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

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  3,743 ratings  ·  128 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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John Gardner
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
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
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
C.H. Cobb
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
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
Matthew Robbins
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.
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
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
Mike E.
A short, classic work which is helpful for Christians seeking understanding related to sharing the gospel and God's sovereignty. Packer introduces the reader to compatibilism or an "antinomy" as contrasted with a "paradox."

Antinomy: "an appearance of contradiction between conclusions which seem equally logical, reasonable or necessary."

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 theref
"For he knew that if Christ had opened the door for him to make known the gospel in a place, that meant that it was Christ's purpose to draw sinners to himself in that place." - pg. 113

"the sovereignty of God in grace is the one thing that prevents evangelism from being pointless." - pg. 104

"God gives people what they choose, not the opposite of what they choose." - pg. 104

"The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the responsibility of the sinner for his reaction to the gospel.
Catherine Gillespie
J.I. Packer describes his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God as “a piece of biblical and theological reasoning, designed to clarify the relationship between three realities: God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, and the Christian’s evangelistic duty.” The book, which is short and accessibly written but still meaty, does a good job of explaining how an appreciation for God’s sovereignty actually equips and underscores evangelism, rather than rendering it moot.

I enjoyed Packer’s writing
Ryan Linkous
This is a very helpful book as far as the why and how of evangelism. It doesn't teach evangelistic method, but it provides the philosophical and biblical grounds for Christian evangelization. Packer concisely and amicably deals with important topics such as God's sovereignty and human responsibility. Wha makes Packer compelling is his obvious zeal for personal evangelism and his obvious love and passion for God's glory. He doesn't make the evangelistic message any more complex than it needs to b ...more
Steve Hemmeke

I only read the third section, on evangelism, about 55 pages, in preparing for a sermon. The other sections address why we should evangelize if God is sovereign.

A solid and biblically grounded review of evangelism. It is not the same as conversion, but aims at it. We represent Christ as His ambassador, and speak truth about Him, inviting others to turn away from sin and trust Him as their Savior and Lord. We do this to glorify God and love our neighbor. I thought the way Packer addressed l
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.
Peter B.
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.
An amazingly simple and concise treatment of an amazingly complex and mysterious topic. Packer explains that God's sovereignty actually undergirds evangelism and gives us hope in its usefulness and success, because it all depends on Him; He makes it possible.

Packer goes into depth explaining what evangelism really is (or should be), why we should do it, and how we should do it. This includes a good description of the gospel message, what our role in God's plans are, and what our methods should
Michelle Han
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.
Mike Knox
Clarifies relationship between God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, and Christian’s evangelistic duty. Aim is to dispel notion that belief in God’s sovereignty will hinder evangelism (7-8)

Charles Simeon’s conversation with John Wesley (13-14): following is an excerpt

“Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance…and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phras
Scott Roper
We live in a time when even Arminian understandings of God's sovereignty are rejected by the evangelical church. Many cannot see how one can truly believe that it is God who converts a person to Christ and also believe that we have anything to do in evangelism. JI Packer ably defends the reformed understanding of the compatibility between evangelism and God's sovereignty over conversion. Indeed, he argues that only through a thorough understanding of God's sovereignty can one have any hope in wi ...more
Matthew Hodge
Packer simply answers the issue - if God has already predestined things, why evangelise? He answers it neatly and succinctly.
Danny Daley
JI Packer has long been one of my favorite writers of faith and theology, and in this book he tackles the very difficult but often asked question of how reformed thinkers can hold to strong views of God's sovereignty while still finding passion for evangelism. Packer's book is relentlessly biblical, although the nuances of my own views on God's sovereignty do not match Packer's precisely, I found much to be encouraged by. The book is heavy on theology, which I love, but this means that there are ...more
Zachary Thomas
This is an excellent book!

Seriously, after personally hearing that those who hold to God sovereignty in salvation shouldn't believe in evangelism, this book does an excellent and fair job of completely destroying that false premise.

I only wish I read it earlier, this has given me more confidence in my evangelism and soothed my soul for the times when there was no fruit visible when evangelizing.

Whether you believe in election or not, this is a important read to combat against such a false pre
Laurent Dv
As usual, a great book written by J I Packer, the author of my favorite (christian) book apart the Bible Knowing God. In this book, Packer makes us understand that the sovereignty of God (the unconditionnal election) is not at all contradicting the responsability of men (their responsability when they refuse to believe in the Gospel and Christ, and the responsability of the christians to make all nations disciple). He shows that instead of being a pretex for not evangelising making disciples, th ...more
Prayer, God's Sovereignty, and Our Responsibility to Evangelize. How do these items fit together? That's the premise of Packer's classic, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God."

This is my second time through this book and in comparison to the the first time, when I was more new to the doctrines of grace, this time was more edifying and still as provoking.

What I love best about this book is that Packer clearly explains his terms, supports them using sound exegesis and illustrates from both negati
Brett Mclaughlin
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
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
M.G. Bianco
This is my second reading of this book, probably worth reading again every few years.

J.I. Packer does a good job of acknowledging that Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility are an antinomy, not a paradox. They are two truths that set side by side appear to contradict one another, but examined individually are quite plainly true. This is akin to what scientists tell us about light, it is both wave and particles, and yet waves cannot be particles and particles cannot be waves. He quotes Cha
I love how Packer turns the tables on (modern-day, not historical) Arminians claiming that Calvinists are always trying to fit God “into their little box” when he essentially says, “You’re the ones intruding rationalistic speculations by refusing the possibility of mystery, not taking Scripture for what it says and therefore not letting God be God” (15:05). Nope, we aren’t trying to fit God “into our little box”; we’re trying to describe him as he describes himself through his Word.

Packer descri
Approximately 65 years ago Packer tackled a theological question still relevant many years later -- how are the doctrines of divine sovereignty and individual responsibility reconciled? Specifically, the author tailored his arguments and proofs to the issue of the effect of sovereignty on personal evangelism. Ultimately, based upon the biblical texts cited (and they are numerous) he concludes that reconciliation between friends is not ever necessary. That is, the doctrines of divine sovereignty ...more
Brian Whited
The main theme of this book is summed up in the foreword, “it is a piece of biblical and theological reasoning, designed to clarify the relationship between three realities: God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, and the Christian’s evangelistic duty” (7). Packer, in his presentation, offers a Reformed view of the above theme. He employs simple, but biblical language in hopes of not scaring off any Arminians or any who have not delved deeply into the subject, but also allows those who hold to ...more
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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
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Knowing God Quest for Godliness Concise Theology In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God

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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.” 2 likes
“Creatures are not entitled to register complaints about their Creator.” 1 likes
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