Lucado M, 1996, “In the Grip of Grace” (Word Publishing: Dallas)
Christian living, theology
By exploring the book of Romans, Lucado uses his own ‘Parable of the River’, to help the reader understand the meaning of the grace of God. In this parable there are four brothers, each trying to get to God in their own way. One a hedonist, one a judgmentalist, one a legalist and the other a ‘Grace-Driven Christian’. Lucado considers how God has extended his grace to us through the sacrifice of Jesus and consequently what it means for us, as Christians, to live under the grace of God.
Lucado explores the meaning of the grace of God in a very systematic way. He starts by explaining that God is a holy God, who hates sin and that he is every right to be angry at anything that ruins his creation because ‘God loves his children, and… hates what destroys them.’ He explains that due to our dismissal of God we have ended up losing our standard, our purpose and our worship and have ‘traded the glory of God who lives forever for the worship of idols…’ This is the attitude of the hedonist.
He then addresses the judgmentalist and explains from Romans 2 that we are in no position to judge others because firstly, we are not good enough and secondly, we don’t know enough about the people we judge.
Lucado’s third character is the legalist. In the ‘Parable of the River’ this brother ‘represents the godless religionist who stacks his good deeds against the current, thinking they will make a path upstream.’ He draws a comparison with the legalistic attitude of the Jews in Romans 2 who ‘trust in the law of Moses and brag that [they] are close to God.’ However despite any human being’s best efforts we cannot save ourselves because, as Lucado explains, ‘Salvation is God’s business’.
Lucado has a very easy writing style and therefore makes difficult concepts easy to understand. He does this by story-telling and using everyday analogies to help explain his point. For example, in order to help us understand what God has done to bring us back to himself, Lucado uses a very helpful illustration of a car insurance company who dismisses him for being too much of a liability. Lucado explains, however, that in terms of our standing before God, due to the death of Jesus our ‘eternal souls [are] under heavenly coverage, and Jesus isn’t known for dismissing clients. He is known… for paying premiums… for life.’ God’s grace does not mean that he ignores our sin, but ‘rather than dismiss our sin he assumes our sin and… sentences himself. God’s holiness is honored. Our sin is punished… we are redeemed.’ This is the life of the ‘Grace-Driven Christian’.
From Romans 5: 1 – 3 Lucado goes on to expand upon the blessings we enter into because of the grace of God. He explains that we have peace with God, we have a place with God and we share in God’s glory. He uses the story of David and Mephibosheth to explain the privileges that we enter into as children of God.
Lucado also addresses some of the doubts we may have about God’s grace. Is this not too risky too be true? What Lucado means here is if we are saved by grace, then will there not be the attraction for us to live as we like (Romans 6:1)? He explains, however, that God’s grace ‘fosters an eagerness for good… [not] a desire to sin.’ When God extends his grace to us we do not intentionally want to break his trust. Lucado also addresses the question of whether this really is too good to be true? However, by using the example of Abraham believing the promise of God in Romans 4, Lucado explains that, ‘the same God who gave a child to Abraham has promised grace to us.’
In the final chapters, Lucado concludes by discussing ‘what a grace-driven Christian look[s] like…’ This is a challenging read and what I like about Lucado is that he is not afraid to address the hard issues that we face as Christians, or often issues that we tend to shy away from because they make us uncomfortable. He considers the issue of how we still sin despite the fact we are saved by grace. Lucado describes this as the ‘civil war of the soul’. Lucado considers our responsibility before God. He stresses that God does not demand perfection from us, but rather wants our honesty and when we slip-up he wants us to confess to him because an honest heart will lead to honest worship. Consequently this enables us to grow as Christians, as the ‘Father and Son walk the field together, preparing and digging, preparing the heart for fruit.’ Due to God’s grace we can be honest with God.
Lucado not only addresses how grace affects us as individuals, but how the grace shown to us should impact how we treat others. He addresses the issue of hatred and the need for us to love our neighbor and forgive those who have wronged us. He bases this on the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18) and challenges the reader to remember that ‘the key to forgiving others is to quit focusing on what they did to you and start focusing on what God did for you.’ He warns how anger can turn into bitterness. He states, ‘Let me be very clear. Hatred will sour your outlook and break your back… the wisest choice… is for you to drop the anger. You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.’ He concludes with a reminder that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. God’s grace, demonstrated in the cross of Christ means that ‘If God is for us who can be against us?’ Lucado concludes with a thrilling reminder that God protects us and provides for us. Indeed his grace is all we need and often when the answer is ‘no’ to our prayers, Lucado reminds us to hold on the words of Paul that ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Due to his simple, but very effective writing style I would recommend this book in particular to a new Christian. It is so good to be reminded of the truth of God’s grace and the reality of the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God  and with the help of the holy spirit we are enabled to live the life of a ‘Grace-Driven Christian’.
 Lucado M, 1996 “In the Grip of Grace” (Word Publishing: Dallas), chapter 1.
 Ibid. 9
 Romans 1:23
 Ibid. chapter 4
 Ibid. 52
 Romans 2:17
 Ibid. 52
 Ibid. 76
 Ibid. 75
 Ibid. chapter 9
 Ibid. 103 – 106
 Ibid. 82
 Ibid. 88
 Ibid. 111
 Ibid. chapter 14
 Ibid. 122
 Ibid. 156
 Ibid. 156, 157
 Romans 8:31
 Ibid. chapter 13
 Romans 8: 31 – 39
 Lucado M, “In the Grip of Grace”, p.9.