A while ago, I picked up Greg Gilbert's What is the Gospel.
I wasn't expecting to be deeply affected by the small little black book because of its innocuous title. After all, as a Christian-background kid I thought I knew the Gospel really well. The same thing happened during my conversion; and both times God showed me--gently--that I was wrong.
But before I even reached the first chapter--and I'm a fast reader--I was engrossed. This little book refreshed and enlightened me as I never expected it would. I was encouraged in my own love for Christ--something which always makes me love a book. Greg Gilbert wrote so tenderly and personally, so earnestly and clearly about Christ; it was a reminder that stirred up my sleeping gratitude and brushed the dust off my love.
I thought I'd try to pick out my favorite points about the book, but in the end what came out was a brief book summary from my perspective. So here it is, as well as a few of the quotes and passages which I loved most (not too many, or nobody would feel like reading the book--or the rest of this post.)
What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert: brief book review
*Confusion on what the Gospel is
Find definition of Gospel in the Bible (Romans 1-4)
...Holy and Righteous
...created to enjoy God.
...but fell. ALL fell, through sin.
Sin = rebellion against God;
..not just sin's effects, or our broken relationship with God (which is just one aspect of sin);
..not merely specific acts (eg. murder, theft, etc) but a heart-issue, a condition.
...Fully God and Man.
...a suffering King. One who saved us by dying for us, taking our punishment.
...but yet, in His resurrection, is ultimately triumphant.
Faith and Repentance.
Faith = reliance on Christ's death ALONE for a righteous verdict from God.
Repentance = crucial; NOT perfection but taking a different side; with God against our sin instead of with our sin against God.
*The Kingdom: Now and To Come
Kingdom of God = God's redemptive rule over His people.
...already here since Christ's death for us; yet not fully complete until His second coming.
...citizenship depends on our response to the King (faith and repentance)
...live the life of the kingdom despite the darkness of the world around us.
*Keeping the Cross at the Center; What the Gospel is NOT
Temptation to tweak Gospel so it seems more 'relevant';
3 examples of what the Gospel is NOT:
1. 'Jesus is Lord'; this is actually NOT good news to us if we are still sinners in rebellion against God!
2. Creation-fall-redemption-consummation; summary of Bible's main storyline, BUT NOT the Gospel if used to emphasize renewal of world INSTEAD of the cross.
3. Cultural transformation; though good, NOT ultimate point of the Gospel; moralism and not Christianity.
Face the fact: the Gospel will be a stumbling block to many.
*Power of the Gospel
We let sin and worldliness dull and desensitize us to the Gospel. To FIGHT against spiritual laziness, so the Gospel can transform us.
How should the Gospel affect us?
1. Repent and Believe
2. Rest and Rejoice
3. Love Christ's People
4. Long for Christ's Second Coming.
'The Christian life is not just about making sure you avoid God's wrath. Far from it!
it's about being in a right relationship with God, and ultimately enjoying him forever.'
'It's not enough to say that Jesus came to save us from our sins, if what we mean by that is that he came to save us from our isolated mistakes.
It's only when we realize that our very nature is sinful--
that we are indeed "dead in our trespasses and sins," as Paul says (Ephe. 2:1,5)
--that we see just how good the news is that there is a way to be saved.'
'The difference between an unconverted man and a converted man is not that the one has sins and the other has none; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.'
(William Arnot; quoted by Greg Gilbert)
I encourage you to read this little book.
(Plus point: It's small. It fits easily into almost any bag. And it's fairly thin; visually, as well as actually, easy to read. Ah; sometimes we do need these little encouragements to help us along, don't we?)
It has been a blessing to me; and I pray it will bless you too.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are