Have you ever read a book and thought this book tells your life story? When I read Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson this is exactly how I felt. Jared explains that “Gospel wakefulness means treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly” (Wilson, 24). This book covers topics such as brokenness, affections, worship, hyperspirituality, spiritual disciplines, sanctification, depression, gospel confidence, the gospel-wakened church and fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ.
As I read this book I felt like Jared put to words what I experienced when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. This is not to say that I do not continue to experience Gospel Wakefulness. My teenage years were very hard for me personally as my parents got divorced and there was a lot of family turmoil and what not that continued on into my mid-twenties. Through all the mess of my family life the Gospel sustained me and I grew closer to God while many of my friends who went through the same things fell away from Jesus. I’m convinced that the reason I did not fall away was because the Lord awakened me to the power of His grace. Gospel Wakefulness for me was just as Jared described it “Treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly” (Wilson, 24).
As I finished this book I reflected on what I read trying to come up with one chapter or even one sentence that stood out to me the most, but couldn’t find just one. It is not often that I read a book that is so grounded in the Word of God, is theologically robust and so edifying. Pastor Scott Smith was right on the money (in my opinion) when he said of Gospel Wakefulness that it is, “One of the mot theologically faithful, refreshingly honest, pastorally sensitive, and eminently practical books on the gospel.”
Some people may have issues with all the stories and think that this makes the book “feeling” oriented. I have to admit when I first started reading this book I thought this, but as I continued to read and reflect on what Jared was teaching, I came to conclude that this is not all he was communicating. Jared is clearly trying to get to the heart-strings of his readers, but he does so in a way that is thoroughly grounded in the Word of God. Jared aims at stirring up the affections but not just to rouse our feelings but to point us toward the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The two chapters that stood out the most for me were the chapters on hyperspirituality and depression. Being that I grew up in the Church and in a Christian family hyperspirituality is something I have struggled with in my past. In fact I would say this was the issue I battled with in my late teens to early twenties. One of the means God used in that period was the Gospel. During that time period, I discovered the centrality of the Gospel. Before this most of my Christian life consisted in doing things whether at Church or in the ministries I was involved in. While I wouldn’t have said it at that time I was very much living a performance based faith where as Jared said, “We turn astonishment over the gospel into fuel for measuring up” (Wilson, 98).
One of the other big battles in my Christian life one that I still struggle with from time to time is depression. Jared makes a very good point that “What gospel wakefulness presupposes is that whenever a person tops out emotionally, they do so at the gospel” (Wilson 148). This is an important point and one of the reasons I don’t believe that Gospel Wakefulness is primarily a book on just stirring up believers’ affections for God. Jared clearly communicates that believers are to be stirred up for a purpose the Gospel. A lesser writer may have issues communicating this point with such clarity and it is a bold point to be sure, but Jared does so with the skill of a surgeon by drawing out the importance of the work of Christ. As Jared points out, “What the Christian can be sure of, and what the depressed Christian can reasonably hope, is that while the darkness may be bigger than us, Christ is bigger than the darkness (Wilson, 150). Wilson wisely counsels his readers to seek professional help from a Christian counselor for the issue of depression and not to discount taking medication.
I recommend reading Gospel Wakefulness because it will surprise you at times and perhaps even shock you with the Gospel, but it will not disappoint you. Reading Gospel Wakefulness will be a breath of fresh air for those who have been in the Church their entire lives and are tired of playing games with God. I’m thankful Jared wrote this book because it gave words to a period of time in which I had no idea what God was doing. My sincere prayer is that the Lord Jesus would use this book to awaken a generation to the centrality of the Gospel by showing them the multifaceted brilliance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Title: Gospel Wakefulness
Author: Jared Wilson
Publisher: Crossway (2011)