Helpful Quotes from The Unbelievable Gospel

Here are some helpful quotes from Jonathan Dodson's new ebook, The Unbelievable Gospel (GCD Books, 2012).

"Too many Christians look to clear their evangelistic conscience by simply mentioning the name of Jesus or saying that he died on the cross for sins. Saying Jesus' name in conversation earns us a √. Mentioning what Jesus did (on the cross) earns us a √+. This performance-based approach to evangelism is incredible because it fails to embody the truth we preach." (8)

"The gospel is both bigger and smaller than we think. Sometimes we can't imagine the scope of the gospel, as news so good that it changes everything — society, culture, and creation. People really need to hear this. This vision of reality is better than anyone can imagine." (8)

"The gospel is bigger and smaller than we think, as big as the cosmos and as small as you and me. It is the good and true news that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us!" (9)

"All disciples are called to evangelism, but an evangelist isn't someone who coughs up information about Jesus or proselytizes people. According to Paul, an evangelist is someone who communicates the gospel of Jesus with patience and wisdom." (9)

"The Church isn't meant to bear the weight of our spiritual hunger for security and relational connectedness. God is — Father, Son and Spirit." (14)

"I am advocating that we share the true gospel, namely that Jesus is the Christ and the one, true Lord, the only Messiah that redeems from sin and the true King that reigns over all. The gospel is news about the good and true story that Jesus has defeated sin, death, and evil through his own death and resurrection and is making all things new, even us." (14)

"Biblical faith is not in a new set of beliefs and friends; it is much deeper than that. It is a shift that comes about through an exchange of one identity for another, from an old identity to a new identity 'in Christ.'" (15)

"The gospel is not about recruitment to a cause or community; it is about regeneration to a new Savior and Lord." (15)

"Preachy self-righteousness says: "If you perform well (morally or spiritually), God will accept you." But the gospel says, "God already accepts you because Jesus performed perfectly on your behalf." There's a hell of difference between the two. The gospel sets us free from performance and releases us into the arms of grace. Self-wrought performance is a death sentence, but the obedience of Christ on our behalf is eternal life." (18)

"Grace is God working his way down to us, so that we don't have to work our way up to him. He comes down to us in Jesus. We need to make Jesus the stumbling block, not preachy self-righteousness or spiritual performance." (18)

"The gospel helps us see ourselves as we are, but offers us an entirely new image, the image of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. If we give up on ourselves and give into Jesus, he'll exchange our darkness for his light, our distortion for his beauty. This is news worth sharing." (18)

"You see, we all need fresh encounters with Jesus for our evangelism to ring with authenticity. We need fresh encounters with Jesus to remain our authentic selves. Otherwise, we will begin to treat people as projects to be avoided or recruited. Evangelism will become a way to judge or praise ourselves. Apart from the gospel, evangelism will become a measuring stick not an overflow of joy in Christ." (30)

"Christianity is utterly unique, not because Christians are better but because Christ is better. In Christianity, God dies so man can live. In other religions, generally speaking, men live in the uncertain hope that they won't really die. In the gospel, God works his way down to us in Jesus to bear our load and give us his life. In religion, man works his way up to God bearing an unbearable load with a vague hope of eternal life." (36)

"Our reluctance to talk about Jesus often springs from honoring the approval of others in our hearts instead of resting our hearts in the approval of Christ the Lord." (43)

"Adoption reminds us that salvation is warm, personal, and full of love. When we fail the Father, it is not as if he disapprovingly looks down from heaven shaking his finger. Because we are in Christ, he stands in front of us with arms wide open. He beckons us home. My goodness, like the father of the prodigal, he runs to us in reckless love (Luke 15:20)!" (43)

"The more we "honor Christ the Lord in our hearts", resting in his perfect approval, the less our hearts will treasure the approval or applause of others. The more we run our hearts under the waterfall of the heart-thrilling truth of adoption, the more we will overflow in humble confidence, not fear or arrogance. We will be less concerned about right answers and more concerned about Christ. Jesus is the better, more merciful Master and the gospel, the infinitely better idea. Jesus provides an impenetrable security and the gospel, an unwavering confidence." (45)

"God has sent us on his grand mission. You are the most effective missionary to the people you live, work, and play with. You need not fear the disapproval of man because you have the enduring approval of God in Christ. You do not need the power of coercion or right answers because the power for salvation does not rest in methods but in the gospel itself: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16)." (45)

"The Spirit walks slowly, gently moving us from intellectual security to heart security, as the truth of adoption slowly sinks in. The spirit of our age moves quickly. We need to slow down with the Spirit, allowing him to grasp our hand and guide us into gospel meditation and prayer, where our adoption becomes a heart-convincing reality." (46)

"Defending the faith, then, is as much about defending Christ as our Lord in our hearts as it is explaining the reasonableness of our faith. The goal of apologetics should never be to convert others (that is the Spirit's job), but it is to honor Christ as Lord in our hearts." (46)

"Gospel theology should affect our evangelistic methodology. People don't what to hear a memorized presentation. They want to know how the gospel is good news to them. But first, the gospel needs to be good news to us. It is terribly difficult to be convincing about a belief when it is shared dispassionately." (53)

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary .