Book Review: One Way Love



“The Gospel heralds a great reversal in which acceptance precedes achievement and mercy comes before merit.” Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love



This week is Thanksgiving Week.  It is also a week that I am blessed to have completely off of work and week that I aim to commit to refreshing my soul.  The first book of the week has been just that…refreshing and full of grace.  I have long been a fan of Tullian Tchividjian and his ability to point to the Gospel as the only hope we have.  I have read all of his other books and written reviews on this website.  I was excited to hear of the release of One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.  Even the title of this book has Sabbath written all over it.  In a culture that judges based on performance, I must remember that I belong to a Savior whose performance can never be upstaged or undone.

I highlighted several things while reading.  I truly couldn’t put this down.  This book is definitely salve to a soul worn out by the relentless…and unwinnable…race to perform.

  • The Good News of God’s inexhaustible grace for an exhausted world has never been more urgent.
  • When we worship at the altar of performance—and make no mistake, performancism is a form of worship—we spend our lives frantically propping up our images or reputations, trying to do it all—and do it all well—often at a cost to ourselves and those we love.  Life becomes a hamster wheel of endless earning and proving and maintenance and management and controlling, where all we can see is our own feet.  Performancism causes us to live in a constant state of anxiety, fear, and resentment until we end up heavily medicated, in the hospital, or just really, really unhappy.
  • The unintended consequence of this push, however, is that if we’re not careful, we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifices we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us.
  • It is high time for the church to honor its Founder by embracing sola gratia anew, to reignite the beacon of hope for the hopeless and point all of us bedraggled performancists back to the freedom and rest of the Cross.  To leave our ifs, ands, or buts behind and get back to proclaiming the only message that matters—and the only message we have—the Word about God’s one-way love for sinners. It is time for us to abandon, once and for all, our play-it-safe religion and get drunk on grace.  Two-hundred-proof, unflinching grace.  It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated, but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church—and the world—on fire.
  • The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with His rescue, our sin with His salvation, our guilt with His grace, our badness with His goodness.  The overwhelming focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed, but the work of the Redeemer.
  • “Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return.”-Paul Zahl
  • “Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved.  It has everything and only to do with the lover.”-Paul Zahl
  • Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up.  He came to emancipate us from this burden to get it all right, from the obligation to fix ourselves, find ourselves, and free ourselves.  Jesus came to release us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected.  Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.
  • That’s the curious thing about the law and judgement in general: it can tell us who we are, it can tell us the right thing to do, but it cannot inspire us to do that thing or be that person.
  • The great hope we find in the Christian faith is that God is not us.
  • “Children will run from law, and they’ll run from grace.  The ones who run from law never come back.  But the ones who run from grace always come back.  Grace draws its own back home.”-Steve Brown
  • The great leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, characterized the Law as “a voice that man can never stop in this life.”
  • However much we hate the law, we are more afraid of grace.  Because we are natural-born-do-it-yourselfers, the vitriolic reaction to unconditional grace is understandable.  Grace generates panic, because it wrestles both control and glory out of our hands.  This means that the part of you that gets angry and upset and mean and defensive and slanderous and critical and skeptical and feisty when you hear about God’s one-way love is the very part of you that is still enslaved.
  • The Law apart from the Gospel can only crush; it cannot cure.
  • “a low view of law always produces legalism; a high view of law makes a person a seeker after grace.” -J. Gresham Machen
  • When was the last time you were astonished by someone’s surprising response of grace toward you?
  • If the Law is the first word, Grace is the last.
  • “The great and merciful surprise is that we come to God by not doing it right but by doing it wrong!” -Richard Rohr
  • What qualifies us for service is God’s devotion to us—not our devotion to Him.
  • The Gospel announces that Jesus came to acquit the guilty.
  • “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”  1 Timothy 1:15 NIV
  • Grace inspires what the Law demands.
  • An identity based in the one-way love of God does not take into account public opinion or, thankfully, even personal opinion.
  • The Gospel heralds a great reversal in which acceptance precedes achievement and mercy comes before merit.
  • Grace begins where pride ends.
  • My suspicion is that once you realize that you don’t have to do anything for God, you may find you want to do everything for Him.
  • The Gospel breaks the chain of reciprocity and the circular exchange.  Since there is nothing we ultimately need from one another, we are free to do everything for one another.  Spend our lives giving instead of taking; going to the back instead of getting to the front; sacrificing ourselves for others instead of sacrificing others for ourselves.  The Gospel alone liberates us to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.
  • “The gospel is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity…it is the pool that we swim in each and every day.”  -J.D. Greear
  • Because of total depravity, you and I were desperate for God’s grace before we were saved.  Because of total depravity, you and I remain desperate for God’s grace even after we’re saved.  Thankfully, though our sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches infinitely further.

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