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Few Thoughts on Evangelism With J.I Packer


Fiath-mapping

As Easter is gradually approaching, I’m getting ready to preach at our outreach.  This will be the first Easter service for most of our non-Christian friends.  It is exciting, as we will have our first praise band!   Having said this, I’d like to point you to Packer on how our theology can grow “abstract and speculative, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance” unless it is “held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication.”  He writes:-

“Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action.” (J.I. Packer)

These lines, “the power of vision and the force of truth…….. for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action,” became the banner of my life upon graduation from T.C.U.   I was also reminded of how God himself is a missionary God, who sent his people into the world since Abraham.  He sent prophets like Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Jonah to cross over cultural boundaries.  And then He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, on earth to live as a man, in a particular time and place, into the cultural world of Judaism, and to live as a missionary in a sinful culture.  The Father also sends the Holy Spirit to us so that we, like Jesus, might also live among our families, friends, and colleagues as missionaries in our cultures.  And Jesus (who now sits at God’s right hand in all authority and power) sends us just as the Father sent Him.  He says in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28: 19).

Packer goes on to say elsewhere that: 

“It is a tragic and ugly thing when Christians lack desire, and are actually reluctant, to share the precious knowledge that they have with others whose need of it is just as great as their own.  It was natural for Andrew, when he found the Messiah, to go off and tell his brother Simon, and for Philip to hurry to break the good news to his friend Nathanael (Jn 1:40ff.). They did not need to be told to do this; they did it naturally and spontaneously, just as one would naturally and spontaneously share with one’s family and friends any other piece of news that vitally affected them.  There is something very wrong with us if we do not ourselves find it natural to act in this way: let us be quite clear about that.  We should not be held back by the thought that if they are not elect, they will not believe us, and our efforts to convert them will fail. That is true; but it is none of our business and should make no difference to our action.” (J.I Packer).

Surely a Church that isn’t moving forward doesn’t need a new program for its first and foremost problem is a Gospel problem.  And so it is with us individually as well: our first and foremost problem is always a Gospel problem.  We naturally share what we’re most convinced of daily with our friends and families!  We’re commanded to share the Gospel boldly not only via facebook while hiding behind the internet or on blog comments, but in real life, naturally, in our workplaces and homes–especially when no else but God is looking.  It’s natural for us to praise and share what occupies our hearts the most.  May that be the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Packer continues:

“Paul’s confidence should be our confidence too. We may not trust in our methods of personal dealing or running evangelistic services, however excellent we may think them. There is no magic in methods, not even in theologically impeccable methods. When we evangelize, our trust must be in God who raises the dead.”  (Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God: J.I Packer)

As Easter approaches, may God visit us afresh and bring about Gospel renewals, restoring the awe and the wonder of it all, so that we are able to share naturally what we are deeply convinced of with others whose need of it is just as great as our own. 

If you can remember, please pray for us! 

 

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