Bestselling author Charles R. Swindoll has updated his classic title THE GRACE AWAKENING for a new generation of readers waking up to the truth that God is good and grace is the message of the gospel. As he writes, "Having tasted the sweet delights of liberty in Christ, more and more in the Christian family are satisfied with nothing less."
Renowned as a Christian communicator, Swindoll serves as senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary and host of the internationally syndicated radio program "Insight for Living." A prolific and award-winning author, he has written more than 30 bestselling books and received 11 Gold Medallion Awards, with this book qualifying as one of his best ever.
Exhibiting candor and conviction, Swindoll contrasts liberty with legalism and warns readers to be wary of the three tools of legalism, or grace-killers, as he calls them: doctrinal heresy, ecclesiastical harassment and personal hypocrisy. As he explains it, legalists disturb and distort by twisting truth, spying and enslaving, and lying and deceiving others.
In the chapter titled "The Grace to Let Others Be," Swindoll compares the two different dimensions of grace. "Vertical grace centers on our relationship to God. It is amazing. It frees us from the demands and condemnation of the Mosaic Law," he writes. "Horizontal grace centers on our human relationships. It is charming. It frees us from the tyranny of pleasing people and adjusting our lives to the demands and expectations of human opinion."
To encourage readers as they awaken to grace, Swindoll reminds them that at least three things are involved in the process: it takes time, it requires pain and it means change. He also includes a helpful chart listing qualities of shame-based spirituality versus qualities of healthy spirituality, highlighting for readers the distinct differences between the two.
For those seeking specific guidance on how to be more gracious, Swindoll identifies five characteristics of people who personify grace: generosity with personal possessions, encouragement in unusual settings, life beyond the letter of the law, liberty for creative expression and release from past failures.
Readers will find the book an uplifting and liberating experience, as it gives them permission to be themselves in a healthy "live and let live" manner of speaking. While each one's pace may differ, Swindoll assures one and all that with God as the guide, the race to grace is a glorious one and well worth pursuing.
THE GRACE AWAKENING was originally released in 1990, selling more than 500,000 copies to date, and this version should succeed in widening its circle of influence even further. Its rousing message serves as a wake up call for all those who slumber under the lullaby of legalism yet yearn to be free. Read it and awaken to amazing, accepting grace.
Reviewed by Sean Fowlds on November 19, 2003