Summary of “Gospel: Recovering The Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary” by JD Greear
JD Greear’s book “Gospel: Recovering The Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary” is a powerful call for Christians to experience the reality of the gospel.
“Being able to articulate the gospel with accuracy is one thing; having its truth captivate your soul is quite another” (9). Greear’s desire is to awaken people to the wonder and freedom of the good news. “The gospel… is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it is the pool itself” (21).
If you notice, this why the writers of the New Testament never get tired of reminding their audience of the good news. “Growth in Christ is never going beyond the gospel, but going deeper into the gospel” (21). The majority of the book is organized around what he calls “The Gospel Prayer.”
“In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make you love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
Many people replace the centrality of the gospel in their lives with religion. Religion as it is defined here is basically an attempt to earn favor with God based on our own efforts.“What religion is unable to do, God does for us in the gospel (39).”
Satan loves to confuse us by telling us we need to earn our standing with God. “Satan’s primary temptation strategy is to try and make us forget what God has said about us and to evaluate our standing before God by some other criteria” (50). God on the other hand, “motivates us from acceptance, not toward it” (54). In other words, our motivation for obedience is based on already being accepted by God, not because we have to somehow earn it!
“Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”
Greear gets personal by talking about the temptation we all have to have idols in our lives. “An idol is whatever takes the place of God in our lives” (70). You can tell what you have a tendency to idolize by answering these questions, “What one thing do you most hope is in your future? What is it that without it, life would hardly seem worth living? What is the one thing you most worry about losing?”
Every pursuit that is less than God’s will for us will end up disappointing us. “Astoundingly we often try to make God an accomplice in the pursuit of our idols” (75). Instead of using the things of the world to glorify God, we often use God to get the things of the world. Instead, we should be,“learning to be satisfied in Jesus. [This] will free you to enjoy everything else. Being fulfilled in Christ means that you no longer depend on other things for life and happiness” (84). Ironically, by pursuing things other than God we miss out on the happiness we are seeking.
“When we see the size and beauty of the God who speaks to us, the power of sin and idolatry over our hearts is broken” (97). Developing a realistically huge view of God helps us be satisfied in him. “[God] is so big that you literally cannot exaggerate Him” (92). The reason the temptations of the world are so strong is because our view of God is not compelling enough. “The reason many of us feel like we ‘can’t say no’ to temptations is that God does not have that kind of weight in our hearts” (98). When we see God and the gospel as we should, it“gives us freedom from both sin and religion” (99).
“As You have been to me, so I will be to others.”
The gospel radically affects how you treat others in your life, but first must receive the power of good news yourself. “The gospel not only tells us about the power of God; the message of the gospel is itself the power of God” (103).
Seeing ourselves as sinners in need of grace helps us to be aggressively grace-giving to others. “Ultimately I am responding to Jesus, not the person in front of me. The person wronging me may not deserve a response of grace, but the Jesus who bled and died for me does” (120).
The gospel changes the way we should view money. “Christians who worship God, not money, need much less from the world to be happy and secure. They can… live sufficiently and give extravagantly” (138). JD Greear assures us that it is okay to enjoy and save money, but it must not become point of your life. When we come face to face with the generosity of God, we are compelled to be generous with our resources.
The gospel can only change people’s lives if they hear it. We have a responsibility to be a part of sharing it with the billions who have never heard. “4.5 billion people are, by their own admission, non-Christian and therefore separated from God… at least 2.25 billion have little to no access to the gospel” (146). We all have a role to play. “Our prayer now should be that God guide us to our specific role. Whether we should be involved in the Great Commission is on longer the question” (149). How is God specifically leading you to be a part of this epic task?
“As I pray I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
Prayer is one of the great ways we experience the grace and power of God. “God’s help flows out reflexively to those who presume upon His grace and power” (166). We must have faith that God wants to unleash his saving grace in people’s lives. “There is no shortage in God’s willingness or ability to save. The shortage is in our unbelief that He is as compassionate and powerful as the gospel says He is” (170).
“The gospel reveals to us how willing God is to save. We should ask accordingly” (174). This does not mean that God will answer exactly how we want him to. Sometimes God doesn’t answer us because he has a better plan. “We don’t measure God’s compassion by whether He answers our request like we think He should. We measure God’s compassion by the gospel” (184). We can trust that God knows best. “God sometimes answers our prayers by giving us what we would have asked for had we known what He knows” (187).
If the gospel is our motivation and focus when why do we have so many commands?
Obeying God’s commands and participating in spiritual disciplines serve as reminders of God’s love. “Jerry Bridges sums it up well, God’s love provides us with the motivation for obedience, while God’s laws provide the direction for the biblical expression of love (193).” Greear says that obedience to the commandments allows us to limit sin’s damage on our lives.. “Spiritual disciples only turn into legalism if you don’t really get the gospel” (201).
What is the gospel-centered approach to needs in the world?
“Gospel-centered people offer themselves to God, joyfully, and then do whatever He directs them to do, knowing that only what He empowers them to do will do any real good” (215). We are not called to save the world by ourselves; Jesus already did that! We are supposed to play our specific role based on where God has placed us, by using the resources, time skills, and church family God has given us.
What does a gospel-centered church look like?
A gospel-centered church makes preaching the good news an absolute priority, even over practical application. “The gospel is not good advice about how to live; it is good news about what God has done” (222).
“Nothing we are to do for God is as important as what He has done for us” (223). There are many of examples of churches that emphasize things other than the gospel and they all end up getting distracted. “Nothing, no matter who good or urgent, can keep us from pursuing our primary objective; preaching the gospel” (236). Greear asks a powerful question that can help a church analyze their impact: “Do you think if our church ‘died’ that our community would weep that we were gone” (237)?
The more we mature as Christians, the more in awe of the gospel we become.“Gospel-centeredness is about saturating your heart in the good news of Jesus – letting it so remake your mind that you see everything about yourself and your life through its lens… Growth in Christ is not going beyond the gospel but deeper into it” (246). I pray that everyone reading this (myself included) would use this book to look long and hard at the revolutionary nature of the gospel and what it demands of us.