The word gospel is somewhat of a buzzword these days, with little meaning. It’s something churches sprinkle on things to make things sound “hip, up-to-date, and theologically certified.” But the gospel is so much more than a cool label. It is the power of God unto salvation.
In Above All, Southern Baptist president J. D. Greear doesn’t go anywhere with this book until he lays out the plain gospel. The very first chapter is pretty excellent. There is no forward, introduction, or preface, so I think chapter one serves as somewhat of an introduction as it delves into what the gospel is and summarizes the subsequent chapters. I love that Greear is clear about the gospel message being more than a mere “God loves you.”
Chapters 2 through 6 are more about what the gospel brings, such as change, disciples, multiplication, hope, and grace. Greear talks about the gospel as being the power that changes us, making disciples, optimism and graciousness that the gospel produces. I found myself convicted more than once, often by a single phrase that caught my eye such as when the author encourages the reader to think about the burdens they are carrying right now. He follows this by asking how many of them are actually the burdens of others. Really simple, but it was a bit convicting to think about.
The final few chapters are titled the “Gospel Above” my culture, my preferences, and finally, my politics. Essentially, this portion dealing more directly with keeping the gospel above all of these things and not giving them the same importance or focus as we ought give the great commission. I was holding my breath while reading the chapter on politics, unsure what to expect, but I think he did an excellent job of showing the gospel, not political leanings as being of primary importance.
Above All really is a fantastic, genuinely gospel-centred book. It’s an easy and sometimes convicting read that will benefit the layperson, pastor, and church planter alike.
Many thanks to B&H for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.