I want you guys to know up front that I don’t want to be “that guy” who passes judgment on particular books as good or bad pieces of Christian literature. None of us really want to read a blog-based book review where someone trashes a book because it didn’t suit their taste. Rather, the vast majority of these reviews will center on books that I have just finished reading and have really enjoyed. So here’s the first of, Lord willing, many book recommendations.
“The Explicit Gospel” by Matt Chandler is an appropriately named book that centers around the gospel itself. However, as Chandler explains, due to overuse and that things like music and T-shirts have been labeled gospel that the actual meaning of the word has become lost. So much so that many people (even pastors) could not adequately define what the gospel is if they were asked.
Chandler goes about this book not by asking, “What does the gospel mean to me?” but rather he asks, “What is the gospel?” He answers this question by viewing the gospel from two different perspectives: the gospel on the ground and the gospel in the air. When we see the gospel on the ground, we will see the transforming power of the cross as God captures and resurrects dead hearts. The view of the gospel in the air reveals to us the big picture of God’s plan of restoration from the beginning of time to the end of time and the redemption of God’s creation. In seeing both these views from the whole of Scripture one will see:
“God’s glory is what drives the universe; it is why everything exists. This world is not present, spinning and sailing in the universe, so that you and I might be saved or lost but so that God might be glorified in His infinite perfections.” ~ p. 34
Chandler spends quite a bit of time pointing to Scripture after Scripture to unveil what Scripture says about the good news that God has for us. While there is an ample amount of defining and explaining of what the Gospel is, Chandler also spends quite a bit of time trying to work past any sort of deadness of faith that may have crept into the hearts of the believer over years spent in lukewarm religious living.
“One of my frustrations living in the Bible belt is that the gospel and its ancillary truth have been so divorced from actual living that a lot of beautiful theology has become cliche’. There is a sentimentalization of the faith that occurs when you sanitize the gospel of Christ crucified or sift from the substance of the Christian religion. The result is a malleable Jesus, a tame Jesus.” ~ p. 72
Chandler deals with the whole of Scripture very well in laying out what the gospel is all about. While he deals mostly with issues of the heart and poor theology, he takes some time in the book to offer some points of action.
“If the gospel is cosmic as well as personal, the Great Commission joins us to God’s mission to restore all things. This means our ministry of reconciliation is bigger and more multifaceted than many of us envision. To be very clear, however, the mission of the church can be put very simply. The mission of the church is essentially evangelism and discipleship.” ~ p 145
“The Explicit Gospel” is a relatively easy read that offers a glimpse into our own heart and what we really believe about the Gospel. In reading through this book one can’t help but examine how effectively we share the earth shaking truth of the gospel. Give it a read, be challenged and go a share the live-saving gospel of Jesus Christ.