Arminian Today

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Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God (Chapter Three)

In continuing my analysis of J.I. Packer’s book, Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, we now come to chapter 3.  Packer has entitled this chapter simply “Evangelism.”  In the chapter Packer will discuss four main points about evangelism.  They are:

  1. What is evangelism?
  2. What is the evangelistic message?
  3. What is the motive for evangelizing?
  4. By what means and methods should evangelism be practiced?

The Arminian will once again find little to disagree with.  Again, I note that I first read this book several years ago and believe that it is one of the best books on evangelism from a Calvinistic perspective and I applaud Calvinists who desire to preach the gospel to the lost.  I know of several Calvinist brothers who share their faith and who long to see souls saved.  I praise God for that fact!  This book has been used by God to encourage Calvinists to share their faith and I rejoice in that.

In this chapter Packer simply speaks on his subject, evangelism and again he does a good job doing this.  His message is not Calvinistic in this chapter.  He does speak briefly on limited atonement but does not go into detail about this subject as of yet.  The Arminian reading this chapter will simply acknowledge that once again we Arminians and Calvinists have much in common.  Our message of faith and repentance in Christ is the same.  We both desire to see people come to faith in Christ and we both preach that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9).  We both deny good works obtain or secure salvation (Titus 3:5-7).  Jesus alone saves (John 1:12-13; 6:29; 20:31; Acts 15:11).  Evangelism, writes Packer, is simply the proclamation of the good news that God has sent His Son to redeem us from sin which brings the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).  The delight for the child of God in evangelism is not simply preaching to lost sinners but it is much more than that, it is the glory of God that we delight in (1 Peter 4:16).

Packer does a good job laying out the essentials that must be preached with the gospel.  He writes on sin, on repentance, and on the object of saving faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we fail to address sin, we fail to present the hope of the gospel in Christ. When we fail to address repentance, we fail to acknowledge God’s holiness and His just wrath against our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6).  When we fail to preach faith in Jesus, we fail to show sinners the only way to salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).  Jesus’ blood alone cleanses from sin and not good works nor being religious nor even acknowledging the existence of God or Christ but only the blood of the spotless Lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19).  The gospel encapsulates all those points and so much more!  The gospel glories God because it is all about Him (Romans 1:1-5).

Packer’s points on the means and method of evangelism is very useful.  He notes the means of salvation is faith and repentance and from this should flow our method: preaching faith and repentance to the lost.  That is simple enough.  And yet this is just what saves sinners: faith and repentance toward God in Christ Jesus (Luke 24:47).  The Book of Acts is clear that the Apostles of our Lord preached faith and repentance from Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39) to Paul defending himself in Acts 26:20.  Faith and repentance must be our message and we must always proclaim those truths.

Are there any points in this chapter I take an exception with?  The only quibble I might have with Packer in this chapter is simply that he proclaims (and rightfully so) that the Bible calls all to repentance.  Packer points to passages such as John 6:29 or 1 John 3:23.  Packer calls these passages “universal commands” to all and he says that all can come and be saved.  I agree but my basis for this flows from my theology and not against it.  I would argue that Packer is correct in preaching that all can come and be saved but he must acknowledge that only those whom God has predetermined to save will be saved.  The Arminian simply preaches salvation to all and we believe that God, through His grace, will enable people to believe the gospel and be saved (John 6:44-45).  This view is consistent with our view regarding the unlimited atonement of Christ where He gave His life for all that all might be saved through personal faith in His cleansing blood (1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 John 2:1-2).

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/16/2012 at 10:00 AM

One Response

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  1. i couldn’t get past the intellectually dishonest ‘noodle twisting’ concept of ‘antinomy’. plain and simple, the calvinist who is consistant in his theology must maintain that ‘evangelism’ is to ‘discover’ the Elect and just part of a blind plan to complete what God himself started in Eternity Past by selecting ONLY some to be able to recieve the gospel while withholding that ability from the vast majority, yet holding them perfectly accountable as if they were.
    calvinistic views of evangelism, if not completely dishonest and inconsistant, is nothing more than rote obedience to ‘cast seed’ with no intent to water or fetilize them, while all the time knowing that God has already planted ‘saplings’ before hand in the greenhouse on the corner lot, guaranteed success by the constant care of the gardener who planted them.
    JI Packer is at least somewhat cognisant and sympathetic with these facts, as opposed to AW Pink. Yet is he MORE pestilent in the proclamation that you can hold as ‘true’ two logically opposed views at the same time. Orwell called it ‘doublespeak’, i will self-censor what I call it for the sake of christian charity.
    -mike

    mike and brandy

    10/16/2012 at 10:20 AM


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