The Gospel and Its Meaning

I just finished The Gospel and Its Meaning by Harry L Poe, Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University. Poe wrote the book to help Christians understand the scope of the gospel in order to better preach and apply it to the people God has sent them to. He explains in the Preface,

Christians have a tendency to proclaim the gospel from the perspectives of their own spiritual issues rather than to the perspective of their audience. Furthermore, Christians tend to speak of the gospel in terms of the aspects of the gospel that means the most to them, rather in terms of the aspect of the gospel that might offer the most good news to another person. This habit creates the oft observed situation in which the church answers questions people are not asking. pg. 9

Part of the problem is that the church often misses the extent of the gospel theologically and is limited in its ability to apply it practically. Poe argues that the good news is comprised of nine parts: the existence of a Creator, the fulfillment of Scripture, the incarnation of Jesus Christ as son of God and son of David, his death for sins, his resurrection, his exaltation, the gift of the holy spirit, the return of the Lord, and human response. Understanding these aspects of the gospel allows the church to speak to the unique needs within a culture or community emphasizing particular truths which best address those needs.

Each chapter focuses on one of the nine aspects of the gospel and includes a biblical treatment, historical/theological development, and practical evangelistic uses. Though I am a lover of church history and historical theology, I wish less time was spent on it in this book. It's a valuable part of the discussion, but it may also distract some readers from the ultimate goal of the book. Nevertheless, this another great exhortation to the church to be experts in exegeting both the Bible and her culture. I highly recommend it.