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The Great Work of the Gospel: How We Experience God's Grace Paperback – May 8, 2006
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"John writes so that we will know the depth of sin and counters it with the richness of God's grace. A compelling book."
—Lars and Elisabeth Gren (Elliot)
"The Great Work of the Gospel is God-centered good news. It is the kind of message that will make deep, strong people and deep, strong churches. It will release people from the self-absorbed rationalizations that keep us from the fullest engagement in the global cause of God."
—John Piper, Founder, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College and Seminary
"The strong medicine we need in an era where God's amazing grace has been diminished by thinking so highly of ourselves. John Ensor demonstrates the greatness of our guilt and the surpassing greatness of God's grace, which alone can deliver us."
—Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries; author, Heaven, If God Is Good, and Money, Possessions & Eternity
About the Author
John Ensor is an Evangelical pastor and the President of PassionLife Ministries, where he concentrates on training missionaries and indigenous Christian leaders in bioethics and the development of pregnancy crisis intervention services in their community.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Great Work of the Gospel is a book about the human experience of God's outworking grace--"the sin-forgiving gift of it, the guilt-removing power of it, the soul-satisfying joy of it, the cross-suffering mystery of it, the conscience-cleansing experience of it, the life-transforming quality of it, the muscular faith-building impact of it, the eternally reconciling splendor of it." The book seeks to understand how God works out His grace and how we, as recipients of that grace, experience it. This is His Great Work.
Through ten chapters, John Ensor provides ten reflections on this Great Work. He writes about many of Scripture's grand themes: the Great Work considered, desired, needed, promised, revealed, justified, experienced, enjoyed, shared and unsheathed. Each chapter revolves around a particular passage of Scripture and ends with several group study questions. Most chapters involve men or women Ensor has encountered in his vocation--many of whom are women who have been subjected to cruel and terrible treatment at the hands of others.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give this book is simply in pointing to the amount of fodder it provided for thinking and writing. I spent many hours pondering what Ensor wrote and dedicated several articles to exploring his themes. With tenderness and passion, Ensor explores the grace of God and how it manifests itself in us. It explores the great work of God; the great work of the gospel. A deeply moving book, it is also powerful in pointing always to the cross of Jesus Christ. I recommend it unreservedly. It is undoubtedly one of the finest books I have read this year.
Ensor organizes his book around the central themes of the gospel, core truths that comprise what we would consider the saving message of Jesus Christ. He begins with the forgiveness of sins and the reconciliation a sinner can have with God as he takes hold of God's mercy. Because, as Ensor puts it, "God desires to make his mercy the apex of his own glory in the eyes of all creation" (p. 28). From that foundation of forgiveness, he moves through the entire process of salvation, from owning up to our guilt before God to pushing past our grudges by forgiving others just as generously as God forgives the repentant sinner. In between these two poles, we read about God's holy wrath against sin, hope in God's forgiving grace, Jesus Christ as the incarnation of God's outworking grace, the wrath and mercy displayed on the cross, experiencing a clean conscience, and having a glad heart to obey God. In each chapter, the author displays a skillful handling of the Bible and a warm, personable tone that invites the reader in through real-life stories, vivid illustrations, and gripping quotes.
The book pulls no punches with regard to the "hard" matters of the Christian faith. On pages 32-33, he denounces, with gentleness and biblical reasoning, the modern psychological perspective which treats guilt as a negative, something to be treated rather than prayerfully examined. In his chapter on God's judgment, he spends a good amount of time explaining and defending the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell for the unbeliever. He writes later on how many Christians "remain hamstrung by their secret guilt and are living very shallow lives...because they have nothing but a shallow understanding of the cross, and in many cases only a small appetite for learning more" (p. 97). And on the topic of a clean conscience, he writes with stunning insight, "The very question of self-forgiveness may reflect a resistance to glory in God's mercy and a preference to grind our teeth for failing to be as good as our pride always assured us that we were" (p. 114). It is this "no holds barred" attitude toward the truth and toward error that makes for an invigorating read.
The author has given his life for service to the Lord. He works for women in need, establishing crisis pregnancy centers worldwide. So when he writes about forgiveness, sin, righteousness, hope, and joy, the readers get a sense that the author has experienced and clearly grasps these issues that he's tackling. This is why when he ends on how the outworking of God's grace motivates us to serving God in good deeds, we know that we are hearing from a man who practices what he preaches. This crowning chapter is really the height of the book, driving us out of our private reformations into works for the good of others. The examples he uses in this chapter are memorable. Overall, this book reminds us afresh that doctrine is powerful, motivating, captivating, and sorely need in our times with all "the feeble and anemic preaching of the age" (p. 160). It is a book that will re-center our minds and hearts around the center of it all: the gospel. - Jason Park, Christian Book [..]
Very well written and well thought out. I hope to give this book as a gift many times and use it in a study.
Enjoy and be enriched.