Every Christian needs to have a firm grasp on the essentials of the gospel. Sadly not all do. In What is the Gospel, Greg Gilbert does an admirable job of helping Christians to grasp the essentials of the good news without over-simplifying things to a few booklet points.
This book is simply fun to read. Gilbert illustrates well, but not too much. He takes us on a simple tour of the atonement, pointing out the complexities without hurting our brains in the process. The author neither hides from difficult issues nor bogs down in minutia.
While I could write much that I affirm about each of Gilbert’s points, the thing that I will highlight here is different. This book was simply good for my soul. As I read through the essentials of the gospel, I was again reminded of God’s greatness, my sinfulness, Christ’s perfect work, and my need to trust in Jesus. I truly did praise God as I walked through this wonderfully familiar story.
In the small details, one might find a point or two to pick at. I have a post-millennial friend (not my view) who would not like Gilbert’s handling of the kingdom of God or the believer’s role in bringing it about. I felt like Gilbert made a mistake when he identified the Passover as an example of “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” as the Passover lamb was not a sin offering but rather a picture of substitution. Yet, these points would not in any way keep me from using this book in multiple settings.
Honestly, the greatest single weakness of this book is its brevity. This was intentional, obviously. Yet, it also is true that we are bound to miss points or gloss over points too quickly when we make a work as accessible as this one. I certainly could not have done it better, but we need to be honest about the limitations of a work of this size on a topic of this depth.
I highly enjoyed this work and strongly recommend it to others. This book would be perfect for a church’s new members class in order to see to it that those who join the church agree on the essentials of what it means to be saved. It would make a fine evangelistic tool for a person to work through with a lost friend, coworker, or family member. The chapters would make excellent background for a pastor’s teaching through the gospel. The book is readable enough for student ministers to make use of. Yes, it may be brief, but the book is power-packed, joy-filled, and God-glorifying.