Essential Christianity

The Heart of the Gospel in Ten Words

By J.D. Greear, afterword by Joe Gibbs
from 7 reviews

Uses the book of Romans to unpack the essence of Christianity.

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Drawing on passages from Romans 1 to 12, J.D. Greear unpacks the essential aspects of the Christian message, showing both secular and religious people what the gospel is and how it addresses our most pertinent questions. The gospel, as he explains, is not just about life after death; it’s about reclaiming the life we’ve always yearned to live.

Whether you are exploring the core concepts of Christianity or you are a weary Christian wanting to rediscover the excitement and joy of knowing God, this warm and compelling explanation of the goodness, truth and power at the heart of the Christian faith is for you.

As J.D. says in his introduction:

“The gospel is not just the diving board off which you jump into Christianity—it’s the swimming pool in which you swim. See this book as your invitation to rediscover the goodness, the excitement, the liberation and the power of the gospel.”

This resource can be used for outreach or discipleship and is great to read with other people. It can also be used alongside J.D.’s Romans video series on RightNow Media.

Product details


  • Introduction
    1. Announcement
    2. Undeniable
    3. Rejection
    Interlude: What about the Bible's Views on Sex?
    4. Counterfeits
    Interlude: What's So Special about Jesus?
    5. Rescue
    6. Faith
    Interlude: How Can Anyone Believe in the Resurrection?
    7. Inclusion
    8. Struggle
    9. Spirit
    10. Therefore

Free extras


Contributors J.D. Greear, Joe Gibbs
ISBN 9781784988258
Format Paperback
First published February 2023
Dimensions 135mm x 216mm x 17mm
Weight 0.24 kg
Language English
Pages 192
Publisher The Good Book Company

Rico Tice

Founder, Christianity Explored Ministries

My heart was skipping with excitement as I read this book. J.D. writes with simplicity and grip—he teaches clearly because he understands deeply. This book will show you a devastating critique of the human condition that will ring true to your experience of life; and then it will reveal to you the overwhelming wonder of God’s solution in Jesus Christ. Whether you are an honest seeker or a mature pilgrim, I cannot commend this book highly enough to you.

Rebecca McLaughlin

Author, Confronting Christianity

If you’re wondering what on earth to believe in a confusing and often disappointing world, Essential Christianity could be just the lifeline you need. In it, pastor J.D. Greear peels back the layers that can get piled on top of Christianity and helps us see the 1st-century original, which offers life-changing hope to billions around the world today—including you.

Molly Worthen

Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina; New York Times columnist; Author, Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism

J.D. Greear has a rare gift for really getting into the mind of the modern skeptic. He gets out in front of every key question and objection to Christianity and answers each one with compassion, honesty, and a great sense of humor. I bet even the surliest and most self-assured atheist wouldn’t mind sitting next to Greear on a plane—and would never be quite the same after their conversation.

Customer reviews

23 Feb 2024

“Jesus on Marriage”

I'm here on this site, by way of listing to Pastor Greear's podcast about "Jesus on Marriage." I'm divorced for about 14 years now and I'm still single. However, I date every few years when I feel like it. Lol
I loved listing to this particular podcast, because it helped me to see that God's plan for my life may not be for me to get married again. I'm able to live the rest of my life in God's peace, even if that means being single for the rest of my life.
I find myself basking in his light. My new look on life is truly "God's Plan."

Thank you Pastor Greear!

22 Mar 2023

“Good Introduction”

Pastor and author J.D. Greear explains the basic story of Christianity in this book, focusing on different foundational elements of faith in each chapter. Greear's writing style is conversational, honest, and humorous, and he writes about complex ideas in ways that people can connect to regardless of their existing background with faith or level of interest in theology or philosophy.

"Essential Christianity" will help and encourage Christians who want to better understand and articulate their beliefs, and it is accessible to skeptics who are curious about Christianity. However, I don't think that this book will be useful to many people who are deconstructing childhood faith. Greear writes in an understanding way about why many young adults are leaving the institutional church and questioning their faith, but the book doesn't say anything that lapsed or questioning evangelicals haven't heard before. It's best for people who already agree with Greear or have never heard or considered what he's saying.

On a related note, I didn't think that the intermission regarding same-sex sexuality was helpful. Greear needed to include it instead of skipping over controversial verses in his source material, but he didn't add anything new to a contentious conversation that is a hang-up for many people considering faith. This doesn't address current shifts in the debate and won't change anyone's mind, and Greear doesn't engage with any alternate interpretations of those verses in Romans, not even to argue against them.

Overall, I would recommend "Essential Christianity" to Christians, and to skeptics who are curious about the Christian faith and want to read a book that covers a wide variety of information in a highly readable way, instead of taking scholarly deep dives. This is a good introduction to foundational Christian beliefs, even though I think it could have been better.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

9 Mar 2023

“Overall, a good baseline for covering the key points of Christianity”

In Essential Christianity, J.D. Grear endeavors to explore the key points of the Christian faith.

Using Paul’s letter to the Romans, he covers the “essentials” of the Christian life. He aims to answers hard questions that deal with religion, the struggle that comes with the Christian life, and overall truth.

I really appreciated the use of scripture in this book. Obviously, Grear is drawing from an entire book in the Bible. But he is careful to cite and use scripture as the base for his framework. He is able to take a seemingly complicated subject (the essentials of Christianity) and offer an easy to digest explanation.

I also appreciated how Grear is clear that true Christianity is only best understood through the power of the gospel.

“The gospel is not just the diving board off which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it’s the pool itself. The deeper you go into the gospel well, the sweeter and outer the water becomes.”

This book would be fitting for unbelievers, and particularly skeptics and those who have been “on the fence” about Christianity. It is also a great refresher for believers who are struggling to vocalize the tenants of their faith.

I received a free copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.

5 Feb 2023

“A Great Introduction to the Christian Faith”

Often the books that are written for those who are seeking faith are quite short and simple, only presenting a very basic gospel outline without doing much of the cultural detail. This is the opposite of what Greear does, taking the time to walk through sections of Paul's letter to the Romans and showing the reader why the gospel is not only credible but also what we emotionally need and desire deep down. It would be a brilliant present for a friend who is starting to think about faith, especially if they have lots of questions that they want to be answered! This will give them something to really get their teeth into. But I also think this would be a perfect refresher for a new believer or someone who feels like God feels distant. This book helps to go back to basics, to see the core of the gospel and why this is what we need. A really refreshing read for the seeker and Christian alike!

1 Feb 2023

“An essential read”

J. D. Greear sets a lofty goal in this book as the subtitle conveys. He seeks to communicate the heart of the gospel in ten words. In my humble opinion, he masterfully did exactly what he set out to do.

To accomplish this, he walks the reader through Paul’s epistle to the Romans. He states that his reason for doing so is that this letter is seen as “the clearest, purest, most in-depth explanation of Christian basics ever penned.” From this letter, Greear draws out the major emphases and gleans ten words that he expounds on in ten chapters. There are a few “intermissions” interspersed throughout these chapters that go in depth on some subjects to bring greater clarity to the reader.

Now, down to the nitty-gritty: this book is saturated in the gospel! There were so many things that I appreciated about reading it. I enjoyed some of the scientific stats that were used to point to the intelligent design of our world. (These alone led me to awe and worship!) I enjoyed being reminded of the good news in a systematic way. And I enjoyed how anyone could read this book and understand the essence of the gospel.

This book would be great for a seeker or someone new to the Christian faith, but quite honestly, it’s a book that every believer would benefit from! As Greear notes, “the gospel is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it’s the pool itself.” We will never outgrow the gospel; Greear does a wonderful job of helping the reader to understand that as well as what it is and why it’s so important. Highly recommend!!

I received a copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.

17 Jan 2023

“An apt apologetic work for our time”

Essential Christianity by J.D.Greear helpfully covers some of the basic tenets of Christianity. Each chapter is formulated around a keyword; and answers a common question about the faith. For example, Chapter seven ‘Inclusion’, engages with the suggestion that ‘all religions are basically the same’ – answering that Christianity stands alone as the only true revelation of God through Christ. Greear engages with this and other concepts through the guise of our postmodern culture, formulating an important apologetic work. The work is simple and straightforward. Greer uses accessible language and structure to outline key ideas, which will provoke thought and discussion in Christian circles and beyond.

The author has opted for a clear and straightforward approach. The book is designed to be read by a broad audience, and Greear has crafted a work which can be picked up by just about anyone, no matter their walk of life. Greear’s pastoral heart shines through in the book as he discusses issues sensitively and thoughtfully, looking to pull the reader into the true heart of Christianity. At times, the book introduces some terms that it does not expand on; for example, ‘irreducible complexity’. Whilst this may prompt the reader to further investigation, it can also have the effect of appearing to ‘overreach’ when it is not necessary.
Conclusively, this is an apt work for our cultural milieu, one that can assist newcomers to the faith, be a witness to the outside world, whilst also reminding older Christians about the blessedness of faith in God.

I received a free copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.

14 Jan 2023

“great info”

My husband and I have both been fans of J.D. Greear. He has several books that we have had the privilege of reading and gaining much biblical wisdom. So, nonetheless, I had nothing but great expectations for his newest book.

The book is structured with ten chapters, each addressing an aspect of Christianity that leads us discover what exactly Christianity is. The world and our society have done a great job of mischaracterizing, misinterpreting Christianity as well as spreading incredible lies. Greear does a wonderful job of walking the reader through these and presenting the truth, all straight from Scripture.

Some specific questions he addresses:

- What is Christianity, in a sentence?

- Why do Christians talk about being "saved"?

- Why does the Christian life seem so hard?

He also sneaks in a couple intermissions to address some very side topics:

- Who is Jesus?

- But Is it True?

- What about the Christian view of sexuality?

Greear writes with simplicity, gentleness, but boldness. He's not shy in stating the biblical truth and nothing less. But he expresses grace and mercy with the understanding that we are sinful people in need of a saving Jesus.

This would be a great book for any believer or non-believer to have a better understanding of what Christians should believe and why they should believe it.

I received a copy of this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.

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Essential Christianity | J.D. Greear, Joe Gibbs |