There’s a lot of talk about being “gospel-centered” these days.
But what exactly does that mean? Some emphasize the work of Christ on the cross. Others talk about God’s kingdom. Still others focus on grace as the essential message of the gospel. It’s so typical. We tend to narrow our focus to one aspect and lose the big picture.
Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper bring these three aspects of the gospel together and lay out how it informs and transforms every facet of our lives in Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey.
“Faithmapping is our attempt to identify that ancient path through the wilderness by mapping out our mission. We want to illustrate the connections between what God has done in the gospel, who we are as the church, and how we are to live in the world. It’s an exploration of a whole gospel for a whole church for the sake of the whole world.” p. 17
Using the work of theologians John Frame and Tim Keller as a springboard, the book explains that there are three lenses we view the gospel through that are all equally true and central to the Christian:
- The gospel of Christ (the historical truth of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, paying for our sins).
- The gospel of sonship (God’s radical, transforming grace, his acceptance of us on the basis of what Jesus has done, not what we do).
- The gospel of the kingdom (the cosmic redemption project inaugurated by Christ’s coming).
The problem is that we have a tendency to latch onto one of them to the exclusion of the others. This leads others to react to the overemphasis on that aspect and overcorrect toward one of the others. And thus, a cycle of overreaction and overcorrection begins. The authors of Faithmapping set out to lay out a plan – a map, if you will – to keep all three aspects in balance:
“Rather than somehow pitting the cross of Christ against the kingdom of Christ or the grace of God for centrality in the message of the gospel, we want to hold them all together, arguing that they are all ways of talking about the gospel, and that they lead to one another if you understand them properly.” p. 20-21
The book is divided into three parts: The Whole Gospel, The Whole Church, and The Whole World.
Part One explores each of these three aspects of the gospel thoroughly and details why each one is essential to a full understanding of the gospel.
Part Two unpacks how this “whole gospel” transforms our entire identity from the inside out. This section breaks down five different facets of our identity and explores each one in detail:
Part Three, which contains just the final chapter, brings everything together and makes the connection between our gospel-formed identities and the world we inhabit. Five dimensions of the world in which we live out the gospel are identified and discussed in practical terms:
“If we think of salvation as a far-off promise, something we’ll hopefully ‘fly away’ to one day, we miss out on the beautiful things God is doing right now, redeeming and transforming our ordinary, everyday lives. When we talk about gospel transformation, we’re talking about our world: the one where we wake up in the morning, earn our living, raise our kids, and go to bed at night…
It’s a practical dynamic, and one that demands that we ask and pray how to live it out, how to make the connections between the gospel and the world we inhabit.” p. 196
Each chapter ends with a “Map It” section that has suggested questions, prayers, and readings, making it perfect for individual or group study.
Faithmapping is a must-read!
It clearly addresses something that I’ve seen over and over again – the tendency to latch on to one aspect of the gospel and downplay the others – which causes all kinds of confusion, division, and fads. Everyone has a fragment of the map. The authors bring those fragments together into a whole, showing how each is interrelated and dependent on the others.
It’s not just an academic theological tome on the nuances of the gospel. The book is theologically rich and thorough, and yet simple and incredibly practical.
As I read, I kept thinking (and sometimes saying!), “Yes! Exactly!” I was encouraged, convicted, and motivated by every chapter. I started out highlighting favorite passages to share with you, but there are too many! You’ll just have to read the book! 🙂
“The map lies open on the table. Hopefully you can see how it all fits together. One glorious gospel, in three aspects, forms one church with five identities, who lives out those identities in all the dimensions of their world. The map lies before you not as an obligation, but an invitation to explore.” p. 216
Thanks so much to Crossway for a review copy of this title! I received no other compensation and was not required to give a positive review.