The Grace Awakening Review

The Grace Awakening: Believing in Grace is one thing.  Living it is another

Author: Charles Swindoll

Genre: Religious

First Take: A good read

When did I read it? Mid 2018

Details:

A Salvation that begins with God’s love reaching down to lost humanity and is carried out by Christ’s death and resurrection results in all the praise going to God. But a salvation that includes human achievement, hard work, personal effort, even religious deeds distorts the good news because man gets the glory, not God. The problem is, it appeals to the flesh.

Chuck Swindoll

I have long struggled with the legalism of Christians but also over time I have come to struggle with what I guess I would call Pharisaism.  This book resonated for me with this quote:

Grace says you have nothing to give, nothing to earn, nothing to pay. You couldn’t if you tried!

He doesn’t ignore the necessity for us to work outwardly the salvation that is within us. (the real meaning of Phil 2:12), he just acknowledges that what we do comes from the salvation that dwells within, and is not performed for the purposes of obtaining salvation. 

This is a subtle difference in terms of how it is seen from outside but it makes all the difference in the attitude that we adopt.  

A life of grace is not wild and ill-disciplined, instead it is free from performance oriented bondage.  We are partakers of the amazing gift of grace and freedom.

Legalism vs Freedom in Christ

One of the most serious issues with any Christian church today is legalism.  If we are free, then why do we insist on binding each other with cords that God has not fashioned and that Jesus came to break?

As always with any human approach, there is a risk of the pendulum swinging too far one way or another.

This pendulum between Grace and Works as a basis of faith has been swinging on and off since Luther’s day and of course well before him.

Of course, works are the outcome of the grace that dwells in us and without works, it is doubtful that grace exists within you.  Beware however if your focus on works becomes spiritually damaging to others.  Swindoll comments on this:

You want to mess up the minds of your children? Here’s how- guaranteed! Rear them in a legalistic, tight context of external religion, where performance is more important than reality. Fake your faith.Sneak around and pretend your spirituality. Train your children to do the same. Embrace a long list of do’s and don’ts publicly, but hypocritically practice them privately …yet never own up to the fact that that it’s hypocrisy. Act one way but live another. And you can count on it emotional and spiritual damage will occur.

I think one of the crucial quotes of the book is this one:

Being creatures of habit, we still prefer the security of slavery to the risks of Liberty. That is why the slaves stayed on the plantation, and that’s why we continue to be sin-conscious even more than Savior-conscious. We know deep down that he lives within us, that he has redeemed us, but most are at a loss to know how to get beyond the fear, failure, shame, confession syndrome. How is it possible to break the habit of serving the old master and start enjoying the benefits of being free under the new one?

A thought provoking and interesting read.  Thoroughly recommend it.

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