Tag Archives: Mark Dever

What Does God Want of Us Anyway? by Mark Dever

Dever, Mark. What Does God Want from us Anyway? A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010. 128 pp. $12.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for $8.44.

Introduction

We have seen a plethora of books published by the men at IX Marks Ministries in the last year. I have reviewed many of them here at Christian Book Notes and have found each one to be extremely helpful to the local church. What Does God Want from us Anyway? is no different. Though it is not explicitly one of the 9 marks of a healthy church, that characterizes the ministry, it is an essential understanding of what they are all about because, quite simply, IX Marks is all about striving toward a biblical understanding of how the local church should operate.

Summary

The introduction sums up the book best: this is a big picture of the Bible’s message. Dever has divided this short little book into three parts. The first part looks at the message of the entire Bible. Here, we see the promises of God both made and kept.

Parts two and three break down the message of the whole Bible into the theme of promises made and kept in the Old and New Testaments. Obviously, I hope, part two is dealing with the promises made throughout the Old Testament. Dever shows God’s passion for His holiness and the promise of hope that He will make a way for His people to be holy because He is holy.

The third part, then, is the message of the New Testament in that God kept His promises set forth in the Old. This section shows that Christ is the promise kept and the only person able to bridge the eternal gap between an unholy people and a holy God.

Review

Dever nails it! I love the recent trend to return to a biblical theology and the language of the promises made and kept show God to be the faithful God He claims to be in His word. Much like Crossway’s The Big Picture Bible, Dever shows how the entire Bible points to one Person and one claim–God is holy, we are not and in order to be with Him for eternity we are to put our faith in Christ.

Also, throughout the book, Dever uses the language of particularity. This is not unnoticed and is really one of the more important “words” used in the book. In using “particular,” Dever shows explicitly that God is a particular God and that He has ordained the means by which man can approach Him. Not the other way around as many think is the case.

Recommendation

For those who struggle to see the Bible as a unified collection of 66 books, this is the book for you! Mark Dever simplifies what can easily be a difficult topic for some as he strives to show the Person with whom we should all seek to serve and why we should seek to serve him. It is an age old story that has been lost in many churches today. Thankfully, Dever is showing us the lens by which we should read the scriptures. This book makes an excellent resource for the new believer who asks “What is the Bible about?”

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology: Together For the Gospel

Dever, Mark, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., C.J. Mahaney. Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 192 pp. $21.99. Purchase from Westminster for $14.51.

Introduction

Do these men need any introduction to the evangelical community? The men who comprise the Together for the Gospel “movement” are Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and C.J. Mahaney. Contributors include Thabiti M. Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. Every two years, since 2006, these men have gathered in Louisville, Ky to exhort and challenge pastors and Christians to stand together for the gospel. In other words, be the unity that is called for in Scripture despite denominational “walls.”

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology was the theme for 2008. This book is an adaptation of the messages presented at that three day conference. The audio can be downloaded and listened to here for free.

Summary

Beginning with the necessity of sound doctrine, Ligon Duncan offers an apologetic for the need of biblical doctrine to be taught on a regular basis. In what I thought was the best message of the conference, Thabiti discusses what it means to bear the image of God and how we, as Christians, need to be more explicit in doing. John MacArthur discusses the inability of the sinner to repent apart from the grace of God.

Mark Dever looks at five common mistakes from the pulpit by pastors trying to “improve” the gospel. R.C. Sproul looks at a controversial subject; i.e., the curse motif of the atonement–I thought the second best message of the conference. Al Mohler takes an academic look at the rejection of substitutionary atonement in recent years. Piper looks to the book of Hebrews to discuss how Christ will create in us a radical sacrifice. C.J. Mahaney concludes with the sustaining of the pastor’s soul–yet another quality message.

Review/Recommendation

Obviously, the charge can be brought against these men that they are all Calvinists. While that may be true, that does not mean that they are arguing against non-calvinists. Rather, they are showing how these doctrines give them an urgency to sharing the gospel in thought, word, and deed. I liked C.J. Mahaney’s comment at the conference when asked about the heresy of hyper-calvinism. His response was something along the lines of I thought hyper calvinism was just someone who got really excited about the gospel!

For those who disagree with these doctrines, then MacArthur’s chapter will not be for you. However, these messages will encourage your soul and exhort you to diligent study of the Scriptures.

I would recommend this book to anyone in pastoral ministry. As I stated earlier, you can download the messages for free and listen to them. Having attended the conference (and taking notes), I have found that reading the book is better for me as it allows me to interact a bit more with my thoughts and the thoughts of the speaker.

Finally, a reading (or listening) of Mahaney’s chapter on sustaining the pastor’s soul is a must for all in the ministry as well as those who attend church on a regular basis. Pastoral care is often not mentioned and taken for granted by many. Mahaney helps to change that.