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J.I. Packer
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Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  5,699 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
Noted scholar and writer J.I. Packer shows that a right understanding of God's sovereignty is a powerful incentive for evangelism.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by InterVarsity Press (first published 1961)
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I think that every professing Christian should read this book, or (at the very least) those who go on mission trips/evangelistic outings. J.I. Packer delivers a comprehensive, but still brief, explanation of the seemingly incompatible relationship between human responsibility in evangelism and God’s sovereignty in salvation. There are many Christians who say that believers who emphasize the sovereignty of grace and unconditional election do so to the neglect of human responsibility and divine ac ...more
John Gardner
Jun 19, 2011 John Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recently re-read this "classic" (if that word can apply to books while the authors are still living) since this year marks the 50th anniversary of its publishing. This is one of the greatest treatments on the subject of how Christians are to reconcile God's sovereignty with man's responsibility, and something I consider an absolute "must-read" for every Christian.

Debate has raged for centuries about this topic, yet I know of no more helpful book to address it. Most Christians tend to overempha
Ryan Tankersley
Dec 03, 2015 Ryan Tankersley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
Depending on the background of the reader, this book could be either eye-opening, infuriating, or a great way to refocus on the fundamentals of evangelism.

Eye-opening for those who have never considered the sovereignty of God in evangelism, infuriating for those who strongly disagree with it, and refocusing for those who know it already.

I was in the latter camp, so that is the perspective the review will be written from.

The author takes the first half of the book to explain three truths can exis
Dec 30, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel." - J. I. Packer

This book has challenged my approach in how I share the gospel of Jesus Christ. This has quickly become one of my favorite books. I plan on reading this again before 2017 is over! If you want a really good book on evangelism and the role that believe
Matt Kottman
Oct 26, 2016 Matt Kottman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, evangelism, 2016
This is a short read and a helpful treatment of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. It help deconstruct caricatures of views of evangelism.
Jun 09, 2017 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent read. Packer does an excellent job of connecting, as the title suggests, the sovereignty of God and evangelism. I won't attempt to summarize the book but rather will encourage anyone wanting to challenge their understanding of evangelism in light of who God is to read this great book. After reading this book, I feel encouraged to pray more, develop more meaningful relationships with others without such fear around sharing the gospel, and having patience in knowing salvation is ...more
C.H. Cobb
May 12, 2012 C.H. Cobb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To have published a single literary work that becomes a classic is a notable accomplishment. Publishing two gives the writer a corner on contemporary Christians’ reading lists. James Inverness Packer has accomplished just that. Packer is well-known for his landmark book, Knowing God , which first was published in 1973. This is not a review of that book, but if you have not read it you should. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (first published, 1961) is the other classic Packer has written ...more
Miroslav Balint-Feudvarski
Excellent!!! It is one of the most practical theology books (and only 127 pages!) that I've ever read! Every Christian should (re)read it!
Mar 14, 2009 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book that answered a lot of big questions for me, especially as an evangelism coordinator for InterVarsity. J.I. Packer clearly explains the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility as an antimony; that is, both are true and from the bible and seem to contradict each other, yet they don't. Alas, Packer does a much better job unpacking (pun not intended!) this than I can. Packer then also connects this relationship to evangelism; what it is, what is its purpose/goa ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J.I. Packer has an amazing gift for explaining theology with great clarity and brevity. He begins by brushing aside objections to belief in God's sovereignty by claiming that every Christian who prays at all, who thanks God for their own salvation, and who prays for the salvation of others undeniably demonstrates belief that God is sovereign. In chapter 2 he outlines the classic antinomy of God's sovereignty vs human responsibility -- two concepts which are clearly biblical truths, but cannot be ...more
Eric Fults
Jan 07, 2016 Eric Fults rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome and refreshing read. Packer does an awesome job at holding the two concepts of man's responsibility and divine sovereignty together in truth. He affirms that we are called to evangelize and that God's sovereignty in salvation does not remove our need to do so, but he also comforts and encourages that a belief in God's sovereignty in evangelism is our only hope of success, since God is the one who wields the power to change hearts. Packer provided awesome logical arguments for God's sover ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Cristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on our role in evangelism, which is unquestionably the work of God. The author warns against both extremes (trying to evangelize on our own power using the latest techniques and foregoing evangelism altogether because it it God who turns hearts) and presents a solid Biblical middle ground. He argues that the doctrine of divine sovereignty and our evangelistic duty are not opposites, but work together for the salvation of souls in a Biblical manner.

The only thing I regret about this b
Patrick McWilliams
Good book that successfully refutes the anti-Calvinist assertion that the doctrines of unconditional election, effectual calling, and particular redemption somehow impede the motivation of evangelism. However, the book cripples its own argument by an odd insistence that the truths of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility form an insoluble antinomy in Scripture. Ironically, I think Packer, in this very book, does a pretty good job of showing how the two doctrines logically cohere. (For a cle ...more
Evan Gartman
Apr 01, 2016 Evan Gartman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though some believe that a high view of God's sovereignty discourages evangelism and promotes fatalism, Packer argues in his book "... The sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless. For it creates the possibility-- indeed, the certainty-- that evangelism will be fruitful." I found this book to be very encouraging and refreshing to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel. God's sovereignty motivates me to go forth in boldness, declaring The Gospel, ...more
Micah Lugg
I loved this book. There is a reason that it is an evangelical classic.

Packer tackles some big theological territory in only few pages. It strengthened my belief in the sovereignty of God, encouraged me to engage in evangelism, and shepherded my heart closer to Christ.

I highly recommend it.
Matt Tyler
Mar 03, 2015 Matt Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Simply excellent!

There are only a few books that I would recommend for all Christians to read. This is most definitely one of them.

If someone asks me for a book on evangelism, I recommend this one.

If someone asks me for a book on the sovereignty of God, I recommend this one.

Truly a must read. You will enjoy it and be blessed.
Easily the best book I've ever read on evangelism. Packer is clear, concise, profoundly theological and yet practical at the same time. Only 122 pages yet brilliantly outlines how God's sovereignty fits perfectly with the commands to evangelize. Our evangelism (and our Christian faith) must hold together God's sovereignty and human responsibility in tension, as the Bible does.
May 23, 2015 Marcel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saber que Deus é soberano na salvação nos encoraja, nos traz paciência, nos consola e nos traz perseverança para continuarmos a fazer a nossa tarefa, que é anunciar as boas-novas! Os frutos surgirão da graça divina e ocorrerão para a glória de Deus!
Peter B.
Jun 21, 2013 Peter B. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
Packer does a good job dealing with the relation between evangelism and the sovereignty of God, namely, that God's sovereignty and man's responsibility do not conflict, but complement each other (despite the antinomy they create), and that God's sovereignty gives us our only hope in evangelism.
Michelle Han
Mar 12, 2011 Michelle Han rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wrestling with some questions and this book is very helpful about a Christian believer's role in light of the doctrine of God's sovereign control over everything.
Matthew Hodge
Oct 26, 2012 Matthew Hodge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-copy, christian
Packer simply answers the issue - if God has already predestined things, why evangelise? He answers it neatly and succinctly.
Erika Schanzenbach
This is an excellent little book. Focused. Helpful. Practical. It will be a good one to re-read periodically.
Eric Durso
Oct 29, 2015 Eric Durso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read back in 2011, and just read again in 2015. Went from a 4-star to a 5-star. Great book.
Jeff Learned
Sep 30, 2014 Jeff Learned rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2014
There's a reason this is considered a classic. It is excellent. Now I need to act on what I have learned.
Mar 21, 2013 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the result of an address J. I. Packer gave to a conference in 1959 concerning a crisis or controversy over the methods of evangelism. Packer states that his purpose was to set out principles for determining evangelistic strategy rather than endorsing specific methods. As he demonstrates, part of the problem in thinking about evangelism is being more concerned about the methods than principles or content. At the root of debate over methods, Packer diagnosed the problem as one surrou ...more
Ryan Hawkins
The book does exactly what the title says it would do. He sets forth evangelism and how it correlates to the sovereignty of God. And he does so clearly, concisely, and convincingly. None of this was new to me at this point, but years ago, when I first was discovering the sovereignty of God from the Scriptures, this book would have been a perfect summary of how his sovereignty and evangelism beautifully relate.

In brief, as I was reading, I realized that this was a systematic summary of so many th
Judson Noel
May 09, 2017 Judson Noel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Go, Go, Go

Excellent presentation of the biblical exhortation to Evangelism! Packer brilliantly explains the relationship between human responsibility and God's sovereignty in salvation and evangelism.
Erik Spohr
Possibly the best book I have read in months. I wish that every Christian would read and think about the truths presented by Packer in "Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God."
Stephen Hiemstra
We live at a time of spiritual lethargy, which is often rightly equated with laziness. In part, this lethargy is the result of philosophical postmodernism that winsomely accepts ideas in obvious tension. Tension arises when my reality and your reality differ, but rather than work out the differences we just ignore the tension, as if it would just go away. But when the subject turns to God, this tension will not simply go away because God’s salvation is not defined by our convenient, custom reali ...more
Brett Mclaughlin
Jan 12, 2010 Brett Mclaughlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, missiology
Packer is well-known for his impeccable theology, and for condensing and explaining that theology in concise ways. This little work, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, is no exception. Packer tackles the seeming contradiction--what Packer rightly and clearly defines as an antimony--between God's total rule over all things and man's responsibility to evangelize. In short, Packer seeks to biblically answer the question, "Why should a Christian evangelize if God is going to save who he is going ...more
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  • Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • The Sovereignty of God
  • The Gospel & Personal Evangelism
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers
  • Chosen By God: Know God's Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children
  • The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented
  • Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again?
  • The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • Systematic Theology
  • Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel
  • Lectures on Calvinism
  • The Cross of Christ
  • The Trellis And The Vine
What do J. I. Packer, Billy Graham and Richard John Neuhaus have in common? Each was recently named by TIME magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

Dr. Packer, the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College, was hailed by TIME as “a doctrinal Solomon” among Protestants. “Mediating debates on everything from a particular Bible translation to the acceptabi
More about J.I. Packer...

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“A God whom we could understand exhaustively, and whose revelation of Himself confronted us with no mysteries whatsoever, would be a God in man's image, and therefore an imaginary God, not the God of the Bible at all.” 5 likes
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