In The Grace of God, Andy Stanley does an amazing job covering the various aspects of God’s grace in Scripture, and how it applies to our lives. Stanley shows us how the fact that we were even created is a sign of God’s grace. He discusses God’s grace after The Fall, throughout Israel’s formation and history, and how Jesus is the ultimate expression of The Grace of God.
Writing is hard. There’s no getting around it. Writing about Theology is even harder. Because then the writer not only has to focus on making his/her work comprehensible to the average reader, but correct enough to withstand Theological scrutiny. While Stanley’s style does make this book easily understood, it can also communicate some Theological problems.
For example, in the second chapter, in an attempt to communicate the colossal mess that The Fall introduced, he tells a story about a time he dropped a large glass jar of salsa in his pantry (p. 19). It went everywhere. The floor, the walls, the door, other food items. His point was that with a mess this big, you have to just start cleaning somewhere. While this may effectively communicate the mess that sin caused, it also carries with it an element of surprise. Stanley didn’t know he was going to drop the jar of salsa. The same cannot be said of God concerning The Fall. There are varying positions on whether God decreed The Fall happen (though not being culpably responsible), or if He simply knew it was going to happen, and that isn’t a subject we’ll get into here. But the one thing that is agreed upon is that God knew. So, we have to be careful when creating allegories to communicate Biblical truth. I’m not saying don’t do it, but we have to use caution.
One of the things that I loved was that Stanley pointed out that the Law was, in fact, God’s grace toward the Israelites. God established their identity as His people, and then graciously gave them a way to be in His presence without dying immediately from their sin.
The first commandment has to do with trusting God to meet every need. In this commandment, God said to Israel, “I want to be your one and only God.” Why did He need to say that? Because, for as long as anyone could remember, the Hebrews had been surrounded by people who worshiped many gods. Every culture of that time and every civilization that existed for the next two thousand years worshiped multiple deities. God didn’t want the Israelites turning to multiple gods to meet multiple needs…
This presses me to ask: What gods are we worshiping? What gods are we turning to in order to meet our needs? Are we slaves to technology instead of living freely in Christ? Do we unconsciously worship the TV for meeting our need for entertainment? These may seem trivial, but how about work? Do we look to our jobs to satisfy our needs, without acknowledging the One who gave us that job?
Overall The Grace of God was a good read, and I’d recommend it for most people. If you’re looking for a book that’s Theologically intense, well, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a book that does a good survey of God’s grace, then this is perfect.
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