"When all seems lost, God's grace is enough. God does not give a Gift inferior to Himself." Augustine
This book was so good. SO GOOD.
I was happy to find such a balanced look at grace within its pages.
Lee Strobel not only shares eight powerful stories of grace, but also intertwines his own story of grace throughout.
Each chapter is devoted to one story of grace.
Chapter 1: The Mistake -Tells us the beginnings of Lee's story
This was the beginning of Lee's story. His feelings of being unloved and rejected by his earthly father. His feelings of being a mistake and being unwanted as a unexpected baby.
Chapter 2: The Orphan - Tells us about God's grace in adopting us as His child.
This was the story of Stephanie Fast. A woman abandoned as a small bi-racial child at a railroad station in Korea. Abused and taunted for being bi-racial, it wasn't until a few years passed that she was adopted into a Christian home. And even many more years passed until she prayed one night, she says...
"Suddenly, it came to me: Jesus knows me - and he still loves me! He knows all my shame, he knows all my guilt, he knows all my fears, he knows all my loneliness - yet He still loves me. And I've never been the same since."
The grace of her adopted parents was wonderful, but it could not restore her fully, only the love and grace of God could do that.
"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
Chapter 3: The Addict - Tells us we don't have to perform for God to be loved. We are called to just love as He does.
This was the story of a drug addict named Jud Wilhite, who came to Christ, got clean, but then began to perform for God, which led him to burn out, until he realized...
"I came to realize that God didn't love me because I made myself valuable through service; on the contrary, I was valuable because I was loved by God."
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." John 15:12-13
Chapter 4: The Professor - Tells us that no religion compares to Christ and the grace of God. It also tells us we need to know the depth of our sinfulness before we can experience and understand true grace.
This was the story of Craig Hazen, a professor who teaches us that 'being good' will never be good enough. Whether it's thorough religious practices or doing good deeds, it will never be enough, but that God's grace is enough.
As a 'good guy' he finally came to understand...
"Here's what I came to understand: having good table manners, getting A's in school, saying 'please' and 'thank-you' and being nice to people - that's all pretty trivial stuff. Actually, I was in rebellion against a Holy God so powerful that he could speak billions of galaxies into existence. Now, that's huge! I was ignoring Him, I was turning my back on Him, and my sins - my pride, my smugness, my selfishness, and all of my secret deceit and illicit desires - had created an enormous gap between us, and it was fostering that sense of alienation and anxiety in me.
That is what sin does. God is perfect, He is holy, He is pure - and I certainly wasn't, neither in thought nor deed. The Bible stresses that nobody is truly good - Romans 3:23 says that 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.' Over time, I came to realize that the plain language of that verse means what it explicitly says - 'all have sinned,' and that included me.
I needed forgiveness and I found grace through Jesus."
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" Romans 3:23-24
Chapter 5: The Executioner - Tells us that grace covers the most horrendous of crimes. All sin is forgiven through Christ Jesus.
This is the story of Christopher Lafel who lived through the killing fields of Cambodia.. It's an extraordinary story that really captured my heart and will make you think deeply about the grace of God. Can God forgive and share His grace with those who commit the most horrendous of crimes? The answer is YES.
Christopher says here...
"Jesus's death had infinite value because he's an infinite God; it was enough to cover all the sins of the world. If we say some sin is too terrible, then we're saying Jesus fell short in his mission. Grace is only grace if it's available even to the Duchs of the world." (Duch being a man who did atrocities during the killing fields against some of Christopher's family members)
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence" Ephesians 1:7-8
Chapter 6: The Homeless - Tells us about the power of God's grace extended to another.
This is the story of Cody Huff who found himself homeless after living a reckless life. This is another amazing story. How God worked is mind-boggling.
It reminded me this life is really about God's story, and how He includes us in it.
His love and compassion is evident in this chapter. What was the starting point of Cody's life changing?... a hug, a simple hug from a woman who didn't see a filthy dirty homeless man, but a man whom God loved.
"Blessed is he who considers the poor;
The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble." Psalm 41:1
Chapter 7: The Pastor - Tells us how grace covers our shame and brings healing.
This story is of a pastor named Brad Mitchell, who fell into sin and committed adultery. Because of this one decision he lost everything. His job, his home, his reputation. He lived in shame. He says here...
"You can experience God's grace to the degree that you're willing to accept full responsibility for what you've done. Could I try to find excuses? Sure. I could look back at how depleted I was, at how others weren't appreciating me, at the stress of the church, at the fact that our marriage wasn't doing well - but there have been people in far worse situations who have stayed faithful to Jesus. I didn't. I failed. I made the choices that I made. I can't point the finger at anyone else."
He later says of accepting the grace of God and living in freedom from sin...
"Christ paid for my sins on the cross. When I'm stuck in shame, that's me taking back on myself what Jesus took on Himself. I'm diminishing what Christ accomplished. Jesus doesn't want me to stay punished, because he took the punishment for what I did, and that gives me the freedom to move ahead with confidence and in grace."
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16
Chapter 8: The Prodigal - Tells us about the cost of grace and how amazing it really is.
This is the story of Luis Palau son, Andrew. I've heard Luis on the radio for years and never knew the pain he was going through as he son rebelled. This story reminds us that just because we raise our kids in a christian home this does not guarantee their personal relationship with the Lord.
This story hit home because it tells the same story I've heard and seen so many times before. A rebellious son of daughter comes to a christian meeting and comes to the front and says a simple prayer to be saved. But within a few weeks they are right back in the life they were living. Andrew refers to this as 'cheap grace' something he read by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
"Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is...forgiveness without requiring repentance... and absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate."
We must seek costly grace, because what has cost God much cannot be cheap to us. It is costly because it condemns sin, but it is grace because it saves the sinner."
True grace cost Jesus much, yet He gives it to us freely and without cost to us. Isn't that amazing?
"He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life." Revelations 21:6
Chapter 9: Empty Hands - Tells us we can do nothing without Christ and His grace.
This last chapter was Lee's continued story. He shares an incredible experience he had when he got very sick and was taken to the hospital. It will make you think of who you are, who God is and what really matters in this life.
I recommend a lot of great books, but I think this is one Christians really need to read. So many of us just don't understand what grace is. The power of God's grace is hard to grasp for so many.
I recently read a book by a kind and generous young man promoting positive thinking and new age advice, all with good intentions. After reading this book (The Case for Grace), I see now that young man, without realizing it, was only offering cheap grace. I don't want cheap grace, I want the freedom of the grace that cost my Savior. This is the only grace that counts.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
Buy it HERE on Amazon