Image of the cover of the book 'Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God' by J.I. Packer

Review: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

This book written by J. I. Packer was first published in 1961 and is based on a conference address given by the author in October, 1959. While the social context of the evangelical church seems to have changed in the past 60 years, the base theological truths explained by Packer remain solidly applicable. Does the contemporary wider church even want to consider the Sovereignty of God or does it, at best, simply
pay lip service to this astounding truth? We are commanded to evangelize. Does God’s sovereign rule negate the believer’s responsibility? Well of course not! But then, what is the believer to do if God is “pulling all the strings”? As Mark Dever explains in the foreword, Packer addresses this seeming contradiction not as a paradox but rather as antimony. (Read the book!) Packer refers to the relationship of divine sovereignty/human responsibility in terms of them being “friends”.

There are four chapters in this book. The first looks into the awesome truth of divine sovereignty on its own. The second considers human responsibility in light of that awesome truth. The third tackles the question of what true biblical evangelism entails and finally, the fourth chapter marries divine sovereignty with biblical evangelism.

In reading this book I hope you will be encouraged to pray. You will be given a comforting understanding of God’s work in evangelism. You will know what our Lord expects of the believer in the work of biblical evangelism.

As J.I. Packer himself says, “I shall try to show…that, so far from inhibiting evangelism, faith in the sovereignty of God’s government and grace is the only thing that can sustain it…”.


~Norm Fry

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