This newest addition to the IXMarks series presents a clear, straightforward statement of the gospel, the third mark of a healthy church.
What is the gospel? It seems like a simple question, yet it has been known to incite some heated responses, even in the church. How are we to formulate a clear, biblical understanding of the gospel? Tradition, reason, and experience all leave us ultimately disappointed. If we want answers, we must turn to the Word of God.
Greg Gilbert does so in What Is the Gospel? Beginning with Paul's systematic presentation of the gospel in Romans and moving through the sermons in Acts, Gilbert argues that the central structure of the gospel consists of four main subjects: God, man, Christ, and a response. The book carefully examines each and then explores the effects the gospel can have in individuals, churches, and the world. Both Christian and non-Christian readers will gain a clearer understanding of the gospel in this valuable resource.
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Nothing...I repeat nothing is more important than a clear understanding of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many well-intentioned writers have set out to offer a concise explanation of God's sovereign grace to sinners, but have ended up only muddying the biblical waters. Greg Gilbert's small book (127 pages) has accomplished what others have not. Writing in a clear, sometimes humorous and easily readable style, Gilbert cuts through theological jargon that often sidetracks the layman and gets to the core of the Gospel without robbing it of its essential character. The chapters are brief and easily digestible. The author starts with the the holy and righteous character of God, a critical place to begin and one that is at times watered down in some presentations. From there he moves to the sinful nature of man, thus establishing the "bad news" that makes the "good news" necessary. At this point the saving work of Jesus Christ--His death and resurrection, and purpose for both--is introduced. At this point, man's response--both faith and repentance--is discussed. In my opinion, this is the most valuable chapter in the book. Gilbert does a credible job of distinguishing faith and repentance (showing both to be gifts of God) and explaining why both are required for biblical salvation. He could have stopped there, but adds three additional chapters explaining the benefits of salvation. These provide an edifying conclusion to a well-written and much needed book. I am not overstating the case when I say that this is perhaps the best book I have ever read that attempts to explain the Gospel in terms that can be easily comprehended. My intention is to purchase a supply of these to distribute as gifts to my unsaved family and friends, as well as to believers who struggle to share the Gospel because they have difficulty finding the words in which to frame it. As a pastor, I try to read three or four books each month. This one, along with John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life" and David Platt's "Radical" are those that I most recommend to others.
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Review 2 for What Is the Gospel? - eBook
A Must Read for today's Christ-follower
Date:August 24, 2011
Location:Santa Clarita, CA
Nothing is more important in our world of diluted belief than a proper grasp of the Gospel. This book shows that the message of rescue in Jesus Christ is not just the minimum amount of truth you have to believe to get on the bus to heaven. Rather, it is God's message to a fallen world that He will not let sin win, and has launched the greatest rescue mission ever, through Jesus Christ. Gilbert has put together a book that should be on every pastor's desk, in every Elder's hands, and on the reading list of every Christ-follower who really want to know, declare, and live out the Gospel message. A truly great read!
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Review 3 for What Is the Gospel? - eBook
Date:July 13, 2011
This book is right on as far as the "whole" gospel is concerned. You cannot talk about man as a sinner without talking about God. You cannot talk about Jesus a a savior without having mentioned God. None of that makes sense without introducing God. If you leave God as the creator and the one who is holy, there will be no reference point for Man, Sin, Jesus and Judgment. The elements that Greg Gilbert lays out are the foundations to the gospel message.
The moment you mention God as a creator you will get into a discussion on origins and that is where we as Christians need to be equipped. The gospel message and all the major doctrines are capture in Gen 1-11. Side-step that and you will have an incomplete gospel.
"I love it when the Bible comes together"...borrowed line from the A-team but tweaked appropriately.
So easily the gospel is twisted to conform with any individual's desires that what the true gospel is, is almost a mystery. This book easily outlines the basics of what the true gospel is according to the Bible. It is also a great reference for any Christian who already has a very deep understanding of gospel.
At this time in the history of the church we can celebrate as we have unanimously agreed on the core message and content of the gospel! Or not, says Greg Gilbert in his new book What Is The Gospel? Right from the start he states, "What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? You'd think that would be an easy question to answer, especially for Christians. My sense is that far too many Christians would answer with something far short of what the Bible holds out as 'the gospel of Jesus Christ' (pg. 15)." Unfortunately, after all the time the church has had to study the Bible there is still confusion as to what the core teaching of the gospel is.
Gilbert gives the four-fold outline through which he lays out the gospel:
1. Who made me, and to whom are we accountable? (God) 2. What is our problem? (man) 3. What is God's solution to that problem? (Christ) 4. How do I come to be included in that salvation? (response)
First, God is the righteous creator. Gilbert rightly contends that if you don't get God right then you will not get the gospel right. "Everything starts from that point, and like an arrow fired from a badly aimed bow, if you get that point wrong, then everything else that follows will be wrong too (pg. 40)." Since God has created us He has the right to tell us how to live.
Second, at the end of the sixth day of creation God said it was "very good" (Gen. 1:31). When we look at the world around us we realize that creation (man included) has fallen far short of the original goodness in which God created everything. The problem is that man has sinned against God. Gilbert states,
"Sin is the breaking of a relationship, and even more, it is a rejection of God himself - a repudiation of God's rule, to whom he gave life. In short, it is rebellion of the creature against the Creator.......In all the universe, there was only one thing God had not placed under Adam's feet - God himself (pg. 48-49)."
Third, though man has rebelled against his Creator, God has reached down in grace and provided a way of salvation out from under the curse of sin. A way to restore the broken relationship man's sin has caused. That way is in the person of Jesus Christ. From the beginning of the Bible God has promised to send a redeemer (Gen. 3:15). God has promised to rescue mankind and bring us back into a right relationship with him. John the Baptist states it succinctly when he says, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)." In this vein, Gilbert strongly supports the doctrine of substitution - that Jesus stood in our place of condemnation before God for our sins (pg. 68).
Finally, though Christ has done all the work of the promised Messiah - the Redeemer - there is still a response that is needed. "Repent and believe the good news" is the call of Jesus and the NT writers says Gilbert (pg. 73). A person must put faith in the person of Christ and the message of the gospel, not merely an idea. Faith is reliance in Jesus "to secure for us a righteous verdict from God the Judge, rather than a guilty one (pg. 75)." After laying out this four-fold presentation of the gospel Gilbert moves to a discussion of the kingdom. First, it is God's redemptive rule. It is "more a kingship than a kingdom (pg. 87)." Second, the kingdom is here (Matt. 3:2). Third, the kingdom is not yet completed but will be when Jesus comes. Fourth, for one to be included into the kingdom one must respond to the King. Finally, as a citizen of this kingdom we are called "to live the life of the kingdom (pg. 96)." This life is lived as one is part of the church and in the world.
Overall I loved the book but there are two issues that stand out to me. First, there seemed to be some slight inconsistency in Gilbert's already/not yet articulation of the Kingdom. He defines the kingdom as a kingship (or ruler-ship) and not a kingdom. He affirms that the kingdom has come (I take this to mean it has been established) but then later says,
"The fact is that we as human beings are not able to bring about the establishment and consummation of God's kingdom......the kingdom promised in the Bible will only come about when King Jesus himself returns to make it happen. Christians will never bring about the kingdom of God. Only God himself can do that. that heavenly Jerusalem comes down from heaven; it is no built from the ground up (pg. 92-93)."
At one point he affirms the presence of the kingdom but then says it will not come until Jesus returns. It is either partly here or it is not, right? It seems that to Gilbert it is not established because it is not a kingdom realm- as in a present physical location on earth. Surely it is not consummated yet and will not be until Jesus returns. Neither does the church itself bring it into existence or consummation. Jesus establishes the kingdom himself and consummates it. The kingdom grows as the gospel goes. I think I see what Gilbert is saying but I also think he could have been clearer.
Second, in the second to last chapter, Gilbert goes after what he calls Three Substitute Gospels. To Gilbert, these other gospels decentralize the cross in their understanding of the gospel. Of particular notice to me is his inclusion of the creation-fall-redemption-consummation narrative as a substitute gospel. He agrees that it serves well as a narrative grid to interpret Scripture but states it "has been used wrongly by some as a way to place the emphasis of the gospel on God's promise to renew the world, rather than on the cross (italics mine, pg. 106)." While some may use it as such, I don't think enough people use it in that way so as to warrant including it in the substitute gospel category. I personally use it as both an interpretational frame-work and a grid to run the gospel through (focusing on cross and the death, burial and resurrection of Christ along the way).
Those two caveats aside (which I may be splitting hairs on) this is a great presentation of the gospel a good refresher! I will definitely turn to this book as an introduction to the gospel message for those who ask.
I just finished reading What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert, it is a great little book (121 pages) because it sets forth the biblical gospel so accurately and well. I came to the CBD site because I am searching the various book seller's web-sites to find the best price on it so that I can buy multiple copies to give away. I would highly recommend this book, buy it for yourself, read it, then give away copies to believers (for many it will both clarify what the gospel is and greatly encourage them in it) and non-believers (it will present a clear and compelling proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ). In these eight chapters 1. Finding the Gospel in the Bible 2. God the Righteous Creator 3. Man the Sinner 4. Jesus Christ the Savior 5. Response-Faith and Repentance 6. The Kingdom 7. Keeping the Cross at the Center 8. The Power of the Gospel the author accurately sets forth the biblical gospel. Gilbert presents the gospel in its proper context, the good news is first preceeded by the bad news of all humanity being under God's just condemnation because of their sin. Here is a small taste of the book, in chapter one the author goes to Romans 1-4 to show forth 1. The Creator God to whom all are accountable 2. The problem that all have rebelled against this God and are under His wrath for our sin 3. That God's solution is Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection as the only way for people to be forgiven and escape His wrath 4. And how one may be included in this salvation provided by Christ-to repent and believe the gospel. The author summarizes these four major points in four words God, man, Christ, and response. This book is biblically faithful and I now consider it a new and important witnessing tool.
"What is the Gospel?" Such a simple question, and yet many Christians are confused about the answer. Bravo to Greg Gilbert for his clear, concise, and thoughtful presentation of the full gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Gilbert's writes in a fresh and engaging style, which warms this book with vigor and insight. This book is the perfect tool for grounding Christians in the biblical understanding of what God has done for sinners in and through the Person and Work of His Son Jesus Christ. This book is a real gift to the Church, and a perfect gift to a non-believer who wants to know, "What is the Gospel?"
This is a must read for all Christians. It will make you think, and it will make you want to look at God with a sense of Awe and wonder. You can also use it as an evangelical tool to give to your lost friends who have questions that deserve answers. Praise God for this book and praise God for His Son and for His grace.