A Book Review of “Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?”

by John Yoder on February 28, 2014

[In light of this Sunday’s text (Mark 1:14-15) where Jesus Christ preaches the gospel of God, I thought I would repost this book review which has been revised from its original publication.]

Zeal is that eager desire and ardent enthusiasm to accomplish something.  As a neutral passion it can be manifest for good or evil.  But even zeal which is directed toward a worthy goal will fail to glorify God if it is not according to His Word.  Sadly, this has been the case in much of the professing church for years, and it continues today, as it seeks to fulfill its mission to make disciples in the world.

There is a lot of evangelistic zeal among professing Christians, but much of what is called ‘evangelism’ is misguided.  While the aim of the church has been high – the salvation of men’s souls – it has not been guided by the Word of God either in its message or in its method.  This has been manifest in words and ways which are not only dishonoring to the Lord, but have proven to be ineffective and even soul destroying.

What the church needs is zeal in accordance with knowledge and in harmony with God’s revelation (Rom. 10:2).  And while biblical methods of evangelism are important, the church today must first recover the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is with this intent that Walt Chantry’s modern classic, Today’s Gospel, exposes the errors so prevalent in the preaching of our day and focuses our attention on the Master Evangelist.

He introduces this subject by asking, “What’s wrong with our evangelism?”  Then he goes on to explain that the truth of the gospel has suffered for two reasons: (1) first, the theory that unity is all important for evangelism has come at the expense of doctrinal preciseness; and (2) second, by giving lip-service to the sufficiency of Scripture unbiblical doctrines and practices have been introduced into evangelism while essential ingredients of the gospel have been omitted.

Then Chantry expounds on the exchange between Christ and the “rich young ruler” to teach on the authentic gospel.  From this, he shows that biblical evangelism involves: (1) preaching the character of God; (2) preaching the law of God; (3) preaching repentance toward God; (4) preaching faith toward God’s Son; (5) preaching assurance of acceptance with God; and (6) preaching with dependence upon God.  This is gospel preaching.

Although this is a brief book, its size is not an indication of the importance of its contents.  What could be more important for the health and growth of the church than a recovery of the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ?!

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