Mark Dever thinks clearly. He prizes concise and precise thought. This book reflects his thinking. If you are looking for a book to help you witness and challenge the obstacles that stand in your way, this book is spot on.
Dever outlines the Gospel then discusses why we often do not witness. The book consistently uses scripture to encourage and illustrate evangelism.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the scripture he uses to prove all Christians are responsible for evangelism, not just pastors or those with a “gift”of evangelism. He also establishes that personal evangelism is a fruit of a culture of evangelism within the local church.
He also deals with ideas that are often confused with evangelism. These were worth mentioning specifically:
1. Not an Imposition: Sharing the Gospel is not an imposition “anymore than a pilot can impose his belief on all the passengers that the runway is here and not there.”
2. Not Personal Testimony: Although testimonies are powerful and can contribute to evangelism, a testimony alone is not the gospel.
3. Not Social Action and Public Involvement: Being involved in mercy ministries help commend the gospel (Matt. 5:16), but such actions are not evangelism. Proverbs 11:30 says “…He who wins souls is wise.”
“When our eyes fall from God to humanity, social ills replace sin, horizontal problems replace the fundamental vertical problem between us and God, winning elections eclipses winning souls.”
4. Not Apologetics: “Apologetics is answering questions and objections people may have about God or Christ or about Bible or the message of the gospel.” While Dever agrees apologetics are a good thing, he clearly and correctly observes apologetics are not the gospel. Rightly answering questions about original sin or the problem of pain is not evangelism.
Dever also includes a stern rebuke against the “closing the sale” mentality of evangelism that crept into the church since the early 1960’s. He explains the awful disservice done to the church and the kingdom of God through such evangelistic methods.
This book was useful to me because it challenged me about the fundamental urgency of evangelism. I recommend it to any christian.
I am including below a short video about the book produced by its publisher.
“The Gospel & Personal Evangelism,” Mark Dever from 9Marks on Vimeo.