Rediscovering The Lost Gospel

Rediscovering The Lost Gospel

I have been studying several books on the gospel in recent weeks as I research a chapter for an upcoming book. I have to confess at the outset that whilst I have heard of Darrell Bock, I have never read any of his writings. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect as I opened it but I have to say that for its 136 pages it is real value for money.

Bock felt the need to write this book because, in his own words, when he hears some people preach the gospel today,

I am not sure I hear its presentation as good news. Sometimes, I hear a therapeutic call – that God will make us feel better or prosper more. Other times, I hear so much about Jesus paying for sin that the gospel seems limited to a transaction – the removal of a debt. Or, perhaps, I hear it as a kind of spiritual root canal. Still other times, I hear a presentation that makes the gospel seem more about avoiding something from God versus experiencing something with him. Other presentations make me think Jesus came to change politics in the world. Such presentations make me wonder why God did not send Jesus to Rome instead of Jerusalem. None of these are the gospel I see in scripture, though some are closer than others.’

He moves on in the book to clarify his understanding of the gospel as ‘good news about a restored relationship with God.’ He makes some strong points in the early chapters about what the gospel is not (his point about the cross being integral but not the whole of the good news is challenging stuff). It was during this part that I learned the word ‘synechdoche’, a valuable thing when working in a housing scheme. I have yet to work it into a conversation in our local cafe but you never know! One of the most helpful parts of the book are the discussion questions at the end of each chapter. They are a real bonus if studying the book with somebody else.

He has 7 short chapters in the book and each one is extremely clear, concise and accessible. Chapter 1 is concerned with demonstrating that the gospel is about God’s initiative in reaching out to receive lost sinners in order to restore a relationship, rather than viewing it as a type of business transaction. The second chapter discusses the ramifications of communion and baptism as pictures of Christ’s supreme sacrifice on behalf of sinners. Chapter 3 reminds us that the bad news must be known before the good news can be shared. Chapter 4 strongly emphasises that salvation is a gift of God’s grace and cannot be earned. Chapter 5 traces the gospel back to the Old Testament. Chapter 6 is my favourite as it looks at the three responses to the good news: ‘turning, repenting & faith‘. Chapter 7 focuses on ‘reconciliation, peace and power‘. Finally, he ends with a discussion of God’s love which Bock maintains is at the heart of the gospel.

It was a good, solid book. I don’t think many evangelicals will read it and be blown away but it is definitely one for the bookshelves. I would certainly use it in one to one study or as a deepening discipleship tool. Good stuff.