It really is a great book as Chandler seeks to help us understand the breadth and depth of the gospel. He wrote it because he began to discover as a pastor, that most simply assumed the gospel. People simply assumed they knew it. If you are looking for a book that will help you to understand what exactly the gospel is, how it impacts your daily life and to find freedom to your sins, past baggage, negative emotions, etc., this is a book worth picking up.
Here’s what the publisher said about it:
Even if you go to church, it doesn’t mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn’t there—at least not in its specificity and its fullness.
Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance—the gospel.
Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!
Here are a few things that jumped out to me in the book:
We have a tendency to think that the cross saves us from past sin, but after we are saved, we have to take over and clean ourselves up.
The idolatry that exists in man’s heart always wants to lead him away from his Savior and back to self-reliance no matter how pitiful that self-reliance is or how many times it has betrayed him.
Truth is never our enemy, ever. So we should never freak out about people who claim to have discovered truth. If it’s true truth, God owns it and has already accounted for it, and while nothing that is true ever contradicts God’s revealed word in the Bible, discovered truth sometimes contradicts the words of Christians. We shouldn’t be afraid of this, because God knew it before anybody else and its discovery is dependent on his sovereignty anyway. The truth is that truth is ours; all truth is our truth because we are of Christ and Christ is of the sovereign God.
This trash is further revelation of God’s grace, because it shows that he doesn’t need us; rather he wants us. When we who call ourselves Christians realize how utterly self-sufficient God is all within himself – the three in one – the gift of Christ to us and for us becomes all the more astonishing.
The Bible definitely issues commands for us to obey and makes demand for our submission. But, in the end, reading the Bible as the Daily Manual for My Life is the deficient way of the two basic ways available to us. We can read it as a reference book about us. Or we can see the Bible is a book about God. The bible is for us, not about us.
God’s glory is what drives the universe, not our salvation.
It is still idolatry to want God for his benefit but not for himself.
Hell, when all is said and done, is the absence of God’s goodness and blessedness. Therefore, hell is the absence of anything we can think of that’s good, right, comforting, joyous, happy and peaceful. It’s a pretty terrifying place.
To discount the enormity of God’s severity, as if we aren’t really that bad and really deserve mostly kindness, is to discount the enormity of God’s holiness.
“God is love,” the thwarters of God’s severity say. Of course he is, but the Bible that tells us that is the same Bible that prescribes eternal punishment to the rejecters of his love.
Because a God who is ultimately most focused on his own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of him. His glory demands it. So we should be thankful for a self-sufficient God whose self-regard is glorious.
The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury — instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength — we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.
This avoidance of the difficult things of Scripture — of sinfulness and hell and God’s notable severity — is idolatrous and cowardly. If a man or a woman who teaches the Scriptures is afraid to explain to you the severity of God, they have betrayed you, and they love their ego more than they love you.
If God is most concerned about his name’s sake, then hell ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name, and, therefore, our response to the biblical reality of hell cannot, for our own safety, be the further belittlement of God’s name. Are you tracking with that? Someone who says hell cannot be real, or we can’t all deserve it even if it is real, because God is love is saying that the name and the renown and the glory of Christ aren’t that big of a deal.
Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it’s a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it.
The hard-won lesson I’ve learned in marriage, something I’m very grateful for knowing now, is that there are some things in my wife’s heart and some struggles she faces in life that I cannot fix. It doesn’t matter how romantic I am; it doesn’t matter how loving I am; it doesn’t matter how many flowers I send, or if I write her poetry, or if I clean the kitchen, or if I take the kids and let her go have girl time — I am powerless to fix Lauren. (And she’s powerless to fix me.) Doing all those things to minister to her are right and good, but there are things in my girl that I can’t fix, things that are between her and the Lord.
If we confuse the gospel with response to the gospel, we will drift from what keeps the gospel on the ground, what makes it clear and personal, and the next thing you know, we will be doing a bunch of different things that actually obscure the gospel, not reveal it.
It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurisms now normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping — ascribing worth to — something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off.
No change of job, no increased income, no new home, no new electronic device, or no new spouse is going to make things better inside of you.
The cross of Christ is first and centrally God’s means of reconciling sinful people to his sinless self. But it is bigger than that too. From the ground we see the cross as our bridge to God. From the air, the cross is our bridge to the restoration of all things. The cross of the battered Son of God is the battering ram through the blockade into Eden. It is our key into a better Eden, into the wonders of the new-covenant kingdom, of which the old was just a shadow. The cross is the linchpin in God’s plan to restore all creation. Is it any wonder, then, that the empty tomb opened out into a garden?
No matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, ‘I need to find my life’s purpose in this work,’ but rather, ‘I need to bring God’s purpose to this work.’
The reconciling gospel is always at the forefront of the church’s social action, because a full belly is not better than a reconciled soul.
Engaging the city around us and ministering to its needs reveal to us the remaining bastions of sin in our lives, the areas we refuse to surrender to God.
Once we remove the bloody atonement as satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, the wheels really come off. Where the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is preached and proclaimed, missions will not spin off to a liberal shell of a lifeless message but will stay true to what God has commanded the church to be in the Scriptures.
The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.
Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.
Here is a Q&A Matt Chandler did with Mark Driscoll on the book.