What I'd like to do here is share some of the grace oriented books I have read over the years, along with brief reviews of the books written by me sometimes and others sometimes. Also, if you have read a grace oriented book that has helped you learn and grow in understanding, please feel free to share it!
I will share in roughly chronological order in which I read the books.
NOTE: God's Holy Word occupies the #1 spot on everyone's list of books on any spiritual topic. That's a given, so I will not be so presumptuous as to review the contents of the Bible.Grace Walk,
by Steve McVey
This is the book that basically kickstarted my journey into grace. I literally stumbled over this book...
We were in the process of leaving a church we had served, sacrificed and suffered for for several years. Our finances were in shambles, and we had no prospects for the future. We had managed to scrape together the money to get the boy's Christmas presents out of layaway at Walmart, so on the last day to pick up layaways I trudged to the store. The line was long, I went to the counter and took a number - it was 92. I looked up at the now serving sign - it was displaying the number 14... Great, only 78 people in front of me!
As I walked to the end of the line, I passed one of those Christian book displays that are sometimes found in Walmart stores - a spinner rack with a header card on it that read, "Good Family Reading." Some of the books had fallen or been knocked off the rack in the crush of holiday shoppers. I wasn't looking down at all when my foot kicked one of the books. It shot forward, stopping about 10 feet in front of me.
I picked up the book and read the title - but it was the subtitle that caught my eye, "What you've always wanted in the Christian Life..." I knew I was going to be in line for awhile, so I took the book to the back of the line and began to thumb through it, skim reading as I went. In just a moment or two, I had seen enough to know I needed to turn to page 1 and read from the beginning.
I read for the next hour and a half as I inched my way toward the front of the line. I ended up spending my last cash money to buy the book, paying for it along with our layaway.
I do not exaggerate in the least when I say that, apart from the Bible, this book has had a greater influence on my life, my ministry, and my family than anything else I have ever read. Through the years I have purchased and given away dozens of copies. I could not recommend it more highly.
Below is a review of this outstanding book, written by Paul Ellis of eascapetoreality.org
This zinger of a book has been around for almost 20 years and has sold over a quarter of a million copies. The punch line of Grace Walk is found in the first chapter:
“Jesus Christ will do more through us than we could ever do for Him.” (p.9)
The theme of Grace Walk is, stop trying to make things happen for God, and let Him live His supernatural life through you. God won’t bless the works of your flesh. Rather, He will allow us to come to the end of our self-sufficiency so that we might learn to rest in Him. He is the vine and you are the branch. Apart from Him you can do quite a lot, but none of it will last. So quit trying and start trusting.
Struggling or resting?
Many Christians today are struggling; they’re struggling to get by, struggling to get the victory, struggling to overcome. As Steve McVey warns in his book, there’s a red flag right there. If you’re struggling then you’re not resting, and if you’re not resting then you’re not living by faith. You’re probably walking in the flesh by trying to make things happen in your own strength. As McVey explains,
“God never intended for the Christian life to be a struggle. The Holy Spirit should flow from the life of the Christian as naturally as breathing. But many Christians are hyper-ventilating trying to do something for God.” (p.72)
If you are trying to live up to some personal expectation of what it means to please God (“I must pray,” “I must evangelize”), then you are living under law. If you succeed, you will be filled with self-praise. If you fail, you will feel self-pity. In either case, death will be the result because the law always produces death (Rms 7:5).
The key to breaking out of this motivation-condemnation-rededication cycle, is to realize that your self has already been co-crucified with Christ. You must take this on faith (it’s in the Bible).
You cannot live the Christian life. Only Christ can live the Christian life and He wants to live His life through you. Do you trust Him to do that?
The Christian life is not a set of rules or values or expectations; it is Christ expressing Himself through you. Two thousand years ago Jesus walked the earth in a human body. Today He still has a body – it’s His church! – and He wants to reveal Himself to a sick and dying world through that body. But that cannot happen when those in the church are on a flesh-trip preoccupied with self-effort.
Jesus doesn’t want your service; He wants you! Your job is not to produce fruit, but to bear His fruit. To the degree that we are walking in self-sufficiency, to that degree we are walking in the flesh. In Grace Walk Steve McVey puts it like this:
“Before I understood that Christ is my life, my whole lifestyle was characterized by an obsession with right and wrong. Yet, if one is not abiding in Christ, every action is wrong. To abide in Him is to walk in faith; to fail to abide in Christ is to walk after the flesh. Anytime we do things on our own, it is sin, regardless of how our actions may appear.” (p.108)
When you try to do the right thing you invariably end up doing the wrong thing. A preoccupation with right and wrong means you’re living under law. You’re eating from the wrong tree. What you’re doing may be outwardly “good,” but it’ll produce death instead of life. And worse, there will be no end to it for the law will never say “enough.”
A changed life or an exchanged life?
Jesus didn’t suffer and die to give you a new start, but to give you a new life – His life! It is idolatrous to reduce the life of the Spirit to a set of values and disciplines. Such things may appear helpful but they are not. They minister death and condemnation just as effectively as the tablets of stone. So how, then, are we to live? According to Steve McVey,
“Real Christianity is not an imitation but an expression of Christ within us… As we abide in Him, we rest and work at the same time! We rest inwardly while He works outwardly. This is God’s designed method of Christian service. Anything else is empty religious ritual, regardless of how successful or spiritual it may appear.” (p.174)
Jesus used words like “rest” and “easy” and “light” to describe the Christian life. If that doesn’t come close to describing your life, do yourself a favor and read Grace Walk. It will set you free!