David Jeremiah, senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and founder of the popular radio and television ministry "Turning Point," offers readers words of comfort and hope in his latest book, CAPTURED BY GRACE.
The title examines the powerful message of grace through the lives of two distinct historical figures: John Newton and the Apostle Paul. Newton, who penned "Amazing Grace," had an adventurous but equally difficult life as a slave trader before his conversion. Yet the hymn that he wrote continues to be popular long after Newton's life ended. Jeremiah believes the hymn's renown is not just because it's so well-written but because it's rooted in grace.
He writes: "Grace is shocking --- something like the heavenly converse of a traffic accident. When love is returned for evil, we can't help stopping to rubber-neck. Grace is the delivery of a jewel that nobody ordered; a burst of light in a room where everyone forgot it was dark. Grace turns human politics on its head, right before our eyes. It renounces entire conventional wisdom of social behavior. Grace suggests that human beings may be something more than honor graduates of the animal kingdom after all; that the rumors may be true that purity and goodness are real and alive."
It's this kind of grace that also captured the Apostle Paul. Before his conversion, he was a persecutor of Christians. He went long and far to torment them. But that is when grace grabbed him by the scruff of the neck through an encounter with God that first blinded him before opening his eyes to the truth. Jeremiah points out that the New Testament includes 155 references to grace, and 130 of those references were written by Paul. Grace is found in the beginning and end as well as throughout the letters he wrote as a significant theme. Like Newton, the Apostle Paul was captured by grace.
Drawing from the lives of these two individuals as well as other stories and anecdotes, Jeremiah builds a case that there is grace not only for the past and the present but also for the future. He suggests that grace teaches us to renounce sin, live soberly and revere God. It also teaches us to praise God for all He has done, all He is doing and all He will continue to do. Grace brings us into a closer relationship with Him.
While CAPTURED BY GRACE is a bit disjointed at times, it has a clear message of hope and encouragement. It's filled with a variety of colorful stories and quotes from both the known and the unknown. This book can be read through in its entirety or enjoyed in devotional-size bits. Whether you're a fan of the hymn "Amazing Grace" or of David Jeremiah's writing or ministry, you'll find an insightful look at the role of grace throughout the ages.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on March 7, 2006