I want to start off this review by beginning at the back of this book by Pastor Matt Chandler. In the last section, Moralism and the Cross, a quote is included by John Owen which summarizes the whole point of The Explicit Gospel.
“Herein would I live; herein would i die; hereon would I dwell in m thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, unto the crucifying all things here below, until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for affectionate embraces. For these and the like reasons, I shall first inquire into our beholding of the glory of Christ in this world by faith.”
The glory of God in the face of Christ is what this book is founded upon. The working off all things to the glory of God is the prime message of the gospel that Matt Chandler pulls directly from the pages of Scripture. In this short book we have a full explanation of the gospel from its seed to its full growth in the life of a believer. The Explicit Gospel is broken down into three palatable portions. The gospel on the ground, the gospel in the air and the implications and applications of both. In other words, the gospel at the micro level and the gospel at the macro level. Chandler explains it this way, “One gospel, two vantage points. Both are necessary in order to begin to glimpse the size and weight of the good new, the eternity-spanning wonderment of the finished work of Christ”.
So from the first pages of this book Chandler gets right to the point, as is his style of preaching. The first couple chapters are taken from various sermons so they are delivered with a punch of truth and a side of comedy. The second section does not waste time either, “We don’t need all thirty-six verses of ‘Just As I Am,’ a plaintive pleading from the altar, heads bowed, eyes closed, and shaky hands raised to issue a gospel invitation. No, the invitation is bound up in the gospel message itself. The explicit gospel, by virtue of its own gravity, invites belief by demanding it”. The rest of the book continues with much of the same language, never-ceasing to let the reader stray from the true gospel and it’s implications on one’s life.
My pen took a rest after the first section as I walked out further into the sea that is the gospel. Seeing the gospel from 30,000 feet can be pretty eye-opening. As I viewed the creation, fall, reconciliation, and consummation of all things, the gospel story became knit together to form the over arching storyline of the entirety of Scripture. Here in this section I found myself wading in the pool of apologia and loving it. With a very strong defense of the gospel Chandler takes a lengthy look at what science would say regarding the work of Christ on the cross. I found this second section to be most helpful for me because I can relate to how easy it is to get bogged down in the fine details of scripture and missing the grander story contained within.
Finally reaching the last chapter I again marked the heck out the last chapter. Chandler suggests from scripture some ways to make war against sin that would make the gospel into a moralistic ideal. The gospel is not about stroking our egos and making our churches bigger, it’s about the glory of God in face of Jesus Christ. Chandler finishes the book with some helpful insights regarding how the gospel can easily be distorted and offers a clarion call to return to the gospel as it is found in scripture. Chandler draws us to a close with these words, “May we never assume that people understand this gospel but, instead, let’s faithfully live out and faithfully proclaim the explicit gospel with all the energy and compassion our great God and King has graciously given”.
An after word by Josh Patterson, a pastor alongside Chandler, echoes this call to live out the gospel explicitly. ” Don’t waste life by living an assumed gospel; rather, flesh it out and connect the dots for yourself and those around you. Talk with your spouse about how christ’s person and work relates to everything. Pass this on to your kids. Mention christ. Talk about christ. Point to christ. Relate to christ. Oftentimes where the gospel is assumed, it is quickly lost.