What Is the Gospel?   -     By: Greg Gilbert
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What Is the Gospel?

Crossway Books & Bibles / 2010 / Hardcover

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This newest addition to the IXMarks series presents a clear, straightforward statement of the gospel, the third mark of a healthy church.

What is the gospel? It seems like a simple question, yet it has been known to incite some heated responses, even in the church. How are we to formulate a clear, biblical understanding of the gospel? Tradition, reason, and experience all leave us ultimately disappointed. If we want answers, we must turn to the Word of God.

Greg Gilbert does so in What Is the Gospel? Beginning with Paul's systematic presentation of the gospel in Romans and moving through the sermons in Acts, Gilbert argues that the central structure of the gospel consists of four main subjects: God, man, Christ, and a response. The book carefully examines each and then explores the effects the gospel can have in individuals, churches, and the world. Both Christian and non-Christian readers will gain a clearer understanding of the gospel in this valuable resource.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 128
Vendor: Crossway Books & Bibles
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 7.00 X 5.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1433515008
ISBN-13: 9781433515002
Availability: In Stock
Series: IXMarks

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Publisher's Description

This accessible volume presents a straightforward statement of the gospel. Gilbert guides both Christians and non-Christians to the Bible as we gain a clear understanding of the central message of God's Word. Part of the 9Marks series.

Author Bio

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? (forthcoming), 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 president of The Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books including Scandalous, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He and his wife, Joy, have two children and live in the north suburbs of Chicago.

ChristianBookPreviews.com

My first exposure to this well-written book was from one of the pastors at our church who lamented that such a book even needed to be written. We are almost two thousand years on this side of the cross and we are still debating why Jesus came. Of course this should not surprise us given the vast importance of the gospel and our fierce enemy who does all in his power to keep mankind in spiritual darkness. So it is with open arms that we welcome Gilbert’s clear presentation of the gospel as found in Scripture. What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert is part of the 9Marks series of books which has two basic premises: the local church is far more important to the Christian life than many Christians realize, and local churches grow in life and vitality as they organize their ministries around God’s Word (p. 11). To this end, 9Marks addresses nine practices that are often overlooked today, including a solid biblical understanding of the gospel (pp. 11-12). Gilbert has written this little volume to address this latter neglected issue.

In the opening chapter the author goes straight to the heart of the matter by presenting the New Testament’s teaching on the good news. As Gilbert sees it, the gospel can be wrapped around four words: God, man, Christ, and response. That is, man is accountable to God; his real problem is his rejection and rebellion against God; God’s solution is found in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; our responsibility is to respond to this message in repentance and faith (pp. 28-31). Said another way, Gilbert believes the gospel answers four crucial questions: Who made us, what is our problem, what is God’s solution, and what makes all of this good news for me (p. 31)?

Each of the next four chapters develops one of the above points. In Chapter Two, Gilbert affirms that if we miss the answer to the first question everything else that follows will be wrong as well. Chapter Three not only discusses our fundamental problem with sin, it also points to four misunderstandings: confusing sin with its effects, reducing sin to a broken relationship, confusing sin with negative thinking, and confusing sin with sins. Chapter four maintains the importance of the substitutionary death of Christ. In Chapter Five Gilbert sees our response to the gospel message as the act of faith alone as understood through the inseparable acts of repentance and belief. He writes, “A Christian is one who turns away from sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ—and nothing else—to save him from sin and the coming judgment” (p. 73). He defines repentance as “turning away from sin, hating it, and resolving by God’s grace to forsake it, even as we turn to Him in faith” (p. 74). And “if we understand repentance rightly, we’ll see that the idea that you can accept Jesus as Savior but not Lord is nonsense” (p. 80). This real change, produced by salvation, will by necessity bear real fruit (p. 82).

Gilbert rejects any idea that the gospel, as he has outlined it, needs supplementation, or even substitution. For example, the popular teaching today that the “full” gospel includes cultural transformation is not Christianity, but moralism (pp. 103-109). The book concludes with a nice chapter on the power of the gospel and our need and privilege to proclaim it.

Despite all the excellent qualities of What is the Gospel? I found his teaching on the kingdom problematic. For example, using Matthew 3:2 he claimed that Jesus said His kingdom had come. First, it was John, not Jesus, who uttered these words and John said that the kingdom was near, not “had come” (p. 88). Gilbert assures us that “come near” could be translated “had come” but he is incorrect. Based on this faulty translation we are told that this means many of the blessings of the kingdom had come (p. 89) and that “the church is where God’s kingdom is made visible in this age” (p. 97). Gilbert does not believe the church is equivalent to the kingdom (p. 95), and that a future completed kingdom awaits the return of Christ (pp. 90-92). But Jesus has inaugurated the rule of God on earth and has begun rolling back the curse of sin (pp. 62-64). The author clearly takes an “already, not yet” approach to the kingdom, but I would have to question his exegesis in this regard, and especially his use of Romans 6 as proof that Christians are in the kingdom (p. 96).

One other matter of concern is his use of J. R. R. Tolkien as one who had professed faith in Christ. As a devout Catholic, Tolkien’s understanding of the gospel would be works-plus-faith as found in the sacramental system. Faith alone in Christ alone has been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. To use a Catholic as an example of a Christian in a book on the gospel is quite confusing at best.

These final two issues aside, I found What is the Gospel? to be a solid and most helpful entry in a debate that is very much alive in the church today. But its greatest benefit will be in the clear presentation of the gospel to those who need better understanding minus the complications that engulf the larger theological discussion. – Gary Gilley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

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Displaying items 1-5 of 10
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  1. Farmer
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    What is the Gospel?
    August 22, 2014
    Farmer
    This book is one of the best there is at explaining the Gospel....I have a campground ministry and have given many of these books away to adult campers. Great book and even better story! If you know someone who is not "born again" they need to read this book!
  2. David Gough
    Alexandria, VA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    The Gospel clearly explained!
    July 24, 2012
    David Gough
    Alexandria, VA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Nothing...I repeat nothing is more important than a clear understanding of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many well-intentioned writers have set out to offer a concise explanation of God's sovereign grace to sinners, but have ended up only muddying the biblical waters. Greg Gilbert's small book (127 pages) has accomplished what others have not. Writing in a clear, sometimes humorous and easily readable style, Gilbert cuts through theological jargon that often sidetracks the layman and gets to the core of the Gospel without robbing it of its essential character. The chapters are brief and easily digestible. The author starts with the the holy and righteous character of God, a critical place to begin and one that is at times watered down in some presentations. From there he moves to the sinful nature of man, thus establishing the "bad news" that makes the "good news" necessary. At this point the saving work of Jesus Christ--His death and resurrection, and purpose for both--is introduced. At this point, man's response--both faith and repentance--is discussed. In my opinion, this is the most valuable chapter in the book. Gilbert does a credible job of distinguishing faith and repentance (showing both to be gifts of God) and explaining why both are required for biblical salvation. He could have stopped there, but adds three additional chapters explaining the benefits of salvation. These provide an edifying conclusion to a well-written and much needed book. I am not overstating the case when I say that this is perhaps the best book I have ever read that attempts to explain the Gospel in terms that can be easily comprehended. My intention is to purchase a supply of these to distribute as gifts to my unsaved family and friends, as well as to believers who struggle to share the Gospel because they have difficulty finding the words in which to frame it. As a pastor, I try to read three or four books each month. This one, along with John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Life" and David Platt's "Radical" are those that I most recommend to others.
  3. David Hegg
    Santa Clarita, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Must Read for today's Christ-follower
    August 24, 2011
    David Hegg
    Santa Clarita, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for What Is the Gospel? - eBook.
    Nothing is more important in our world of diluted belief than a proper grasp of the Gospel. This book shows that the message of rescue in Jesus Christ is not just the minimum amount of truth you have to believe to get on the bus to heaven. Rather, it is God's message to a fallen world that He will not let sin win, and has launched the greatest rescue mission ever, through Jesus Christ. Gilbert has put together a book that should be on every pastor's desk, in every Elder's hands, and on the reading list of every Christ-follower who really want to know, declare, and live out the Gospel message. A truly great read!
  4. ghese
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    July 13, 2011
    ghese
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This review was written for What Is the Gospel? - eBook.
    This book is right on as far as the "whole" gospel is concerned. You cannot talk about man as a sinner without talking about God. You cannot talk about Jesus a a savior without having mentioned God. None of that makes sense without introducing God. If you leave God as the creator and the one who is holy, there will be no reference point for Man, Sin, Jesus and Judgment. The elements that Greg Gilbert lays out are the foundations to the gospel message.

    The moment you mention God as a creator you will get into a discussion on origins and that is where we as Christians need to be equipped. The gospel message and all the major doctrines are capture in Gen 1-11. Side-step that and you will have an incomplete gospel.

    "I love it when the Bible comes together"...borrowed line from the A-team but tweaked appropriately.
  5. Nick
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great book for any Christian
    June 29, 2011
    Nick
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    So easily the gospel is twisted to conform with any individual's desires that what the true gospel is, is almost a mystery. This book easily outlines the basics of what the true gospel is according to the Bible. It is also a great reference for any Christian who already has a very deep understanding of gospel.
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