The Explicit Gospel
Chandler, Matt and Jared Wilson. The Explicit Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. $17.99.
Reviewed by Dave Jenkins
The past few years have seen an influx of books from writers thinking through what the gospel is and what it demands. Some of these books significantly advance the conversation on the gospel, while others do not. The Explicit Gospel by Pastor Matt Chandler with Pastor Jared Wilson significantly advances and re-orients the current gospel conversation by focusing on the gospel in the air and on the ground.
Pastor Chandler ministers in an area of the country where many people understand Christianity as a cultural identity but do not know the gospel explicitly. He writes that in ministering to twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, “the gospel had been merely assumed, not taught or proclaimed as central, and hadn’t been explicit” (13). The gospel on the ground, helps one see “clearly the work of the cross in our lives and the lives of those around us, capturing and resurrecting of dead hearts; we see the gospel extended in this way when Jesus and his prophets call individuals to repent and believe” (16). The gospel on the ground is at the micro level while the gospel in the air is the story. In the gospel in the air we “find a tour de force story of creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation—a grand display in his overarching purpose of subjecting all things to the supremacy of Christ” (16).
Chandler, like any good pastor, warns his readers of becoming to individualistic and syncretic by calling Christians to know the gospel explicitly and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus Christ. This book is one of the finest and fullest treatments on the gospel that I have ever read. While dozens of books make the New York Times best-sellers list every year, I sincerely pray that this book will make that list, because it will shock and offend people with the truth, but always lead them back to the fount of all blessing in Jesus Christ by revealing to its readers the glory of God and the beauty of Jesus.
The Explicit Gospel is a well-written, biblically faithful and robust explanation on not only what the gospel is but how the gospel should inform and transform Christian’s lives. In a straight forward manner, Pastor Chandler accomplishes his goal in this book, making much of “our great God and King Jesus” (222). The Explicit Gospel is a great book for those who have no idea what the gospel is and should be required reading of every Christian. Pastors or ministry leaders ministering in contexts that are plagued by moralism should read this book to learn to combat moral therapeutic deism. Regardless of whether you are a new or mature Christian, you need to read The Explicit Gospel to be reminded afresh of the beauty and glory of all Christ has done on your behalf. I recommend The Explicit Gospel wholeheartedly and sincerely pray that many readers will discover afresh the beauty of Jesus as they read it.
Dave Jenkins serves as a pastoral intern at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho where he and his wife Sarah are members. Dave works as a researcher for Docent Research Group. Dave has a Masters of Arts in Religion with an emphasis in biblical studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. Currently, he is completing his Masters of Divinity in Professional Ministries via distance education at Liberty University. Dave blogs at Servants of Grace.