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Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God | J. I. Packer

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True to its title, this book attempts to faithfully explain two strands of biblical teaching that seem to contradict one another. On the one hand the Bible makes clear and demanding statements about our activity in evangelism and the real results that follow our activity. Jesus Christ Himself commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, a commission carried out by our activities. On the other hand, the Bible also makes staggering, absolute claims of God's sovereignty, and extends that sovereign claim from our daily decisions to our eternal destinies. Packer sets out to show how these two truths are not enemies, but "friends," as he describes them. He also avoids the mistakes made by so many who affirm only one of these doctrines at the expense of the other, thereby distorting them both.

There are three great strengths to this book. First, it is a thorough, balanced, and accessible treatment of the relationship between these two great, biblical doctrines. Many people have questions about these issues, and Packer's book should help bring clarity and understanding to a very controversial set of doctrines. At the same time, the second strength to the book is a sane and balanced approach which will keep readers from falling into the errors that have plagued so many through church history. He urges Christians to avoid the opposite errors of (1) following unbiblical practices in order to manipulate men for Christ, believing that men would come to faith if we just presented the gospel differently; and (2) emphasizing the sovereignty of God so much that we no longer think of ourselves as responsible agents in the work of evangelism. With all of that said in favor of the book, the third strength may come as a surprise: its simplicity and brevity (the book is a short, 136 small pages).

For a more thorough treatment of God's sovereignty in salvation see Sam Storms' book Chosen for Life and Loraine Boettner's book The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.

Sample: Contents | Chapter 1

"Far from inhibiting evangelism, faith in the sovereignty of God's government and grace is the only thing that can sustain it, for it is the only thing that can give us the resilience that we need if we are to evangelize boldly and persistently."

If God is in control of everything, can Christians sit back and not bother to evangelize? Or does active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign at all?

J. I. Packer shows in this new edition to the popular IVP Classics how both of these attitudes are false. In a careful review of the biblical evidence, he shows how a right understanding of God's sovereignty is not so much a barrier to evangelism as an incentive and powerful support for it.

"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." --The Discerning Reader

Other Details

J. I. Packer
InterVarsity Press
8.25 x 5.50 x 0.38 inches