Evangelism

Book Review: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Image of Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
by J. I. Packer
IVP Books 2012
Paperback 122

J.I Packer’s little book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a great resource. His aim is to show that divine sovereignty and personal responsibility to repent and believe the Gospel are not mutually exclusive. He explained, “The supposition seems to be that you cannot evangelize effectively unless you are prepared to pretend while you are doing it that the doctrine of sovereignty is not true. I shall try to make it evident that this is nonsense” (10).

This book is only four chapters long, but it’s probably the best resource you can give a Christian who wants to know more about this topic. Many readers know Packer has a thoroughly Reformed soteriology, and this is clear throughout the book. However, he takes a very irenic tone and isn’t interested in flying a particular theological standard. This approach makes this an excellent gift to Christians of all theological flavors.

Chapter One - Divine Sovereignty

He begins by discussing divine sovereignty. If you’re a Christian, Packer says, you believe God is completely sovereign, no matter what soteriological camp you belong to. You know God is sovereign, because you pray. Simple. You’re acknowledging you’re helpless, and God alone can help and comfort you. “The very act that a Christian prays is thus proof positive that he believes in the Lordship of His God” (12).

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Spiritual Zombies

Last year, another investigator and I headed down to Portland, Oregon, to interview a guy in an annuity fraud case. It was a pretty good case. The guy was an insurance agent. I had a man who’d come to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner claiming the agent had swindled his parents into buying an expensive indexed annuity and lied to them about why it was such an awesome product. The guy said this insurance agent had done this to his parents twice, in the space of two years.

These were working folks, blue collar. They didn’t know much about annuities, indexed investment strategies or guaranteed minimum income riders. Not many people do, and I don’t blame them. Reading annuity contracts is about as exciting as memorizing the World Book Encyclopedia

To make things worse, the wife had become sick not long after they bought the second annuity. They needed money, but the new annuity charged you a hefty fee if you bailed on it within 10 years. The old man tried to make it for a while, but eventually bit the bullet and surrendered the annuity. He ate about $10,000 in penalty charges. The wife went into the nursing home and died about nine months later.

The insurance agent made $12,000 on the two sales. He denied everything. “They wanted the annuity, and it was suitable for them!” he whined.  

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From the Archives: A Critique of "Easy Believism"

Reprinted from Faith Pulpit (March/April 2008).

“Easy believism,” as I am using this term, refers to a position held by those who define saving faith purely as intellectual agreement with the statement, “Jesus is the Son of God, and He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him.” This point of view is associated with the Grace Evangelical Society and particularly the writings of Robert Wilkin, Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, and J. D. Faust. In order to evaluate this point of view, we need to consider the following issues.

The Role of the Law in Evangelism

In Romans 1:16 and 17 we notice the following truths:

1. The gospel is not salvation. It is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel concerns God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (v. 3) Who died and was raised from death (v. 4). The gospel, the good news, describes what God did by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sins and raising Him from the dead.

2. Salvation focuses attention on the benefits of the gospel and includes, among other things, justification (Rom. 3:21–26; 4:1–8; 5:9), reconciliation (Rom. 5:1, 10), regeneration (being dead to sin and alive to God; Rom. 6:1–11; 8:2), victory over known sin through the Holy Spirit’s power (Rom. 8:12, 13), and guaranteed glorification to all who are truly justified (Rom. 8:30).

3. Salvation is given to all who believe.

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The Place of Prayer in Evangelism

(About this series)

CHAPTER VI — THE PLACE OF PRAYER IN EVANGELISM

BY REV. R. A. TORREY, D. D., DEAN OF THE BIBLE INSTITUTE OF LOS ANGELES, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

The most important human factor in effective evangelism is PRAYER. Every great awakening in the history of the Church from the time of the Apostles until today has been the result of prayer. There have been great awakenings without much preaching, and there have been great awakenings with absolutely no organization, but there has never been a true awakening without much prayer.

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The Young Roman Catholic Man Who Clenched His Fist

From The Cripplegate, with permission. By Jordan Standridge

Let me tell you about a gospel conversation I had recently that left an impression on my heart.

Tim was a very polite guy.

He was cordial and respectful. He listened carefully and was obviously raised well by his parents. He was well dressed and was very articulate. Tim was also very religious.

I start off every conversation with the same question I ask everyone, “If it applies, what are two reasons you stopped going to church?” Tim answered that he goes to Catholic mass every week.

So I asked him my second question, “Coming from a Catholic perspective, what would you say the gospel is?” He said it was the Bible. When I asked him what the “good news” of the gospel was, he said that it was the possibility to live a better life and to go to Heaven.

So I asked him a third question, and I let him know that I ask this question in order to really get to the heart of what someone believes about how they are going to Heaven. I asked him, “If you were to die tonight, and were to stand before God, and He were to ask you why should I let you into Heaven? What would you say?” He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “I don’t think I’d say anything. I would expect the Lord to know whether I deserve Heaven or not.”

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Foreign Missions or World-Wide Evangelism

(About this series)

CHAPTER IV – FOREIGN MISSIONS OR WORLD-WIDE EVANGELISM

BY ROBERT E. SPEER, SECRETARY BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, U. S. A., NEW YORK CITY

Argument in behalf of foreign missions is generally either needless or useless. It is needless with believers; with unbelievers it is useless. And yet not wholly so; for often believers and unbelievers alike have taken their opinions at second hand, and an honest first hand study of the facts and principles of the missionary enterprise leads the one group to believe with deeper conviction and a firmer hope, and shakes the scepticism {sic} and opposition of the others who have known neither the aims nor the motives which inspire the movement.

Because foreign missions is a religious movement, however, the fundamental argument for it is of necessity a religious argument, and will be conclusive only in proportion as the religious convictions on which it rests are accepted. It rests first of all upon God. If men believe in God they must believe in foreign missions. It is in the very being and character of God that the deepest ground of the missionary enterprise is to be found. We cannot think of God except in terms which necessitate the missionary idea.

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