Grace. The word gets tossed around in Christian circles a lot. What exactly do we mean by it? Amazing Grace: God’s Pursuit, Our Response is a great introduction to the biblical theology of grace. Dr. George explains in the introduction:
As wonderful as grace is, it has provoked some of the most heated controversies in the history of the Christian church. In this study, we shall look at some of these debated questions while never losing sight, I trust, of the reality we are discussing: God’s free and sovereign favor to ill-deserving sinners. God’s great ocean of truth is much deeper than our finite minds can fathom. I am keenly aware that there is much more to be said about grace than I am able to say in this brief study. My purpose throughout is more devotional than academic: God’s grace should provoke wonder and worship among all God’s children. This study is an exercise in theology in the sense that the great Puritan divine William Ames defined it-the knowledge of living in the presence of the living God. (p. 13)
He points out that the word “grace” accurately sums up the entire message of the Bible. The old acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” is actually a good way to put it. We shouldn’t let the simplicity of this little phrase cause us to miss it’s profundity-it tells us three essential elements to a biblical understanding of grace:
- It originates with God
- It is inexhaustible, irrepressible, and overflowing
- It is at Christ’s expense.
…grace is not an impersonal force or even a divine quality to be analyzed and studied abstractly. No, grace means God himself is operating in love to the praise of his glory. As Martin Luther once said, grace is God’s middle name! (p. 32)
Grace is not a substance or commodity that God bestows on us or gifts us with…it is God himself at work in us!! We experience this work at many different levels in our lives, including as:
The historic understanding of God’s sovereign grace through church history is briefly covered, leading up to traditional Reformed theology. Dr. George prefers the acronym “ROSES” (Radical Depravity, Overcoming Grace, Sovereign Election, Eternal Life, Singular Redemption) to the controversial and often misunderstood “TULIP”.
The book wraps up with a brief discussion of the marks of a gracious Christian…a person “so thoroughly grasped by grace that he or she becomes a channel through which God’s great love shines forth in relationships with others.” (p. 136)
The more we see our own unworthiness, the more astounded we are at God’s gracious favor and mercy toward us. And the more we realize that our life-purpose must be to glorify God, to please him in every way, the more others will notice the results of God’s transforming grace in our lives. (p. 136)
As we’re transformed, these five marks will become more and more apparent in us:
- A grateful heart
- A humble countenance
- A forgiving spirit
- A life of love
- A passion for souls
In closing, Dr. George offers a benediction:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:14)
and exhorts us to “live the benediction”!
The book is short and a fairly quick read, but it still manages to tackle some profound topics. The writing is clear and simple. I really enjoyed the devotional rather than academic tone. After all, how on earth can the subject of grace be discussed in simply academic terms?! I don’t see how the topic can fail to produce wonder, awe, and worship of the God who IS grace!
Although short, Amazing Grace: God’s Pursuit, Our Response does much more than just skim the surface. There’s so much here…from the nature of grace biblically, to church history, to how it all applies to our everyday lives. I think it will benefit any reader…from the newest believer with no knowledge at all to the seasoned student of theology. Definitely a worthy read!