Book Review: Above All

 

Above All, the newest book from SBC President and Pastor of The Summit Church, J.D. Greear, is an excellent read on the gospel and the place of priority it must occupy in our lives. I’m grateful for the way that Greear points to the supremacy of the gospel from a Scriptural perspective and then explains how he personally walks that out in leading his church.  This book is not a quick read if you approach it correctly.  The goal of this book is to examine your heart in light of the choices you are making in the way you are spending your life.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • How will the recovery of something we already know take us to places we’ve never been? p. 2
  • God’s power in the gospel is such that it will make up for many of our shortcomings—our low budgets, our leadership deficiencies, our ministry misalignments, our political mistakes, and our strategic missteps.  But when the gospel is not above all—when our focus is divided and we give priority elsewhere—expertise in all those things won’t make much difference. p. 5
  • Paul’s boast in the gospel is like sitting in a room of millionaires and boasting about your collection of food stamps. p. 26
  • Each of North America’s religious awakenings has had one thing in common: a bold declaration that what God demanded from people could not be found within their own hearts.  This has been the unifying theme of the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham. p. 34
  • Tragically, most churches don’t even have an explicit strategy for addressing this.  At our church we have adopted the phrase, “We exist to create a movement of disciple-making disciples in our area and around the world.”  We have put forward “plumb lines” which we repeat ad nauseam, like “Every member is a missionary” and “We measure our success by sending capacity, not seating capacity.” We say that the best ministry ideas are in the congregation, and we end every service with, “You are sent.” We are trying to ingrain into every member of The Summit Church the truth that the Great Commission belongs to them.  It takes time, repetition, and intentionality to create a culture, but it’s one we desperately want to create. p. 58
  • If God, in one fell swoop, answered all the prayers that we prayed last week, how many new people would be in the kingdom? p. 59
  • If we really believe what the Bible says about the gospel–both the good news and the bad news that precedes the good news–how can our hearts remain unengaged?  Charles Spurgeon was once asked by a student whether those who had never heard about Jesus could be saved.
    “A troubling question indeed,” he said.  “But even more troubling was whether we who knew the gospel and were doing nothing to bring it to the lost who could be saved.” p. 60
  • We have a society seemingly designed to eliminate space for reflection. p. 64
  • If you are a Christian, you are called. p. 75
  • The gospel travels faster around the world in the mouths of ordinary people than it does from the journeys of apostles.  Ordinary people have been, and will continue to be, the tip of the gospel spear. p. 83
  • Why not live and work in a place where you can be part of a strategic work of God? p. 87
  • “We must do the works of him who sent me while it is day.  Night is coming when no one can work.” John 9:4 p. 88
  • God can accomplish more through one believer cooperating with the Holy Spirit than with the most dazzling array of talent assembled anywhere in the world. p. 90
  • The only way we get where we want to go is by multiplication.  Not by gathering members and hanging on but by empowering them and giving away. p. 96
  • How do you respond when God calls you to something and there’s a waiting period in between the calling and seeing the calling come to pass? p. 103
  • As we sow spiritual seeds, God acquaints us with the discipline of waiting. p. 104
  • Monuments to God’s past works are important, but they should serve primarily as catalysts for faith in his present willingness. p. 109
  • Gospel hope always produces a culture of extravagant and tender grace. p. 118
  • Those of us who believe the gospel will always oppose ideas that relegate others to any kind of subhuman class. p. 145
  • “To listen to someone is to love them.” M. Scott Peck p. 149
  • Ethnic diversity is not primarily a worthy goal that we pursue.  It is a reality that God has declared over us in Christ. p. 157
  • Multicultural harmony was one of the distinguishing marks of gospel proclamation in the ancient world, and the unifying power of the gospel hasn’t faded. p. 157
  • “The church should reflect the diversity of its community and declare the diversity of the kingdom.” The Summit Church, p. 158
  • The road from awareness to gospel community has to go through intentionality. p. 162
  • We’ve got to be candid with ourselves that a lot of our traditions have nothing to do with the gospel. p. 178
  • “It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15:19 p. 181
  • “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” p. 188
  • We should be able to disagree charitably on these things while not questioning the spirituality of those who see things differently. p. 192

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