Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review of Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson

Gospel Deeps is a risky book. 

I say that it is risky because it is not immediately practical.  There are not 10 steps to “going deep in the gospel”.  There is no immediately practical advice for living out the Christian life. 

Neither does this book make any shockingly new insights; it is not revolutionary in that sense.  The point of the book is not to help you change your church, reconsider your theology, or inspire you with newfound truth. 

All Jared Wilson does in Gospel Deeps is hold up an infinitely precious jewel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and call us to marvel along with him.  That’s risky.  Honestly, it reminds me of the preaching ministry of John Piper.  It’s taking the gamble that God is beautiful enough to captivate our affections and change every facet of our lives merely by meditating upon and reorienting our hearts around that which we are beholding.  Wilson takes this same wager and it pays off. 

But Aren’t These “Gospel” Books Getting Monotonous?

That question is dealt with, in part, in the book itself.  Wilson rightly says, “The further into the gospel we go, then, the bigger it gets.  There is no way for us to wear it out”.  In one sense it is like an onion.  When you peel off a layer it only reveals a deeper layer.  Therefore, we never exhaust the gospel.  Each time we think we’ve come to grips with the implications of who God is in His gospel we eventually discover that Christ is deeper still. 

What happens, though, if you never peel back the layers of the onion?  What if you only camp out on the ABC’s of the gospel (forgiveness and a ticket to heaven) but never really plumb the depths of the gospel?  Not only will this “hinder our worship”, as Wilson says, but it will inevitably lead us to get bored with what we think is the exhausted gospel. 

That is why this book—and many of the other “gospel” books—are not monotonous.  At least they are not monotonous in as much as they peel back a layer or look at another facet of the gospel diamond.  I imagine that if we kept churning out books that focused on the same facet of the gospel it might begin feeling monotonous.  But I would even say that each facet of the gospel is inexhaustible.  And each facet could be marveled at for all of eternity.  That seems to be what Wilson is doing in this book.  He is holding up a diamond and turning it ever so slowly with each chapter and then drawing us in to worship. 

Summary of Gospel Deeps

The book begins with a defense of plumbing the depths of the gospel.  And then Wilson sets about giving a few examples of what that looks like.  In the first chapter he takes kind of a big picture look at the gospel and how deep and wide are its implications.  In the first chapter he is saying, “see, the gospel is big isn’t it”. 

In the second chapter Wilson takes his cues from 1 Peter 2:9 and probes what he terms the threefold vision of the gospel.  The gospel transforms and gives us a proper view of self.  It also gives us a redemptive view of life and our present and future environment.  But more than either of these two the gospel gives us an epic view of God.  That’s His overarching purpose in redemption—that we might worship God, basking in and proclaiming the excellencies of Christ. 

The third chapter, like the first two, seem foundational.  Here we see that the gospel takes a Trinitarian shape.  Again, we are being drawn in and urged to confess that the gospel is huge.  It is as big as God is. 

After the first three chapters the reader will plumb the depths of various facets of the gospel.  Wilson probes the depths of gospel joy, the atonement, suffering, the omnipresence of Christ, union with Christ, cosmic redemption, and the Cross-centeredness of the gospel.  Though linked together by a common thread, each of these chapters could stand on their own as introduction to a different aspect of the gospel.  Each chapter could comprise an entire library of books.  Yet, Wilson succinctly and passionately draws the reader in to awe at the greatness of our God.

My Take

Personally, I loved the book.  There were some chapters that were absolutely life-shaping.  My favorite chapter by far was the chapter on gospel joy.  It was something that I needed to be reminded of and an aspect of the gospel that I needed to camp out on and just chew for awhile. 

The writing is phenomenal, as to be expected from Jared Wilson.  He uses humor and wit quite well.  He can jab you in the throat with convicting statements and then a few paragraphs later have you laughing about it and reveling in the forgiveness we have in Christ.  He is also very artistic.  At times the more casual reader might be taken aback by some of the loaded sentences.  If you like reading C.S. Lewis you’ll like reading Jared Wilson.  There is enough in this book, though, that even if you trip up over a Narnia reference you’ll still thoroughly enjoy and be shaped by the book. 

Gospel Deeps was a risky book.  But I’m glad that Jared Wilson took the risk.  He’s right.  Jesus is precious enough that you can just reflect on His awesomeness for 200 pages and still want more.  I wish more preachers, myself included, understood this.  Just telling people for 45 minutes how amazing Jesus and His gospel truly are, is abundantly practical. 

You can, and should, buy this book.  It’s only 10 bucks which is phenomenal. 

Get it here.

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