Book Review: The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson

pastors-justificationThis weekend I finished reading Jared Wilson’s book The Pastor’s Justification. A few years ago I read Wilson’s book Gospel Wakefulness and was deeply impacted and challenged in my own love and excitement for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So when I saw this book pop up as a recommendation for me on Amazon I knew I had to give it a read. Not only do I enjoy Wilson’s books, I am a sucker for a good pastoral ministry book as I want to always be growing in the pastoral ministry God has placed me in.

Pastoral ministry is a battlefield. Wilson shows us this battle in the introduction of this book with some stats from research done by Barna. I don’t want to give those stats, but let me just say they are sobering and eye opening. It reveals that pastors are working 60 plus hours a week,  have very few friends, feels their families are being neglected, and are underpaid. Not only that, but many feel the temptation to engage in immoral behavior and are discouraged. Wilson says the right response to this battlefield called pastoral ministry is not “timidity or a pity party, but clinging more desperately to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (page 19). The Gospel is what refreshes, motivates, and keeps pastors in this battle.

Wilson breaks down this book into two parts: The Pastor’s Heart (Chapter 1-6) and The Pastor’s Glory (Chapter 7-11). In part one, Wilson walks through the reader through 1 Peter 5:1-11, which Wilson says is a “helpful Gospel-centered admonition to church leaders” (page 19). As Wilson walks through this passage he helps the reader understand what God calls pastors to do and how they should work on that calling as they shepherd the church God has given them. In part two, Wilson walks through the five “Solas of Reformation” and helps the reader understand how they apply to the pastor and his life.

For the most part I enjoyed this book and it helped me get a better understanding and picture of what Gospel-centered pastoral ministry looks like. The main thing I didn’t like about this book was Wilson’s jabs at other pastors and ministries he obviously disagrees with. Throughout the book it seems as if Wilson is writing with a chip on his shoulder. If the reader is up to date on some of the “hot button” issues and key figures in modern church leadership they will catch these jabs and probably have a good idea of who Wilson is referring to.

Overall, Wilson has written a great book that I believe challenges and brings to light real issues in pastoral ministry. It’s an honest book that is saturated with the Gospel and is relevant to anyone who finds themselves in this glorious yet brutal journey we call pastoral ministry.

Book Review: “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared Wilson

Other than God’s Word, there has only been a few books that have truly shaken my faith and changed the way I view the Gospel. One of those books is called Gospel Wakefulness that I just finished recently. Because of the impact this book had on me and my believe that it will impact anyone who reads it, I wanted to write a short review of it here on my blog.

One of the things many Christians struggle with is learning how to live in the Gospel. We tend to think of the Gospel, the good news of what Christ did for us, as something we just accept at the moment of salvation and then we move on to “Christian living.” That mentality is wrong and unbiblical! As Christians, the Gospel is everything to us! It is something we accept at salvation because it is the good news of what Christ did for us, but we must realize our whole Christian life is about living within the Gospel! The Gospel is not a starting point for Christians, it is everything for the Christian! 

Jared Wilson, the author of Gospel Wakefulness, says that most Christians need to come to a point of “Gospel wakefulness” in their lives. Wilson defines Gospel wakefulness like this: “Gospel wakefulness means treasuring Christ more greatly and savoring his power more sweetly.” Many Christians experience this at the moment of salvation, but somewhere along the way they forget the Gospel and think it just applied to when they got saved. Wilson makes a strong plea through this book for Christians to treasure Christ and His power more and more as they go throughout their life. He also spends many chapters talking about how the Gospel is the foundation and key to brokenness, worship, sanctification, and the church.

I would encourage anyone who embraces the Gospel of Christ to read this book. It will help you fall in love with the Gospel again and help you learn how to live your life in the Gospel. Also, pastors and other church leaders, this is a book that you must read. It will help you be awakened to the Gospel again which will allow you to lead your church with the Gospel as first priority.

Here are some related posts on the book Gospel Wakefulness:
Sermon-Centric Worship-A blog post I wrote awhile back explaining why I agreed with Wilson when he says preaching should be the center of a churches worship service.
What Gospel Wakefulness Does-Article written by Jared Wilson himself.
Jared Wilson on Gospel Wakefulness-Video interview with Wilson giving his story as well as what the book is all about.

Sermon-Centric Worship

In his book, Gospel Wakefulness, Jared Wilson says this about the importance of preaching:

Are we tempted to think that the preaching in a worship gathering is of equal importance to or even less importance than music or other creative elements because for too long we have fed our churches a steady stream of good advice?

Everything in the worship service should be centered around the sermon. Nothing should be more important than the sermon. The sermon is where the Holy Spirit convicts, challenges, and changes the hearts of the listeners through God’s inspired Word.

In Gospel Wakefulness, Jared Wilson shares four reasons why preaching is the most important part of our worship services:

1. Preaching has ancient precedent. 

From the days of Moses delivering the Law through the prophetic era to the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles, the mode of bringing the Gospel to the gathering has been proclamational preaching. This is a direct approach, a reverent monologue, and it has been the way God’s message has been delivered to believers and non believers alike since the beginning of God’s community.

2. God’s Word is weightier than our words. This is why expository preaching is necessary in the church today. I think topical preaching has its place in the church, but expository preaching allows the Scripture to speak and drive the sermon rather than the preacher doing so. God’s Word is sufficient and has enough authority for the preacher to simply explain and share the text for God to work. Yes we need to use illustrations and applications, but God’s Word is powerful! In his book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever explains that the number one mark of a healthy church is expository preaching. If you go to my preaching page here on my blog you will see I do preach topical sermons sometimes, but I preach expository sermons the majority of the time. When we give more importance to music and creative elements in the church service than we do to preaching we show that we believe that stuff is more important than God’s Word.

3. Preaching is the designated means of Gospel communication. I firmly believe every Christian should share the Gospel verbally in their day-to-day life, but the Gospel is primarily shared through proclamation of God’s Word . That is why the Gospel should be in every sermon a preacher preaches. Romans 10:14 says:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

4. Sermon-Centric worship best reflects God-centeredness. When we come to worship God we offer Him our work, our voices, and our efforts. When we hear preaching from God’s Word we hear God speaking to us. We give God ourselves for His glory and He reveals Himself to us through preaching of the Word for His own glory as well.

I fear that many churches are putting more emphasis on other parts, and may I say good parts, of the worship service other than preaching. God has given me a huge desire to preach and I believe preaching is something we need to restore in many of our churches. Matt Chandler once said, “The pulpit drives the church.” I fear that many churches are being driven by emotion, creative worship services, music, and so much more other than preaching. This starts with the pastors. I urge you pastors, spend most of your time in the week studying God’s Word and preparing the message God has given you. Lead the way pastors, preach God’s Word faithfully and keep it central in your worship services.

I would highly recommend Jared Wilson’s book Gospel Wakefulness. It’s a book that will reignite a passion in your for the Gospel and will help you understand what it means to be fully awakened to the Gospel. Jared Wilson is a pastor and is known for his passion for Gospel-centered writing. Click here to buy a copy from Amazon for a great price!