Book Review – The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark DeverI recently received the newest book by Mark Dever, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism. I have to say, at first, I was a little less than excited about the book, but after reading just the first few pages, really appreciated Dever’s thoughts and approach, not only towards evangelism itself, but especially in helping us all think rightly about it.

Dever as a pastor comes out loud and clear in this book. His heart is not so much to provide a system or “canned” approach to help us be more “effective” in making converts, but to show off that evangelism really is simply telling people about God and to discover the joy that lies waiting for us when we get to discuss the greatest news ever – Jesus Christ has made life with God possible.

Dever’s shepherding approach also comes out in the stucuture of his book. Each chapter is developed around a typical (or not so typical) question concerning evangelism, such as Why don’t we evangelize? What do we do after we evangelism? and What is the Gospel? (For the complete Table of Contents go here).

But Dever stays clear of laying on any guilt trip about what most of us feel whenever we hear about another book about evanglism. Instead, Dever points us to the heart of the gospel itself – Jesus Christ in His work done on our behalf. But don’t be mistaken, Dever does get into what may be deemed old rubric, like the need for clarity in what we present when we do evangelize. But none of this is directed at merely adding converts to our churches, or denominational and/or personal lists, but rather the heartfelt love and gratitude for the person we are sharing the gospel with, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, toward God. Or to put it another way, Dever provides a very gospel-centered approach to personal evangelism.

All in all, this is a great book. It will not only serve to re-awaken your own sense of purpose in personal evangelism (as it has my own), but it will also be a valuable resource to put in the hands of people in our congregations as a great way to remind them that sharing the gospel is first and foremost about sharing the news about God restoring our broken relationship with Him and His world, and not about “noses in the pews.” Because of this, I definitely recommend this little book.

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More good thoughs on “missional” and denominations

There’s a great post over at ‘Conn’-versation regarding the shape of younger Christian leaders and the whole “missional” conversation. I appreciate the post because it has put words to my scattered thoughts, particularly in relation to missional conversations within reformed denominations. For anyone trying to live and move in both worlds, this can be more tricky, and require a bit more awareness and discernment with the things we say or do. Anyway, here’s a great quote to wet your appetite:

“The adjective Missional will likely have its day in the sun and end dried up in the field of other helpful, but not bygone categories, but the changing ecclesiology it sought to capture will remain until and if we experience the Southern Hemisphere shape of Christendom to come (spoken of by people like Philip Jenkins) expanding into the landscape of our Post-Christian West in a culturally transforming manner.”

Check out the whole post here.

(P.S. – I have yet to read Jenkins book, but have heard great things about it, and with this post, I will most likely end up reading real soon. Anyone have any thoughts on the book itself?)

New Driscoll book Pre-order

To any and all who will be reading this book (including myself), Driscoll anvintagejesus.jpgd the guys at Crossway are offering a pre-order deal on his new book, Vintage Jesus, which includes a 35% discount, free PDF copy and potentially “autographed” copy (yeah, yeah – I don’t know what I think about autographed books anyway, but its part of the deal, so I’ll mention it). Don’t hold me to the details, check them out for yourself here or over at The Resurgence site.

New Radiohead album

RadioheadOh yeah! Can’t wait for this one.

Paste’s post on Radiohead’s upcoming album

For anyone else out there who likes Radiohead, or even, who may question the validity of listening to such music for “spiritual/ministry” value, let me encourage you to download and check out this talk given at a Francis Schaeffer Institute event a couple of years ago up at Covenant Theological Seminary,  A Cry of Quiet Desperation:  The Music of Radiohead, by Denis Haack.

For more good stuff along the lines of faith and culture, Denis’ has a terrific ministry called Ransom Fellowship, and they offer some great thoughts and resources all along these lines.

What does it mean to be “the Church”?

Anthony BradleyAnthony Bradley has got some good thoughts and a great quote over on his blog The Institute about being the church, and having more of a gospel-centered, “revolutionary” mindset regarding where and how we live as Christians in the world.  I always appreciate the way Bradley challenges me with his thoughts, but even more so, I love it when anyone draws my attention to the fact that Christianity is a “forward” religion – its meant to be lived out on the “offensive” rather than the “defensive” end (for more thoughts on this, check out The Prevailing Church by Randy Pope).

Here’s a quote from a missionary that Bradley includes in his post, and I think it sums things up quite nicely (but do go check out his blog to get the whole sha-bang!):

We need to recover the grand, cosmic significance of Jesus’ saving activity that moves the gospel out of the narrow realm of our self-preoccupation…The gospel properly understood, is much broader than our concerns for personal survival, security, significance, success, or even self-centered sanctification. The gospel presents us with a Jesus, not meek and mild, but One come to set the world on fire. It presents us with a plunderer, and it bids us to throw ourselves away in the pursuit of this new world order. –Bob Heppe, Missionary

Article about Driscoll

driscollFor anyone who isn’t really aware of who Mark Driscoll is, this is a really good article that gives you a good look at the history of his church Mars Hill, as well as some of his background as well as some recent controversies. Check it out here.

One of those weeks – more Gospel Reminders

What can I say…its been one of those weeks.  Trying, taxing and very healthy for my life as a child of God.  This weeks has been crazy busy with school (couple of exams, a paper, reading a book for a class this weekend, and preparing a sermon – which I’m avoiding right now b/c I’ve got “sermon block”).  But in the midst of all that, I’ve really been able to discern God working on my heart and showing me my sin in a very real way, that has led me to really fall down at His feet and trust in His mercy and grace.  This broke down in two ways:

The first came through reading The Person of Christ by Don Macleod, which was for a test in The Person of Christ by D. Macleodone of my classes.  I had read this over the summer, but apparently didn’t think too highly of it in contrast to my professor.  I basically had to go back and re-read large sections of it, and am I glad I did.  Through that process, I really saw and felt clearly what Jesus Christ did on my behalf; something I’ve believed in my head, and have been trying to get out of the way to let it sink into my heart and come out in my life – that Jesus Christ alone is my salvation, and I am but a mere recipient of His blessing and grace.  Here’s a humdinger from that book that really penetrated not only my mind, but my heart as well (On the Incarnation of Christ and His Suffering on the Cross)

“Here, even more than at Gethsemane, we have to remind ourselves that Christ suffered vicariously.  The gospel of the dereliction is not that Christ shares our forsakenness but that he saves us from it. He endured it, not with us, but for us.  We are immune to the curse (Gal. 3:13) and to the condemnation (Rom. 8:3) precisely because Christ took them upon himself and went, in our place, into the outer darkness.  It remains true, of course, that he sympathizes with us in even the most acute of our emotional traumas, but the learning of compassion was not the primary motive behind the dereliction, which involved a journey into territory ordinary men and women will never tread.  What Golgotha secured for us was not sympathy but immunity,”  – D. Macleod, p. 178 

Jesus endured the most unimaginable hell for my sake, not merely to be able to “sympathize” with my plight, but to secure my standing before our Holy Father God.  How can I neglect such a marvelous truth, and entertain any notion of sin when I have this presented before me.  The free offer of salvation of the Gospel is too weighty for me to play lightly with.  How it has crushed me and brought me back up again!

I’ll save the second thing that rocked my world for later…

Idols – Near and Far

I have a great privilege to go to The Journey church here in St. Louis.  One of the things I am most thankful for at the church is the solid, dynamic, idol-exposing, sin-shattering and gospel-driven preaching that comes through each week, no matter who is preaching.  The past couple of weeks we have gone through a series on Transformation, with some great thoughts on identifying Near and Far Idols.  Below I’ve linked two posts from the church’s website that I would highly encourage you all to read at some point.

Discerning Your Near Idols  (MP3 here)

Peeling Back the Layers – Far Idols (MP3 here)

Ouch!

Sanctification can really hurt and sting at times.

“Lord, spare us the insidious ego deception that we love God when really we love being told that we love God. Forbid that our being thanked is the bottom of our joy, rather than Christ being praised.” 

(from today’s post by John Piper over at the Desiring God blog).

Guys who call a spade a spade

Ed Stetzer has written a great little article over at the Catalyst site regarding the Church. The title alone is great (You Can’t Love Jesus and Hate His Wife), but here’s another great quote:

Paul was willing to take a beating for the church because Jesus submitted to a brutal murder “to make her (the church) holy, cleansing her in the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:26-27 HCSB)

Seems like fewer and fewer people are willing to take the church seriously, let alone take a beating for her.

In a way, this is good reality check for me (and maybe for the rest of us who are wanting to plant a church/are planting a church). It’s making me ask, “Am I desiring to plant a church because King Jesus has called me to do it, or am I taking the easy way out and not take a beating for Christ’s bride in my local context by remaining and pursuing her holiness?”