Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Extravagant Grace by Barbara R. Duguid

This is a book for Christians about sin that contains some insights and conclusions I have not seen before. It is a book full of amazing encouragement. It is written from a Reformed viewpoint, recognizing the finished work of the cross.

Barbara experienced that endless cycle of sin, conviction, repentance, efforts to change, defeat. The victorious Christian life seemed to be a goal out of reach.

Then she asked, “Perhaps our greatest problem is not the reality of our sin, but our unbiblical expectations of what Christian growth should look like.” (18) She explores a biblical theology of sin and sanctification in this book, liberally using the writings of John Newton.

She asks a foundational question: Do you believe Christians should go from strength to strength and live victorious lives, or remain in a state of great weakness and utter dependence on God for every good thought? How you answer matters immensely, she says. It reveals what you believe about yourself, about God and what He expects from you, and what you believe about the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in your life.

What I found so revolutionary in this book is Barbara's suggestion that the true goal of sanctification is actually growing in humility and a greater dependence upon Christ. She writes, “...true sanctification is all about growing in humility, dependence, and gratitude.” (32)

She suggests God is sovereign over our sin. “God thinks that you will actually come to know him and love him better as a desperate and weak sinner in continual need of grace than you would as a triumphant Christian warrior who wins each and every battle against sin.” (30)

If you are open to a new understanding of the role of sin in your life, I highly recommend this book. It is written from a very Reformed viewpoint, emphasizing that God is completely sovereign over all, even our sin. Sin has a definite function in our spiritual life. God uses it to teach us more about ourselves and more about His grace. (61) That is certainly food for thought.

She includes questions for reflection at the end of each chapter so this would make a good book for personal journaling or group discussion.

Barbara R. Duguid is a counselor and ministry assistant at Christ Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Grove City, Pennsylvania. She is a pastor's wife and the mother of six children. She holds an advanced certificate in biblical counseling from the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation in Glendale, Pennsylvania.

P & R Publishing, 240 pages.

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