Sunday, July 10, 2011
Coming Alive: A Review of Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson
COMING OCTOBER 2011
What happens when churches assume the gospel? What happens when a church treats the gospel as one of the many things they teach or something merely to tack on at the end of a worship service when the pastor says something along the lines of, "Please come forward if you want to ask Jesus into your heart"? These are the questions Jared Wilson explores in his upcoming book GOSPEL WAKEFULNESS.
Many churches across the country assume the gospel week in and week out by assuming that its members are already well-acquainted with the transforming message of Jesus and that the gospel is merely for the salvation for unbelievers. Once you're in, it's use is finished for you. The problem is that so many people who are assumed to have embraced the gospel aren't living transformed lives. So churches teach many practical biblically-principled messages while its members are effectively asleep to the life-changing power of the gospel. This leaves people exerting a lot of their own willpower to apply really good biblical principles, but without the motivating power of what Wilson calls gospel wakefulness. Without gospel wakefulness people are left exhausted, dejected, and feeling like their faith isn't really doing anything in them. They may continue, or they may turn away.
But for many, Wilson tells us, there comes a moment when the gospel truly comes alive and changes everything. Wilson asserts that this might be simultaneous with conversion, but many times it's not. People often believe in Jesus without understanding the full implications of that faith for their lives. The moment of gospel wakefulness comes on the backside of a time of incredible brokenness when we come to the end of ourselves and find ourselves most desperate for Jesus alone. Our affections are changed from the things that leave us empty to the God who rescued us. We find ourselves most satisfied in Jesus, and this drives our behavior rather changing our behavior, thinking we're going to earn God's favor.
Wilson does a great job of defining the gospel and what he means by gospel wakefulness. The book has many compelling personal stories from people the author knows. Wilson effectively shows the path to gospel wakefulness, and these stories illustrate the path powerfully.
One of the concepts I enjoyed the most from this book was what Wilson called Gospel-driven Sanctification. Christians are often more than ready to admit that our rescue is a work solely of God that we receive by faith, even if we're tempted to try to earn it. But the prevailing thought is that our journey of becoming less and less sinful is something we must accomplish by our own work. This leaves us exhausted and feeling like a failure when we aren't able to accomplish our own sanctification by our own willpower. Gospel-driven Sanctification is something I've been committed to for a long time, and I was excited to read someone else's thoughts on it. The gospel that saves us is also the gospel that transforms us. We work as a response to Christ's work, not to earn Christ's work. So churches must be committed to preaching the gospel as the focal point of their message week in and week out, showing that the gospel is for believers and unbelievers alike.
This is a great book for church leaders to go through to understand the need for their people to hear and understand the gospel that changes them over and over again.
I received this book for free for review from Crossway through NetGalley.com