The Gospel of Yes: We Have Missed the Most Important Thing About God. Finding It Changes Everything by Mike Glenn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When you think of God, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of an overbearing dictator in the sky who revels in telling you what to do and punishing those who disobey? Do you imagine a score-keeper who maintains a running talley of your faults and expecting you to make good for your wrongs?
Well, if those are your perceptions, you are the person that Mike Glenn had in mind when he wrote his book The Gospel of Yes. God is not that way at all. In fact, as Glenn points out, even in the Ten Commandments God lays out the way that life works best and opens our lives up to the “yes” of the rest of existence.
Glenn does an admirable job of laying out the story of the Bible and how even from the beginning God pursued humankind, making a way back to himself. In different ways to each prominent character he made declarations of his promises and his determined mission to carry them out. I was excited to read about how desperate our need is for a “yes” in a world that constantly tells us “no.”
In his first sermon titled “Sovereignty and Salvation,” the Prince of Preachers makes a very contemporary point regarding our understanding of the gospel and theology.
I have heard numerous times from many people that we have not yet understood the gospel. As they share this it is with a glint in their eye, as if the wide and vast unknown is comforting to them. Could it be that they are that dissatisfied with the way that they have been raised with questions that have answers? Do they see the church as insufficient to its message?
Frankly, I find the idea that we do not understand the gospel to be frightening! What assurance do any of us have that we are loved of God, that we are accepted by God, or that anything he has said in his word is reliable?
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ by John MacArthur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sometimes one word makes all the difference. The final word in the idyllic American phrase “Liberty and justice for all” has been interpreted so many ways throughout the short history of our country. Not to mention all the ways that it is still interpreted in the pages of the Bible.
In his book Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, John MacArthur takes us on a journey through the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, through the perspective of one Greek word: doulos. While nearly every English translation renders the word “servant,” the concept of what this word really means and its compelling implications are really founded in the word “slave.”
MacArthur starts with the Fall (Genesis 3) and moves from our slavery to sin and the glory of Christ’s intervention to make us slaves of himself, then adopting us as sons, and finally setting us free, free indeed. For me it was as if MacArthur took the jigsaw pieces that I already had and showed me how to put them together so that suddenly the image appeared more glorious than I had previously understood.
Highly recommended for any Christian seeking deeper understanding of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Buy the book at amazon.com
Audio version available at christianaudio.com
Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus by John F. MacArthur Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Do yourself a favor: get a red-letter Bible and read through just the words of Christ. Notice what he says about his own message. He talks about those who rejected him when he ministered and predicted that we would also be persecuted for sharing the same message. Christ said that he came to cause division, and that those who would follow him would have to give up everything.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.“
(Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)
In his book Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus, John MacArthur comments not only on passages where Jesus gives these warnings, but makes solid points about how if we are sharing the message that Christ proclaimed and the truth that he died to make reality, then we are guaranteed to experience rejection. If this is true, then the gospel of Jesus Christ must stand in sharp contract to the message of American churches that bring in people by the thousands in an upbeat, relevant, and relaxed atmosphere where what is taught is an “Oprah-esque” message of how to make the most of life.
The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God expect of Us? The Answer that Changed my Life and Might Just Change the World by Richard Stearns
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
What does it look like to live as a Christian? Being a Christian means that we are assured of our salvation through nothing more than the atoning work of Christ on the cross, yet in the Bible we are challenged to live for Christ who died in our place.
The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? is a book by Richard Stearns who serves a the president of World Vision in which he tells his own story of being a Christian, but living a life that did not reflect his faith in terms of his acts of charity to others. He points out passages in Scripture that show that the life of the Christian is different and that we should be producing fruits that are in line with that change. Admittedly, in telling the story of his life as a Christian, Stearns acknowledges that he is not a theologian. As I critique his book, keep in mind that while I appreciate his challenge I am not especially thrilled with how he comes to his conclusion. Is there a hole in the gospel or is there a worm in our fruit?