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The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (9marks) Paperback – September 7, 2007
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"Mark Dever's personal devotion to Scripture has led him to think deeply, read widely, preach clearly, and write simply to the great blessing of the body of Christ. Evangelism is the church's mandate, and the one reason the redeemed are still on earth. Doing it effectively requires doing it biblically. Mark teaches us how to mobilize our churches to do just that."
—John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; President, The Master's College and Seminary
"For most of us, personal evangelism is the reverse of easy, and so it becomes a task we evade. Mark Dever writes to shake us up about this, clearing our heads as to just what evangelizing involves and motivating our hearts to go to it realistically and responsibly. This is a word in season that will surely do a great deal of good."
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
"At the heart of this book is a heart for the gospel. Mark Dever encourages, instructs, and challenges us to proclaim the gospel in all its fullness, grace, truth, goodness, and wonder."
—Randy Newman, Teaching Fellow, C. S. Lewis Institute; author, Questioning Evangelism, Corner Conversations, and Bringing the Gospel Home
"Mark Dever has done every Christian and pastor a tremendous favor. With great humility, Dever helps us to connect the dots of our hopes for seeing people saved with the truth about the gospel and evangelism itself. This little book searches our hearts, corrects our thinking, calls us to faithfulness, and encourages us with practical examples and exhortations."
—Thabiti M. Anyabwile, Pastor, Anacostia River Church, Washington, D. C.; author, What Is a Healthy Church Member?
About the Author
Mark Dever (PhD, Cambridge University) is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and president of 9Marks (9Marks.org). Dever has authored over a dozen books and speaks at conferences nationwide.
C. J. Mahaney is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. He has written, edited and contributed to numerous books, including Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Don't Waste Your Sports; and Sex, Romance and the Glory of God. C. J. and his wife, Carolyn, are the parents of three married daughters and one son, and the happy grandparents to twelve grandchildren.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the chapter on what the true gospel is, Dever makes it clear that the gospel (contrary to many modern evangelicals) is NOT 1) that we are simply okay; 2) that God is simply love; 3) that Jesus just wants to be our friend; and 4) that we should just live rightly. The true gospel, according to Dever, is that we are all sinners, that Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross to take our punishment, that he rose from the dead, and that we are all called to repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. This chapter must be read by ALL evangelical ministers today who are tempted to follow the seeker-friendly or prosperity train.
The chapter on what evangelism is not is also very enlightening. Dever rightly points out that evangelism is NOT 1) imposition of our beliefs on unbelievers; 2) personal testimony of our Christian life; 3) social action or public involvement; 4) and apologetics (this point is especially important to highlight since so many Christians today believe that they can persuade an unbeliever to Christ through clever argumentation). Also, Dever rightly points out that just because we do not see the fruits of our evangelism right away does not mean that our role as God's messengers have failed. In fact, the fruit of conversion may appear many decades later - the time when a sinner comes to Christ is not in our hands but it is in the hands of our wise and sovereign God. Our job is just to be faithful messengers of the gospel and let God do the actual saving.
Finally, I also found Dever's statement that just because a person "accepts" Christ does not mean he or she is a true believer quite helpful. Having led bible studies for quite some time this is an important point that all Christian leaders need to be aware of. There will always be wolves in sheep's clothing in any church (even in solid Calvinistic ones). Many who appear to be Christians at first will later show their true colours as their supposed faith wanes and they go back to their old lifestyle. Dever points this out in his book to remind us that assurance is not an automatic thing and that we need to be careful of automatically considering a person saved just because he or she claims to be a Christian.
Overall, I would highly recommend this short but important book on evangelism. Though Dever is a Calvinist, this book can be very useful for evangelical Christians of all theological persuasions. In an age where evangelism is mostly based on seeker-friendly methods and the gospel is watered-down to meet the carnal desires of the people this book shows what true biblical evangelism is all about and what the gospel gives us and demands from us.
Among evangelicals, there are generally two common incorrect responses to Jesus' call to evangelize the nations. One, ignore it. Two, preach something that isn't the gospel, say that we are evangelizing, and then count people as conversions before there is any evidence of faith besides a confession that they want to go to heaven. This book tackles both common errors, rather trying to cultivate a biblically informed, gospel-motivated, Spirit-empowered heart that proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ with a balance of honesty, urgency, and joy.
The chapter titles give a good summary of what the book is about. Each chapter is usually between 10 and 15 pages and would make a good daily reading for personal edification or reading for a group study (I am seriously thinking about going through this book with my church smallgroup):
1. Why Don't We Evangelize?
2. What Is the Gospel?
3. Who Should Evangelize?
4. How Should We Evangelize?
5. What Isn't Evangelism?
6. What Should We Do After We Evangelize?
7. Why Should We Evangelize?
8. Conclusion: Closing the Sale (We are not salesmen)
9. Appendix: Recommended Reading
10. Appendix: Word to Pastors
Mark Dever writes to affect the heart. Evangelism devoid of the correct motivation does not give God the glory, will tend to be legalistic, and doesn't aim for disciples but numbers. I would love to go chapter-by-chapter through the book giving highlights of each, as there is not a weak chapter in the entire book. I have posted and will continue to post some quotes from the book on my blog. Just search for "Dever Evangelism". I will say that two of the most helpful points of the book are (1) Differentiate evangelism from the fruits of evangelism, and (2) We are not salesmen who need to "close the deal" but witnesses.
Dever has effectively engaged my heart and affected the way that I think about evangelism and has begun to affect the way that I have patterned my life in order that I can build a lifestyle of evangelism. I hope and pray that time will tell by my life that this book deserves the 5-star rating that I have given it.
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