Dever book collection is profitable reading
During this year’s MBC Pastors’ Conference, we have a wonderful opportunity to hear from Pastor Mark Dever. Once you have heard him speak, I think you will agree that his ideas are both winsome and challenging. Firmly established as a Southern Baptist voice, Dever understands Biblical ecclesiology and Southern Baptist ecclesiology – where those two go separate ways and how they can come together.
I want to put a spotlight on some of Dever’s books. A few may seem familiar because I talked about them in the past as they were written. But I wanted to collect many of them together in one place and give them some deserved promotion among Missouri Baptists.
The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is a great read because Dever only takes 124 pages to cut open and dissect all aspects of evangelism in words so accessible you will consider buying a copy for your whole church. Really. Dever doesn’t set out to guilt-trip the church into evangelism. Nor is it evangelism characterized by fad or manipulation. Dever believes in the Gospel and in the power of God to save. He also believes Christians are under divine mandate to get the Word to the world. At the extreme risk of sounding cliché, this will become a classic work used in Bible colleges and seminaries.
The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept are the two-volumes, fat and heavy volumes, Dever compiled from preaching through both the Old and New Testaments. Accuse me of overstatement if you will, but if you read these books you too will walk away amazed at the high-level of consistent excellence Dever shows in pulling together the unified theme of individual books and the Bible as a whole. He does not miss the forest for the trees. Read the chapters devotionally. Read them for personal Bible study. Read them for sermon study. Just read them and gain a better grasp of the overall message of the Bible.
What used to be published in booklet form now receives a fuller explanation in Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. This teaching really serves as the backbone of Dever’s writing ministry, hence the name “9Marks.” A similar book by Dever is The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel. It is similar in the theme of improving our churches on Gospel-lines, but this volume explains how these changes can actually be brought to bear in the life of our local churches. Our elders read through this one together with much profit. Another recent edition of these ideas is found in a short hardback called What is a Healthy Church? Any one of these three volumes would be very helpful in evaluating your ministry and the spiritual health of your church.
Finally, if you want some exciting church history of a Baptist giant, read Dever’s biography of Richard Sibbes. And to deepen your historic understanding of Baptist ecclesiology, read Polity: A Collection of Historic Baptist Documents.
Well, that should get you started on a great journey of profitable reading. These books have influenced my own understanding of ministry, the church, and the Gospel, and I believe you will find them helpful too. (Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.AChristianManifesto.com.)