A Book For Such A Time As This (Book Review)

Greear, J.D. Above All: The Gospel Is The Source Of The Church’s Renewal. B&H Books, Nashville, TN. 2019. 240 pages.

At a critical point in Israelite history, God set His plan in motion to use Esther in saving and sustaining the people of God. Esther 4:14 puts this well as we read Mordecai offering these words of encouragement to Esther, “And who knows ether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” As we look across our cultural landscape today, we face a crisis both outside and inside the church. As tensions and troubles grow within the church and hostility continues against the church, now is the moment of truth. How will we, as those who profess Christ and make up the church, respond? J.D. Greear provides us with an answer in his new book, Above All: The Gospel Is The Source Of The Church’s Renewal.

The Solution to Our Challenge

As the pastor of The Summit Church and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, J.D. Greear knows well the challenges the church faces in this day and age. He has also heard from others the proposed solutions to these problems. Often they involve varying philosophies, divisive politics, and focused programs. Pastor Greear shows none of these have the power to do what only the gospel can do. He backs this up by laying the foundation of understanding gospel change, mission, multiplication, hope, and grace (chapters 1-6) before going beyond generalities and shepherding readers what it looks like to place the gospel above culture, preferences, and politics (chapters 7-9).

The Specific Realities of Our Challenge

The strength of this book is in how the author goes beyond the generalities in application to address the specific realities the church faces. He writes in a manner that speaks to this current age. He gives counsel on the use of Facebook and Twitter. He engages the topic of politics, specifically dealing with the current political administration. Yet, this characteristic of the book is most evident in chapter 7 of the book entitled “Gospel Above My Culture”. In this hard-hitting chapter, Greear takes a look at where the church needs counsel most and spends his time helping Christians thinking through the superiority of the gospel against the cultural issues we face in our ethnical differences. For anyone who is aware of the problem of racism and the racial divide our country is facing, this chapter is a path forward for the church. In everything, Above All doesn’t lose sight the main mission of the church is the mission of making disciples.

Guidance in General Principles

For all of its specificity, though, the book still would have benefited from incorporating more guidance in general principles. For example, in the chapter just mentioned regarding the gospel above culture, giving some general guidance alongside specific counsel could further help the church think through how the gospel impacts various facets of the culture. Additionally, providing a more general chapter on how the gospel is above personality might have served the book well as this is an area that tends to be a matter not often considered and addressed in churches.

A Book For Such A Time As This

These minor squabbles do not squander the value of this book. Greear does a fine job reminding the church what is of first importance. He highlights ways in our current climate we can wrongly make secondary things primary and calls us back to delve deeper into the gospel. If there was a time for the church to hear and heed the counsel to remember and return to the gospel, it is now. If you are a Christian desiring to dive deeper into the gospel and are passionate in seeing a spiritual renewal in the church, then you need to grab your copy of J.D. Greear’s Above All: The Gospel Is The Source Of The Church’s Renewal. It is a book for such a time as this.

I received this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers Program in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

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