Matt Chandler: His Explicit Gospel of Hope!

by Phillip on April 3, 2012

If you are not tracking with the missional church movement or are unfamiliar with the rising new Calvinist leaders you may not have heard of Matt Chandler. This is not necessary in order for you to be either encouraged or challenged by the following statements from his book The Explicit Gospel released in early 2012.  Matt professes to be a firm believer in the doctrine of eternal conscious torment but check out these statements he makes within the context of his doctrine of eternal hell for most of humanity:  (the following are the full quotes we alluded to in our review for Amazon. The actual review is here.)


“Because a God who is ultimately most focused on His own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of Him. His glory demands it.” (32)

“At the end of the biblical story, the gospel’s star figure says, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ (Rev 21:5).  If His word is true, we must take His references to ‘all things’ seriously.  As Lloyd-Jones says, ‘the whole universe is involved.'” (90)
“The designation “KINGDOM” itself tells us that the gospel is God’s plan not just to restore mankind, but to restore ‘all things’ for mankind’s enjoyment, Christ’s lordship, and His triune self’s glory.” (107)
“We need to realize that God will not be satisfied until the entire universe has been purged of all the results of man’s fall.” (quoting Hoekema, pg 159)
“The good news is that God’s plan for redemption is scaled to His glory, encompassing all creation.  What is corrupt will be declared ‘very good’ again. (35)
“Therefore, there should be no square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which we don’t say, ‘His!’ …This is the missional mindset: believing and living as if God’s reconciling work is true in every space we find ourselves in.”  (In the spirit of Abraham Kuyper)
“…the Gospel is about His lordship over the chaos of fallen creation…His conquest of sin and death.”  (138)
“…’Deo Gloria’: glory to God alone!  The glory of God is God’s vision and His plan for seeing it fulfilled.'”  (35)
“…Christ’s atoning work is reconciling all things to Himself.”  (157)
“The iniquity of man is placed upon the head of Jesus so that, at His physical death, the iniquity of mankind would be carried away.  This is what is meant when John the Baptist proclaims his gospel:  ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.'”
“On this side of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension we live in the tension of the new world being PAID FOR but not completely rolled out.” (161, emphasis mine)
“…the whole gospel must be explicitly about the restoration of God’s image bearers and also about the entire theater of His glory, the entire cosmos.” (111)
“The gospel of Colossians 1 is epic; it posits a cross that is cosmic.  We see that the peace that is made by the blood of the cross covers ‘all things’. The scope of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross spans the brokenness between man and God AND the brokenness between earth and heaven.”  (142)
“From beginning to end, the Scriptures reveal that the desire of God’s heart is not our salvation but rather the glory of His name…God’s plan is for it to be supreme everywhere in the world.”  (34-5) (note: he is reflecting Piper here and we believe he is saying that because we are made in His image our salvation restores the worship of His name as in Phil 2: “every knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus is Lord to the GLORY of God the FATHER”.  His glory and our restoration are intrinsically woven together.)
“In essence, we are reconciled to reconcile.”  (144)
“…Israel was meant to be a light to the nations.  The prophets would talk, often at great length, about all nations being drawn into God’s kingdom so that it would encompass the whole earth.”  (161)
“We should not see the fire and dissolution Peter speaks of as annihilating creation but refining and remaking it.  Think of how a blacksmith heats up a piece of metal to soften it before hammering it into shape.”  (165)
Chandler so winsomely establishes in his book the following:
1. The purpose of creation is the glory of God (33-35)
2. He will have His purpose fulfilled on earth exactly as it is in heaven
3. Christ’s lordship is over all creation (137)
4. God’s desire is for His name to be honored forever by every person within every inch of His creation (43)
5. His redemption is on behalf all mankind (62)
6. The scope of Christ’s death and resurrection is cosmic  (138-143)
7. His reconciliation is now an office for the Church (the elect) to the world (161)
8. God’s nature is missional, that is to redeem and rescue and restore (145)
9. His intention is to make all things new, (90) New as in RENEWED, not brand new (163)
10. God’s purpose of fire is refinement  (164)
11. The elect will be reconciling, reigning and ruling (somebody)  (144, 165, 168)
Chandler rightly admonishes us not to miss “God’s Grand Mission” by saying,
“It is not usually in the affirmation of a truth that someone goes down the slippery slope, but in the denial of corresponding truths….it is dangerously easy to take one truth to the exclusion of the whole of what God has revealed.” (177)
We are thankful that Chandler has explicitly and powerfully portrayed God’s Grand Mission of redemption, restoration and reconciliation of all things.  The questions now come when you attempt to fit the above paradigm into the “old wineskin” of the following statements also made by Chandler  (without contradicting all of the above vital parts of the Story of God).
“…Hell ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name.” (44)
Question:  Will the belittlement of God’s name be resolved by a sentence of eternal belittlement of God’s name by billions of God-haters cycling sin, death and self-worship forever?
“When this ultimate worth is attributed to anyone or anything other than the one, true triune God of the universe, it is idolatry.”  (36)
Question:  Will the Sovereign Holy Creator of the universe allow most of His creation to cycle in unholy idolatry forever or did he mean what He said when He declared that, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father”?
Please note how Chandler allows for a redemption applied to all mankind (contrary to his Calvinism) yet in the end is not deemed effectual.
Chandler said that the gospel is about “His lordship over the chaos of fallen creation”  (138) yet he leaves the Story of God concluding with billions consigned to an eternal chaos of rebellion to God.
Where is God’s sovereign cosmic glory if most of His image-bearers are not ever going to worship Him?
He implies that the natural cosmos will be completely restored (rocks, trees, animals etc.,) but not all God’s image-bearers yet later he contradicts this by saying,
“Those who place the natural world, be it flora or fauna, at a higher value than human beings are engaging in idolatry.” (104)
In addition, he caricatures those who believe that God will sovereignly bring all glory to Himself through His grace and severe mercy if need be as those who “make God into some kind of benevolent fairy who loves everyone in ways that make all the biblical texts on wrath and judgment deniable.”  (197)  This will prove to be an unfair generalization.
Again, I gained a tremendous amount from this book on many levels but I challenge any reader to consider these contradictions and find out if he is not indeed “denying corresponding truths” and missing God’s Grand Mission of Redemption and neglecting his own advice.
A worship song written by Chandler’s worship leader at The Village Church lifts the hope far beyond their Calvinistic doctrine:
To the God of victory All glory be to One Who’s conquered all
Every tongue will sing To the Risen King oh the wonder of it all
Sing it loud, shout it out, rejoice, rejoice, Jesus is King, victorious
Sing it loud, shout it out, rejoice, rejoice, Jesus is King, victorious
Do you agree? Did Jesus really conquer all? Will every tongue sing to Christ the risen King?

sam Wolf April 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Read Romans 9. It is a hard text to swallow unless you truly recognize that God IS God and is Lord of all He created, and as such can do what He pleases with it. “Who can stay his hand, or say to Him, ‘What have you done?'” We are not uppermost in His affections, because God is for His glory. It is only because of His glory that God is for us.

admin April 29, 2012 at 3:02 am

Thanks Sam,
I understand where you are coming from having been in the Reformed camp for over 30 years. My answer for you would be to keep reading Romans 9 into chapters 10 and 11 where Paul progressively takes his readers through to his conclusion:

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all,
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

mike May 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm

What is God’s Glory? ……………..and what is its purpose?

admin May 9, 2012 at 5:36 am

“What is God’s Glory? … and what is its purpose?”

Even John Piper confessed that this is difficult to define. But he says:

“What is it? I believe the glory of God is the going public of his infinite worth. I define the holiness of God as the infinite value of God, the infinite intrinsic worth of God. And when that goes public in creation, the heavens are telling the glory of God, and human beings are manifesting his glory, because we’re created in his image…

The public display of the infinite beauty and worth of God is what I mean by “glory” …

So God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy and valuable perfections.”

First we could add that God’s holiness is defined and delineated through the law in Leviticus 19 where “Be holy for I am Holy” culminates in and is summarized by “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Therefore true holiness is summarized by love and so God’s glory and beauty will be seen through the love that originates from God’s very nature. And of course the truest display of His love/glory was “God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” and “seeking to save that which was lost” even by, “death on a cross.”

What is its purpose? I believe it just is. To summarize above, God’s glory is God’s beauty. Therefore to ask what is its purpose is like asking what is the purpose of beauty or to even ask, what is the purpose of God.

Finally, the word “glory” literally means “weight.” All that is attached to who God is, His perfection and beauty, is what is most weighty in the universe. That is why the Bible says that ALL glory and ALL honor will be to Him alone. We are told that “every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” There will be no ultimate glory going anywhere but to the Maker and Redeemer of the universe because He will be revealed as the sole Source of all that is truly beautiful and glorious. “To Him be the glory forever” is not a wish on God’s part but the declaration of a reality.

This is a huge topic that has many more facets we could talk about. Please add your thoughts…

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