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Book Review: Transforming Grace

February 27, 2013

Transforming Grace   I read this book four months ago.  I have been thinking about it almost daily. I was reading it solely for the purpose of reviewing it; I did not intend for it to impact my life much in any way. I have been a Christian for over 35 years. I understood grace. Sure, I still need growth, but I didn’t expect the scriptural applications and illustrations to convict, comfort, and challenge me like they did.

I am tempted to  list the portions I highlighted in the book, since I am still not sure I can describe the challenges and rebukes I encountered as I read.

The beginning of the book was what I expected, an explanation of salvation by grace. When we realize that we are spiritually dead in sin and bankrupt, we know that it is only because of His grace that we can be saved.

I was not sure why it would take the author, Jerry Bridges, another 200 pages to discuss this ‘grace.’  Then the teaching was expanded to reveal that grace is NOT the result of Christ’s sacrificial death, but that His death is the result of grace, was forced upon my conscience. His death isn’t the beginning of grace and my salvation is not the end of it.

While I knew this in my head, I don’t think I was living it in my life. Sometimes Christians are afraid that if we live in the power of God’s grace we will slack off in the doing of His will. We like to think that we earn God’s favor by doing right things. And to be certain, when we yield to His will and are obedient, it is pleasing to Him, but do not be confused we cannot earn His favor. I wanted to chalk up the blessings that God had poured out in my life as a payment for “my righteousness.”

“Only when we are thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve Him out of a grateful and loving heart.” (pg. 94)

I was having a hard time giving up my “points system.” It was almost scary to cast myself upon His mercy – probably because I knew I was unworthy – and yet this is how God operates and always had. His mercy was abundant in my life and His goodness was evident. I had to realize that I was not changing Him; I was changing my perception of God to a true reflection of Him.

Jerry Bridges goes into depth about legalism in relation to grace.  I boiled the teaching down to the fact that God’s law is good because it is an expression of His unchanging self. Legalism is not about obeying the law. Legalism it is rooted in seeking justification and a good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience. Grace did not make the Law optional, but our motive to obey is changed to a loving response to His grace.

From there the author expands on grace in relation to suffering. God wants us to be acutely aware that He is our sustainer. He does not waste pain in the life of a believer. He works it together for their good.  He wants us to experience His sufficiency. Mr. Bridges says, human weakness and divine grace go hand in hand.

He does not skim over the fact that God can and does use hardship to discipline those He loves, but that discipline is never administered in wrath, but always in love.

This book helped me remember that I was bankrupt when I received salvation and I am still bankrupt today. I need His grace – every moment of my life.  Every believer should read this book, especially those that think they understand grace.

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