“There is a sense in which the hour of worship never ends. It is merely adjourned until the next appointed time for meeting. We are sent out with our hearts made right and our minds informed with God’s plans for the world and our wills charged with response.
That’s the pattern we repeat every time we gather in worship. It doesn’t matter if we are bored with the repetition. It is cutting a channel for something lasting. Worship is the action that centers our lives in the holy life of God and sets us firmly in the glories of creation and salvation. Faithful and intelligent and reverent worship keeps us in touch with what is real.”
Eugene Peterson in As Kingfishers Catch Fire
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.
Spend your youth (and every day of the rest of your life) in wide-eyed, soul-saturated worship. Fix your eyes on the life-giving, soul-redeeming, burden-relieving, sin-forgiving, service-demanding, all-satisfying, step-guiding, life-changing God. Be humble, be wonderstruck, be faithful, and throw yourself into a single-focused pursuit of this King of the universe. Take up your cross, deny yourself daily, and follow him. ”
Jaquelle Crowe in This Changes Everything
“Today in our Western individualistic culture, we tend to bristle at the idea of authority, unless it is our own. Most of us say we like freedom, but what we really want is radical autonomy—a life lived independently from the authority of another. We want to live life our way and for our own purposes. And when it comes to spirituality, most prefer anarchy to order and creativity to confession. But the Bible, as the Word of God, rightly claims a position of authority in the life of the church. As Christians, we may be quick to say that God is our authority, but we must say more than that. If we say that the Lord is our God, then we must also say that His Word is authoritative in the church and in our own lives.”
Joe Thorn in The Character of the Church
In Word-Centered Church, Jonathan Leeman argues that the Bible is the primary means by which the church as the body of Christ is redeemed, renewed, and transformed. Leeman approaches this subject with multiple angles by analyzing how Scripture is God’s power in the pulpit, the congregation, and the world. The author offers a helpful analogy in explaining how the Bible works in our lives by describing the transmission of God’s Word as reverberating in the hearts and minds of those who receive it. When Scripture is proclaimed faithfully, we witness spiritual renewal and revival in its hearers may it be through the preacher’s exhortation during the Sunday worship service, the prayers of the saints on Wednesday night’s prayer meeting, or during family worship on Friday evening. The book is divided into three parts examining the nature and function of Scripture, the preaching and proclamation of Scripture, and the role of Scripture in the church and the world. Leeman calls all Christians to love, meditate, and speak Scripture so that we, individually and corporately, can continue our transformation from depraved, spiritual corpses into Spirit-filled living bodies redeemed as the children of God and sanctified to become His temple. I greatly appreciate how the author approaches this topic through the lens of the local church which makes the observations and applications presented relevant to both clergy and laity alike.
I would gladly recommend this book to all Christians as the Bible should be central to all who put their faith in Christ as the living Word of God. Many churches have turned to using marketing, psychology, and business strategies to attract and retain non-believers and believers instead of focusing on the Bible as the authority and power of God that enables people to know and love God. Leeman pleads for the people of God to be saturated with Scripture and allow its richness and goodness to overflow into every arena of our lives and especially in the spreading of the gospel. The Bible is not an antiquated book of wise sayings and good advice but the most common means of grace by which the Spirit employs to convict, correct, and encourage us to increasingly reflect the image of God.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I received a review copy from Moody Press in exchange for a book review.
“We are not saved just once in our past. We continue being saved in the present. God’s salvation didn’t just happen to us. It is also continuing to happen. He is actively saving us. The gospel is good news for our sanctification— the ongoing work of God saving us and conforming us daily into the image of Christ. Our activity in this process is ongoing repentance from unbelief to belief in the gospel.”
Jeff Vanderstelt in Gospel Fluency
In My Great Big God, Andy Holmes and Marta Alvarez Miguens team up to introduce young children to God and His attributes through twenty Bible stories. Although the book is not considered a children’s Bible, the chapters progress from creation and ends with a reiteration of the Great Commission to tell others about how great God is. Many of the stories selected are typical but some are interesting choices such as Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. Of the Christian children books I have read, this one has the most vibrant illustrations with careful attention to detail. For example, in the story about Joseph and his brothers, each individual is uniquely crafted with different clothes and physical attributes. As for the content, what I found most captivating is the author’s ability to summarize the entire story in a small paragraph. Also, the author maintains an appropriate balance of being true to original story while allowing some room for imagination. Furthermore, Holmes applies rhyme and meter in his sentences which makes the reading fun and engaging for both parents and children alike. The reading level would be suitable for ages two to five but younger children would likely enjoy having parents point out the bright pictures and sound out the catchy sentences.
I would gladly recommend this wonderful book to all kids who want to learn about our great God who creates, sustains, and rules over all things. The book is helpful in focusing on how the biblical narrative reveals God to us rather than simply drawing out a moral lesson that we can learn. Moreover, it is imperative for young children to attain a strong grasp of who God is as this has significant implications on how they view the world that they are exploring every day.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, I was provided a review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers.