There are a multitude of Christian books, both in the Christian living section as well as the more academically minded fare, that use the buzzword “gospel” or its associated term “gospel-centered.” These terms have become so cliché that in part they have to some degree lost their theological, biblical, and everyday impact, if the term is even defined at all these days. Into the mix of the “gospel” focused textual overload comes a much more defined and appropriate entry, namely that of J. A. Medders’ book Gospel Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life.
Focusing on the subtitle alone, one can certainly be quite excited that on the cover of this book, what it means to be gospel oriented and focused is immediately and correctly defined for the reader. In fact, Medders aptly comments his goal in this book is “not merely enjoy a parade of gospel-centered jargon.” Conversely, this effort by Medders is focused on outlining to the reader what it means to live a life of worship to God, the One who extended His grace towards us meaning in response, we should let the gospel permeate every fiber of our being so that we may strive to walk in holiness.
Medders correctly states concerning the gospel itself that “the news of the eternal Son of God dying in our place for our sins, is not only the center of the Bible; it’s also the center of history.” This message of redemption is the flow of history, one in which we as His people are intimately involved. Thus such a statement roots the gospel in that overarching truth, rescuing it if you will from being a mere buzzword or cliché approach that makes for a feel good book and placing it as a foundation for all we do as believers.
The manner in which Medders writes is truly engaging. I appreciated the fact this book, while a very easy read, is nevertheless not short of important and deep theological truths. Those who read this book will find it is presented in a devotional type style meaning the chapters are not lengthy, thus allowing the reader to choose to read several chapters at a sitting or to take a more meditative approach to what Medders is presenting.
The best section of this book in my humble opinion was “Deep and Wide Worship.” In this chapter, Medders really captures the heart of what being gospel formed is all about, namely allowing this message of salvation, this good news to grow deep into your heart. Medders saliently notes, “The evangelical church is flimsy today because too many pulpits are busy scratching people’s ears rather than preaching to their hearts.” The comment “The Diet Gospel is no gospel” is truly one of the best one-liners I have read in some time as it is absolutely true. Being gospel formed, as noted by Medders is all about growing deep in Christ and deep in the Word of God. Side step that and you are in the diet section of the faith, a place that indeed views this gospel centered reality as just another buzzword.
I highly recommend this book for anyone tired of the misuse of the reality of the gospel that has found its way into far too many books on the shelves of the local bookstores. Medders drives right to the heart of the biblical message, encouraging the reader to live a life devoted to the glory of God. This is a message sorely needed in a day when ten steps to this or 5 steps to that seems to be the norm with those steps devoid of any gospel truth. Medders’ book is a welcome wake-up call and reminder to what the Christian walk is really all about, that of being washed in the grace of God so what we may in turn each out to others to bring them to Christ for transformed lives.
Buy the book from Gospel Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life, or from Kregel by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Kregel Publications for this review. 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.”
Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica, adopted daughter Alissa, two cats Molly and Sweetie Pie and horse Beckham. After spending eight years in the United States Navy as a Yeoman, he has been employed for the past ten years by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University and is currently closing in on completing a Master of Arts in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is an avid reader and blogger.