I thought I knew what the grace of God is. During the first pages of this book, I thought, why is there a whole book about it, isn’t the grace of God easy to understand and can be said in a few words? But it turns out that my understanding of the grace of God before reading this book is so insufficient, that I have underestimated the God’s grace and I realised that majority of the time, I had tried to do good works to earn merits. I thought of my performance as the basis for my daily relationship with God.
Although I ‘know’ (or I had knowledge of the fact that) I have been justified by grace through faith in Christ, and I know nothing I do will earn a part in my salvation, but subconsciously, I had not realised that I have also been sanctified only by grace through faith in Christ, and nothing I do in life will become the basis of God’s reward in the kingdom of heaven, it will purely be based on grace. I realised there is an innate legalism within me, proud of the good works I had done. This book demonstrates that the entire Christian life from start to completion is to be lived on the basis of God’s grace to us through Christ.
The book starts by defining what grace is and to whom this grace is available – grace is God’s free and unmerited favour (through salvation and Christian living) shown to guilty sinners (all of us) who deserve only judgment. This concept has been repeated all throughout, and became the ultimate basis of the Biblical principles enumerated in this book. Then it proceeds to describing, through rich analogies, the generosity of God’s grace and God’s right to exercise that grace as proof of his love and justice. As God’s gift to us, the author then shows the effects of grace in our daily lives, compelling us to live a life of holiness, freedom, contentment, and humility, and then he ends with Biblical ways on how to appropriate God’s grace and clothe ourselves with the garments of grace.
I particularly liked the way Jerry Bridges had challenged the readers’ preconceptions, as he starts by letting us know that he himself is not perfect, drawing examples on how he applied the lessons on grace in his own life, and then asks rhetorical questions to drive us to the point. He had also repeated several concepts throughout the book, emphasising the foundational truths and how we may live into them. The text is clear and basic, but also nourishing enough. It also encouraged me to memorise and meditate God’s word and make it a regular source of sustainment for everyday life.
Through this book, I saw the power and extent of God’s grace, and I am challenged to criticise my motivations, appropriate God’s grace through prayer, His Word, submission to His providential workings in our lives and the ministry of others – transforming myself to be like Christ.
As usual, I’ve listed my favourite quotes below:
“To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life.”Chapter 2: Grace – Who Needs It?
God’s reward is out of all proportion to our service and sacrifice. He is telling us that in the kingdom of heaven God’s reward system is based not on merit but on grace. And grace always gives far more than we have “earned”.Chapter 4: The Generous Landowner
“Our motivation for commitment, discipline and obedience is as important to God, perhaps even more so, than our performance… God searches the heart and understands every motive. To be acceptable to Him, our motives must spring from a love for Him and a desire to glorify Him.Chapter 6: Compelled by Love
Love provides the motive for obeying the commands of the law, but the law provides specific direction for exercising love.Chapter 7: The Proof of Love
We need to learn to live within the right relationships of law and love, law and liberty, and liberty and love. Only when we have those relationships in proper order will we avoid the traps of license on the one hand and legalism on the other.Chapter 9: Called to Be Free
Only God can make things grow. Only He can cause the Word to take root and grow in the heart of that little girl in your Sunday school class. Only He can open people’s hearts to respond to the gospel. Only He can cause that person you are seeking to disciple to respond to your challenge and instruction.Chapter 11: The Least of All God’s People
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