One of the most controversial aspects of Christianity is evangelism and the sovereignty of God. As believers we all know that we are commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”. (Matthew 28: 19) But understanding the sovereignty of God quite often creates a percieved paradox. In reality the bible teaches that these two doctrines are not in opposition to each other but allies. The sovereignty of God (and mind you the bible) teaches that a man is elected by God for salvation. That a man is dead in his sins and is made alive to righteousness only by the work of God. Many evangelicals claim that teaching the sovereignty of God in salvation deters Christians from evangelizing. This is actually the opposite for those who follow the doctrines of God’s sovereignty. If you understand that God is the One who saves and we are called to be obedient servants in this endeavor, we are more free to evangelize and let God do the calling.
In order to defend this doctrine and understand how to effectively evangelize I am attending an IBS (Institute for Biblical Studies) course at my local church Omaha Bible Church. Along with the bible we will also be using a book by J. I. Packer called “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God“, go figure. The first session, which was last Wednesday, we focused on the introduction and the importance of evangelism for the believer. We were introduced to the reference materials we will be using and we went through the course syllabus.
This past Sunday I purchased “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” in the church bookstore and used the time during our adult bible hour to read the first couple of chapters. Packer lays the foundation of God’s sovereignty by going over some common beliefs in Christianity through prayer that are attributed to the belief in a sovereign God. When we take the time to pray to God, how do we pray? Do we pray with the belief that God will act in his sovereignty? Do we ask God to save John and Suzi down the street or do we pray that John and Suzi will figure it out for themselves and in so doing save themselves? When we pray do we ask God for our daily bread? Do we thank Him for our salvation? Indeed we do. Because deep inside we know that God is the one who saves. God is the one who sustains our life. We know through scripture that these things are true. God gives us the very breath we breathe. If God is sovereign in these things would it not hold that He is also sovereign in the salvation of men and women?
Next posting we will get into the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, an apparent contradiction. Rock on!