One of the classics one is suppose to read while in seminary is J. I. Packer's book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Ivp Classics). The books reputation is not a farce. One of the world's greatest theologians tackles one of the world most difficult questions. Usually we look at God's soveriengty and the call to evangelize the world in one of two ways.
For one many emphasize the command to evangelize and so argue that God cannot be soveriegn over personal salvation making faith a matter of choice. Here is the common Arminian approach to missions (and to the heretical side, the Pelagian belief that man is so free that he can actually be perfect and would not need God). Arminians believe that God chooses in the sense that he already knows who is going to be saved, but salvation is through the freedom of the believer.
The second approach is the opposite and is known as Hyper-Calvinism. It argues that since God chooses whom He will save, evangelism is pointless. As the famous story goes about William Carey, he was reprimanded by a man in his church saying, "Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen world, He will do it without your help or mine!" And so it is with Hyper-Calvinism.
Packer argues that neither are right. Instead, the Bible says that God both elects and at the same time expects His followers to proclaim the gospel so that they might be saved. How is this logical? It isn't. Packer labels this an antimony; something that is contradictory, yet true at the same time. The example he gives of this is that of light which is both waves and yet at the same time particles. How can both of these be true at the same time? It baffles the mind.
Packer walks the reader through this difficulty and seeks to show the reader why both are necessary. I have always said that if God is Sovereign over salvation then the pressure is off of my shoulders. As the evangelists, all I must do is clearly define the gospel and leave the rest to God. Packer makes similar points that need to be said.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book is his discussion of what the gospel actually is. It is a sad thing that this is needed today. Packer goes in much detail (its by far the longest chapter) on the components of the gospel including God, man, sin, Christ, salvation, etc. It would do the Christian good to read this chapter and be familiiar with its content.
Overall, this is certainly a great book with great insight from a great theologian, but I must say that it didn't blow me away. Certainly I can see why so many Christians have benefited from it. However, I did not find the clarity that I was seeking. But then again, perhaps that was my problem. Like every Christian I seek to find clarity in the midst of this difficult subject. And at this point we must accept the fact that God is greater than our minds can fathom and where we find such difficulties we must be thankful that God is great and yet He has revealed even His mysteries too us.
your help or mine.