2/02/2008

What The Gospel Is Not

This is my last post on Mark Dever’s book The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. It’s not that I can find nothing else to write about; it’s just that I don’t want to give away the whole book. Its direct and easy to understand message will make it a valuable book for those who read it. The most useful of the chapters is titled: “What Isn’t Evangelism?” The part I would most like to see my own denomination read and apply follows.

“… An account of a changed life is a wonderful and inspiring thing, but it’s the gospel of Jesus Christ that explains what it’s all about and how it happened. And it’s the gospel that turns sharing a testimony into evangelism.” - Mark Dever in The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois, 2007, p. 73.

I get tired of some testimonies. Often I am left with the impression that the testifier has straightened out his life and has had no further problems since he made the decision to turn his life over to Christ. It’s as if his ‘total surrender’ to the will of Christ has made his life perfect. Ongoing personal sin is not admitted for fear of ‘ruining’ his testimony.

It’s tiring on two counts. One is that I have not had the experience of deliverance from my sins all at once. It’s been struggle for me to improve. It’s been difficult to stay honest with myself about my indwelling sin and to be open to God’s grace in Christ.

The other thing that gives me a pain I can’t locate is the impression that the testifier has straightened out his life on his own. That is not stated outright and it would be renounced by most if they were directly asked. But the missing part in their testimony is the gospel message itself.

The gospel is “… the power of God for Salvation…” (Romans 1:16-17). Christ’s work is the source of our forgiveness, and that forgiveness is what leads to a change in our lives (Romans 8:1-11). Christ’s work alone saves us from the guilt and power of our sins. God’s grace given through the Holy Spirit gives us the will to embrace that work and trust Christ with our lives. The spotlight should never shift from Christ to us, even accidentally. We have nothing to offer a person under the guilt and power of sin; Christ’s death alone saves.

In summary, I hope this is not the last book by Mr. Dever.

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