Many people may read Prepared by Grace, For Grace and wonder what is preparation of grace? As I read through this book, I quickly realized the importance of this book to the ongoing discussion about the law and the gospel. Prepared by Grace, For Grace addresses the question of how God ordinarily brings sinners to the point of trusting in Christ alone for salvation. The doctrine of preparation addresses the question of how God ordinarily brings sinners to the point of trusting in Christ alone for salvation. Specifically is conversion an event or a process? If it is a process how does the work of conversion begin? There may be deception, but in general, is there a pattern of conversion? This subject as the authors note has “massive implications for how we preach the gospel. Should we portray God as nothing but love, and try to woo people to this loving God who can ease their pain and fill the emptiness of their lives? Or should we also tell people that emptiness and pain are symptoms of sin, and God hates sin with a burning, righteous furry? Does God ordinarily begin the work of conversion y first convincing people of their guilt and His coming judgment?” (1).
Prepared by Grace, For Grace is fourteen chapters with two-hundred and ninety-one pages. The authors throughout the book aim to demonstrate how the Puritans used the law to prepare their hearers for the Gospel. The authors spent the majority of their space in the book examining the various views of a wide variety of Puritans and spend the final chapter looking at the grace of preparation for faith. In the book the authors use the term preparation in “the sense of for saving faith in Jesus Christ” (3). This is an important subject for the authors address it because it touches on essential matters of Christian faith and experience, such as how the gospel is to be preached and how sinners are converted.
As I read this book I was instructed, edified and challenged in a variety of ways. First, I hadn’t really thought through the connection between law and grace as deeply as I should have and also the connection between how the gospel is preached and how sinners are converted. Finally, in reading this book I’ve come to understand not just what the Puritans believed about this topic but that what they thought about the topic is thoroughly grounded in the Word of God, and evangelical and Reformed doctrine.
I’ve also come to believe that to neglect to preach law and judgment to lost sinners is why many churches are unhealthy today. Such people have never come to see their true plight as sinners abiding under God’s wrath, who merit nothing but condemnation and punishment with no one to turn to help for other than Jesus Christ. The end result of this kind of preaching is a shallow view of sin which produces a shallow kind of faith. Such people feel little need for grace and they want very little from God or Christ apart from what they think they are entitled to. Throughout this book the authors seek to let us hear from the Reformers and Puritans on this important doctrine with sections that are heavily quoted and amply footnoted.
The Reformed and Puritan doctrine of preparation was in response to nominal Christianity. During their time everyone came to church but many showed no signs of walking with God. The Puritans preached the law of God to awaken them to their lost condition. They called sinners to self-examination. “The Puritans used the law in preaching the gospel of Christ, who is precious only to those who are humbled enough to see their need for His blood-wrought atonement” (244). Sinners must be convicted of the wrath of God, and see the righteousness of it before they understand the need to repent and by faith to embrace the gospel promise. They must examine themselves and mourn over their sins. This message may not attract large crowds today apart from an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. But it will create a context in the Spirit who inspired both law and gospel and He will be pleased to honor our preaching. In many ways this book only touches the surface, and while the book answers objections to its position it does so in a way that helps the reader understand the issue through a biblical-theological framework.
Prepared By Grace, For Grace: The Puritans on God’s Ordinary Way of Leading Sinners to Christ is an extremely important book for our times. Rather than legalism or any such thing the Puritans sought to be faithful stewards and proclaimers of the Word of God and the Gospel of the grace of God. This book will help missionaries, pastors, professors, seminary students and laymen to understand not just the connection between law and grace but especially its connection to the preaching ministry and its importance in engaging the lost with the Gospel.
Prepared by Grace, for Grace is biblically grounded, pastoral, and seeks to apply its teaching, all to help us understand what the Reformers and Puritans taught about preparation. While this book would help the average laymen, I believe this book is especially helpful for Pastors who need to understand the importance of preaching the law and gospel to their congregations.
The study of this book could do much to transform our evangelistic influence which is why I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up this book and learn what the Bible teaches about law and grace so that you may be a faithful proclaimer of the Gospel to the lost who desperately need Jesus.
Author: Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley
Publisher: Reformation Heritge (2013)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Cross Focused Review blogger program. 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.”
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.