The gospel of Jesus Christ is something that we as Christians cherish deeply. Matt Chandler, the pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, has written a book that should change the way you look at the gospel, with the result that you will cherish it even more.
Chandler looks at the gospel from two perspectives:
- The gospel from the ground: this is the gospel message that is most familiar to us. It is the gospel that saves us as individuals.
- The gospel from the air: this is the gospel that we often overlook. It is the gospel that is bringing the whole creation into restoration.
Both of these perspectives flow from the fact that everything is about God’s glory. Read on for why it is important that we are explicit with both perspectives of the gospel, because there are dangers if we neglect either one of these two perspectives.
In part one of the book, the author looks at the gospel from the ground. The gospel for our personal salvation begins with God and the fact that the Bible is not just a message to us, but it is a message about God and His glory. But man has violated that purpose and fallen short of that glory. So God has provided a remedy in Christ. But that provision requires a response from each individual. That is the explicit gospel from a personal perspective: God, man, Christ, response.
In part two, Chandler views the gospel from the air. Here, again, we find four parts, this time called creation, fall, reconciliation, consummation. Whereas the gospel from the ground emphasizes the personal salvation of each individual who responds its message, the gospel from air sees the gospel as what the author calls cosmic restoration. God has created this world for His glory, with perfect harmony of all things that He created. But man has destroyed that harmony by rejecting God and His will. So God provided a way of reconciling the world to Himself through the cross of Christ, with the end result being the return of Christ when there is a new heaven and new earth.
There is a third part of the book that is particularly helpful. Chandler deals with what happens when a person (or church) spends too much time on the ground or in the air. It has some devastating results which he clearly explains. From becoming a self-centered gospel that ignores the needs of those around us, to evolving into a social gospel that rejects the sinfulness of man and thus eliminates the need for the cross of Christ, the message will be either lost or distorted. In the final chapter, we find direction for what is called “grace-driven efforts” to grow in this glorious salvation. Here he speaks of the grace weapons, killing the roots of sin, having a fear of God, being dead to sin and alive to God, and finally, destroying sin in our life.
The Explicit Gospel needs to be not only understood, but also proclaimed by the church as well as each individual Christian. Chandler writes in a way that makes it easy to read. Except that reading this book is more like listening to a sermon (and an excellent sermon at that!)