In his new book Grace Transforming, Phil Ryken writes:
“We begin at the beginning, with our desperate need for grace. From the moment we came into the world as helpless babies, right up until this exact second, we are utterly and completely dependent on the grace of God for everything we have, including life itself. What is more, if we have any hope of life after death—eternal life—it is only because of God’s free and undeserved grace for us in Jesus Christ.
Until we understand this, it is impossible for us to have the relationship with God that we truly need. But when we do understand this—when we understand our absolute need for Jesus—then his grace changes everything.
Past Experience, Present Need
Our need for grace may seem obvious at the beginning of the Christian life, when we first put our trust in Jesus. Then we know that if there is anything we contribute to our salvation, it is only the sin that necessitates a Savior. According to the good news of our salvation, Jesus died and rose again so that in him we would receive forgiveness for our sins and enter into everlasting fellowship with the true and living God. We are not saved by anything that we have done, therefore, but only by what Jesus has done. It is all by his grace, not by our works.
Yet grace is not something we leave behind once we decide to follow Jesus. Grace is our present need as well as our past experience. The gospel is not just the way into the Christian life; it is also the way on in the Christian life. We continually need to remember that God “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:9).
In my first chapel address as president of Wheaton College I said something that took some people by surprise, maybe because it’s something that many Christians forget. I said that I don’t know of a college anywhere in the world that needs the gospel more than Wheaton does.
In saying this, I did not mean to imply that there aren’t a lot of Christians at Wheaton. In fact, every student, every professor, and every staff member on campus makes a personal profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to find unbelievers on campus: in most Christian communities there are at least some people who do not yet have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is not what I meant, however, when I said that Wheaton College needs the gospel. I meant that the gospel is for Christians every bit as much as it is for non-Christians. We never outgrow our need for God’s life-changing grace—the gospel of the cross and the empty tomb.”
What others are saying about this book:
“Hebrews 13:9 says, ‘It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.’ As a church planter, I needed the truths in this book to strengthen my weary, performance driven, approval hungry, externally oriented, and self-righteous heart. My pharisaical heart was exposed, and I found myself praying, ‘God, be mercy-seated to me, the sinner.’”
-David Choi, Lead Planter, Church of the Beloved, Chicago, Illinois; International Speaker
“To grasp the fullness of God’s grace is to come humbly to Christ in empty-handed spiritual poverty. That alone may be the greatest challenge for any Christian! And it’s why I so appreciate Dr. Philip Ryken’s extraordinary insights in his new book, Grace Transforming. He points us to Jesus Christ in all his saving power, reminding us that without the Savior we are nothing and have nothing. If you are seeking a fresh look at your Lord and your own desperate need of him, this is the book for you!”
-Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center