Yesterday I came across this advice from Spurgeon:
Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, PREACH CHRIST, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs to be told of its Savior, and of the way to reach him…Blessed is the ministry of which CHRIST IS ALL.
This advice shouldn’t be necessary. What else is there to preach about? To quote Spurgeon again, “No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”
Sadly, though, we need this advice. That’s why I have appreciated Jared Wilson’s blog The Gospel-Driven Church: it keeps bringing us back to the centrality of the gospel. It’s also why his new book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe, is so important.
In twelve chapters, Jared introduces us to a Jesus who has been lost in many of our churches. Jared uses wit and theological insight to unpack some basic teaching on who Jesus is and what he came to do.
The strengths of this book? Well, I like the subject matter a lot. You can write about a lot of things, and people do, but you can’t write about anything as important as Jesus. Jared does a great job of presenting some core truths about Jesus.
I also like that this book spends more time changing our thinking than it does giving steps to this or that. I’m convinced that our greatest need is to have our minds and hearts rearranged by what is true about God and the gospel, which will lead to all kinds of practical changes. Sometimes we focus on the changes rather than on having our mind rearranged. Jared gets us right: if we really begin to understand who Jesus is and what he came to do, everything changes.
I also like that Jared can think beyond party lines. He can quote theologians who don’t always belong together. He’s smart in doing this because these theologians have a lot to offer, even if you don’t agree with everything they say. I like a guy who thinks and reads widely.
Finally, I like his humor. Here’s a sample. Jared is talking about when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. At the last minute, Abraham spots a ram, provided by God to take Isaac’s place. Jared writes:
Isaac had probably never been happier to see a ram trapped in all of his life. I bet he kissed that ram on the lips.
Then in a footnote:
Which, for the ram, had to have been the strangest thing ever to happen to him. And as they were slitting his throat a few minutes later, I bet he looked at Isaac and was like, “What the heck?”
I laughed, but not everyone will. If you laughed too, you’ll enjoy this book. If not, you may struggle through parts of this book.
Who is this book for? The ideal audience is someone who’s been exposed to anemic versions of Jesus and needs to meet the Jesus of Scripture. It’s a great book for those who are tired of Christianity lite and are ready for the real thing.
My prayer is that more and more churches in Western evangelicalism will repent of their relegating of the gospel to a place inside the Trojan Horse of attractive programming and performance-driven worship services and self-help sermons, and once again herald it boldly as the only and supreme hope of a dying world.
Amen. We need this message. As Spurgeon said, preach Christ or go home.