Why It’s Bad Trying So Hard To Be Good
I’m pretty sure I’ve read every book that Steve Brown has written and I love them all. So I was anxiously anticipating this new book with the “scandalous” title. Steve Brown is NOT a proponent of “cheap grace,” he understands justification by faith alone as well, or perhaps better than most theologians do. Steve Brown writes with his characteristic blend of humor and authentic seriousness about living the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us by helping the reader understand and apply two important truths related to the gospel stated by the late Jack Miller as follows:
“(1) Cheer up…you’re a lot worse than you think you are, and
(2) cheer up…God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.”
These two truths are developed eloquently and cogently throughout the book. In typical Brown-like fashion this book is full of biblical principles, powerful illustrations, and practical examples that will help you become less of a self-righteous Pharisee, and more like Jesus – full of joy, freedom, laughter, and basking in grace and truth.
Some of the specific issues Brown addresses in this book are as follows: perfectionism, self-righteousness, legalism, anger, repentance, unity in the body of Christ, pride and humility, religiosity, honesty, freedom, grace, and truth.
In the very last chapter he specifically answers some of the questions he gets due to his many books, sermons, and speaking on freedom and grace through justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ:
(1) Are you crazy?
(2) Why do you persist in irritating everybody? Free sins? That’s outrageous! Why don’t you write and teach in a normal way?
(3) There are a lot of examples in the Bible that show God’s wrath, and yet you say that God isn’t angry at his people. Are you sure you haven’t gotten it wrong?
(4) What’s hermeneutics? (Brown relates this to question 3 above)
(5) Okay, but what about obedience?
(6) Is holiness and sanctification irrelevant?
(7) What about discipline? You very conveniently avoid Hebrews 12:7. It says in case you don’t know, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
(8) You don’t seem to care much for excellence nor do you have a very high view of human nature. Don’t you think you’ve gone a bit too far?
(9) Okay, but where do you draw the line?
(10) What about right and wrong? You don’t seem to care about that.
(11) What about being missional? If Christians buy into what you’ve taught, won’t people stop going on the mission field, feeding the poor, and caring for those in need?
(12) Aren’t you a bit pessimistic about human beings?
(13) Doesn’t that lead to “wormology” and a bad self-image?
(14) What if you’re wrong?
As usual (when reading a Brown offering), I read this book and felt the full gamut of emotions – I laughed, and cried, got mad (not at Steve Brown) – but at myself and other Christians – for our self-righteous stupidity, and most of all praised God for His amazing grace and patience with the world, and especially with me! There is solid theological and practical food for the head, heart, and hands all over the place in this book. Once again, I was struck by God’s amazing grace to save a wretch like me. And once again I’m glad for all of humanity that I’m NOT God – and that Jesus is – and that He is my Savior – His righteousness in exchange for all of my many sins – covered by the Blood of the Lamb for all eternity by the sheer grace of God.