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141 of 155 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
So, we have another book on the gospel. The Explicit Gospel is authored by Matt Chan­dler, pas­tor of the Vil­lage Church in Dal­las, TX. The book is sched­uled to be released on April 30, 2012. Is this just "another book on the gospel" -- basic the­ol­ogy retweaked by a megachurch pas­tor -- or is this some­thing worth read­ing and pon­der­ing? Let's take a look.

The Big Idea of The Explicit Gospel
The book claims that too often, the gospel is assumed, not explicit. The explicit gospel oblit­er­ates man-centered reli­gion -- the moral­ism, idol­a­try, and reli­gios­ity that cor­rupts true Chris­tian­ity. Chan­dler describes this explicit gospel, gen­er­ously sprin­kling in plenty of pas­toral appli­ca­tion along the way. Merely assum­ing the gospel leads to dan­gers -- big dan­gers. Chandler's cogent appli­ca­tion of the explicit gospel strikes deep at the insipid idio­syn­crasies of evan­gel­i­cal­ism, deliv­er­ing a mes­sage that is both solidly the­o­log­i­cal and lov­ingly confrontational.

Overview of The Explicit Gospel
Chan­dler orga­nizes the book in three sec­tions: 1) The Gospel on the Ground, 2) The Gospel in the Air, and 3) Impli­ca­tions and Appli­ca­tions. Even if you've been to sem­i­nary, you've prob­a­bly never heard of a "ground gospel" or "air gospel," so lets explain what Chan­dler means. Ground and air, as he describes them, are van­tage points for view­ing the gospel. The gospel from the ground is the view of the gospel in our own lives. The chap­ters "God" (ch. 1), "Man" (ch. 2), "Christ" (ch.3), "Response" (ch.4), dis­cuss the gospel from this per­spec­tive. Chan­dler describes the gospel in the air as "the big pic­ture of God's plan of restora­tion from the begin­ning of time to the end of time and the redemp­tion of his cre­ation" (pg. 9). This sec­tion of the book deals with "Cre­ation" (ch. 5), "Fall" (ch. 6), "Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion" (ch. 7), and "Con­sum­ma­tion" (ch. 8). Although the entire book con­tains plenty of impli­ca­tions and appli­ca­tions, Part Three of the book is com­pletely devoted to appli­ca­tion and impli­ca­tion. Chap­ters 9 and 10 deal with the dan­gers of get­ting too wrapped up in either a "gospel-on-the-ground" or a "gospel-in-the-air" approach. Finally, in chap­ter 11 he turns to "moral­ism and the cross" to round out The Explicit Gospel's most force­ful application.

Is The Explicit Gospel Explicit?
Mak­ing a good book title is a bit like good mar­ket­ing. It has to both describe the "prod­uct," while grab­bing people's atten­tion. The word explicit grabs our atten­tion like a Driscoll ser­mon series. Of course, The Explicit Gospel is about the gospel, so there's noth­ing alarm­ingly offen­sive about it. At the same time, does the word explicit accu­rately really describe the con­tent of the book? Chan­dler is on the offen­sive against "Chris­t­ian, moral­is­tic, ther­a­peu­tic Deism" (pg. 8), using the weapon of the gospel. The word "explicit" in rela­tion­ship with the "gospel" appears just a few times within the book (12x). The book isn't as about the "explicit gospel" as much as it is an explicit (i.e. a clear) descrip­tion of the gospel.

Is The Explicit Gospel Readable?
Some the­ol­ogy books, notably Reformed ones, are noto­ri­ous for bore­dom. The Explicit Gospel is not bor­ing. In fact, read­ing the book is like lis­ten­ing to Chan­dler preach. It's funny. It's engag­ing. It's win­some. It's even a bit harsh at times. I loved these phrases: "Try­ing to fig­ure out God is like try­ing to catch fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of den­tal floss" (pg. 13). In describ­ing the col­lege bas­ket­ball phe­nom­e­non of March Mad­ness, he writes, with some histri­on­ics: "Kids are cry­ing in fear, wives are run­ning for more nachos -- it's chaos. It's mad­ness" (46). Chan­dler has a knack for punchy, force­ful, and unfor­get­table way of express­ing things. This book could be one of the eas­i­est 245 pages you've read in a long time.

Is The Explicit Gospel Appropriate?
The word "explicit" isn't usu­ally a word that you hear in con­junc­tion with some­thing as sacred as the gospel, so it might raise eye­brows begin­ning with the title. While the theme of the book is entirely appro­pri­ate, some may ques­tion at times Chandler's spe­cific man­ner of expres­sion. For example:

"Paul doesn't usu­ally roll that way....he's not really a sing-song kind of guy" (13).
"God was angry and moved me to Abi­lene for seven years" (14).

Chan­dler para­phrases the con­clu­sion of the book of Job like this: "It's like God is say­ing, `Oh, how adorable you are! Now put on a cup, dude, because it's about to be big boy time" (14).
"In the Hebrew [Jere­miah 2:11-12] the essen­tial idea is that they're lit­er­ally ter­ri­fied that God might snap and rip the uni­verse to shreds" (33).
"Here's the funny thing about the Old Tes­ta­ment: 85% of it is God say­ing, `I'm going to have to kill all of you if you don't quit this.' Seri­ously, 85% of it is" (60).
"I think he's [King David] schiz­o­phrenic" (118).

Per­haps Chandler's writ­ing is lot like his preach­ing. Maybe he can get a bit car­ried away at times, turn­ing a phrase that might con­fuse the unsus­pect­ing reader. Some may won­der if such phrases, though intended to be humor­ous, may not quite match the majesty of the very God whom the author is try­ing to describe.

The Explicit Gospel Applied
Even though the book is about the gospel, Chan­dler finds a way to weave in appli­ca­tion to every evan­gel­i­cal hot-button issue known to the Gospel Coali­tion. Chan­dler dis­cusses the social gospel (84, 160), the pros­per­ity gospel (23, 232), women in min­istry (213-14), invi­ta­tions (59), church growth tac­tics (34), the real­ity of an eter­nal place of tor­ment (217), Rob Bell (216), main­line denom­i­na­tional decline, and just about every­thing in between. He pre­dictably sides with the con­ser­v­a­tives on every issue (some­thing which non-party-liners may take issue with).

Chandler's pre­dictable con­ser­vatism is not the prob­lem. The ques­tion lin­ger­ing has to do with how all of these issues (plus more I didn't bother to men­tion) found their way into a book on the gospel. Yes, the gospel applies to every area of life, but does it fol­low that we can indis­crim­i­nately make every­thing "a gospel issue," even on things over which Chris­tians can legit­i­mately disagree? Turning the gospel into a trump card is to make the gospel less explicit than it actu­ally is. If you write book on the gospel, and then import each and every con­tem­po­rary polar­iz­ing topic into the book as an appli­ca­tion point of the gospel, you haven't nec­es­sar­ily solved all the prob­lems. Instead, you might have low­ered the glory and grandeur of the gospel to the level of your pet posi­tion on those polar­iz­ing top­ics. We must undoubt­edly apply the gospel to our lives, but it min­i­mizes the gospel when we spread it too thin. Chandler is free to make his Bible-derived obser­va­tions on con­tem­po­rary issues. That's what Bible teach­ers should do. But it is also impor­tant that he define which issues tie directly into gospel truth, and which of those issues are less...shall we say?..."explicit."

The Explicit Gospel Smoothed Out
Some­how, the metaphor of "gospel on the ground" and "gospel in the air" didn't con­nect that well. I under­stand the dis­tinc­tion he is try­ing to make, but per­haps he pushes it too far, mak­ing it the basis for the book's entire orga­ni­za­tion as well as some hefty appli­ca­tion (chs. 9-10). Through­out the book, a ten­sion devel­ops between the two ways of view­ing the gospel. This way of view­ing the gospel runs the risk of min­i­miz­ing the mar­velous com­plex con­ti­nu­ity of Scripture's redemp­tion nar­ra­tive (Heils­geschichte). Per­haps we could chalk this one up to an issue of empha­sis, and a pur­suit of read­abil­ity over depth.

Is The Explicit Gospel Worth Read­ing?
Every book has its short­com­ings, so lest we focus too much on the pos­si­ble down­ers, it is also impor­tant to point out some of the glit­ter­ing jew­els that lie on the sur­face of this book. Should you read this book? Rick War­ren cer­tainly thinks so: "If you only read one book this year, make it this one. It's that impor­tant." The Explicit Gospel cer­tainly has some com­mend­ing qual­i­ties. Here are three rea­sons why you should read it.

1. It's Insight­ful. One thing is clear. Chan­dler has a pulse on the state of evangelicalism. As he expli­cates the gospel, he is not try to dis­prove ancient here­sies. Instead, Chan­dler aims at the con­tem­po­rary cor­rup­tions within mod­ern evan­gel­i­cal­ism. There are plenty of such cor­rup­tions. The author iden­ti­fies them and addresses them with a rush of relevance.

2. It's Appli­ca­tional. Chan­dler packs in plenty of impor­tant appli­ca­tion. Per­haps the most obvi­ous appli­ca­tion is to guard against "Chris­t­ian, moral­is­tic, ther­a­peu­tic, Deism" (pg. 8), by know­ing and heed­ing explicit asser­tion of the gospel. Not only does pas­tor Chan­dler iden­tify the prob­lems, but he takes aim at them, too. Rarely does he miss. You will find that the application-saturated pages hit close to home, alert­ing you to areas you need to change.

3. It's Under­stand­able. Chan­dler is a good com­mu­ni­ca­tor. He has a knack for explain­ing big truths in unam­bigu­ous ways. You'll find that read­ing The Explicit Gospel will help you to bet­ter under­stand the glo­ri­ous truths of the gospel.

The the­o­log­i­cal dis­cus­sions in the book may beg for a bit more expo­si­tion here and there. The appli­ca­tions may rub a bit harder than nec­es­sary. But over­all, Chan­dler pro­vides the con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can evan­gel­i­cal church­goer some­thing to chew on. The gospel, in all its explicit glory, needs to be heard and heeded. The reduc­tion­ism in our the­ol­ogy has led to a decline in our lifestyle. We need the explicit gospel to bring us back.

So, do we need another book on the gospel? The gospel never gets old. Read­ing about the gospel is always impor­tant. Liv­ing out the gospel is essen­tial. So, if you're ready to be chal­lenged, instructed, and informed, do your­self a favor and read The Explicit Gospel.
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
(Originally posted on my blog, The Way Everlasting. The following is an excerpt.)

Matt Chandler writes a hit-and-miss work on the Gospel, full of sharped barbs that are occasionally convicting but are mostly mean-spirited and glitzy.

I really, really, really wanted to like this book. And indeed, I found parts of it absolutely brilliant. But we get a version of Matt Chandler here that hardly sounds like himself.

So the good: The best parts of the book are Chapter 6, Fall, and Chapter 7, Reconciliation. You get an epic scope of the human condition plus a God-scaled view of God's work through us on earth. Pastor Matt's unique voice, even when he's on rabbit trails, will you keep you engaged. The rundown on Solomon is a tour de force of wit, vivid imagery, and a piercing look into the wrongness of our souls. And our mission through the cross is clearly outlined while avoiding a legalistic prison.

Certainly Chandler can write. He's not exactly quotable but his style is clever, captivating, at times brutal. He is theologically sound in every which way, and despite some critics bashing his Reformed angle, he backs it up with Scripture. Just as in his preaching, he is one of the most biblical pastors out there.

I loved the last couple stories of Matt Chandler overcoming the guilt of his former life and the heartbreaking account of his friend Kim. He has preached these before, but to see it in written form with extra details was stirring. He really brought home how the Gospel works here.

However, there are three main problems with the book that injure it beyond recovery.

1) The most glaring problem is its arrogant tone. Matt Chandler in preaching is bold, daring, and convicting. Matt Chandler in writing can be brash, jarring, and condescending.

I wanted to pretend this wasn't true. I wanted to think I was being unfair, over-sensitive, or reading with a preconceived filter. But alas, Chandler never gets over sounding like a pompous, perfect know-it-all.

He continually categorizes people in such a way that, whether it's his intent or not, he creates two groups: Those who get it and those who are morons. He steps on all his grace-cards. This is the first Christian book I've read that uses the word "dummies." There is hardly any grace for those over-churched, non-gospel-preaching, Scripture-twisting sons of hell. No attempt at trying to be understanding, not even a weak disclaimer to sympathize with the ignorant. Such demonizing will quickly make you arrogant because you begin to think, "Well thank God I'm not like those idiots. I actually get the gospel."

On that note: I believe Pastor Matt is a gracious man. At the Resurgence Conference in Orlando of 2011, during the Q&A, an anonymous question came in and the group of pastors onstage ridiculed the question. Matt stepped in and actually answered it, and later that night my friend and I spoke about how gracious Matt was to redeem that moment. The next day, Pastor Matt addressed the very incident, saying that we really have lost our compassion for our neighbor. It only confirmed he was the real deal.

Which is only more confusing because the entire book felt like those pastors who ridiculed that poor guy.

2) Like most of the new Reformed works about the Gospel, there is a key piece missing: the life and death of Jesus Christ.

The Good News should result in an intimacy with Jesus and not be used as an instant jump-off point to grab the Gospel implications. Chandler, like many Reformed guys, quickly skips over who Jesus is, thereby making an unbalanced work about what Jesus does. Both sides need details, but every work on the Gospel (except for Tim Keller's King's Cross) is in a hurry to get to the theological results.

3) Lastly, the book has a confused audience. At times he says something akin to "We should be preaching this," while other times he says, "If you've been to church all your life," and such confusion is like hopping back and forth across a border, a la Homer Simpson.

When I attended the Explicit Gospel tour, Matt Chandler mainly seemed to be talking to disenfranchised churchgoers. He had a warmness for them that I could understand as a pastor, so I was heartily convicted. But the book doesn't have that same kind of sensitivity, and readers will experience whiplash.

Bottom Line:
I absolutely love Matt Chandler. Much of his preaching in my early days of being a pastor rescued me from some serious error. I'd be the first to defend him if someone called him ungracious. But his book, while great in so many parts, is dragged down by so much snobbery. I know this couldn't be Pastor Matt's intentions, and if you can excuse his tone, there is still much to learn from him here.
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45 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This could be the most important 150 page book written in years, too bad it's 240 pages.
I say that because the Thesis that Christianity hangs on the Gospel and the explicit teaching of it is totally true and hugely important. And the concluding three chapters really teach about the pitfalls of following an incomplete Gospel. However there's almost a hundred pages worth of rambling and tangents and poor attempts at jokes. There was a dozen times I read a whole paragraph and wondered why the whole thing wasn't cut. Almost 15 pages are spent trying to refute evolution by poorly paraphrasing people who actually know something about science, only to conclude that any way to read Genesis is okay, except for an evolutionary view (theistic or otherwise), and Chandler's view of Genesis is superior to them all. While that might be an interesting thing to put in a book, it's totally out of place in this one.
I really wish this book was as great as it ought to have been. So if you read it, be wary: There's a lot of sifting to do to get the gold out of this stream, but it's certainly there.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Every once in a while I will finish reading a book and know that will not be the last time I read it. The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson is one of those books. In fact, I knew after the introduction I would be reading this book again.

Everything in churches these days seems to be gospel-centric. `Gospel centered' this and `gospel centered' that plaster the websites and ministry descriptions of countless churches everywhere. The word gospel has become soaked into evangelical Christianity that its possible some of its true meaning has been watered-down or not completely understood to begin with.

Being `gospel centered' is a great thing, however, its important to make sure the true meaning of gospel is applied and understood. In The Explicit Gospel, Chandler explains what the gospel is and how it is applied in our own lives as well as offers warnings towards abuse of gospel.

As the pastor of a large church in the Dallas, TX, Chandler is all to familiar with people misunderstanding the gospel as something that is earned and not simply the gift of grace from God. This mode of thinking has been commonly referred to as Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. "The idea behind moral, therapeutic deism is that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior (13)."

This mode of thinking has become popular in churches today. It offers the facade of being Christian, but is ultimately nothing more then religion. Chandler warns this way of teaching only leaves the hearer with an assumption of the gospel, not a complete message of it.

In clearly explaining the complete gospel message, Chandler splits the book into three sections: gospel on the ground, gospel in the air, and implications and applications.

The gospel at the ground level is what you and I are probably most familiar with. This is the story of God extending undeserved grace to us through sacrificing his son, Jesus Christ, on the cross for our sins. And how we are to faithfully share that good news -- the gospel -- with others.

The gospel in the air is shows a cosmic view of things. Chandler writes, "When we consider the gospel from the air, the atoning work of Christ culminates and reveals to us the big picture of God's plan of restoration from the beginning of time to the end of time and the redemption of his creation (16)."

After laying the framework for the gospel on the ground and in the air, Chandler warns against choosing one over the other and shows the necessity for the marriage of both views.

The Scripture's complementary perspectives of the gospel on the ground and the gospel in the air help us comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of God's love. Neither perspective dilutes the other but rather shapes our vision of God's saving purposes to the epic scope of biblical revelation. We are after a gospel that is resolutely centered on the atoning work of Christ and scaled to the glory of God... ...May we never assume that people understand this gospel but, instead, let's faithfully live out and faithfully proclaim the explicit gospel with all the energy and compassion our great God and King has graciously given. (221-222)

Chandler's understanding of culture coupled with his unwavering passion to stay faithful to scripture shines through in The Explicit Gospel. Whether you've heard the word gospel before or have grownup knowing the word, The Explicit Gospel is a book that should be read by all.

Chandler's thorough explanation of the gospel has been a great source of encouragement to me as I have been reminded again of the wonderful, powerful, selfless, love of God through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book is in your face which can do one of two things: put you on the defensive or blow your mind.

Let me warn you, if you find yourself becoming defensive over his ideas in this book before you get upset and throw it across the room, ask yourself what it is that has brought out that emotion in you and analyze yourself a bit. Most likely, you will learn something about yourself that you didn't even realize was there. Had you thrown the book across the room, you will probably have missed something that could transform you in bigger ways than you could ever imagine. Read it, you will know what I mean.

Now that I started with that, let me tell you what I liked about the book:

-Occasionally when he tell stories, they are vivid stories that serve as poignant illustrations for what he is trying to teach. Not only does it entertain the reader, but you can definitely relate to where he is coming from.

-He is so honest about his own sin. He doesn't preach at you, he is completely authentic in who he is and where he has come from and where he struggles currently. I think often times preachers who write books avoid talking about themselves because they fear it will look bad or hypocritical or that they have to maintain a "perfect" image to teach what they are trying to teach so people believe them. Not Matt. He is real and honest and that is effective.

-Chandler has a way of understanding human behavior and pointing out, not just the massive ways we fall short, but the minute tiny things that we do on a daily basis that hurt us and we don't even realize it. We have so much to gain from that understanding in our sanctification.

-This book as blown my mind, not surprisingly, and given me new realms of understanding that I want to pursue in my relationship with Jesus. I can't speak for everyone but I know that I know, in theory, what Christ did on the cross and I know that I know, in theory, who God is, but I really want to fully grasp the reality of what all that means, not just for me but for those I share the gospel with. I think this is a fantastic jumping off point for me to really pursue that.

Constructive Criticism:

Matt writes like he preaches, which can be really effective when you are listening to him, but I found it a bit more challenging when reading it. It helps that I have heard him speak so I can imagine what vocal emphasis he might use here or there. I could sort of hear him in my head. As another reviewer said, he does go off on tangents. I plan to reread this book, hopefully in a study of some sort so I can really talk it out with folks to help me wrap my mind around a lot of it. He has quite the vocabulary which honestly shouldn't deter you at all from reading the book, but I had to stop and think a lot in context if I didn't know what a word was, or look it up. Frankly, that adds to my own learning and understanding so it isn't really a bad thing. Just takes a couple more seconds and it isn't often enough to make me not read it. It's not THAT far above my head.

Other reviews:

I think it's important to realize his goal in this book, which should be obvious to you as you read what he is really trying to accomplish by writing it. I have to give him 4 stars only because of the writing style and it being hard to follow AT TIMES, but this is a game changing book.

Many reviewers dinged him a star or two because it wasn't what they expected. I don't think that tells you anything about the book itself. So that's not so helpful. Some folks disagreed with the title of the book and expected the book to exegetically go through the gospel and explain it in detail. It's semantics really. Matt Chandler wants us to be explicit about what the gospel means in our lives and when we share the gospel with others. He explains the dangers of omitting things because they aren't popular to the unchurched or churches trying to hard to attract people by watering down theology to attract more people, etc. Thus encouraging us as Christians to not only be explicit in sharing it but in living it.

He does explain the love of Christ, he does explain the cross, etc. Maybe not the way other reviewers wanted him to, but unfortunately for them, Matt Chandler wrote the book, they didn't. His title is not a misnomer.

I disagree with the claim that he makes nonessentials essentials. A few said this. I think those readers either misunderstood those pieces in context to the point he was making, didn't want to see it or were finding something to be nit-picky about. Read it and decide for yourselves. Hopefully you will have enough foresight not to get stuck in that.

It will change your perspective on "religion," on how you see God, the cross, Christians, yourself, etc. It's a must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to read this book based on its title. I do think we need an “explicit” gospel preached from our pulpits, but I guess what I anticipated was a bit different. I was hoping to hear a call to return to the preaching of the cross and forget all the false gospels that abound (seeker-sensitive, prosperity preaching, word faith and of course the ever-ambiguous emergent messages). Instead, the book calls for preaching the cross, but also for being partakers in restoring the world. The former is great, but I think the latter lacks biblical support (at least in the way it is explored in this book).

I think Chandler correctly identifies “moral therapeutic deism” as a false belief many hold instead of the actual gospel. The gist, as he put it, was “that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior.” Of course this is the basis of most religious systems: work hard enough at being good and maybe you’ll get in.

Christianity however is radically different. It challenges us to accept the fact that we cannot ever be good enough, and demands repentance from our sins. In brokenness and humility we are offered the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in what Jesus Christ did (in his perfect life on earth and his death, burial and resurrection). Being a Christian means placing our trust in what Jesus accomplished for us, rather than trying to save ourselves through various rites, rituals or rules.

I found myself in agreement with most of Part 1, but Part 2 (Gospel from the Air) I became uncomfortable with the argument that cosmic restoration (or the redemption of creation itself) has already begun. I relied on Pastor Gary Gilley's review of the book to help me understand why this idea didn't jibe with my understanding of scripture. Gilley pointed out that Chandler is confusing the purpose of Jesus' first and second comings.

I have a more thorough review of the book on my blog: Steak and a Bible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
Format: Audio CD
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler is an expanded and thorough examination of the gospel and how it relates to Christians today. It covered all the major areas of the gospel in great detail and provides a good foundation for theology. He expertly uses the two perspectives, on the ground and in the air, to point out how each part fits into the gospel.

It starts with the sovereignty of God and the truth that the Bible is about God and his relationship with mankind not about mankind. It is clearly stated that we are to bring glory to God not glory to ourselves. Also the main aspects of the gospel are covered in great detail including that we are sinners and need God to save us, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save us by dying on a cross and rising from the dead.

I have been a Christian for many years and I know the gospel quite well but I was still getting revelation out of this book. The concept of using both the on the ground and in the air perspectives was something I had never consciously considered and I found it quite useful.

The narration was very good as usual and it made it very easy to listen to this book.

This is a very good book on the gospel and would be a very useful book for every Christian to read as it is about the core element of Christianity.

This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
The Explicit Gospel is vintage Matt Chandler all the way. I really wanted to love this book. It had everything going for it: a dynamic pastor in his debut print offering, a trusted publisher, and the hottest topic in Christian literature right now. Alas, the book I hold in my hands is not the book I had dreamed up in my head, and thus I had to settle for merely liking the book.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good book and worth the price of admission. However (as a subscriber to Matt's sermon podcast for years now) I was hoping that sitting down and writing out his content would force Chandler to reign in some of his rabbit-trails and awkward trains of thought. Unfortunately, this was not the case. And only adding to the confusion, Jared Wilson's name also appears on the cover, but I finished the book still at a loss as to what exactly his contribution was (even after a prolonged search).

But--and this is a huge "but"--if Matt Chandler's clarity in his train of thought suffers at times, his clarity about the gospel stands out all the more starkly. Matt Chandler bleeds the gospel. When he gets excited, he gets excited about the gospel. When Matt Chandler goes off on a rabbit-trail, he rabbit-trails to the gospel. If we must choose to sacrifice clarity regarding something, it is better by far to sacrifice clarity on a train of thought rather than clarity on the gospel. Only one thing is needed. Matt has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from him.

In the end, I am happy to recommend The Explicit Gospel because it has a burning center of gospel heat. While it didn't always suit the tastes of my logical, linear, Enlightenment-addled mind, my heart was inflamed at the beauty and the sufficiency of the gospel. I'm sure Matt would be the first to say along with Paul, "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." If that's not the explicit gospel, I don't know what is.
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27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The past few years have seen an influx of books from writers thinking through what the Gospel is and what it demands. Some of these books significantly advance the conversation on the Gospel, while others do not. The Explicit Gospel by Pastor Matt Chandler with Pastor Jared Wilson significantly advances and re-orients the current Gospel conversation by focusing on the Gospel in the air and on the ground.

Pastor Chandler ministers in an area of the country where many people understand Christianity as a cultural identity but do not know the Gospel explicitly. He writes that in ministering to twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, "the gospel had been merely assumed, not taught or proclaimed as central, and hadn't been explicit" (13). The gospel on the ground, helps one see "clearly the work of the cross in our lives and the lives of those around us, capturing and resurrecting of dead hearts; we see the gospel extended in this way when Jesus and his prophets call individuals to repent and believe" (16). The gospel on the ground is at the micro level while the gospel in the air is the story. In the gospel in the air we "find a tour de force story of creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation--a grand display in his overarching purpose of subjecting all things to the supremacy of Christ" (16).

Chandler like any good Pastor in The Explicit Gospel warns his readers of becoming to individualistic and syncretic by calling Christians to know the Gospel explicitly and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus Christ. This book is one of the finest and fullest treatments on the Gospel that I've ever read. While dozens of books make the New York Times best-sellers list every year, I sincerely pray that this book will make that list, because it will shock and offend people with the Truth, but always lead them back to the fount of all blessing in Jesus Christ by revealing to its readers the glory of God and the beauty of Jesus.

The Explicit Gospel is a well-written, biblically faithful and robust explanation on not only what the Gospel is but how the Gospel should inform and transform Christian's lives. In a style that pulls no punches, Pastor Chandler accomplishes his goal in this book in making much of "our great God and King Jesus" (222). The Explicit Gospel is a great book for those who have no idea what the Gospel is and should be required reading for every Christian. Pastors or ministry leaders ministering in contexts that are plagued by moralism should read this book to learn how to combat moral therapeutic deism. Regardless of whether you're a new or mature Christian, you need to read The Explicit Gospel to be reminded afresh of the beauty and glory of all Christ has done on your behalf. I recommend The Explicit Gospel wholeheartedly and sincerely pray that many readers will discover afresh the beauty of Jesus as they read it.

Title: The Explicit Gospel

Authors: Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson

Publisher: Crossway (2012)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Crossway Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I suppose you could say that Chandler's book The Explicit Gospel is a simple message - in a sense, the gospel is a pretty simple, straight forward message. On the other hand, this is not a simple, easy-read book. In my opinion, Chandler is old school - and by that I mean like "Puritan" old school. He calls sin sin (imagine that). He's in your face with the harsh reality that sin has separated mankind from God and has also had a devastating impact on all of creation. He doesn't soft sell the problem - and to a world of overly sensitive people who don't like to hear difficult messages, Chandler just tells it like it is.

But that's the very essence of Chandler's message - unless the bad stuff is really bad, you won't understand just how spectacular the good stuff is by comparison. Reminds me of James MacDonald - "face in the dirt" type stuff. And that's Chandler's take on the Gospel - it's "good" news precisely because of the incredible and infinite mess we're in! That's what makes the work of Christ on the cross so immeasurably wonderful, why grace is so fantastic - because there was no way that man was going to be able to earn the favor of an Almighty and Just God. But God is also merciful and loving - and these concepts meet perfectly at the cross of Jesus Christ.

If you're looking for something new or different - The Explicit Gospel isn't for you. If you're looking for the cold hard truth about the reality of the world you're living in and the condition of mankind - try this one on for size! And if you're looking for hope and redemption - if you're wondering if there is any way that a perfect God could ever love an imperfect being like you - definitely grab The Explicit Gospel - you'll be pleasantly surprised that the harshness of the message is perfectly balanced by the grace and mercy of God's goodness. That's what makes the Gospel the greatest story ever told - it never gets old, it never gets dull, it always speaks to the heart of every man because we are all dead in our transgressions and without hope if we don't have Christ!
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