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The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ

(9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  743 ratings  ·  100 reviews
How does the church portray the beauty of Christ?

The gospel is a theological message. But this message also creates human beauty--beautiful relationships in our churches, making the glory of Christ visible in the world today.

In this timely book, Pastor Ray Ortlund makes the case that gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. In too many of our churches, it is the beauty of
...more
Hardcover, 136 pages
Published April 28th 2014 by Crossway Books
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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Bill
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Gospel Doctrine + Gospel Culture = A church that portrays the beauty of Christ. The first half of the book outlines the message of the gospel from the point of view of an individual, a church, and the world. The second half takes a realistic look at why it is that so many churches fail to live out a culture that corresponds with the gospel. When the gospel is truly preached, people will either respond with joy or take offence, and persevering despite the negative responses (usually fr ...more
Daniel Henderson
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent.
Mark D.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love all of the 9 Marks books. This book ends with a challenge to think about what the Gospel means in our lives. It challenges with the love of Christ. In the beginning, I thought the book would be a simple explanation of the Gospel. As with all 9 Marks book, the book is challenging and informative; far from just a repetition of the teaching of the Gospel.
Josh
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic.
Nate Walker
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great little summary on Gospel doctrine and Gospel culture in a church—why both are essential.
Sam - Reading Reformed
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally published on readingreformed.com

How is Christ’s beauty put on display in local churches? That is the question that Ray Ortlund seeks to answer in his book: The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. Ortlund is the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee and wrote this book to be included in the 9Marks series Building Healthy Churches.

Summary
The main thrust of Ortlund is not to define and expound the Gospel but rather to show how it should work
...more
Mason
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most influential books in my life and one I will continue to go back and read once or twice a year. I am so blessed to be under the pastoral care of Ray and am able to call him friend. May the Lord use this book and Pastor Ray's ministry for generations.
Josh Smetzer
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Ray Ortlund's work on The Gospel and how he explains gospel doctrine as well as
a gospel culture. He also shows how the church portrays the beauty of Christ by showing that the gospel transforms our relationships within the church, which can be seen by the world around us.
Drew Miller
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian-living
A great reminder that right doctrine combined with right living is a powerful attraction in today's age. Ortlund's take on the new heavens and new earth in chapter 3 was refreshing as well! While this book is fairly short, it is chocked full of helpful reminders!
Matt Kottman
This is an excellent, clear, and concise work on what the gospel is all about. I found it refreshing and encouraging. Now I want my whole church to read, enjoy, and be challenged by this book.
Todd Bryant
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This book could be outstanding. It is with some hesitation that I even say every church leader should read it. I am glad I did.

The good: Ortlund stresses the foundation of the Gospel - the primacy of the Gospel. Without a clear Gospel witness, we have no right to call ourselves a church. He does a fine job of explaining the Gospel. He does a much better job of explaining how the Gospel should be lived out in church capacity. Churches are to be communities that live out the Gospel and show forth
...more
Josh Miller
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent, short read in the 9Marks Building Healthy Churches series! The subtitle of this book is fitting - How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ.

Here is a quote (among many) that jumped out to me:

"The ministry of the gospel in our churches involves 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 a heart."

As articulated in a recent podcast that
...more
Dan Montgomery
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was the great American poet Tom Petty who said “Oh, yeah, you wreck me, baby/ You break me in two/ But you move me, honey/ Yes you do.” That’s this book.

Ray Ortlund is gifted with velvet gloves. He rebukes and corrects through the encouragement of what *can* be because of Christ. The Church really can -and ought - to be the most beautiful community on earth. Righteousness and mercy, joy and forbearance, purpose and peace. All of these things that often fly apart are Christ’s purpose for his c
...more
Aaron Lawson
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Sort of disappointed in this book or maybe I was expecting more of something along the lines of the Gospel that Henri Nouwen or Brennan Manning would teach. I feel it takes a very fundamentalist approach to telling the reader what the gospel should look like, which initially I had no problems with. Eventually it got me to the point that if the gospel of Christ is really good news, than this book does a poor job of letting the reader know that. "The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ refuses to be h ...more
Laura
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book our pastor encouraged the whole church to read. It may be tiny but it packs a big punch. The author’s writing was very concise- no extra fluff to be found. He pointed to Christ in every single paragraph. I underlined something on nearly every page!

My criticisms would be that I wish he could have shared even more specific examples of how he envisions this church full of gospel loveliness (mostly just lists forgiveness, love, hope, etc. in generic terms). The last chapter also was
...more
Evghenii Sologubenco
What I liked was the correlation between the Gospel message making a transformation of hearts and thus creating a unique culture within the church.

The church is preaching the Gospel by our external testimony and inter-relationships. What is our testimony? A good question to contemplate on.

But the message of salvation and transformation are rained but he hard work the believer is to undergo in the spiritual
life. Holiness is an effort of a human according to author. I disagree.

Statement that “Ser
...more
Jeff Short
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
It sounds correct to speak of being Gospel centered. I wonder how well we understand what it actually means to be a Gospel centered church. The author makes a case for what it looks like to be Gospel centered in practice as well as profession. Every church has a culture, whether it is deliberately shaped or more organic. Having the Gospel correct in our doctrinal statement does not mean our church body is Gospel centered in practice. Ortlund brings out that Gospel centeredness can happen, but it ...more
Elijah Abanto
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ray Ortlund: If we have suffered the loss of all things in order to gain Christ—no egos to protect or scores to settle—we are free to receive his power, courage, and love. They outperform everything in this world, because they come from beyond this world. How compelling for our churches to say: “We’re not taking one more step without the power, courage, and love of the gospel for the glory of Christ alone. No more status quo!”

An excellent, illuminating, and convicting book on the gospel and how
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Jesus
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
It's a great concise theology that further fills your head with more knowledge of the gospel, yet it lacks in application in the day to day of a church or a people of Christ. It is solid in biblical foundations, but I believe it is a lot of head knowledge, with some heart transformation truth , but zero help in guiding how our hands should work in the day to day of a people of christ. The church is not the same as it was 2000 years ago, the gospel is the same yes and I agree, but the church as a ...more
C.J. Moore
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book from the 9Marks series, Ortlund deals with how the gospel should impact the culture of a church. The major theme is: "Gospel doctrine should create gospel culture." Only four stars because he could have used more practical examples in his book of what this actually looks like. I also thought that a chapter needed to be in there about the advancement of the gospel. This seems to be one of the greatest results of having good gospel doctrine - that you would make sure you're adva ...more
Steve Johnson
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful and easy read about a very important topic: the good news of Jesus and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection for those who will turn to Him, repent, and trust Him as Lord. Ortlund is a gifted writer and you will find much worth quoting in this short book. (I read it while teaching a study on what the Bible teaches about the gospel.) If you want to better understand the gospel and how it is intended to transform the way you live your life, read this excellent book.
Mark Loughridge
Lovely little book - Ortlund always has a great way of putting things. Quotable and pointed. Encouraging and challenging at the same time.

It's important to note the subtitle - How the Church portrays the beauty of Christ. That's what this book is about, and Ortlund does a good job of showing how the gospel needs to impact the culture of our churches--not simply that we do evangelism, but that the gospel permeates our very character as individuals and as churches.

James
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
If you’re a Christian and need encouragement in your faith, I highly recommend reading this short and enjoyable book. Biblically informed and outward focused, it spurred me on to see myself and my fellow believers in a better light. Theologically deep, but very practical. If you read one book on the gospel of Christ, make it this one.

Another brief recommendation, Greg Gilbert’s little book on the gospel is also very good.
Vincent Tee
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Initially expecting this book to simply flesh out gospel doctrine and articulate the intellectual intricacies of the gospel, I was taken aback by Ray's focus. Love that he similarly emphasises gospel culture, which is not some ominous force but instead involves Christians practically loving one another. To bring out the visibility of Christ, we need not just gospel doctrine but gospel culture that reflects Christ's love for us.
Nicholas Lewis
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ecclesiology
Ortlund’s contribution to the 9Marks series is refreshing and clearly written. I was pleasantly surprised to find a series of applicable and expostional essays on several bible verses showcasing how the Gospel doctrine affects Gospel culture. This is such an important reminder for ministers and disciples about what applied Gospel truth really looks like communally and culturally. I highly recommend!
Aaron Day
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great resource on the heart and life of the Church. Ortlund's little volume is saturated with Scripture, historical, and literary references displaying the Gospel's doctrine impacts the individual, other believers, and the world to come. Ortlund then explains the necessity and challenge of forming local church's culture around the Gospel. This book is challenging and edifying in all of the right ways. I highly recommend it.
Andrew
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ray Ortlund is a treasure to Christ’s Church. You should read this little book on the Gospel and get copies for others! It’s helpful in way that is both deeply convicting and also entirely hopeful. Ortlund doesn’t just describe the Gospel, he lovingly draws out implications for Christians and for their churches.
Wes Van Fleet
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anything Ray writes is always and encouragement to me. The goal of the book is to show that gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) that creates amongst forgiven sinners a culture where love, power, and courage unite the people of God and offer something compelling to the onlooking world (John 13:34-35). Read this book and apply liberally.
Nicholas Varady-szabo
Ortlund seeks to write a thought challenging, and rich but still soundly orthodox work on the gospel. He largely succeeds, I found this book surprisingly refreshing for a potentially cliche topic, but I did at times find myself getting a little lost in the midst of the discussion. Still, it's a worthwhile read and encouraging that books like this are still being written.
Brendan Beale
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
The simple title belies the profound message: that true gospel-centeredness means more than just correct doctrine; it means beautiful relationships, gentleness and generous community. Gospel doctrine without gospel culture is a denial of the gospel. Simultaneously challenging and encouraging, hard and hopeful.
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Pastor Ray Ortlund received a B.A. from Wheaton College, Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, M.A. from The University of California, Berkeley, and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Pastor Ortlund served as Associate Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, from 1989-1998. He was ordained by Lake Avenue Congregati ...more

Other books in the series

9Marks: Building Healthy Churches (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus
  • Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus
  • Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus
  • Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today
  • Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God
  • Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)
  • Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus
  • Conversion: How God Creates a People (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)
  • Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global
  • Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)

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“Here then are the choices we all face moment by moment: Will we aim to be impressive? Will we expect to be in complete control? Will we ensure that we always come out on top as winners? Or will we be happy for the power of Christ to rest upon us in our endless weakness? 'No man can give at once the impressions that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.' Neither can any church.” 3 likes
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