In Unlimited Grace, Bryan Chapell focuses on what grace is and how our lives are transformed and sustained by grace. The author asserts that grace is what transforms our heart’s affections so that we can willingly obey God’s commands. This heart change first begins when we receive the gospel as sinners as we realize our inability to approach God who is infinitely holy. Moreover, grace does not cease after conversion but continues to sustain Christians in their walk with God as they recognize that their standing before Him is only possible through the unmerited grace lavished upon us in the person and work of Christ. Chapell constantly reminds readers that the good works that we do are not to convince God or ourselves that we are worthy of grace. Instead, works are the natural effects of living a grace-saturated life as our regenerated hearts yearn to follow God’s ways. Chapell suggests provocatively that even repentance is not meant to regain God’s forgiveness as we are already assured at the cross that all sins have been forgiven. Rather, repentance is to restore the strained relationship between us and God. An analogy is the painful disconnect that occurs between parents and their disobedient children. However, parents never hesitate to embrace their children when they repent from their former ways and seek forgiveness. There never was a change in the nature of the relationship but what was tarnished by sin was the sweetness and enjoyment of the intimate relationship. The book is divided into three parts with the first portion examining how grace changes the way we live, the second portion focusing on evidences of grace found throughout the Bible, and the last part answering key questions on what a grace-filled life should look like. Chapell’s writing is filled with pastoral insight and those who are in leadership roles will find his suggestions on how to preach and teach grace to be especially helpful.
I would recommend this book to all Christians as the message of grace has often been distorted since the days of the early church. Chapell argues against those who promote antinomianism as not fully understanding the profound effect that grace has on producing godly affections. On the other hand, the author also warns against the dangers of legalism as a method of gaining more grace. Instead, believers must realize that without grace, we are unable and unwilling to submit to God in obedience. Moreover, the good works that we do are only possible through grace that produces heart change thereby enabling us to grow a deep love for God and His ways. Furthermore, legalism is denying the very essence of grace in suggesting that we need to work harder to earn more of it. On the contrary, grace flows freely from God to us through Christ who heaps grace on us who are utterly dependent on Him. May we learn to seek and cherish the unlimited grace that is found in Christ who gave Himself for us so that we can live in and for Him.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.