Monthly Reading Recommendation
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
by J. I. Packer
From our Elders:
If God is in control of everything, can a Christian sit back and not bother to evangelize? Or does active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign at all?
J.I Packer addresses these two different attitudes head on. If a Christian has solid faith in the sovereignty of God, where does human responsibility enter in? If salvation is solely up to God, then why bother to witness to a lost world? He’ll take care of it, won’t He? Why pray? Why minister?
Packer does not intend to lay out a proper evangelism plan, nor does he critique the evangelism plans and methods used by evangelical churches through the years. Rather, he endorses the understanding that it is exactly because of our faith in God’s sovereignty that we can find strength in sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world.
Packer explains that we confess God’s sovereignty by our practice of prayer, ministry and preaching of the Word of God. It is in this confidence that every true believer rests his hope in God’s control of all things; His perfect grace, timing, providential intervention and His plans for His children. How can we not praise His sovereignty in all things? He is sovereign in our own conversions. Similarly, His drawing of the believer to himself and the power and efficacy of his Word are proofs that defy logical explanation.
Packer takes on the tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility with a forthright analysis of both. Rather than agree that these principles are in opposition to each other, he declares them friends. Quoting the apostle Paul, in Romans 9: 19, Paul asks the question, “Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” The Creator and creature relationship becomes the answer. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” Packer effectively dissects, like a skilled surgeon, the relationship of the sinner to a Holy God.
Packer takes on the definition of evangelism, using the ministry of Paul to exemplify the ideal while outlining the critical elements of the message. The message must be about our sin and our need for a savior, telling the story of Jesus Christ and declaring the motive for evangelism.
Finally, Packer gives credence to the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of evangelism. He describes the work of “irresistible grace” in the action of the Holy Spirit on the minds of those drawn by God to himself; taking away their heart of stone and giving them a new heart being made willing by His grace.
The book is a great read for those who have struggled with this mystery of God. The relationship between God’s sovereignty and His desire that none should perish delights the believer and builds his faith.
Mark Dever states that, “ Packer introduces us to clear truths, handles scripture with exemplary care, and supplies us with just the right amount of illustrations and application.”
Some of J.I Packers’ other works are “Praying, Never Beyond Hope” and “Knowing God.”
– Paul Davies
This title is now available at the church Welcome Center
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