Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: "The Gospel & Personal Evangelism"

Title: The Gospel & Personal Evangelism
Sub-title: (not applicable)
Author: Mark Dever
Publisher: Crossway
Book Type: Evangelism (Christian Living)
Page Length: 124
Chapters: Foreword (by CJ Mahaney), Introduction, 7 Chapters, Conclusion
SRP: $9.99
Suggested Audience: All Christians, all ages.

Strengths: This book is short, so those of you that feel like you have the attention span of Dory from Finding Nemo, you have no excuses to not finish this book if you dare to pick it up. This book is organized well and it is by no means boring. If you have any desire to learn about evangelism or live out a life of evangelism, you will like this book.

Weaknesses: I feel like every time I write a book review I end up writing this, “I don’t think this book has any weaknesses.” And, honestly, I don’t feel badly about that fact because most books that I read are really good. I don’t usually pick up a book if I have a feeling that a book is going to be a bad read. With that said, this book hits the target that Dever was aiming for when he wrote it.

My thoughts: I love this book. I feel like it’s the unofficial sequel to Greg Gilbert’s “What is the Gospel?” and that is not too much of stretch considering that Greg Gilbert is a pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church just like Mark Dever. So my theory is that Gilbert wrote his book to establish what the gospel is and to clear up what the gospel is not. Then, Dever came along behind him and wrote “The Gospel & Personal Evangelism” to show us how to respond to the gospel of Jesus in light of what the Bible shows it (the gospel) to be. The problem with that theory is that Dever published his book first, so maybe Gilbert wanted to clarify the gospel for readers so they could better understand the gospel before moving on to Dever’s book about how the gospel demands that we live out personal evangelism. But I digress…

Dever’s book boldly declares what a Christian’s biblical response to the power of the gospel should be. Chapter by chapter he answers the various Who, How, What and Why questions of the gospel and personal evangelism. His methodical, systematic, and academic approach is make so personal by his writing that you don’t feel like a professor is teaching you from a chalk board, you feel like you’re being discipled in personal evangelism by a guy who loves Jesus and cares about you the reader.

Notable quotes: “My blindness to God’s provision is voluntary. I don’t consider the reality and finality of death, judgment, and hell.”

“In biblical evangelism, we don’t impose anything. In fact, we really can’t. According to the Bible, evangelism is simply telling the good news. It’s not making sure that the other person responds correctly. I wish we could, but according to the Bible, this is not something we can do.”

“Interrupting someone in the process of deciding to follow Christ can actually help him.”

“You may not remember a time when you didn’t follow Christ. But the Bible tells us that we are all by nature at enmity with God. And at some point, our hearts came alive to God and our wills bent to his. We were converted. That’s what we want to see as a result of our evangelism.”

“God is glorified in being known.”

“If you think that the gospel is all about what we can do, that the practice of it is optional, and that conversion is simply something that anyone can choose at any time, then I’m concerned that you’ll think of evangelism as nothing more than a sales job where the prospect is to be won over to sign on the dotted line by praying a prayer, followed by an assurance that he is the proud owner of salvation.”

“The Christian call to evangelism is not simply a call to persuade people to make decisions, but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion.”


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