Too few people attending church today, even those in evangelical churches, are exposed to the gospel explicitly. Sure, many will hear about Jesus, and about being good and avoiding bad, but the gospel message simply isn't there--at least not in its specificity and its fullness. Inspired by the needs of both the overchurched and the unchurched, and bolstered by the common neglect of the explicit gospel within Christianity, Matt Chandler has written this punchy treatise. He begins with the specifics of the gospel--outlining what it is and what it is not--and then switches gears to focus on the fullness of the gospel and its massive implications on both personal and cosmic levels. Recognizing our tendency to fixate on either the micro or macro aspects of the gospel, Chandler also warns us of the dangers on either side--of becoming overly individualistic or syncretistic. Here is a call to true Christianity, to know the gospel explicitly, and to unite the church on the amazing grounds of the good news of Jesus!
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- Captivating and Inspiring
Well written, believable, applicable, and powerful. Few dry spots.
- Very good book.
I enjoyed this book very much. It gives a good picture of what our primary focus needs to be in a church's life.
- The Gospel concisely explained
Chandler explains the Gospel in a way that is structured and meaningful. This book gives not only the micro level perspective on salvation (of God saving individual sinners) but the macro level as well (why God is doing so and what He is accomplishing in the cosmos through it). This is a book for a Christian who has been in the faith for a while and has trained himself in the use of the mind for studying the Scriptures.
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- A Helpful Review and Reminder
I first learned about Matt Chandler's preaching via YouTube and through Mark Driscoll. His story about JESUS WANTS THE ROSE is an amazing reminder of how moralistic therapeutic deism is a stench of religiosity that does not promote the Gospel, and that our amazing Savior loves both the Prodigal sons --- the younger one who ran away and the older one who felt entitled.
In The Explicit Gospel, Chandler does a masterful job of helping listeners confront assumptions about God and various theological constructs through a ground war and an air war approach. How do these large concepts play out in the actual minute details of life? Likewise, how ought Christians hang on to the best of both the GROUND and AIR without forfeiting each other? The GOSPEL requires both and I am grateful that this Gospel-focused book has been published for the benefit of many churches and many generations to come.
- Basic, but near brillian
I admit that I went into reading "The Explicit Gospel" by Matt Chandler with low expectations. I downloaded it for free from christianaudio.com some time back and thought I'd give it a whirl while I was waiting to for my next Wendell Berry offering to arrive. I mean, I know the explicit Gospel, right? I know The Four Spiritual Laws, after all. What more is there to know?
Well quite a bit, actually.
The explicit Gospel, of course, is, most simply, as Paul state, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures. Chandler, though, drills deep into the implications of that simple explanation and unearths some definite gems, dusts them off and holds them up to the light so we can enjoy all their facets.
For one, that God is God and we are not. He does not live at our beck and call. He lives for his glory, not to bring us a cup of tea when we're feeling a bit frazzled.
My only complaint about the book is that Chandler a few times goes off on tangents regarding evolution, homosexuality and others. Plus, he seems to go off on the missional movement, which confused me a bit, since I had not heard anyone objecting to it before. Emergent, yes; missional, no. But perhaps there's a connection between the two of which I am not aware.
I think it's well worth reading, whether you know The Four Spiritual Laws or not.
- No holds barred!
As a young adult who grew up in a watered down gospel church home, this message hits close to my heart... people need to hear the truth AND love, grace AND honesty. Without the combination of Father and Judge from God, He becomes irrelevant OR a big gavel crashing down on people's heads. As a Christ follower, it is my job to make sure that the world hears from me the message of Jesus in its entirety!
- Explicit Gospel
Well worth the listen.
- Great Loved It
i really enjoyed listening to this. no beating around the bushes here. just says it as it is.
- Thought provoking
It is definitive. At times I got a little blurry-eared distracted b/c I felt author more interested in soap box re: heaven, creationism and other topics than continuing topic expressed in beginning. I was disappointed in comments re: hymn Amazing Grace. We don't see same message; maybe, b/c I'm more cynical than authors. However, they finish w/aside conversation and return to topic in the end. I found good explanation of ideas, challenge and hope.
- The Gospel with a Calvinistic/Epicurean spin?
After listening to the first few chapters (while grinding my teeth) I had to give up on the book. The author's attempt to show that God is so lofty and pure, that he doesn't need to do anything with or for his created beings, contrasted with how vile and unworthy we are, went on for so long it began to sound like an Epicurean evangelistic sermon.
If the book ever does get to a point where it talks about the love of God for mankind and the explicit gospel of salvation....well, it's too late for this listener.
- what is the true Gospel? Jesus or Calvinism?
As to be expected, this Chandler is coming from the hardcore neo-calvinist/young-restless-reformed theology perspective. In fact, I find it ironic that in a book that is supposed to be about the explicit Gospel, he doesn't see that his interpretation via Calvinism is an additional layer of interpretation on top of the Gospel. If you are already in that "camp" then I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. But if you're not, go read some books by Scot McKnight or N.T. Wright instead.
- Excellant work
The gospel thoroughly explained as it should be, and Apostle Paul taught.
- The Gospel In Its Pure Form
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler is an expanded and thorough examination of the gospel and how it relates to Christians today. It covered all the major areas of the gospel in great detail and provides a good foundation for theology. He expertly uses the two perspectives, on the ground and in the air, to point out how each part fits into the gospel.
It starts with the sovereignty of God and the truth that the Bible is about God and his relationship with mankind not about mankind. It is clearly stated that we are to bring glory to God not glory to ourselves. Also the main aspects of the gospel are covered in great detail including that we are sinners and need God to save us, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save us by dying on a cross and rising from the dead.
I have been a Christian for many years and I know the gospel quite well but I was still getting revelation out of this book. The concept of using both the on the ground and in the air perspectives was something I had never consciously considered and I found it quite helpful.
The narration was very good as usual and it made it very easy to listen to this book.
This is a very good book on the gospel and would be a very useful book for every Christian to read as it is about the core element of Christianity.
This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at christianaudio.com.
- Explores God's holiness and His plan for the future
'The author ties both viewpoints together in the third section in which he shows the merit of both views, each adding meaning to the other.'
G.D.W. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
- Many good points but some unnecessary diversions
In The Explicit Gospel, Matt Chandler explains what the gospel is and why it is important that it is made clear.
One of the things I most appreciated about the book was the emphasis on the importance of deliberately making sure the message of the gospel is clearly proclaimed to both non-Christians and Christians. I’ve so often seen it inaccurately assumed that Christians and even non-Christians grasp the message of the gospel which can have some really unhealthy consequences. Another main strength of the book was that it emphasized both the work of Jesus in an individual’s life and the work of Jesus redeeming all of creation. There is often an unfortunate tendency to overemphasize one at the expense of the other that this book avoids. This book is clear that both are necessary and complement each other.
However, while certainly it is worth being cautious about over-simplifying the gospel, I felt the book sometimes went too far in the other direction. Some points seemed to drag on due to having more explanation than necessary. He also sometimes wandered a bit off topic into things like why limitations of the scientific method make it difficult to conclude with certainty about issues such as the origin of the world or gender roles. He made some very good points that would be worthy of discussion elsewhere but weren’t particularly necessary in the context of the broader argument of the book. I suspect that younger or confused Christians who are most in need of a sound explanation of the gospel might get bogged down in the excess detail and loose sight of the important points.
I “read” this book in audiobook format. The narration was clear and animated enough to not be monotonous. However, if I read the book again, I would probably use a print copy to allow for easier note taking and scripture reference checking.
Overall, although the book might have benefited from being a little more concise, it still has a lot of good things to say and is worth the time to read.
- Great Book on the Gospel
I just finished listening to the Christian Audio version of The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson.
Of all of the books that I've read on the Gospel in the last few years, I would rank this one near the top. Matt Chandler does an excellent job of explaining the Gospel in an... well... explicit way. He describes the Gospel in the broader perspective as the "Gospel in the Air" and the "Gospel on the Ground" is the more personal aspect of the Gospel. He then discusses the dangers of focusing on one aspect of the Gospel without taking into account both the big and the small picture of what God is doing.
I especially appreciated his personal approach, sharing stories and experiences that illustrated different aspects of the Gospel. In many of his stories he was willing to share how he had struggled or gotten it wrong in the past; times where he had shared the gospel in not-so-perfect ways, but God's grace was even in those events of his life, as he so adequately shares. One story he titled, "The Dirty Rose" was especially touching.
If you have questions about the Gospel or you are simply desiring a deeper understanding of the Gospel, then this is a good book for you.
David Cochran Heath, the voice talent for many of Christian Audio's works, does an excellent job of reading through this book. In my opinion, a good voice talent will cause you to forget that you are listening to an audio book, and it will feel more like you are listening to someone talk to you while you are driving down the road.
- Be Refreshed by the Good News
Chandler is an entertaining author who has a witty way with words. His book aims to help us define exactly what we mean when we use the word gospel. To do this he uses two phrases to organize the biblical data regarding the gospel. For the huge, cosmic, universal scope of the gospel he uses the umbrella phrase “The Gospel in the Air” and for the personal message of salvation for individuals he uses “The Gospel on the Ground.” These two phrases set the agenda for the first two sections of the book, and although the book would be helpful with these two sections by themselves, the book appropriately concludes with everyday gospel applications.
Chandler’s book contains a worthy message that is much needed in a day and age where the word gospel seems to be the new catch-term for evangelicals, and often is only implicit. I would definitely recommend this book because the content is excellent and Chandler’s conversational style perfectly fits the audio format.
Full Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Christianaudio.com reviewers’ program, which does give away free books in exchange for reviews, but I am not required to give a positive review in order to participate in this program.
- Good, But Could Have Been Better
I have been enjoying listening to audio books lately and The Explicit Gospel was pretty good book for the most part.
Matt does a good job at laying down the simple gospel by exposing some of the false gospel ideas that are around today but I was finding as I listened to this book that I was desiring something a bit more explicit.
I commend Matt for displaying more fully the complete restoration that the gospel brings as he included the restoration of the earth and all things. This is usually left of of most gospel explanations.
On the other hand I felt his treatment of the gospel could have been more thorough and expository, explaining the most pertinent scriptures more in depth. Some of the language he uses is also a little bit crude for my liking.
All in all it was a good reminder of the grace of God revealed in the gospel and still worth listening too.
This review was made possible through the christianaudio reviewers program but I was not required in any way to give a positive review.
- The Gospel needs to be understood and Explicit.
I want to affirm Chandler's desire that people really understand the Gospel. (Although we have a different definition of what is actually the meaning of the word gospel.) He was struck one day by the number of people that his church was baptizing that said the equivalent of "I grew up in a Christian home and going to church but I never heard the gospel until..." I heard and have thought the same thing. Was it that the gospel was not preached or was it that you did not understand?
But like many Calvinists, his path toward defining and pushing the importance of the gospel takes a pretty standard line. God is great, God owes you nothing, we are saved by God's grace alone, our desire for this world is really a mis-placed desire intended for God. So we must emphasize our sin, the reality of hell, and our lostness without Christ.
There is nothing that is fundamentally wrong with that, but it seems incomplete or at least not the whole story. Yes God is great. Yes God owes us nothing. No God did not create us because God was lonely or lacking something. Yes God created within us a desire for him. Yes we are lost without Christ. Yes we are all sinful and separated from God.
But God also created the world. God created beauty and love and flowers and children and music and sunsets and wonder. To reduce all of beauty and wonder and the things we wonder at and find beautiful to sin is to misunderstand God. God is the creator of beauty and wonder. Yes, we should glorify God because of the beauty he created. But it is not sinful to see beauty and think 'That is beautiful'. It is not sinful (to use his actual illustration) to be excited that your team is winning at March madness. It is sinful to love your team more than you love God and turn it into an idol. But it is not sinful in and of itself to love the world that God created and the things that are here.
God created a good world. It has been corrupted by sin, but it still is beautiful. It still has the ability to full us with a sense of wonder. This is not a dichotomy we have to create. You do not have to minimize the world and call it sinful in order to worship God or to hold God up as great. In fact when you look at scripture, it is the world that is often used as a reason that we should be glorifying God and calling him great.
In a similar way, I want to affirm Chandler's affirmation of the penal substitution model of understanding Christ's death and resurrection. It is clearly biblical and an important way that we understand the work that Christ did on the Cross. But he goes a step further and minimizes the other models of Christ's work. They are also biblical and important and all of them are simply models to help us as human understand the role of Christ and the cross in our faith. A model is not the entire thing. A model of the Eiffel Tower is not the Eiffel Tower. The Penal Substitution model of the work of Christ is not the entire work of Christ. It is a model to help us understand what Christ is doing. In a similar way, there is also the Union model and Cristus Victor and other models. Again, it does not minimize penal substitution to allow that it is one of many models that we should understand any more than it minimizes God to recognize the beauty of a sunset.
A third issue is that Chandler revels in the rejection of the Gospel by many. That is probably too strong, but he seems to want to push people away or at least see rejection of Christ as confirmation that the gospel is being correctly preached. I do not want to say this too strongly. But the fact that people see the gospel and reject it does not mean that the gospel is being preached rightly. I just means that people are rejecting it. Jesus said people will reject the gospel. But Paul says that he will do anything, become anyone in order to remove any stumbling blocks from the way we preach the gospel. Again, it is not a dichotomy for people to reject the gospel and for us to do anything we can (while being faithful to the gospel) to remove barriers that keep people from hearing.
Chandler is clear that just because a church is growing does not mean that the gospel is being preached, and also clear that just because a church is not growing does not mean the gospel is not being preached. We are called primarily to be faithful, it is not our work that saves people, but Christ's work through the Holy Spirit working in them. That I affirm strongly. I just want the caveat that it can be our actions that push people away from Christ. Being unloving and unChristlike does matter. So it is always important that we look at ourselves and see if people are rejecting us or Christ. And if it is us they are rejecting, then we need to repent and change the way we act and the way we share the gospel.
I also think that Chandler makes too much of minor issues around the gospel. On creation he mis-characterizes the authority of science (as most pastors that I hear do). This is a good example of why I wish Chandler had cut about 1/3 of the book and made it much tighter and gotten rid of a few of the extra areas.
Another area I wish he had cut was about capitulation to culture and I am almost on board, and then he brings up women in leadership as a place where modern Christians have rejected scripture and inserted their understanding that is derived from culture and not scripture. While I think he would say that women in leadership is not a gospel issue, he drags it into the discussion as an example of rejecting scripture, which seems to me, by his definition of the gospel, to make it into a gospel issue. And then he explicitly ties egalitarian understanding of women in leadership to acceptance of homosexuality. This is the problem in my mind of the way Chandler wants to frame his understanding of the gospel. There is virtually no way to limit what the gospel is under Chandler's method. Under another method like Scot McKnight's where the gospel is solely the proclamation of Christ as Savior, Lord of Creation and fulfiller of Israel's prophecy, the Messiah and King, it is possible to limit the understand and definition of the gospel. Under Chandler's method, the understanding of the gospel creeps into your entire theology and as much as he does not want it to happen, it become an All or Nothing fight.
In the end I am not sure how much the difference in the definitions of the gospel really matters for most practical theological matters. Both Chandler and I affirm that the end result of our slightly different understandings of the gospel is that we must submit to Christ as Lord, Savior and King. We must live not for ourselves, but for Christ and Christ's kingdom.
I want to affirm Chandler's main point that people must actually know Christ and that part of our role as a Church is to make Christ known. And that requires actual explicit words. It is not good enough to have good works and loving actions that draw people to Christ if we do not continue to actually tell people about Christ. It is not good enough to love people if we do not tell them that Christ loves them as well and help them learn to submit to Christ as Lord and King themselves.
Chandler also has one of the best chapters on end times (Eschatology) that I have read. He focuses on why right teaching is important. And why much of the fascination with the details detracts us from the point. The point is that what is here matters, we should not be escapist in our theology. And what is to come is controlled by God and will be a re-creation of the heaven and earth of now (he explicitly draws on NT Wright here). We will have purpose, no strumming away on harps for eternity. For people unfamiliar with this, I think this chapter is enough to justify the purchase of the whole book. Left Behind and other conjecture books on Eschatology have done much damage to Christianity. It takes our eyes off of Jesus and puts them on speculation and unimportant details.
For most people, I am not sure whether to recommend this book or not. There are brilliant sections and there are sections that I think were mistakes. He is a decent writer and fairly funny. He brought up some quick challenging topics that should be dealt with. But many of those are dealt with in other books just as well or better.
christianaudio.com provided me with a free digital copy of the audiobook for purposes of review.
- A Truly Epic, Instant Classic
Wow! Reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, some of the words that come to mind are “epic,” “invigorating,” and “instant classic.” This is a work that will go down in history as a timely and timeless clarion call for the truth of Christianity.
You probably shouldn’t even read the rest of this review. You should just buy/download it right now and read it!
Matt is obviously both a preacher and a pastor, not just a theologian. The truth he is advocating is always couched in stories and illustrations that are practical and real. He looks at the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he considers central to the Christian faith, from two different vantage points. The “gospel on the ground,” is how the gospel works within our daily lives. The “gospel in the air” tells of how it fits into the grand meta-narrative of Scripture and history.
Matt is both a great thinker and a great communicator. He deftly balances sharp humor and systematic theology. His language never seems inaccessible, but he doesn’t water anything down either. His flow is masterful and relentless. I got the impression I was listening to one epic, eight-plus-hour sermon. Totally captivating.
The highlights are many, but Matt’s retelling of the book of Ecclesiastes is funny, thorough, and by itself worth the price of admission. I found myself re-telling the concepts of this book to people as I read it. I want to buy a hard copy so I can have it for reference.
All that said Matt Chandler accomplished his goal, with me anyway. He led me back to the cross of Jesus to worship more fully and deeply. Integral to this accomplishment, the narration by David Cochran Heath was superb.
Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
- Excellent Distillation of the Gospel
Let me first say that I was looking forward to reading The Explicit Gospel. There's been some hype in the evangelical community about it, and there have certainly been no shortage of authors re-establishing the centrality of the gospel in today's world. For that reason, I'm excited about this contribution because I think it addresses an important issue in our churches - the loss of the gospel as the foundation of Christian church.
Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson are both pastors and have written a very accessible, easy-to-read breakdown of the gospel message of Jesus that touches on many critical theological doctrines. The authors state that this book has been written for a very specific purpose - to clarify what the Bible says about God, man, Christ, and the church because American churches are not doing an adequate job of this. As such, I'm not sure this book is as timeless as others on the subject, but nonetheless it is still a relevant issue (and may resurface time and time again). The book is broken up into three parts: Gospel on the ground, Gospel in the air, and dangers of both sides:
GOSPEL ON THE GROUND
This first part of the book focuses on the holiness of God and the subsequent nature of the sin we commit. The message of this section is that because God is eternally good and righteous, man's sin is not a mere mustard stain on His tie but a complete assault against His character. As a result, an equally eternal punishment is required and that place, Hell, is not something most of us understand, let alone are even aware of. Chandler and Wilson clearly articulate mankind's need for God's rescue through His Savior, Jesus Christ (as opposed to our own rescue through our good works).
GOSPEL IN THE AIR
The second section of The Explicit Gospel steps away from the personal perspective and focuses on the gigantic, all-encompassing application of God's plan of restoration to the entire order of creation. The authors make a compelling case why human sin has wreaked utter devastation on the entire cosmos, and how awesome is God's plan to restore all of it (not just to you or me individually) when Jesus returns to complete what He began with His death and resurrection.
The final chunk looks at dangers in learning too heavily in either direction (on the ground or in the air). The authors argue that staying on the ground too long waters down the gospel so that it's so private and personal, becoming irrelevant; staying in the air too long results in a social gospel that makes Christ an unnecessary part of the picture. They also take on the topic of missions, identifying how evangelism is impacted by both sides and admonishing readers to stay true to the gospel we first received (Gal. 1:9).
There are three things I really appreciated about this book, in terms of its style:
1. The writing style was very personal and easy to follow. It feels like the authors had a conversation that was written down verbatim, humor included. I found myself smiling to myself or even sometimes laughing out loud while reading.
2. There is theological depth without theological drowning. Many major issues are addressed in this book, but unlike many others in its category, this book can be readily understood by laypersons.
3. The illustrations used to make certain points were vivid, which helped me as the reader easily wrap my mind around what they were saying. For example, on page 13 they state, "Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss."
One thing that I struggled with throughout the book, however, was its scope. At times I thought I was tracking with the main thread of a chapter, but the various rabbit trails it took seemed to detract from that in an attempt to broaden the scope to something it maybe should not have. For me, it was noticeable but forgiveable because those rabbit trails were still interesting and important.
The audiobook I listened to, which came to me from Christian Audio in exchange for my unbiased review, was narrated by David Cochran Heath, who did a fantastic job capturing the tone and sentiment of the book. His pace was perfect - not at all slow, but not too fast that it's difficult to follow - and his ability to express the nuances of the text was superb.
Overall I would highly recommend this book. I think churches should pick this up and begin examining their own presentation of the gospel to see if it suffers from any of the pitfalls this book describes. I think pastors should read this and make sure they are making the gospel explicit to their congregations, and churchgoers should read it to identify or stay on that narrow road the gospel paves. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend this to nonbelievers, because it's simply not what its intended for. However, people who have been raised in the church or who may also be newer to the faith will appreciate the clarity with which this book uses in making the gospel explicit. In fact, it might just be the first time they've heard it.
- A Must have for anyone who wants to make disciples!
I had the priviledge of listening to this book as part of ChristianAudio.com's reviewer program.
What can I say - great book! Having been a avid listener of Matt Chandler's for about 10 years now, I had a bit of an insight into what the book would be about. Well my expectations were met and exceeded. It seems to me that since Matt was diagnosed with brain cancer, his preaching has taken it up a notch.
I really do like the audiobook format. Let's face it, most people don't have enough time to set aside and read a book. With an audio book, I normally knock it over in a week or so while I am doing other activities like driving, working out, or working in the garden.
I thought the reader was a little less expressive than he could have been to give Chandler's work the edge it deserves, but all-in-all it was a great experience.
As far as the content of the book is concerned, the "Big Message: I got from it, was to be explicit when teaching or preaching the gospel, not assuming that yourn hearers understand what the gospel is and how a thorough understanding results if fruitful, God glorifying, works on our behalf.
Chandler interviewed a number of people who were newly baptised in his congregation, and found out that they had never had the gospel explicitly preached to them, even though they had attended church/es most of their lives.
Chandler explains the gospel fully - not in a boring old-theologian style - but rather in a bright contemparary style with relevance and humour to boot. He then goes on to show us how the gospel relates to God, man, Christ and our response. There is no mamby-pamby politically correct language, that aims to not hurt anyones feeling, Matt is explicit with the thuth but teaches it from a heart of love.
There really is so much in there that I have purchased the ebook as well to read as well as probably listening to the audiobook at least one more time.
I would recommend this book to any Christian, it may even make a great baptism gift, or New Christian resource, but I would strongly urge any Church leaders, pastors, elders, or anyone serious about making disciples of Jesus - this book will be an invaluable resource.
- A Clear Presentation of the Gospel
When Matt Chandler heard multiple testimonies from new believers that they had attended church for most of their lives yet had never heard the gospel explicitly explained, he didn't believe it. He actually challenged those new believers to go back and look through their notes from sermons, conferences, and youth events just to see if they really heard the gospel or not. Some came back and said, "You were right. The gospel was explained right there." But far too many couldn't find any time when the gospel was made explicit.
That's what Chandler's book does. He first explains the gospel as it applies to the individual, taking a chapter apiece to discuss God, Man, Christ, Response. I most benefited from his chapter on man, which gets straight to the heart of the problem of man: our sin is an offense to God and we need to be saved from His wrath.
The second part addresses the plan of God for mankind all the way through history: Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, Consumation. The two parts together give a comprehensive view of the gospel. The third part of the book addresses some of the errors and imbalances we can easily drift into when we fail to give proper emphasis to the first or second aspect of the gospel.
Chandler's first book is very timely in its appearance. Stripping the gospel to nothing more than moralism, "do-goodism," or something else that fails to preach the whole gospel. Chandler strays now and again into some juvenile language ("Now put on a cup, dude, because it's about to be big-boy time"), and his discussion on various views about creation was out of place and too long, but overall the book set out what it's title suggests: it gives a clear presentation of the gospel.
I received this audio book from christianaudio for the purpose of review.
- Encouraging, Gospel Centered, but Not Perfect
Matt Chandler’s The Explicit Gospel is a sweet look at the good news of Jesus Christ from more than one angle. Chandler challenges his readers to look at the gospel from both an individual (what he calls on the ground) and global (what he calls in the air) perspective.
The strength of this book is in the gospel content. Chandler uses both a “God, Man, Christ, Response” model of explaining the gospel as well as a “Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, Consummation” model. It is a good thing for believers to see the gospel from these two angles, the former pointing to the theology of individual redemption and the latter pointing to the ultimate story of God’s plan for the world. In both explanations, Chandler communicates the truth of scripture with clarity and refreshing sweetness.
Chandler also wisely points out many common weaknesses in our gospel understanding. He shows us how, if we focus too strongly on the individual or global perspectives, we will pervert our understanding of the gospel. He also challenges his readers not to give into our common temptation to believe a grace-based gospel but to live as though our salvation were works-based.
I found two areas that made this book less than perfect in my view. First and foremost is Chandler’s dealing with the issue of creation at the beginning of part 2 of this work. Chandler claims to hold to “historic creationism,” a position which allows for a great passage of time in the opening phrase of Genesis 1:1. This position is Chandler’s way of believing in a literal 6-day creation, while allowing room for an old-earth view. I believe the author’s position here to be incorrect and to open the door to theological errors that are more significant. I might not give this problem a full paragraph did Chandler not spend so much time in his book defending his view.
Another much smaller problem that I had with the book was an occasional earthiness to Chandler’s language that seems out-of-place. The example that comes to my mind is in the look at the life of Job. Chandler uses a line I have heard other preachers use to describe God’s confrontation of Job, telling Job that he needs to “put on a cup” to face what is coming. This is not by any means a wrong thing to say, but it does take the conversation to a slightly more crass level than some might appreciate.
Much is very right with The Explicit Gospel. For a more mature Christian who is willing to think critically about the arguments raised in this book, especially that regarding creation, the book is a solid reminder of important truth. The challenge to see the gospel from a ground-level and an aerial view is quite valuable. However, even though I was blessed and encouraged by Chandler’s writing, I would only recommend this book with reservations, as the issue with the creation argument is, in my view, significant.
I received an audio copy of this book to review as part of the reviewers program at ChristianAudio.com. The book is very well-read and pleasant to hear.
- What if the gospel was more than moral theraputic deism?
Thank you christianaudio reviewers program for the opportunity to review this work, a blessing indeed!
In a culture of moral relativism, Christians have been spiraling into another worldview, that of “moral therapeutic deism,” Matt Chandler, new president of Acts29, thoroughly covers the biblical meaning of the explicit gospel confronting this ‘new’ Christianity.
The audiobook is divided into three parts, "The Gospel on the Ground" (which covers God, man, Christ and response or systematic theology topics) which refers to the gospel as it applies to specific individuals. The second part, "The Gospel in the Air," (discussed through the lens of creation, fall, redemption and consummation or biblical theology) which seeks to reveal that these individual salvation stories are part of God's sovereign plan to bring all things to consummation in Christ. The "explicit gospel" holds these two perspectives together as mutually interwoven and complementary. Finally, the book continues with applications and implications (what does this look like both bad and good).
I have been listening to Matt Chandler for a few years, so I was very excited with the opportunity to listen to this audio. The gospel is always interesting to me, and Matt’s illustrations, humor, and contextual couth language brings the explicit to sobering reality. This book was and will be very challenging to those who who think heaven is like in tom-n-jerry, or even warm-n-fuzzy prosperity. This book will inspire too, in that, there is more to the gospel than doing stuff (going to church, reading the bible, etc.) it is about a savior who died. The implications of fully understanding this, is what is explicit compared to the vague gospel so rampant in many churches today. As I was listening to this, I was thinking about folks who would benefit from this. Does your theology include loving God with all your mind? Does God hold your attention? Then this audio, to include the narrator, presented this work in an cohesive, yet appealing manner. I also appreciated that Matt and Jared saturated this work successfully to convey deep Biblical truth in easy to understand language. I would highly recommend this book to all, especially to those who have been ‘Christians’ for a while. This audio would also be good for a new believer in that it might prevent the performance based routine of faith that many of us get into when we forget the gospel.
- great audio and content
Where is the Gospel? Many that grew up in the church seem to have just recently accepted the Gospel, it seems. Why is that? Chandler, in his curiosity, decided to explore the query and see if it’s a simple misunderstanding, or a core problem in church today. His findings were typical at first - the sermon notes reveal a clear presentation of the Gospel and the Messiah. However, upon further research past the sample size, he realized that only a few heard the Gospel but weren’t ready for it...a majority, however, never heard the Gospel at all.
The sermon notes revealed traditional teaching, known as Christian moralistic therapeutic deism, on how to live a moral life and do good works. The transformation that Christ called us to has been exchanged for a conformation to being good people. If we tie our shoes right and fluff the tie a bit, we are spiritual in our presentation. That’s all that matters, right? Wrong.
Chandler asserts that adding to or removing from the cross is robbing G-d. In his own definition, this book uses the biblical narrative and meta-narrative of the Bible to define the explicit gospel, which is precisely what should be taught all the time.
Heath does a great job in his narration. Smooth and eloquent, his changes in his pitch and voice match the author’s intent for narration, as well as define clear Scripture passages. His rate is medium to fast, but clear and concise, making it easy to follow and great to keep attention with. The only downside to his narration is the partial monotone in his voice, which reflects not so much a reality or performance, but more so a prepared work of art.
The narration scored a four out of five on the SG rubric, while content scored five out of five, giving this audiobook 4.5 out of 5 - highly recommended for audiobook material and spiritual growth.
christianaudio commissioned this review. Read this review and more like it at scriptedgenius.com.
- Actually a really good book
Matt Chandler's new book, written with Jared C. Wilson, "The Explicit Gospel" is the much-hyped read of the quarter. Luckily, we witness here one of those very rare collisions of sense and marketing: it's actually a good book.
If you're looking for a text that will set out the Biblical Gospel, a work which won't blush at explaining God's wrath, hell, sin, and Salvation in Christ alone - then I'm glad to say that this is it. Not only that; but it is presented in easy to read and engaging language that means you'll actually be able to read this one.
Reflecting on a tendancy to hold the 'big picture' view of Salvation in tension with the 'personal' view of Salvation, the authors have divided the book into three parts. The first, "The Gospel on the Ground" draws out the Gospel as it is first presented to us: as Christ's work for sinful men such as you, or I. The second, "The Gospel in the Air" takes things from a more Biblical-Theology type of angle, moving through Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, and Consummation. The final part discusses the "Implications and Applications", and is generally helpful, with a number of particularly insightful comments on the realities of Gospel ministry.
Whilst it is tempting to compare this work with a Systematic Theology textbook and fault it for not following the established categories, and not using precise theological definitions, that is to miss the point. This book is not designed as a Systematic Theology - but as something far more useful - a text which engages the ordinary Christian with the Gospel in a thorough and thoughtful way. I believe many will gain much from this work, some doubtless trusting in the Gospel for the first time through it.
This review is based upon the audio version provided under the christianaudio reviewers programme. I am not required to write a positive review, as my past reviews for christianaudio should amply illustrate.
- Very Enjoyable Gospel Presentation
I have really enjoyed this audio even though it is theological which I normally find very dull indeed. Matt Chandler has written a very engaging book full of common sense which is narrated so well by David Cochran Heath that I forgot that he wasn't the author. I find that quite a lot of theological books come across as very preachy and full of self-righteousness, but this one has been completely the opposite. It is presented in a very compelling way that makes so much sense and had me understanding a lot of my own past problems in my faith journey that I have rarely heard mentioned before in Christian literature. I would definitely recommend this to old and new Christians a like as there is a lot learn for the everyone here. I haven't come across this author or narrator before but I would look out for more by them in the future. Thanks to christianaudio.com Reviewer's Program for this copy.
- Well versed
The Explicit Gospel is a wonderful book. Matt Chandler clearly explains exactly what he Gospel is and how it affects you. Pastor Chandler accomplishes his mission in this book in making much of Jesus. The Explicit Gospel is a great book for those who have no idea what the Gospel is and should be required reading for every new disciple of Christ. Regardless of whether you're a new or mature Disciple, you need to read The Explicit Gospel as a reminder of what the Gospel is and is not.
This review made possible by the christianaudio.com reviews program
- Excellent audio on a book which talks about what the Gospel has to do with individuals, the cosmos and lots of rabbit trails and an Acts 29 ministry apologetic.
The audio book was read by David Cochran Heath who always does excellent readings.
I have very mixed emotions on this book. Overall it is a very good and very helpful, and I think it has a good gospel presentation for the "over-churched", meaning it is good for those who grew up in churches where the gospel was just not explicit, at best it was assumed. We know this is an epidemic in our day (especially here in the Bible Belt, which is also Chandler's context) so it could be helpful for many.
I haven't heard Chandler's preaching for more than 5 years ago, but the book was full of the same jokes, his style of humor and all of the emphasis he makes (which are mostly directed at inoculated life-time church goers who don't have a clue what the gospel is.) Honestly, you could listen to a few of his sermons and you'd get it. It was full of languge like “dude”, “he was like”, “you trackin’ with me?”, just like his sermons. This was good in one sense because he is an excellent communicator, but it also meant it had one of his downfalls,... rabbit trails. Lots and lots of rabbit trails in this book.
Do you really need to spend so much time on being a "science agnostic"? Or your different view of the time period of Genesis 1:1-2? Age of the earth? More time spent on the life of Solomon than the life of Jesus? Didn't seem like those long discussions needed to place in an "Explicit Gospel"? It honestly made a lot of parts confusing and some rabbit trails were so long I forgot what the chapter was about.
Theologically I thought the book was excellent, spot on, until we got to chapter seven. At that point there was so much "Missional" stuff, so much! But I can understand his emphasis on it since he believes it is an integral part to the gospel, however I found his justification for it to be lacking. Actually, a lot of the explanations of the book were lacking because he tried to hit (in my opinion) way too many topics, that he never got to go too deep into many. And most were issues that are current (which is fine, but I don't see this book being using in 30 years. Or, if it is then alot of rabbit trails won't make any sense.)
Back on the "missional" topic, when he is explaining the "missional mindset" he says:
"the explicit gospel transforms how we perceive the mission of the church... the great commission joins us to God’s mission to restore all things."
He then had a long explanation of "incarnational" mission, as opposed to other ways of evangelism and discipleship. The book has a lot of this explanation about two ways and how they aren't the best but his 3rd way is just right. A lot of it! Parts like this was like reading the Acts 29 handbook.
“When the gospel takes hold it turns a Christian outward, which means it turns the church outward.”
Confusion of the mission of the church and the mission of a Christian, they are not one and the same.
“...When Jesus says, ‘I am going to build the church and the gates of Hell won’t prevail against it’, we are being told that evangelism, discipleship, justice, social aid, the engaging of God’s people with his plan to renew creation, all of that and more, done in the power of the gospel, slam into the gates of Hell.”
Then he claims the church of Ephesus is rebuked and threatened for “losing their missional edge.”
Overall the message of the gospel was good, but the missional application was bad. The book tries to address over-churches, but also it seems like pastors, and then people who have no idea about Christianity. Trying to hit all those targets wasn't effective and I think would make the book confusing to a lot of people.
On a book that makes the gospel explicit I would suggest Greg Gilbert's "What is the Gospel?" (much shorter and to the point)
For issues dealing with "Missional" and Chandler's (and Acts 29) ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) I would suggest Kevin DeYoung's & Greg Gilbert's book "What Is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom and the Great Commission".
For issues dealing with the "over-churched" I'd suggest "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" by Michael Horton.
If you are already a Chandler fan or a Acts 29'r then you have already heard the content of this book.
- a good reminder
Yes, it is another book about the Gospel, however, it is always a good reminder to keep the truths of the Gospel in front of us -- "on the ground" in and about our daily lives, as well as "in the air" with a grand overview of God's intricate and sovereign plan for redemption. The big idea being challenged is the tendency for evangelicals to an assumed, watered-down, incomplete, and misleading baseline for the Christian faith -- hence the need for an "explicit" gospel.
The audiobook's content is narrated well, making it easy to listen to. The author is engaging and humorous, yet direct and gently confrontational. The book is organized well and the applications points in the third section are practical and challenging.
- Not without concerns, but good emphasis overall.
So, we have another book on the gospel. The Explicit Gospel is authored by Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, TX. The book is scheduled to be released on April 30, 2012. Is this just "another book on the gospel" — basic theology retweaked by a megachurch pastor — or is this something worth reading and pondering? Let's take a look.
Book Review of The Explicit Gospel, by Matt Chandler
The Big Idea of The Explicit Gospel
The book claims that too often, the gospel is assumed, not explicit. The explicit gospel obliterates man-centered religion — the moralism, idolatry, and religiosity that corrupts true Christianity. Chandler describes this explicit gospel, generously sprinkling in plenty of pastoral application along the way. Merely assuming the gospel leads to dangers — big dangers. Chandler's cogent application of the explicit gospel strikes deep at the insipid idiosyncrasies of evangelicalism, delivering a message that is both solidly theological and lovingly confrontational.
Overview of The Explicit Gospel
Chandler organizes the book in three sections: 1) The Gospel on the Ground, 2) The Gospel in the Air, and 3) Implications and Applications. Even if you've been to seminary, you've probably never heard of a "ground gospel" or "air gospel," so lets explain what Chandler means. Ground and air, as he describes them, are vantage points for viewing the gospel. The gospel from the ground is the view of the gospel in our own lives. The chapters "God" (ch. 1), "Man" (ch. 2), "Christ" (ch.3), "Response" (ch.4), discuss the gospel from this perspective. Chandler describes the gospel in the air as "the big picture of God's plan of restoration from the beginning of time to the end of time and the redemption of his creation" (pg. 9). This section of the book deals with "Creation" (ch. 5), "Fall" (ch. 6), "Reconciliation" (ch. 7), and "Consummation" (ch. 8). Although the entire book contains plenty of implications and applications, Part Three of the book is completely devoted to application and implication. Chapters 9 and 10 deal with the dangers of getting too wrapped up in either a "gospel-on-the-ground" or a "gospel-in-the-air" approach. Finally, in chapter 11 he turns to "moralism and the cross” to round out The Explicit Gospel’s most forceful application.
Is The Explicit Gospel Explicit?
Making a good book title is a bit like good marketing. It has to both describe the “product,” while grabbing people's attention. The word explicit grabs our attention like a Driscoll sermon series. Of course, The Explicit Gospel is about the gospel, so there's nothing alarmingly offensive about it. At the same time, does the word explicit accurately really describe the content of the book? Chandler is on the offensive against "Christian, moralistic, therapeutic Deism" (pg. 8), using the weapon of the gospel. The word "explicit" in relationship with the "gospel" appears just a few times within the book (12x). The book isn't as about the "explicit gospel" as much as it is an explicit (i.e. a clear) description of the gospel.
Is The Explicit Gospel Readable?
Some theology books, notably Reformed ones, are notorious for boredom. The Explicit Gospel is not boring. In fact, reading the book is like listening to Chandler preach. It's funny. It's engaging. It's winsome. It's even a bit harsh at times. I loved these phrases: "Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss” (pg. 13). In describing the college basketball phenomenon of March Madness, he writes, with some histrionics: "Kids are crying in fear, wives are running for more nachos — it's chaos. It's madness” (46). Chandler has a knack for punchy, forceful, and unforgettable way of expressing things. This book could be one of the easiest 245 pages you’ve read in a long time.
Is The Explicit Gospel Appropriate?
The word "explicit" isn't usually a word that you hear in conjunction with something as sacred as the gospel, so it might raise eyebrows beginning with the title. While the theme of the book is entirely appropriate, some may question at times Chandler's specific manner of expression. For example:
• "Paul doesn't usually roll that way….he's not really a sing-song kind of guy" (13).
• "God was angry and moved me to Abilene for seven years" (14).
• Chandler paraphrases the conclusion of the book of Job like this: "It's like God is saying, 'Oh, how adorable you are! Now put on a cup, dude, because it's about to be big boy time" (14).
• "In the Hebrew [Jeremiah 2:11-12] the essential idea is that they're literally terrified that God might snap and rip the universe to shreds" (33).
• "Here's the funny thing about the Old Testament: 85% of it is God saying, 'I'm going to have to kill all of you if you don't quit this.' Seriously, 85% of it is" (60).
• "I think he's [King David] schizophrenic" (118).
Perhaps Chandler's writing is lot like his preaching. Maybe he can get a bit carried away at times, turning a phrase that might confuse the unsuspecting reader. Some may wonder if such phrases, though intended to be humorous, may not quite match the majesty of the very God whom the author is trying to describe.
The Explicit Gospel Applied
Even though the book is about the gospel, Chandler finds a way to weave in application that applies to every evangelical hot-button issue known to the Gospel Coalition. Chandler discusses the social gospel (84, 160), the prosperity gospel (23, 232), women in ministry (213-14), to invitations (59), church growth tactics (34), the reality of an eternal place of torment (217), Rob Bell (216), mainline decline, and just about everything in between. He predictably sides with the conservatives on every issue (something which non-party-liners may take issue with). Chandler's conservatism is not the problem. The question lingering has to do with how all of these issues (plus more I didn’t bother to mention) found their way into a book on the gospel. Yes, the gospel applies to every area of life, but does it follow that we can indiscriminately make everything "a gospel issue," even on things over which Christians can legitimately disagree? Turning the gospel into a trump card is to make the gospel less explicit than it is. If you write book on the gospel, and then import each and every contemporary polarizing topic into the book as an application point of the gospel, you haven’t necessarily solved all the problems. Instead, you might have lowered the glory and grandeur of the gospel to the level of your pet position on the polarizing topics. We must undoubtedly apply the gospel to our lives, but it minimizes the gospel when we spread it too thin. Chandler is free to make his Bible-derived observations on contemporary issues. That's what Bible teachers should do. But it is also important that he define which issues tie directly into gospel truth, and which matters are less…shall we say?…“explicit.”
The Explicit Gospel Smoothed Out
Somehow, the metaphor of "gospel on the ground" and "gospel in the air" didn't stick that well. I understand the distinction he is trying to make, but perhaps he pushes it too far, making it the basis for the book’s entire organization as well as some hefty application (chs. 9-10). Throughout the book, a tension develops between the two ways of viewing the gospel that could lead to a breakdown in the marvelous complex continuity of Scripture's redemption narrative (Heilsgeschichte). Perhaps we could chalk this one up to an issue of emphasis, and a pursuit of readability over depth.
Is The Explicit Gospel Worth Reading?
Every book has its shortcomings, so lest we focus on the possible downers, it is also important to point out some of the glittering jewels that lie on the surface of this book. Should you read this book? Rick Warren certainly thinks so: “If you only read one book this year, make it this one. It’s that important.” The Explicit Gospel certainly has some commending qualities. Here are three reasons why you should read it:
• It's Insightful. One thing is clear. Chandler has a pulse on the state of evangelicalism. As he explicates the gospel, he is not try to disprove ancient heresies. Instead, Chandler aims at the contemporary corruptions within modern evangelicalism. There are plenty of such corruptions. The author identifies them and addresses them with a rush of relevance.
• It's Applicational. Chandler packs in plenty of important application. Perhaps the most obvious application is to guard against “Christian, moralistic, therapeutic, Deism” (pg. 8), by knowing and heeding explicit assertion of the gospel. Not only does pastor Chandler identify the problems, but he takes aim at them, too. Rarely does he miss. You will find that the application-saturated pages hit close to home, alerting you to areas you need to change.
• It's Understandable. Chandler is a good communicator. He has a knack for explaining big truths in unambiguous ways. You'll find that reading The Explicit Gospel will help you to better understand the glorious truths of the gospel.
The theological discussions in the book may beg for a bit more exposition here and there. The applications may rub a bit harder than necessary. But overall, Chandler provides the contemporary American evangelical churchgoer something to chew on. The gospel, in all its explicit glory, needs to be heard and heeded. The reductionism in our theology has led to a decline in our lifestyle. We need the explicit gospel to bring us back.
So, in conclusion, do we need another book on the gospel? The gospel never gets old. Reading about the gospel is always important. Living out the gospel is essential. So, if you're ready to be challenged, instructed, and informed, do yourself a favor and read The Explicit Gospel.