What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert is a great little book explaining the Gospel in an unintimidating 121 pages of colloquial language .

The book provides an accurate, concise, clear presentation of the Gospel in very a Pauline, protestant, evangelical, and Reformed fashion. He explains the Gospel in very “Romans’ road”-like terms and uses penal substitution as his foundational motif in explaining the Gospel (hence very Pauline, protestant, evangelical, and Reformed). Gilbert uses the well-known, often used, and quite excellent, “God, man, Christ, response” outline to explain the Gospel. This outline demonstrates a fantastic and simply model to help one get a solid grasp of what the Gospel is really all about. It also prompts one to ask important questions about what the Gospel message assumes (sometimes called the “bad news”), means, and implies.

I have two minor critiques:

First, unless I missed it (and I might have), in his chapter, “The Kingdom,” I don’t think Gilbert explained how the kingdom relates to the Gospel. He sort of just talked about the kingdom.

Second, his presentation of the Gospel was very narrow, very individualistic.

In one section of the book he explains how the Bible’s overarching “creation, fall, redemption, consummation” structure is not the Gospel. This is true of course. But although the metanarrative of “creation, fall, redemption, consummation” is not the Gospel itself, at the end of the day this metanarrative and the Gospel are inseparable. What I mean is that the Gospel assumes this broader redemptive-historical narrative as its backdrop; and this narrative assumes the Gospel as its center. Now, Gilbert recognizes this when he says,

When you understand and articulate it rightly, the creation-fall-redemption-consummation outline provides a good framework for a faithful presentation of the biblical gospel.


It’s perfectly fine to use creation-fall-redemption-consummation as a way to explain the good news of Christianity.

Nonetheless, the entire “God, man, Christ, response” can hypothetically be presented in entirely abstract and individualist terms without any reference to the broader storyline of scripture or the Old Testament. It’s a great method; it’s an outline I use myself; but here’s its weakness.

Having said that, to be fair I don’t think it was Gilbert’s intention was to cover these sorts of things in His book. He was trying to keep it simple–granted. But nonetheless, it’s still a weakness of the book to be considered.

All and all, it’s a great book. I plan on having the teens at my church read it next time I go through our series on the Gospel. I definitely recommend it. And as Joshua Harris says in his recommendation of the book, “If you think you know enough about the Gospel already, you might need it [the book] more than you think.”

Download a sample of the book via Crossway here.


Overal – 4.5
Content – 5
Readability – 4.5
Worth reading – 5