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The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Jesus Plus Nothing."

Christian, are you a legalist? Are you bound by your to do list for God? Does the word obligation weigh heavy in your mind when you consider your Lord?

These are all questions I would consider asking someone before I would recommend they read "The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church" by Andrew Farley, Lead Teaching Pastor of Ecclesia - Church Without Religion, located in Lubbock, Texas.

Effective marketing caught my attention with the clear plastic dust jacket and table of contents on the front cover. Further you find the dedication to his son with enthusiastic encouragement and also a brief quote referencing Arthur Bury's book called `The Naked Gospel`. And finally the discussion guide for each chapter named `Nude Reflections'.

All quite interesting and imaginative but the content is what stirred quite a few conversations with my husband and friends on the issues raised in this work. It is a fresh, clear look at the issue of Salvation by Grace, not works as well as living by Grace, not Law.

The reader is asked a series of questions to begin the dialogue of the book. I was quickly taken aback as I immediately disagreed with some of the statements made. Not wanting to give away the content, suffice it to say, these are standard and pointed questions. My advice would be to read them closely before you answer.

Andrew Farley's direct and honest writing style adds to the sections of personal testimony and illustrations. His does not mince words. He addresses objections and then brings the reader back to the main them of `Jesus Plus Nothing'.

Upon reflection, there were sections that at first I did not agree, but after consideration, the doctrine was sound. It is New Covenant living that Andrew Farley offers in this book. It does not diminish Old Covenant standards but amplifies the simplicity of the New Covenant.

This is a book for the genuine believer who has walked the road of obligation and perhaps needs to breathe the fresh air of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a believer, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more; and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less. God just loves you. There is only one response to this kind of Love - walking in it.

I recommend this book, for discussion and examination. For a limited time, you can download an electronic copy of this book. Instructions for download of this resource are located on our Free Download page or from Andrew Farley's website TheNakedGospel.

Keiki Hendrix
Vessel Project Book Reviewer
Zondervan Book Reviewer
[...]
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53 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
A fresh, tender, superbly informed voice - a timely work - A well crafted message woven with the story-telling skills of a master knitter of the gospel, our lives, our Lord and what it really means to be free in Christ.

I needed to read this book. I know I have loads of company. Whether you may be exploring what it may mean to have a present-day relationship with Christ, a desire to know Jesus more intimately, suffocating in religion or smugly comfortable in your relationship with God - READ THIS BOOK!

As author Andrew Farley points out:

"Radically, the Bible teaches that humanity's main problemis not what we're doing. Instead, it's our lack of life as we do it." p.72.

This is a book about freedom - freedom from the shackles of man-made interpretations of what is required to live life as a Christian. Scripturally sound, Farley takes us on a journey - revisiting may of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith - reminding us of the biblical, present day realities that many of us have unfortunately forgotten or replaced with other interpretations in our daily living as Christians . As Farley states:

"Too often, I see the church today functioning like any other morality-focused social group. It's time for us to wake up and realize that being born of the Spirit means we possess an amazing life within us. Because we're already different on the inside, we can live differently on the outside." p. 186.

Don't misinterpret what the quote above refers to. This is NOT a book about condemning the state of the church. It is written for a broad audience with immediate, enduring practical application to our lives.Furthermore, it is superb tool to share with those considering the Christian faith. A tremendous small group study book.

This book is a rarity. Most precious gifts are. I hope you will be blessed by it as I was. It's a book that I will revisit regularly now.

I felt somehow lighter after I finished this book. Distinctly unburdened. My prayer is that you will receive a similar gift from your reading of it.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am 50 years old and have spent a life time in churches doing and doing so that I could feel better about my relationship with God, the Naked Gospel taught me that my relationship with my God is not about me or my performance it is about God, it is about Jesus and what He did it is not about me. Dr. Farley writes in a way that scriptures that I have read for years with little to no understanding now make sense, it truly has been Life Changing.
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232 of 291 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 25, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The positive emphasis of this book is on the biblical message of grace v. works. Farley makes sure readers understand that Christians are not saved by anything they do ever but are saved completely and forgiven for sins by the work of Jesus. He cites the many Scriptures that drive home this Biblical message that Christians cannot gain salvation or acceptance with God by keeping the law or doing anything else to please God. Any person can only please God in Christ, so Christians can relax and rest in Christ. Farley effectively disabuses readers of any notion of gaining something from God by their own merits. He makes it clear that Jesus has completed all of the requirements for sin forever. This is the core message of the New Testament that I think is the core message of the church in most places.

He also makes good points reminding Christians that we are "in Christ" and Christ is in us. He effectively articulates that a Christian is a new creation in Christ. As a new creation our sinful natures are dead and buried, and we are born again from above not in sin but in the righteousness of Christ. He explains the basis for being justified through grace by faith and being adopted as God's children in Christ. These are important teachings that I would hope Christians would be familiar with and accept.

Farley suggests that his interpretation of Scripture is the true, pure "naked" gospel..."the truth you may never hear in church." This is a troubling introduction to a book on Scripture. First of all the idea that he has a proprietary grasp of the real interpretation of Scripture is a bit arrogant and divisive. Is this really such a secret message that the typical Christian pastor/priest does not know it and preach it? That would be the implication of Farley that I think is a prideful stretch. Secondly, the idea that he is teaching a "naked" gospel that is a totally objective view is a fallacy born from the Enlightenment. He approaches Scripture with his own subjective and contextual interpretation, just as any individual does. The Scripture itself was born from within the Christian tradition of the early church. To imagine that now we must interpret it apart from a Christian tradition, so that it is "naked," is an error behind the rampant individualism and enculturation of the western church. We think we all have the right interpretation of Scripture and end up reading it to conform to our cultural norms and trends.

I think Farley's interpretation of Scripture regarding Christian ethics leads to Christians being able to live comfortably without conviction (a word that doesn't apply to Christians according to Farley (162-163)) or contrition. So Christians can end up living like the rest of the culture, except they are guilt-free and pious thanks to a teaching that accepts once-and-for-all forgiveness but eschews discipleship, on-going repentance, contrition and conviction of sins for Christians.

For Farley, the cross is in the past, and Christians are beyond it and free to live according to their wants. Farley writes, "God won't make us do things we don't want to."(196) Once Christians confess their sins and receive forgiveness, they are no longer convicted of sins and would have no urging to repent and return to the cross, confessing sins and seeking forgiveness and cleansing of sins. Farley emphasizes the sainthood of Christians while overlooking the fact that we are still sinners and should therefore return daily to the cross in repentance and contrition. (See "On Being a Theologian of the Cross" by Gerhard Forde) Farley's teaching offers a Jesus who is "compatible with our humanity, no matter where we live and no matter what our daily lives involve."(196) The Holy Spirit doesn't convict Christians of sin according to Farley, because conviction is only for unbelievers. Once we are saved, we are no longer convicted of sin. If we feel that way, the devil is accusing us or we are being legalistic (164). At most, we may make adjustments to our life due to sorrow or discontentment with our behavior.

Farley claims that the Law has "no place in the life of a believer." (233) The implication from his book is that the Law is equated to the entire Old Testament and Jesus' moral teachings and commands. I think readers might come away with the idea that Christians can disregard the Old Testament or treat it as a quaint book of history or archaic laws. I think this ignores Jesus' teaching that the Law, Psalms and the Prophets reveal him and all that he fulfilled. (Luke 24) The Law has a significant place in the life of a believer, not as a measure of merit, but as a revelation of God and his image of a holy life. Prior to the writing of the New Testament, the early Christians taught from the Old Testament how Jesus is Lord and Christ.

The arguments that Farley makes for Christians disregarding the Law and Old Testament can lead to a method of situational ethics susceptible to satanic deception, our lusts and the cultural norms or to charismatic yet misguided personalities. This is why historic Christianity rejects the idea of a "naked" gospel in favor of the entire Bible interpreted in the context of the early church traditions, creeds, councils and apostolic teachings. Without taking these seriously, the church is susceptible to heresy and dissolution. I would suggest readers read "Evangelicals and Tradition" by D.H. Williams.

I think Farley's teachings are contrary to liturgical practices of the church that would include confession, repentance and forgiveness in their daily or weekly prayers. In fact, Farley asserts that the Lord's Prayer is NOT for Christians but for those who were under the old covenant (160). The context of the Lord's Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, would also be considered as under the Old Covenant rather than an ethical teaching for Christians; Likewise, the first chapter of 1 John, including 1 Jn 1.9, is for unbelievers and not for Christians according to Farley (152). This interpretation by Farley of the Lord's Prayer is at odds with Christian practice and interpretation going back to the earliest post-apostolic church that prayed it three times daily (see "The Didache"). His interpretation is also at odds with Jesus' further teachings (Mt 6.14-15 & 18.23-35; Mk 11.25).

The Naked Gospel and this form of biblical interpretation follow what Bonhoeffer so rigorously identifies and castigates as "cheap grace" and what Luther disdains as "theology of glory." It uses an artificial lense to divide the gospel into what is meant and not meant for you to follow. By it any demands of the gospel are set aside that we may remain comfortable with our lives.

I think Farley is responding in an extreme way of living according to his own modern day law (81). Unfortunately, Farley has preemptively maligned his critics by claiming that his "naked" gospel will always draw controversy from critics who can't accept the freedom he teaches because they are legalistic and stodgy (216). This is a symptom of the individualism of our culture that rejects criticism and claims that our own view is always right.

I think Farley has great intentions for this book, and I appreciate the reviews of those who benefited from reading it. I hope all his readers will take away the positives. He has included quotes from the book in the comments below in response to this review.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
"First they ignore it, then they laugh at it, then they say they knew it all along" (Alexander Humbold). Andrew Farley's The Naked Gospel is written at such an accessible level that some may miss the profundity of it's message. Others will label it aberrant. At least one reviewer here has dismissed the central message of this wonderful book as "the core message of the church in most places." Although I dare say most churches ascribe to grace alone by faith alone, they speak and demonstrate a need for works. In too many Sunday messages pastors depart from God's finished work by encouraging saints to "work out their salvation" with an emphasis on "work." Such messages are schizophrenic, and worst of all they leaves Christ's disciples thinking they need to do something to secure their salvation.

There is nothing "arrogant and divisive" or "a prideful stretch" in The Naked Gospel. In fact it is my perception, both from Farley's videos and his book, that he is a humble man that has been broken trying to live by the flesh what only the Spirit of God can provide and has provided. Shouldn't we all desire such a journey? He has come to see and experience what unnecessary weight has been laid upon the gospel by culture and our need to do something--work-- for all we receive.

The Naked Gospel is not an antinomian (without law) proposal. It seems we have such a difficult time trusting God's work in us to live a holy life. We want the comfort of laws and rules to tell us how to behave. God is interested in his life being lived out through us. It is a life that fulfills the law by Loving God and and neighbor. Farley simply demonstrates that the law was fulfilled in Christ. What Farley argues does not lead to a slippery-slope of sinful behavior however it is defined. Farley stands with the Apostle Paul in encouraging his readers not to continue in the flesh what Christ has accomplished and is now available by walking by the Spirit--"It is finished."

I agree, surely historic Christianity and its creeds should be consulted. Moreover without a review, I can't recall a core doctrine that would be violated by what Farley writes. In either case church creeds and traditions are not to be held-up as the inerrant truth.

Prophets (Farley makes no such claim) always stand apart and are attacked. Farley's "prophesy" is simply to restate, without encumbrance, what the scriptures have been yelling for millennia: "We are free in Christ. He has fulfilled the requirements of the law. Walk by the Spirit."

I highly recommend this book for both new and seasoned Christians. Don't stand under the weight of sin and guilt; be free in Christ. I especially recommend this book for those who are about to burn-out from a program of incessant work to satisfy God and to be "good Christians." Read Farley's book, return to The Naked Gospel, and walk by the Spirit.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for anyone who longs to understand, apply, and live in the freedom and identity we have in Jesus Christ. For the long time Christian who has always secretly wondered why the "good news" really isn't all that good, to the unbeliever who has decided Christianity is for hypocrites, to the person who doesn't know what he believes but longs for something real. Dr. Farley, while using his own personal testimony of how not understanding the truth of God's word almost destroyed him, clearly and simply communicates the total forgiveness, the new life, and the complete hope we have in the here and now. We don't have to wait for heaven to be righteous, holy, and complete. Farley, an expert linguist, accurately interprets scripture so that even a child can understand, believe, and apply the truth of God's word to his life. And this truth saved not only Dr. Farley from himself, but it saved me from the destructive patterns of myself as well. The eternal, God breathed truths in this book are the most important thing you can ever know. This book could possibly be the last one you will ever have to buy if you are looking for help on understanding the gospel. And once you begin walking in the grace of Jesus plus nothing, you can begin to experience the forgiveness, the freedom, the new identity, and the source of good fruit in your eternal life right now!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am not surprised by the negative comments that are coming against the gospel message of grace. Jesus faced the same kind of opposition by the religious leaders of His day.

Jesus enjoyed relationship with people who were the un-religious types. He was maligned for keeping company with sinners and rejects, those who were looked down upon because they did not/could not keep the law. Jesus came to set us free from the pressure and obligation to keep the law and gave us a new heart in which God Himself dwells, and now He lives through us.

It is obvious that the negative comments against this book are coming from learned theologians (not meant as a compliment). The Pharisees knew the law better than anyone and took much pride in their knowledge the scripture. Jesus called them white-washed sepulchers, full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. Until Jesus came along to expose them, most people looked at them as spiritual leaders.

Martin Luther faced the same kind of opposition when he confronted the church for it's works and performance based ideas that had almost wiped out the message of the grace of God. It seems that God has seen the need to "reset" His children onto the the right track many times through history. After all, we still live in a fallen world and we have been warned that there will be many who are deceived (I know some will read this post and say that I am the one who is deceived-not true. The truth of the grace of God brings FREEDOM, not bondage).

The heart of the message is this: Was the death and resurrection of Jesus enough to save me, or do I have keep the law to be in right standing with God?

As for me, I choose to accept the finished work of Jesus, walk in close fellowship with Him and allow Him to express His finished work through me!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
I cannot imagine a better message for the Christian that has been struggling for years to live "the life," or the skeptic who is uncertain that Christianity is all that it's cracked up to be. Andrew Farley pulls back the curtain of Christianity, confronts the superficial religious aspects that have tainted the Christian faith since the beginning, and reveals the Truth that will set you free!

The author weaves his own personal experience into the message in such a way that you can't help but relate to his struggles as a Christian. There are far too many Christians walking away from the faith because they are unable to meet the "expectations" they believe that God and the church have for them. It is a sad truth that Andrew Farley is not afraid to address and attack head on. He dives into the core issues that all Christians face...believing you must evangelize by standing on the street corner handing out tracts, the demand by many pastors that you must tithe 10%, falling victim to the idea that our inner nature is sinful, etc. They are the issues that keep Christians living a life bound by the "law." The Truth is that as Christians we've be set free from the law and the new covenant is the TRUE Gospel. It's the "Good News."

I would highly recommend this book. It is VERY well organized, incredibly well written, and truly addresses the critical issues that every Christian faces at one point or another. The Truth that sets you free is what Andrew Farley so brilliantly presents, "It's Jesus plus NOTHING!"
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I love books! And I love receiving books to review. They're free and I'm generally interested in them, so I was excited to receive The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley in the mail Through the Ooze Viral Bloggers because it looked like a book I would be interested in.

Unfortunately, my excitement waned after beginning to read the book - for reasons which I will name in a moment.

First though, I'd like to give a general overview of the book. Farley starts by introducing us to his story - growing up in a fundamentalist, legalist background where you are never good enough, Farley became addicted to evangelism, as a means of relieving the guilt he would constantly feel for not being perfect. What follows is a discussion from Farley on what he has discovered in the Bible and how it has helped him recover from the issues he acquired through his background.

Before I begin a critique, I want to start by mentioning that I agree with much of what Farley had to present. Legalism, the idea that somehow we can earn being right with God, is a harsh danger towards a number of Christians, and unwittingly robs many of really understanding freedom in Christ. I whole heartedly agree with Farley in this regard.

What I found however was that through much of the book, it felt like Farley swung the pendulum too hard in the opposite direction... Since the Gospel isn't legalism, then the Sermon on the Mount must not actually be about a way to live, but about showing you you can't live a good life. Since the gospel isn't about how you live, then certainly James' statement that faith without works is dead must mean something different than what it appears to mean. John's encouragement in 1 John that we confess our sins? Us not believing that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient. To make many of these points Farley has to jump through hoops and attempt poor re-readings of texts to make his points. As part of this, Farley concludes that the Christian tradition of confessing sins is no longer needed. In his attempt to protect the Gospel from Legalism, Farley misses just how much of New Testament teaching IS about how we live. Farley has to make the stance on the old testament that it is totally about a broken system, making the way that Jesus relates disjointed from the Old Testament - Jesus is not the continuation of how God has been at work through Israel, but rather the end of that plan, leading me to the question of why God would toy around with all of us for so long.

The thing about The Naked Gospel is that it's not all wrong, it asserts many points correctly and many points which I agree with. But in it's attempt to argue that the Gospel is not legalism, it vastly oversteps its bounds moving too hard in the opposite direction, which is ironic since Farley also mentions the Gospel to not be antinomian.

In the end, I found myself having a hard time viewing this as a book I would suggest to many of my friends, because I think that Farley takes it too far. Thank God that we aren't called to legalism, and it's that that I can agree with Farley about.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Whether you are sick to death of religion or just know deep down that something just doesn't add up, I recommend this book. If the quiz questions that are asked close to the beginning of the book take your breath away, keep reading.

Farley is right when he says first off that this book will draw a line in the sand for you. You will probably either soak it up or your teeth will gnash. It's too important not to investigate with an open mind and heart what he says and then more importantly what the scriptures say-in their context. The back cover has Farley's church's website [...] to hear more.

As a kid of 13 with a typical Christian School education the gospel I was taught made NO sense to me. I decided at that age I would never measure up to the standard I was taught so I gave up trying. Farley refers to a roller coaster religion-`even as a kid I had that -and it made me sick and want to get off the ride. How many people come to the same conclusion? I believe multitudes. The thing is though the ride isn't Jesus, it's religion.

Unfortunately though, like me for so many years, I think most who shy away don't realize there is a difference between Jesus and religion and never look any further. That's why I want everyone I know to read this book. What they decide is between them and God but I believe every human needs Jesus. To give some credit to religion, the one thing it's good for is to exasperate us to lead us to Him.

I thank God for the many people past and present- like Andrew Farley who came to the same conclusion and yet allowed the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit teach them from an attitude of "Lord, I want YOU to teach me what you are all about because what I have learned from man and assumed on my own is making me a basket case" So much double talk, disconnect and manipulation.

I am 47 years old now and have a relationship with Jesus that will never again be dependent on me. It's simple, Jesus did ALL of what God required, and now because the only thing there was for me to do-receive Him, He's in me and has set me free from the bondage of sin and death (religion) that held me back far more than an arm's length from Him. I have crossed that line in the sand-from religion into the loving arms of Jesus, never to return!
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