Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Review: The Message of the New Testament



The Message of the New Testament:
Promises Kept
- Mark Dever, (Crossway 2006).
Foreword by John MacArthur

This book is sure to become an essential resource for preacher in particular, but also for any Christian wanting to read the Bible. Its vital for us to read the Bible slowly, spending much time on the details.... but we also need to be able to read the detail in context.

There is a burgeoning market in Bible Overview books, a parade led by Graeme Goldsworthy, Vaughan Roberts and Tim Chester amongst others. Their work is vital to help us think about Biblical Theology.

All those brief overviews lack something however. And that is where Mark Dever steps in. This book steps into the void between detailed ongoing expositions of single books and Bible overview books. Dever invites to fly high and get a birds eye view. What a view!

This book is a write up of 28 sermons by Mark Dever taking one book of the Bible per sermon (plus one on the whole New Testament overview). These sermons have been delivered over the course of many years and must have been wonderful to hear.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Overview has the potential weakness of having too little detail and accuracy. This is not a weakness Dever has - he has clearly dug deeply into each book in his preparation and then put much care and attention into presenting that memorably and accessibly. There is less technical detail than a Commentary, more brevity than a Bible Speaks Today exposition, more useful framework and application than a New Bible Commentary introduction.

One of Dever's great strengths comes in his introductions to each sermon - his illustration and connection with the main theme of the book is exemplary. He then carefully handles the text of each book.

The danger of any book like this is that it might stop us from doing the careful work ourselves. That would be to misuse Dever's work. Rather it should drive us into the texts ourselves. And that is his intent. Having read through a book of the Bible a few times Dever's book comes into its own showing us some of the landmarks and helping us enjoy the view and sit humbly before God's word.

As we work our way towards understanding the the word of God more thoroughly this birds eye view of the New Testament, and the forthcoming Old Testament volume, are a great gift to the wider church. He demostrates a passion for God's word and a desire to help his congregation get to grips with God's word for themselves.

I hope that this book will be readily available in the UK in the near future. Until then I'm thankful to have this companion with me as I read God's word.

Download the Audio Sermons that comprise this book