It seems that the last couple of books I’ve reviewed have been bombs. Honestly, I was having a hard time getting excited about reading another book to review because I was wanting to read something good for a change – so when Gospel Formed appeared in my mailbox I left it lying on the table until the very last minute before the blog review was due. Boy was that a mistake. I am not sure I’ve read a book this spot-on in a very long time. Medder’s style is conversational, yet the truths he expresses are deeply profound and transformational. Every word is packed with intense meaning; this is one of those books where just reading two paragraphs made my mind spin as I contemplated what he was talking about – and hopefully that’s a reflection of the depth and richness of what he writes and not of the simplicity of my mind!
With very few exceptions, I’m not sure I’ve read many books that focused me more on the life and work of Jesus than Gospel Formed did. Every word of every paragraph on every page was about Jesus. Medders didn’t talk about being gospel-centered in his book, he actually demonstrated it. This is one you’re going to want to read with a pen in hand because you’ll be underlining and writing in the margins (and when I didn’t have my pen I felt like I was missing more than I was taking in). His thesis is simple: the secret to Christian growth is Christ, and then he spends the rest of the book showing how that is true. He writes,
“The gospel is the center of the Bible, and it ought to be the center of our lives, homes, churches, ministries, spiritual disciplines, songs, parenting, marriages, jobs, – everything. The focal point of the Christian life is one cross and one empty tomb. Without the gospel, we lack the proper understanding of any doctrine, and especially a robust knowing of God himself…The gospel is the message of the church. Christians are made strong because of the gospel…It’s all gospel. All the time….The gospel, the news of the eternal Son of God dying in our place for our sins, is not only the center of the Bible; it’s also the center of history.”
And he’s just getting started. Like a boxer delivering one bone-jarring jab after another, Medders doesn’t pull any punches, continually putting us in contact with what is central to life in Christ: namely, Jesus himself.
If I could give a book a higher rating I would, but I’m limited to a perfect 5/5 stars. You need to get this book and read it, and you need to let the truths of it seep deeply into your soul. I don’t say this lightly, but if you’re looking to be reminded of what it means to live your life in light of (and response to) the Gospel, this is by far the best book I have ever read and reviewed on the subject.
Yes, for the record, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review. And since I’m offering such strong recommendation on this particular book I don’t want anyone reading this to think I only offer “good” reviews – in fact, there are plenty of books I’ve given poor marks to and which end up in my trash can. This is probably the strongest review I can give: normally when I finish a book I either throw it away (if it’s no good) or give it away (if it was worth reading). When a friend saw this sitting on my table and asked about it I told him that when I finished reading it I’d let him borrow it; as I started reading it I was kind of sad I said that because I don’t want to give it up, so when he told me he secured a copy on Kindle through a sale I was actually relieved that I wouldn’t have to let this one get out of my hands. This is one I’m going to have to read a second time.