Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace

Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace. Iain M. Duguid. 2015. P&R. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I loved reading Iain Duguid's Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace. The book focuses on the gospel--relentless grace--in the lives of Isaac and Jacob.

The book provides readers a detailed examination of Genesis 25 through 35. He may even persuade readers that these Old Testament stories are ever-relevant. (Not every reader will need to be persuaded, of course. Some of us already love reading the Old Testament. But still. It's always a good thing to be reminded that the Bible isn't boring or dull--but relevant and dramatic.)

This book is part of a series. And the series appears to have a great mission: to show how the Old Testament is all about Christ.
God began to tell a story in the Old Testament, the ending of which the audience eagerly anticipated. But the Old Testament audience was left hanging. The plot was laid out, but the climax was delayed. The unfinished story begged for an ending. In Christ, God has provided the climax to the Old Testament story. Jesus did not arrive unannounced; his coming was declared in advance in the Old Testament--not just in explicit prophecies of the Messiah, but also by means of the stories of all the events, characters, and circumstances in the Old Testament. God was telling a larger, overarching, unified story. From the account of creation in Genesis to the final stories of the return from exile, God progressively unfolded his plan of salvation. And the Old Testament account of that plan always pointed in some way to Christ.
So the goal of this particular book is what can we learn about grace, about Christ, about ourselves, our sinful nature from studying the lives of two patriarchs: Isaac and his son, Jacob. (Also we spend a tiny amount of time with Esau.)

The book is reader-friendly. It doesn't matter if you've never read Genesis, and if these stories are all new to you. The book is written to be read and understood by all.

What is God do with such a pair as Esau and Jacob? One of them regards his spiritual birthright as less valuable than a bowl of soup, and the other regards it as a commodity to be bought and maneuvered for. Which of these two should God choose to save? A neutral bystander would have to say neither. Neither one deserves God's work in his heart. Neither one is qualified to be the ancestor of God's chosen people, except insofar as sin and depravity are suitable qualifications. What clearer evidence could there be that God's calculations are not the same as ours? He doesn't just choose the weak to shame the strong--he chooses sinners to shame those who trust in their own goodness. What more proof do we need that our salvation is all of grace? But how can God save such great sinners? There is only one hope. He must send a Savior who is quite unlike Jacob and Esau, and unlike us. 
Satan can appear as your fairy godmother, promising to wave his magic wand and enable you to attend the ball of your choice. What he does not reveal to you is that if you give in to him, the gilded carriage of your sin will turn back into its true pumpkin self long before midnight… Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of fallen humanity is our ability to believe that we can sin and not get hurt. We are so easily convinced by Satan that our sin will not come to light and that if it does it will not hurt us. The Bible, however, warns us against such comfortable illusions when it says, "Be sure that your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23)
Thank God that the gospel that we read about, pray about, and sing about is still true, even when our hearts are just going through the motions. 
Our sinful hearts are such that even when we bury our idols, we never forget where we buried them and tend to go back regularly to lay flowers on the grave! Ye there is abundant grace available for you and me. Even though we neglect him and fall away, still God remains faithful to his covenant promises and calls you back to him. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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