Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book Review: Grace

I review for BookSneeze®


Title: Grace
Author: Max Lucado

The back cover of Grace by Max Lucado reads, “Have we settled for wimpy grace?” Then it states, “Max Lucado asks a deeper question: Have you been changed by grace? Shaped…? Strengthened…? Emboldened…? Softened…? Snatched by the nape of your neck and shaken to your senses by grace?”

I had great hopes for this book. I had hoped that Pastor Lucado would truly explore the life-changing, sanctifying power of God’s grace. I had hoped that this book would tell of the grace that goes beyond the wimpy grace that doesn’t threaten the way we currently live our lives and instead call us to repentance and challenge us to live obedient and holy lives because of what God has done for us. Had that been the only thing I had begun this book hoping for, I would have been greatly disappointed.

I also opened this book hoping for an easy read, good stories, and viewing bible stories in a new, fresh light. Those hopes were not disappointed.

For the first time, I saw that the story of the release of Barabbas by Pontius Pilate, well, really the Jews, was not just a release, but rather an exchange. Never before had I viewed that part of the story in light of my own salvation. I am Barabbas… the guilty one. Like Barabbas I have received the pardon I did not deserve while Jesus bore the punishment of death that I fully deserved. (Chapter 3)

I saw that the story of Ruth is the story of a God who offers grace though He is under no obligation to. I saw that in the story of Ruth is the story of a God who saves us even when we are in the depths of our sin. (Chapter 6)

Lucado, in chapter 10, assures us of our worth, not because of who we are, but because God has chosen us to be His children. “Rather than conjure up reasons to feel good about yourself, trust God’s verdict. If God loves you, you must be worth loving. If he wants to have you in his kingdom, then you must be worth having. God’s grace invites you – no, requires you – to change your attitude about yourself and take sides with God against your feelings of rejection.”

While the book disappointed many of my hopes, it also offered some positives things to me.

He did not disappoint with the quality and readability of his writing. The book was true to Max Lucado's voice and was written in a style that could easily be read aloud for a devotional thought.

All of this being said, I fundamentally disagree with Pastor Lucado’s theology regarding our assurance of salvation. Lucado states on page 133, “On-and-off salvation never appears in the Bible. Salvation is not a repeated phenomenon. Scripture contains no example of a person who was saved, then lost, then resaved, then lost again.” This chapter supports the once-saved-always-saved theological perspective. However, I do not believe that the Bible teaches that salvation cannot be lost.

When one chooses to follow Christ, does he then lose his power of choice in this matter? Can he not choose to NOT follow Christ. Would God force someone who once desired Heaven and now no longer desires to be in Heaven with God for all eternity to suffer all eternity in the presence of a God that he/ she wants nothing to do with?

What does the Bible teach? What does Jesus say?

In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus tells the parable of the sower who went out to sow some seed. The seed is the word of God. The seed falls in various places but I want to bring your attention to the seed that fell on the rocky soil. Verse 13 (NASB) says, “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Jesus himself states that they believed but fell away!

Jesus tells the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-l7. He stresses the importance of remaining in Him. You cannot remain in something unless you have first joined yourself to it. If it is not possible to be lost, why would Jesus emphasize the importance of remaining in Him? Jesus is teaching that to be saved, one must abide in Him or remain in Him. If we remain in Jesus, we will obey Jesus (v.10).

In the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) all of the young ladies were invited to the wedding, all of them accepted the invitation, and yet some missed out on the opportunity to attend.

Other passages to consider: Ezekiel 33:12-20; Roman 11:17-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1,2; Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:2-4; Ephesians 4:20 and many others (see http://lithgow.adventist.org.au/once-saved-always-saved)

Finally I would like to end with this, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” (Colossians 1:21-23) The passage says if you continue in your faith.

Salvation is a free gift that one can accept, but it must be daily lived and accepted continually. If one chooses that he or she no longer wants to remain in Christ, he/ she has that freedom of choice. No one can snatch us from the Father’s hand (John 10:29), but we can choose to remove ourselves from it.

Please do not accept the wimpy grace that is offered by saying that we can accept salvation once and then never lose it because in doing so you cheat yourself of the rich blessings that come from an living, giving, active, abiding relationship with Jesus and His magnificent power to transform lives.
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