Review: Gospel-Centered Discipleship


When Pastor Jonathan Dodson says "gospel-centered discipleship," he means it. In fact, his book Gospel-Centered Discipleship (Crossway, 2012) is so insistent on this spatial metaphor that occasionally the reader gets lost in the work's mental terrain. But those who want to know what Jesus meant when He said to go make disciples will be amply rewarded by closely following the Scripture-based route Dodson traces in this book. That route is simple: To move up (closer to God) or out (as a missionary to the world) we must first go to the central truth that because of Christ's atonement, God counts us as righteous. We never leave this central truth behind, and never replace it with a set of rules. Rules are important, but peripheral: We will only obey them when, as justified saints, we remember to believe God's true promises instead of sin's false promises.

This book is about the three aspects of conversion. And the Christian life requires all three: mission, personal growth in holiness, and participation in the church. In fact, says the book, believing God's gospel will bring us into the body of believers, make us want to go out and witness to unbelievers, and live morally upright lives in private. Who empowers all this? Dodson devotes a chapter to the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life. Without the Spirit, sanctification is simply impossible.

The book ends with a short section on what Dodson calls "fight clubs"-two or three people gathering weekly to beat up sin in their lives by encouraging one another to fight in the strength of already having been approved by God.

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If you want to be a disciple and you don't get lost easily in complex terrain, read Dodson.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson

Caleb is the pastor of Harvest Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Gillette, Wyoming.


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