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Book Review: What is the Gospel?, by Greg Gilbert

  • Crossway
  • March 2010
  • 128 pp.

The gospel, thankfully, is being made much of these days–just look at my review list, with titles like Gospel Transformation, Gospel-Powered Parenting, The Gospel for Real Life, Bringing the Gospel Home… and, if you look at my tags, “the gospel” is the #1 most-used. And indeed, this is as it should be. After all, the gospel–Greek for “good news”–is what the Bible is all about.

But the tricky thing with words is that so many of them mean one thing to one person and much different thing to another. Take, for example, the word “Israel.” Depending on who you’re talking to and what you’re conversing about, Israel can mean a modern nation state in the Middle East, a nation of people who left Egypt and settled in Canaan, the Patriarch Jacob–and much more! Obviously, being clear on the definitions for key words in any conversation is one way to ensure successful communication.

And so, with many different authors and groups and churches talking about the 2000-year old gospel, Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel is a welcome little book. C. J. Mahaney’s blurb sums up the need for Gilbert’s book quite well: “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.”

Gilbert uses various apostolic descriptions of “the good news” and breaks it down like this: God, Man, Christ, Response. In greater length, he says that the gospel answers the following questions:

  1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable? (God the Righteous Creator)
  2. What is our problem? In other words, are we in trouble and why? (Man the Sinner)
  3. What is God’s solution to that problem? How has he acted to save us from it? (Jesus Christ the Savior)
  4. How do I–myself, right here, right now–how do I come to be included in that salvation? What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else? (Faith and Repentance)
After expounding on each of these points, Gilbert explores what the gospel brings us into–the Kingdom–and what cheapens the gospel–that is, what takes the cross from the center.
Very appropriately, the cross is the center of Gilbert’s book. In the penultimate chapter, he stresses how making the gospel relevant to people should never go so far as to remove the cross from the center of the message. A man who claimed to be God died on a cross–that is the center of the good news; it is the solution to the great divide that man’s sin built between him and the Creator. And the proof of that being the solution is that the God-man rose from the dead victoriously.
This small book is great.

Buy it at Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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 Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

7 Responses to Book Review: What is the Gospel?, by Greg Gilbert

  1. steve240 says:

    Have you heard what Mahaney has admitted doing and that he has stepped down as leader of Sovereign Grace Ministries? It looks like at best Mahaney is an exampe of do as I say vs. how he does.

    The worst thing is how Mahaney blackmailed the cofounder of their group Larry Tomczak and that Mahaney hid this sin for 13 years.

    A few blogs to look at are:

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com
    http://www.sgmrefuge.com
    http://www.thewartburgwatch.com

    Hope this helps.

    • davestuartjr says:

      Steve, thanks for bringing this up because I was completely unaware of it. After looking into it for a bit, I praise God for the example that Mahaney is setting — he is publicly confessing, repenting, and seeking reconciliation. Obviously his sin isn’t commendable, but if we look reflectively at what he has done and compare the heart attitudes beneath it with our own hearts, I hope that we’ll see places where we, too, need to confess and repent and seek reconciliation.

  2. steve240 says:

    Dave Stuart Jr.

    Apparently you haven’t seen these blog posts:

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2011/12/29/cjs-state-of-his-heart-message-reflection-on-personal-sins.html

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2011/11/12/transcript-of-cj-mahaneys-remarks-at-sovereign-grace-ministr.html

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/?p=3123

    It sure doesn’t look like Mahaney is ” is publicly confessing, repenting, and seeking reconciliation.” as you seem to think, Even Covenant LIfe Church (SGM’s “flagship” church) expressed concern with what Mahaney said.

    • davestuartjr says:

      Steve, I apologize for not looking at these documents more in depth. I certainly don’t want to spread a mistruth, so I encourage readers to take a look at these documents more closely and to make prudent application of these events to their own lives.

  3. steve240 says:

    Dave Stuart Jr.

    I notice you haven’t approved my response to your comment. I hope you have at least looked at the links I sent you. Mahaney is doing anything but setting a good example. If anything it is quite a sad example and conflicts with a lot of what Mahaney has taught.

    When people like you commend Mahaney you are enabling him and helping him not see his sin.

  4. steve240 says:

    Here is a link that gives Larry Tomczak’s explanation of what happened to him including C.J. Mahaney blackmailing Larry Tomczak. Mahaney then hid this sin for over 10 years including the time period he wrote his book on humility.

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/?p=3203

    I heard Larry Tomczak speak not long after the Detwiler documents were published and Larry was hopefuly that CJ Mahaney was repenting. After Mahaney gave his pompous speech at the SGM Pastors’ Conference was when Larry issued the statement shown on above link. Apparently Larry now doesn’t think Mahaney is willing to acknowledge and repent of his sin. This is quite sad.

  5. I read this book. Picked it up at a Do Hard Things Conference =)

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