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Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  7,883 ratings  ·  325 reviews
If God is in control of everything, can Christians sit back and not bother to evangelize? Or does active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign at all? J.I. Packer shows in this classic study how both of these attitudes are false. In a careful review of the biblical evidence, he shows how a right understanding of God's sovereignty is not so much a barrier to eva ...more
Paperback, 126 pages
Published November 5th 1991 by IVP Academic (first published 1961)
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Douglas Wilson
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Excellent. Listened to it again in November 2016. Still excellent.
Jul 28, 2011 added it
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
An Idler
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A stout, plain-spoken defense of limited atonement and irresistible grace framed by a discussion of the necessity, technique, and goal of evangelism. Biblical fundamentals in an inclusive format, perfect for starting conversations.
Christian Barrett
It is no wonder that this book is considered a must read for those doing campus ministry. I would take it even farther and say this is a must read for any Christian. Packer neatly describes the antimony of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, and highlights all the two should fuel the Christian in evangelism. This book brings encouragement and conviction to the believer by pointing out that all Christians are called to evangelize. He gives a few helpful tips on evangelism, but the point o ...more
John Gardner
Jun 19, 2011 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 rated it really liked it
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
Matt Kottman
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Laurel Hicks
I don’t think God has called me to be a Calvinist.
Ryan Hawkins
Outstanding. This book is nearly perfect in what he sets out to do. His clarity, biblical reasoning, and practical applications are all spot on. His defense of the sovereignty of God and how that fits with human responsibility, his defining of evangelism, and then his applications on how evangelism applies to both human responsibility and divine sovereignty—all of it was nearly perfectly done. Not much of it was “new” to me, but as I was reading it, over and over I was thinking, “This is exactly ...more
Logan Maloney
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this book at the perfect time. I had been recently thinking through the questions that this book is all about. Definitely recommend it to anyone thinking through the relationship between God’s sovereignty and how that helps us understand evangelism better. Not the most exciting read but I learned a lot!
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book 4.5/5 if I could. It is clear, concise, and punchy. It is obvious to me why this is a classic in the extant Reformed and Evangelical literature on evangelism.

Packer’s main thesis is that the biblical belief in the sovereign God both supports and impels earnest and confident evangelism. He also argues convincingly that evangelism is defined by its content (the gospel) and faithful practice (explanation and application for the purpose of conversion) rather than by its result
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful, as I tend to be fearful in evangelizing, holding tightly to the idea that it just isn't my spiritual gifting. This book spurs me on to pray for more opportunities to share, to pray for those who will hear, and to pray that I would trust that His Word does not return void.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, ministry
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
Jeremy Pynch
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Brandon Vaughan
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: soteriology
This book is an absolute jewel, such a profound balance between God’s Sovereignty and man’s responsibility. It’s also a very encouraging and convicting book on evangelism, filled with doctrine throughout. A great read.
Miroslav Balint-Feudvarski
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Neil Kruger
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evangelism
It does not take long to see why this is regarded as a Christian classic. Packer is fully committed to both the sovereignty of God and the need for evangelism. What is so refreshing about this book is that he does not pay lip service to these truths by redefining the one in terms of the other.

This little book can serve as a corrective to extremes on both sides of the debate. To the Calvinist who thinks that evangelism undermines God's sovereignty, this serves as a great reminder that evangelism
Brendan Westerfield
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was first drawn to this book in need of help assessing the confusing and pertinent dichotomy of God's sovereignty and humanity's free will. J.I. Packer is one of the simplest and most talented teachers of doctrine, and having read pieces of "Knowing God", I knew this book would be no different in his pursuit of gospel truth.

The first 1/3 of the book addressed the aforementioned controversial topic, and deconstructed it using the Bible as his only source. This was both dissatisfying and refres
From chapter one: I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God's sovereignty is the basis of your prayers.

Sadly I don't think an author could get away with saying what Packer says in the opening of chapter one. It may have been safe to say this at
Molly Atchison
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I first learned about God’s sovereignty in salvation I, 1. was completely overwhelmed by His mercy to me & humbled to the dust and, 2. felt very liberated to share the gospel without the pressure or fear of my own abilities or responsibility to procure conversions.

Since that time I’ve noticed a periodic waining in my passion to share the gospel and, at times, a shameful dullness and apathy toward the lost that I could dismiss as long as I was still sharing the gospel.

I hoped this book wou
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent treatment of the doctrine of God's Sovereignty and evangelism. I would recommend this to those who are new to the doctrines of Grace, or those (especially) who believe themselves opposed to the idea of God's Sovereignty in salvation and the implications on evangelism.

I had one small quibble with Mr. Packer. On page 81/81, he goes into "friendship evangelism" suggesting that we have to win the right to share the Gospel in person to person evangelism. I wholeheartedly disagre
Nate Bate
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I remember correctly, I came across the title of this book while reading another book. This short book is a practical powerhouse for what can be a thorny issue for Christians. I will acknowledge that I received what Packer had to say with ease because my view has been similar for years. What made me appreciate this book was that it was written well, easy to read, and accessible for all types of readers.

For folks who don't agree with his perspective, I challenge you to at least read, think,
Jun 09, 2017 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
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Packer graciously explains the antinomy of God's sovereignty and human responsibility/evangelism. A couple of things to I want to note: (1) how we define and understand this antinomy affects how we do evangelism. If we don't uphold God's sovereignty in our evangelism, we will be discouraged. If we don't uphold human responsibility in our evangelism, we will be lazy. (2) Packer is such a gracious and thoughtful writer. (3) Don't be ashamed of God's sovereignty! The Bible is not ashamed about it, ...more
Alexandru Croitor
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A golden piece of Christian literature - while it is not the most technical book on the relation between God's sovereignty and human responsibility, it still stands as a great introduction to the subject. The author also makes a powerful case for sound, biblical, Christ-centred evangelism and preaching.
J. I Packer was an incredible reformed evangelical writer - his work had a major contribution to the Reformed resurgence in the evangelical circles.

"Evangelism is man’s work, but the giving of f
Brient Kittrell
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exactly what I expected. Packer demolishes any sort of doubts you might have with how election and the sovereignty of God relate to Evangelism. His writing is both easy to read and deep. He shows how the doctrine of election should motivate us to share the gospel.

I only take points off for one thing. Long chapters!
C.J. Moore
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my third time through this one. I still believe it's one of the best books relating a theological subject (the sovereignty of God and human "freedom") with a practical aspect of missions (evangelism).

Cannot recommend it enough.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overall, fantastic. The weaknesses are largely self-acknowledged, it's not a how-to, its not a critique. It's simply a defense of mystery and good theology. Also, it's only about 120 pages, so what's not to love?
Jeremy Kruizinga
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-books, theology
This book is a must read for every Christian. It provides a good balance between doctrine, theology and biblical insight into a very important topic.
Ezra Lee
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book on evangelism that I've ever read. I wish every Christian could read the last chapter of this book. It was so full of truth that really empowers the reader to desire to evangelize even 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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