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What Is the Gospel? (9Marks) Hardcover – March 9, 2010
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"Greg Gilbert is one of the brightest and most faithful young men called to serve the church today. Here he offers us a penetrating, faithful, and fully biblical understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no greater need than to know the true gospel, to recognize the counterfeits, and to set loose a generation of gospel-centered Christians. This very important book arrives at just the right moment."
—R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Two realities make this a critically important book: the centrality of the gospel in all generations and the confusion about the gospel in our own generation. What Is the Gospel? provides a biblically faithful explanation of the gospel and equips Christians to discern deviations from that glorious message. How I wish I could place this book in the hands of every pastor and church member."
—C.J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville
"Greg Gilbert contends that the current evangelical understanding of the gospel is lost in a fog of confusion. He burns away that fog by shining fresh light on an old subject. Gilbert writes in a clear, concise, and colloquial style that will especially appeal to young adults. What Is the Gospel? will sharpen your thinking about the gospel, etching it more deeply on your heart so you can share the good news of Jesus Christ with boldness. It will leave you pondering the extent to which the gospel has impacted your own life. It will cause you to cry out with thankfulness to God for what Christ has accomplished."
—James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church
"A wonderful telling of the old, old story in fresh words—and with sound warnings against subtle misrepresentations. As the old gospel song attests, and as is true of Greg Gilbert’s fine book, those who know the old, old story best will find themselves hungering and thirsting to hear this story like the rest."
—Bryan Chapell, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois
"Greg Gilbert is someone I have had the honor and privilege of teaching and who is now teaching me. This little book on the gospel is one of the clearest and most important books I’ve read in recent years."
—Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks
"What is the gospel? This short but powerful book answers that question with a clear and concise presentation. It is a superb treatment of the good news. Read it and then pass it on."
—Daniel L. Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Greg Gilbert, with a sharp mind and a pastor’s heart, has written a book that will be helpful for seekers, new Christians, and anyone who wants to understand the gospel with greater clarity. I’ve been waiting for a book like this! As a sure-footed guide to a surprisingly controversial subject, it clears up misconceptions about the gospel, the kingdom, and the meaning of the cross."
—Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina
"What Is the Gospel? demonstrates in a sensitive and intriguing way that the gospel is indescribably profound as well as eminently describable—clear enough for anyone to comprehend."
—Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Greg Gilbert cuts through the confusion by searching Scripture to answer the most important question anyone can ask. Even if you think you know the good news of what God has done in Christ, Gilbert will sharpen your focus on this glorious gospel."
—Collin Hansen, Editorial Director, The Gospel Coalition; author, Blind Spots
"This book will help you better understand, treasure, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if you think you know enough about the gospel already, you might need it more than you think."
—Joshua Harris, Former Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep
"Amidst a contemporary Christian culture characterized by rampant confusion regarding the central tenets of our faith, Greg Gilbert has given us a portrait of the gospel that is clear for those who have believed and compelling for those who have yet to believe. Word-saturated, cross-centered, and God-exalting, What Is the Gospel? will capture your mind’s attention and ignite your heart’s affection for the God who saves us by his grace through his gospel for his glory."
—David Platt, President, International Mission Board; author, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
"Greg Gilbert has called the church back to the source of her revelation. In a simple and straightforward manner, he has laid bare what the Bible has shown the gospel to mean."
—Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion
"Clarity on the gospel brings both confidence in the gospel and conviction concerning core gospel truths. This excellent book is wonderfully clear and biblically faithful, and will repay reading with renewed gospel focus."
—William Taylor, Rector, St. Helen's Bishopsgate, London; author, Understanding the Times and Partnership
"When I think of the centerpiece of my Bible, my heart immediately embraces the gospel. I know many people who love the gospel, but I’m always open to loving it more and understanding it better. Greg Gilbert has written this book to help us to know and love the gospel more."
—Johnny Hunt, Former President, The Southern Baptist Convention; Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, Woodstock, Georgia
"What makes this book profound is its simplicity. Perhaps the greatest danger in Christianity is making assumptions about what the gospel is without hearing the Bible’s clear and definitive voice. It is not an overstatement to say this may be the most important book you’ll read about the Christian faith."
—Rick Holland, Senior Pastor, Mission Road Bible Church, Prairie Village, Kansas
"'Gospel-centeredness' has become the new, vogue term for pastors and churches. Greg Gilbert does a masterful job in this book explaining what that gospel actually is. He shows us that many well-meaning churches have distorted the gospel through false teaching, and others have abandoned the gospel because of embarrassment or simply neglect. This is a profound analysis of the gospel, expressed in a poignant, relevant way. I am very grateful for Greg’s prophetic call to return to the straightforward message of the cross."
—J. D. Greear, Pastor, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; author, Not God Enough and Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
About the Author
Greg Gilbert (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of What Is the Gospel?, James: A 12-Week Study, and Who Is Jesus?, and is the co-author (with Kevin DeYoung) of What Is the Mission of the Church?.
D. A. Carson (PhD, Cambridge University) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is a cofounder of the Gospel Coalition and has written or edited nearly 120 books. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.
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I am convinced that fundamentals are key in any sport. Fundamentals are critical in the business world. And fundamentals are essential when considering biblical Christianity.
It seems to be fashionable in the church these days to not only neglect fundamentals but to arrogantly dismiss them. I hear it all the time as people bemoan the ancient creeds and confessions. I hear it when people react negatively to theological terminology. And this reaction to the fundamentals of biblical Christianity has led to a steady erosion of the gospel.
For these reasons, Greg Gilbert's What is the Gospel? is a vital book. It is a return to the fundamentals, a return to the gospel message. This is not a social gospel, a health and wealth gospel, or a gospel that promises mere "fire insurance." This is the gospel that makes demands: "Take up your cross and follow me" (Luke 9:24). This is the gospel that makes an astonishing claim: Jesus came to rescue sinners from hell (John 3:36). Gilbert unpacks the gospel message by rehearsing the fourfold scheme popularized by Mark Dever: God, man, Christ, response.
The gospel begins with God. This God is the creator. He is holy and righteous and commands people to glorify him.
Man is a sinner and is separated from God apart from grace. He is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3) and is in desperate need of salvation.
Christ who is fully God and man came to rescue sinners from hell by standing in their place on the cross as a substitute, bearing the wrath of God, reconciling his people to God, and redeeming them from the slave market of sin.
Sinners must respond to the gospel. They must repent and believe (which are two sides of the same coin). Gilbert writes, "Repentance is not just an optional plug-in to the Christian life. It is absolutely crucial to it, marking out those who have been saved by God from those who have not."
What is the Gospel? is a very basic book. But it is also a very important book. We live in a world where few understand the core message of the gospel message. Gilbert's book cuts through the fog of health and wealth "gospel", the non-lordship "gospel," and the cultural transformation "gospel."
Utilize this little book in discipleship for new believers and membership classes. Give copies to unbelieving friends. And re-read this great book and become refreshed by the reality of the gospel!
Gilbert doesn't do that. Instead he gives a very straight forward presentation of the Gospel, lots of scriptural references and many definitions that you will find helpful in your understanding of the work that God has done in giving us a way to be reconciled with Him.
There are many excellent reviews out here, read through several of them. You will see that everyone is impressed with how Greg put this work together. As part of the 9Marks series this is maybe one of the best in the series.
After reading this you won't be at a loss to explain "what the Gospel is." You also won't be able to sleep at night if you have been watering down the message and trying to soft pedal it. You will be forced to reconcile your thoughts with scripture and I guarantee that the Holy Spirit will move your heart to be prepared to give a good answer to anyone who asks you, what is the Gospel.
My suggestion? After reading this book order a case of the book and give it out to all your friends and then get them together to have a discussion group to make sure that everyone has understood What the Gospel is!
The gospel releases the Christian from bondage, and Liberty is good. But if we don't share definitions communication breaks down. Gilbert gives a concise, biblical, explanation of the gospel as it has been understood since the Reformation (and Radical Reformation) until recent years - the definition that has historically the underlying distinctive to evangelism and has defined evangelicals.
It's brevity may be a weakness, but it is certainly a great strength. Together with its readability, it makes the volume very readable. There are a few places where I wish he had developed some ideas a little more, but if he tried to add "a little more" for everyone like me, it would be a huge tome and not very readable.
He makes the key ideas clear. That is what he set out to do and what I was looking for. I highly recommend this book to new Christians, mature Christians, teachers, and to those seeking to understand Christianity. I purchased several copies - to have some to give away.