shortreadIn no particular order, here are 10 key short documents (sermons, articles, blog posts) that help communicate the centrality and the versatility of the gospel and thus, in my opinion, are must-reads.

1. “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” by Thomas Chalmers (pdf)

“The love of God and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity—and that so irreconcilable, that they cannot dwell together in the same bosom. We have already affirmed how impossible it were for the heart, by any innate elasticity of its own, to cast the world away from it; and thus reduce itself to a wilderness. The heart is not so constituted; and the only way to dispossess it of an old affection, is by the expulsive power of a new one.”

2. “The Excellency of Christ” by Jonathan Edwards

“There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ. The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellencies. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice: the lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both, because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.”

3. “Christ Precious to Believers” by Charles Spurgeon

“I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.”

4. “The Righteousness of Christ, An Everlasting Righteousness” by George Whitefield

“The wisdom of God contrives a way, that justice might be satisfied, and yet mercy be triumphant still. How was that? The Lord Jesus interposes, the days-man, the dear Redeemer! He saw God wielding his flaming sword, and his hand taking hold of vengeance; the Lord Jesus Christ saw the sword ready to be sheathed in the blood of the offender; when no eye could pity, when no angel or archangel could rescue, just as God was, as it were, about to give the fatal blow, just as the knife was put to the throat of the offender, the Son of God, the eternal Logos, says, ‘Father, spare the sinner; let him not die; Father, Father, O hold thy hand, withdraw thy sword, for I come to do thy will; man has broken thy law, and violated thy covenant: I do not deny but man deserves to be damned forever; but, Father, what Adam could not do, it thou wilt prepare me a body, I in the fullness of time will go, and die for him; he has broken thy law, but I will go and keep it, that thy law may be honored; I will give a perfect unsinning obedience to all thy commandments; and that thou mayst justify ungodly creatures, I will not only go down and obey thy law, but I will go down and bleed; I will go down and die: here I am; I will step in between thee and sinners, and be glad to have thy sword sheathed in my heart’s blood for them’.”

5. “The Locus of Astonishment” by R. C. Sproul

“There’s a song that we sing in the Christian church. We all know the name of the song, Amazing Grace. It’s an interesting title and an interesting concept. I wonder if we really are amazed by grace? I think we express more amazement at God’s wrath than at his mercy. We’ve come to the place, I think, in our religious thinking where we assume that God will be merciful, that God will be kind, that God will be gracious, and so we’re not surprised whenever we experience his kindness. What shocks us is when we see something bad take place, when we see an expression of the wrath of God. That’s what I hear Jesus saying here. ‘You people are asking me the wrong question. You are asking me why that temple fell on the heads of the people in Siloam. You should be asking me why that temple didn’t fall on your heads’.”

6. “Boasting Only in the Cross” by John Piper

“For redeemed sinners, every good thing—indeed every bad thing that God turns for good—was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ—as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ—is owing to the death of Christ. And all your rejoicing in all things should therefore be a rejoicing in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.”

Or, “Don’t Waste Your Life”

7. “Thoughts on the Assurance of Faith” by Augustus Toplady

“As a finger may exist without wearing a ring, so faith may be real without the superadded gift of assurance. We must either admit this, or set down the late excellent Mr. Hervey (among a multitude of others) for an unbeliever. No man, perhaps, ever contended more earnestly for the doctrine of assurance than he, and yet I find him expressly declaring as follows: ‘What I wrote, concerning a firm faith in God’s most precious promises, and a humble trust that we are the objects of his tender love, is what I desire to feel, rather than what I actually experience.’ The truth is, as another good man expresses it, ‘A weak hand may tie the marriageknot; and a feeble faith may lay bold on a strong Christ.'”

8. “What’s All This Gospel-Centered Talk About?” by Dane Ortlund

“We move forward in discipleship not mainly through pep talks and stern warnings. We move forward when we hear afresh the strangeness of grace, relaxing our hearts and loosening our clenched hold on a litany of lesser things—financial security, the perfect spouse, career advancement, sexual pleasure, human approval, and so on.”

9. “What Is Gospel-Centered Ministry?” by Tim Keller

“Jesus is the true and better . . .”

10. “Why We Need a Gospel-Centered, Missional Church” by Joel Lindsey

“Being a gospel-centered missional church is not a strategy for growth or a self-help philosophy aimed at being a ‘better Christian.’ It is in large part an awareness that the only hope we have for transforming the world is Jesus and the gospel that bears his name. The fundamental need of every person, Christians and non-Christians, is to hear and know the gospel at each moment in their life.”

Feel free to recommend your favorite short pieces in the comments.