Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: Proof

PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

PROOF is my new favorite book on the doctrines of grace. I loved, loved, LOVED this book! Is it fair to say the book is about the doctrines of grace? Yes and no. On the one hand, it is a book about the gospel--the whole gospel, the glorious gospel. It is a God-glorifying book about salvation.

The authors write: The gospel is the good news that God’s kingdom power has entered human history through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we repent and rely on his righteousness instead of our own, his kingdom power transforms us, and we become participants in the restoration of God’s world. And they continue: The three aspects of the gospel are the kingdom, the cross, and God’s grace. 1. The gospel of the kingdom is life with God under God’s rule. 2. The gospel of the cross is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus by which God accomplishes our salvation, rescues us from his wrath, incorporates us into his people, and inaugurates his reign in the world. 3. The gospel of grace is the wonderful news that God accepts us, shares his life with us, and adopts us as heirs of his kingdom not because we have earned it or deserve it but because God chooses to give all of this freely at Christ’s expense.

On the other hand, it is a book about the doctrines of grace, the detailed doctrines surrounding the gospel, answering the little questions about salvation. If you're looking for a book about the gospel: what the gospel message is and perhaps what it isn't, then this one is for you. If you're looking for a book about the doctrines of grace, about Reformed theology, this is also the book for you.

Instead of using the acronym TULIP, the authors choose one of their own acronym: PROOF.

P -- planned grace

  • Before time began, God mapped out the plan of salvation from first to last. God planned to adopt particular people as his own children; Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for these people’s sins and as a substitute who satisfied God’s righteous requirements in their place (John 10:11-18; Ephesians 1:4-12).

R -- resurrecting grace
  • Everyone is born spiritually dead. Left to ourselves, we will never choose God’s way. God enables people to respond freely to his grace by giving them spiritual life through the power of Christ’s resurrection (John 5:21; Ephesians 2:1-7).
O -- outrageous grace
  • God chose people to be saved on the basis of his own sovereign will. He didn’t base his choice to give us grace on anything that we did or might do (John 15:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
O -- overcoming grace
  • God chose people to be saved on the basis of his own sovereign will. He didn’t base his choice to give us grace on anything that we did or might do (John 15:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
F -- forever grace
  • God seals his people with his Holy Spirit so that they are preserved and persevere in faith until the final restoration of God’s kingdom on the earth (John 10:27-29; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30).
Over half the book focuses on explaining each point or doctrine. One chapter per letter. Other chapters provide context and give the reader a big picture understanding of the gospel. I loved the appendix material, in particular, I loved PROOF texts and PROOF distilled.

So why did I love this one so much? I loved how it was written. I loved the clarity. I loved the reliance on Scripture. I loved how detailed it was. The details were never overwhelming or confusing. I loved how relevant and practical it was. PROOF is not dry theology or philosophy. It is so very readable.  I would definitely recommend this one!

In eternity past, God chose to save undeserving sinners “to the praise of his glorious grace” (Ephesians 1:5-6). Now he is on a global rescue mission, chasing down undeserving rebels and changing their hearts so that they turn to him and freely submit to his kingship (Isaiah 43:5-7; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:5; Revelation 5:9-10). By his grace, God transforms sinners into his beloved adopted children, filling the bank accounts of their identity with all the goodness of his Son, sealing their destiny by the power of his Spirit, and securing them on a journey that will not end until his splendor floods the earth like waters surging in the sea (Psalm 72:19; Habakkuk 2:14; Romans 4:24; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:4-5, 13-14). The true and living God does all this for his own glory and for the praise of his grace (Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 5:10). When the apostle Paul described God’s works of grace, he found himself facedown in worship, overwhelmed by a mystery he couldn’t comprehend: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! . . . To him be the glory forever!” (Romans 11:33, 36).
Ever since human sin plunged the world into darkness, people have been working to bury God’s sovereignty and mystery beneath an ever-multiplying multitude of graceless counterfeits (Romans 1:23). As John Calvin once observed, “Human nature is, so to speak, a workshop that’s continually crafting idols.”
It’s time to wake up. If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, your deeds no longer determine your destiny. From the moment you first rest in Christ as your only hope, you have no failures to hide and no triumphs to hide behind. Your short-fallings no longer fall short. Your future is secure. You are forgiven, and you are free (Matthew 17:25 – 26; John 8:31 – 36). There is no greater favor for you to earn because God has already given you the greatest favor of all: “the gift of [being right with God] . . . through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Nothing remains for you to prove. Your right standing is the right standing of Christ himself, given by grace through faith “from first to last” (Romans 1:17). 
Spiritual zombies don’t choose the gift of God’s grace for the same reason that prison escapees don’t show up voluntarily at police stations. It isn’t because convicted felons are incapable of locating their local law-enforcement agency. It’s because the police represent everything the convict wants to avoid. Ever since our expulsion from Eden, every human being has been a convicted corpse on the run from God’s reign. Apart from God’s single-handed gift of resurrecting grace, no human being will ever seek God because a death-defeating King who demands that we find our greatest joy in his Father’s fame is repulsive to the spiritually dead (John 3:19 – 20; Romans 3:11).
The gospel of grace is a divine declaration that Jesus Christ has already secured all that’s required to turn zombie corpses into chosen children. The only right response to such a glorious announcement is to discard every concern about what you must do, to cling desperately to what Christ has already done, and to call everyone around you to cling to Christ with you.
God’s grace is based on who he is, not on who we are. His plan is fixed and his hand is steady. He does not change his mind, he does not get nervous, and he does not hesitate. When God chose us, he declared, “These people belong to me.” There is nothing in the universe strong enough to remove God’s chosen ones from his hands. Believers don’t merely enter eternal life when they die; eternal life enters us when we believe and it can never leave — if it did leave us, it wouldn’t have been eternal!
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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