Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 04/09/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. Brevity is the soul of this little book, which nevertheless does justice to God's entire written revelation.
Dr. Mark Dever has a passion for teaching the Word of God. And, like all good teachers, he wants his pupils to be equipped to learn on their own. A key to understanding the Bible is seeing how all the parts fit together—the big picture. In order to understand who God is and how He deals with His people, we must consider His entire revelation. Considering isolated lines out of a text on the Civil War would be a poor way to study American history, just as considering verses outside of the context of the whole Bible is a poor way to study God.
What Does God Want of Us Anyway, as the subtitle tells us, is a quick overview of the whole Bible. There are three main parts—the Message of the Whole Bible, the Message of the Old Testament, and the Message of the New Testament. These parts originally came from three sermons Dever preached at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
Those who listen to Dever's 9Marks interviews know that he loves brevity. He often asks his guests to give one-line gospel presentations, one-sentence summaries of the books they've written, or one-word responses to books they’ve read. His new book proves that he can summarize with the best. Even the subtitle, A Quick Overview, didn't prepare me for the tiny package that arrived in the mail. After all, it is the whole Bible, a work which only the most skilled can explain in 122 pages.
Dever explains the main themes throughout the Bible, which, he says, is primarily a history book, albeit inspired. Through His acts in history, God reveals who He is, who we are, and how He deals with us. The same themes—God's holiness, man's sin, the need for redemption, and covenant promises—run through the entire book. But Dever doesn’t ignore the trees in his zeal to show us the forest. He summarizes, in about one line each, every single one of the 66 books of the Bible. And he does a great job of it.
Many Christians study only their favorite parts of the Bible. Some even ignore the entire Old Testament. But Dever says this is a mistake:
If we can better understand the Old Testament, we will have gone a long way toward better understanding the New Testament and, therefore, better understanding Jesus Christ, Christianity, God, and ourselves.
A better understanding of Jesus Christ—isn't that the goal? And if we reach that better understanding through taking a look at the Bible as one unified book with one unified, consistent message, then this little book of Dever's, though most basic, is most important.
Since the three divisions of the book are based upon three sermons, there is some overlap and repetition. Dever himself points this out. But other than that, it will be hard to find a more concise yet more helpful book on understanding the Word of God.