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Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God Paperback – February 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Whether you consider yourself a Calvinist, an Arminian, or somewhere in between, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God will stimulate your thinking about evangelism and increase your desire to join God in his work. It is easy to see why InterVarsity Press has republished this book as one of its "IVP Classics." (Todd Sauve, 1340mag Books (1340magbooks.com), April 2009)

"A short but exceedingly powerful book. Packer shows that rather than precluding evangelism, God's sovereignty provides the most powerful incentive and support for it. . . . [C]ontains impressive depth and contains a thorough and satisfying treatment of the subject." (Discerning Reader)

"I've often recommended this book to faithful Christians who are confused about how they are to think about prayer, missions, giving―any area in which our efforts could be wrongly pitted against God's own necessary action. Packer introduces us to clear truths, handles Scripture with exemplary care, and supplies us with just the right amount of illustrations and application." (From the foreword by Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.)

About the Author

J.I. Packer is regarded as one of the most influential evangelicals in North America. He is Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia and his writings include books such as Knowing God, A Quest for Godliness, Growing in Christ (Crossway) and Rediscovering Holiness. He has preached and lectured widely in Great Britain and North America and served as General Editor of the English Standard Version of the Bible published in 2001, and Theological Editor of the Study Bible version. In 2014, Packer was named Author of the Year by the Association of Logos Bookstores. He is a frequent contributor to and an executive editor of Christianity Today and has written numerous articles published in journals such as Churchman, SouthWestern Journal, Reformation & Revival Journal and Touchstone. He received a BA, MA and PhD from Oxford University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; Americanized edition (February 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083083799X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830837991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By C. H. Cobb on May 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
To have published a single literary work that becomes a classic is a notable accomplishment. Publishing two gives the writer a corner on contemporary Christians' reading lists. James Inverness Packer has accomplished just that. Packer is well-known for his landmark book, Knowing God, which first was published in 1973. This is not a review of that book, but if you have not read it you should. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (first published, 1961) is the other classic Packer has written, and it punches far above its weight (my copy is a 2008 reprint edition--it's only 134 pages) in the world of biblically faithful Christian classics.

The first chapter, Divine Sovereignty, makes the case that all believers adhere to a confidence in God's absolute sovereignty. Packer calls the average Christian's prayer life to the witness stand, and the testimony is irrefutable. If you are inclined to question this last sentence, just read the chapter and form your own opinion: it's only seven pages long.

Next, in Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility, Packer shows that these two poles of activity (divine and human) comprise not a paradox, but an antinomy: the assertion of two statements which seem to be contradictory, but both of which are logically necessary: "An antinomy exists when a pair of principles stand side by side, seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable" [26]. Packer goes on to show, with plenty of examples, that both divine sovereignty and human responsibility are taught in Scripture. His advice regarding how to handle the conflict between the two is wise:
"What should one do, then, with an antinomy? Accept it for what it is, and learn to live with it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Simkins on January 8, 2013
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I talked to a fellow in a Reformed college (Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA). I said, 'aren't you reformed guys, the same folks that told William Carey to sit down because God will save the heathen if He wants without your help or mine' The gentleman replied that I have misunderstood the Sovereignty of God and should read Packer's book. I am glad I did. It really explains the purpose and method of evangelism. I think often of his approach. I think I should read this book again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erik Raymond on June 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
When you read the Bible it is clear that two things are true: a) God is sovereign. b) Man is responsible for his actions. What becomes tricky is the harmonization of these twin truths. One person might say, "If God is sovereign then he cannot hold people responsible." Another would say, "If man has responsibility to make the right decision, God cannot be sovereign." Doubtless you have heard and even felt this tension.

The biblical category where this tension tends to get the most attention is the area of Evangelism. How does the truth of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility mesh together in terms of evangelism?

J.I. Packer wrote a book that regrettably does not get as much attention as it should. It is aptly titled Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God. In the book Packer helpfully unpacks the concepts of divine sovereignty and human responsibility with a particular application toward evangelism.

Too many churches have their theology in one room and their evangelism in the other. However, God means to have our theology drive our evangelism. What God has joined together let no man separate. Packer aims to marry the two having theology inform evangelism and evangelism reflect biblical theology.

The book is more than just the establishment of theological categories. Packer labors throughout to tease out the implications. For example, if you believe God is sovereign then you will not resort to pragmatic, calculating manipulation tactics in order to "get the sale closed." You also won't neglect evangelism because of discouragement. After all, it is God who brings the life and he has many people in this city! You won't neglect prayer because it is prayer that God has ordained to be a tool in the process.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By William P. Gabriel on September 8, 2012
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Packer has such a good way of showing all of biblical truth, and he does a good job explaining how things that appear contradictory come together. All the teaching is in the context of evangelism, and for anyone who struggles with their role in evangelism, this gives you great hope and confidence in following Jesus' words. This is the second book on evangelism I would recommend, the first being Dever's The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. But this is the first book I would recommend in trying to grow in understanding God's sovereignty.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Preston on January 31, 2013
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I've been struggling to reconcile these two, and now see that there is no need. They are both true and can happily exist side by side.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. Davis on January 15, 2013
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Read it for our home groups. Would recommend, if needed, spending some unrushed time ensuring that, if you use it for a group study, that they understand and embrace what Packer assumes (the wonderful truth of predestination).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Philip Schachtner on April 14, 2013
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This book is great in reconciling the two concepts which is difficult to understand for a someone who is not a theologian.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a good read. Packer asks some basic questions that lead one to affirm the necessity of God's sovereignty because of its biblical prominence. I do not, however, embrace his solution of 'antinomy' to the question of how to relate sovereignty and responsibility. To his credit Packer nowhere mentions free will. It is a helpful book for someone struggling to see the relevance of preaching, praying and especially evangelism, given a high view of God's sovereignty that embraces the truth of God's predestinating grace. Yet, I believe it needs to be supplemented by the thinking of someone like Gordon Clark.
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