“Rediscovering the Power That Made Christianity”
This book is not one that you just pick up, read, set down and walk away from. This book is as Tim Keller states a book that you need to “spend some time with.” And the reason is because of the importance of the message contained in the book concerning the gospel and the gospel message and what impact it is having or isn’t having in our society today.
Allow me to introduce you to a hard core, right to the fundamentals, let’s get to the heart of the matter book concerning the Gospel written by J. D Greear, who is the lead pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham North Carolina.
On the back cover of the book the question is posed, “Could the gospel be lost amongst evangelical Christians?” What do you think? Seriously, if we were to play the game that use to be on TV years ago where they asked the contestants will the real ___please stand up, and we were to ask, “will the real gospel please stand up?” what do you think would happen? I am speaking symbolically of course as an idea can not stand up but if we were to personify the gospel and give it personhood and put it on that show and ask it to stand up would the audience know who the real gospel was and who were the counterfeits? I seriously wonder based on the statements and observations of the author as well as those of other noted pastors and Christian authors of our day. And it is my own personal observations, (and I state so with the greatest of humility), concerning what has happened to the gospel in our society makes me extremely concerned as well.
In his book pastor Greear defines what the gospel is and does in opposition to religion. This is a very significant distinction that he makes because many people are enamored with their personal religion but are totally clueless as to what that the gospel really is and the implications that accepting and believing the gospel truly means in their lives. He is emphatic in his belief that man or self made religion and religious change doesn’t work. And no amount of works people do will ever cause it to work. Pastor Greear states that a person must be committed to more than just a religion…they must be committed to a person; the person of Jesus Christ and his message and cause which is to advance the Kingdom of God (Heaven) in a loving manner of life while we sojourn here on earth as his followers.
Pastor Greear in his book states that the real gospel is a gospel of as he calls it “gift-righteousness” and what we become the people of God, “righteous” members of his body through the undeserved “gift righteousness” of Christ and not as a result of our works. He writes, “Christ’s obedience is so spectacular there is nothing we could do to add to it (in other words no works we could do that would even come close to being sufficient enough for us to merit God’s free gift of Salvation); His death so final that nothing could take away from it. Amen and Amen! Even though as he writes that “our hearts are hard-wired for works righteousness” God does not want or accept works related righteousness from us. The only righteousness that the Sovereign God accepts is the pure and perfect righteousness of his only beloved son Jesus Christ. Our moralism or our legalism doesn’t cut it with God. He wants more and he deserves more from us as his people.
In his 3-part book of 14 short Chapters, Pastor Greear writes about the necessity of our getting the “Gospel” and the gospel message right because not only does our eternal salvation hinge upon the truth of what is revealed in the true gospel, but also, our sanctification…and our entire spiritual life and growth does as well. He explains it as our being transformed is not “by a command of Jesus, but by an experience with Jesus,” and that “we are changed not by being told what we need to do for God, but by hearing the news about what God has done for us,” which is the powerfully life transforming message of the Gospel. And once we hear that gloriously liberating news we can and need to pray what he calls “The Gospel Prayer” and be saved. He uses that phrase as the title for the second section of his book as well.
It is In Chapter 5, which is in the section of his book titled, The Gospel Prayer” author Greear goes right for our spiritual jugular vein and aggressively asserts the fact that the “human heart is an idol factory” relying on the teaching of the Scriptures and the likes of John Calvin to back that statement up. And what he emphatically states in that Chapter is that without any doubt or question, “God is better,” and that “Jesus Satisfies.” And that if we yield our affection or bow our knee to anyone or anything else other than God and his Son Jesus Christ that person or thing is an idol…and God hates idolatry. God is referred to as a “jealous” God in the Scriptures both demanding and by proof beyond any doubt, deserving our full and undivided devotion. Shortly after God saved me from a wicked and debauched lifestyle of over 40 years someone from my past came out of nowhere as it were to “hang out with me.” How interesting that he would just suddenly appear out of nowhere and at the particular time that he did. And this particular person and I shared a relationship of addiction that he came to me to get a “fix” for but I told him no. I told him I was a Christian and that God had changed me and I could not and would not do that wicked thing and sin against God anymore. And after we has finished talking and the issue had been settled once and for all between us I went into my bedroom, shut the door, and shouted, “YES, Jesus fully satisfies,” just as author Greear writes in his book. And my dear friends, JESUS DOES FULLY SATISFY!
Pastor Greear then continues on in Section 2 and in Chapters six through eleven writing about how we are changed – “it is by sight” and how that radical change in our life affects our relationships – that they become as he calls them, “Gospel-Centered Relationships.” In Chapter eight he “hits us in the pocket book” but necessarily and appropriately so revealing to us that the Gospel Cross-Centered life will lead us to live lives of “Extravagant Generosity.” Quoting from the Word of God and various notable people of the faith he informs us that just as God has given extravagantly to us through the gift of his son, so we should be a people of generous and extravagant giving. And our view about money will depend on our Kingdom view – “The most fundamental question every disciple of Christ must ask himself is which kingdom is his primary pursuit.” Our answer to that question is revealed by how we view the money that God gives us and then what we do with it.
In Chapter 9 author Greear writes about the “Urgent Mission” that we have and are called to and that is to reach the lost and perishing who are apart from Christ without hope and help with the one sure and eternal hope – the hope we can have through a grace-faith based relationship with Christ. We are called and commanded to go tell the world that Jesus Saves and that he fully satisfies. That is our mission and because the need is so great the mission IS urgent. Chapter 10 is a chapter about expecting “Great Things” from our great God. He uses the term “Intercessory Faith” in this chapter. I have heard of “Intercessory Prayer” before but never the term equated to faith. Author Greear writes, “Intercessory prayer is not informing God on behalf of someone else; but believing God on behalf of somebody else.” So what we need is a God-empowered Intercessory faith and Intercessory prayer life. Chapter 11, “But If Not…” addresses the issue of unanswered prayer – something we all struggle with – and author Greear exhorts us to just keep asking and to just keep trusting as we abide in Jesus Christ and God will do that good thing he purposes to do in his way and his own time and not ours.
In Part 3, “Toward a Gospel-Centered Understanding Of Life,” Pastor Greear breaks it down and explains to us what it means to have a Gospel-Centered Understanding or perspective of life. He defines who and what a legalist is in Chapter 12 encouraging us in regards to spiritual disciplines and practices, (such as fasting), to “understand the gospel; practice the disciplines.” In Chapter 13 he writes about our work or our vocation and how to be God and Gospel-Centered in that area of our life. A significant part of our life of worship to God is directly related to our “Workship”…that is the type of work we do, why we do it and who we do it for. “He gets very practical offering some helpful insights as to what it means and looks like to be Gospel-Centered in the realm of our vocational calling. Chapter 14 is a Chapter about the church and what a “Gospel-Centered Church looks like.” Pastor Greear writes, “In a gospel-centered church, the emphasis of the message is more on what Christ has done than what we are to do.” He then shares some insights about 8 different types of churches that exist in our country today and just where they fall short in regards to the issue of being truly Gospel-Centered Churches. And he is not condemning or judgmental about the issue. Rather he is loving and Biblical in what he shares about the 8 types of churches and how they are not truly “Gospel-Centered” Churches. In his conclusion chapter, “You’ll Never Find The Bottom” author Greear writes, “Truly believing the gospel produces in us a concern for the poor; a love of Scripture, a desire to be in authentic community, a love for holiness, and everything else that is part of the Christian life.” And that is the type of Christian life we should all desire more than anything in this world.
For more information about GOSPEL visit the B&H Publishers Company website.
To order a copy of GOSPEL click on the link Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
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