What is the relationship between God’s sovereignty, human responsibility and the Christian’s duty to proclaim the gospel message? In J.I. Packer’s book entitled Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, he disputes the wrong view that faith in the absolute sovereignty of God hinders a full recognition and acceptance of the duty to evangelize. He tried to show that this faith in God’s sovereignty will in fact provide the strength needed for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

To accomplish this purpose, Packer first tried to establish the things that are not contested, that is, the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God in the world is an accepted truth to majority of people. This is particularly true, because of the practice of prayer. This exercise or discipline is a proof that the person recognizes that God is the author and source of all good things he already has and those that he hope for in the future. The person praying is also recognizing that it is God not him who has the power to supply all his needs. Every time he prays, he is actually admitting that God is sovereign. The sovereignty of God in prayer is also true in our salvation. If we trust God for our daily needs how much more we should trust God for our salvation.

Having established the concept of God’s sovereignty, the author then tried to discuss the concept of man’s responsibility. He upheld that the Divine sovereignty and human responsibility are both truths taught in the Bible; that they are not contradictory but only appears conflicting “seemingly irreconcilable, yet both undeniable” (Parker 1961:18). God as King orders and controls all things including human actions according to His purpose. God as judge holds every person responsible for the choices he makes (Packer :22). “Man is a responsible moral agent, though he is also divinely controlled; though he is also a responsible moral agent” (Packer:23). Thus, salvation of man is possible through the sovereign work of God and the decision of man to willingly accept the salvation that God offers.

To show that both truths are equally upheld by Scriptures, the author quoted Romans 9:20, where the Apostle Paul rebuked the spirit of questions set forth in verse 19 – “why does God yet find fault? For who has resisted his will? The point is, if as king God orders all our actions, how can it be reasonable or right for Him to also act as our judge? To this Paul replied, “O man who are you to talk back to God?” What the objector has to learn is that he, a creature and a sinner, has no right whatsoever to find fault with the revealed ways of God. It is for us to acknowledge that God’s sovereignty is wholly just, to adore his righteousness as king and judge, and not to speculate as to how His sovereignty can be consistent with His just judgment” (Packer:24).

In the final chapter, the author explains his major point, which is the relationship between the Divine sovereignty and the evangelistic duty of Christians for the salvation of others. In this chapter, he submitted that faith in the sovereignty of God should not hinder the evangelistic task. It should rather give the latter a boost in order to fulfill the mandate well. It is because we are commanded to preach the Gospel, it is our duty to obey to go and preach it. It is because God is sovereign in salvation, we have a hope that our efforts will never be in vain. God’s sovereignty actually guarantees our success in winning the lost for Christ. Once we perform our part in preaching the Good News, the sovereignty of God operates to call and to save sinners for Himself.

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