by Mark Dever. I enjoyed this straightforward basic overview of an often misunderstood topic. We need a proper understanding of, as well as much encouragement in this most important task of the church. Dever’s book delivers. Biblical, practical, helpful, encouraging, honest and short, Dever addresses questions such as,
-Why don’t we evangelize?
-Who should evangelize?
-How should we evangelize?
-Why should we evangelize?
-What should we do after we evangelize?
-And of course, What is the gospel?
Dever concludes with sharing why we do not need to be concerned with “closing the sale”.
The chapter, What Isn’t Evangelism, mentions several things that are not evangelism at all:
-‘Imposition’ on others
-Social action and community involvement (“To be evangelism, the gospel must be clearly communicated, whether in written or oral form.” p.75)
-The results of evangelism.
For this last point, Dever contrasts evangelism, which is simply the telling of the gospel message, with the fruit (or results) of evangelism, which is the conversion of unbelievers. In other words, evangelism is not counting numbers (or ‘decisions’) of those we think have converted, but, to quote John Stott, “simply to announce the good news, irrespective of the results.” Dever states, “…evangelism is not defined in terms of results but only in terms of faithfulness to the message preached.”p. 79, and “Understanding this increases evangelism as it moves from being a guilt-driven burden to a joyful privilege.” p. 82.
In the chapter, “What is the gospel?” Dever uses several popular messages (God is love, Jesus wants to be our friend, we should live right) that are not the gospel, to provide the framework for explaining the true gospel message. I think there could have been a bit more on using the Law for an awareness of the holiness of God and of personal sin against God, for the convicting of the conscience, which can lead to repentance. (This is the part that is communicated before the “good news” message of the gospel.)
In all, this is a quick and easy book to read if you would like a concise introduction to basic information on personal evangelism, if you need a refresher or just some long overdue encouragement to continue on in the harvest field, ministering the gospel. Dever says his prayer is that “because of the time spent reading this book, more people will hear the good news of Jesus Christ.” p.16.
For more in depth teaching and training in biblical evangelism, I highly recommend