Review of “Unlimited Grace – Bryan Chapell”
If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15 A.V.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Titus 2:11-12 A.V.
8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:8-10 ESV
What is GRACE? – Gods Riches at Christs Expense or Grace is the substitution of Christ’s righteousness for our sin.
When this substitution takes place can we “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow God forgives”? Well for many this is exactly their view of a loving God who because of his love and grace they think that we are provided with a “licence to sin”. Their God is a God of “grace and love”, but a God of wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth is not part of their reckoning. Their God can be summarised in the word “Antinomianism”. If you are “saved and satisfied” as the term goes; then this book on the implications of grace will not be a publication you will want to read. The strapline running through the book from start to finish are Jesus’s word in John 14:15. Bryan Chapell states that the most powerful human emotion is love and if we genuinely love Jesus then obeying his commands will be our number one priority in life.
Chapell set out the alternative to God’s grace and mercy if we ignore Christs provision, which is to face a judgement day when we will have to explain why we did not believe we needed Jesus. We are reminded we are saved by Grace and not by works [Ephesians 2:8-9] but if Grace does not lead to works, then there is a problem. If we are trusting in the adequacy of God’s grace through
Christ, then we will respond to this grace with lives of loving devotion. Conversely, those who make no attempt to honour God should be warned that they cannot presume upon his grace. Obedience is always a response to Gods grace and not a way of gaining this grace. Where we stray off the path of spiritual safety then it should not come as a surprise that there are consequences and God may exercise loving discipline to redirect us back to the safe path.
Why do we sin? Answer, because we love it. To defeat sin, we need to displace it with a greater affection – our love for Jesus. When our first love is Jesus, walking with him will be our priority. We are what we love! Grace will provide us with both the reason and power to follow Jesus. Excellent examples are given of positive and negative behaviour which honours and dishonours Jesus. These examples are very applicable to contemporary thinking and practice.
Part 2 of the Book deals with searching the scriptures and examples of life from the scriptures and what is to be learned and feared from these examples. The messed-up people in the Bible are not there by accident, but as a warning to the implications and outcomes of living disobedient lives. Christianity contrasted with other faiths get a useful mention and this is particularly relevant to the multi-cultural world in which we live.
Space is given to discussing the intent behind some contemporary practices – “the motivation of our worship today is to placate God so that we can continue to sin” – we treat God as being a mirror image of ourselves. We are reminded that “sin in a believer’s life may well result in spiritual and painful consequences. Sin in an unbeliever’s life will certainly have earthly and eternal consequences”. The opportunity is taken to help the reader to measure their spiritual temperature against symptoms of grace – are we really “born again” or are we on the “road to a lost eternity”.
President Theodore Roosevelt ’s (U.S.A. 1901-1909) foreign policy was to:
“speak softly and carry a big stick”. Bryan Chapell in this book very subtly sets out what exactly Grace is, its implications and a diagnosis of the outcomes and symptoms of following Jesus or following Satan. The eternal destination of those who follow these strategies is clearly sign posted. If you want/need a spiritual health check or need to know what the fruits of following Jesus should be, then this book will be an excellent road map. There are bite sized chapters, meaning that you can digest a little each day. If you are genuinely interested in Grace and Holiness, then treat this book as a “must read”.