Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: "The Gospel and Personal Evangelism" by Mark Dever

Over our Christmas vacation and our trip to Oregon, I had the opportunity to read Mark Dever's (senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington D.C. and book on evangelism. For me, as I'm sure it is for many of you, evangelism is lot like prayer. You know it is something you should spend much more time in. Dever's book is not only challenging in encouraging the reader to tell the lost the truth of the Gospel, it is very helpful in teaching us how to do it.

Dever begins with the premise that none of us would have a problem telling our friends about a great occurrence in our life, such as winning the lottery, etc. How true that is! I think of how easy it is to converse with people about politics or sports, but shy away from the most important truth there is.

Dever then gets into the heart of the matter, forming his chapters based on common questions regarding evangelism. Chapters include "Why Don't We Evangelize?", "What is the Gospel?", "Who Should Evangelize?", "How Do We Evangelize?", "What Isn't Evangelism?", and "Why Should We Evangelize?" Each chapter was informative and counters any argument you could possibly make to avoid evangelism.

Especially important to me, Dever emphasizes the gospel is not simply that man is neutral toward God and that "God is love", but that man is at war with God. Too often you hear people talking about coming to Jesus for their self-esteem, to have fellowship, or to have freedom from guilt. Dever's point, as the Bible clearly teaches, is that man has offended a holy God and will be punished eternally in hell as a result. Unless of course they come to Christ. This book teaches how that can happen, and how to communicate that truth to others.

Finally, Dever covers three reasons why Christians should evangelize the lost; a desire to be obedient, a love for the lost, and a love for God. I know for myself it is very easy to ask someone to church and let the pastor do the evangelism. Dever reminds us the church is for believers, its our job to tell others the gospel and bring them when they are saved.

Sharing Christ with others can be intimidating. Its amazing to think however that in America the only type of persecution we most likely will face is either some small mocking or indifference to the truth. Its almost unheard of that we face "real" persecution such as torture or execution, yet, as Dever points out, "our fear of man is greater than our fear of God."

I highly recommend this book and hope that you and I will put its wise words into practice.

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