What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl) & From Dust to Destiny Book Reviews

gilbert-what-is-the-gospel

            Greg Gilbert is currently serving as the senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned his M.Div. from Southern Seminary in 2006 and his B.A. in History from Yale University in 1999.[1] Gilbert’s writing is based on the premise of two ideas: (1) the local church is far more important to the Christian life than many Christians today perhaps realize [because] a healthy Christian is a healthy church member; and (2) local churches grow in life and vitality as they organize their lives around God’s Word. God Speaks. Churches should listen and follow. It is that simple.[2]

            Gilbert’s primary goal is to demonstrate a church and a people who listen to God will begin to reflect His love, mercy, and forgiveness. He also seeks to demonstrate what the gospel of Jesus should look like. The very notion that there is a book needed to explain what the gospel of Jesus looks like is troubling and the fact that it is needed is only validated by the current state of the church. Through his roundtable discussions and extensive research, Gilbert found it was extremely difficult to find any consensus to this question. Gilbert thus demonstrates how Paul’s letter to the Romans is a great place to find the most basic explanation of the gospel. In the opening chapters, Paul first wants his readers to know they are accountable. Gilbert then illustrates, “We are made by Him, owned by Him, dependent on Him, and therefore accountable to Him.”[3] Secondly, Paul tells his readers that their problem is that they rebelled against God. This applied to Jews and Gentiles alike because every single person in the world had sinned against God.[4] Thirdly, Paul says that God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gilbert then demonstrates, “Having laid out the bad news of the predicament we face as sinners before our righteous God, Paul turns now to the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[5] Lastly, Paul tells his readers how they themselves can be included in this salvation. This is where every individual must decide if the gospel is good news for him or her or not. Gilbert summarizes these four points as: God, man, Christ, and response.[6]

            The bad news for everyone is the presence of sin in his or her life and the fact God is the Judge. Ever since Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, there has existed a separation between humanity and God. The good news is the gospel of Jesus has sought to bridge that gap and bring God’s children back into communion with God. The fact that creation is born into sin is a hard pill to swallow and the notion that forgiveness is needed only adds salt to the wound of this cultures’ need for independence. Humans are selfish by nature, so coming to understand God gave mankind His only Son to restore fellowship with Him, as a living sacrifice for all who would believe, is a revelation. It is also important to understand why Christ came and why He had to die. The atonement of sin required the shedding of blood and because man was and still is rebellious by nature, there remains a constant need to sacrifice. However, when Jesus was crucified as the spotless Lamb, He became the atonement for all sin. As a believer, it can be hard to forgive others for their wrongs and sometimes it is even harder to forgive one’s own sin. Conversely, forgiving others is necessary to receive the same forgiveness from God. This principle is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with others and with God. The final part of the gospel is becoming Christ-like and impacting others with the divine revelation of the salvation message.

What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl). By Gregory D. Gilbert. Crossway Publishing, 2010, 127 pp. $12.99 (Hardcover).

From Dust to Destiny

            Greg Faulls is the Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church and has worked in Christian Leadership for over twenty-eight years, serving as Pastor of three churches in Texas and Kentucky. He earned his BA in Religious Studies and Speech Communication from Western Kentucky University and his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His vision of helping people follow Jesus is birthed out of a personal, life changing experience and his purpose in writing From Dust to Destiny is for his readers to discover the life God has planned for him or her.[7]

            Faulls seeks to demonstrate how everyone is created for more than mere self-gratification and he wants his readers to discover and have a divine encounter with God. This adventure to discover God’s plan is an exploration of what God is seeking to do in and through His creation. Faulls’ four concepts relate to: (1) Life is about God and until someone knows more about God, he or she will never find purpose and meaning in life; (2) God sent His Son for the redemption of mankind and to restore the communion that was lost in the Garden of Eden; (3) God dwells within His children and the more they walk with Him the more they will be transformed into the likeness of Christ; and (4) God desires to work through His children and He has had this plan from the beginning. Jesus came not only to save mankind, but also to work through the lives of those who call upon His name. While man was created from mere dust, when the Spirit of the Lord indwells the believer’s life, there is a transformation and glorious destiny that awaits.

            When mankind realizes there is someone bigger than themselves and something much larger at stake, there is an opportunity to truly transform the individual and ultimately the world. After experiencing a divine encounter with God, Faulls demonstrates, “We were created in the image of God, to be stewards of His creation [and] we were created in the Lord’s image so that we might relate to Him intimately.”[8] For anyone who suffers with self-confidence issues or disabilities, this is life-changing. Being an image bearer of God is humbling, but at the same time empowering as the believer comes to find his or her significance in is as Faulls put it, “anchored in the One who loved us so much that He chose to breathe into us the breath of life.”[9] In the ministry setting it is crucial to demonstrate the immense love God has for His children because in the cruelty of the world it can be easy to forget this profound truth. The redemption of mankind is yet another display of God’s love. Here, Faulls explains, “Jesus came for you, to save you from your sin, and to bring you home to a relationship with God the Father.”[10] It is reassuring to picture Jesus as the Shepherd who will search for every lost sheep because without Jesus redeeming mankind, sin and its damning consequences would prevail. Knowing why Christ died for the sins of mankind should compel His followers to live a life that would bring honor and glory to the Lord. The only appropriate response to the salvation and redemption granted to Christians is to carry the same gospel message to a lost and hurting world. Faulls also explains, “When we receive Christ, God’s Son, we become sons and daughters by adoption.”[11] Through this process the believer is transformed and receives a divine purpose and future. This transformation process is never-ending, as one walks with the Lord, but the ultimate goal is to allow God the opportunity to do a mighty work in and through the believer’s life.

From Dust to Destiny: Created for More. By Greg Faulls. http://prevailinglife.com 2014, (accessed July 27, 2016), 97 pp. Free (E-book).

Bibliography

Faith Gateway Website, http://www.faithgateway.com/author/greg-gilbert/ (accessed July 27, 2016).

Faulls, Greg. From Dust to Destiny: Created for More. http://prevailinglife.com 2014. (accessed July 27, 2016).

Gilbert, Gregory D. What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Prevailing Life Website, http://prevailinglife.com/meet-greg/ (accessed July 27, 2016).


[1] Faith Gateway Website, http://www.faithgateway.com/author/greg-gilbert/ (accessed July 27, 2016).

[2] Gregory D. Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl), (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 11.

[3] Ibid., 28.

[4] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 29.

[5] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 30.

[6] Ibid., 31.

[7] Prevailing Life Website, http://prevailinglife.com/meet-greg/, (accessed July 27, 2016).

[8] Greg Faulls, From Dust to Destiny: Created for More. http://prevailinglife.com 2014, 10 (accessed July 27, 2016).

[9] Ibid., 17.

[10] Ibid., 27.

[11] Ibid., 46.

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Explanation & Response to the Gospel

JESUS_NOTHING

            Greg Gilbert best describes the gospel as, “The proclamation that Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, is the one, true, and only Lord of the world.”[1] Gilbert also demonstrates how Paul’s letter to the Romans is a great place to find the most basic explanation of the gospel. In chapters 1-4, Paul first wants his readers to know they are accountable. Gilbert illustrates, “We are made by Him, owned by Him, dependent on Him, and therefore accountable to Him.”[2] Secondly, Paul tells his readers that their problem is that they rebelled against God. This applies to Jews and Gentiles alike because every single person in the world had sinned against God.[3] Thirdly, Paul says that God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gilbert demonstrates, “Having laid out the bad news of the predicament we face as sinners before our righteous God, Paul turns now to the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[4] Lastly, Paul tells his readers how they themselves can be included in this salvation. This is where every individual must decide if the gospel is good news for him or her or not. Gilbert summarizes these four points as: God, man, Christ, and response.[5]

How One Properly Responds to Gospel

            Gregory Faulls provides four steps as a response to the gospel: (1) Confess before God any sin and responsibility. The first response to the gospel always begins with repentance and then faith.[6] (2) Turn away from life apart from Christ and toward a life of following Christ. This step is critical as many Christians are currently asking Christ to follow them instead of following Christ’s lead. (3) A Christian must believe that Jesus died on the cross for his or her sin and that He rose again. The believing has to do with personally trusting what Jesus did for the believer’s salvation.[7] (4) The believer must completely surrender his or her life to His leadership.[8] Using these four declarations as a foundation, every believer should strive to spread the gospel while also showing love and compassion to everyone. A true response to the gospel causes a transformation to take place in the believer’s life, one in which the work of the cross is central to what is said and done. Gilbert demonstrates by keeping the cross at the center of one’s life, he or she will become dependent on the cross both for salvation and sanctification.[9]

Vital Connection Between Evangelism and a Believer’s Spiritual Growth

            Spiritual growth is vital in the life of a believer because if one is not growing, then he or she is essentially dying. For growth to occur, the believer must maintain intimacy with God in the form of praise, prayer, and daily reading of God’s Word. The natural progression of spiritual growth leads to evangelism, as the believer is transformed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ. Another crucial component to spiritual growth is obedience, which combines the Great Commandment[10] with the Great Commission[11] to form powerful evangelism as the believer shares the love and mission of Christ with others. Gilbert reminds the reader that despite all the evangelism efforts, “The kingdom promised in the Bible will only come about when the King Jesus Himself returns to make it happen, [so] our social and cultural [evangelistic] victories will never bring about the kingdom of God. Only God Himself can do that since the heavenly Jerusalem comes down from heaven and is not built from the ground up.”[12]

Ways to Improve Evangelistic Commitment

            For something so life-changing, it is a mystery why people are so afraid to share the gospel with friends, family, co-workers, and the people they interact with on a daily basis. Fear of rejection, insecurity of not having all the answers, or any other number of excuses prevent the spread of the gospel. For this writer, watching what is said as well as what is done remains at the forefront of daily living. People are always watching and since actions speak louder than words, a Christian’s life should be his or her testimony to God’s love and forgiveness. Scripture says, “They have overcome [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”[13] Robert Mounce shows, “Not only does Satan suffer defeat at the hands of the archangel, but he is overcome by faithful believers as well. The primary cause of their victory is the blood of the Lamb. The great redemptive act that freed them from their sins and established their right to reign is the basis for their victory. Their share in the conquest then stems from their testimony.”[14] These saints’ willingness to proclaim the message overcame even the natural fear of death, so it is interesting to look at the areas of the world where Christians are experiencing great persecution and witnessing that those are the only areas that are experiencing real growth. In America, the culture has made everything about them by providing things, easier, cheaper, and faster. A real relationship with God cannot be obtained through some six-minute video to get six-pack abs routine. Instead, God must come before all other things, so that He becomes the motivator behind everything the believer says and does. It ultimately boils down to loving God and loving others.

Bibliography

Faulls, Greg. From Dust to Destiny. http://prevailinglife.com 2014. (accessed July 27, 2016).

Gilbert, Gregory D. What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl). Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Mounce, Robert H. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.


[1] Gregory D. Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (gǒs’pəl), (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 19.

[2] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 28.

[3] Ibid., 29.

[4] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 30.

[5] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 31.

[6] I John 1:9

[7] Romans 10:9-11

[8] Greg Faulls, From Dust to Destiny. http://prevailinglife.com 2014, 39. (accessed July 27, 2016).

[9] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 110-111.

[10] Matthew 22:36-40

[11] Matthew 28:16-20

[12] Gilbert, What is the Gospel?, 92-93.

[13] Revelation 12:11

[14] Robert H. Mounce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Revelation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 238.