I just read a forthcoming book, Jesus the Evangelist, from Reformation Trust. The title takes a practical look at the example of Jesus and his gospel proclamation and holds it up as a pattern for today’s believers to follow. Author Richard D. Phillips uses an expository approach to the subject with a close reading of John 1, John 3, and John 4 respectively.
The 208 page book divides into three parts. The first part highlights the work and message of John the Baptist pointing people to Christ. Part two looks at Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus and hammers out a theology of the gospel. Part three investigates the practical example of Jesus’ gospel proclamation with the woman at the well. All three serve to lay out before the reader a theologically rich and workable understanding of Jesus’ evangelistic passion and methodology.
Philps contribution speaks to an evangelical culture that continues to mouth the mantra, “the method can change, but the message must remain the same.” With all due respect to those who hold to that motto, more often than not the message often suffers with the change of methodology. Philips calls readers back to the Biblical model of evangelism set forth by Jesus himself.
Readers accustom to more systematic step-by-step guides may show a little frustration at Philps choice of following the Biblical narratives instead of using a more topical break down. Perhaps an overview final chapter, or even a “Part Four” could have served to tie the overall treatment together and detail the principles extracted from the larger work. This small shortcoming, however, does not cause the book to suffer. Its a work well worth reading, passing along, and having in any believers library.
Each chapter concludes with questions for discussion and reflection, which could facilitate personal study or small group interaction. The author’s copious notes point to other great books on evangelism and the Gospel of John
The welcomed appendix brings many of the themes and ideas of the larger work under the theological canopy of god’s sovereignty. In light of Philps strong appeal for evangelistic action, he tackles the questions, 1) Does God’s sovereignty argue against evangelism? 2) Does God’s sovereignty actually encourage evangelism? and 3) How should our belief in God’s sovereignty reform our approach to evangelism? With his answers, he masterfully balances a biblical insistence on the sovereignty of God in salvation, the reality of human responsibility, and the necessity for evangelistic efforts and passion. The appendix alone makes the book well worth adding to your reading list.
Table of Contents
Part One – The Witness of John the Baptist and the Calling of the First Disciples: Biblical Principles of Evangelism
- A Witness to the Light: John 1:6-9
- The Word and the Voice: John 1:19-28
- Behold, the Lamb! John 1:29-34
- Bringing Them to Jesus: John 1:35-42
Part Two – Jesus’ Witness to Nicodemus: The Theology of the Gospel
- Born Again: John 3:1-8
- The Answer: John 3:9-21
- The Gospel of Love: John 3:16
- The Gospel of Faith: John 3:16-18
Part Three – Jesus’ Witness to the Samaritan Woman: Jesus’ Practice of Evangelism
- Jesus the Evangelist: John 4:1-10
- Living Water: John 4:10-15
- Dealing with Sin: John 4:16-19
- The Cry of New Life: John 4:27-30
- The Savior of the World: John 4:27-42
Appendix: The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism
Author Richard D. Phillips serves as the senior minister at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., He sits on the board of directors for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and holds the chairman position of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology.
Jesus the Evangelist should be available for retail sometime this month.