Thoughts & Suggestions | The Explicit Gospel
Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
"The idea behind moral, therapeutic deism is that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior. This mode of thinking is religious, even "Christian" in its content, but it's more about self-actualization and self-fulfillment, and it posits a God who does not so much intervene and redeem but basically hangs out behind the scenes, cheering on your you-ness and hoping you pick up the clues he's left to become the best you you can be. The moralistic, therapeutic deism passing for Christianity in many of the churches these young adults grew up in includes talk about Jesus and about being good and avoiding bad- especially about feeling good about oneself- and God factored into all of that, but the gospel message simply wasn't there. What I found was that for a great many young twenty somethings and thirty somethings, the gospel had been merely assumed, not taught of proclaimed as central. It hadn't been explicit."
As I read this in the introduction to The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, my mind raced back to the years that I tried so hard to be good so that God would love me more and I would feel better about myself.
I was quite religious, but I wasn't a Christian. I didn't understand the gospel.
When I began to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, I began to realize that I could NEVER do enough good things for God to love me. Instead, I was a sinner and in and of myself, I could not please a holy and perfect God. I needed a Savior. I needed someone to step in and bear the wrath that I deserved so that I could be reconciled to God. It wasn't just that I was a decent person who needed a bit of help… it was that I was a dead person who needed a new life.
This new understanding of the gospel was beautiful…. and it becomes more and more beautiful the more that I understand it. I love reading about it, thinking about it, and learning more about the unfathomable depths of the gospel. So, The Explicit Gospel was not the first book I've ever read on the subject… but it's probably been my favorite thus far.
Chandler split the book into three sections: "the gospel on the ground", "the gospel in the air," and their implications and application.
The gospel on the ground refers to salvation as it pertains to individuals. The gospel from the air is a grand overview of God's plan for salvation from the beginning of time until the end of all things. If you focus on either aspect of the gospel for too long, your view of salvation becomes distorted, so Chandler spend an entire section of the book discussing the issues that arise from an unbalanced or incomplete understanding of the gospel. He concludes the book by discussing practical application and the difference that these truths makes on your life.
I kind of loved Chandler's style of writing- it was approachable, lighthearted, and easy to understand, yet he doesn't water down the message. I would feel totally comfortable recommending this book to anyone- it's so easy to read that a less theologically advanced reader will understand…. but it's also in-depth enough that someone more knowledgable in the faith will get something out of it. I know I just used some fancy words- but the point is I honestly think ANYONE could read this book, learn new things, and love Jesus more because of it. =]
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received : that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4