Thursday, January 24, 2008

"The Gospel & Personal Evangelism" - Introduction

Mark Dever's introduction is the tale of two evangelists.

The first evangelist is John Harper, born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1872. In 1886, God saved him by His grace, and as a result he began to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. After serving in the Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, Harper started a church which had five hundred members by the time he left thirteen years later.

Harper was asked to preach at Moody Church in Chicago (for a second time), so he booked passage from Southampton, England to New York on a new passenger ship called Titanic. You know the story after that. Harper's daughter, Nana, and a cousin who was traveling with them were put in lifeboats and ultimately rescued. Harper went down with the ship, but not before preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen - one man in particular who was Harper's last convert. As Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

The second evangelist is Dever himself. He readily admits that he is no John Harper. He writes, "If there is a time in the future when God reviews all of our missed evangelistic opportunities, I fear that I could cause more than a minor delay in eternity." I like that kind of honesty. It will probably get him in trouble with some (he is a pastor after all, and pastors shouldn't have a problem with that according to some), even though it shouldn't.

Dever asks why we are so slow to tell others the best news in the world? He asks a question many others ask, "Should I evangelize if I don't feel like it?" These are a few of the questions he attempts to answer in his book.

Pastor Dever says it is his prayer that a "culture of evangelism" would be developed in the church andthat evangelism would be normal - in our own lives and in the life of the church. That's a very noble cause which I pray is achieved, too.

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