07 January 2014

Book Review: Extravagant Grace

I picked up Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness (2013) on the recommendation of a friend who tweeted, "OK, so I didn't put together a Best Books of 2013 list, but if I had, this would have topped it." I received an Amazon gift card for Christmas and included this book as a part of my order.

Unlike my friend, I did put together a best books of 2013 list, BUT if I had read Extravagant Grace, this would also have topped my list. To me, this book was simply remarkable. Strongly influenced by the work of John Newton, Duguid wrote an extended meditation on the work of grace in the lives of weak sinners.

She opened the book with the recognition that Christians are often a discouraged bunch. We try hard to conquer sin, we pray, we fast, we read the Bible...but then sin creeps back in. She rightly asks, "so why do real Christians still sin so much, even after they have been saved for decades?" This is a right and good question and she explores the answer in greater depth.

Reflecting on the work of Newton, she discusses how our sin too is used as a part of God's sovereign plan; it draws us more and more to Him. While we seek to be sin-free, God is purposing to draw us more and more to Him and to recognize in greater measure our dependence upon his grace for everything. 

Duguid not only used examples from her counseling ministry and personal life to add flesh to the structure she was building, but she kindly opened her own heart for us to see as well. Not only did she reveal struggles with past sin (which many of us do), but also discussed things she was dealing with right at that moment. We need more of that transparency in our churches. 

As I read, I not only heard whispers of Newton, but also Tim Keller, Tullian Tchvidjian, Larry Crabb, and Elyse Fitzpatrick. She is a grace lover and it comes through in this beautiful volume.

Another friend of mine in the endorsements section wrote "Barb Duguid has done today's church a great service by sharing with us her fine overview of Newton's understanding of the Christian soul. Feast, be encouraged, and be built up."  I do feel encouraged and built up. May you too feast on this excellent book.

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