Recent years has seen a marked increase in the number of books on the grace of God, growing from a few to a number of offerings. For many like me, this trend has been deeply encouraging as I was concerned the Church was becoming far too focused on “lists” and pragmatic formulas to accomplish spiritual and church growth. While this renewed focus on grace is very promising, there is a subtle danger to all of this talk about grace. That danger is the potential treatment of the grace of God as something common rather than something amazing. Since evangelicals have a fascination with the “latest fad”, we desperately need to understand how the grace of God provides the ground upon which we stand in and grow in Christ. Thankfully such an approach is provided in Barbara Dugid’s Extravagant Grace God’s Glory Displayed In Our Weakness
Growing up and being involved in the Church since I was a child has afforded me the opportunity to see many Christians who represent Christ well, and some who did not. Sadly, I’ve been on both sides of that equation. Why is that Christians struggle so much with sin? Why doesn’t the Lord just free us from our sin and grant us perfect holiness? While there are some who promote the idea that perfect holiness can be attained in this life, Barbara Dugid, rightly and wisely following the Scriptures, rejects such a notion. As noted by Martin Luther, Christians are “saints and sinners”. We are saints because our sins are forgiven giving us a new nature and a new status as sons and daughters of God. Yet, we often fail in the pursuit of cultivating holiness because we fail to appropriate who we are in Christ. While we are saints, we are still sinners because despite being given a new identity, we have not yet been glorified. Dugid utilizes the works of John Newton to help us think through God’s purpose for our failure and guilt and to help us adjust our expectations of ourselves. In doing so, she lays out the Gospel and the truth of God’s Word in a fresh, honest, emphatic, and candid manner. As she relays her personal story, she does so with a view focused on Christ and his work in her life.
In high school I struggled with understanding who I was and thus struggled mightily with depression and discouragement. During this time, I was consumed by a focus to perform for God rather than to rest in God and allow a vision for His gospel and glory to take root and grow within my heart and life. In my experience in the church, many Christians are just like I was, lives consumed with the pursuits of life instead of on what God is doing in and through them. This is precisely why Barbara’s new book Extravangant Grace God’s Glory Displayed In Our Weakness is such good news.
Being reminded of the depth and glory of the Gospel is like a splash of cool water in the morning. As I read this book, I felt refreshed, reminded, encouraged, challenged and convicted. In many ways, I am reminded by Dugid’s story that I have a long way to go in understanding God’s grace. Yet that is also encouraging for to see where we are in Christ and where we must grow is ultimately the point of the Holy Spirit highlighting the truthfulness of God’s Word. While this book is only thirteen chapters, it is full of valuable insight from one of the leading evangelical leaders of the 19th century, John Newton, with insights given along the way from Barbara Dugid’s own life experiences. While I’ve long been an admirer of Newton’s work, I’ve gained a fresh appreciation Newton through Dugid’s work. As a pastor-theologian, he sought to point Christians towards the truth of the Word and the Gospel in his own ministry, something we should all emulate.
For some, reading this book will be a good challenge. Many people in my opinion abuse grace by thinking they can live however they want to. It is true the grace of God saves us and grants us a new identity, but it is because of that new identity that the Christian should want to grow to be like Jesus. The transformation that occurs when one becomes a child of God should lead them to hate their sin rather than loving it with a genuine mourning of and turning away from sinful behavior. This will result in spiritual growth and cultivating holiness that is the fruits of the Spirit noted in the New Testament. I can think of a lot of people who would enjoy Extravagant Grace, people who are struggling in the trenches of ministry and life with all of its difficulty. Wherever you find yourself today, you need to be reminded that the focus of the Christian faith is Christ and Him crucified. By reading this book and digesting the truth contained in this valuable work by Barbara Dugid, you will discover anew the good news of the Gospel.
Author: Barbara R. Dugid
Publisher: P & R Publishing (2013)
I received this for free from P&R book review program for this 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.”