Getting Grace Daily: A Daily Devotional. By Brad Bird. Columbia, SC: MarketLife Ministries, 2014. 366 pp. Paper, $15.00.
This book caught my eye because I have often been asked by people if there is a good daily devotional available for Free Grace people. In the military, I saw that soldiers often read Our Daily Bread. They enjoyed having a daily verse of the Bible to read along with some discussion on it. It was a way to spend at least a little time each day in the Word of God.
My experience with devotionals like Our Daily Bread is that they usually do not deal with how to obtain eternal life. Instead, they give short inspirational messages such as the importance of forgiving others, the power of God in creation, and similar matters. These types of things can certainly be beneficial.
I have never found a daily devotional from a Free Grace perspective and I wondered, due to the title, if this one might be. The ministry that publishes it says that the ministry wants to put out the message of the “finished work of Christ.” This was a good sign for me.
As one would expect, for each day of the year there is a Bible verse (or verses) given with a one-page discussion. The verses come from both the Old and New Testaments and there is a wide variety of books of the Bible that are used. The book is not written for a particular year so it could be used for any year and, I suppose, for multiple years if desired.
In some cases, it is very much like other devotionals that I have seen. On the message concerning Gen 1:1, for example, the message is that God is all-powerful. He can meet any need and save any sinner.
In referring to Eccl 5:10-15, Bird points out that money cannot bring satisfaction in our lives. There is no true enjoyment in the pursuit of wealth. That can only come from God (p. 321).
Some devotions seem to indicate that a believer can choose to live an ungodly life. In one, Bird cites Jas 4:1-4. These verses discuss being a friend of the world. Bird says that the Christian must choose with whom he will be friends. Believers are called to live their lives in friendship with God and give glory to Him (p. 164). The devotion ends with the questions: What is your allegiance? Where do you find your satisfaction? What is the driving purpose of your life? At first glance it seems that Bird believes a true Christian can make the wrong choices in these areas.
Another daily devotion deals with Eph 5:15-21. In these verses Paul talks about walking in a wise manner. By this he means being filled by the Spirit. Bird recognizes that in order for this to happen the Christian must continually “drink” of the Spirit and use the Word of God (p. 139).
It is possible, then, to read the book and conclude that Bird does not believe that a true Christian will automatically continue in good works but can instead live carnally. A believer can make the wrong moral choices. However, it appears that such devotions are in the minority. Far more indicate that if a person lives a sinful life he cannot be a believer. This leads me to conclude that I have misunderstood those devotions that at first glance seem to teach that the believer can live a sinful life but can still have assurance of salvation at the moment of faith in Christ.
It is interesting that when discussing the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 19:28-30), Bird says that we are saved by faith alone. However, even in this passage he says, based upon Phil 1:6, that if we have experienced salvation through this finished work we will continue to do good works.
Bird takes on the stern warning passage of Heb 6:4-8. He says that the passage teaches that every Christian will have struggles. But the true Christian will never leave the faith. If he does, he was never a Christian to begin with (p. 271). In a similar vein, the same point is made about Heb 10:26-31. The conclusion is that “true believers persevere…but false believers always look for other options” (p. 284).
Bird says on another day that based upon Heb 4:1-4 we must examine ourselves daily to see if we are truly saved (p. 263). Even on that great verse on God’s grace in Eph 2:8, Bird says that the following verses show that the true Christian will become more and more like Christ as time goes on (p. 122).
Even though in some of the devotions it is said that salvation is by grace, through faith, and cannot be lost, many more say that works are necessary to have assurance of that salvation. As most of the readers of the JOTGES know, such a theological perspective means assurance is impossible. How many works are necessary to have that assurance? Unfortunately, that is the theology adopted in this daily devotional book. It is most definitely not written from a Free Grace perspective, even though the title might suggest otherwise.
The devotions in this book that deal with only general Biblical truth are not worth the many devotions that distort the gospel of grace. Even if a person is well grounded in the faith, it is not worth his time. I do not recommend this book. If a person is simply looking for a daily devotion I would point them to Our Daily Bread or, even better, to daily log onto the GES website for new blogs and information at www.faithalone.org.
Kenneth W. Yates
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society