Thank-you, thank-you for writing such a great book! The way many Christians think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it's downright narcissistic. We think way too much about how we're doing, if we're growing, whether we're doing it right or not. We spend too much time brooding over our failures and reflecting on our successes. What I've discovered is that the more I focus on my need to get better, the worse I actually get. I become self-absorbed which is the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. This is why I was shouting "yes, yes" again and again as I read Barbara's excellent book. Mining the treasures of John Newton's letters, Barbara writes, "God thinks that you will actually come to know and love him better as a desperate and weak sinner in continual need of grace than you would as a triumphant Christian warrior who wins each and every battle against sin." Amen! Over and over again Barbara reminds us that spiritual growth is realizing how utterly dependent we are on Christ's cross and mercy. It's not arriving at some point where we need Jesus less and less because we're getting better and better. In fact, she shows that Christian growth is not "I'm becoming stronger and stronger, more and more competent everyday." Rather, it is "I'm becoming increasingly aware of just how weak and incompetent I am and how strong and competent Jesus continues to be for me." I cannot commend this book enough. We need more and more books like this which remind us that the focus of the Christian faith is not the life of the Christian, but Christ.
People often ask me how it is that my faith has become so "gospel centered" and I always respond, "I had a group of friends who kept teaching me about Jesus, even though I didn't want to hear it." Barbara Duguid is the primary friend to whom I owe greatest thanks for her loving persistence with me. Barbara is qualified to bring you a message of Extravagant Mercy because she has drunk deeply of it herself. She knows that, along with John Newton, she is a great sinner who has a great Savior and it is this message of God's mercy to undeserving sinners that will encourage you to live in the light of the sweetest news ever heard: "He died for a wretch like me!" Buy this book. Buy one for a friend and live in the freedom that only the good news of the gospel can bring. (P&R may edit at will)
I know Barb Duguid up close, as a friend who with her family swooped in to be Gods hands and heart to our family in a time of need. Her wise counsel was always backed up by a rich experiential knowledge of Gods amazing graceand unrelenting compassion. Weaving together the delightful insights of John Newton with her own experienceand that of many people shes counseled over the years, Barb tells the story of Gods unrelenting compassion toward sinners like us with profound wisdom. How amazing is grace? Like Newton, she has learned well the answer to that question from the greatest story-teller of all.
Stay away from this book. If you buy it, dont read it. Barb Duguid makes idolatry too nauseating, grace too promiscuous, the Trinity too omnipotent,Christian experience too diverse, sanctification too scary, and sovereignty too comforting. On the other hand, it could be a holy temptation...yielding may be no sin.
'In this fine book, Barbara Duguid combines her love of church history, her enthusiasm for John Newton, her insights honed as a pastor's wife and, above all, her love for Christ and his church. Here the reader will find sharp insights into the psychology of sin and sound practical advice on how the Bible speaks to the mundane rebellions of everyday human existence, The heart is indeed restless above all things; Barbara Duguid ably directs us to where we can find rest: in Christ alone.'
"If only there were some secreta strategy, an answer, a truth, a fixto end all the awkward struggle in life! But nothing this side of the return of the King can make life easy. Even the saints in heaven cry, "How long?" There is a way to live, however, that learns to struggle well through the wrongs inside us and around us. Barb Duguid struggles well. She has learned well from another lifelong struggler, John Newton. Both of them learned well from the the Man of sorrows and grace. He knows our weaknesses first hand. He loved us to the uttermost. He is loving us now. He will love us forever. Take this book to heart. It will sustain you for the long haul, long after the hyped up panaceas and utopias fail."
Consider this: What if growing in grace is more about humility, dependence, and exalting Christ, than it is about defeating sin? No, this is not heresy from that old pastor, John Newton, and Barbara Duguid, who takes and applies many of Newtons thoughts in this book. This is deft and loving pastoral care. If you are earnest in your desire to follow Jesus but wondering why you still feel like such a sinner, this is the perfect book for you.
John Newton was such a good pastor, because he understood so well sin, suffering, and the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. His soul-care wisdom is available in his letters, hymns, and sermons, but they compose six volumes. So it helps to hear from those who are familiar with his work, summarizing it in light of their own faith journey. Barb Duguid has done todays church a great service by sharing with us her fine overview of Newtons understanding of the Christian soul. Feast, be encouraged, and be built up.