Posted by: Moses | April 3, 2010

Initial thoughts from “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” by J.I. Packer

One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” There is a part of God’s will that is not for us to know. Ours is but to obey, and we are told to go and teach unto the ends of the earth. Many think that due to God’s sovereignty, they need not evangelize. However, Scripture reveals that God will accomplish his will of the wedding feast by sending his servants to “compel others” from the highways and byways to come in. It strikes me that as believers we have two choices: 1. We rebel and disobey our king, allowing others to compel guests to the wedding feast, to our shame and judgment or 2. We obey the declared will of God and convince others to join us at the feast, knowing that God already knows them, but thrilled that we can play a part as a means to the end of God’s plan. We have no unique or indispensable part in the plan of God; we cannot thwart it. However, we have the unique privilege of being able to participate in it.

We should be supremely motivated by election! Sometimes it is difficult to conceive of how our testimony can mean anything if people don’t have a choice. Why speak if the end is already determined? As I was thinking, the Lord brought to mind the desperate state of my soul when I was bound by sin. I was bound. I had no way to escape. No other human could free me by teaching me truths about God. God had to unbind me, a the cost of his own son, judging me in Christ and raising me to a new life in righteousness (Rom 6). This is the most profound of miracles. So often I take it for granted and think of the gospel as somehow logical to accept, when in fact it is “foolishness” or an “offense” depending on your heart’s particular favorite flavor of rebellion against God. Without election, without God’s sovereign hand regenerating hearts, our words of “the gospel” would accomplish nothing. Our hearts would never desire the things of God apart from God’s Holy Spirit. Therefore, election provides the only reasonable motivation to declare the word of God. Without that Holy Spirit drawing unbelievers to repent, all our words and strivings would be in vain, merely vanity and a striving after wind. If the Spirit does not blow, all our labor is for nought. How kind of the Spirit to draw we who were dead to new life in Christ! Yet, to tie in the first observation, we have the profound opportunity to preach the gospel, knowing that God has planned that some would believe its insanity. Some will believe that a holy, justly offended God would pardon their sin by looking to His Son if they will repent of their unbelief and turn to a life of faith in Jesus Christ! Some will believe! This most illogical of outcomes is guaranteed by the promise of God! This leaves me almost breathless, wondering and scheming how I can play a part, declaring the word, hoping and praying to be the means, the servant that God uses to compel another worshipper to His feast!

Hopefully there will be a real review to follow, but for now I have another 5-600 pages of reading to do before Monday.

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