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.
Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God Paperback – November 5, 1991
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
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
"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.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
1. Packer does not skirt the main issue. He deals with what he calls the "antinomy" - that is, two clear truths standing in apparent contradiction to one another. He humbly shows that Scripture, far from being contradictory, reveals truth that is sometimes irreconcilable for finite beings to exhaustively comprehend. Packer holds divine sovereignty and human responsibility together in tension, without letting one outweigh the other. This is the ground of the book.
2. Packer gives one of the best summaries of the gospel I've ever read. Without watering it down one bit, he simplifies the message to four main heads (namely, God, Sin, Christ, Summons to Repentance and Faith). In his usual style, he peppers in Scripture explaining it clearly along the way. In this, Packer is both explaining the gospel to future evangelists, but he's also demonstrating to those same individuals how to explain it to others. Simply brilliant!
3. The theology of this book, namely that God is sovereign (King) and that God is also righteous (Judge) is helpful for many areas of Christian living. The question of how God can hold sinners accountable and without excuse when he himself is the sovereign Potter, forming the clay as he purposes is applicable to other areas, like prayer. We are responsible to pray and petition God, and the fervent prayers of the righteous avail much, but God has an immutable decree that governs all. The Christian can have great confidence that their prayers lead to powerful results, not despite God's sovereignty but because of it. The sovereignty of God doesn't stifle prayer, but encourages it. Just so, the fact that almighty God sends laborers to his harvest gives great confidence of reaping a harvest.
My favorite thing about this book is watching how Packer does theology. He says elsewhere that theology is "for doxology and devotion" - that is, for the theologian to rejoice in worship and go deep in faithful obedience to their God. He does it here, even while dealing with one of the most difficult theological problems. As a loyal servant, he tethers himself to the Scripture and applies it with remarkable practicality for soul-winning. Far from saying one's Calvinism should preclude evangelism, he allows his meaty theology to have hands, feet, and a mouth to share the good news to a dying world.
It is a great privilege to evangelize. It is exciting to be able to tell others of the love of Christ, understanding that there is nothing they need more then to know the saving grace of God. The world is full of people who are not aware that they deservedly sit under the wrath of God. It is urgent that we should try to arouse them, and show them the way to be free of our well earned punishment.
We can not convince our fellow man of the truth of Scripture. We can not hope to move men to obey the gospel by our words. Our approach to evangelism is worthless unless we have faced the fact that it is God that saves. You and I cannot make sinners repent and believe in Christ by our words alone. God works faith and repentance in men's hearts by His Holy Spirit.
There is no magic formula in evangelistic methods, not even in theologically accurate methods. When we evangelize, our trust must be in God who raises us from the dead. Knowing that God is sovereign should impact our evangelism in three distinct ways: it should make us bold, it should make us patient, and it should make us pray.
Packer helps the reader to look at an evangelistic opportunity as a three-party conversation between the unsaved, the Holy Spirit, and us, and we are the least important character in that conversation.
Packer's objective in writing this book: "The aim of the discourse is to dispel the suspicion...that faith in the absolute sovereignty of God hinders a full recognition and acceptance of evangelistic responsibility, and to show that, on the contrary, only this faith can give Christians the strength that they need to fulfill their evangelistic task." (page 8)
How should we view evangelism in light of God's sovereignty?
- Recognize that we are not responsible for the securing of converts. Only God can accomplish this. "Only by letting our knowledge of God's sovereignty control the way in which we plan and pray, and work in His service, can we avoid becoming guilty in the fault [of thinking we are the agents of the new birth]." (page 29)
- View divine sovereignty and human sovereignty as working together. We may not understand, but our lack of understanding makes neither any less true. We should not "over-simplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries..." or "subject scripture to the supposed demands of human logic." (page 16)
-- Christ both came to specifically save those whom the Father had given Him, but also offers Himself freely to all men as Savior, and guarantees to bring to glory everyone who trusts in Him as such (John 6:8) (page 102-103)
- Do not define evangelism in terms of achieved results. Instead, it is the faithful preaching of the Gospel. The results are God's responsibility (page 41). We are steward's of the message (page 42)
- Understand that evangelism is not just a matter of informing sinners, but also inviting them. It is an attempt to gain, win, or catch our fellow man for Christ (as fishermen's work) (page 50).
- Present the Gospel as a summoning for faith and repentance. It is a Command by God to repent and believe the Gospel (Acts 17:30) (page 70). Our goal in presenting the Gospel is "to lead sinners to abandon all confidence in themselves and to trust wholly in Christ and the power of His redeeming blood to give them acceptance with God." (page 71)
- In sharing the Gospel, we should "ask for grace to be truly ashamed of ourselves, and to pray that we may so overflow in love to God that we shall overflow in love to our fellow-men, and so find it an easy and natural and joyful thing to share with them the good news of Christ." (page 78)
- Test new "methods" of evangelism by this: will it in fact serve the word? Does it clarify the meaning of the message? Or rather, does it overlay and obscure the realities of the message, or blunt the edge of the application? (more tests of methods on page 87-90)
This week, I was discussing the reality of God's sovereignty with a man who had left our church fellowship over this issue. Among other arguments, he expressed that a complete acceptance of God's sovereignty in salvation would diminish the need to evangelize. Oh, how I wish I could convince this man otherwise! As this book so persuasively argues, faithful, Biblical evangelism is nothing but buttressed by a complete acceptance of our God's sovereign hand.