The other day I had a conversation with a pastor who had invited me to preach in a Bible conference at the church where he is the pastor. Knowing something of his background and having heard him say a few disparaging things about Calvinism, I thought it to be only right that I should tell him up front that I am a Calvinist. (I don't necessarily like the term Calvinist, but I use it here because most people will be able to easily identify my doctrinal position.) He asked how long I had been a Calvinist and I said, "always" (Not always in the sense that I was born knowing and loving the doctrines of grace, but always in the sense that I have always been a Calvinist since he has known me.). He said something like, "You mean you were a Calvinist when you went to the mission field?" "Yes I was", I said.
It seemed that he could hardly believe that a Calvinist would be a missionary. That's because he had been led to believe ,as many others seem to believe, that Calvinism is inconsistent with evangelism. Nothing could be further from the truth! I am aware that there are some who have miss-applied the doctrines of grace and allowed their flawed thinking to make them hyper-Calvinists who do not see the need for evangelizing the lost. However a truth-loving honest Calvinist cannot help but obey the "great commission".
Here are some reasons why I believe that a Calvinist would go to the mission field. Hey! There are 5 of 'em! Ain't that a coinkydink?
1. The Calvinist views the "great commission" as a command, not as a suggestion.
Although he believes such doctrines as total depravity, unconditional election, and particular redemption; these truths, contrary to what many say, do not kill his willingness to evangelize. He hears his Master say:
Mar 16:15 ..."Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." So, he goes. He takes his Lord's words as an happy obligation and preaches the good news to every creature. He holds no doctrinal position that would release him from his obligation to obey a direct command of his Lord.
2. For every child of God and especially for the Calvinist, proclaiming the gospel is the natural result of having experienced saving grace. Having been regenerated from death to life, and having understood and experienced the saving grace of God through the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, one cannot help but tell it to others. Saul of Tarsus (later renamed Paul) began to preach Christ immediately after his conversion (Acts 9:20). Someone has said "Evangelizing is one beggar telling other beggars where he found bread."
3. The Calvinist knows that the doctrine of election guarantees that there are "other sheep" in whatever people group he is evangelizing.
Joh 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Because of this he is encouraged knowing that his labor is not in vain. God will use his faithful preaching to bring His people to Himself.
4. The Calvinist knows:
A. That the preaching of the cross is God's appointed means for saving those who believe.
1Co 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
So he, with joy and passion, preaches it.
B. That the Word of God is sufficient and powerful enough in itself to effectively bring men to Christ. This I say by experience: He may be the only preacher on the field who has complete confidence in the power and sufficiency of the Bible he preaches to accomplish God's holy work.
5. The man who best knows the doctrines of grace is one who has glimpsed something of the glory and majesty of our high and holy God. He is so awed by God's glory that he wishes he had a thousand tongues with which to praise Him, but alas! he has but one. So he goes forth convinced that God is worthy of much more praise than he alone is able to give. He preaches the good news longing to reach others who will join their hearts and tongues with him and with all those who worship the God of glory. His daily consuming desire is for one more different voice in the choir sounding forth it's unique note as it sings God's praise. One more heart that is captivated and awed by His majesty, and one more witness to His truth so that still others may hear and join the chorus of praise.
In conclusion, it is my opinion that it is the Calvinist who has the right message, the right method, and the right motivation for scriptural missionary activity.