Evangelicals Then and Now
By Peter Jeffery. Paperback, 128 pp, Published by Evangelical Press, Faverdale North, Darlington, DL3 0PH. Price £7.95. ISBN 085234 564X.
Peter Jeffery may not be an author well known to readers of this magazine. As an ordained minister, much of what he says in this personal consideration of forty years service reflects the context in which he has worked. This means that sections such as those on suspicion, worship, elders and deacons would bear little resemblance to practices in many assemblies. Indeed, his chapter on elders and deacons displays confusion arising from the system in which he has served. This is also a book that would have benefited from thorough proof reading!
However, the reader who is prepared to ignore these distractions will find much that will challenge. In his section on preaching the gospel Jeffery says, ‘The church’s business is not to make the gospel acceptable to sinners but to make it understandable to them. There is a vital difference in this’. His chapter on ‘moaners and groaners’ should be read by all and the simple conclusion, ‘the Lord loves to help His people in their needs’, remembered in times of difficulty. In his chapter entitled ‘Where do we go from here?’, there are few who would argue with his six conclusions that, ‘We need a greater vision of God’s greatness. We need a deeper conviction of the authority of scripture. We need a more biblical love for Jesus. We need a growing love for all believers. We need to feel for the condition of the lost. We need a passionate desire to please God’. The book does not make comfortable reading. Jeffery says, ‘Christians today tolerate what they would have rejected forty years ago. It is . . . the result of not adhering, as they once did, to the teaching of scripture’. In a later section he writes, ‘We can dress up worldliness in spiritual garb . . . but worldliness is still sin and the results are to be seen in the spiritual poverty of the church’.
Given the reservations detailed above, Peter Jeffery has written a book that is worth reading. He clearly believes that revival amongst the people of God is possible in spite of weakness and decline. The book is indeed ‘a wake-up call to all who love and care deeply about their priceless possession’.