Capitol Hill pastor elevates, captivates with passion
March 21, 2006
December 14, 2005, is a day that residents of Lesterville, Mo., will not soon forget. At 5:13 a.m., the upper reservoir of a storage water plant failed to hold. Exploding down the side of the mountain, a billion gallons of water washed away much of the beauty of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.
Later that afternoon, Governor Matt Blunt surveyed the carnage from high above in a helicopter. From this panoramic perspective, he was able to see the magnitude of the disaster. As bad as the situation looked from ground-level, viewing 20 square miles in one sweep of the eye provided a big picture that was hard to erase from the mind.
In like manner, students of the Bible gain valuable insight when we view Scripture from the heights of an overview. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (SBC) in Washington, D.C., provides us with such an overview in his two volumes titled The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept.
The strength of these volumes is in their origin. Each chapter is an edited version of an actual expository sermon preached by Pastor Dever to his own congregation. While not sacrificing depth and quality, Dever did not construct his books hoping to impress the ivory towers of academia. Instead, he preached and wrote out of love for his own people, desiring to see them grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures. Such passion pulls you in, and makes the books hard to put down.
In traveling through these two volumes, the reader becomes aware of the incredible unity of the Bible. Dever explains, “I have preached these sermons based on the conviction that aspects of God and His plans can be seen most clearly not only when studying the microscopic structure of one phrase in one verse but when examining a book as a whole.” He shows the thematic unity of each book, and in turn shows how each book fits into the overall message of either the New or Old Testament. Then, the two volumes together show the overall unity of the Bible by revealing the theme of God’s promises – “made” and “kept”.
How delightful to find a book that is both filled with great content and is also user-friendly. The page layout is superb, adding to the enjoyment of the reading. Each chapter closes with a pastoral prayer and questions for further reflection. These books are designed and edited well, and are sure to become good friends with those who purchase them.
Although they are written for all Christians, let me especially encourage pastors to pick up these volumes. May they inspire you to work through an overview of the Bible with your own congregation, giving them the blessing of a broad understanding of the Scripture. (Scott Lamb is pastor, Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To interact with others about this review and to read reviews of many other books, go to w ww.wisdomofthepages.com).