Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored


Book Review: The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

explicit gospelFinished this book this morning, and let me just say, as much as I like Matt Chandler, this book was tough to read through. My initial impression was that his thoughts were scattered, some of his comments were misdirected/mislabeled the issues, and the book itself didn't quite make points skillfully. In short order, he needs a ghost writer to make this flow much better in the future. If you want to read a better book on this subject, I heartily recommend The Green Letters.

Here's the main point that needs to be taken from this book:

The Gospel is the core of what we believe and what transforms us--if we don't make it clear enough, often enough in our churches and our relationships, people will assume incorrectly that we are just trying to be good to earn God's favor--the basis of every other religious system. The gospel is about the restoration of the entire world, one heart and mind at a time, through the power of the Holy Spirit. In order to experience that, people must understand that their sin stands between them and a holy, just God. Then they must understand that there is one payment for sin--past present and future, in Jesus Christ. We must live, preach, and teach this truth.

That said, the book explains why the gospel is important, a message that needs repeated as many times as possible. While I found the book dry for me, I loved the first 30 pages, and the last 15...those thoughts were worth reading the entire thing. Here are some of those thoughts I loved:

We are wired to worship--and if we don't know that it should be God, we find people or things to worship: celebrities, movies, sports teams--the world is full of fanatics for things that really don't matter that much. pg 36-37

God is HUGE, and in some ways, out of our league. We need to live in awe of His power, knowledge, and love. Rather than presume that He owes us something, or that we can earn His favor, we need to start coming to God on HIS terms, not ours. pg 28-29

We need to learn to let go of the past--God forgives our past, present, and future sins in Christ. However, we let those things come back to disable us. We need to see the past as God sees it--we died to that life. It no longer matters. What matters is the present and how we move into the future, with the new life God has given us. pg 212-213

The key to defeating sin is twofold: We need to kill the root of our sin--to have our heart's motivations reshaped, and we need to fall deeply in love with God. If we can do those things, then following God will become far more attractive than sin. But it takes time. It takes a deep conversation with God, and the insight and accountability of others. If we are just trying to cover our bad behavior or stop it, we need to make sure that we understand God's purpose in saving us--it is not about earning God's favor! pg 216-219

Those are the best part of the book for me. Without trying to slander Matt, whose intentions are great. Here are a few things I think he could have argued better.

Matt tended to attack messages and preachers for not preaching the saving news of the gospel at every event. He seems to think that we need to explain the work of Jesus every time we are in front of people. That's distracting, and its overkill to me. Coming to Christ takes time, takes the full breath of teaching of what our Scriptures have to say. He took a non-believer to a True Love Waits rally for Christians on sexual purity, expecting her to hear the gospel. Wrong event, wrong person, not the wrong message, in my opinion. He was placing expectations on an event that he should not have. I don't take non-believers to the Leadership Summit, or a Married Life Live conference to let them hear Jesus on the cross. I take them to a service intended for non-believers.

Matt tended to portray the gospel as if it would always evoke an immediate response--as if a person is changed dramatically for good or worse by a single sermon.  I think that most people take a lot of time to come to a saving faith--they listen to our sermons, watch our actions, and begin to trust God slowly by hearing about how much love and mercy and grace God has for this world. Demanding a response from people short-circuits their ability to be drawn by God. We need comfortable, yet challenging church environments and relationships with people that allow them to "taste and see" that God is good, trustworthy, and gracious without demanding an response until they are ready. pg 63


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