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Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels Hardcover – April 23, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A man stuck inside the belly of a fish may sound improbable, even ridiculous. But in this retelling of the biblical story of Jonah, pastor-author Tchividjian (Do I Know God?) means serious business. Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, creates a play-by-play version of this ancient tale to put today's audience at the scene. Drawn from a sermon series, the book employs typical sermon fodder--Scripture, descriptions of artistic representations of Jonah, and extended quotes from authors like Herman Melville (Moby-Dick) who have written on the subject. Through these interpretations, the reader discovers Jonah's characteristics-he is self-righteous, prideful, a work-in-progress-contrasted with the attributes of God, who is unwavering, all-powerful, and merciful. One can almost hear the author's voice rising and falling as he compares Jonah's reticence to contemporary human attitudes. The abrupt ending of the biblical tale may leave the impression that this well-loved character is no hero at all. Yet Tchividjian's animated, heartfelt homily will boost readers with the message that God's heroic grace is perfect.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Tullian’s masterful retelling of this familiar story will do just as it promises. It will surprise you—shock you even—as you hear the story of Jonah as if for the first time. And it will fill you with awe and wonder at God’s startling grace and his tender heart toward us, his lost and rebellious children. I loved it.”
Sally Lloyd-Jones, author, The Jesus Story-Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

“The book of Jonah is more than the story of a prophet who ran from God. It is actually the story of the grace of God that overcomes Jonah’s stubborn rebellion. In this outstanding book Tullian Tchividjian helps us see that there is something of Jonah in all of us and that we stand in need of the same grace of God every day. I was both convicted and encouraged by this book and highly recommend it to every Christian.”
Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness

Surprised by Grace is a much-needed reminder that we should never get over the gospel, or try to move beyond it. The grace that saves is the grace that satisfies and empowers. Tullian’s book is gospel-saturated, Christ-exalting, and soul-refreshing.”
Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries; author, Heaven, If God Is Good and Money, Possessions & Eternity

“Twenty years ago Tullian was the wild, rebellious black sheep among Billy Graham’s grandchildren. Today he follows in his grandfather’s steps as a powerful preacher of the cross of Christ. As he retells the Old Testament story of Jonah he shows that while sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. Tullian’s heart to see rebels—as well as cold-hearted Pharisees—transformed by the gospel of grace shines through on every page.”
Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep

“A well-written, exegetically careful, pastorally sensitive journey through a familiar yet surprising book. Tullian mines the world of literature, art, and theology to bring out the abiding significance of this beloved story. Oh, and he also wonderfully points us to Christ.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“In this wonderful book Tullian creatively and clearly does with the story of Jonah what the Bible was designed to do. He helps you see yourself and weep and see your God and rejoice. Read. It will deepen your sense of need and your affection for the God who meets you in the middle of it.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

Surprised by Grace fishes the gospel from the storms of Jonah’s life and conscience with wonderful images from art history, beautiful words from classic literature, and deep insight from the biblical record. The ways Pastor Tullian shows how the gospel spouts from so ancient—and resistant—a prophet is truly a surprising grace.”
Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois

“If you’ve been struggling with the Christian faith because it started with the gospel and moved quickly into the “elbow grease” of hard work, guilt, and rules, this book will change your life. The gospel isn’t just where we begin; it’s where we Christians live. If we aren’t surprised by grace, it isn’t grace. Read this book, and you’ll rise up and call me blessed for recommending it to you.”
Steve Brown, Host, Key Life Radio Program; author, Three Free Sins: God Isn't Mad At You 

“Tullian has given us a crash course on the outrageous mathematics of God’s mercy and grace. The same God who pursues violent pagan kings also pursues his smug, self-righteous sons and daughters. Indeed, the God who bids us count stars, sand, and dust is actively redeeming a pan-national family of rebels, idolaters, and broken people just like me . . . and you! Thanks, Tullian, for helping me to see that the gospel is always bigger than I realized, or even wanted it to be!”
Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee

Surprised by Grace will delight many, and it will disturb some. The gospel does that. Tullian Tchividjian helps us all, as sinners, move the gospel down into our hearts, where we actually change. Thank you, Tullian. I need it. Every one on the face of the earth needs it.”
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“As one who is both self-righteously religious and rebelliously irreligious (and sometimes on the same day!), I am repeatedly surprised by God’s relentless pursuit of my heart and his overwhelming grace. I’m sure that Tchividjian’s transparent interaction with a heartless prophet who is nevertheless an instrument of mercy to a wicked, godless nation will both convict and comfort you as it did me. In this wonderful book you’ll learn that Jonah’s story is not so much the story of a runaway prophet, a fish, a vine, and a repenting nation as it is a story of God’s persistent purpose to bless people he chooses to bless no matter the cost. If you need to remember that God is greater than your sin, that his purpose to bless isn’t really dependent upon your goodness, and that he will accomplish all his purposes no matter what, this Christ-exalting book will serve you well. It’s just splendid.”
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, counselor; speaker; author, Found in Him

“Calvin called Scripture a “mirror of the soul.” Tullian Tchividjian’s insightful guidance through the book of Jonah not only clearly explains the meaning of the book but helps us see ourselves in the reluctant prophet, sinners who are the recipients of God’s loving grace. I highly recommend Surprised by Grace for all Christians, young in the faith as well as mature, laypeople as well as pastors.”
Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“Grace is one of those words we use so much in the church that it’s easy to take for granted. It becomes ordinary. However, in this book grace shines in its biblical luster. Whether a new believer or a lifelong Christian, prepare to be surprised by grace!”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life

“The gospel is a surprising message of news seemingly too good to be true. Tullian shocks us with the gospel as he retells the story of Jonah, the story of a God who pursues, rescues, and even uses people who run away from him. What makes this book stand out is how Tullian presents the gospel in story form, carving deep grooves in one’s memory. I will not forget this book, and I will recommend it to all the “Jonahs” in my life, which is most everybody I know.”
Justin Buzzard, Lead Pastor, Garden City Church, Silicon Valley; author, Date Your Wife and The Big Story

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; First Edition, First Printing edition (April 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433507757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433507755
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Mondok on May 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The gospel doesn't just ignite the Christian life; it's the fuel that keeps the Christian going every day."

Tullian Tchividjian brings fresh perspective to the Old Testament story of Jonah in his new book Surprised by Grace; God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. The book is scheduled for release on May 31, 2010 by Crossway.

The central character in Tchividjian's book is Jonah the prophet. The story does not begin with Jonah as a hero nor does it end that way. In fact, the Jonah's story ends rather abruptly as Tchividjian points out a little more than half-way through his book. Jonah is a runner and a complainer. Jonah has the right religion and proper politics; he serves the true God and hates the worst sinners. But, as Tchividjian so skillfully explains, Jonah needs the gospel. "He sounds like a lot of people in the church... despite his pedigree and profile, Jonah's still running from God. His morality and correct religion have brought him no closer to God..."

Tchividjian says that there are two ways to run from God. And both of them are "self-salvation projects". "Immoral people try to save themselves through licentious living - liberally and lawlessly. Moral people try to save themselves through legalistic living. The immoral try to save themselves by breaking the law; the moral try to save themselves by keeping it.

Tchividjian argues compellingly. He shows that the rule keepers need the gospel just as badly as the rule breakers. The reader learns that Jonah is good at being religious and knows it and expects God to move on his behalf because of it. Like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (another "rule keeper"), Jonah is baffled that God would show such compassion to such horrible sinners.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the stories in the Bible that has always been very intriguing to me is the story of the prophet Jonah. And, in the last few years, the Lord has been having me embark on a long-lasting study of grace. The latest book by Tullian Tchividjian, `Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels' uses Jonah as an example of God's amazing grace.

Here is the synopsis of the book from the dust sleeve cover:

Many of us think we know God's heart better than we do. We think we have a good handle on what should and should not be acceptable to God. But God has never conformed to our faulty assumptions about his character. Indeed, his compassion and pardon are utterly shocking in their lavish abundance - a lesson learned the hard way by one man who kept resisting God's grace in whatever way he could.
The man's name isn't new. It's Jonah, the famous Old Testament prophet. We find his story compelling because all of us hesitate to follow God from time to time; Jonah's story has been our own. However, Tullian Tchividjian shows that the emphasis of our story is not on our disobedience, but on God's persistent grace.
This powerful journey through unforgettable events and imagery reveals how God relentlessly pursues rebels, a category that ultimately includes everyone, though he has every right and plenty of reasons to give up on us all.
Encounter the story of Jonah in a gripping presentation that will open your eyes wider than ever to God's relentless, purposeful, and inexhaustible grace.

And here is the biography of the author:

Tullian Tchividjian (MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church ([...]) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tullian ([...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The primary objective of Tullian Tchividjian is clear in his book, Surprised by Grace. His aim is to celebrate, delight in, and magnify of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some readers might be caught by surprise in this little book that chronicles the story of Jonah but places the lion's share of attention on Christ. For this reason, Tchividjian's work should be applauded for rightly emphasizing the gospel in Jonah - the same way the gospel should be mined in every Old Testament book.

The author notes, "Only the gospel can truly save you. The gospel doesn't make bad people good; it makes dead people alive (emphasis mine). That's the difference between the gospel of Jesus Christ and every other world religion. All the others exhort their followers to save themselves by being good, by conforming their lives to whatever their worshiped deity is. But the gospel is God's acceptance of us based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do."

Surprised by Grace is a remarkable book that stands out and exalts Christ and is a vivid reminder that God is on mission purposed to send Christ to rescue sinners and shower his mercy upon everyone who believes.
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Format: Hardcover
Tchividjian examines the story of Jonah with a microscope, with words that in turn causes the reader to examine their own heart, their own soul with an equally strong microscope. Grace, which the author proclaims is the bottom line for the story of Jonah, is a difficult concept to understand. Yet in this relatively short book, grace is not only defined in words that provide a framework for a deeper awareness of that grace, it also encourages an acceptance of the truth that there really is not human explanation for grace. Without grace, our existence would merely be mechanical and worthless. With grace, genuine worship of our God and our Jesus, becomes not just an act that we perform out of duty, but it becomes our lifeline and the central purpose for our lives.

[...]
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