- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Crossway; Reprint edition (June 30, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1433542110
- ISBN-13: 978-1433542114
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 335 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Explicit Gospel (Paperback Edition) Paperback – June 30, 2014
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“If you only read one book this year, make it this one. It’s that important.”
—Rick Warren, number one New York Times best-selling author, The Purpose Driven Life; Pastor, Saddleback Church
“This book, like the gospel itself, is clarifying, convicting, comforting, and compelling all at the same time. I wholeheartedly invite you to read it, to be overwhelmed by the mercy and majesty of God in the gospel, and then to spend your life making this gospel explicit in every facet of your life and to every corner of the earth!”
—David Platt, President, International Mission Board; author, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
“People who come face-to-face with death make the best evangelists. I have to believe that’s why my friend Matt Chandler is so passionate about a clear, biblical presentation of the gospel. Life is short. Eternity is long. May this book drive you to greater clarity in preaching the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ.”
—James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church
“That the gospel is not clearly taught in classic liberalism is disheartening but not surprising. That frequently the gospel is not taught in evangelical congregations is both disquieting and surprising. Evangelicals will not deny the gospel, but they may assume it while talking about everything else—and that is tragic. Matt Chandler issues a robust call to make the gospel an explicit and central part of our preaching, and takes pains to show what that looks like. Amen and Amen.”
—D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; cofounder, The Gospel Coalition
“Matt Chandler presents the gospel in a way that is balanced, hope-filled, and very, very serious, all the while presented with Matt’s trademark humor. Even more faithful than funny, Matt insults all of us (including himself) in a strangely edifying way, and in a way that I pray will make you treasure Christ even more.”
—Mark Dever, pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; president, 9Marks
“The Explicit Gospel is a roadmap and wake-up call to our generation to grasp the full, expansive, and true gospel story. Matt is a leading voice, a great expositor of the Scriptures, passionate about Jesus, and serious about the gospel and making God known. When he speaks, I listen, and when he writes, I read. This book reflects the clear and core message of Matt’s life, leadership, and passion for a generation hungry for truth.”
—Brad Lomenick, Executive Director, Catalyst
“Too often the gospel fails to take root when it is assumed. The explicit gospel transforms individuals, churches, and nations as the mission of God is carried forward. Matt Chandler has gifted the church with a powerful tool to combat the assumed gospel. The Explicit Gospel is a serious threat to the moralistic, therapeutic deism that cripples the lives of so many. I highly recommend this book to both believers and unbelievers alike.”
—Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
“Matt Chandler’s excellent book will help Christians avoid common errors that occur when we make assumptions about the meaning of the word gospel.” (April 2012)
"The Explicit Gospel brings extraordinary clarity and creativity to what all assume is understood—but quickly realize has been forgotten.” (May 2012)
About the Author
Matt Chandler (BA, Hardin-Simmons University) serves as lead pastor of teaching at the Village Church in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Acts 29 Network. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lauren, and their three children.
Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, and managing editor of the seminary's website for gospel-centered resources, For the Church. He is a popular author and conference speaker, and also blogs regularly at Gospel Driven Church hosted by the Gospel Coalition. His books include Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, Gospel Deeps, The Pastor’s Justification, The Storytelling God, and The Wonder-Working God.
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This is one of the best books I have read about the fine line between knowledge of God and KNOWING God. The example given are precise in their theology and application of it to life.
Thank you, Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson. Thank you both so much.
However it's the best thing out there that I've came across, regarding a good understanding of the gospel.
In addition, Joe Thorn delivered an incredibly cogent book on preaching the gospel to self daily in Note to Self. Rounding it off with Trevin Wax's most excellent work contrasting the counterfeits to the one true gospel in Counterfeit Gospels, a book I reviewed just this last week.
If you happen to read the above reviews, you will likely find how I've grown in the grace of God through these works and how my writing has matured stylistically and selectively keeping the purpose of wholesome speech in mind.
Now on to what we've been waiting for, a review of the Explicit Gospel, a work from an author that has been anticipated by this blogger for nigh about a decade. I have watched with eagerness and joy the gospel-ministry of Matt Chandler for nearly a decade. I served with him briefly at CrossCamp. I attended the Metro Bible Study at Prestonwood. I served and attended at the Village Church for a year of training while at Dallas Seminary. I prayed for him along with thousands others as he battled cancer, and I had the joy of listening to him preach at T4G on the eschatalogical wonder of the gospel this last year. Therefore, this book has been an incredibly joyful read!
The Explicit Gospel is the culmination and product of Chandler's prayers and reflection upon pastoral ministry and the gospel during these many years at the Village Church. Not to be forgotten is the seamless interplay of countless conversations between Jared Wilson and Matt Chandler as this project came to fruition. These men have carefully considered the premise of this book and presented the premise in a very digestible and helpful fashion. Because of the thoughtful writing of these two men, this book has been a delight to read!
The Premise and Structure
The premise of the Explicit Gospel is primarily concerned with the pattern that Chandler kept seeing as a pastor at the Village Church. This pattern is that people grew up in church, attended every event, walked the aisle/got baptized, then fell away from Church, returning again as an adult to finally hear the gospel explicitly. Chandler describes his response after hearing some more of these testimonies in this way, "That night for the first time I asked the question, 'How can you grow up going to church every week and not hear the gospel?' I quickly decided that these people had heard the gospel but didn't have the spiritual ears to truly hear it, to receive it (Chandler, 12)."
Chandler goes on to consider this common phenomenon by making the following astute observation of how many churches are pastored and many functional church goers think:
For some reason--namely, our depravity--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. This sort of thinking is devastating to the soul. We call this the "assumed gospel," and it flourishes when well-meaning teachers, leaders, and preachers set out to see lives first and foremost conformed to a pattern of behavior (religion) and not transformed by the Holy Spirit's power (gospel) (Chandler, 14).
The result of Chandler's premise is a journey of making the gospel explicit. Chandler says, "But I want to spend my time with you trying to make sure that when we use the word gospel, we are talking about the same thing (Chandler, 15)." Chandler begins making the gospel explicit by providing a novel perspective of two ways to view the gospel. He refers to the first as the gospel on the ground (a micro-level of the gospel) and the second view as the gospel in the air (a macro-level of the gospel). Both views are looking at the same concept, the gospel, but they are seeing the different effects that the gospel has on everything. In fact, Jared Wilson in his forthcoming release of Gospel Deeps refers back to the gospel on the ground as a microscopic view of the gospel and the gospel in the air as the telescopic view of the gospel (Wilson, 36 1st proof). I think this is a very appropriate way to surmise these two perspectives of the gospel.
With the first view of the gospel, the gospel on the ground, we see how God works redemption for the purpose of restoring humanity from its fallen position to its rightful position. This aspect focuses on the concept of justification. This whole section keeps individuals in mind. Chandler describes the gospel on the ground through the biblical narrative of God, Man, Christ and Response. He says, "When we consider the gospel from the ground, we see clearly the work of the cross in our lives and the lives of those around us, the capturing and resurrecting of dead hearts (Chandler, 16)."
The gospel in the air views the gospel with restoration of all creation in mind. This section of the book is structured around the scripture of Romans 8.22-23. "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." In this section individuals now see how they are part of a cast in a much bigger play. God is performing a mighty work that will result in the eventual restoration of all creation. "Here we find a tour de force story of creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation--a grand display of God's glory in his overarching purposes of subjecting all things to the supremacy of Christ (Chandler, 16)." This angle of the biblical narrative conveys how the gospel is more than personal. It is cosmic. Chandler says, "As we examine the gospel in the air, we'll see from the scriptural testimony of Jesus's atoning work that the gospel is not just personal, but cosmic (Chandler, 16)."
The Explicit Gospel concludes with an extremely helpful section about the many dangers of over-emphasizing the gospel on the ground or doing likewise with the gospel in the air. Chandler presents three dangers for staying with the gospel on the ground too long. These dangers include: Missing God's Grand Mission, A Rationalized Faith, and A Self-Centered Gospel. The dangers for staying with the gospel in the air too long are: Syncretism, A Christless Gospel, Culture as Idol, and Abandoning Evangelism.
Takeaways from the Explicit Gospel
I seriously enjoyed how Chandler and Wilson tackled some complicated and controversial issues in a very gracious and even-handed manner. They did not shy away from talking about the severity of God but rather highlighted how loving God's severity is, "In the same way that it is not loving or kind not to coach your children on the dangers of the street and the dangers of the swimming pool, so it is not loving not to warn men and women about the severity of God (Chandler, 41)." They painted an accurate portrayal of heaven and hell and guided readers to the right motivation for desiring the former over the latter, "Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it's a place for those who love God (Chandler, 49)."
They exposed how many shy away from centering the gospel on christ because they wish to exalt self over Him.
In fact, all across the evangelical landscape, people want to get away from the shame and the blood and the guts and the horrific slaughter of Jesus Christ and focus on something else with the cross out on the margins. But the reason we do this isn't so much to rectify an imbalance but to idolatrously elevate ourselves. It's like the charismatics who want to make the day of Pentecost central to the Christian faith. Or the Calvinists who want to make TULIP central. Liberals want to make social justice the center. Fundamentalists want to make moral behavior the center. (Their motto is "Do, do, do," but the cross screams out "Done!") All of those things are good things, biblical things. But to make any of them the center of the Christian faith, the grounds of our hope, is to disregard the only power of salvation--the message of the cross (Chandler, 59).
As they discussed the issue of creation, they neither gave way to science's theories nor overstated what the bible says about creation. "The only reason we feel compelled to accommodate science is that science tells us we ought to. But it is science that should accommodate revelation. Revelation has been around much longer. We also have to admit up front that the Bible just isn't overly concerned with science (Chandler, 100)."
Finally, the personal anecdotes brought life to the issues. As Matt Chandler relayed story after story of encounters and interactions he had with people, I was better able to understand the urgency of making the gospel explicit and the tact and manner at which we ought to deliver gospel truth to the lost. So many of the issues relating to misunderstanding the gospel or over-emphasizing one of these two ways at looking upon the gospel could be resolved if believers were more trained on doctrine and more intentional with keeping Christ central and God's glory pre-imminent. The Explicit Gospel accomplishes both of these needs. I found myself sharpened doctrinally and reflective on how I could live Christ-centered for God's glory.
I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book from Crossway, today! This book will get you excited about gospel ministry and motivated to make the gospel pervasive in your spiritual life. There are a couple other helpful reviews out there on the Explicit Gospel. I encourage you to give them a read as well. I found Aaron Armstong's review at BloggingTheologically.com and Camden Bucy's review at Reformation21.org to be the most helpful reviews.
View more book reviews by Joey Cochran at jtcochran.com.
I grew up in the non-denominational church world. My understanding of salvation was that God sent Jesus, and Jesus willingly came, to Earth to live as a man and die for my sins to save me from Hell. There may have been more taught about the gospel, but that was really all that I understood about the gospel until I was around 20, when I entered the Baptist church world and the discipleship pastor lovingly kicked my legs out from under me and proved I really had no idea what the gospel was. For the first 20 years of my life I was stuck in what Chandler calls the "gospel on the ground."
Chandler defines the "Gospel on the Ground1," as God, Man, Christ, Response. Or, how the gospel affects us directly through personal salvation. Even then, though, he takes it to a higher level by pointing out that we will never see the beauty of this until "we have first been awed by the glory of God2." So, even in this Chandler rightly points out that the salvation of humanity doesn't terminate on us, but rather rolls up higher and serves a greater purpose of displaying God and His glory in being both just and merciful in offering salvation to those who have committed treason against His Lordship.
Even in our "enlightened" society today, the punishment for treason is death. So, the question in my mind hasn't ever been why those who commit treason against Christ go to Hell, but rather why God would save any of us. If God's primary focus is His own glory, then why save those who belittle His name and attempt to hijack His glory?
In his book The Gospel and the Mind, Bradley Green reminds us that "premodern Christian thinkers almost always engaged in intellectual endeavors against the backdrop of an overarching telos or goal.3"
I think this is helpful for us, because that's exactly what Chandler does in the second section of The Explicit Gospel. He sets the "gospel on the ground" in perspective to the "gospel in the air." If the gospel on the ground is the street level view of what happens to individual people in salvation, the gospel in the air is the 30,000 foot view of what we see throughout Scripture. It's putting the salvation of man in light of the overarching goal of God that we see in Scripture: the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God.
This is crucial for us, because if we lose sight of the goal of the gospel being about God's glory, then we will make salvation all about us, and turn the gospel into something that it is not: a self help program to make us better people. Equally important is keeping the gospel on the ground in focus, because if we only focus on the meta-narrative of God's glory, then we risk becoming unloving to the very people that Christ died for to bring the Father glory.
Who Should Read This Book?
Pastors, home group leaders, teachers, read this book. This will help us keep a balance between the personal and cosmic sides of the gospel. New Christians, especially in America, read this book. This will help us see that while God does love us, our salvation is part of a much bigger story. The Christian who thinks he can just sit there in church, read this book. By God's grace, seeing that our salvation is part of a much bigger story should drive us to get in the game and start making disciples. Those who are prone to arrogance (me included), read this book. Seeing the magnitude of the scope of the gospel will give us some perspective. Those who struggle with feeling they are loved, read this book. Seeing that God loves YOU will, by God's grace, help you see that He loves you enough to include you in His redemptive plan to display His glory.