a statistic used to measure evangelistic vitality.

    Other anecdotal data is the fact that the top 2 multiplying churches in the United States are pastored by Calvinists:

    Furthermore, the leading church planting efforts, such as Acts 29 and Sovereign Grace, have a confessionally Reformed. You can find more of my previous response to Wagner by going here:

  5. Nathan White Says:

    “In short, the Reformed Christian, of all Christians, ought to be most zealous for evangelism. If he is truly–not just nominally–Reformed, he will be.”

    Have we ever considered that maybe the popular genre of ‘reformed theology’ in today’s circles is not “truly-not just nominally-Reformed”? That is, maybe some would listen if our actions spoke louder than our words…

  6. ChrisB Says:

    Timmy, those are interesting numbers (though one should ask whether these groups are growing through converts or transfers from other churches), but they’re not what I talked about above.

    The numbers probably don’t exist at this time, but until you can show the folks in the SBC leadership that Calvinists produce more missionaries, you’re not going to get their attention.

  7. ChrisB,

    Well, I don’t know what else to say. Would it help you to know that the largest seminary in the world is headquarters for Reformed theology in America, and at the same time, the largest seedbed for missionary appointees for the IMB? Anecdotally speaking, this was confirmed when I, in God’s providence, recently sat next to the IMB representative/recruiter for SBTS who himself confirmed this to be the case. In fact, his words were that, where he to double the amount of time here at SBTS to interview candidates for the mission field, he still would not be able to facilitate all the requests. Sounds like that Reformed theology sure is killing missions and evangelism! 🙂

    Methinks Mr. Wagner needs to check with the IMB before making such a historically and factual error.

  8. ChrisB Says:


    Anecdote is better than nothing, but your best shot (and it’s only a shot) at changing their attitude is quantitative data.

    BTW, if I haven’t made it clear, you’re not trying to change my mind; I’m just trying to help you see what they’re looking for.

  9. ChrisB,

    Yeah, but all things considered, I would like to know how the non-Calvinists can provide that their theology and understanding of the gospel produces more missionaries and better evangelists. In all fairness, let’s let the critique go both ways.

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