Mark's #49 - Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels by Tullian Tchividjian

Our sin cannot go too far where God's grace can't go farther still.  The gospel is not merely a ticket to get into heaven, the gospel is the very breath of life for all of God's people every day.  We don't check the gospel box and then move on to the deeper things of God.  Rather, we move deeper into our understanding and experience of the gospel and God's grace with each step of Christian maturity.

This is a book about the gospel of grace as found in the message and story of the Old Testament book of Jonah.  Like many pastors, Tullian preached a sermon series and turned it into a book, and a good one at that.

The version of the story most of us think about when we think about Jonah is the one that has been repackaged and watered-down for the consumption of children.  As such, we miss the amazing evidences of God's grace throughout the story and by application in our own lives as well.

As I preach a series through the Minor Prophets, my focus has been to show where Christ is present throughout each book.  At first glance, this can be difficult. However, Jesus claimed that all of the Old Testament testified about Him (Jn. 5:39).  Augustine's words are indeed true when he said, "The New Testament is contained in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament."  In this book, Tchividjian does on a micro level (scene by scene) what I'm trying to do on a macro level (book by book) - show Christ and His gospel as found in the Old Testament.

If you read Jonah, one of the things that strike you is that the story does not follow an expected path.  The prophet of God is the rebel.  Pagan sailors repent and make sacrifices and vows to the LORD.  A fish is appointed to swallow the prophet to preserve his life for three days.  The prophet goes where's he's told, preaches an awful sermon, and a very large, proud, and wicked city repents.  This makes the self-centered prophet angry and wishing for death. God continues to give grace throughout. Then, just as we're about to see what is to come of the prophet, the book ends and leaves us hanging. Why is that?  Because I believe God is not only pursuing the pagan nations, and his wayward prophet, but He's pursuing us, the readers,  by his suprising grace.

If you want to dig deeper into the surprising grace of God, the book of Jonah and this book would be a great place to spend some time.