Title: Growing in Grace
Author: Ernest Richards
Genre: Christian Living
Star Rating (out of 5): *****
This is an excellent book that tackles deep concepts of Christian living and in simple, short lessons that are easy to understand but not lacking in depth.
The chapter titles are:
- The Bible – God’s Word is the Believer’s Nourishment
- Faith Takes Hold of the Word of God
- The New Creation
- Assurance and Security
- Accepted in the Beloved Versus Life on the Ladder
- Legislated by Law or Governed by Grace
- Sin, Confession, and the Cross
- The Holy Spirit Reproduces Christ in the Believer
One of my favorite analogies from the book is what Richards says regarding assurance of salvation: “Certainty of salvation is a matter of faith, anchored to the facts of Scripture, not to feelings or the way we behave. Looking to such shifting, unreliable things for assurance is like leaving the anchor inside the boat. A sailor needs to hook his anchor onto something outside his craft that is fixed and rock solid. The Word of God is that sure and steadfast rock (Psalm 12:6; I Peter 1:23-25). Your eternal salvation is truly as certain as God’s Word!” (p. 33)
Doctrinally speaking, Richards firmly points to Christ as the one who saves us from sin’s penalty (justification), power (sanctification), and presence (glorification). I appreciate that there was no Perseverance Theology in here. Richards quotes from the works of theologians such as Lewis Sperry Chafer, Miles J. Stanford, and William R. Newell, and recommends the Scofield Study Bible.
I used this study with my Bible study group that has a diverse mix of old and new believers, and it was helpful for all of us. I really appreciated all the Bible references Richards included; in our study we read each paragraph together, then stopped and looked up the references. This was so helpful to ensure that both the teaching and our discussion was grounded in Scripture, not just our opinions. Each chapter was a good length to study at home during the week and then discuss in 60-90 minutes together.
I underlined so many thought provoking quotes that it’s hard to pick, but I’ll share one from the last chapter: “Spirituality, like salvation, is by grace and through faith. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him’ (Colossians 2:6). It is not something we can manufacture or develop or become worthy of. It is only as we cease looking to self and ‘turn our eyes upon Jesus’ that the Spirit of God transforms us into His very image (Hebrews 12:2; II Corinthians 3:18). When we see that all we need is in Christ and allow Him to fill our vision, then, by the power of the Spirit, we will take on His resemblance.” (p. 65)