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Book Review – On the Grace of God

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Book Review – On the Grace of God

Grace is a dangerous thing. It is something that, when unleashed, can bring the fiercest of men to their knees in tears. No other force has changed the course of human history like Grace. It is responsible for some of the most unfathomable events that the mind can comprehend. In ancient Rome, when the Greeks and Romans regularly practice infanticide, it was the Christians who (empowered by grace) rescued the babies left to die and took them into their families. Grace has motivated ordinary sinners to found orphanages, hospitals, and educational institutions so that family, healing, and education would be available to the less fortunate. So what is it about Grace that produces this sort of reaction?

In On the Grace of God, Justin Holcomb takes a doctrine of the Christian faith and gives it new life. To our detriment, grace has become rather unremarkable in our every day lives. It isn’t that grace has changed, it always has been and always will be the most incredible thing we receive. But in our sophistication, we have convinced ourselves that grace is an elementary doctrine and not as central to the Christian life and mind as it once was. This book changes that. It re-centers the Christian life around the cross of Christ as the central theme of our new life.

Holcomb starts with a definition of grace by Michael Spencer as something that is “inexplicable, inappropriate, out of the box, out of bounds, offensive, excessive, too much, given to the wrong people, and all those things” I love that he started with this definition. There simply is no other kind of grace, and the moment we start to think that grace is appropriate, within bounds, not enough and only reserved for the right sort of people, we have failed to understand what grace truly is.

Moving on from this Holcomb sets out to demonstrate why we need grace. He doesn’t hold back from describing the total disaster that our sin has brought upon this world. He tackles the themes of suffering,evil and violence and places the blame squarely where it belongs; on the backs of sinners like you and I. He goes on to show how God’s grace was woven through the Old Testament and the New Testament and wraps up the book showing how scripture describes the entire Christian life as one of grace. This not only includes our justification, but also our sanctification.

On the Grace of God is the best book I have ever read that attempts to define the Biblical doctrine of grace. Why? Simply because it doesn’t try to defend the audacity of grace. Holcomb doesn’t hold back with the foolish refrain, “If we preach too much grace people will sin”. He understands full well I imagine that some will see grace as a license to sin, but in those cases their response to grace demonstrates that they are not regenerate. The only Christian response to Grace is unfathomable gratitude resulting in a deep desire to please the one who lavished such an undeserving love upon them. Holcomb appears to understand the message of Paul when he wrote that it is grace (not law) that brings salvation (justification) to all people and teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness (sanctification). He understands Paul’s message that the law was powerless to produce righteousness but grace (in the form of sending Christ as a sin offering for us) produces all sorts of righteousness. It is only when we fully understand this sort of grace that we will allow it to reign unrestrained in our lives.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It starts at such a low cost (retails for $9.99) and you can get it cheaper on Amazon   (cheaper still if you get the Kindle version). Or if you prefer FREE, why not Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks? This book is so cheap that you can can (and should) buy a few copies to hand out to others who need to hear the good news of God’s grace.

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About the author

On the Grace of God by Justin HolcombJustin S. Holcomb (PhD, Emory University) is an Episcopal priest and teaches theology, philosophy, and Christian thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. He serves on the boards of REST (Real Escape from the Sex Trade) and GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments). He also serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

 

 

 

 


7 thoughts on “Book Review – On the Grace of God

  1. Ryan Smith

    This sounds great! Thanks for sharing

  2. J. Baldwin

    I like the idea of excessive grace but to be honest it scares the hell out of me. If it’s wrong we’re in a heap of trouble. It seems safer to believe that but not necessarily love that way. It’s safer to take the burden upon ourselves.

  3. Scott

    I agree this is a great book. I read it a couple years ago and have been recommending it ever since!

  4. Luke

    You gracers are just, I don’t know. I don’t understand why you guys focus so much on this. It’s a basic doctrine that we all learn in Sunday school and by now you should be off this milk and on to the deeper truths. Always neglecting the law in favor of grace and you guys act like it’s the greatest thing God wants us to know. It’s no wonder this world is so antinomian right now because we get stuck on grace when it’s just the entrance and not the path. We have to keep this in mind at all times. The difference between the entrance and the path. We enter by grace and walk a path of law. God’s good law in order to stay on the path. But I guess this is too difficult for the modern mind who just wants to talk about the basic Sunday school lessons for the rest of their lives

  5. Hi Aaron! I haven’t been here in a while because Sprint sucks. This book looks awesome! I think it’s funny how some people who think they are intellectuals can’t make sense if their life depended on it. They’re like “oh I’m saved by grace alone” and “this is a key doctrine of the reformation” and then their like “oh don’t talk about grace” and “grace is only for novice theologians not for smart people like me”. And me I’m just a dumb new Christian who obviously doesn’t know enough theology yet to start despising grace so I’m all “yay grace” and such.

  6. Lenette

    All I know is I tried that already Luke. If you want so bad to earn it then join the Catholic Church. I spent most my life there and you’ll fit right in.

  7. John Wagner

    I’ve thought long and hard about grace in recent weeks. I was like Luke not too long ago who seems to have just left a comment then dropped off the face of the earth. I totally understand what he’s saying. I used to think grace was too simplistic of a doctrine to bother with. It was a “Sunday School” answer and not a seminary answer and my ego thrives on seminary answers because it’s there where I can boast in myself. Grace leaves us nothing to boast in but Christ and that takes me and my intellect out of the spotlight. I got this book after reading your review and it clarified a lot for me. Grace is what pours forth from Christ. It’s the essence of his relationship with us and we should not despise it.

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