My Favorite Quotes From Ortlund’s New Book: The Gospel

There is no power like gospel power. What else can raise people from the dead? The message of Christianity isn’t simple niceties and spiritual altoids. Christianity is about Jesus of Nazareth coming back to life, for our justification, after his horrific death on the cross to pay the price for sinners, for the glory of God. This is life—eternal life. And this glorious gospel of the Kingdom makes us new creations and it creates a beautiful extension of the Kingdom of God in our churches.


As Ray Ortlund says in his new book, “Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.” So true! So powerful! So needed.

I just finished reading Ray’s wonderful book. I can’t recommend it enough. Jared Wilson’s recommendation is echo’d here, “As far as I’m concerned, this is the book of the year.”

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Gospel: How The Church Portrays The Beauty Of Christ

Every generation must pick up their Bibles and rediscover the Gospel afresh for themselves and re-articulate the ancient message in their own words for their own times. (15)

A church with the truth of the gospel in its theology can produce the opposite of the gospel in its practice. (17)

So the test of a gospel-centered church is its doctrine on paper plus its culture in practice. (18)

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. (18–19)

Without the doctrine, the culture will be weak. Without the culture, the doctrine will seem pointless. (21)

  • Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy
  • Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility
  • Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power (23)

Real belief takes us into Jesus Christ. Real belief destroys aloofness. It moves us from self-completeness into Christ-completeness. (33)

There is a lot of love in this world, most of it moderate. But under the blessing of God, gospel doctrine cracks our hearts open to receive something from beyond this world. 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. That is when a church starts looking like a community where John 3:16 dwells in power. That is when the world can see his love in reality, and many will join us in Christ and live forever. Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture, and it matters. (37)

There is no churchless Christianity in the Bible. We individualistic Americans needs to face that. (41)

Christ’s whole attitude toward his church is love. (41)

The gospel is not the story of Christ loving a pure bride who loves him; it’s the story of his love for a whore who think he has nothing to offer and keeps giving herself to others. (45)

The love of Jesus is sacred. He gives all, and he demands all, because he is a good Husband. Only an exclusive love is real love. Only a cleansing grace is real grace. Would we even desire a grace that did not cleanse us for Christ? (45)

We’re not married to a dead and helpless Jesus but to a living and powerful Jesus. (48)

Gospel doctrine creates gospel cultures called churches, where wonderful things happen to unworthy people for the glory of Christ alone. But it doesn’t end in our churches. A gospel-defined church is a prophetic sign that points beyond itself. It is a model home of the new neighborhood Christ is building for eternity. (51)

The hope of the gospel is far more than a psychological boost to help us ramp up for Monday morning. (53)

Gospel-centered churches are living proof that the good news is true, that Jesus is not a theory but is real, as he gives back to us our humanness. (65)

To be graphic, when your child throws up on you, it is somehow not as disgusting as another child’s, is it? That is how God loves us—as his own children, in all of our mess. (70)

The family of God is where people should find lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time. In other words, the people in our churches need:

  • multiple exposures to the happy news of the gospel from one end of the Bible to the other;
  • the safety of non-accusing sympathy so that they can admit their problems honestly; and
  • enough time to rethink their lives at a deep level, because people are complex and changing is not easy. (72)

The primary barrier to displaying the beauty of Jesus in our churches comes from the way we re-insert ourselves into that sacred center that belongs to him alone. Exalting ourselves always diminishes his visibility. That is why cultivating a gospel culture requires a profound, moment by moment “unselling” by everyone of us. It is personally costly, even painful. What I am proposing throughout this book is not glib or shallow. So much is set against us, within and without. But the triumph of the gospel in our churches is still possible, as we look to Christ alone. He will help us. (83)

To discern more clearly the culture of your church, ask yourself several questions. What is the most important thing about your church that has never been formally decided upon? Is there some well-intentioned but unhelpful ideal? Is there some place in your church’s life where obedience to Christ is being withheld but his blessing is expected anyway? Is there something that has too strong a grip on your church? It is easy for churches to make sacred cows of things, from handbell choirs to youth program to mission strategies. All of these can be good things, but they must always be surrendered to Christ. By answering such questions, you might find two things: first, an idol, where your church claims too much for itself and thereby hinders your freedom on in Christ; and second, they very place your church can learn more of the all-sufficiency of Jesus. (84)

It is possible to for us to unsay by our practical church culture what we say in our official church doctrine. (88)

The Lord has different plans for different churches. But the Bible encourages us to look for more conversions (Acts 6:7), more joy (Acts 8:8), more impact (Acts 19:20), more glorious outcomes. We can also expect more trouble. (93)

When we find that our ministries both please and provoke, we should not be surprised. Nothing is going wrong. Rather, something is going right. God is spreading the fragrance of Christ through us…It is the strong scent of Christ that people detect when our churches are filled with the gospel. (94)

The ministry of the gospel in our churches involve more than doctrinal argumentation. The work of the gospel is subtle, like the work of a fragrance. It is not just brute facts landing hard on someone’s mind, but an aroma wafting into the the heart. And this light contact proves to the life or death. Such is the astonishing power of the gospel of God. (99)

On the day of Pentecost, sure enough, “suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind” (Acts 2:2). That power didn’t come from the pastor, the people, or the praise band. It came from heaven, suddenly, without explanation except that God was in it. (104)

Love is Christ’s authorized way for us to be convincing [to the world]. People today don’t care about doctrine, but they do care about love. (112)

Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. (117)

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