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The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
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The Explicit Gospel (2012)

by Matt Chandler

Other authors: Jared Wilson

Series: Re:Lit

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I have received much from God through Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church. His preaching ministry has blessed me immensely, as has his faithfulness through cancer and his willingness to take the Gospel to any place he can get. This is why I, along with many, eagerly anticipated the release of his first book, The Explicit Gospel. This book was written with Jared Wilson. Jared also pastors a church and his writings have also been used by God in my life. Jared was also recently retweeted by John Piper, so that in itself could be the equivalent of authoring a book with Matt Chandler (and at least Chandler didn't drop his name like Piper did).


The Explicit Gospel takes aim at some key areas of concern while pointing us to areas where God has revealed Himself in different ways. Chandler develops an analogy to help view the Gospel from different perspectives, hopefully allowing us to have a more rounded and complete view of God's truth.

Chandler first deals with what he calls the “Gospel on the ground”. This is basically the idea that the Gospel concerns personal salvation. Chandler goes through a chapter each on God, Man, Christ and our Response. These are very basic concepts that with which all believers should be readily familiar. The sad part is that many professing believers are not aware of the truths Chandler lays out in these opening chapters, and whether the fault is in the person or the pulpit or a combination of the two, it is good to have a resource like this as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these truths. That is one reason why this book is of great importance, but another reason is for the believer who is fairly conversant in these great Biblical truths. The way Chandler explains things is fresh and engaging, convicting and encouraging, and for those who may have grown apathetic towards the basics of the faith it is a great reminder of the beauty and grace of God’s simple truths. Taking old, familiar truths that in a sinful heart can grow stale and presenting them in a way that seems new and vibrant is a ministry for which we often forget the need. I did begin to become concerned as I read the chapters on the “Gospel on the ground” because I felt, to paraphrase Scot McKnight, that we were heading towards a “Soterian” faith rather than an evangelical faith. Meaning, that we were not exploring the robust Gospel of the Scriptures, but rather looking at a reductionist Gospel composed solely of personal salvation. Then The Explicit Gospel took to the air.

The “Gospel in the air” aspect of this book is the part that really encouraged me. Partly due to the fact that this concept is still new enough to me that every time I hear it proclaimed I feel that I learn much more about it. The idea that the Gospel is about making “all things new”, reconciling the created order to the creator, while explicitly Pauline and implicit throughout Scripture, was missing in my understanding of the Gospel for far too long. Chandler takes an extended look at this aspect. Chandler devotes an entire chapter to Creation. In this chapter I was greatly concerned with how he interacted with science, specifically the theory of evolution. At times, it seemed as if one had to deny the theory of evolution to embrace the Gospel, which seems to be adding to what the Scriptures require of a believer especially in light of the fact that Historic Creationism, which is the view that Chandler holds, is viewed as a denial of the Genesis account by many Young Earth Creationist in the same vein that Chandler derides the BioLogos view of Evolutionary Creation. However, having a strong opinion is one thing, but misrepresenting facts to validate your opinion is, in this case, unnecessary and always dishonest. I do not doubt that Chandler believes what he put forward is scientific fact, but in the form of a book, this should have been researched a bit. At some point we need to view the scientific community as a people group and engage them honestly from within their own worldview, not within a worldview we prescribe to them based on caricature and pseudoscience.

Enough of my rabbit-trail/rant, because these chapters are excellent. The way Chandler deals with the Biblical account of Creation and the Fall, especially as it relates to the created order beyond simply you and me, is brilliant. And the manner in which he illuminates the Scriptures regarding the Reconciliation of the created order the Creator and the Consummation of history is worship inducing. To see the master plan of the Master as laid out in Scripture should bring all believers to a place of expectant joy, praising God for the work He has done and eagerly anticipating the consummation of His redeeming and reconciling work in the Cross of His Holy Son.

Chandler then finishes up the book by looking at some application and some dangers. There are dangers in each perspective, when either the Gospel stays “on the ground “too long or stays “in the air” too long. He argues that relationship evangelism is fine, but at some point you have to open your mouth and proclaim the Gospel. To “be the Gospel” is as ridiculous as it is offensive and the idea to “preach the Gospel always and, when necessary, use words” is contrary to the way Scripture lays out evangelism and the process of salvation. But I feel the greatest danger he exposes is the danger of the assumed Gospel. Implicit in most of the book is the fact that Chandler is speaking of a Gospel that is explicit. In a two page appendix at the end of the book, Josh Patterson explains what exactly the “Explicit Gospel” is. This might have been better suited as a preface or an introduction and it might be best to read the appendix before you read the rest of the book, especially if the term “Explicit Gospel” is somewhat foreign.

This is a book for everyone to read. It is engaging and entertaining. The concepts are not difficult, but Chandler does not stay on the surface either. As goofy as he is, he is quite smart and well read, so some parts may seem obscure to those who have little-to-no exposure to philosophy or theology, but those parts are few and easily deduced from the context. Do not let the fact that this is a deep book discourage you from reading it, because it is at the depths of the see that you find the greatest pearls, and this book is a treasure.
http://beforedawnwiththeson.blogspot.com/2012/04/explicit-gospel.html ( )
  joshrskinner | Jul 30, 2014 |
You can read my full review at Quieted Waters.

Quite frankly, I expected to be bored by this book. It’s about the gospel, and I’ve been in church for decades. I’ve taught dozens of Bible studies and preached a few sermons, so the gospel is not unfamiliar to me. What surprised me was how much I personally benefited from reading this book.

This is not just a book for new believers. This is not a longer version of a gospel tract. It’s not something you hand off to someone while praying, “God, please help that sinner to know You.”

This is a book you should read. This is a book I needed to read. The chapters helped me to understand the full impact of the gospel, putting together God’s macro plan for eternity and His micro plan for my life. ( )
  QuietedWaters | May 22, 2013 |
This book is an example of why I don't care much for pop-Christian authors. They don't do anything for me. Their material is not enlightening nor is there anything new and fresh to offer. This book is very elementary and is perhaps good for new or young Christians. But, as a 20+ year Christian, this book produced the same repetitive diatribe as many other mainstream authors. I was a bit surprised by Chandler's overt references to the Westminster Confession and quotes from various neo-Reformed teachers and authors. Sad to hear Chandler fell into this young, restless, and reformed group. Might I add arrogant and know-it-all. I was immediately turned off by Chandler's claim on the truth in his introduction: "I want to make sure we are all on the same page here, which is to say, God's page, and talking about what He is talking about when the gospel is mentioned in the Scriptures." (page 15)... REALLY?! Chandler knows exactly what God says? This, not to mention an overemphasis on God's sovereignty, election, and right behavior throughout this book... all attributes of John Calvin's god.

I don't recommend this book if theology is important to you, namely of the Arminian variety. Nor do I recommend this book if you are looking for something new, fresh, and informative. Moving on. ( )
  gdill | May 16, 2013 |
Read it!
  dpda2j | Sep 6, 2012 |
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 224 pp) Originally posted at http://www.wherepenmeetspaper.com

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas. His sermons are among the top selling podcasts on iTunes, and he speaks at conferences worldwide. He lives in Texas with his wife Lauren, and their three children Audrey, Reid, and Norah.

Jared Wilson is the pastor of the Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. He is also the author of the books Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior and Gospel Wakefulness. He lives in Vermont with his wife Becky and his children Macy and Grace.


Well Churched?

According to the latest Pew Report, 78.4% of Americans consider themselves Christian. Moreover, some have no idea why they went to church growing up. Church attendance rates drop dramatically when people enter their twenties, most likely because church is seen as an obligatory service to a God people don’t know.

I still remember the last sermon I heard at the church I attended growing up. It was about why George Washington was a good man. Not Jesus, but George Washington. Not until I heard the gospel explicitly preached did I find the truth: Jesus. In Matt Chandler’s and Jared Wilson’s book, The Explicit Gospel, the authors outline why preaching the gospel explicitly and emphatically is important.

“My daughter was three, and it hit me that my kids were going to grow up in the church. That night for the first time I asked the question, ‘How can you grow up going to church every week and not hear the gospel?’ I quickly decided that these people [in my church who hadn’t heard the gospel previously] had heard the gospel but didn’t have the spiritual ears to truly hear it, to receive it. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit wasn’t going to let it go that easily. The question began to haunt me” (12).

Chandler and Wilson then outline how Christians should preach and hear the gospel on both the ground level (micro level) and the air level (macro level). In the gospel on the ground, they trace the biblical narrative of God, man, Christ, and response, and in the gospel on the ground, they look at the meta-narrative of the Bible’s story of redemption.

Enter Grace

Perhaps the most poignant thing said in the gospel-on-the-ground section is after the authors outline who humans are (sinners).

“So far we have seen that the Scriptures reveal God as sovereign and glorious and tell us that his sovereign plan is to make manifest the supremacy of his glory. We have also seen that the Bible tells us that we fall short of God’s glory in our sinfulness, which is made manifest in our predisposition and efforts to worship things and people that are not God. Because God’s passion is for his own glory, then, and because he is perfectly righteous, his response to our idolatry is wrath, eternal condemnation administered by him in consigning us to eternal conscious torment in hell...Enter grace” (53).

Chandler and Wilson sketch the gospel of Christ’s grace and salvation in one of the most considered, poignant, and convicting ways I’ve read. An old idea we perhaps don’t hear often enough, the topic holds significant weight for me. The chapter on Christ is by far the most explicitly stated (most likely why the book is named what it is) I’ve heard in a long time, and the authors call for response.

“The gospel is such power that it necessitates reaction. Jesus Christ has worked such an outrageous wonder that he demands response, whether hatred or passion. Anyone ambivalent about what Christ has actually done just isn’t clear on the facts. To present the gospel, then, is to place a hearer in an untenable position. The heart of the hearer of the gospel must move, either toward Christ or away from him” (63).

Something for the Contemporary Church Goer

For the section on the Gospel in the air, Chandler and WIlson focus on the main narrative of the bible: Creation, Fall, Reconciliation, and Consummation. They also warn the reader about the dangers of exclusively focusing on either the Gospel in the air or the Gospel on the ground.

The Explicit Gospel is a well-written, biblically faithful and thorough explanation on what the Gospel is and how the Gospel should inform and transform people. Granted, the book does rehash some well-tread arguments and ideas (Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation), and painting the gospel as something in need of explicit statement is an Evangelical position dating back to the 1920s. But, at the same time, I think it is worth bringing the argument back, as Chandler and Wilson have obviously found the need to do so in their churches. Chandler and Wilson effectively argue their point in a well-thought-out way and will most likely advance the conversation of the Gospel to those who merely heard bland statements about Christ growing up.

Myself, I was moved by this helpful reminder, as I perhaps don’t always present the Gospel as effectively and intensely as I should when leading others in my church. The authors gave me something to wrestle with and chew on by effectively identifying problems and systematically tearing them down. This is worth a read.

Originally posted at http://www.wherepenmeetspaper.com ( )
1 vote arjacobson | Apr 12, 2012 |
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Even if you go to church, it doesn't mean that you are being exposed (or exposing others) to the gospel explicitly. Sure, most people talk 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, popular pastor Matt Chandler writes this punchy treatise to remind us what is of first and utmost importance--the gospel.… (more)

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