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5 Stars Out Of 5
February 13, 2013
This is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. It almost seems that it is written from a pastor to a pastor, but I feel any Christian would do well to hear the message of true grace. In a time when I had just about given up on modern Christian authors due to prosperity preaching, Steve Brown comes out with this book and Scandelous Freedom. If you are all about works, you will hate this book, but if you want to hear the grace of God in Jesus Christ like never before, buy this book. God bless you.
I really Like Steve Brown and I have purchased his books before. The only negative I have is that the purchaser is required to use the Adobe E-reader which is not compatable with by audio reader software...I have a vision problem and I buy audio books or use a text reading program.
This book shakes up my preconceived notions and helps me understand my relationship with our God in new and better ways. And it's Bible-based and written by somebody who's been walking the walk for a long, long time. What more could you want?!
Preachers are supposed to keep people from sinning, Brown says. He's been trying for forty years and hasn't been very successful so far. We have a proclivity to sin. We are drawn to it.
The church is in serious trouble, Brown claims. It's not because we don't have the latest program. The problem is that we've taken the good news and made it bad news.
If you are tired of trying not to sin, of trying to live the victorious Christian life, Brown has good news for you.
Like Luther, Brown writes, "Sin boldly!" (42) "We are serious sinners," Brown says. (81) We are not nearly as righteous as we think we are.
He gives you permission to be human and forgiven. If you have free sins, you don't have to wear a mask any more. You don't have to please anybody but Jesus (and He is already pleased). You have "unlimited free sins." (150)
"The gospel of free sins makes getting better sort of irrelevant." (115) "You don't have to get better. This first truth is the essence of the gospel and this book." (118) You don't have to get better to make God love you, to maintain his love, to witness, to make a difference, to be sanctified or holy. But you will get better, Brown says. God will do it. You probably won't even know it.
This is a disturbing book. Oh, it's not disturbing because Brown announces that all my sins are forgiven, past, present and future. I've understood that since my youth and don't try to make God love me more by behavior. I got that a long time ago.
What makes this book disturbing is how Brown describes himself. "I tried to work at [getting better]," he writes, "and I got worse." (225) So he quit trying. "I already have enough trouble getting through the day without screwing it up so badly I can't fix it." (106) He calls himself "a cynical old preacher." (139) He says, "...I'm about as messed up as anybody I know." (131)
His attitude seems to be, we are sinners, we are going to sin no matter how hard we try not to, we are forgiven by God, so just consider all your sins free. Just stop worrying about sin and live your life with gusto.
This book is disturbing because Brown seems to ignore the commands in the New Testament to "be better," as he calls it. Commands to renew your mind, to put on compassion, abstaining from every form of evil, putting away anger, etc.
He ignores concepts like knowing people by their fruit, or Paul beating his body so he would not be disqualified, or church discipline, or caring for the needs of others more than your own, of being transformed from glory to glory. I think you get my point.
This book is disturbing because sometimes Brown writes things just to shock us, I think. "And the more you are sanctified, the less you will feel close to God..." (130) On whether he is getting better or not: "Either way, it doesn't matter, because that isn't the issue. Jesus loves me big either way!" (131) "Repentance isn't changing; it's God's way of changing us if that is what he wants." (38) "...[Y]our sin - is the greatest gift God has given you if you know it. _ Your obedience...your getting better is the most dangerous place you can be when you know it." (39)
The book is disturbing because Brown says he honestly thinks that, "...Satan has a plan of deception that might have something to do with your unease about the concept of free sins." (161) Ah, the ultimate trump card in theological debate. If I don't agree with Brown, it is because I am being deceived by Satan.
And perhaps, for me, the most disturbing of all is how he describes our relationship to God. God is part of our DNA. "...[T]his God thing in us is not altogether different from hunger, sexual desire, or the drive for peace and security; only it's far bigger." (215) I think likening God in me to hunger or sexual desire is doing God a great injustice, to put it mildly.
If you have been taught that God will love you only when you are behaving the way He wants, then this book will be very freeing for you. But if you have any maturity at all in your Christian walk, if you at all understand that your sins are forgiven and you have been called to live a life worthy of the gospel, I think you will find this book disturbing too. And not in a good way.
Paul admonished the Philippians to "be better" (as Brown calls it) so that they would be blameless and innocent, "children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world..." (Phil. 2:14-15). And if that seems impossible, the really good news is that as you "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling...it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:12-13) For me, the really good news of the gospel is not to quit trying. The really good news is that if I try to please God (please Him, not make Him love me more), He is right there in me, making it happen!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
"When Christians get to the point where they read only Christian books, go only to Christian movies hang out only with other Christians, eat only Christian cookies, and wear only Christian underwear, it's time for a reality check. That's sick, and it is a sickness unto death.
Once we are free from the need to defend, protect and hide, we have the freedom to show up in places where proper Christians don't go for fear of getting dirty. And it is in our showing up that the authenticity of who we are becomes the "flavor" that attracts others to the ice cream maker." (pg 192).
In the latest book by Steve Brown, Three Free Sins, is an exceptional read that for once, frees Christians and non-Christians alike from the stereotype that in order to live once saved, we have to walk a perfect and holy life. Do you really think that's possible? God knows we can't be perfect and nothing we do will pay for the gift of our salvation in Christ, so we need to stop being weighed down by the fact, we will all fall short sometimes. We need this to be about what God thinks, than what the world thinks and start living a life worthy of God.
In this book, Steve admits he crosses into uncomfortable territory is not acting or even sounding like your typical preacher, because after so many years of being like that, he realizes that isn't what people want when they want to know God. They need to know the walk will be difficult and that God doesn't always seem to play fair, especially when things happen to good people and if we are truly honest with ourselves and who we really are deep down inside, then people can be changed.
"If you're a Christian, you probably have, as I have winced at the revelations of the horrible sin of some of our leaders. Every time a Christian leader falls morally, runs a Ponzi scheme on unsuspecting brothers and sisters in Christ, builds a mansion, or buys a Mercedes from the tithe money from Social Security recipients, or creates an empire that begins to crumble, the rest of us want to run away and become Buddhists. Every time the curtain rolls back, and we see the hypocrisy, the greed, and the shallowness of the church, we are embarrassed and are less arrogant bout the church against which Jesus said, " the gates of hell shall not prevail." (Matthew 16:18). It's hard to be triumphant with that much dirty underwear hanging out in public.
Listen up! Don't waste the dirt! Don't hide the sinners! They're ours. Do you think God is doing something in our midst that we've all missed. Everybody who is reading this has secrets, and if those secrets were publicly revealed, you would flee in embarrassment from friends, neighbors and fellow church members. God, for his own reasons, has revealed a few of the dirty secrets of a few of us. But that is only the surface. A mother lode of secrets has already been uncovered; but I fear that, if we don't start getting this thing right, God won't just stop with them." (pg 180).
I received Three Free Sins compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review and feel a breath of fresh air has come. What a wonderful insight into the way God planned for us to live and for us to treat others. I applaud Steve Brown for being willing to step over the threshold and cause a few to be a bit uncomfortable, but in the end, there is a freedom waiting for us that can not be explained until you live it! A perfect 5 out of 5 stars!