Book Review: “By Grace Alone” by Sinclair B. Ferguson

Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson is senior minister of the historical First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C. He also serves as a professor of systematic theology at Redeemer Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, as a visiting professor in the doctor of ministry program at  Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies, and as a teaching fellow of Ligonier Ministries.

Under the conviction that “evangelical Christians all too often take the grace of God for granted,” Ferguson writes this book to combat Christian contentment in overlooking the amazing grace that has been given to us. Here, he tries to recapture the true meaning of grace and our awe of it.

This book’s seven chapters are reflections on divine grace from different angles, each built around a stanza from a rich but little-known hymn, “O How the Grace of God Amazes Me,” which was written in the mid-twentieth century by a pastor in the African nation of Burundi, Emmanuel T. Sibomana. Through this poem, Dr. Ferguson expounds in great detail the glories and wonders of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that he made on the cross for mankind.

Though it looks like a short book at first (123 pages), I soon found out that this book has to be taken at a slow and thorough pace. Each chapter seemingly unlocks a often overlooked detail of God’s grace, and these concepts are explained through a close examinations of different bible stories. From the well-known story of the prodigal son to the trials of Job, Ferguson is methodical in how he relates each story to different aspects of God’s grace. Ultimately, Dr. Ferguson’s point to the book is to direct our attention back to the cross and the grace that it displayed; he calls us to a shift our characteristically mediocre response to God’s grace to one filled with awe and praise.

By Grace Alone certainly showed me how stale my concept of God’s grace had become. Too often I had accustomed to the grace of God, even expecting grace to cover me when I sinned; this hardened my heart and kept me from being truly amazed at the gospel. I would recommend this book for Christians who fear they may have lost the texture or gravity of the gospel, those who have seemingly lost the wonder of the cross in their hearts. This book will humble you and help you understand our loving God on a more intimate level.

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