Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Review: What is the Gospel?

From the SojournKids website:
God has some good news for you, and it’s called the gospel. What’s the gospel you say? It’s the good news that even though we sin and have disobeyed God, we can have life and joy as part of God’s kingdom. You see, I don’t deserve God’s goodness, but he reached down and rescued me even when my sin had made me his enemy. The gospel is the message of God’s kingdom accomplished through God’s cross by God’s grace!
What is the Gospel? by Mandy Groce teaches children the message of God’s kingdom accomplished through God’s cross by God’s grace. This whole gospel is given to us as one beautiful mosaic. Our hope is that this little book will help children to see this from their earliest years. 

Like the other books in this series, What is the Gospel? clearly communicates Biblical truths in a simple way for young children. Although this book is not written in rhyme like the former two books, it is still written in an engaging way for kids as they listen to a little boy ask his family the question, "What is the Gospel?". Various family members contribute a piece of the puzzle, and finally, his dad brings the picture together for him.

What is the Gospel? is unique in it's three-fold presentation of the Gospel. As the Family Pastor of Sojourn Community Church explains, some people emphasize the cross, while others emphasize God's grace, and others still, emphasize God's kingdom. This book shows how all three are interconnected. The cross is where we see God's grace displayed most clearly.

"...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
(Romans 5:8).

At a mere 16 pages, What is the Gospel? is a short introduction to the subject for very young children, ages 2-6. It should be noted that, while this book is enjoyable to read with young children and does contain Biblical language, it is a very limited introduction and contains no Scripture references in the text for children. I think this is a shame because...

"...the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart"
(Hebrews 4:12).

The Gospel For ChildrenIt would have been helpful to include appropriate Scripture verses throughout the text. That being said, I think What is the Gospel? could be a helpful starting point for some families. A concise, yet thorough, follow up might be something like The Gospel for Children by John B. Leuzarder.

"This is an outstanding summary of the gospel for children, covering with great thoroughness the topics of: Who is God? What is man? What is sin? Who is Jesus Christ - all with memorable, colorful art (no pictures attempt to depict the face of Jesus) and very well-done theological explanations that children 4-8 can understand very well. Some have called this the young child's first Systematic Theology and we agree!"
It is for the above reasons and more that  The Gospel for Children would make an excellent follow up to What is the Gospel?. The Gospel for Children contains the Scripture proofs lacking in What is the Gospel? while What is the Gospel? contains the engaging storyline lacking in The Gospel for Children. They complement each other well, and I commend them both to you if you are looking for a way to clearly communicate the truth of the Gospel to young children.

*Many thanks to Christian Focus Publications for sending me a copy of What is the Gospel? in exchange for my honest opinion!

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