With so many books being published that are all trying to define the gospel, a consistent theme is showing up: The gospel completely turns the world upside down. It changes worldviews, mindsets, ambitions, desires, attitudes… everything. Dan Phillips is a guy who gets that—and in The World-Tilting Gospel, he wants to help you get it, too.
Phillips illustrates the biblical worldview following the basic structure of the storyline of Scripture—Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration and Consummation. This is effective for multiple reasons:
First, it confronts us with the reality of who we were intended to be, and just how far short of that mark we really are. We’re not basically good people who do bad things, we’re rebellious sinners at war with our Creator. Our situation is so bad, and our self-deception so great, that there is no hope of standing before God on our own. “The human heart is intensely conniving; it is that, more than it is anything else,” Phillips writes. “The heart sees what it wants to see, and conveniently finds inconvenient truths invisible” (pp. 34, 35).
Second, it shows us the deliberateness of God—He is a God who doesn’t let anything slip by Him. He plans and permits all things according to His good purposes. “[God is] not an improviser. . . . The modern conception that history is meaningless and aimless is wrong. History is meaningful, and it is on target and on schedule” (p. 95)
Thirdly, it demonstrates the majesty of God’s goodness, grace and holiness—the reality that sin cannot go unpunished, so Jesus took that punishment upon Himself so that we might be able to stand in the presence of God. That He devised an entire system of worship that was intended only to point to the One who would truly appease the righteous wrath of God. The importance of such an astounding truth cannot be overstated. “Given that Christ and His cross are central to God, they must be central to the church of God as well. Given that God pivots everything on the person and work of Christ, the church of Christ should do the same in its preaching, thinking, worship, and practice” (p. 134).
Finally, this reality reminds us that all our hope rests on Jesus, both for our eternal salvation and for our present obedience. “We bank our present and our eternity on Jesus Christ alone, with no backup plan, no “Plan B.” He is it.” (p. 169). Perhaps my favorite passage on this point is found among the final pages of the book as he describes Jesus as the most important Person, Figure and Event in human history:
I say, “Jesus Christ is the most important person ever,” and everyone nods piously. . . . Yet I assure you that just as earnastly as I can . . . that I mean this in the most literal sense. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking metaphorically, spiritually, historically, ontologically, or any other “-ally” you care to list off. In any plane, on any level, Jesus comes first. He is top, bottom, beginning and end. He is alpha and omega (Rev. 22:13). (pp. 292-293)
That is the perspective that we need to recover—one that keeps Christ not central in word, but in actual practice. The truth is, if we say that Jesus is a part of our life, but not our life, then we might be fooling ourselves into believing we’re something we’re not. We might be (as another author puts it) eclipsing the Son.
From a personal perspective, this book was a breath of fresh air. Immediately before reading this one, I’d just completed another book on largely the same subject. Where that book (unintentionally) minimized the importance of the plan of salvation in the gospel, The World-Tilting Gospel rightly allows it to shine both in its appropriate place of prominence within the larger biblical story, but also with its implications.There is a tangible sense of joy and excitement you get when reading Phillips’ expounding on the great truths of Scripture, something that is all too rare in a great number of the books I’ve read of late.
The World-Tilting Gospel is a book that will rock your socks. I’m not sure if there’s a more eloquent way to say it, but there it is. This is a very, very well-written and thorough examination of the worldview flipping, life altering, world transforming gospel in all its glory. Get a copy of the book and read it thoroughly.
Title: The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview and Hanging on Tight
Author: Dan Phillips
Publisher: Kregel Publications (2011)
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher