Serve the Lord With Gladness
Sandy McCormick, Pastor of Adult Discipleship
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Serve the Lord With Gladness
No one can acquaint himself with Christ’s universal, cosmic position and function without knowing in his heart, such a Being is no less than God. Reject the conclusion if you wish, but in doing so reject the New Testament.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to His holy name!
Effective & Fruitful in the Knowledge of Christ
II Peter 1:8-9
Dan Brooks, Pastor
Download a PDF of Sunday’s notes here.
O my Lord, let not my ministry be approved only by men or merely win the esteem and affections of people; but do the work of grace in their hearts, call in Your elect, seal and edify the regenerate ones, and command eternal blessings on their souls. Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking; water the hearts of those who hear Your Word, that seed sown in weakness may be raised in power; cause me and those that hear me to behold You here in the light of special faith, and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory.
From the prayer “A Minister’s Prayer,” in The Valley of Vision
The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls, bring afresh into my mind the remembrance of Your great help, of Your support from heaven, of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am. There is no treasure so wonderful as that continuous experience of Your grace toward me which alone can subdue the risings of sin within: give me more of it.
From the prayer “The Dark Guest,” in The Valley of Vision
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Colossians 3:14 (ESV)
Author: J. I. Packer
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Reviewer: Abe Stratton
In this compact treatise Packer masterfully addresses the conjunction and harmony of the two themes which make up the title – God’s sovereignty and man’s evangelistic efforts. Packer confronts and disproves the suggestion that affirming God’s sovereignty in all things (especially in the work of salvation) will stifle or negate evangelistic efforts, and he also debunks the theory that the practice of evangelizing undermines our belief in God’s sovereignty. Instead Packer shows that belief in God’s sovereignty over men’s response to the Gospel fuels and encourages our evangelistic efforts. Since we don’t know whom God has chosen to be His children, we have the freedom and the responsibility of proclaiming good news to all. As Packer concludes the book, he emphasizes the impact on evangelism which an understanding of God’s sovereignty in salvation brings – “we would not wish to say that man cannot evangelize at all without coming to terms with this doctrine [God’s sovereignty]; but we venture to think that, other things being equal, he will be able to evangelize better for believing it.”
Chapter 1: In a brief first chapter Packer addresses God’s sovereignty, and he makes the valid point that all Christians believe in God’s sovereignty whether they affirm it or not. He points out that any Christian who prays is implicitly affirming that God is in control of all things and that he (the believer) is not. He narrows the application of this point to state that, if believers pray to God for the salvation of other souls, then they are affirming God’s sovereignty in salvation.
Chapter 2: Packer next approaches the two themes which seem to be contradictory in our minds – God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, and he warns of the danger of embracing one without the other. Although we may not be able to reconcile these truths in our finite minds, Packer counsels the reader to accept both issues as Scripture presents them – inseparable truths. He wisely asserts, “A God whom we could understand exhaustively, and whose revelation of himself confronted us with no mysteries whatsoever, would be a God in man’s image and therefore an imaginary God, not the God of the Bible at all.” (31-32)
Chapter 3: In the longest chapter of this little book Packer discusses evangelism. Taking nothing for granted, he defines what the act of evangelism is, what the evangelistic message is, what the motive of evangelism should be, and what legitimate evangelistic methods and means can and should be employed. Through each of these sections Packer points out negative examples which help to clarify the true message and methods. He writes that “what is needed is this: that we, who would speak for Christ, should pray constantly that God will put and keep in our hearts a sense of his greatness and glory, of the joy of fellowship with him, and of the dreadfulness of spending time and eternity without him; and then that God will enable us to speak honestly, straightforwardly and just as we feel about these matters. Then we shall be really natural in presenting the gospel—and really serious too.” (98-99)
Chapter 4: Finally, Packer connects the two themes of divine sovereignty and evangelism, and he makes two key observations. (1) “The sovereignty of God in grace does not affect anything that we have said about the nature and duty of evangelism.” (105) In other words, the God’s right to pour out or withhold His grace does not change His command to us: make disciples. Our responsibility is to proclaim His saving grace to men; He will save whom He wills. (2) “The sovereignty of God in grace gives us our only hope of success in evangelism.” (115) Man cannot change himself, and man cannot change man. “However clear and cogent we may be in presenting the gospel, we have no hope of convincing or converting anyone.” (118) It is only by the mercy of God and the convicting and renewing work of His Holy Spirit that a man is born again, so “we must learn to rest all our hopes of fruit in evangelism on the omnipotent grace of God.” (122)
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a must-read for all believers. I was convicted as I read it because of how lightly I hold the command to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel. How often do I pursue people that I walk by, eat with, ride next to, or buy from? How often do I think of their wretched and horrific condition in their sin? How often do I ponder their eternal punishment in torment under the wrath of God? And how often do I consider the beautiful message of hope and joy which I have received in Jesus Christ? This book relentlessly pushes us back to our responsibility and privilege of giving the Good News of salvation. It also frees us from the unbiblical burden of producing results from our message. Proclaim the Good News – yes! But let the almighty and all-wise God produce the fruit!
You can purchase the book here.
Abe Stratton is the Pastor of Youth and Young Adults for Heritage Bible Church.