Tuesday, May 9

Book Review: The Message of the New Testament

Promises Kept by Mark Dever.

Do you like expository sermons, or do you associate them with boring explanations of every single phrase in a passage of scripture, with no detail too picayune for a long explanation? I happen to like the sort of expository preaching that moves phrase by phrase, or word by word (There is just nothing so trivial in text that I'm not interested!); but I know some of you are big picture sort of people, and if that's what you are, then The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever contains your kind of expository sermons: Sermons that focus on the main themes--the big picture--of scripture.

There are twenty-eight sermons in this book--one overview of every book of the New Testament, and one introductory sermon overviewing the New Testament as a whole. Each sermon was originally preached by Mark Dever in his church--Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Overview-type sermons are unusual (I haven't heard many, have you?), and I would guess that they are more difficult to prepare than the more usual sort of expository sermon. I can only begin to imagine how much work it was to produce this series of sermons, but I'm glad Mark Dever went to all the trouble. It's a fresh new way of looking at the New Testament and what it is teaching us.

It's a fresh new way of looking at the New Testament...
The main portion of The Message of the New Testament is divided into three sections: The Truth About Jesus, containing the sermons on each of the gospels and Acts; Key Ideas for the Times, containing the sermons on all of Paul's epistles; and Living in the Real World, containing the rest--Hebrews through Revelation. Each sermon contains a main body, concluding applications, a prayer, and then a section of questions for reflection that build and extend upon what could be learned from the sermon.

This is a long book--547 pages--and as you might expect with sermons, the text is dense, although not difficult to understand. I started The Message of the New Testament in January and read some of it almost every day, but only finished it up this week. It's not the kind of book I could skim because I wanted to get every single bit of it, since there was so much to learn.

Don't let that it took me so long to make my way through this book scare you off. It was certainly worth the time and effort. I looked forward to each reading session, even if it was only a few stolen minutes while I waited in the car for my son to finish up one of his activities. If I hadn't recieved the companion to this book--The Message of the Old Testament--in the mail last week, I probably would have been a little sad to finish it up. But as things stand, I've got a new, 800+ page book to start.

And I'd be willing to bet that if you take the time to read it, you'll learn something, too. I might even promise you that.

You'll find The Message of the New Testament available at Monergism books or Amazon.com, and at other online booksellers, too.

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