“Above all, worship Jesus. Make much of Jesus. It’s about him” (13). Jeff starts Gospel-Formed with this admonition. I take it as his target for the book, and so it’s only fair to measure the success of what Jeff does by it. I’ll cut to the chase and argue that he achieved his goal. He starts off reminding his readers it’s all about Jesus and to take in the Scriptures through out the book which are the real focus because they tell us about Jesus. And I think he hits his mark. Jeff gives us a gospel punch that will capture our attention and drive our gaze to the risen Savior.
Gospel-Formed is designed for daily reading. Jeff recommends reading one chapter per day for one gospel-packed punch. The chapters work well with this format. They each do stand alone, but there’s also steam that builds as he progresses through each chapter and each section (Worship, Identity, Community, and Mission).
It’s a book I could confidently use with new believers because of the accessibility of the language. And on the flip side, Jeff also doesn’t dumb down the gospel to achieve this. He delves into the deep mines of the gospel. He says, “The gospel is elementary and advanced. The gospel is for new and old Christians, hurting and thriving Christians, excited and ashamed Christians. We all need the same thing” (81). Also for example, one section is dedicated completely to our identity in Christ. “Grace-addicted living is wholly defined not by our sins but by our union with Jesus” (117). This entire section picks apart what that means for Christians practically. He provides encouragement, admonition, and comfort in this essential gospel truth.
Christian, you are more precious to God than a thousand white-throated needle tails. The Son of God left heaven for your joy; Jesus Christ died for your joy; the God-man from Nazareth rose for your joy; the Alpha and Omega sits on the throne, alive and well, for your joy—your joy in Him. (70)
Also, Jeff has a way with punchy metaphors and word pictures. In the wrong hands, this can be distracting, but it fits especially well with the daily drive of the book. It holds your attention through each chapter and you get a sense that Jeff is passionate about what he talks about. Something that’s hard not to love. For example,
Our God is not like the bizarre gods of this world. Getting a false God’s attention must be difficult. Have you seen what some religions require? Weird clothes, improv dance-offs, oddly placed piercing, the consumption of unsanitary foods—yeesh. Adherents of some false religions perform certain mantras and incantations in order to get their god’s attention, as if dialing in a special formula will score divine dealings. Worshipers of false gods labor under the tyranny of performance. (135)
Some of my favorite selections were on divine discipline ( 137), our verdict before God as justified and living in community judgement free (155-56), the comprehensive of gospel promises—we get God (38-40), the grace of the Lord’s Supper (90-92), and killing idolatry (95).
So if you’re looking for something to read slowly and deeply to start the year, Gospel-Formed won’t disappoint. Also, I would encourage its use within groups. I think the punchy, rich, gospel-centered content would work great in a small group or one-on-one discipleship settings.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the assistant editor at CBMW Men’s Channel. He regularly writes for a variety of publications. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.