Christianity Today Book Award Winner in Popular Theology (2024)
We know what the gospel is—but do we know why it is?
As Christians, we often ask what the gospel is, when we should be asking why it is. Matthew W. Bates has previously demonstrated that the “good news” of the gospel is that Jesus is King. But in his latest book, he explores God’s intentions: why has God issued this royal proclamation? And what role can it play in our everyday lives?
As Bates observes, we find the answer in a simple but challenging realization: “I am a horrible king of my own life.” With examples from Scripture, literature, and personal experience, Bates explains what pledging allegiance to Jesus as ruler of our lives looks like. Living authentically according to God’s reign conforms humanity to the image of Jesus and extends his glory and honor to all creation.
Perfect for church studies, evangelism, or personal spiritual reading, Why the Gospel? invites readers to consider how we can transform our lives and communities through loyalty and devotion to King Jesus. The book includes questions to guide discussion.
Outreach Resource of the Year in Theology and Biblical Studies (2024)
Table of Contents
Foreword by Scot McKnight Introduction 1. King First 2. Famous Somewhere 3. Glory’s Two Faces 4. Gospel Recovery 5. Royal Transformation 6. Good News for the Nones 7. Gospeling Backward with Purpose Recommended Resources Notes Indexes
Matthew W. Bates is professor of theology at Quincy University. A Protestant who enjoys the challenge of teaching in a Catholic context, Bates holds an M.C.S. from Regent College (biblical studies) and a PhD from University of Notre Dame (theology, New Testament). He is cofounder of the OnScript podcast. Bates's books include Salvation by Allegiance Alone, The Gospel Precisely, Gospel Allegiance, and The Birth of the Trinity.
Scot McKnight is the Julius R. Mantey Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, Lombard, Illinois. His many other books include The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others; A Community Called Atonement; NIV Application Commentary volumes on Galatians and 1 Peter; and (coedited with James D. G. Dunn) The Historical Jesus in Recent Research. He also writes the award-winning Jesus Creed blog at patheos.com.
“Matthew Bates calls the church to recover the gospel of King Jesus, a gospel which is beautiful, bountiful, and transformative. Bates masterfully shows how the fully orbed gospel of the biblical witness is still good news for ‘nones’ and ‘dones,’ those without religion, and those who have walked away from it. An ideal book for Bible study groups who want to be reminded of why the gospel is indeed ‘good news.’” —Michael F. Bird, academic dean and lecturer in New Testament, Ridley College
“A provocative book because the church needs this kind of provocation, Why the Gospel? draws from complex and cutting-edge research to present timeless truths with inviting clarity. Anyone who senses that the gospel they’ve received is a tepid and ineffective counterfeit to God’s revelation of grace and power will benefit from Bates’s bold reminder that Jesus is King.” —Amy Peeler, associate professor of New Testament, Wheaton College
“Matthew Bates expertly uses Scripture to refurbish the gospel. But he doesn't park the gospel along a scholarly roadside, he insists: God intends restorative action—Let's drive! Bates invites readers on a journey of knowing the king who is the good news.” —Nijay Gupta, professor of New Testament, Northern Seminary
“I recommend this book because it will challenge the reader to develop his or her own practical discipleship theology. To sustain disciple-making movements, we need biblical substance. Bates asks us to examine Scripture to discover why King Jesus is rescuing us. In learning why, we find ourselves able to better live and share the gospel purposefully today. Read and wrestle with this book; I am very glad that I did.” —Bobby Harrington, pastor and CEO of discipleship.org and renew.org
“Bates reminds us that the core of the gospel concerns Jesus’s kingship. This helps reorient the why of gospel. Too often we narrow the message of Christianity and forget that the gospel is about all of life, not merely inward renewal. While we can describe the gospel in a variety of ways, this book rightly gives us the cosmic picture of what God is doing in this world.” —Patrick Schreiner, associate professor of New Testament, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of The Ascension of Christ
“In Why the Gospel?, Matthew Bates seeks to demonstrate that the kingship of Christ is central to the gospel and is the reason for the gospel. While one may not agree with all of the moves Bates makes, the underlying aim of the book is apropos for this historic moment in the church—it challenges the reader to think again about what the gospel is and why the gospel matters for our time. A provocative read.” —Lisa Bowens, associate professor of New Testament, Princeton Theological Seminary
“Previous generations asked if there was evidence to support the claims of Christianity. Mountains of apologetic resources were created to address this question. But a new generation has emerged that isn’t focused on the gospel’s credibility, but rather its plausibility. Before asking whether it’s true they want to know why the gospel even matters. Matthew Bates has written the book our generation needs. He not only helps us rediscover the radical message of Jesus and his apostles, but he shows why this gospel is far larger than a narrow call to individual salvation. It’s the message the church, and the world, has been waiting for.” —Skye Jethani, author and cohost of The Holy Post podcast
“Matthew Bates’s Why the Gospel? will help you discover God’s fullest gospel purposes, so that you and others can more thoroughly embrace a lifestyle of loyal discipleship.” —Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary (from the foreword)
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