In "The Gospel and Personal Evangelism," Mark Dever encourages Christians to pursue every opportunity to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to those around them. The purpose of the book is in response to the observation that evangelism on a personal level is dwindling in our society today. The author asserts that many Christians do realize their apathy and fears but few aim to make substantial efforts to improve. In the first chapter, Dever examines the various reasons and objections that believers often resort to when asked about their past experiences in sharing the gospel. The next few chapters discuss the content of the gospel along with how and who we should approach in our evangelistic efforts. I find chapter five to be particularly helpful to those who struggle in sharing the gospel as Dever discusses what evangelism is not. The author warns that we often confuse evangelism with forcefully persuading others to believe, merely sharing one's testimony, engaging solely in social action to trumpet Christian values, defending the faith through apologetics, and focusing wrongly on the results of evangelism as being evangelism itself. Chapter six involves the follow-up process that Christians should undertake after sharing the gospel such as looking for positive or negative signs that their friend hopes to grow in the faith to determine whether any further action needs to be taken to reinforce the message. Lastly, chapter seven focuses on the importance of evangelism including the privilege, responsibility, and eternal significance that is involved. The material is unapologetically practical and involves no technical language at all as Dever aims to reach all Christians who hope to be a faithful proclaimer of the gospel.
I would recommend this book to all who takes seriously Christ's command to go and make disciples of all nations. Our culture today influences us towards being passive or even silent in sharing our beliefs. Even with our own family and friends, we would rather relegate the task of evangelism to those we regard as professionals such as pastors and missionaries. Dever rightly points out that sharing the gospel is God's will for all those who have heard and believed in the wonderful truths of Jesus' good news. The author emphasizes that evangelism does not involve aggressive, unruly indoctrination and the power to convert does not belong to us. Our task is to simply present the gospel faithfully in a respectful, convincing manner so that a non-believer may have the opportunity to hear the gospel message in its entirety. As for conversion, it is only by God's grace and the power of the Spirit that those who are His elect will repent and put their faith in Christ as the Way, Truth, and Life.
Christians should not have to be told to share their faith with unbelievers. If they have truly come to grips with what it means to turn from sin and embrace the gift of salvation provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, evangelism should be a natural consequence. The sad truth is that is not always--or even often--the case! Perhaps that is because in the church's zeal to develop evangelists, they have made witnessing to one's faith in Christ seem so unnatural. In this small but practical volume, Mark Dever strips away much of the myth and error that accompany most Gospel presentations today. So-called "methods" sometimes get into the way of simply sharing with others the change that God has brought about in the life of the believer. The author does a good job of first explaining the Gospel (the need for repentance and faith) before discussing the "who," the "how", the "what" and the "why" of evangelism. Coming from a reformed perspective Dever explains how election and evangelism are not counterintuitive, but rather complementary in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I personally found his concluding chapter entitled "Closing the Sale" to be extremely practical in exposing how contemporary "soul-winning" plans tend to place the responsibility of "making converts" unfairly on the shoulders of those who witness and tragically lead to "false conversions." "Salvation is of the Lord" comes through clearly in the book. That being said, his appendix, "A Word for Pastors," leaves those of us who minister the word from the pulpit with a challenge to be intentional in sharing the Gospel in our preaching as well as in all of our lives. This is an informative and motivational read. Would make a great small-group study.
This is an excellent, concise, well-written one-stop resource for anyone wanting to understand the foundations of why and how to share the gospel. I think it should be part of a basic toolkit for new believers and I'm planning to use it as a resource and teaching tool for a short evangelism training session in our church youth group. I agree with the other comments that it isn't as much about practical "how to"s but some great core principles. Highly recommended.
This book really helps me understand how important the evangelistic message is. I was greatly encouraged to evangelize by preaching good news. I recommend this book to all who are afraid of personal evangelism. I am sure they will get the good idea that evangelism is not burdensome but delightful and that they will not hesitate to deliver good news right away. This book is the very impressive and excellent book every one should read.