In his book, The Grace of God, author Andy Stanley reveals to his readers how the story of grace “traces its way through every book of the Old and New Testament” (p. xv). From the first chapter, “In the Beginning, Grace,” to the closing, “How Sweet the Sound,” the message of grace permeates familiar Biblical narratives – all of a sudden the account of Abram leaving his homeland for the Promised Land and the parable of the Prodigal Son aren’t so familiar after all.
Grace appeared in the Garden where Adam and Eve experienced “uninterrupted fellowship” with God. “And in the beginning there was freedom. Freedom to decide. . . . Grace in its purest form can have no strings attached” (p. 11).
Grace appeared to Abraham when God “simply asked [him] to receive promises. This invitation for Abram to trust him was how God initiated their relationship. . . . that’s exactly how God has been initiating relationships ever since” (p. 23).
Grace appeared to the prodigal, to his welcoming and loving dad, and even to his rule-keeping older brother. “God celebrates, first and foremost, restored relationships. While we want to make it about rehabilitation, God is all about restoration” (p. 215).
Grace. It’s a difficult concept to embrace, especially when good people suffer and bad people prosper. But it’s also God’s gift, freely given to those who choose to accept it.
Throughout his book, Stanley views the deeds, whether good and bad, of such notables as Jonah, Judah, Rahab, David, and Matthew through the lens of grace. He discusses how even the Law, which we in the New Testament age find restrictive and heavy, is permeated with God’s grace. The Law actually “elevated the status of women, children, foreigners, and even servants. . . . everyone answered to God as king. No longer would the people of Israel find themselves subject to the ever-shifting standards of a capricious pharaoh” (70).
Those who believe they are all-too-familiar with the Biblical narratives may, as I did, find from reading Stanley’s book that there’s something more to the stories . . . a golden vein of grace that begins in the Garden and ends with the promise of eternal life, “God’s gift to forgiven people” (p. 163).
(Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, Inc. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I expressed are my own.)