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Gospel Wakefulness Paperback – October 6, 2011
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“Gospel Wakefulness was a joy to read. My eyes filled with tears and my heart flooded with joy on numerous occasions. It’s been a long time since a book created the emotion in me that this book has. The chapters on brokenness and sanctification were humbling and beautiful reads. I am praying that Gospel Wakefulness falls into a lot of hands and hearts.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network; author, The Mingling of Souls and The Explicit Gospel
“Is it possible that in our evangelical desire for bigger, better, faster, shinier, and louder we’ve actually dulled our spiritual senses? What can wake us up? Only the astonishment the Spirit brings through the gospel of Jesus. In his new book, Jared Wilson beautifully keys in on our need to be bowled over by the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God and helps us seek real amazement in God’s ‘amazing grace.’ Writing with passion and clarity, Wilson shines the light of Christ on every page.”
—Ed Stetzer, Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College
“Anyone hungry and thirsty for righteousness will be refreshed by the invigorating streams of truth that flow from Gospel Wakefulness. Jared Wilson wants us to delight in the gospel to the point that sin becomes bitter and Christ becomes our supreme treasure. May this book awaken your affections toward the Savior who deserves all praise.”
—Trevin Wax, Managing Editor, The Gospel Project; author, Gospel-Centered Teaching, Counterfeit Gospels, and Holy Subversion
“To paraphrase Solomon, of making many books (about the gospel) there is no end. And I’m glad of it! I pray we never reach the day when we grow weary of writing and reading books about the gospel. That is why I’m profoundly grateful for Jared Wilson’s contribution to this growing genre of Christian literature. He awakens us to the power of the gospel—that alone brings hope in the midst of brokenness and joy—in the stunning truth that a holy God is actually for us. If you need to wake up to the beauty of the gospel (and who doesn’t?), this book is for you. If you’ve ever wondered how the gospel quite literally and radically changes everything, both now and tomorrow, Gospel Wakefulness is must reading.”
—Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“Gospel Wakefulness is one of the most theologically faithful, refreshingly honest, pastorally sensitive, and eminently practical books on the gospel I have read in a long time. Accessible without tiresome clichés or self-serving anecdotes, Jared writes as a man astonished at the riches of God’s grace, committed to the maturing of Christ’s church, and engaged with the advancing of God’s kingdom. The gospel is more clear and precious to me for having read Jared’s book. I cannot think of a greater compliment to be able to offer.”
—Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“How many of us really understand the power of the gospel? It’s about more than just knowing the facts; it’s a deep-down realization that something amazing and wonderful has taken place. Jared Wilson explains that our lives will overflow with incredible joy and thankfulness when we truly comprehend the gospel. Jared’s book changes how we see the gospel and reminds us of just how amazing grace is.”
—Greg Surratt, Pastor, Seacoast Church
“By God’s grace this book will help ignite a burning obsession with the always-overwhelming, always-underrated, and always-powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t read this book unless you are ready to be ignited with a passion for the gospel in an extraordinary way.”
—Burk Parsons, Copastor, Saint Andrew’s Chapel, Sanford, Florida; Editor, Tabletalk magazine
“You’re a Christian, but you’re lagging. Joy is elusive. You struggle to get as excited about your faith as you do about Monday Night Football or lavishly dressed housewives. As sinners, we will all find ourselves in this position at some point. What we need is a fresh vision of the gospel, a new savoring of God’s grace in Christ. Jared Wilson gives us just this gift in Gospel Wakefulness—a book that makes us laugh even as it makes a mark.”
—Owen Strachan, Associate Professor of Christian Theology and Director of the Center for Theological and Cultural Engagement, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; President, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
“Jared is a brilliant writer with an important message, calling us back to the power of the gospel. He reminds us that we don’t need to desperately try to make it attractive because it already is the most attractive thing in the universe! Wilson demonstrates how we can simply and powerfully proclaim the gospel through our lives and ministries. I feel liberated by this much-needed call to gospel wakefulness!”
—Jud Wilhite, author, Eyes Wide Open and Uncensored Grace; senior pastor, Central Christian Church, Las Vegas, Nevada
“You may not recognize your need for this book until you read it. You won’t be sorry that you did, but be warned: Jared Wilson’s relentless focus on the wondrous grace of Jesus Christ may prompt some painful if ultimately liberating reflection on your desperate, everyday need for a Savior. Enjoy highlighting Wilson’s many pithy lines on our ongoing need for the gospel and rejoice over the stories of redemption he tells.”
—Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots
“It’s been said you can’t commend what you don’t cherish. It is clear Jared Wilson cherishes the life-saving, life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. In this book he also commends it, so we will do the same.”
—Elliot Grudem, Director, A29 Network; pastor, Mars Hill Church; Editor, Christian Beliefs
“Gospel Wakefulness clearly explains the difference between simply knowing the content of the gospel and being utterly captivated by it. Jared masterfully paints a picture of what a truly ‘gospel wakened’ soul looks like, all the while pointing to our inability to accomplish this ourselves. He continually points to the magnificent work of Jesus and clearly states how the good news should influence our lives. This book tells the story of how a proper understanding of the law and the gospel leads to not only a bigger view of Christ, but also to a life completely transformed by him. It challenges both new and seasoned Christians to go beyond merely intellectual Christianity and experience the full majesty of the cross of Christ.”
—Justin S. Holcomb, Episcopal Priest; Professor of Christian Thought, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; coauthor, Rid of My Disgrace and Is It My Fault?
About the Author
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.
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including the Preaching the Word commentary on Isaiah, as well as a contributor to the ESV Study Bible. He and his wife, Jani, have four children.
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Top Customer Reviews
What's happened to us that causes us to stop marvelling at the gospel? What's made us fall asleep--and how do we wake up? Jared Wilson wants to help us do that in his new book, Gospel Wakefulness. In this book, Wilson seeks to help readers regain a sense of wonder as he explains what it means to be awakened anew to the gospel and it's implications.
They say that you shouldn't write a book that you haven't lived. And if this book is any indication, Wilson has lived his subject matter well. His love and passion for the gospel is evident in this book--his awe, his excitement, permeates every word as he explains all the concepts behind gospel wakefulness.
And what does gospel wakefulness mean, exactly, anyway? Wilson defines it as, "treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly" (p. 24). Whether it's a "quantum leap forward" or a "gradual dawn," gospel wakefulness occurs through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, "administering the goodness of the gospel" (p. 31). So basically it's a greater understanding and sense of awe and amazement at who Christ is and what He has done. It's an awakening of the renewed and redeemed affections that we've been given as new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
But this is not something that we can learn; it's not something that can be systematized and run as a mid-week program. No technique can bring someone to gospel wakefulness, despite our ingenuity. "Really," writes Wilson, "there are only two steps to gospel wakefulness: be utterly broken and be utterly awed. But neither of these things are things you can really do. They are things only God can do for you" (p. 35).
This utter brokenness, Wilson explains, is nonnegotiable. "To honestly proclaim the greatness of Christ requires honestly confessing the bankruptcy of our own souls," he writes (p. 41). As long as we have other options, Jesus will never be our absolute treasure. That's where pain comes into play--the trials of life draw us closer to Christ, who, rather than normally delivering us from suffering, chooses to do something for us in our suffering. In other words, the situations that we find ourselves in are of no surprise to God--they are opportunities for us to grow in greater dependency on Him, to recognize our need and dependency.
"Sometimes when God closes a door, he doesn't intend to open a window. Sometimes when God closes a door, its' because he wants us inside when the building collapses. . . . God is the Lord over pain; the pain of ife is subject to his power and prerogatives. Because of this . . . we can be confident that our pain is being used for our good. We be sure that no thorns will pierce our flesh except those that will do so for his glory." (p. 46)
This nonnegotiable brokenness is necessary for gospel wakefulness, but it's what leads to great joy and confidence in the gospel--you can't marvel at the gospel without it. And really, that's the point of this entire book--to help you see the wondrous beauty of the gospel. It helps us escape the grip of hyper-spirituality and hopeless legalism, both trying to earn our own sanctification and fail to satisfy. It drives us to study the Scriptures with an eye fixed on Christ and allowing us to truly understand what the Bible is truly about. "We read for more and more knowledge of the hope we have been called to, for more and more glimpses of the riches of our glorious inheritance" (p. 124). Gospel wakefulness allows you to persevere in prayer, knowing that truly, Jesus is your only hope. As Wilson puts it so well, "Until God is your only hope, God will not be your only hope" (p. 127).
Much of the language of Gospel Wakefulness is rooted in feeling--and because of that, it's important to recognize, as the author does, that no two people feel things the same way. Some are more reserved in their emotions, where others are a bit more boisterous. (This acknowledgement was particularly helpful for me, given that I tend to be more on the reserved side.) So the point of gospel wakefulness is not looking for a warm fuzzy, but recognizing that wherever and however you top out emotionally, you do so at the gospel "All of us are moved by something. When I say that gospel wakefulness is about feelings, I only mean that what should move you most is the reality that Christ died and rose for you" (p. 148).
This is good news for all of us, especially those who suffer for depression. It means that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how hopeless things may seem, Christ is bigger than despair. This hope allows the depressed Christian to thumb their noses at depression--they know it can't win, because Christ already has. And Wilson's encouragement to the depressed is that "you will outlast depression, because Christ in you, the hope of glory, will outlast it" (p. 157).
As much as I appreciate Gospel Wakefulness, I do have one point of concern. That is the distinction between the gospel awakened Christian and the one who believes, but isn't necessarily captivated by the gospel. My concern is that this distinction could be used to create a false dichotomy between believers--as if there were Varsity and Junior Varsity Christians (an idea that tends to permeate certain segments of Pentecostal circles). While I'm not sure that was Wilson's intention, it's something that could be problematic for some readers who are particularly sensitive to that kind of thing. But it reveals an elephant in the room--can a believer truly not be in awe of the gospel? We all have season where our hearts wander and our affections are weak, but do the Scriptures give us room to say that there really is a distinction? I'm not sure that the Scriptures give us room to say that it's the case, particularly as we look to what Jesus says to the lukewarm Laodiceans in Rev. 3:16. But then again, I don't think it would be terribly wise to plant a flag too firmly without serious amounts of prayer and study.
Gospel Wakefulness is a captivating picture of what it means to have a heart that is awe-struck by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wilson's exuberant passion for the good news will encourage and inspire you as you read this book. I trust you'll come away from the book further amazed at the grace of God in Christ.
To me it was more like a textbook and felt bogged down with it seeming to wordy and forgive me theological. Maybe it is just the wrong time for me as I am deep into a Beth Moore Bible Study on James and also reading the Historical Bible on YouVersion on my tablet. So I am deep into the gospel and boy is James the one to get you into action. But back to this book.
If you are feeling bored with your faith or worship or just cannot get into the Bible then this book may help you. I would not consider it a light read or for a brand new Christian, It is very well written on a high scale I would say.
It was just a hard book to read when I am already on fire with the Bible and Jesus. I found myself saying yes true, I know that. So to be fair I take away one star as it is a bit wordy, the other parts are about where I am in my relationship with Christ.
For some people it happens simultaneous with conversion but for others, like me, it happens at a time after conversion. What is gospel wakefulness? Wilson defines it as "treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly". (24)
It is not a second conversion experience nor is it equivalent to the new birth (24). It is a strengthening of the affections for Christ alone that comes through beholding the glory of Christ at an intersection of profound brokenness (32). It is Wilson's contention that those that are bored with the gospel say such things because they have never experienced gospel wakefulness.
If I understand Wilson correctly he is saying that gospel proclamation is its own catalyst. Rather than being afraid of the monotony of the gospel we should proclaim it over and over and over and over and over again. The more it is proclaimed the sweeter it becomes. Rather than becoming boring and drab the gospel actually gets better the more it is experienced and beheld. (Perhaps it may be better to say Jesus becomes sweeter the more He is experienced and beheld).
As Wilson weaves stories, illustrations, and biblical defenses throughout this book he is making one simple point Jesus is big enough to captivate our every affection so rather than assuming the gospel let's proclaim it over and over again. The gospel is what drives sanctification. The gospel is what ties a broken and depressed person to a strong and faithful Christ, so let's proclaim it in the midst of darkness. The gospel transforms our hearts and therein also transforms spiritual disciplines. It brings confidence as it links us to Christ.
This book, then, is a simple passionate and emboldened plea to keep the gospel central in our lives and in our churches. It's not a formula or a magic potion. In fact, Wilson admits up front that gospel wakefulness "can't be learned" (34). He explains:
"...all I mean is, neither I nor anyone else can say to you, `Be awed by the gospel,' and have you say, `Okay,' and make the decision of awe. I can and should tell you to `Behold!'--and that is the major function of this book--but whether you will truly see is up to God , and it is usually dependent on how dim all your earthly hopes have grown for you."
Should You Buy It?
Absolutely. I echo the sentiment of Matt Chandler when he says of this book, "My eyes filled with tears and my heart flooded with joy on numerous occasions." Wilson is correct in his thesis--the more the gospel is proclaimed the more it awakens the heart. God used this book to strengthen and dare I say re-stimulate the sufficiency of the Christ and His gospel in my own heart. Through reading this book I began to ache for more of Christ. My heart was truly stirred.
I'd buy this book simply because it is filled with gospel proclamation. At every turn you see Wilson pointing to Jesus and saying "Behold". Eventually, it's gonna click and we'll catch glimpses--beautiful, brilliant, radiant glimpses--of the beauty of Christ. Eventually we'll simply become fixated.