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A Hopeless Task


The monergist’s approach to evangelism is necessarily different from the synergist’s because the monergist knows that conversion is a result of the miracle of regeneration—and he knows he is unable to perform miracles.

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[U]nderstanding God’s sovereignty makes us dependent on Him because we see that it is only because of sovereign grace that the conversion of spiritually dead sinners is even possible. The Calvinist knows that unbelievers are not merely sick; they are “dead in . . . trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). We know that people are dead when they no longer respond to stimuli. We talk to them and they do not answer. We touch them and they do not move. This is the way people who are spiritually dead respond to God and his word. When the Bible is taught, they have no comprehension; when the gospel offer is made, they make no response.

This presents a most depressing situation for an evangelist. Given man’s utter depravity, an evangelist cannot hope to lead anyone to faith in Christ by his own power. Paul states, “The natural person does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and He is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor. 2:14). Note that Paul says not only the natural person “does not” accept the gospel but that he “is unable to.” Elsewhere, the apostle says “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Rom. 8:7). imgPacker therefore writes: “Our approach to evangelism is not realistic until we have faced this shattering fact, and let it make it’s proper impact on us. . . . Regarded as a human enterprise, evangelism is a hopeless task.”

—Richard D. Phillips, Jesus the Evangelist (Reformation Trust Publishing, 2007), 174–175.



Posted 2008·06·13 by David Kjos
TrackBack URL: http://www.thirstytheologian.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/649
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Posted in: Conversion · Evangelism · J I Packer · Jesus the Evangelist · Regeneration · Richard Phillips · Total Depravity
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2 Comments:


#1 || 08·06·13··14:31 || bo snagley

this used to distress me profoundly.
for a season i stopped evangelizing because of it.
after all, if the elect are elected not by my efforts then why extend the effort.
Then i realized that
1. Oh yeah He told us to. and
2. i would like to be a part of things in some small way.

of course, these are the theological ramblings of an Alabama bumpkin


#2 || 08·06·13··22:02 || David

"To be a part of things in some small way" is the best any of us can do, and that's a privilege.


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