A Review of Always Good News: Why the Message of Jesus Is Good Every Day (Christian Focus, 2023) by Scott Lothery
What is the gospel? There’s no more important question. And I’m thankful there’s a new book that clearly and biblically explains the good news of Jesus.
Scott Lothery served as Lead Pastor at the church I attend, The Orchard in suburban Chicago. He’s a gifted teacher and preacher, and his go-to topic is an important one: the gospel of Jesus Christ. I sat under Scott’s teaching on the gospel numerous times, and each time I thought to myself, “This needs to be in print!” I’m glad the day has finally arrived. His teaching flows from his doctoral studies where he studied the gospel and how it nourishes the virtues of Jesus in Christians. (Read more about the backstory in this interview I did with Scott.)
The reality is that if you asked ten Christians what the gospel is, you might get ten different answers. Scott Lothery’s teaching, that has now been released in print form as Always Good News: Why the Message of Jesus Is Good Every Day, looks at what the biblical data says about the gospel message itself.
Lothery’s conviction is that while the Bible presents the gospel from many different angles, there’s special value in seeing how the apostles preached the gospel in the book of Acts to unbelievers. What did they say? And what did they not say? (You may be shocked to realize the Apostles never told people “God loves you” when evangelizing unbelievers!)
What makes Always Good News a great book is the topic (the greatest imaginable), the accessibility (96 pages), and the clarity with which Lothery writes. He boils down the gospel of Jesus Christ into four simple, but theologically-loaded words: Lord, Sin, Savior, and Faith. It’s no lie to say I use that four-word framework just about every time I teach, preach, and write. The book contains nine short chapters on the gospel, and each word from the four-word framework gets its own chapter.
The book is filled with engaging illustrations, making it accessible to believer and unbeliever alike. One minor quibble is that the book might be a little heavy on illustrations at the expense of more biblical support of his points, although all his points are thoroughly biblical. (For instance, I don’t think the book Genesis is mentioned in the whole book, and if I were teaching I would emphasize Jesus as the Lord of creation and how Sin entered at the Fall.) But to add more to the book may swerve it from its accessibility, and Lothery’s focus may have been apostolic teaching, not the full Bible.
I’m thankful for Pastor Scott’s dedication to the gospel and his work on this book. I look forward to the follow up book coming in the near future, tentatively titled The Gospel Nourished Life: How the Message of Jesus Cultivates the Virtue of God, also with Christian Focus.
You can get a taste of Scott and the book by enrolling in a free self-paced video course called Grasp the Gospel, part of the Open the Bible Courses platform. This course, like the book, is a great resource for personal study or small groups.
I’ll conclude with Rico Tice’s assessment of the book: “I wholeheartedly recommend [Always Good News] as a spring clean to make sure you are living and breathing the right gospel.” And if you take evangelism seriously (as should every believer), you can’t afford to lack biblical clarity in the gospel you share.
It’s hard for me to think of any books that can do greater good in clarifying the gospel for unbelievers, believers, pastors, and evangelists. It won’t be the only book you need on the subject, but grasping the four-word framework could literally change your life and ministry, and the eternity of others.
If you’re a pastor and think your church might be interested in using Always Good News, here’s a quick video from Scott explaining helpful ways to do that and some free resources.