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The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ (9marks: Building Healthy Churches) by [Ortlund Jr., Raymond C.]
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The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ (9marks: Building Healthy Churches) Kindle Edition

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Product Description

About the Author

Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including the Preaching the Word commentary on Isaiah, as well as a contributor to the ESV Study Bible. He and his wife, Jani, have four children.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 479 KB
  • Print Length: 146 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1433540835
  • Publisher: Crossway (30 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IFG07ZY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #269,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Important and challenging read for every pastor. Do the doctrines of grace create a culture of grace in our churches?
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful display of the gospel bearing Francis Schaeffer's memory. 21 May 2014
By Jason Kanz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I really like Ray Ortlund Jr. I have appreciated the gospel saturated wisdom that I read on his blog and that I have heard in his teachings, so I was excited to read The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ (2014, Crossway). This short book is exactly what I would have expected from Ortlund--a cool, refreshing drink of the gospel.

In this book, explores the themes of gospel doctrine and gospel culture as equally essential. In the introduction, he writes, "if a message so good lies at the defining center of our churches, why do we see such bad things in those same churches--ranging from active strife to sheer exhaustion? Where is the saving power of the gospel? Why don't we see more of Tyndale's singing, dancing, and leaping for joy in our churches, if the good news is setting the tone?" (page 16) This question, it seems to me, is exactly the right one. Why are our churches not more routinely thought of as joy-stations? A few pages later, he sets forth his thesis: "the need of our times is nothing less than the re-Christianization of our churches, according to the gospel alone, in both doctrine and culture, by Christ himself" (page 19).

Ortlund moves out with the gospel in concentric circles, starting with its importance to the self, then the church, and eventually "for everything". He rightly argues that the gospel transforms at each of these levels. In other words, Christ's redeeming work is not just for the individual soul, though it is assuredly for that, but it is also for the whole world.

One of the things that I very much appreciate about Ortlund and which was evident in this book is how my spiritual hero, Francis Schaeffer, leaves his mark. For a small man, Schaeffer was a giant of evangelicalism in the late 20th century who valued doctrine, sound thinking, and loving people. On page 66, he quoted Schaeffer: "if we do not show beauty in the way we treat each other, then in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of our children, we are destroying the truth we proclaim." Indeed, chapter 4 bore many similarities to Schaeffer's well known The Mark of the Christian, and these two would do well paired together.

I loved this book. Ortlund is a clear communicator who writes about the most important truth we can consider. I would recommend this book to church leaders, apologists, worldview teachers, evangelists, disciplers, sinners, and saints.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway Beyond the Page Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rallying cry for revival 17 Jun. 2014
By Aaron Armstrong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It seems like every few minutes there’s another book, article, or message being released with “gospel” in the title. Usually it’s followed by a hyphen: “The gospel-driven life,” “gospel-centered ministry,” “gospel-influenced driving…” It’s not that any of these are bad (well, except the one I made up), but sometimes I wonder if we’re in danger of turning the gospel itself into a modifier for the thing we’re really talking about. When that happens, we risk leaving the gospel assumed.

And you know what happens when you assume, right?

Ray Ortlund is a man who doesn’t assume the gospel. The pastor of Immanuel Nashville, Ortlund is one of those guys who you read or hear, and think, “Wow… he really believes this.” He gets that what we believe about the gospel shapes us and the culture of our churches, that “gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture” (117). But what does that look like? This is what he aims to show readers, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ.

Loosely divided into two parts, The Gospel begins by exploring the deeply personal and epically cosmic purposes of the gospel. The gospel is about the eternal fate of individuals—but it is also about our churches and the world as a whole. This “both/and” Ortlund strikes is so necessary in our day when we need to introduce the God of the Bible to people with no frame of reference. People who have no concept of either an intimately personal God or a transcendent Creator who holds the universe together with but a word.

So how does this shape our culture? “We see how massive God’s love really is, and so we give up our aloofness and come together to care for one another in real ways, even as God wonderfully cares for us” (37), and we see that it “creates churches of bright, resilient, rugged hope. It creates churches that face life as it is and are not defeated” (62).

Is that not what the people of this world desperately need? I can’t help but think about the social awareness and action culture that’s sprung up around the millennials, a generation with just the right mix of naïve optimism and arrogance to believe they can truly change the world. After all, they’ve been told this their whole lives. And this is the driving force behind so much of our social (network) activism, cause-creation, and all of these things—it’s all about living up to the ideal. (Or is that idol?)

Is it any wonder that people are beginning to experience something called compassion-fatigue?

The gospel, though, has so much hope for them (just as it does for every age generation). In the gospel, millennials (and, again, all people) find the answer to the problems of the world, which aren’t external factors to be managed, but internal realities that need to be transformed. That we’re not good people who need to think more positively, but bad people who think too highly of ourselves. And when we get this, we are free—free from the demands of (man-driven) performance, free to let go of the unwieldy burden of trying to make a better world, and give it to the One whose job it actually is.

If that last paragraph made you squirm a little, you’re not alone. The idea of letting go of the pressure to perform, to “fix” the world, is scary. Simply because we struggle to believe it’s true. The gospel seems too good to be true, and embracing and building a gospel culture is intimidating. It means we’re constantly examining our own culture to see how it conforms to Christ, to see what assumptions we’re making and uproot areas of unbelief. We will meet resistance from within and from the world. We will face rejection and self-doubt… But even our faltering steps forward give the opportunity for something beautiful to spring to life.

"If we have suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ—no egos to protect or scores to settle—we are free to receive his power, courage, and love. They outperform everything in this world, because they come from beyond this world. How compelling for our churches to say: 'We’re not taking one more step without the power, courage, and love of the gospel for the glory of Christ alone. No more status quo!'" (104)

Though particularly aimed at pastors and church leaders, The Gospel is valuable for any reader. It is not a how-to for ministry; it is a rallying cry for revival. It leaves you with a desire to see the kind of culture Ortlund talks about (and has nurtured at Immanuel) birthed in your own life and church. What we believe shapes how we live, and how we live reveals what we believe. And what I want—and what I hope shows increasingly with time—in my own life and in my church is a culture where grace is freely given and joyfully received. Where even as some are hardened to the gospel, others are softened and welcomed into God’s family. When that happens, when our gospel doctrine leads to a gospel culture, it’s a wonderful thing indeed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Treasure! 12 May 2014
By Jason T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In this little book is stored a wealth of gospel treasure! There’s really not a wasted page in it. In a day of religious abuse and lack-luster, so-called Christianity this book is a breath of fresh gospel air. Ortlund not only presents a persuasive argument for what a gospel culture actually is, he casts a compelling vision for what it could actually look like in the church today. The first thing I did after reading this book is to begin reading it again. In my view, it belongs among those small but weighty volumes that seem to reside on the desk or coffee table more than the shelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gospel Unveiled 22 Jun. 2014
By Dr. David Steele - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The "gospel" has become somewhat of a buzzword in evangelical circles. It's a funny thing because the gospel is at the very center of the Bible and God's redemptive purposes. So it's counterintuitive to claim the very idea that the gospel has become a buzzword. Christ-followers knowingly or unknowingly validate a ministry, band, or organization by attaching the label, "gospel." In most cases, this approach is a good measuring rod of the validity of anything or anyone which claims to adhere to the historic Christian faith. But in some cases, it is a mere word that carries no more meaning that a sticker on a product. In this sense, the word becomes another piece of Jesus junk. Thankfully, the book under consideration does not fall into the later category.

The Gospel by Ray Ortlund is the latest in a series of books in the 9Marks series, edited by Mark Dever. I've read nearly all the books in the series. They're all good and are chock-full of sound biblical counsel. Each of the books is designed to help establish and nurture healthy churches. I commend each book to pastors, leaders, and Christ-followers who love the church and have a passion to see Christ's glory penetrate the nations. It's almost unfair to compare the books because each one stands alone and is an important contribution. Having said that, Ray Ortlund's book stands head and shoulders above the others.

Ortlund establishes the beauty of the gospel in the introduction: "God, through the perfect life, atoning death, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, rescues all his people from the wrath of God, with a promise of the full restoration of his created order forever - all to the praise of the glory of his grace." With this definition of the gospel in place, the author defines the purpose of the book, namely -"to show how Christ puts his beauty into our churches by his gospel."

The first sentence in the book provides a framework for the rest of the journey through this wonderful little treatise: "Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace." He adds, "Truth without grace is harsh and ugly. Grace without truth is sentimental and cowardly." Unfortunately, many churches reflect the later. But Ortlund is not deterred. In a short chapter devoted to expositing John 3:16, he unpacks the wonder and majesty of the gospel of grace. The gospel is compared to other so-called hopes that are offered up in the marketplace of ideas. But the conclusion is simple: "Every other hope is based, explicitly or implicitly, on how deserving we are. Only the Christian gospel is based - clearly, boldly, and insistently - on how loving God is to the undeserving." In short, "Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture, and it matters."

Ortund maintains the gospel is for the church: "The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace where good things happen to bad people." As such, the author guides readers through a stunning exposition of Ephesians 5:25 - "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Again, the culture is ultimately affected by the power of the gospel. It is the gospel that makes us holy. It is the gospel that makes us acceptable in the sight of a holy God.

The author draws the attention of readers to the comprehensive nature of the gospel. The new heaven and earth are presented. In other words, as Ortund writes, "This present heaven and earth, will be renewed. God will restore this creation that he made, owns, and loves - this creation where we ourselves feel at home." At the end of the day, the gospel produces a culture which is brimming with hope - the hope that Christ will make all things new!

This is a book worth reading and reading. It is a book that needs to be absorbed and assimilated into the fabric of every local church. The Gospel should be placed in the hands of new believers and veteran believers. It should be gifted to non-believers who express an interest in the gospel.

[...]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best News 11 Oct. 2014
By Tim Challies - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a gospel book with no hyphen. It’s not gospel-centered or gospel-powered or gospel-driven. It’s just the gospel. And it’s sweet.

Ray Ortlund’s The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ is a new title from 9Marks’ excellent collection of books called “Building Healthy Churches.” The book asks and answers this question: how does the church portray the beauty of Christ? The gospel has content and theology, it is a message and a proclamation. But it also does something in the lives of those who believe and obey it. One of the things it does is build unity and relationship among Christians, and in that way it makes Christ’s glory visible in the world today.

The purpose of this book, then, is simple. I want to show how Christ puts his beauty into our churches by his gospel. That explains the title of this book: The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. Beauty is powerful. Our churches long for it. You and I long for it. And we can help our churches see it. We possess, in the gospel alone, God’s wonder-working resources for the display of Christ among us. As you I read, I hope you find yourself thrilled with the beauty of Christ. That’s my ultimate goal.

What Ortlund wants to prove is how the gospel is meant to shape both the life and the culture of the local church so that the local church serves as a display of Christ, as he is, according to the gospel. Because here’s the thing: our churches can have great doctrine without allowing that doctrine to work itself out in individual lives and in the church’s corporate life. The test of a church is not only what it believes on paper but also its culture in practice. “Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace. When the doctrine is clear and the culture is beautiful, the church will be powerful.”

Through the first three chapters Ortlund explores the gospel at three levels—the good news for individuals, for the church, and for all of creation. Then he turns to the implications for the local church, asking, “Specifically, what does the gospel create in this present world that wasn’t here before?” In short, the gospel creates a living, visible picture of what Christ has done. These gospel communities called churches serve as proof that the good news is true, that Christ has really died and risen again, and that he has actually saved and transformed us.

As Ortlund progresses, he deals with common objections and the things that tend to get in the way of the unity that allows us to display the gospel. Then he tells us what we can expect if we are able to persevere in building this kind of local community, and he helps us chart the way forward.

He does it well. He gives a vision for a culture that is so beautiful and so attractive you will long to see and experience it for yourself. Drawing from many of the heroes of the faith and from the deep wells of historic Christianity, drawing from the best of modern-day authors, and drawing most of all from the Bible, he shows the gospel as sweet and shows the immense value of the gospel being on display in our churches.

This is a book for pastors and church leaders to read and ponder, but it is equally a book for every Christian. Each one of us who has been saved by Christ’s work, by Christ’s gospel, have the honor and privilege of being part of that portrait of the beauty of Christ.
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