March 17, 2014

Divine Mathematics (reprise)

by Jesse Johnson

If we can agree that the goal of the Christian life is to glorify God as much as is possible, then there really is only one natural question: what is the single most God-glorifying action a Christian can do?

Some may argue that all elements of a Christians life, such as prayer, fasting, worship, parenting, sanctification, etc.,  are equally important. But I disagree. While all spiritual disciplines are interconnected—if your prayer time falters, so do your affections for Jesus, and then your sanctification falters, and then you sin—they are not all equal. I argue that evangelism is the single most important action for a Christian, and I measure importance by the way an action glorifies God. Pastor MacArthur has often said “nothing so much glorifies God as his gracious redemption of hell bound sinners,” and if the chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God, nothing glorifies God as effectively as evangelism.

This is expressed by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:15 when he writes, “that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” This is divine mathematics. When one person gets saved, they live their life fighting sin, putting on godliness, and being sanctified. Every sin they shed and every act of obedience they do gives glory to God. But ultimately, that is just one person glorifying God. When that same person gives the gospel to another, and that second person comes to faith, God’s glory is doubly magnified. This is what Paul means when he wrote, “as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God.” This is divine mathematics. The more you evangelize, the more people get saved, and the more people get saved, the more God is glorified.

You are probably familiar with John Piper’s comparison of glorifying God to a magnifying lens. You glorify God not by making his attributes seem big in your life (as if God’s attributes were tiny, and people needed help to see them), but rather you magnify God’s glory in the same way you magnify the stars. You take something incomprehensibly big, and portray it in a way visible to all. This is most efficiently done in evangelism. When you explain the gospel to an unsaved person, you are essentially telling them about the glories of God in the person of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of another activity Christians do that magnifies God’s glory this immediately and directly.

It is not that I am against prayer, devotionals, or any of the other spiritual disciplines. But I do see them as means to an end. We pray, and a significant part of our prayer requests are evangelistic (either directly, or indirectly). We study the Scriptures for our own soul, but also so that we are prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. We pursue sanctification, so that our testimony does not ruin our witness. We worship because we are thankful that God saves, and this motivates us to reach others. We fan the flame of affections for Jesus so that we love him more, and that love compels us to evangelize.  These are all preparation for the task at hand: reaching the lost.

If a person wants to maximize their life by living for the glory of God, then that person needs to be passionate about evangelism. If the Lord has saved you, he has saved you for a purpose: to live for the glory of God. Each of us has friends, neighbors, family, and acquaintances who are dead in their sins and trespasses. When you bring them the gospel, and they believe, their life is taken from fighting against God, to living passionately for his glory. God’s glory is then both multiplied and magnified.


Jesse Johnson

Posts Twitter Facebook

Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • So I clicked the link to this article to read about mathematics, one of my favorite subjects…only to find out the article wasn’t really about mathematics, but evangelism…another one of my favorite subjects.

    I love the points you made. One aside, though. When we are in eternity with Jesus and everyone is elect and glorified, we will not evangelize, (at least not in the same way we need to here) and God will still be glorified by us. So I’m not sure evangelism can be called the height of bringing God glory when we practically won’t even need to do it for a long while. Although I may agree that we bring God the maximum glory in our earthly bodies through proclaiming His excellencies and His mercy to whomsoever.

    But to your final point (implied), when someone shares the gospel with a lost person and they do not believe, you should be pleased that you glorified God by presenting the gospel to them and not let down thinking you brought God less glory if they are not saved.

  • Brad

    Great points Jesse! I have been so encouraged to see so many new churches being planted and so many churches being on mission!

  • Pingback: Divine Mathematics (reprise) | the Cripplegate | Snyderssoapbox's Blog()

  • Philip

    Since this post has “mathematics” in the title, let’s do some math.

    As I understand it, before time began, God determined who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell. Let’s say we add up the total number of souls that are destined to go to Heaven and call that value X. Let’s add up the total number of souls that are destined to go to Hell and call that value Y.

    Now, if you chose to evangelize, will this increase the value of X and decrease the value of Y? If you fail to evangelize, will the decrease the value of X and increase the value of Y? That is, can your decision to evangelize (or not evangelize) change either the value of X and Y?

    I assume that the answer to all of the above is “no”, but I try not to make assumptions about the positions of others, so could you confirm my assumptions or make corrections as needed?