Found on a blog this morning, posted in the context of debates in Baptist groups about Reformed Theology. Since this was such a good summary from Dr. James Gaylon, I simply share it here
It is with this hope that I provide an excerpt from J. I. Packer’s classic, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God (InterVarsity Press, 1961).
Dr. Packer writes about what the belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect. I hope, even if you don’t embrace the doctrines of grace, that you will read with open eyes and an open heart. Dr. Packer, himself a “Calvinist”, asserts on behalf of historic Reformed theology:
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the necessity of evangelism. Whatever we may believe about election, the fact remains that evangelism is necessary, because no man can be saved without the gospel. . . . They must be told of Christ before they can trust Him, and they must trust Him before they can be saved by Him. Salvation depends on faith, and faith on knowing the gospel. God’s way of saving sinners is to bring them to faith through bringing them into contact with the gospel. In God’s ordering of things, therefore, evangelism is a necessity if anyone is to be saved at all. . . .
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the urgency of evangelism. . . . The world is full of people who are unaware that they stand under the wrath of God: is it not similarly a matter of urgency that we should go to them, and try to arouse them, and show them the way of escape? . . . The non-elect in this world are faceless men as far as we are concerned. We know that they exist, but we do not and cannot know who they are, and it is as futile as it is impious for us to try and guess. . . . Our calling as Christians is not to love God’s elect, and them only, but to love our neighbour, irrespective of whether he is elect or not.
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the genuineness of the gospel invitations, or the truth of the gospel promises. . . . The fact remains that God in the gospel really does offer Christ and promise justification and life to ‘whosoever will’. ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ As God commands all men everywhere to repent, so God invites all men everywhere to come to Christ and find mercy. . . .
The fact that the gospel invitation is free and unlimited—‘sinners Jesus will receive’—‘come and welcome to Jesus Christ’—is the glory of the gospel as a revelation of divine grace. . . . Some fear that a doctrine of eternal election and reprobation involves the possibility that Christ will not receive some of those who desire to receive Him, because they are not elect. The ‘comfortable words’ of the gospel promises, however, absolutely exclude this possibility. As our Lord elsewhere affirmed, in emphatic and categorical terms: ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’ . . .
The belief that God is sovereign in grace does not affect the responsibility of the sinner for his reaction to the gospel. . . . A man who rejects Christ thereby becomes the cause of his own condemnation. . . . The unbeliever was really offered life in the gospel, and could have had it if he would; he, and no-one but he, is responsible for the fact that he rejected it, and must now endure the consequences of rejecting it. . . . The Bible never says that sinners miss heaven because they are not elect, but because they “neglect the great salvation”, and because they will not repent and believe.
There is a pretty active comment thread at the original post if you wish to read it.
Leave a Reply