Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God

How You Can Be Sure That You Will Spend Eternity with God. Erwin Lutzer. 1996. Moody. 159 pages.
Five minutes after you die you will either have had your first glimpse of heaven with its euphoria and bliss or your first genuine experience of unrelenting horror and regret. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. In those moments, you will be more alive than you ever have been. 
This may be one of the most important books you ever read. It's a straight-forward presentation of gospel, discussing issues of faith, justification, sanctification, and assurance. It's a book that celebrates grace, mercy, and love. It urges readers to act, to know with certainty what they believe and why they believe or even if they believe. It urges them to take JESUS seriously, to take their souls seriously. It's a bold book, a book proclaiming that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. That all religious roads do not lead to God, and that it does matter what you believe OR perhaps WHO you believe. It's an accessible book as well. There's nothing dry, boring, or exhaustively scholarly about it. It expresses complex doctrines in a very easy to understand way. 

Favorite quotes:
Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Or, to put it differently, what we believe is more important than the fervency of our belief. (13)
There are many wrong paths to God, but only one right one. (19)
C.S. Lewis said, 'The safest road to hell is the gradual one; the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without sign posts.' (26)
Spiritually speaking, we are dead toward God; and unless He gives us the miracle of life, we will stay dead. (33)
We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. (35)
Sin is nothing more than putting myself first, serving myself as best I can. Sin is not first and foremost committing adultery, stealing, or even becoming involved in a crime. The first commandment is that we love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 6:5). It follows that when we love ourselves more than God, we are committing what might be the greatest sin. Sin is choosing to do what I want without doing it in submission to God's will and plan. (35)
Grace has to be amazing or we are lost. (36)
If the grace of God is to come to our rescue, it has to be powerful enough and merciful enough to meet us where we are and bring us into the presence of God. (36)
Grace means God's undeserved favor. It is a gift that sets aside all human merit. It does not simply give us a hand, it gives us a resurrection. Grace is all one-sided. (37)
Sin always takes you further than you intended to go, keeps you longer than you intended to stay, and costs you more than you intended to pay. (38)
The issue is never the greatness of the sin, but the willingness of the sinner to be saved. And even this willingness, this desire to accept what Christ has done for us, is given to us by God's grace: "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:44). Those are Christ's words, not mine! (40)
Let me be clear. When you come to Christ, you do not come to give, you come to receive. You do not come to try your best, you come to trust. You do not come just to be helped, but to be rescued. You do not come to be made better (although that does happen), you come to be made alive! ... You do not come to Christ to make a promise; you come to depend on His promise. It is the faithfulness of God and not your own that gives the gift of grace. (45)
Christ's righteousness is the exact kind of righteousness God requires--obviously so, for it is His very own! With it, a man can stand before God. (55)
This is known as "justification by faith," which can be defined as God's decision to declare us to be as righteous as He Himself is. The penalty for our sin has been paid by Christ, who met requirements that were infinitely beyond us. (55)
So there are two incredible transactions that happened when Jesus died on the cross. Christ was regarded as a sinner when He bore our sin; we are regarded as saints when we receive His righteousness. (56)
Sometimes justification has been defined as "just as if I'd never sinned." But that is only half the story. It is not just that our slate is clean, wonderful though that is. It is also that God looks at us as if we have lived lives of perfect obedience. He sees us as being loving, submissive, pure. He sees us as having done everything Christ has done. (57)
Justification happens outside of us; it is God's declaration in heaven that we are as righteous as Christ. The new birth happens inside of us. We are given spiritual life and are connected to God. (74)
When God regenerates, He is acting through the Word and the Spirit. The new birth is a direct act of omnipotence. (76)
God makes us conscious of our need for Christ; God gives us the ability to believe. Salvation is His work from start to finish. (77)
God has many children, but no grandchildren. (80)
Those who have the desire to receive the gift of God's grace do so because that desire has been implanted there by God. But by nature, we do not seek God. God seeks us. (82)
Although the need to believe is urgent, we cannot put pressure on people to be converted until they are ready. We must present the gospel and let God do what we cannot. Luther, with perhaps a bit of exaggeration, said that we must descend into hell before we can ascend into heaven. That was his way of saying that we should not get people saved until we get them lost. (83)
The work of God in the human heart is both miraculous and irreversible. Salvation, as we have learned, is God's mighty work. Our decision to accept Christ is rooted in His sovereign plans and intentions. (92)
The gospel is not primarily Christ in my heart (although it is that) but Christ as my sin-bearer. (129)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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