Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

I have just finished J.I. Packer’s book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Wow. What a blessing to read and what an encouragement in both pastoral and personal gospel-telling. I recommend all Christians to read this short book (125 pages). Come and face the beautiful truths and responsibilities that Jesus has given you: to share the gospel message with sinful men and women, and compel them to repent from sin to Jesus for salvation. I would like to share with you a short excerpt from the final pages of the book, and it chiefly deals with how we should pray in light of God’s sovereignty in evangelism. Enjoy! For your joy, and the glory of God, please pick up a copy and read it: Kindle. Paperback.

“We said earlier in this chapter that (the sovereignty of God in evangelism) does not narrow the terms of our evangelistic commission. Now we see that, so far from contracting them, it actually expands them. For it faces us with the fact that there are two sides to evangelistic commission. It is a commission, not only to (proclaim the gospel), but also to pray; not only to talk to men about God, but to talk to God about men. (Proclaiming the gospel) and prayer must go together; our evangelism will not be according to knowledge, nor will it be blessed, unless we do. We are to preach, because without knowledge of the gospel no man can be saved. We are to pray, because only the sovereign Holy Spirit in us and in men’s hearts can make preaching effective to men’s salvation, and God will not send His Spirit where there is no prayer. Evangelicals are at present reforming their methods evangelistic preaching, and that is good. But it will not lead to evangelistic fruitfulness unless God also reforms our praying, and pours out on us a spirit of supplication for evangelistic work. The way ahead for us in evangelism is that we should be taught afresh to testify to our Lord and to His gospel, in public and in private, in preaching and in personal dealing, with boldness, patience, power, authority, and love; and that with this we should also be taught afresh to pray for God’s blessing on our witness with humility and importunity. It is as simple- and as difficult- as that. When all has been said that has to be said about the reformation of evangelistic methods, it still remains that there is no way ahead but this, and if we do not find this way, we shall not advance.

Thus the wheel of our argument comes full circle. We began by appealing to our practice of prayer as proof of our faith in divine sovereignty. We end by applying our faith in divine sovereignty as a motive to the practice of prayer.

What, then, are we to say about the suggestion that a hearty faith in the absolute sovereignty of God is (deadly) to evangelism? We are bound to say that anyone who makes this suggestion thereby shows that he has simply failed to understand what the doctrine of divine sovereignty means. Not only does it undergird evangelism, and uphold the evangelist, by creating a hope of success that could not otherwise be entertained; it also teaches us to bind together preaching and prayer; and as it makes us bold and confident before men, so it makes us humble and (persistent) before God. Is not this as it should be? We would not wish to say that man cannot evangelize at all without coming to terms with this doctrine; but we venture to think that, other things being equal, he will be able to evangelize better for believing it.” – J.I. Packer (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,  pg. 124-126).

All glory be to Christ! Pick up your copy of J.I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God today.

Always seeking your joy,
Pastor Brett