This review appeared in the Apr-Jun 2010 vol. 167 no. 2 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
Simply by GraceKregel Publications, Grand Rapids October 1, 2009
Grace is one of the most misunderstood and distorted doctrines of the Bible. Yet grace is the one factor that makes Christianity unique among all other religions, as Bing notes in his opening paragraph. He then adds, “How does a person become a Christian? Simply by grace. How can a person be eternally saved? Simply by grace. How can one know that one is eternally saved? Simply by grace. How can one live the Christian life? Simply by grace. How should a Christian be motivated to serve God and others? Simply by grace” (p. 11, italics his). These questions become the topics of several chapters in this book: salvation, eternal security, assurance, Christian living, and Christian service.
The book discusses major issues related to God’s grace. Bing emphasizes the fact that grace eliminates any role of works in one’s salvation. “To be saved by grace means that we believe God’s promise of eternal life rather than try to earn it or merit it in some way. Salvation through faith means that we bring nothing to God except our sin because we accept God’s promise as true” (p. 42).
Bing discusses the false notion of “easy believism,” the role of repentance, the fact of eternal security, assurance and doubts, the place of good works in the Christian life, the meaning of discipleship, the place of Christian liberty in contrast to license and legalism. Also of interest is his view that James 2:14–26 is not discussing the reality of the readers’ faith, but its quality. “James is not saying faith will manifest itself in works, but that without works faith is useless or unprofitable in this life” (p. 88). “When James speaks of being ‘justified by works’ (2:21, 24, 25), he is not speaking of the imputed justification that saves us eternally, as Paul uses the term. . . . James is speaking of a vindication before other people” (p. 89). “This passage in James, then, is written to Christians to encourage them to do good works, which will make their faith mature and profitable to them and to others” (p. 90).
This book presents the truth of God’s amazing grace in helpful, easy-to-understand principles. Bing is director of GraceLife Ministries, Burleson, Texas.
—Roy B. Zuck