God is the most important thing, and the Gospel is all about him. Even so, there are hundreds of thousands of books available, each pointing to what its author believes is the essential element of the Gospel, and it's rarely God. Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson's The Explicit Gospel is a breath of clean air among the smog,a beautiful and duly explicit presentation of the Christian Gospel and its implications.
Chandler and Wilson divide their book into three sections: "The Gospel on the Ground", "The Gospel in the Air", and "Implications and Applications". The first section is about the Gospel as we see it, about God's holiness and wrath, man's need to worship, Christ's absorption of God's wrath, and our response to all this. The second section couches all this in its cosmic, theological significance, and the final section describes dangers of a lop-sided Gospel and how to avoid them.
This isn't the most gentle book, nor should it be. The authors spare nothing in their descriptions of hell and suffering, nor do they refrain from calling out those who twist the Gospel from its true shape, even (maybe especially) those who are in the Church and shepherding the Church. The Explicit Gospel is about God and God's glory as manifest through Jesus Christ and as presented in the Bible, and as such it is potentially offensive and uncomfortable.
But it is also full of love, comfort, and conviction. This isn't a Mark Driscoll sermon: Chandler and Wilson elucidate the darker elements of the Gospel, not because they delight in them because they are dark, but because God cares that we know the dark parts so we can truly love and appreciate the light parts. Unfortunately, the authors lament, churches have stopped sharing both the dark and the light parts of the Gospel, both to their congregants and to those on the outside.
At a time when the Rob Bells of this world are telling us Hell is a bad dream, the Joel Osteens are telling us the gospel is about our personal success and comfort in this life, and the Brian McLarens are saying orthodoxy is just a human construct, Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson harken us back to the truth of God's Word. The Explicit Gospel is a much-needed book, not primarily for non-Christians, but primarily for those of us who claim to be and know nothing of the depths of God's grace and love.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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