Growing in Grace. By Bob George. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991. 215 pp. Paper, $6.95.
This book by noted counselor and radio personality Bob George attempts to help believers understand who they are in Christ, how to experience freedom-from guilt, sin, etc.-and how to go on to maturity. As the title indicates, the author points out that the way to achieve these aims is by experiencing God’s grace.
One place in which the book shines is the author’s response to the accusation by Lordship Salvationists that teachers of grace are actually affirming an “easy believism” or “cheap grace.” He writes, “The forgiveness of my sins may have been free to me, but it was not ‘cheap’ to the One who paid for it!” (p. 152, emphasis his). Other bright spots in the book include the author’s refusal to judge whether a professing believer is a true Christian or not because of sin in his life, and the author’s encouragement of a proper focus in regard to assurance of salvation-i.e., it should be based on the faithfulness of Christ-not on our faithfulness.
Though there are some definite strengths to Growing in Grace, there are at least two fatal weaknesses. First, much of the application of the book is vague. For example, the author emphasizes the importance of “abiding in Christ” without ever explaining what that means. Also, though living by faith in Christ is a central idea in this book, we are never told just how believers are to do that. Neither are statements such as, “We will be growing in grace as we present our minds and bodies to the indwelling Christ, letting Him live out His life through us” (p.115), ever explained. This is a grave weakness, because principles cannot be applied until they are understood.
Second, the author appears to espouse the concept that Christians will not ultimately be held responsible for what they do-or don’t do. This unfortunate idea manifests itself in this book in four ways: (1) The author seems to dismiss the scriptural teaching of confession of sin for a believer by rejecting the idea that a Christian could be “out of fellowship with God” (p. 19), by denouncing confession of sin at the Lord’s table (pp. 147–48), and by indicating that the practice of confession of sin is a consequence “of failing to finalize the forgiveness issue,” which “produces a total concentration on self” (p. 148, emphasis his). (2) No mention is made of a Christian’s future accountability before the Lord, which accountability provides a necessary counterpart to the clear teaching of grace). (3) The traditional Reformed concept of sanctification is propagated, in which all Christians will eventually and inevitably persevere to the end of their lives as faithful to the Lord. (4) He effectually removes responsibility from a believer in his relationship with Christ by stating that “the Christian life is not trying to imitate Christ” (p. 60), an assertion which is antithetical to Paul’s injunctions in 1 Cor 11:1 and Eph 5:1 to do just that!
While this reviewer applauds the book’s emphasis on grace, enthusiasm for the publication as a whole is tempered by the author’s vague application of his principles and by his apparent emphasis on the abrogation of the believer’s responsibility.
Cresco Community Chapel