"Unlimited Grace", by Dr. Bryan Chapell (book review)

I received Unlimited Grace for review via Crossway's blog review program, and I must begin by stating that I absolutely loved it!  I devoured it, actually.  In an age when all sorts of false gospels and false Jesuses are proclaimed, this book is important.  

The overall theme of the book is to walk readers through a detailed, but easy-to-read-and-comprehend, understanding of biblical grace.  Many are tempted to believe that the experience of God’s grace gives license to sin freely without remorse.  But that is not the view of biblical grace, but one of cheap grace.  Instead, when a sinner experiences God’s amazing grace, s/he can’t help but love the people and things God loves, and therefore, live a life that pleases and honors Almighty God.

Dr. Chapell taught and reminded his readers that we cannot earn God's grace, but that He extends it to us because of His loving character.  This grace -- both common and special grace -- is what ought to drive people to the presence of God. 

I was inspired, challenged, and blessed by 20 of the book’s 21 chapters.  But I have to admit, I had to re-read chapter 20 two additional times.  It covered the ever challenging topic of hell.  Because I agreed with Dr. Chapell’s theology through the majority of the book, I admit I may have misinterpreted his intent.  Hence, the re-reads.
Questions I Pondered in Chapter 20:

He wrote at location 1984 of 3036 (because I read the Kindle version):
     “If escaping God’s judgment is all that motivates, then most are unlikely to love him as he requires.  Most peoples’ initial love for Christ stems from his rescue from the present “hell” of their earthly existence: loneliness, emptiness, guilt, shame, depression, slavery to addiction, relational trauma, and so on.  That is why Jesus was being true to the human experience as well as his spiritual task when he said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).  He understood that the pains of this life could be as compelling as the threats of the next.”

   My concern is with the second sentence in the paragraph just quoted.  Here's why: Did Jesus come to merely save us from bad relationships, addictions, debt, and any other "despairs of this life"?  Or did he come to save sinners from God’s wrath, paying the penalty for our sins, and thus, making us holy and in right standing before God?  I lament that far too many people “come to Jesus" because they hope a "genie-in-a-bottle Jesus" will fix their ailing circumstances. 

On the heels of this passage, Dr. Chapell wrote at location 1994 of 3036:
    “Early in their Christian experience most people have no concept of what they have done that would deserve eternity in hell.  Even if they echo thoughts they have heard from a pulpit, or feel deep and profound guilt, few could identify why they would deserve an eternal hell of suffering for their sin.”

   Again, I may be misunderstanding Dr. Chapell here, for it appears that he suggests that a sinner can be truly converted apart from seeing the penalty their (our) sins deserve?  Is the kind of turning to Jesus for merely financial or marital healing the same as turning to – and trusting – Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and to be made right with God?  Is “profound guilt” the same as Holy Spirit conviction that brings about true repentance and conversion?  Are those who "have no concept" of their sins’ due penalty truly converted?  The whole of Scripture teaches that true conversion occurs when a sinner recognizes his/her sin, is convinced s/he needs a savior, and trusts that Savior to be Jesus only, and that the sinner recognizes his/her need to repent of sin.

 I would prefer to ask Dr. Chapell these questions personally, but alas.  Nevertheless, I truly appreciate this book.

Rating: Other than the chapter written above, I truly liked the book.  Overall, I think this would be an excellent read for new and growing believers alike.

I give Unlimited Grace 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this ebook free of charge from Crossway Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review of it.  All opinions are mine, and were not forced upon me.

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