The Explicit Gospel – Matt Chandler
WOW. I am sitting down to write this review immediately after finishing The Explicit Gospel, and that is all that comes to mind at first. I have seldom in my life read a book that has jolted me to the core like this. The crazy thing about this one though is that I have heard almost all of this material before. I have heard almost everything Matt Chandler had to say here in various podcasts and sermons over the years. Yet still as I finish this book I feel the need to repent of too many times when I have assumed the Gospel in my preaching and teaching and not been explicit with it. I have put too much trust in my own ability as a wordsmith or as a speaker and too little in the power of the Gospel. I have far too often forgotten this simple truth that Chandler puts so well at the beginning of chapter four: “the explicit Gospel, by virtue of its own gravity, invites belief by demanding it.” I need to make certain that the Gospel is woven throughout all of my ministry and is the driving force and this book reaffirms that clarion call of the Gospel.
The book opens with Part 1 looking at the Gospel on the Ground. In this section Chandler explores the specific reality of the Gospel and he does this in a way I never would have thought of, but one that was so thorough. He starts by extolling the greatness of God; how perfect and holy and mighty He is. Then Chandler moves to the nature of Man and points out how we do not measure up in any way to the standard of God. This leads Chandler to introduce the grace found in Christ, but in doing so Chandler takes measure to point out that Christ did not come to defeat death primarily for us, but to uphold the Glory of God. After this Chandler talks about our response to the Gospel in chapter four, this was probably the most impactful chapter of the whole book for me. When we hear the Gospel we cannot be left the same, we have to change in some way or another. This applies to how we share the Gospel as well; we need to just get out of its way. As a single man fast approaching 30 at the time the movie Hitch came out, I loved it. I thought I could learn some things from Will Smith’s advice to help me find the future Mrs. Gragg. You would have to ask my wife if any of it did, I can say this though, I dance about as well (or more accurately poorly) as Kevin James does in that movie and my wife loves it. One thing I do remember from that movie though is that Hitch’s philosophy for helping guys find relationships is to help them get out of their own way. Well that is similar to my biggest take away from this chapter about our response to the Gospel; when we are sharing the Gospel, we just need to present the explicit truth of it and get out of the way. We don’t add anything to the Gospel, we can’t! The Gospel is more powerful than we can fathom and we need to let it do its work.
Part two of the book focuses on the Gospel in the Air. In this section Chandler scales back the lens and takes a broader view of the Gospel. He starts with creation, moves to the fall, then to reconciliation and finally to consummation. In this discussion he shows that God deserves all of our worship but because of our sinfulness we are cut off from Him. Then he points out the reconciling of man to God found in the Cross and the implications that brings in the consummation of all things. In showing how the Gospel is explicit in the overarching theme of Scripture Chandler connects all of the Bible to the Gospel narrative.
Chandler closes with a look at some dangers of the Gospel on the ground, the Gospel in the air and moralism vs. the Gospel. In addressing these concerns and issues Chandler confronts head on any pushback someone might have and he continually comes back to the Gospel. It is not just his opinion that this is the most important thing, it is what is clearly taught in scripture.