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Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God Paperback – November 5, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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The mystery and seeming paradox between evangelism and God's sovereignty has been causing disagreements and confusion among Christians since the beginning of the 20th century. In Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer reveals that a faulty understanding of the Bible leads to the assessment that these doctrines are foes rather than friends. By debunking the erroneous view that "robust faith in the absolute sovereignty of God is bound to undermine any adequate sense of human responsibility" toward evangelism, the author adeptly moves through the obstacle course of tricky theology with ease and grace, allowing the reader a more complete understanding of the mystery of salvation. Packer manages to tackle an overwhelming piece of doctrinal truth and contain it within the subject of evangelism by concisely determining what evangelism is and what it is not. "It is our widespread and persistent habit of defining evangelism in terms, not of a message delivered, but of an effect produced in our hearers." This error is corrected when one is renewed in his or her knowledge of the sovereignty of God. Of course, fault is found on the other side as well, with those who so heavily rely on God's sovereignty to save the lost that they are lazy in obeying God's command to share the Gospel. Packer insists that love for God, at the very least, should draw one out of this stagnation and that the coupling of these seemingly diabolical doctrines will make one bold in speech, patient in God's timing, and prayerful for the salvation of others. --Jill Heatherly

Review

"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."

"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. ) --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (November 5, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 083081339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830813391
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The relationship between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility is a very confusing one. On the one hand, we see in the Bible that God is sovereign over even the actions of man, since God has "mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth" (Rom. 9:18). Even Christ's death on the cross was not done outside God's control, but He was "delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 3:23). This is all good and glorious as we can rest assured in God's providence and care for us, knowing that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ, not even our own sins.

But some people lean too far toward God's sovereignty and forget all the places in Scripture that refer to commands to *do* something. "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10). Though we know that Christ is sovereign over our works, we also know that we are entirely responsible for our works, and we mustn't forget either principle.

Having said all this, I really enjoyed this book because J.I. Packer helped me understand all this. He showed that divine sovereignty and human responsibility are really not at odds with each other, but both promote sanctification in God's people. He showed that there is an antinomy between the two (which has been mentioned in another comment) and even though we don't entirely understand this paradox, we must accept it as God's Word shows it to be true.

Having dealt with this issue, Packer then applies it to evangelism. He shows that only assurance of the sovereignty of God can give us true success in evangelism, because then we will not have to come up with clever methods to get people into church, or to entice them into the faith.
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Format: Paperback
Packer does an wonderful job of bringing together two subjects which on the surface would seem to be at odds with each other. As he points out in the book, God's Sovereignity and man's call to evangelize are both Biblical principles and therefore have to be considered by Christians. Dr. Packer has a way of clearly explaining both subjects and showing how God's sovereignity drives the Christian to be a witness for Him.
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Format: Paperback
A little book that will help the reader understand the relationship between the sovereignty of God and man's free will. Dr. Packer wrote this book as many young preachers in England were leaning towards hyper-Calvinism as a consequence of their discovery of the Puritan writers and reformed theology. Far from diminishing evangelistic zeal, the sovereignty of God empowers our efforts to proclaim the gospel!
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Format: Paperback
That God allows a sinfull and fallen creation to join Him in the accomplishment of His eternal plan is an awsome privilege and an irresistable proposition!! J. I. Packer does a very good job of explaining the irrefutable and plain teaching of Holy Scripture, that although God has elected from eternity who shall be saved, it is our responsibility and awsome privilege to be the means which bring that salvation about. We are simply God's mouth-peice, proclaiming the glorious gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world, it is up to God to make it effectual in the hearts of the elect. This is both comforting and encouraging in that: 1.) It assures us that our work is never in vain for God's word will always accomplish exactly what He wants it to accomplish, and 2.) It takes all the pressure off of us in that we do not have to judge the quality of our work by it's success. Every evangelistic encounter is a success because we have been obedient in proclaiming the gospel. This deep truth runs contrary to pathetic and shallow human minds. However, those who truley know God (that is: the God of the Bible, as opposed to a god of their own making), will love and cherish this wonderful truth and come to appreciate God and His amazing gift of grace in a brand new demension that unfortunate and worldly Christians tragically fall far short of. If you are a truth seeker and not just out to validate your own oppinions about God and the Bible, this book will be of eternal blessing to you. God Bless. SM
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Format: Paperback
An Antinomy Explained. Antinomy: a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles or between inferences correctly drawn from such principles. This is what this book is all about. I used to constantly struggle with this issue and I'm glad to say that Packer helped me put it to rest in a logically and biblically consistent manner. If you don't believe that God is in total control of his creation your prayers are futile, and if you don't believe men/women are responsible for their actions it follows that we all should converge into a common destiny. This book will clearly teach you both, that God is Sovereign and that mankind will have to give an account. More specifically, Packer treats this issue in regards to evangelism (the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ), as an activity for which each believer is responsible, and the gift of salvation (or gift of faith), as an activity that belongs to God. If you have not read it in five years, you should read it again, it is that good. EGM.
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