Divine Progression Of Grace, by Bob Santos
[Note: This book was provided without charge by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
When I reviewed the previous book that I had read by this author , I had expected a more practical book than I read. This is not to say that I did not enjoy or appreciate the book or find it useful, but merely that my expectations, however reasonable or unreasonable, were not meant. Quite happily, the author was not offended, but rather pointed me to another book he had written, and I found that this book did have a great deal to say about the practical life of a Christian. The graciousness of my own personal correspondence with the author was matched by the graciousness of the author in his text in dealing with questions about how the life of a believer should reflect the Spirit of God indwelling in us and the Savior who called us. This is a high calling, and the author manages to steer clear of the many pitfalls that happen when so many pit law against grace and hold to Ragamuffin gospels  that demand no progressive sanctification and victory within the lives of believers because their view of grace does not include enough of its varied facets. As a result, this book was an immense pleasure to read. That does not say that it is an easy book to apply–far from it–or that it is a book that can be grasped very quickly, as I suspect there are chapters I will return to in further reflection and pondering, but this is definitely a worthwhile book that deserves a wide and appreciative hearing.
In about three hundred pages, the author takes the reader on a whirlwind tour through the process by which believers are to mature as a result of their continued commitment to living by faith in their lives. I must admit, candidly, that the author’s deeply personal discussion was one which resonated strongly with my own experience, given that like the author I grew up in a broken human, and as a small child I suffered horrific child abuse of several different kinds. As someone who has faced a lifelong struggle against despair and anxiety, I found that the author’s concerns about such areas of life mirrored my own. The chapters of this book wrestle with the fundamental issues of our existence, including matters of trust as well as the immense difficulty of change and the insufficiency of our own efforts. Notably, the author avoids condemning the laws of God in his pointing out the truth that our own efforts cannot save us, which is remarkably rare in the frequently antinomian writings of our day and age. The author’s strong sense of historical understanding also allows him to place our current zeitgeist in a larger context that shows the change of beliefs about grace over time. Even where the author deals with controversial issues like sexuality and divorce and remarriage, he does so with a striking degree of gentleness and kindness that gives truth but avoids sanctimonious self-righteousness in so doing.
As might be expected, there are areas that I thought could have been given more focus, such as the larger implications of the Sabbath and its practice in the lives of believers as showing a picture of freedom and release from the debts and burdens that so easily overcome us. In a book of this size, though, it is impossible to say all that one would want to say, though, and the author deserves a great deal of credit for applying a tough-minded but tender-hearted view of obedience and Christian discipline. I also feel it worthwhile to point out that this is at least the second book I have read recently that deals in a debate I had previously been unaware of, and that is between those who hold to cessationist and continuationist views of the Holy Spirit . Although I am by no means a Pentecostal, I am intrigued by how questions of the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the influence of Christians as motivating and inspirational forces within society as a whole relate to questions about the nature and extent of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives in our times. For if we cannot by our own power attain salvation or the righteousness that is acceptable to God–and we cannot even remotely approach that level on our own efforts–then clearly we must do so by power granted to us by God Himself, as there is no other way it can be done.
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