Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God Paperback – November 5, 1991
|New from||Used from|
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
However, what Packer and all others who then do not submit to what God has revealed does is to cling to the idea of free will and "good intent" ('genuine invitations') on the part of God to save those who He has already said He will not save - that He hates ("Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated" - (Rom 9), those appointed for destruction stumble at the word (1 Peter 2) etc.). This makes God say things His word does not say. It is a false attempt to make God seem "fair" (just as Romans 9 later declares would be the case in the negative - i.e. that man says: "But that's not fair").
It is a short step from there to taking, for example, John 3:16 out of the context of the expansion of the Gospel from being proclaimed to the Jews to include the Gentiles and make it apply to all men everywhere instead. Paraphrasing the words of John Owen: only one possibility exists; Christ died for the sins of all men (in which case all would be saved - which they clearly are not), Christ died for some of the sins of all men (in which case nobody would be saved - since we cannot enter God's presence in imperfection), or (as the Bible teaches) Christ died for all of the sins of some men.
This clear proclamation of Scripture then frees evangelism from the constraints of creative tension that Packer and others misguidedly and falsely put it under by recognizing that the issue of Sovereignty actually _truly_ governs all things. It frees the believer from knowing he or she is responsible to "save the world" - God saves whom He wills - and has already determined to - and as believers, rejoicing in knowing that truth rather, simply, joyfully proclaim it. That does not, as Packer says, take away the urgency in its proclamation either, but it is not an urgency borne from the idea that Man can do anything as he hears it apart from God's granting of faith. Rather, a compulsion of love leads to being unable to speak of anything else but what God has done in Christ.
God then uses those very words heralded to accomplish that task. It is not a law or a burden of conscience that leads to a guilt for not evangelizing. Neither is it as sense that somehow we are "responsible" to do so in a way that takes away from that Sovereignty.
Packer misses the point by saying that those who hold what the Bible says about these issues are somehow unbalanced and in error (he takes the view that what I have said above is in fact only one side of the story). He effectively even if unwittingly is saying this needs to be fairer and God is unbalanced - which is blasphemous - so we have to hold these things side by side in antimony; we thus become wiser than God.
At best, Packer's book will raise the question in the minds of those who know and understand by the Spirit the things God has plainly set forth in His word (I only quoted a few examples above), and give them an increased desire to express godly discernment and perspicuity in speaking what it actually does say rather than what it does not, and in so doing rest in what He has truly revealed. To that end, it can be read for some profit, but not so that it will teach true doctrine, only help understand what it is not. At worst, it will confuse those who already believe they have free will - and that man does generally, and that somehow God genuinely "desires" the conversion of the reprobate - to continue to strive in their own strength to accomplish something that Christ has already accomplished at the cross (and in His death and resurrection) - the definite salvation of the elect.
By the way - this is not the first time this debate has been aired. Augustine vs. Pelagius, Luther vs. Erasmus. Throughout history there have been those who have wanted to hold to some other view of God and Man that He created and Sovereignly rules than God Himself does...
Packer's mind, which however unwittingly, is reflecting the free-will thinking of the unregenerate mind of Man at large, does not like antimonies. God doesn't have any - only truth. It is an attempt to reconcile in a palatable way what the natural mind cannot find palatable: God rules all things - even the will of man.
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" . 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. Refuse to regard the apparent inconsistency as real; put down the semblance of contradiction to the deficiency of your own understanding; think of the two principles not as rival alternatives but, in some way that at present you do not grasp, complementary to each other. Be careful, therefore, not to set them at loggerheads, nor to make deductions from either that would cut across the other (such deductions would, for that very reason, be certainly unsound)" [28-29].
In his chapter entitled, Evangelism, Packer answers four questions in the light of the foregoing. "What is evangelism? What is the evangelistic message? What is the motive for evangelizing? By what means and methods should evangelism be practiced" ? The bulk of the book is found in this chapter, and it is excellent. Packer fully delivers on the promise to deal with the questions, and in doing so he faithfully and powerfully represents the biblical gospel.
The final chapter, Divine Sovereignty and Evangelism, demonstrates that, far from being a damper on our evangelism, a good understanding of God's sovereign role stokes the flames of our passion to tell the message. God's sovereignty is, in fact, a guarantee of our success in evangelism.
Without being disrespectful or polemical, Packer has dismantled the typical Arminian concerns regarding the doctrines of grace, as regards evangelism. This book is not a "gotcha!" to be used to win a debate; rather, it is a powerful, positive, pastoral accounting of what must remain a divine mystery: God's absolute sovereignty, and our undeniable responsibility to evangelize.