Mark E. Dever, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007) 124 pages, ISBN 9781581348460.
Mark E. Dever believes that personal evangelism is the duty of every Christian. Although some may be more gifted for evangelism than others, he believes that all Christians have a responsibility to share the Gospel with unbelievers. This responsibility includes having a sound knowledge of the Gospel and a clear presentation that is supported by prayer and a life of faithfulness.
In his book, The Gospel & Personal Evangelism, Dever offers readers a number of reasons for sharing the Gospel on a personal level. He also includes some practical ways to conduct such a ministry. He supports his views with numerous Scriptures from the Gospels, Acts and other New Testament passages. He also draws on his personal experiences.
Dever serves as senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. A prolific writer, he is the author of several books by Crossway, including Promises Kept, Promises Made, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, and The Deliberate Church. He holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University and a Th.M. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also is the executive director of 9Marks (www.9marks.org).
In The Gospel & Personal Evangelism, Dever attempts to answer some of the most common questions people have about the Gospel and personal evangelism. He focuses on “the best news that there has ever been, and how we should share that news” (p. 17). His goal is that readers find they “can be more understanding and obedient in evangelism” (p. 17). His desire is to help the church to develop a culture of evangelism. He defines this culture as “an expectation that Christians will share the gospel with others, talk about doing that, pray about it, and regularly plan and work together to help each other evangelize” (p. 17). In short, he wants evangelism to be normal in the Christian life.
Dever covers his topic in seven chapters, each of which addresses an important question on evangelism. He begins with, “Why Don’t We Evangelize?” This is followed with, “What is the Gospel?” He then proceeds with, “Who Should Evangelize?,” “How Should We Evangelize?,” “What Isn’t Evangelism?,” “What Should We Do After We Evangelize?,” and finally, “Why Should We Evangelize?”
In Dever’s view, there are five basic excuses that Christians have for failing to evangelize. Three of them are: “Evangelism could cause problems,” “Other things are more urgent,” and “I don’t know non-Christians.” To address these and other excuses, he offers a 12-step program in which he advises the Christian to pray, plan, accept, understand, be faithful, risk, prepare, look, love, fear, stop, and consider.
On the subject of the “Good News,” Dever explains some of the popular misconceptions and poor definitions of what the Good News is. He writes, for example, that it is not simply that we are okay, it is not simply that God is love, and it is not simply that Jesus wants to be our friend. He states emphatically that the Gospel is about the sin problem that all people have, and what God did through Christ to address the problem. He writes that God is holy and He hates sin, and the only way a person can be saved is through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Using the Gospels and Acts as examples, he writes that the true, biblical message of salvation is that people should repent and believe the Gospel.