The dangerous Gospel of Jesus

If one clearly hears the facts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one’s heart will be changed by it – for better or worse.

One will love it and want more, hate it and want it to go away or develop a conflicting mix of passion, awakening, curiosity, fear, courage, thankfulness, incredulousness, revulsion, anger, confusion and maybe faith … or maybe not.

But there’s one thing guaranteed: ambivalence isn’t an option. So says Dallas preacher Matt Chandler in his recently published “The Explicit Gospel,” a book I’m very much enjoying. Chandler isn’t rewriting the Gospel message; he’s encouraging Christians to crave, pursue and know – and for preachers to preach – what the Gospels actually say and reveal about God, eternity and our relationship with the divine.

Chandler wisely counsels us to de-emphasize what we want the Gospels to say or hear spurious preachers say. Instead we must focus on and exhort the totality of all that the Gospels really describe about our relationship with God.

That can be a dangerous thing, Chandler notes, because upon hearing the Gospel a person’s soul will either soften or harden toward God’s grace. Softening leads toward heaven and the danger of being rejected by the world; hardening leads toward hell, and hell is as dangerous as it gets.

But hell isn’t the point. Preaching the truth of Christ is the point, and that’s Chandler’s point. He presents a thorough, biblically buttressed dialectic of how the Bible itself supports the truth of the Gospel if only we read it entirely and preachers preach it explicitly.

Chandler cites John chapter 6 as an example. Everyone loves the story of Jesus miraculously feeding the 5,000 (verses 1-15). But read on (verses 25-71) and discover that Jesus says He is the bread of life, and that for us to be truly fed God requires us “to believe in the One he has sent.” And Jesus really, really means it. You can’t preach the miraculous receiving if you won’t preach the serious believing. That is called “subtracting” from the Gospels and, sorry – half a loaf won’t get anyone into heaven.

Our hearts and minds must be strong enough to hear the truth of the explicit Gospel (e.g. John 3:16-17; 14:6-7). Chandler is telling us to be sure to hear it all.