I first reviewed Gospel in 2011. It would be an understatement to say it was love, or, even LOVE. It was a book that I absolutely LOVED and couldn't stop gushing about. It was--and is--one of the very best books I've ever read about the gospel--what it is, how it changes us--and why we need to preach it to ourselves each and every day. It's an obvious recommendation, in my opinion, for believers new and old, even for believers that don't read all that much.
I decided to reread Gospel because it was such a great experience for me the first time I read it. Also, I wanted to read his new book, Jesus Continued.
I loved it just as much, if not more, the second time I read it.
Top Ten Quotes:
A Christianity that does not have as its primary focus the deepening of passions for God is a false Christianity, no matter how zealously it seeks conversions or how forcefully it advocates righteous behavior. Being converted to Jesus is learning to so adore God that we would gladly renounce everything we have to follow Him.
Always “begin again” with the gospel. Abide in it; swim in it; make your home in it. See more and more of your life through it. Be absolutely convinced at every moment of every day of the goodness of God in your life. That’s the only way you’ll ever really grow.
The Gospel Prayer “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.” “Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.” “As You have been to me, so I will be to others.” “As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
Awe combined with intimacy is the essence of Christian worship.
We often think we have done God a favor by down-playing the whole idea of His judgment. Our user-friendly God does not punish sin. He certainly doesn’t send people to hell. But hell gives us a picture of the absolute perfection and beauty of God. Hell is what hell is because God is who God is. Hell is what hell is because that’s what sin against an infinitely beautiful and glorious God deserves. Hell is not one degree hotter than our sin demands that it be. Hell should make our mouths stand agape at the righteous, just, holiness of God. Have you ever heard someone say that God should not be “feared,” only respected? You’d have a hard time selling that to the Israelites after their encounter near the mountain. That encounter was designed to produce fear. It is only when we see the holiness of God—a sight that should terrify us—that our hearts learn to worship Him.
You see, the gospel not only tells us about the power of God; the message of the gospel is itself the power of God. By the power of the Spirit, the hearing of the gospel re-creates our hearts to love the things God commands. Think of it like Jesus’ command to the lame man to walk. When Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk,” He was giving the lame man not only a command, but His words also gave the power to obey that command. In the same way the gospel God gives the power to do what He commands. Believing the gospel is not only the way we become Christians, it is the power that enables us to do, every moment of every day, the very things Jesus commands us to do.
How can we say we love others and not pour out our lives so that others can hear? I was once sharing the gospel with a girl named Rhonda. After talking for quite some time, she said, “I couldn’t believe what you believe. It would wreck my life.” I said, “Why?” She said, “If I believed what you believed—that my friends were condemned and salvation could only be found by believing in Jesus—I would approach each of them—in fact, every person I met—on my hands and knees and plead with them to believe in Jesus. I would never stop pleading, never stop weeping, until I had convinced everyone to believe.” Do we feel that way about the lost?
Martin Luther said that it wouldn’t matter if Jesus had died a thousand times if no one ever heard about it. We are the only way they hear about it.
Spiritual disciplines must be accompanied by a deep saturation in the gospel. The gospel changes the desires and cravings of the heart. The whole purpose of the disciplines, in fact, is to give you opportunity to think about, and meditate on, and move within the gospel. Spiritual disciplines are like wires that connect us to the power of the gospel. They have no power in themselves, but they connect us to the place from which the power flows. They are gateways to the gospel, but not the gospel itself.
Nonbelievers need to hear the gospel to believe it and be saved. Believers need to be reminded of the gospel so they can grow deeper in Christ. There is really no distinction, you see, between what believers need to hear and what unbelievers need to hear. Both believers and unbelievers need to get a glimpse of God’s majestic glory, a taste of His surpassing beauty, and a sense of how much grace God has shown toward them in Christ. Both believers and unbelievers need to be rebuked for their pride and self-sufficiency, to be reminded of the all-surpassing beauty of God.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible