For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Excerpts from "Surprised By Grace"

I just finished reading Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels by Tullian Tchividjian (full name William Graham Tullian Tchividjian; that’s right, he’s Billy’s grandson). In short, it’s a detailed exploration of the prophet Jonah, yet showing how this story is really the Gospel story. I must say, that in the last year or so, this is one my favorite books. (It came out almost a year ago. I’m behind on my reading!)

The lessons here are not just about Jonah, though I learned a few things there even. It covers a wide variety of things; most notably the nature of the gospel, the nature of sin, the pursuing nature of grace, even the nature of worship.

I hope I don’t break any copyright laws, but I just wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes. I hope this will encourage you to pick up a copy of the book and read it for yourself. I think it’s well worth your time. (No, I don’t work for the Crossway Books sales department). Enjoy:

Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.

Every time we sin, we’re telling God, “My way of navigating this particular situation is better than yours. My wisdom and skill are more efficient and more effective in this moment than your wisdom and skill.” It’s not that we stop believing. It’s just that what we believe has shifted…When we sin, that something which we choose to believe in is not no God, but ourselves as god.

Running from God keeps you from “breathing” and living the life he intends you to live. You thereby rob other people of the blessing God intends to give them through you, because you’re less than you’re meant to be—

(speaking of Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven”) Thompson fled, but God, hounding him from heaven, gave “long pursuit” with “strong Feet that followed, followed after,” and with “a Voice above their beat.” God’s love has a mugging nature to it. We can run, but we can’t hide.

The incarnation of Christ tells us most emphatically how God spares nothing in going after those who run away.

Jesus is the storm. Jesus is God’s gracious intervention for those who are enslaved to themselves. He comes loudly, not subtly, with an aggressive affection to pursue fugitives like you and me.

God is more interested in the worker than he is in the work the worker does. He’s more interested in you than in what you can accomplish…one expression of God’s amazing grace is that he pursues our rescue even though we cannot do one thing for him.

Churches for years have struggled over whether their worship services ought to be geared toward Christians (to encourage and strengthen them) or non-Christians (to appeal to and win them). But this debate and the struggle over it are misguided. We’re asking the wrong questions and making the wrong assumptions. The truth is that our worship services should be geared to sinners in need of God’s rescue—and that includes both Christians and non-Christians. Since both groups need his deliverance, both need his gospel.

In unforgettable events and imagery, the story of Jonah reveals how this perfectly patient God pursues fugitives—a God who has every right to give up on rebels like us and to move on, but doesn’t. It’s a story that reveals forever the heart of God for sinners from every race, every age, and every social class.

Again, I hope this isn’t any copyright infringement or anything. This is a wonderful book, and I would strongly encourage you to pick it up. God’s grace is truly a surprising thing, in more ways than one. We should never grow weary of hearing of it.

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