Grace in the Old Testament?
How would answer that question?
Preston Sprinkle answers that question in his book, Charis. I have only read Chapter 1 and I can't wait to read more. There are many books about grace and the gospel popping up all around. However, I have not come across one yet that focuses on the Old Testament.
This quote hooked me to want to read more:
"The Old Testament is all about grace. You can't understand grace apart from the Old Testament, and you can't understand the Old Testament without understanding grace. . .If you see only wrath and judgment, then you've missed the best part, the main plot, the primary message. .Grace is the spine that holds the whole thing together. . .Every character, every event, every single page from the Old Testament bleeds grace. . .The reason we typically miss it is because we've been trained to read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, morally."
Are you ready for more? I know I am. I want to understand grace in a deeper way. I look forward to seeing this focus from the Old Testament. Here are a few more quotes to convince you to go buy the book. It is available at Faith and Life Bookstore in Newton.
"But grace has no leash. It's untamed, unbound, and runs wild and free. . .We've got to have some sort of balance--grace and justice. We need to keep grace under control. When it snaps our leash and runs loose, we get nervous."
"Grace is not just God's ability to save sinners, but God's stubborn delight in His enemies--yes, even the creepy ones."
In this quote Sprinkle responds why we need to read the Bible theologically and not morally--"First, this moral approach (reading the Bible only as moral lessons) puts the emphasis on people rather than on the main subject, the primary character--God. God is the focus of every story in the Old Testament. Human characters play a role, but it's a supporting role and never the main part. The Old Testament--the whole Bible, really--is fundamentally a story about God, not humankind. . .Second, most of the characters of the Old Testament are not good examples to follow."
"Rather, reading the Bible theologically means that we look first and foremost at what the passage teaches us about God. . .The Old Testament is all about grace, and it forms the rich soil from which Jesus's gospel of charis blossoms. . .Jesus is not the beginning of the New Testament but also the fitting climax of the Old."
Sprinkle shares the story of Brad who was described as "a modern-day Pharisee. He grew up in church, read the Bible, prayed every day, shunned the very appearance of evil, and had near-perfect church attendance. . .Brad was a model kid. He never cussed, drank, smoked, or watched R movies, and he never looked at porn (well, almost never). He was not only a good, moral kid but also a gifted leader and an impressive preacher. . .As for the law, he was blameless. I served the poor, discipled believers, and went on mission trips. And I never missed my devotions. Here are few quotes related to his understanding of grace:
"Brad thought of grace as a purely "past thing," something he needed when he first got saved, but it carried no ongoing significance. . . Functionally, it was Brad's obedience, not Jesus's, that satisfied his guilt for sin. I've met many Brads in my life, good Christians who inch along in a tit-for-tat view of God who spanks us when we mess up but otherwise remains distant."
This post is getting long but let me leave you with one more quote that I hope you read with joy and are reminded of God's love for you.
"Our journey through the Old Testament will confront and challenge and ultimately liberate the Brads of the church. It will show us that God not only loves us; He actually likes us. . .You can't make God love you. God loves you because of who He is and because of what Christ has done. His love is not based on what you do, or what you don't do. God doesn't get angry at Christians, because all that anger--100 percent--was absorbed by Jesus on the cross.