“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17
There are some who reason that because it is the Spirit alone who grants eyes and ears to see and hear the truth of the Gospel, we have no responsibility to preach the Gospel to the lost. They reason that God alone is the one who saves and does all the work; therefore, we don’t have to preach, because God saves absolutely apart from man.
The problem with this thinking though is that it denies passages making it clear that no one will be saved unless they hear the word. What we gather from this is that God has chosen in His divine providence to save people through the preaching of His Word. “Faith comes from hearing,” as the verse above says. This means that the God-created, supernatural faith purchased in the cross for His people, worked into us by the Holy Spirit, comes from hearing the Gospel preached by someone sent from God. That is clear.
Then the verse goes on to say that the very spiritual hearing we need to apprehend the Gospel itself comes “through the word of Christ.” Hearing comes through the Word of Christ. We cannot hear unless God opens our dead ears. And this itself comes through the preaching of the Word. God does not save apart from His word (though of course He absolutely could if He wanted). But rather, He saves through His Word preached. That is the way He has chosen to do it. No one will be saved unless the Holy Spirit comes in power through the preaching of the Gospel from the Word of God. So am I missing something here?
We affirm Romans 9, and Romans 10. We affirm that God is sovereign in salvation and has the divine right to save whoever He wants (as Romans 9 made clear). And at the same time, we are responsible to carry the Gospel to the ends of the Earth. Romans 10:14-15 makes this clear. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
It is unfortunate that Calvinism gets lumped into these hyper-Calvinistic categories when we adamantly deny the doctrines they propose. Dave Hunt, Ergun/Emir Caner, George Bryson, some Dispensationalists from the Free Grace Society in particular, and others, would lump Historic Calvinism into these hyper-Calvinistic modes of thinking and yet it is clear from history and from the present day movement of evangelistic Calvinists in the West, that Calvinists in general, with the exception of a few groups, negate the fatalistic assumptions of hyper-Calvinists. This shows to me that the aforementioned list of people making accusations against Calvinism, that it squashes evangelism, have no idea what they are talking about.
Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitefield, and John Calvin himself made it very clear that we are to preach the Gospel to all without exception, because we have no idea who the elect are that God has chosen. Anyone proposing that you can know who they are need not look further than the Apostle Paul. Did he show “signs of election” while on the road to Damascus to kill, imprison, and persecute Christians? Christ came in power though and cut him to the core of his being to change him from the inside out. Paul was not pursuing Christ, but rather pursuing His demise, until Christ came and changed His very nature by His power. The granting of our very faith is a supernatural work of God alone.
And that is how all of us were saved who believe in Christ. Paul was obviously an exception in the way in which he was saved because Christ came and spoke directly to him in the midst of others. But the image there portrayed in Acts is the same for us. We were saved in the same way through Christ speaking life into our dead hearts though someone telling us the Gospel at some point in our lives. It is just unfortunate that Calvinism gets a bad rap because a minority of loud mouths.