The Cure for Disillusionment in Evangelism by J.I. Packer

“We had come to take it for granted that good organization and efficient technique, backed by a routine of prayers, was itself sufficient to guarantee results. We felt that there was an almost magical potency in the special meeting, the special choir and soloist, and the special preacher. We felt convinced that the thing that would always bring life into a dead church, or a dead town, was an intensive evangelistic mission. With the top of our minds, many of us still think that, or profess to think it. We tell each other that it is so, and make our plans on this basis. But with the bottom of our minds, in our heart of hearts, we have grown discouraged, and disillusioned, and apprehensive. Once we thought that well-planned evangelism was sure to succeed, but now we find ourselves afraid each time that it is going to fail, as it has failed so often before. Yet we are afraid to admit our fears to ourselves, for we do not know what to make of a situation in which our planned evangelism fails. So we repress our fears, and our disillusionment becomes a paralysing neurosis, and our evangelistic practice becomes a jaded and half-hearted routine. Basically, the trouble is our unconfessed doubts as to the worth whileness of what we are doing.

Why have we these doubts? Because we have been disillusioned. How have we been disillusioned? By the repeated failure of the evangelistic techniques in which we once reposed such confidence. What is the cure of our disillusionment? First, we must admit that we were silly ever to think that any evangelistic technique, however skillful, could of itself guarantee conversions; second, we must recognize that, because man’s heart is impervious to the word of God, it is no cause for surprise if at any time our evangelism fails to result in conversions; third, we must remember that the terms of our calling are that we should be faithful, not that we should be successful; fourth, we must learn to rest all our hopes of fruit in evangelism upon the omnipotent grace of God. For God does what man cannot do. God works by His Spirit through His Word in the hearts of sinful men to bring them to repentance and faith. Faith is a gift of God.”

-J.I. Packer Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God


Sovereign Grace and Evangelistic Zeal by J.I. Packer

“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 paralyze 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 an 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. This, I hope, will become clear as we proceed.”
-J.I. Packer Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

Charles Simeon – Simplicity in Preaching by David Helm

“…This abiding belief never left Simeon. For fifty-four years, and from a single pulpit in a university town, he tirelessly gave himself to the primacy of preaching. Week by week, year by year, and decade by decade he stood in the pulpit and declared God’s Word with clarity, simplicity, and power. He defined his conviction about biblical exposition this way:

My endeavor is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not to thrust in what I   think might be there. I have a great jealousy on this head; never to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding.

Simeon viewed the preacher as duty-bound to the text. He was committed to staying on the line, never rising above the text of Scripture to say more than it said and never falling beneath the text by lessening its force or fullness…

But it is not only Simeon’s conviction that is worth considering. Simeon’s goals in preaching need to be recovered. He tightly framed his aims for biblical exposition this way:

to humble the sinner;

to exalt the Saviour; 

to promote holiness.

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. And these aims should guide us today. Our world, like Simeon’s desperately needs to know how deep humanity has fallen, how high Jesus Christ has ascended, and what God requires of his people. The best and only way to help this world is to speak God’s words in the power of the Spirit.”

-David R. Helm  Expository Preaching – How We Speak God’s Word Today