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Book Review – Lay it Down by Bill Tell


Book Review – Lay It Down

How does our sin effect our relationship with God? This is a huge question. We all struggle with sin. It is an unfortunate part of being human. Those who care are often burdened by their lack of victory over sinful behavior. Those who don’t care. continue to sin without a care in the world. Lay it Down is a book written for those who are burdened by their lack of moral perfection.

Bill Tell starts off by setting the stage with his own personal journey in grace. He tells of how his performance driven life led him to burn out as he came to see the impossibility of pleasing everyone. If we are unable to please mere mortals, how much more are we unable to please a morally perfect and holy God? This book is about Bill Tell’s journey toward grace and his discovery of the beautiful doctrines which have come to characterize the Reformed faith. In short, the author discovered that as children of God, we are declared righteous by our faith apart from our works. In Christ, God is pleased to find favor with us; unconditional favor.

There are parts in Lay It Down that I struggled with. This is especially true of the beginning chapters. At times, it seemed as if Tell was advocating a soft antinomianism which encouraged the view that our behavior is irrelevant. Despite this, it was clear throughout the book that he views the believers behavior as important and that he was not advocating a lifestyle free from the constraints of God’s revealed law. This was a little confusing at first. As I persisted through the first few chapters it became apparent that he was not teaching lawlesness at all. He was simply stating what reformed theology has always taught– that grace is precisely what enables the believer to say no to sin! Grace doesn’t merely save is, it is an enabling power at work within those who have faith. This is most clearly seen in Titus 2:11-12 in which we are told that the grace of God teaches (literally: trains) us to renounce ungodliness and to live self controlled, upright and godly lives.  So Bill Tell does not teach that we can live ungodly lives. Rather, he teaches us that grace enables us to stop living in the flesh, trying to merit favor by working hard, and to start relying on the transforming power of the gospel in our lives.

If I have any complaints at all it is Tell’s use of some rather loose Bible translations. There are times when he uses The Message and the translation completely misses the point of the passage where a more literal translation would have served to bolster support for the very point he was making. This aside, I do not believe that he misused scripture or twisted the meaning of any passages to fit the theme of the book.

This was a good book. Tell does a good job highlighting the transforming power of the gospel message. His message of letting go of our efforts (relying on them to merit favor with God) is a critical message for today and one which everyone would gain from hearing over and over.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publshing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


9 thoughts on “Book Review – Lay it Down by Bill Tell

  1. I love how Titus 2 shows this so clearly. It’s the grace of God that gives me the power and discipline to so no to sin not my law keeping. When I try to do it myself in my own power I always fail. Always. The grace of God by the power of the Spirit working through the word is the only thing that works.

    • I agree Joyce. We so often get it backwards.

  2. This looks like an amazing book on a topic that is becoming more and more dear to my wife and I as we enter our retirement years. Why it took so long for us to grasp I will never know.

    • The good news is that you are grasping it now. I think it takes all of us a while to really get it. Once you see it though you never read things the same. Powerful thing Grace is.

  3. Chaise Lynn

    Boy do I need this book. I’m behind you both because this is new as of 5 minutes ago lol! Where can I learn more about this?

    • Chaise, Ahmed gave some very good resources. I don’t have anything to add to his reply other than to say goo luck on this journey!

  4. Ahmed

    Chaise this blog is good for understanding grace but also look for blogs linked from author. I like Heidelblog for me but also Whitehorse and others. Look at classic faith proclamations such as Westminster, Heidelberg, The Belgic is useful for this in 24 and 25, and the third head of Dort article 6. Good places to start are also Concord. May God pour his blessings upon you during the journey. AHMED Z.

  5. Joseph K

    Ahmed, It is good to see a reformed brother with your name. You are spot on in your analysis. Have you always been reformed? What’s your background? Are you familiar with MERF?

    • Ahmed

      Joseph yes I know MERF very well. They brought me from Islam to Presbyterian safely. They are good men and good women there. I am Egyptian, and you are right there are very little Christian and less so Reformed here but we are growing fast. Our threat is not Islam but Catholic. Many here turn from Islam to Orthodox and Orthodox is another Catholic. We have false teaching here in what is called Christian churches but truth is being known greatly!

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