Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Books on Evangelism

Thousands of books have been written on evangelism, with some promising results from a particular technique or formula and others in total dependence on God's Spirit to lead. In this posting, I want to introduce you to 2 books on evangelism, both which are faithful to biblical truth regarding "going and making disciples of all nations" (Mt. 28:19).
The first book is Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God by J. I. Packer. In this small book, coming in at only 135 pages, Packer provides a sound, biblical response to the question 'If God is ultimately sovereign in the saving of men, then why is evangelism even necessary, since it is out of man's realm of power or control?'

Packer discusses human responsibility on the front end, then moves into a detailed discussion of what is meant by evangelism by looking at what it meant to the greatest evangelist of all time, the Apostle Paul. He summarizes the evangelistic message as a message about God, a message about sin, a message about Christ, and a summons to faith and repentance. But what about God's sovereignty? Packer makes it clear that God is the one who saves, but He has chosen to save by the Gospel and people must hear in order to respond, therefore or taking and preaching the message is a vital link in the process. It is not by us, it is through us. Packer speaks of the urgency of evangelism, because it enables the dead to hear and live. Because God is sovereign and we can be confident in it, Packer says we should be bold in sharing the Gospel; we should be patient, waiting for God to bring the harvest; and we should be prayerful, relying on God's power and sovereignty in all.

The second book is Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. This is another excellent resource for anyone desiring to explore evangelism. Stiles, who lives in the Middle East, writes from the vantage point of a missionary so his book is packed with application stories and less scholarly than Packer's book. Like Packer, Stiles provides a description of the Gospel message because if the the message of the Gospel is not clear then the taking of the message to others is futile.
Stiles impacted me in his chapter entitled "On Your Guard." He says, "Losing the gospel doesn't happen all at once; it's much more like a four-generational the first, the gospel is accepted; in the the second, the gospel is assumed; in the third, the gospel is confused; in the fourth, the gospel is lost." In other words, if we assume people understand the Gospel and are genuinely saved, then the next generation will confuse the true message of the gospel, and the generation after that will have no real gospel left. In this, I saw the progression of the gospel in America.
The importance of our lives matching the message is a focal point of Stiles as well. He stresses that we should be doing good, but the goodness we do should never be divorced from the hope of sharing the gospel message. Our lives should be radical messages of Christ. So where does one start in having this kind of life?
I am not going to list them all here, but Stiles ends his book with "16 ways to demonstrate love and unity in the church and in so doing become a healthy evangelist" The first two are (1) Attend a church that takes the gospel seriously and (2) Become an actual member of a church.
I recommend both of these books to anyone wanting to explore evangelism more deeply. After reading these, you will equipped with a better understanding of the gospel message and the need for taking this message to the world,along with practical tips for living out the gospel in your day-to-day living.

1 comment:

Brian Johnson said...

Hi Jon,

these two books sound well worth reading!

My own feeble contribution to the gospel here in England, UK, via the web is What Is The Gospel?