Theology Breakfast: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God part 1

I recently began meeting with a group of young men in a glorified book club we are calling  “Theology Breakfast.” In full disclosure I have stolen this idea and name from Mark Dever. Dever simply gathers a group of people together and reads aloud for an hour. I’m a huge Mark Dever guy, but it would take great incentive to wake up early and listen to someone read. Therefore, the plan is for these men to read on their own and arrive at 7:30 am to discuss the assignment. The goal of this “breakfast” is fourfold: 1) The Study of God. Dever says, we are breaking our “Theology fast” so the goal is not to eat (although I do provide Krispy Kreme donuts). People think theology is a bad thing. I wholeheartedly disagree. Theology unifies, clarifies, and challenges us to think deeply and correctly about God. If you like studying God, then you are practicing theology. 2) Christlike Character. Thinking deeply about God and his Word should result in Christlike character. There are many people who possess a great theological mind, but their lives are full of pride. 3) Discipline. I am a Young Adults Pastor. Young adults like to sleep way too much and they need some discipline. Reading a book and waking up early to discuss it teaches some discipline. 4) Men. My desire to to pour my life into men who will be leaders in our church. I would like to see more men in our Young Adult Ministry and I think that can be done by intentionally investing in a few faithful men.

The first book we are working through is Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. This is a short book of just 122 pages divided into four chapters. Packer’s purpose in writing the book was to clarify the relationship between three realities: God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, and the Christian’s evangelistic duty. He does just that.

Simply put, you cannot read the Bible and believe that God is not sovereign. God is sovereign, even in the salvation of his people. People wrongly caricature this belief by saying that evangelism is not necessary because people are not free to make their own decisions. Wrong. The Bible clearly says the proclamation of the gospel is necessary and God’s means to convert sinners (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 10:14). Packer says that an antimony exists. An antimony is when two existing truths seem to be contradictory to each other. Is God sovereign in salvation or are human beings responsible? Yes. Packer quotes Spurgeon on this issue, “C. H. Spurgeon was once asked if he could reconcile these two truths to each other. ‘I wouldn’t try,’ he replied; ‘I never reconcile friends.'”

Packer goes on to say:

In the Bible, divine sovereignty and human responsibility are not enemies. They are not uneasy neighbors; they are not in an endless state of cold war with each other. They are friends, and they work together.

The doctrine of election should encourage not discourage our evangelistic witness because it guarantees success.

Questions:

1. Are you more tempted to emphasize divine sovereignty or human responsibility in evangelism?

2. How does a robust understanding of the sovereignty of God impact the Christian’s witness?

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