Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

This is Mark Dever's latest book. He is the pastor of a church in DC (one of my favorite cities). This has been an easy to read book - but a highly convicting book, as I know I don't "do evangelism" like I should.
A friend of mine who was a missionary in East Asia once told me "you know, witnessing on the field as a missionary isn't always either. Unless we make it a discipline, a priority, we'll get into the same rut of not doing it as we do in the States". And the reason I like Don Whitney's Disciplines book more than Richard Foster's is because a discipline he includes is evangelism.
Chapter and thoughts:
1. Why We Don't Evangelize? Dr. Dever starts right out with a convicting chapter of asking his readers questions on why we don't evangelize. Do we really love ourselves that much - and hate others? Are we lazy? Do we not want to be rejected? All these are reasonable excuses - but they are just that - excuses.
2. What is the Gospel? Most Christians could probably give some form of the gospel - but they usually leave something out. God is love - but He is also just and a punisher of sin. Jesus wants to be our friend - yes, He does - but He also wants to be our Lord and King.
"For us to think that we can disregard Him sometimes, to set aside His way when it suits us - is to show that we haven't understood the nature of relationship at all." - p 34
"Do you see the reasons that all of these wrongs are so tragic? These sins are committed against a perfect, holy, loving God and they are committed by creatures made in His image." - p 35
"We must come to grips with the fact that we are unable to satisfy God's demands on us, no matter how normally we try to live." - p 41
3. Who Should Evangelize? This one's easy - ALL!
4. How Should We Evangelize? We make the gospel too easy sometimes. It is a costly gospel. Yes, it is free - but costly.
"Its beginning to value Jesus more than your immediate pleasure" - p 57
Acts 3.19-20a is a favorite verse of mine I started using going out on Doulos visitations while at Southeastern. It talks about repenting and how that will bring times of refreshment from the Lord. Such powerful verses to those who lives in the bondage of sin.
5. What Isn't Evangelism?
"In biblical evangelism, we don't impose anything. In fact, we really can't. According to the Bible, evangelism is simply telling the good news. Its not making sure that the other person responds to it correctly. I wish we could, but according to the Bible, this is not something we can do. According to the Bible, the fruit from evangelism comes from God." p 70
6. What Should We Do After We Evangelize?
"Wait is another form of no." - p 86 That's what I was thinking as I was reading about the undecideds and the waits. They are still rejections of the gospel. Maybe not forever - God can still draw them to Himself. But, at that moment - they are rejecting the gospel.
If they "accept" - bring them into church. He says to give them "family privileges and family responsibility." No one needs to just attend church. Just like every family member has chores at home: it is my Dad's job to take out the trash every time it gets full - that's just understood (if he is home). Same way with being a member of a local body. We all have responsibilities. One of JD and Danny's favorite quotes is about the church being like a football team - 80000 people who are desperately in need of exercise watching 12 men in desperate need of rest. Meaning - the church is usually lopsided in its allocation of responsibilities.
7. Why Should We Evangelize?
"You could have a selfish motive for evangelism." p 95 I think this is what often occurs for me. Why did I always go on Doulos meetings? Why did I get my 10 gospel presentations out of the way in evangelism class in seminary? Was it because I knew that people who don't know the gospel were going to spend an eternity in hell and have a joyless life? Not usually. It was because I wanted to look spiritual, or get an A on the assignment for Doc's class. Our motive should be to introduce other's to Jesus and to love Jesus (to be obedient to Him). Not to make ourselves look better.

Such a fantastic book. Very easy and quick read - but also one that needs time to meditate on. I think it would be a great one for beginner's in their faith as they learn how to share the gospel. Enjoy it.

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