Sunday, May 30, 2010

What is the Gospel? By Greg Gilbert

Preach the Gospel. Share the Gospel. The Truth of the Gospel. In the church, we will hear statements like this and they elicit a hearty "Amen" from the eager listeners. But what is the Gospel? Ask 10 people and you will most likely get 10 very different responses. I asked some Christians I know this question and I was really surprised and, in many case, disappointed in their responses. I fully understand that each individual will his own style of articulating the message, but I found that the message and content was inconsistent, sometimes even unbiblical.
This variance in content is why Greg Gilbert's book What is the Gospel? is so important. This short book, with 128 pages including all of the notes pages and endorsements, is easy to read and accessable to any reader. It does not contain heavy theological vocabulary, just simple language to communicate the essence of the Gospel.
The book is organized into eight sections: Finding the Gospel in the Bible; God the Righteous Creator; Man the Sinner; Jesus Christ the Savior; Response-Faith and Repentance; The Kingdom; Keeping the Cross at the Center; and The Power of the Gospel.
This is a must-read for anyone wearing the name "Christian" because this name is grounded in the Gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ. If you are not in agreement with the Gospel, then you are not a Christian and should wear a different name. We are exposed to false gospels on a daily basis which makes it all the more critical to stay grounded in the True Gospel so we are not led astray and may "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).
This book is a great tool to help you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb

In 66 Love Letters, Larry Crabb embarks on a conversational journey through all 66 books of the Bible. In an unusual style, Crabb intertwines his struggles with living the Christian life with responses being communicated from God in the Bible. I don't usually take a long time to read a book, but this one took me several months. I discovered in the early pages that if I was going to benefit from this book, I would have to take it slow. Once I was comfortable with the alternating from Crabb's voice then to God's, I was able to move at a more rapid pace. One of the major truths communicated in the book was how God never promises an easy or comfortable earthly life for His people. In fact, suffering and pain are more common for those choosing the narrow road. I was weighed down at times over this recurring theme, but God kept reminding me to trust Him for what is to come and hope found its way in. I appreciated being pointed to some golden passages in the Bible that are easily missed in some of the least-read books. I recommend this book, but not if you want a quick read or if you want to hear how God wants you to live a comfortable pain-free life. Here is the final paragraph to give you a taste of God's 66 Love Letters to you:

Trust Me. Things are not as they seem. My Son is right now bringing His kingdom to earth. The collision of kingdoms, the resistance of everything opposed to My plan, is the source of all the upheaval in the world. My Son will judge severely. The forces of evil will be destroyed. And He will bless abundantly. My story is about to end in the eternal day of a new way to live in a new world, Can you hear the music? The party is underway. It won't be long till My Son makes everything new. And then you'll really dance!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns (An Exhortation)

You may have noticed that I didn't call this a book review. I found that this book did not need to be "reviewed" but needed to be used as a launching point for an exhortation. The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns goes to the heart of the mission of Christ and the church. He correctly points to the hole in OUR gospel, because what we (the Western church) live out as the gospel is not the Gospel Jesus called us to. Yes we are saved, but have we given all to serve the poor, helpless, and the seemingly hopeless of the world's "least of these" to relieve the pain and suffering and free the captives? Are we spending ourselves for the poor? I look at myself and the answer is NO, I am not! The question that comes next is What now? Do I continue to sit at the buffet restaurant, shoveling food into my mouth while the rest of the world eats the crumbs from my table? And what about the Aids problem? And orphans? The lack of clean water?
Do I even see the food and clean water I enjoy each day as a blessing? Do I consider them at all?
Richard Stearns has written what could be the most important book for the church in many years. This should be required reading for all Christians. Stearns has packed his book with scripture references to show these aren't just his thoughts, but demands and commands from the very heart of God in His Word. In addition to the scripture, he recounts numerous stories of God's people in action to step out of themselves to love their neighbor.
I am left stirred with a shaken foundation, knowing I not only should do something but MUST.
There is a hole in our gospel, but not in THE GOSPEL. As the church, together we must fill it.