Book Review of Gospel by JD Greear
I finally got around to reading Gospel by JD Greear and I love almost everything about it. In fact my almost is so picky I hesitate to mention it. But I must. And I suppose I should get the almost out of the way because I don’t want it to get in the way of the rest of this fantastic book.
The entire book has at its core a simple daily prayer that the author proposes we consider praying every day. It’s a fantastic prayer:
The Gospel Prayer
“In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
“Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”
“As You have been to me, so I will be to others.”
“As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.”
The problem is not in the prayer – it’s simple and biblically saturated. The problem is in how I know some people will take the prayer – as magic. They will begin to pray the prayer daily and God will do an amazing work in their life and they will credit the prayer instead of God. That’s the totality of my concern and Greear (who is a friend of mine…I know his heart) addresses it clearly right at the start:
“First, let me make sure you understand: there’s nothing magical about this prayer. It’s not an incantation to get God to do good things for you…This prayer is simply a tool to help you train your mind in the patterns of the gospel. The point is not the prayer; the point is thinking in line with the gospel.“
As long as you heed his warning, this book is phenomenal. I only mention this little concern because it’s easy to forget his warning by the time you get to the end of the book. And you should make it to the end of the book, because every page is worth the read.
Throughout the book, Greear reminds us that it’s all about the Gospel, and by “it,” I mean everything. Our lives, our salvation, our justification, our sanctification are all rooted in, made possible by, and sustained through the Gospel. In one section, he does a fantastic job helping us to identify idols in our lives, Then, instead of making us feel guilty about our proclivity toward sin, he reminds us that only Jesus can satisfy the longings of our soul that we give to idols. Instead of focusing on cleaning up our sin or ferreting out our idols, he turns our attention to Jesus.
A good chunk of the book focuses on applying the Gospel to our relationships, possessions, and the trajectory of our daily lives. But he doesn’t stop there; like the Apostle Paul (in more places than I can count in the New Testament), Greear addresses those who would say this type of Gospel-centrality is dangerous because it ignores the commands in Scripture. He carefully shows how the Gospel drives us toward Jesus and holiness, not away from them.
I don’t want to spoil the book by writing too much more, I just encourage you to get it and read it on your own. Here are a lot of great quotes (many of which I plan on tweeting over the next several weeks).
“Being converted to Jesus is not just about learning to obey some rules. Being converted to Jesus is learning to so adore God that we would gladly renounce everything we have to follow Him.”
“Those who get better are those who understand that God’s approval of them is not dependent on their getting better.”
“Right now, if you are in Christ, when God looks at you–regardless of your situation–He sees the righteousness of Christ.” If we really believed that–not only with our heads but also with our hearts–it would change everything in our lives.”
“Gospel change is the Spirit of God using the story of God to make the beauty of God come alive in our hearts.”
“God will not be anybody’s pimp.” (You’ll have to read the book for context for this one!)