Matt Chandler is a pastor from Dallas and is also the newly appointed head of Acts 29, the church planting organization started by Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. The Explicit Gospel is his first book, written with another writer, Jared Wilson.
Chandler writes in response to people he had talked with in the bible belt who self identify as Christians, yet have no ability to talk about what the gospel actually is. So, the writing comes off as a casual systematic theology with more illustrations and personal stories. This makes the book a great tool for new Christians and for those who have a cavalier approach to the gospel narrative.
I really enjoyed the book, but the first half was significantly better than the second. Chandler’s handle on personal gospel is far superior to his handle on the cosmic gospel. Of course, this is no surprise coming from the young, restless and reformed camp. If you can get through the illogical use of random science proving his views on creation theology are the only correct answers, the rest is great stuff.
Here’s some money quotes:
- p.22, “This Paul is an unbelievable intellectual who can confuse us… His writing is frequently estatic, given to long sentences and the piling on of phrases, but he’s not really a singsong kind of guy. So how interesting, then, that all of a sudden at the end of the eleventh chapter of Romans, he busts into this song: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!'”
- p.28, “Now put on a cup, dude, because it’s about to be big-boy time.”
- p.29-30, “His glory is blinding. It undoes people. It takes people out. ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Heb. 10:31)”
- p.31, “In the end God says, ‘You keep trying to pay me off with stuff that’s already mine.’ Some of us even try to bargain with our lives. But God says, ‘Please. I’ll take that life if I want it. I’m God.'”
- p.39,40, “In Jeremiah 2, for example, we see that the creation responds in different ways to us in relation to how we relate to God. When God’s people embraced idolatry and ‘changed their glory for that which does not profit,’ the Lord commanded: ‘Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate’ (Jer. 2:11-12)… Why would the universe shudder in horror at this idea? (In the original language, hebrew, the essential idea is that they’re literally terrified that God might snap and rip the universe to shreds.)”
- p.50, “We play with the eternal weight of glory like a child does a happy Meal toy.”
- p.51, “Where is the nervousness in our guts when we’re coming into an assembly of those pursuing God? Where is the elation over the resurrection? Where is the desolation over our sins? Where is it? Well, it’s on basketball. It’s on football. It’s on romance. It’s on tweeting and blogging. Are you really going to believe that we’re not worthy of hell? Thank God for his response to all this blasphemous nonsense: the wrath-absorbing cross of Christ.”
- p.55, “Keep in mind that the guard who got healed by Jesus still arrested him. Is that not also illustrative?”
- p.56, “Did they know that for centuries of the sacrificial system they’d been rehearsing the slaughter of the Messiah?”
- p.64, “Here’s the funny thing about the Old Testament: 85 percent of it is God saying, ‘I’m going to have to kill all of you if you don’t quit this.'”
- p.72-3, “I meet alot of people swimming neck deep in Christian culture who have been inoculated to Jesus Christ…A really vivid way we see this occur at The Village is in response to what the staff jokingly calls my ‘State of the Union’ addresses, in which I say to the congregation, ‘Hey, quit coming here. If you’re not serious, if you don’t want to plug in, if you don’t want to do life here, if you don’t want to belong, if you’re an ecclesiological buffet kind of guy, eat somewhere else.’ And then people who are doing all of those things will sit there in the crowd and say, “Yeah! Get’em. It’s about time someone said this.’ I’m thinking, ‘I’m talking to you! You’re who I’m talking to.’ It makes me want to pull my hair out. They hear the words coming out of my mouth, but they’re not listening.”
- p.106, “Cain’s self-centered response reveals the radical individualism inherent in the fall but also the radical other-centeredness that existed before the fall and that will be restored by the gospel in the new heavens and new earth.”
- p.122, “Solomon was putting on parties for between fifteen- and twenty-thousand people. So that little barbecue soiree, that little kegger you had in your backyard, is preschool.”
- p.190, “Once guilt is the motivating factor instead of the gospel itself, we’ve got a salvation based on works instead of grace. so instead of God’s love being the driving force of our engagement with those who need to hear about that love, we do those things because we’ve been led to feel guilty about not doing them.”