The Gospel in Ten Words – Tenth Anniversary
Ten years ago this week, my book The Gospel in Ten Words was released. To mark the anniversary, I thought I’d answer a few questions nobody ever asked, such as…
Why did you write The Gospel in Ten Words?
I blame readers. When I began writing Escape to Reality, readers would ask me, “When are you going to write a book?” Never. Having just spent two years writing a dense statistics text for a major university press, I had no interest in writing any more books. I was done.
In 2010 I went to a grace retreat on Cheung Chau Island, and Rob Rufus happened to mention the proliferation of new grace books. Friends like Chad Mansbridge (He Qualifies You) and Wayne Duncan (A Matter of Life and Death) had written books on grace. Ryan Rufus had even set up a publishing company (New Nature).
None of these guys had big churches or TV programs. They were ordinary men with a burning desire to tell others the good news of grace. I was inspired. If they could do it, I could do it. So I began to write a book.
The Gospel in Ten Words?
No, a completely different book that never saw the light of day. It was called Adam, Jesus and Me, and it was about original sin and Last Adam’s greater work. It was going to be this huge sweeping overview of history. It was quite ambitious. Some might say it was pretentious.
As I was writing, I realized I didn’t want to write another big book. In academia you get points for dazzling readers with big words, but that didn’t motivate me anymore. I wanted to write something simple because the gospel is simple.
As soon as I made the decision to keep things simple, it was like a fire ignited inside me. The words came in a flood. I could barely sleep on account of the excitement. It’s been like that for ten years.
Why Ten Words?
Originally I was going to call my book The Gospel of Grace in Eight Words, but, inflation….
How did you settle on ten words?
I had written an article called “The Gospel in One Word, Two Words…” and that had been fun. I like lists, and I relished the challenge of reducing the gospel message into ten key words.
What were the ten words?
Loved, forgiven, saved, union, accepted, holy, righteous, died, new and royal. These are ten pictures of grace that describe the new life of the believer.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
After an unpleasant experience with a traditional publisher, I resolved to never again give up creative control of a title. At that time, Amazon was making it easy for authors to publish their own books, so I thought I would give it a try. I’ve never looked back. Anyone can do it.
What happened with the cover?
For some reason I thought I could make my own cover. I grabbed some red felt, some Bananagram tiles, and snapped a few pics. In my mind, it was brilliant. In reality, the cover is not even in focus! I have thought about going back and redoing it, but it looks kinda homey and authentic. Believe it or not, but it actually won a design prize.
(In the Patreon-only bonus materials that accompany this article, I chart the cover-creating journey from the initial concept to the final award-winning design. I also talk about how I now use professionals and run competitions to pick covers, and the possibilities of AI-designed covers.)
What happened when the book was released?
When it came out I spent $0 on publicity, did no podcasts, and I gave lots of copies away. Within a week, three publishers asked for the foreign language rights and it just took off. It was a total God thing. It showed how hungry people were for the gospel of grace.
After ten years, The Gospel in Ten Words continues to be my most popular book. People regularly tell me how they buy 10 or 20 copies at a time to give to people they meet. We recently released a free study guide to help small groups go through the book together.
Has it made you rich?
No. We decided years ago to price the book as cheap as possible to get it to as many people as possible. I think the paperback costs around seven bucks on Amazon. Most of that money is split between the printer and the retailer.
What are you doing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the book?
I’m giving away free copies of The Gospel in Ten Words to the first 500 Escape to Reality readers who click this link. (UPDATE: All free books have been snapped up. Subscribe to E2R and be the first to know about our next giveaway.)
For years readers have been asking me to write a Bible Study guide, and I’m finally starting to deliver with The Grace Bible project. The first installment come out at Christmas, with more installments coming next year. I am super excited about this project!
Any final reflections on The Gospel in Ten Words?
As I say in the book, many Christians haven’t heard the good news. They’ve heard a diluted, mixed-up version of the gospel that comes with hidden charges. They’ve been sold a counterfeit gospel that doesn’t work and leaves them anxious and fearful.
The authentic gospel is good news from start to finish. Just as there is no bad news in the good news, there are no price tags to the love of God.
The good news is still the best news you ever heard!
The Gospel in Ten Words is not only one of my favorite books, it changed my life. I don’t say that lightly. The Holy Spirit did a work in my heart and mind as I read it. Thank you Paul.
Thanks for the feedback, JB. I delighted to hear that.
Thank you for sharing this! It’s hard to believe it has been ten years. My sense is the anti grace resistance is not as strong as it was ten years ago, although certain aspects still can cause a stir. I’m sure you would have a better perception of that, would you agree?
Thanks LJP. From my perspective, there are certainly more grace folk than there were 10 years ago. It used to be that when I published an article, about a quarter of the comments would be critical, even hostile. Now that percentage is much lower.
This book has really turned into a manual for living if you are a Christian understanding Grace. I like many have given away dozens and dozens of copies, but I personally have worn out two myself due to using it as a daily resource next to my Bible. In my opinion, the prologue “Out of the Jungle” is the best bait I have ever seen when acting as a “fisher of men” and every page screams Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Thanks Keith. It really is all about Jesus.
It quite honestly changed my life Paul, and it’s so awesome to be celebrating its 10 year anniversary with you.
It was such a game changer for me because I initially couldn’t accept what it was saying, that I was fully righteous and unconditionally forgiven. I just didn’t believe I was – especially being trapped in a particular sin at the time. But I couldn’t disagree with what I was reading and so started to just keep reminding myself that it was true. The breakthrough was incredible & I truly did enter the wide open spaces of his Grace 😃 the joy is out of this world.
So here here to the Gospel in Ten Words – thank you for writing it Paul 😊
A big help back in the day! So thankful for the Rufus fam and all of our Eastern Grace-brethren!
Maybe I’m one of the 500!
As this book was a “GOD THING” for you, the same can be said for me as I “just happened” to come across a copy of this book. (I can’t even remember how I got one)?? BUT I have purchased many copies and given them away to anyone who will read them. The pictures of JESUS that you paint with the words in this book have literally changed my life. My relationship with Jesus has grown so much and brought me to places of such REST, JOY, PEACE and LOVE. Thanks Paul and keep up the great work 🙏🏽😃👍🏽
Thanks Mat. I’m so glad to hear that.
Keep It Simple Saints. So glad you saw that God is not complicated. The Father, Son, and Holy Sprit are childlike. 2 Cor. 11:3 KJV. Allen Wilson
Great book that clarifies many «counter gospel» Bible quotations and leads the reader into the joy and peace that is based on The Rock Jesus Christ. Do not miss out on this Revelation!
Happy Anniversary for the Gospel in Ten Words. I have never commented or sent you a message but today I want to say thank you. God used this book to change my life forever. I have read it multiple times and I plan to keep reading it.
I’m so grateful for the body of Christ and grateful for you.
Health and blessings to you and your family,
Thank you, Sandra. I’m so glad to hear that.
I haven’t completely read any of your books. Only the excerpts. How can I get as many of them?
You can get The Gospel in Ten Words by clicking the link in the article above, and you find the others on the publisher’s website.
We have a small group that we call “the Grace group” that meets once a week. We read this book and really enjoyed it. We also read your four smaller books. I think they were written from your blog. Also enjoyed them. And one other book we read …Twenty Questions…. They were all great.
Yes this post and books are definitely Holy Spirit inspired as my inner born again spirit nature bears witness with Holy Spirit to the Truth with a YES and AMEN to Gods grace , the good,true ,real opinion – news about Him that Jesus came here to earth to represent ( in the likeness of human flesh) and tell us about being witnessed about truthfully and “ revelationly “ or however you spell it !
I got the Gospel in 10 Words from my local library and it was as if it was all new to me, wonderful!
I ran across you only a few months ago, and I’m so grateful for your articles anytime I need a dose of grace teaching! I recently bought for myself HyperGrace and The Gospel in 20 Questions, and Stuff Jesus Never Said, and sent 10Words and 20Questions to a bro in law who is in jail but is a new Christian. Want to get him started on the right track!
I have just finished reading the book (soft copy). “The Gospel in Ten Words” and I am hungry for more of CHRIST and your teaching. I haven’t as much been blessed with such an exposition all my life trying to be a “believer” (or a “Christian”?).
Thank you Paul.
Now, How do I get a hardcopy. I live in Lagos Nigeria.
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed GITW. Hardcopy options can be found on the publisher’s website.