The Truth About Grace
on Handling the Truth
Part of why I like John MacArthur is because he doesn't pull punches. He stays pretty close to the Bible whenever he expounds topically and always provides practical insights and wisdom. I'm currently enjoying a daily dose of his thoughts with Moments of Truth and I always have at least one of his books in my "to-read" stack. This series (The Truth about...), offers a few thematic quick reads (about 100 pages) that cut to the chase on some popular topics.
In this book, the topic is grace. That tricky subject we all like to claim and demand from others, but which often eludes definition. MacArthur does a pretty thorough job of defining and explaining grace and its role in our salvation and relationship with God. He also tackles some sticky arguments, such as the age-old Arminianism vs. Calvinism grudge match, and the recently revitalized universalism philosophy.
However, MacArthur doesn't stop there. He lays down some tough pills to swallow for all who follow Christ. Our acceptance of God's grace comes with a responsibility to live a life worthy of the calling. We are crucified with Christ, called to obedience and good works, and we must strive to the holiness modeled by Jesus during His life on earth.
February 28, 2013
The Truth about Grace, by John MacArthur, is a short, but detailed theological study that delves into the concept of grace. It is filled with scriptural references that help the flow of the book, while ideally forcing the reader to go back to the original source of wisdom on the matter, the Bible.
MacArthur begins (and ends) the book by defining grace, which he summarizes as "the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners" (p4, 104). He then systematically continues through each chapter, highlighting in detail Ephesians 2:8-10, namely that we receive it as a gift from God, it is not of our own doing, and we need to have evidence of it in our lives.
Although it seemed a bit repetitive at times (but then, repetition is the key to remembrance), I enjoyed reading MacArthur's work. I do not agree with his soteriological beliefs, but I did appreciate the amount of study dedicated to this subject, including both scriptural references, as well as multiple references to the original Greek, which is always key in understanding the true meaning and intent behind words. I also appreciated his analogies and concepts throughout this work. MacArthur questions whether "the experience of God's grace in your lives is a thrilling thing" (p43) and I think that is a key question. Though I may not believe in limited atonement, to which this book strongly advocates, I valued the reminders of my own sinful nature and how completely depraved and lost we are without the mercy, love and grace of God, and what God, in Christ, suffered for this incomparable gift offered unto us. This is not a work I would recommend without restraint, but more on a case-by-case basis.
August 6, 2012
Definition and a Whole Lot More
We've all heard the word 'grace,' but my guess is that most of us couldn't define it. Author, John MacArthur, proposes that misunderstandings about grace have led to some of the church's greatest problems. So, what is grace?
John MacArthur defines grace in two ways. First, there is "common grace," which is a sincere token of God's goodwill to mankind in general. "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works." (Psalm 145:9) Think of the last time you laughed, smiled, or enjoyed something... you can probably immediately think of a few examples.
Then, there is "saving grace." This is what frees us from the penalty and power of sin. Grace saves, sanctifies, and brings the soul to glory. (Romans 8:29-30)
I love Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse's definition of grace, which is quoted in chapter 2, "Love that gives upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace." God stoops to give us grace.
This book is a part of the The Truth About series, designed to give readers a focused experience that centers on God's character. John MacArthur has written hundreds of books and study guides and is known for his candid approach to teaching God's word. He has served as pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969. I've wanted to read a book by John MacArthur since I first heard my pastor quote his writings. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read and review this book.
In The Truth About Grace, John MacArthur goes far beyond the definition of grace, dealing with how grace is commonly misunderstood and how we can live out grace the way God intends for us to. It answers some very deep questions, such as why there is suffering in the world, yet the author has a style of writing that is clear and concise. It reads as though you are chatting with a friend. Many Scripture verses are provided throughout the text, which give the opportunity for further reading and study, if you choose.
The book is short enough to read through in a day or two, but I took quite a while with it, looking up references, savoring the learning and letting it sink in before moving on. My copy is full of sticky notes marking sections I'd like to re-read later. This book works well for personal reading, but would also be great for a group study.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
July 6, 2012
Helpful for Foundational Teaching
I chose to read this book because of the great reviews as well as my own personal desire to gain a greater understanding of grace.
I had not read any of John MacArthur's books, so I wasn't sure what to expect, although I must admit, that I was a bit apprehensive that the book might be too deep for my intellect.
Although this was not a lengthy book, it was not one to be read quickly. John explains what grace is as well as how it is received. He also tackles the ways grace has been misunderstood as well as how it has been twisted and abused.
This book is packed with punch and scripture. It was slow going. I found it difficult to get into and there were times when I did not understand either a word he used or what he had written.
I would have to say that this was not my favorite book, but I'm glad I read it. This book would be most helpful to anyone who has questions or doubts. It would a helpful tool for a newer Christian.
The author gave me a greater understanding of The Beattitudes, and this book has caused me to pray differently. It has given me specifics to pray not only for a greater appreciation for grace, but for a spirit of submission and obedience.
June 16, 2012