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Grow in Grace Paperback – December 1, 1989
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It should be obvious to many who read this book that the Lord has ordained means by which His people grow spiritually.Ferguson using Christ's life for our instruction gives us these general means-1.Knowledge of God's Word-This is attained by reading the Bible ourselves,sitting under the preaching of His Word,and I would also include discussing the Scriptures with other believers.2.Communion In God's presence-private and public prayer,meditating on God,His Word and His providential dealings with us and the world in which we live,seeking to maintain a consciousness of God in every aspect of our daily lives 3.Fellowsip with God's people-In a later chapter 'Growing Together' he underscores the point that(while God clearly works through individuals)His broader purpose is to call a body of people together to worship and serve Him in accordance with His Holy Word.His design is to build a Holy temple(made up of living stones-His people)according to Ephesians 2:21-"...He is also shaping us in such a way that we should fit together...to reflect Christ more perfectly our relationships with our fellow Christians must be developed." Our Lord has not called us to live in a vacuum(or in isolation).Christian character is developed in large part through our interaction with other believers and the exercise of whatever gifts and abilities the Lord has given us(these are to be a help and strength to Christians that God places in our path).
One thing that sets this book apart is something that Mr.Ferguson introduces it with-The book is not intended to be a 'how to manual'(like many Christian books appear to aim at )a believer can place themselves at God's disposal,and in the way of blessing but ultimately 'God is the one that gives the increase'.The writer thus states it-"While there is much we can do to encourage growth in ourselves and each other,true spiritual development is something which God Himself gives." Yes!God is Sovereign in our spiritual growth(the level of godliness which we attain).Does that mean our efforts to aspire to be more godly are futile?No.We are to seek further light and pray for strength to walk in it.The saints are commanded 'to keep their hearts with all diligence'.How are they to do this?Richard Alleine in his book 'Instructions about heartwork has great counsel here-"subject the lower faculties,affections,appetite and senses to reason and conscience." We must seek,by God's power,to have our reasoning govern our souls.This is part of the image of God in man,the nobler part.We must also listen to the dictates of conscience and seek to maintain a clear conscience.Pastor Ferguson writes in chapter three of living in the fear of God-"filial fear promotes obedience in our lives." Fleeing from what God hates and always seeking to please Him is the essence of fearing the Lord.Only His children have an ongoing earnest desire to do this.He gives this principle from the life of Daniel-that one of the guiding principles of his life was that he resolved- "that he would always do what was pleasing to his heavenly Father"(no matter what possible consequences would result from that).Ferguson maintains that this is the only foundation for anyone to build a useful Christian life.How could it be otherwise? To walk in wisdom is to fear God and this was the prominent feature of the prophet Daniel's life.It could be said of Daniel,as it was thought of the Puritans,they did not fear the face of man because they walked in the fear of God.
Sinclair Ferguson is among the most helpful Christian writers, 'of our generation',on Christian living.I believe 'Grow In Grace' will one day be considered a classic on this Biblical teaching.
The author, Sinclair Ferguson is a Scottish theologian and was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1971 to 2005. He is now the Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
Ferguson spends the first quarter of the book discussing grace in its most perfect form: Jesus. He then asks the reader to look into our own heart and see the grace, or lack of, and attempts to motivate us to grow. The book then artfully concludes with three case histories in grace: Daniel; constantly growing in grace, Peter; growing in fits and starts, and, Timothy; battling the self.
The book outlines the process of growing in the free and full love of God. Often the ultimate stumbling block to growth as a Christian is our own inability to grasp the depth of love and care which God lavishes upon us. It does not sink in to us that God loves us, or, that grace is given to produce a gratitude to Him.
Through this book we see that we can not grow in grace in isolation. Spiritual growth means growing in love, and love can never function in a vacuum. It is with other messy and sinful creatures that we have the ability to demonstrate our grace, for their benefit and God's glory.
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