Thursday, October 17, 2019

Packer: heralds of the Sovereign

Thursday, October 17, 2019
    Feast of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, Martyr, c.107
    [Jesus:] My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
    —John 10:27-29 (NIV)
    There is abroad today a widespread suspicion that a robust faith in the absolute sovereignty of God is bound to undermine any adequate sense of human responsibility. Such a faith is thought to be dangerous to spiritual health because it breeds a habit of complacent inertia. In particular, it is thought to paralyse evangelism by robbing one both of the motive to evangelize and of the message to evangelize with. The supposition seems to be that you cannot evangelize effectively unless you are prepared to pretend while you are doing it, that the doctrine of divine sovereignty is not true. I shall try to make it evident that this is nonsense. I shall try to show further that, so far from inhibiting evangelism, faith in the sovereignty of God’s government and grace is the only thing that can sustain it, for it is the only thing that can give us the resilience that we need if we are to evangelize boldly and persistently, and not be daunted by temporary setbacks. So far from being weakened by this faith, therefore, evangelism will inevitably be weak and lack staying power without it.
    ... James I. Packer (b. 1926), Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God [1961], Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1991, p. 10 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 11:25; John 10:27-29; Acts 17:24-26; Eph. 4:4-6
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You are Your people’s eternal shepherd.
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Anonymous Tim Warlick said...

Amen and amen. We believers need to show the world that we believers herald the One Good Shepherd that gathers the one flock that is His alone, and we only help gather in to Him alone.

When the world sees disagreements among people who call themselves Christians, about Christian beliefs, such as, just for one example, the arcane details of justification and water baptism rituals, they see no agreement among us in Jesus. The unbelieving world sees no love for each other among us believers, and we let the world forget the eternal holiness and inheritance of God that Jesus gives us credit for, just for our faith in the name of Jesus for God’s gift to us by His sacrifice, giving us the opportunity for repentance and forgiveness of our sins, not because of our cherished doctrinal distinctives.

Even if our doctrinal distinctives are true, they aren’t the blood of Jesus, and they were never intended, and cannot be allowed, to distract the world from the faith in Jesus for repentance and forgiveness of our sins that the lost and dying world needs most.

Forgetting about the “repentance and forgiveness of sins” Jesus says will always be preached, and therefor believed, ”in His name”, and trading it for ‘non-repentance and redefinition of sins’ which the world wants God to approve, is why huge numbers of Christians in formerly, Biblically faithful denominations and faith groups are being ripped away from one another in division, losing many, drawn away from the holiness and inheritance of God that Jesus offers, into the lie that sexual immorality in gay sex acts and gay marriage are moral; and into the lie that us repentant believers even saying such sexual immorality is sin, is hate speech, instead of what it really is: the word of the most-loving God that gives his own blood to save us all from our sins.

We repentant, mutually loving and forgiving believers must ask ourselves, what does the world need to hear from us first? We’ve got to let them hear we love every little, repentant believer who hears the voice of the One, Good Shepherd, as much as He loves them.

All us believers already agree that the first thing adult sinners must hear is the message of evangelization, the same message Jesus preached first in His ministry, and what all people must hear preached so they can believe and be in the name of Jesus. That first message to the world must be our Christian unity in the gospel, good news that repentance and forgiveness of sins, in proportion to our forgiveness of others, is bought by the blood of Jesus for anyone who wants it; and that all the sheep given by the Father to Jesus will want it, will hear it, and will come when they hear that One, Good Shepherd’s voice calling them to repentance, into the one flock, which is the body of Christ on earth today in the love and holiness Jesus gives us all.

Until we have and obey the most important, two commands of God fulfilled by Jesus, having in our own hearts the same love the One, Good Shepherd has for all repentant, mutually loving and forgiving believers, in all Christian denominations and faith groups, we will continue to see our brothers and sisters in Christ, who at one time knew the holiness and love of God in Christ, continue being lured out of the protection of the name of Jesus, into the eternal death of the world that rejects God’s holiness and love in Jesus.

October 17, 2019 at 1:15 PM  

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