Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: The Explicit Gospel

The Explicit Gospel. Matt Chandler. 2012. Crossway Books. 240 pages.

From chapter one: The work of God in the cross of Christ strikes us as awe-inspiring only after we have first been awed by the glory of God. Therefore, if we're going to talk about the scope of the cross, we need to first talk about who God is. What is he like? How big is he? How deep and wide is his power? The cross provides our access to relate to God, but we must always relate to him in light of who he is, not just who we think or hope him to be. 

I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book! What is the book about? Well, it's about the need for the EXPLICIT gospel. Telling the truth, the whole truth, of the gospel message. Not leaving out any of the details, not changing any of the details, and most importantly NOT ASSUMING that the gospel is already known in all its fullness, or known in any degree in some circumstances. I think we've all been a little guilty of assuming that the good news, the gospel, is known by one and all. Assuming that people know just what it is that they are accepting OR assuming that people know just what it is that they are rejecting. So even when we talk about the gospel among ourselves, we assume that we're all on the same page, that we know everything there is to know. But that's just not the case. The gospel is and ever-will-be amazing and life-changing. The gospel is something we need every day of our walk with Christ. It is a message that we need to hear every day, to rejoice in every day. The gospel is not something we can forget without loss, and it is not something that we should take for granted.

The Explicit Gospel is divided into three sections. The book begins by discussing "the gospel on the ground." In this section, we see the personal, life-changing, redeeming-and-transforming gospel. This section includes four chapters: "God," "Man," "Christ," and "Response." The book then shifts focus slightly. The focus shifts from being all-about-me to being about the-whole-wide-world. He calls this "gospel in the air." This section is ALL about the big, big, big picture where God is the center. God's glory is the star of this section. Chapters include, "Creation," "Fall," "Reconciliation," and "Consummation." The third and final section talks about the strengths and weaknesses of focusing on one over the other. "Gospel on the ground" vs. "Gospel in the Air." It isn't a matter of which one is the "true" gospel message. Both are true. Both are presented in the Bible. In this section, he discusses spiritual disciplines, church life, missions, evangelism, etc.

I couldn't begin to share all the quotes I want. So I'll just select a few:

Knowledge of and belief in hell--as important as they are--are unable to create worshipers. Yet misunderstanding this reality is historically how the doctrine of hell has been abused and misused by so many men in the name of God. You cannot scare anyone into heaven. Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it's a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can't do it. You can scare them into moral acts of goodness. But that's not salvation. It's not even Christian. (49)
You can't understand the cross of Christ without understanding the weight of the glory of God and the offense of belittling his name and what the due punishment is for that offense. What Christ did on the cross will not be revelatory in transforming love until we see that the cross is revelatory also in the depth of the offense of sin. Thomas Watson puts it this way: "Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet." God's love--of which so many hell deniers are such cheerleaders--fails to carry the weight of eternal glory when we don't believe it saves us from much. (49-50)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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