A Review of What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Within the church today there are many different answers to the question “what is the Gospel?” Though we find Christians in our churches who can articulate magnificently the five points of the TULIP or the remonstrants or who can point to every verse in Scripture referring to the baptism in the Spirit and speaking in tongues, how many can articulate the heart of Scripture? How many can give a biblical answer to the question “what is the Gospel?” Some may answer;

The good news is, God wants to show you his incredible favor. He wants to fill your life with “new wine,” but are you willing to get rid of your old wineskins? Will you start thinking bigger? Will you enlarge your vision and get rid of those old negative mind-sets that hold you back?

The message of Jesus may well be called the most revolutionary of all time: “The radical revolutionary empire of God is here, advancing by reconciliation and peace, expanding by faith, hope, and love—beginning with the poorest, the weakest, the meekest, and the least. It’s time to change your thinking. Everything is about to change. It’s time for a new way of life. Believe me. Follow me. Believe this good news so you can learn to live by it and be part of the revolution.”

The gospel itself refers to the proclamation that Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, is the one, and the only Lord of the world. (These are taken from pgs. 18 and 19)

These are just a few of the answer that have been given, but which, if any, is correct? What is the Gospel? If it is so important for Christians, why don’t we have an answer? Greg Gilbert attempts to tackle this question in his book What is the Gospel? He does this over the eight chapters of his book, starting with finding the Gospel in Scripture, then breaking down and looking at the features of the biblical Gospel (Chs. 2-4) and our response to it (Ch. 5), finally he concludes with three chapters addressing Biblical themes related to the Gospel and its relation to our lives. In Chapter 6 Gilbert gives a account of the kingdom of God. In Chapter 7, he addresses false gospels and charges the reader to maintian the centrality of the Cross. Finally in chapter 8, Gilbert concludes with the power of the Gospel.


What is the Gospel? Looking at the way the writers of the New Testament spoke of the Gospel and how Paul and Peter preached it in Acts, Gilbert concludes that the Gospel in Scripture is always accompanied first by the bad news; “God is your Judge, and you have sinned against him” (36), and then the good news itself “but Jesus has died so that sinners may be forgiven of their sins if they will repent and believe in him” (36). He highlights the heart of the Gospel as Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf, if we toss Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice aside we “cut out the heart of the gospel” (68). At the heart of the various images Scripture gives of the atonement is the reality to which they all point penal substitution (69).  It answers the unanswered question of Scripture as to how a righteous God can forgive disgusting sinners;

The answer to all these questions is found at the cross of Calvary, in Jesus’ substitutionary death for his people. A righteous and holy God can justify the ungodly because in Jesus’ death, mercy and justice were perfectly reconciled. The curse was righteously executed, and we were mercifully saved. (69)

Gilbert expounds the truths of Scripture clearly and concisely, providing an easily accessible and well-grounded discussion of this vital topic.


Leave a Reply