Grace. None of us deserve it. In fact, if we did, it would no longer be grace. It is unmerited favor poured out on us by a holy Father who still treats his sinful and utterly imperfect as the most treasured among all His creation. Only by grace is salvation possible.
In The Grace of God, Andy Stanley offers an important survey of the doctrine of grace. With clarity and insight, a combination of Biblical and personal narrative, and a powerful call to the Church to make grace operative, Andy Stanley sets forth a great encapsulation of God’s greatest gift.
Perhaps the best part of Stanley’s study is that he begins by reconciling the alleged and apparent dichotomy between the “vengeful” God of the Old Testament and the “graceful” God of the New. Stanley portrays Yahweh as a God completely enraptured with the idea of grace even from the very beginning of the Bible. He counters Dawkin’s vehemently antagonistic portrayal of the OT depiction of God with evidence of God’s foundation of Grace even from the beginning of the Bible.
Stanley also includes a chapter to examine the tension between God’s law and God’s grace. He reminds us that relationship existed before the law did, and that the law only confirmed the relationship and provided a backdrop for God’s grace – for only through law can grace be understood.
Later chapters examine the parables of Christ as they relate to God’s grace. With gentleness and…well…grace, he reminds the Church that as ambassadors of God we are commanded to show the same level of grace that Christ would.
The one negative point I see in the book is that I disagree slightly with Stanley’s exegesis of The Prodigal Son is his conclusion. He contrasts the prodigal with the older brother who stayed, claiming that the brother who stayed was a rule keeper who did everything right. In my opinion, the Bible teaches that the son who stayed was just as broken, the difference being that he didn’t see or seek the grace the younger son received.
Luke 15:12 says that the father divided his inheritance between “them,” meaning both the older and younger brothers. Thus, the older brother dishonored his father as well by accepting his share of the inheritance early. Both are sons in need of grace. The older son has fallen into a type of legalism, trying to earn his father’s favor through doing things. But the younger son receives favor through his Father’s grace.
It’s not that Stanley has come to the wrong conclusion here, it’s that I think he fails to acknowledge a truth that could even take the conclusion even deeper and make it even more powerful. Overall, The Grace of God is an excellent treatise on the topic of Grace, and I definitely recommend it to those struggling with finding a compatibility between God’s grace and God’ judgment.