Surprised by Grace (3)

Well… I had better finish this review or it may end up longer that the book.  I do recommend this book for your reading and study.

This book is at its finest when the author directly interacts with the text of Jonah or explores the application suggested by its subtitle: “God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels.”  It suffers in clarity in the (small) sections that stray too far from this theme.

The author, Tullian Tchividjian, takes his time to work through the book of Jonah.  Many insights from scripture are woven together with observations made of artistic expressions trying to capture the meaning of this story in paintings, prose, and poetry.  I commend the publisher for including color plates of the paintings mentioned.  The book is well footnoted to allow a reader to pursue sources.

The reader is gently led to conclude that the story recorded in the book of Jonah is really the story of God.  God’s grace is extended to a foreign multitude in the great city of Nineveh.  He hears the prayers of frightened sailors who show more compassion that the prophet.  Out of his great mercy, God pursues one rebel from his own people – Jonah.

Jesus tells a parable about a rebel son who runs away, lives in great wickedness, repentantly returns home to ask for mercy, and is restored.  The father has another son who is jealous of the treatment afforded the rebel.  He was the good son who stayed and worked.  This son does not realize that all that the father has is already there for his benefit. (Luke 15:11-32)

This book’s primary theme is that the gospel is good news for all sinners.  The Gospel is good news for sinners with power to save them from the penalty of their sins – salvation from destruction.  The Gospel is good news for saved sinners who rebel in the continuing pervasiveness of  sin – sanctification.  God is a great Savior.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.  Ephesians 2:4-5

The most distressing part of this story is not knowing if Jonah ever repented and turned away from his sinful rebellion.  I pray that I embrace the full and continuing reach of God’s great mercy and love.  I pray that I am willing to accurately and completely share the good news of God’s salvation of all sinners.

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