Why We Should Preach The Gospel To All Men
Posted by Job on May 27, 2011
Exodus 7:1-5 is a passage that I find fascinating.
And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, [and] my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
As for “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”, I am not going to touch that text with a ten foot pole. It is not that this text is unimportant, for it is, and has a meaning in this context and in the larger narrative of the interactions between Moses and pharaoh and the Exodus from Egypt. Instead, it is that I simply do not know with a certainty what the text means, and will not pretend to. I will say that this statement is part of why I find this passage to be so engaging, but not the majority part.
Instead, this passage shows us the primary reason for evangelism. Despite what we often believe, indeed what we want to believe, the primary purpose of evangelism is not to convert poor sinners. Again, the primary purpose of sinners is not the conversion of the lost! And that, dear Christian, is precisely why we should not submit to the oft-cited justification for God-dishonoring (i.e. deceptive, abusive, or man-exalting) evangelism tactics, or for having people holding church offices that do not meet the Bible’s qualifications for them: “See how it wins people to Jesus Christ!” If we make winning converts the chief goal of evangelism, and evangelism the chief duty of the church, then so long as converts are being made, anything goes, the “greater good” is being served, and the ends justify the means, right? Well, this passage, this early Old Testament passage from the Torah, reveals the error in that thinking, and the excuse-making and dissembling based on it!
In this passage, God tells Moses to go preach to Pharaoh. The message preached to Pharaoh includes God’s identity – the God of Israel, the God of Israel, and yes Moses did use the Divine Name, YHWH or Jehovah, in the course of stating His identity – and God’s commands, which is to be believed, submitted to, and worshiped according to the manner that God instructs. Also, though this passage does not contain it, the message given to Pharaoh contained a warning of judgment that would come to him and his nation if he responded with disobedience out of faithlessness, or unbelief. Moses and Aaron told pharaoh that regardless of his belief and obedience or lack thereof, God’s purposes would still come to pass, and God’s people would be saved, and those who were not God’s people would be judged for their wickedness. Further, God told pharaoh through Moses and Aaron (maybe that is the meaning of … oh never mind!) that the word being preached to him would be verified with signs and wonders. So, make no mistake, the message that God told Moses (and Aaron) to reveal to pharaoh was a protoevangelism, a prototype or type of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Moses gave to pharaoh a message that was the forerunner of the gospel of the Prophet like Moses who was to come, the message that the church has carried and borne within itself through trials, temptations and tribulations ever since. From this, we can assert that evangelism that omits the identity of God (as not only Saviour but Lord and Judge), the deliverance from sin (which requires repentance), the horrible judgment on those who reject the message out of disbelief, and that this message is verified by the great miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, a fact attested to by above 500 eyewitnesses, is not legitimate evangelism. How could evangelism that actually contains less than the word of the Lord that Moses gave to pharaoh over 1000 years before the coming of Jesus Christ be legitimate, and what excuse is there for withholding any portion of the word that Moses did not other than our possessing a sinful shame and offense towards the word of God because of our love for this present world that Moses did not have, so much so that Moses rejected the pleasures of the Egypt in order to suffer many things in God’s service (Hebrews 11:24-27) ?
Now even the mere fact that Moses preached a type of the gospel to pharaoh is sufficient to fascinate the mind and stir the soul. But wait … there’s still yet more! What is really amazing is that God told Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen! “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart … but Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you.” So, God told Moses to preach the gospel to one whose heart was hardened! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that Moses already knew was not elect! God told Moses to preach the gospel to one that was reprobate, and would not be saved! One whose God’s heart had hardened, was irrevocably lost, and as a result had no more chance of believing the gospel than did the son of perdition, Judas Iscariot. Like Judas Iscariot, it would have been better for pharaoh had he never been born. Make no mistake, without faith it is impossible to please God, and faith comes not from man but from God, a gift of the sovereign Holy Spirit given to those that God the Father has elected unto salvation before the foundation of the world. Pharaoh’s heart, hardened by original sin, was going to remain that way despite the preaching of the gospel to him because it was not in the decree of God that pharaoh was one who would be saved.
So, the question must be asked: why preach to a man like this? Is that not a waste of time and effort? Now, the easy answer to this is “We are supposed to preach to all people because only God knows those that He has elected to salvation, and we are not to attempt to act in God’s place by presuming to judge and know who He has elected and who He has not.” While this is 100% factual in general, in this case it is not so, for God had already informed Moses of pharaoh’s state! Again, God informed Moses in advance that pharaoh would not listen, and sent Moses to preach the protoevangelium to pharaoh anyway! Despite the fact that he was going to “fail” (with respect to the attempt to get pharaoh to acknowledge the revelation of God, repent of his sins and obey the revelation), God sent Moses anyway!
And the question is why? Does God set people up for failure? And if God sent Moses to deliver His word, can the Word of God fail? Does not the Bible say that the Word of God does not return null and void, but instead will accomplish the thing that God purposes (Isaiah 55:11)? How can that be true in this case? The answer is simply this: God did not sent Moses to preach the gospel to pharaoh so that pharaoh could be converted. God’s purpose in having Moses preach was not man. It was not pharaoh. Instead, God’s purposes in having Moses preach was God. It was so that God would be glorified. This purpose is hinted at in this specific passage with “And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD” but is given more explicitly later, when God states that through judging Egypt and accomplishing Israel’s exodus, He would be glorified before pharaoh, before Egypt, and before the world!
Make no mistake, this passage establishes convincingly the truth that we preach the gospel primarily to glorify God, and that God is glorified whether converts result or not. Indeed, when converts do happen, God receives the double honor and glory, for God is glorified by the preaching, and God is glorified by the conversion, particularly since it is God who accomplishes conversion and not man. The notion that we evangelize chiefly to win converts is man-centered doctrine and practice and must be abandoned.
The notion that we evangelize primarily to glorify God is Biblical truth, which is God-centered doctrine and practice, and must be internalized by every Christian. And once we realize that the primary purpose of evangelism is to glorify God, then we can no longer suffer God-dishonoring methods and God-dishonoring people or institutions with our support and acceptance. We will also no longer compare the apparent, temporal “success” of the God-dishonoring tactics and people with the true spiritual fruit of those who labor according to God’s will and thereby glorify Him! Should we mock God in the service of exalting the cause of saving man, and then claim that God is served, glorified and pleased by the saving of man? God forbid!
Though man, being the work of God’s Hands, is very precious to God, God is more important than man. Though man has great value, and it is a terrible thing for a man’s soul to be lost to eternal torment, the value of God far exceeds the value of not only each individual man, but the collective value of all men that ever lived and ever shall live! God is more valuable than His creation, and it is the chief duty of God’s creation to obey and glorify its Creator! Suffering practice that dishonors God and leaders who disobey God rejects this truth of Biblical revelation in favor of the lie that man is more important than God, or equal in rank or value with God, and it is the duty of God, that God is somehow beholden, to conform Himself, to lower Himself, to humble Himself, and accept whatever man chooses to give Him. If this is the case, then why did God reject the offering of Cain, and what was His basis, rationale, or justification for it? How could God have been just in His rejection and judgment of Cain? How can God be just in His judgment of anybody? God forbid that this should be the truth!
Instead, the truth is that Jesus Christ the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus Christ! The truth is that God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. This means that our evangelism must not and cannot be to us-ward with the chief goal and end being man and his salvation but to God-ward with the chief goal and end being God and His glory. That was why God sent Moses and Aaron to preach a type of the gospel to pharaoh, and that is why God’s Son has sent His church to preach the fulfillment of the gospel to every creature. We must first reject the false teachers who claim that the gospel is for some and not all – which apparently is an aberrant unscriptural form of Calvinism that Charles Spurgeon and William Carey contended against in their day – and then reject the leaven who claims that winning converts justifies the corruption in the message, the evangelist and the institution! Please recall that Jesus Christ said that many who will perform evangelism and do many other great works in His Name will be counted as goats and cast into eternal flame (Matthew 25:31-46 with Matthew 7:21-23). The goats are those who do perform work, but as the man-pleasers do, and not in spirit and truth. They are double-minded, calling on God but seeking to please man. As a result, they are disobedient goats, not obedient sheep.
To glorify God, Christians, all Christians no matter their age, sex, race, class, status, church office, etc. must share the gospel oft, and do so in a manner that glorifies God by submitting to God through obedience. It is those who are the true laborers in the harvest of the Lord. So, fellow Christian, I urge that you would pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest, and also that you would be counted among those labourers that He sends!
If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I urge, entreat and implore you not to respond with unbelief and rejection as did pharaoh, for if you do, you will receive pharaoh’s reward, which is horrible judgment. Indeed, where pharaoh’s punishment as recorded in Exodus was bad enough, as it was a punishment in this life, it was only a type of the punishment to come, which is exceedingly grievous and eternal in its duration! Do not follow after the folly of pharaoh! Instead, repent of your sins, believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved. Follow the link below to find out how.