Author: Greg Gilbert, a senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisvile, Kentucky.
This book examines one of the topics in the 9 marks series “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church” by Mark Dever closely: a biblical understanding of the gospel. Greg seeks to explain what the gospel is all about. He desires that the readers of this book will; See the importance of the gospel for the life of the church and appreciate Christ for what he has accomplished for us.
“The gospel is a God’s response to the bad news of sin” This is what Greg labors to help the readers first understand the bad news- “God is your judge, and you have sinned against Him” so as to appreciate and embrace the good news (the gospel) “Jesus has died so that sinners may be forgiven if they repent and believe in him”.
The author also helps us understand the good news as he answers the questions; who is Jesus? What is His mission? Why must he die? What does his resurrection mean to believers? He later poses a challenge to the audience to respond to the good news and cites some action points which I find so helpful.
Let’s have a closer look then.
Greg begins by taking us through the book of Romans 1-4 where Paul writes to Christians he had never met about his understanding of the gospel. Paul firstly he points them to God to whom they are accountable to. He then focuses on the Gentiles then to the self-righteous Jews in chapter 2. Paul continues to show them that everyone whether a Jew or Gentile is a sinner and has rebelled against God. He then presents the solution to humanity’s sin; the sacrificial death of Christ. He ends chapter 3 by telling his readers how they can be saved. Finally in chapter 4 stresses that it is by faith alone one can be counted righteous.
I have found it critical to explain how bad is the bad news and Greg does that very well by showing us what sin is, the origin, the result and what sin is not. “Sin is rejecting God, his rule, care, authority and command” sin entered the world through Adam who rejected God’s authority and disobeyed him. Well, the consequences are severe and applied not just to them but to us! We have all sinned. We have disobeyed God’s command, we are unrighteous, and we have committed treason by rejecting the king! So wicked of us! Sin is in us and it rules us. Paul says, we are by nature children of wrath. We therefore rightly deserve to die. We are those who deserve God’s wrath.
However, this is not the end of the story and this relief actually brings the good news to us for God has acted to save us-Christ died that we may live. (Isa 53:4-5) He took our punishment on himself and died for us hence making us righteous before God. This good news is really good. Right? We are now saved! We have a right standing with God. We now belong to God’s kingdom. A kingdom that is here and that will be completed when Jesus returns.
This causes excitement, but how then do we attain this righteousness? What should be our response to the good news? How can we be included in the kingdom of God? Greg expounds on faith and repentance as the finest response. “Faith is reliance and trust in the risen Jesus to save you from sin and from the sentence of death.” It is not by works lest anyone should boast. It is only by trusting in Christ alone. Repentance is renouncing and hating sin. “Repentance is the flip side of faith” It is not an option but a cut-out for believers and non-believers. It is not perfection but resisting sin. It’s waging war against sin.
The author in his quest to expound on the subject the gospel explains what the gospel is not. Something I have found worth noting. For example, “Jesus is Lord” is not the gospel. It’s true Jesus is Lord (lordship insinuates that he comes to judge evil) but we should also explain how he is a savior (forgives and can reconcile us back to himself).
As I wrap up the review, pause a bit and think about the gospel. See God’s unfathomable grace in forgiving rebels, follow his breathtaking plan to have his son die in your place, envision the established righteous kingdom and you being brought into the new heavens and new earth. Does this truth strike you? I find this is worth thinking of again and again.
It’s amazing to note how the author concludes the book. He brings into perspective some action points. They include:
- Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus- acknowledge your inability to save yourself.
- Rest in Jesus and rejoice in the salvation he has won for you.
- Love God’s people and forgive them just as Christ did.
- Share this good news in obedience to the great commission.
- Yearn for the establishment of God’s kingdom but more so for the king, to be with him and worship him forever.(Rev 7:9-10)
What a wonderful response to the gospel! You need to grab a copy of this book and follow keenly through its chapters but most importantly hear the gospel again and again.