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Mark Dever:

“One part of clarity sometimes missed by earnest evangelists, however, is the willingness to offend. Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the Gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn't necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like. Too often advocates of relevant evangelism verge over into being advocates of irrelevant non-evangelism. A gospel which in no way offends the sinner has not been understood.”

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11 thoughts on “Dever on Evangelism”

  1. Matt Harmon says:

    As per usual, Dever is right on target. My own experience in campus ministry made it abundantly clear that it was crucial to explain the very terms that Dever speaks of since these students almost always had false pre-existing notions of what those terms meant.

  2. PSzalapski says:

    Experience has confirmed this truth that I learned from the Bible. Stop worrying about offending people if the potential for offense is the Word of God!

    Patrick evangelism

  3. Noah Braymen says:

    I hear from Christians all the time though, that they don’t feel like they are called in their specific situation to verbally speak/communicate the gospel. They feel that they are to just live differently in such a way that people notice. How would you couple the living the gospel with speaking the gospel? Personally I disagree with this approach.

    How have many of you approached this in “Corporate America”? I find it’s easy to talk about church, being a Christian, even authority of the Word. Often times when I take the next step to personal believing Jesus is the only way, or sin they are either already saved [by what they say] or they convey that they don’t feel comfortable going there at “work”. I’ve experienced a lot of different responses…but I’m curious how some of you have taken it to the next leve…

    What have you guys done regarding this?? Thanks!

    In Christ

  4. Noah Braymen says:

    Let me clarify…I disagree with the approach that living the faith in Jesus is separate from speaking/teaching about faith in Jesus.

  5. Daniel says:

    The trick, if we know we’re going to be ‘offensive’, is to be confident that we’re being ‘offensive’ for the right reasons. There are plenty of people out there (e.g. Fred Phelps) who are offensive… but who don’t preach the gospel. I think sometimes these people get a kick out of being offensive, and when they’re called out on it, they say something like, well the truth is offensive, or Jesus is offensive, bla bla bla. All true, but that doesn’t mean you need to go above and beyond in offending people…
    My two cents.

  6. John says:

    Noah, I have noticed the same thing. People seem to be comfortable talking about church or the Bible, even “someone up there who’s watching,” but not Christ. Do we have lots of idol worshipers that don’t know the gospel? Even in church, people prefer to talk about church, the activities, etc… “That was a good message” is the extent of the conversation about the sermon. I pray that the Lord will bless me to be more of an evangelist, I fall very, very short as it is.

  7. Noah Braymen says:


    I feel like I’ve analyzed my situation as close to the core as I can get…and in order to take the next step I’m going to look very awkward and be somewhat offensive.

    The difficult thing I face is that probably 80-90% of my co-workers are women, and I don’t want to do the most effective evangelism [one on one] because I don’t want it to appear as something else…So that leaves me with only “on-the-clock” evangelism and I need to be honoring my employer with the time that they pay me for.

    Anyhow, back to work:)

    In Christ

  8. Anonymous says:

    Posted by:
    Wrestling with the Call to singleness

    Check out Andreas Kostenberger’s response to Alex Chediak’s open letter regarding the “gift of singleness”. What do you guys think about this?

    Has anyone heard of Chediak before? He made some good points, but I really appreciate Kostenberger’s response. I think he is right on.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Posted by:
    Wrestling with the call to singleness

    Here is the link to where Kostenberger’s response can be found.

  10. Chase says:

    Daniel, Great words!!! I would agree- sometimes the gospel is offensive, and the offense of the gospel is one thing, but sometimes peolpe are offensive in their manner and attitudes, this is a very different matter that is sometimes masked in the offense of the gospel.

  11. Jason B says:


    I think both “living your faith” and speaking your faith are equally important. However, I personally find it much easier to live a godly lifestyle (which is only slightly offensive) than to speak God’s truth directly to someone who is living in direct opposition to it and likely has lots of baggage associated with Christians, church, etc.(much more offensive).

    My fear and selfishness prevent me from sharing the gospel as I should. John makes a great point earlier about the general inability of Christians to communicate about God in a normal way. If we feel uncomfortable talking about matters of faith (on a personal lever) to others in the church, how will we ever feel comfortable talking to non-Christians?

    Only by God’s power can we do this. And only by God’s power will there ever be any fruit.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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