One of the perks of writing a blog is that people send me free books. This one was sent to me by Daniel Craciun from Canada. Apparently, Daniel thought I needed to read this book. I’m glad he did! Revelation to Transformation: How Seeing Jesus Will Change Your Life is about Christ and His cross. In this book Paul White aims to counter the man-centered preaching we’ve all heard with a simple message based on Jesus.
Our problem, according to White, is not a lack of knowledge. We all know that we’re falling short and missing the mark. Our problem is our inability to do anything about it. We don’t need more information. We don’t need more preachers screaming guilt and condemnation at us from pulpits. We need a new life, and this is precisely what Jesus has given us.
One strength of this book is that it poses dozens of questions that you might want to ask of a grace preacher, such as, Do you think that people can just accept Jesus and then never change? Here is the author’s response:
I think the question is uninformed. You can no more accept Jesus and never change than you can jump in the water and not get wet! Arguing over whether people have accepted Christ based on the things in their lives is to miss the point of God’s exchange program. He is slowly but surely living His life through us. Granted, not all of the fruits of righteousness will bud out at the same time, but they will most assuredly come. (p.18)
Perhaps you’ve heard preachers calling for a revival like the Great Awakening that took place in America 200 years ago. This notion that the church needs to wake up is about 2000 years old. It stems from something that Paul wrote:
Awake to righteousness, and sin not (1 Cor 15:34)
Paul is saying we need to wake up to the fact that we are already the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. When we wake up to our new identity, we will be empowered to shine and sin no more. Yet the modern wake-up message sounds more like this: “If my people will humble themselves and pray and turn, then I will hear from heaven, forgive them and heal their land.” This is old covenant thinking! This is the very last thing we should be preaching! Forgiveness and healing are not conditional on our performance. All these things come to us through grace alone:
The renewal of a Great Awakening that is being touted by many, which demands a high level of morality in order to be blessed, or increased consecration in order to have a move of God, is not only not the answer but is actually the very opposite of what the church needs!… I have heard it said that great revival will only come to America when the church of Jesus Christ wakes up from its slumber and begins to pray and repent… This kind of doctrine ignores the cross of Christ, effectively declaring that man’s actions, and not the finished work of Jesus, determines how God deals with us. (pp.31,33)
There is something truly bizarre about living this side of the cross but looking nostalgically into the past:
While boasting of being a New Covenant people, we are slowly but surely acting as if the cross never happened, going so far as to place heavy emphasis on Jewish feast days, kosher foods, and prayer shawls. (p.33)
Of course there’s nothing wrong with having a roast meal for Passover and if you want to wear a shawl, that’s your business. But our identity is found in none of those things. They are types and shadows; reality is found in Jesus Christ. An hour spent looking at the shadow when you could be looking at Reality Himself, is a wasted hour. The grass is not greener on the far side of the cross; it’s greener this side!
In the old covenant, everything hinged on you and your performance. In the new and better covenant, it’s all about Him and His:
The message of grace is such a pride-busting message! The spotlight is taken off of us and our efforts and is shone directly onto Jesus. We get no glory, while He gets all the glory. We get no credit, while He takes all the credit. This is a revolution, for where man has been prodded and held up and supported in the past, the message of grace holds up nothing but Jesus and His finished work. We are not rebelling against a system, but we are revolting against a dead idea, and serving a living Savior! (p.74)
Revelation to Transformation is a good book that will help you come to grips with the gospel of grace. It is a solid read and I wonder if the material in it could not have been unpackaged over a series of books. As it is, the 14 chapters of this book would be ideally suited to a 14-week study guide to the life and grace that God has given us.
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