So, I cracked open one of my Christmas books “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” by J.I. Packer. We have about 2 feet of snow here in Northern NJ…so I have found some time to dig into this…
I love this book.
I’ll just briefly share some of the things that I’ve highlighted, underlined, and written “AMEN” in the margin for you to whet your whistle…
For it is not true that some Christians believe in divine sovereignty while others hold an opposite view. What is true is that all Christians believe in divine sovereignty, but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it. What causes this odd state of affairs? The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the church – the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the mystery and to let God be wiser than men, and a consequent subjecting of Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic.
the desire to oversimplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising that even good people should fall victim to it.
Why is it that we have to try fit God into a human form? Why is it that we “dumb down” the message so much and not let it stand in it’s complexity and mystery? We try to understand everything God is doing in our lives and try to understand everything God has set up…we cannot do that! He is not like us and we will not understand these things – if we did – that would make us…umm…God and we are not! We need to let God be God and stop constantly trying to figure God out…this sometimes doesn’t sit well with us, does it?
Packer talks about Paul’s rejecting of the spirit of this questioning from Romans 9
…observe how Paul replies. He does not attempt to demonstrate the propriety of God’s action; instead, he rebukes the spirit of the question. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” What has the objector to learn is that he, a creature and a sinner, has no right whatsoever to find fault with the revealed ways of God. Creatures are not entitled to register complains about their Creator.
Those that know me, will not be surprised that I will bring this back to the gospel – and the role of the church to teach the gospel. For the more we know of God and God’s plan the more we will rightly see our proper place in it.
…the good news was just this: that God has executed his eternal intention of glorifying his Son by exalting as a great Savior for great sinners. Such is the gospel which Paul was sent to preach. It is a message of some complexity, needing to be learned before it can be lived by, and understood before it can be applied. It needs therefore, to be taught.
To teach the gospel is his first responsibility: to reduce it to it’s simplest essentials, to analyze it point by point, to fix it’s meaning by positive and negative definition, to show how each part of the message links up with the rest– and to go on explaining it till he is quite sure that his listeners have grasped it.
You will note that Packer did not say that Paul’s goal was to preach pragmatic, men-centered lessons on how to “Unlock the 7 Secrets of the Happiness Code” – or “How To” lessons – it is the Gospel in the full counsel. “to show how each part of the message links up with the rest…”
May we proclaim the mystery of God thru the Gospel! 2 Cor 4:1-2
1Therefore, having(A) this ministry(B) by the mercy of God,[a] we do not lose heart. 2But we have renounced(C) disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or(D) to tamper with God’s word, but(E) by the open statement of the truth(F) we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.