"Douglas Bond’s new book is a bold call to cling to Christ alone as our only righteousness." Joel Beeke
My new non-fiction book with P&R GRACE WORKS! (And Ways We Think it Doesn't) has been a challenging and enriching experience to write. In it I attempt to examine the various ways the Enemy leads us along to corrupt the gospel in every
Satan's strategy--to distort the pure doctrine of the gospel in every age--is much like what Lewis wrote in Silver Chair, "...those Northern Witches always mean the same thing, but in every age they have a different plan for getting it." Grace Works unmasks the various ways we really don't think the free grace of Christ in the gospel on its own works very well--and then I attempt to demonstrate from Scripture and the best men, dead or alive, that Grace actually does Work.
"Everything Douglas Bond writes, almost by definition now, is a fascinating read." Joel Belz, WORLD
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Carl Trueman, who has written the forward for the book, and to Joel Beeke, Marvin Olasky, Michael Horton, Dominic Aquila and others who have written appreciative commendations of it. Read Unsolicited Reader Reviews
The publishers blurb on the back cover reads: When the church downplays the gospel, it breeds its own assassins: moralists who yawn at the notion of free grace in Christ alone—and rebels against moralism who can’t get out of church fast enough. Sounding the alarm, Douglas Bond celebrates the amazing, effective power of grace while showing us how to identify destructive “law-creep” in our churches and lives. "Douglas Bond has written here his most important book on the most important controversy in the world, the gospel..." RC Sproul Jr.
Take a moment and watch the book trailer filmed on location in Heidelberg, Zurich, and Geneva during the Reformation Tour, 2013, produced by Lieren Sinnamon (2-time Bond tour traveler and film maker in the making):
Endorsements: What advance reviewers have said about GRACE WORKS
WHILE I WAS GIVING a lecture on church history and the various ways the gospel gets eroded, my cell phone started warbling in my pocket. I glanced at the caller. It was the Director of Editorial at P&R Publishing, one of the most likeable people I know. I stepped out and took the call. In his enthusiastic Southern drawl he said, “You’ve just got to write a book about this.” I groaned. Other times when publishers had initiated book ideas, it had meant stormy times ahead for my imagination.
After that dreaded phone call, I was like Gollum and Sméagol, arguing with myself, berating myself with reasons why writing this book was such a bad idea: “I write history and fiction. I’m a storyteller, not a theologian. If this book needs writing so much, leave it to the experts.” Next, I reminded myself of how C. S. Lewis had his demon Screwtape dry up his patient’s spiritual life by getting him to write a book about it.1
Just when I’d convinced myself to get no closer to this book than I would to nuclear waste, counterarguments would shout in my ear. “It’s the gospel that’s at stake,” said one. I’d always wanted to believe that departures from the gospel only happened to others. Then, while reading John Newton, author of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” I heard him lament that in his day “errors abound on all sides, and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.”2
This made me uneasy. What Christian has not heard preaching that sounds more like misrepresentation than proclamation of the pure doctrine of the gospel? Who among us has not heard a sermon that felt like it was leading us into By-Path Meadow, the stony pitfalls leading us to Doubting Castle and Giant Despair?
Newton’s words made me uneasy because I too had heard these things. I’d heard sermons that sounded less and less like justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I read on. Newton proceeded to extol how laudable it was “to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers.”3
In fear and trepidation, I succumbed. Though I hate controversy, here it is; I’ve written a book birthed in the very dust and grit of it. In doing so, however, I want to hear, and I want my readers to hear, what Newton wrote in a letter to a friend zealously setting out to contend for the free grace of the gospel. “Few writers of controversy,” Newton cautioned, “have not been manifestly hurt by it. Controversies are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify.”4
Which makes me again want to abandon the project altogether, dump the manuscript over the rail, return to my genre, maybe take up basket weaving. I’m keenly aware of how dangerous writing this book is, and I so desire to flee that danger. It’s dangerous because it can so easily make me critical and superior, proud and self-righteous, pedantic and smug; it sets me up to “flatter [my] own superior judgments,”5 as Newton put it. And it so easily puts me in the mode of tut-tutting at the speck in my neighbor’s eye while ignoring the 2x12, obvious to everyone else on the planet, protruding from my own eye. Knowing this, entering the fray feels like being fitted for new neckwear: a millstone.
On deeper reflection, though this book was birthed in controversy, it really isn’t intended to be about it. It is far more a book about rediscovering the loveliness of Christ. Hence, I hope that readers who get to its last page won’t think it’s about controversy at all. My hope is that you will close the book bedazzled with the Savior, slack-jawed in wonder at a gospel of grace that works, that accomplishes all that our gracious Redeemer said it would.
To get there, however, I will explore the various ways we doubt that grace actually works, the various ways the Enemy distorts and corrupts the free grace of the gospel, and the various ways we become willing participants in his relentless scheme to redefine the gospel.
This is also a book about an overarching message of church history. Just as there is an impulse in every generation to corrupt the gospel, there is equally an overwhelming historical consensus about what the gospel of grace actually is. Hence, it is a call for generational vigilance to guard the pure doctrine of the gospel against Satan’s strategy to insinuate false and corrupting opinions about the gospel, to the ruin of the church and her children.
Moreover, this book about grace is also a book about peace and unity—gospel unity. In that spirit, I’m forced to expose the various rivals to grace that have crept into the church in her past...
ORDER A SIGNED COPY (free domestic shipping)
Unsolicited Reader Reviews
- Tim Challies ranked GRACE WORKS #4 in his New and Notable Books for July, 2014: "I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve received boxes of them and, in sorting through the pile, some have risen to the top." (GRACE WORKS #4) http://www.challies.com/resources/new-notable-books-july
- Bob Mattes (Beltway Bob) review in Reformed Musings: http://reformedmusings.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/douglas-bond-hit-it-out-of-the-park-in-grace-works/#comment-1708
- Review by Danika Cooley, author of Bible Road Trip (a review that serves as a useful introduction to the content and value of the book especially for young people and families): http://www.thinkingkidsblog.org/2014/08/04/grace-works-by-douglas-bond-book-review/
- Dave Jenkin's review: http://servantsofgrace.org/grace-works-and-ways-we-think-it-doesnt/Grace Works! is a very important book for two reasons. First, this book clears the air on not only what the Bible teaches about the gospel and what it demands but also what the Church has taught on this topic. Finally, this book is written in such a way that every Christian can understand what it’s saying. - See more at: http://servantsofgrace.org/grace-works-and-ways-we-think-it-doesnt/#sthash.UiG4FB73.dpufGrace Works! is a very important book for two reasons. First, this book clears the air on not only what the Bible teaches about the gospel and what it demands but also what the Church has taught on this topic. Finally, this book is written in such a way that every Christian can understand what it’s saying. - See more at: http://servantsofgrace.org/grace-works-and-ways-we-think-it-doesnt/#sthash.UiG4FB73.dpufGrace Works! is a very important book for two reasons. First, this book clears the air on not only what the Bible teaches about the gospel and what it demands but also what the Church has taught on this topic. Finally, this book is written in such a way that every Christian can understand what it’s saying. - See more at: http://servantsofgrace.org/grace-works-and-ways-we-think-it-doesnt/#sthash.UiG4FB73.dpuf
- 5.0 out of 5 stars Great perspective on the role of grace in the whole of the Christian life,
June 23, 2014By Josh - This review is from: Grace Works! (And Ways We Think It Doesn't) (Paperback)
Bond begins by diagnosing the tendency to abandon grace, for multiple reasons, and the overwhelming likelihood that the reader will see this in themselves, their congregation, or someone of prominence. It can happen to us and, historically speaking, it is more than likely. Bond shows how “law creep” and synergism have affected Reformed congregations and denominations throughout history.
He deals with a number of issues including: the necessity of a proper ordo salutis to minimize the creep of law into the Gospel, the fact that we often sing greater theological truth than we actually articulate, the pushback in Reformed circles on the primacy and centrality of Christ in all the Scriptures, the analogy of faith when interpreting Scripture and the danger of letting that which could be present implicitly erode what is actually present explicitly, and much more.
Bond brings up the dialetic method of interpretation and…well, he left me in the dust with that chapter! While I didn’t fully understand how the dialectic method practically works, I agree greatly with Bond that, “(l)ike Paul, we too must renounce any interpretive method—by whatever name—that does violence to the unity of Scripture, that makes the Bible say opposite things, and that facilitates a doctrinal framework that diminishes Christ and his saving faithfulness.”
His section on the need and benefits of confessional theology and practice is encouraging and convicting. He guides the reader in looking at the necessity of confessional standards and the hazards of abandoning them for “no Creed but Christ” or whatever we can come up with at breakfast after the evangelism seminar. Bond offers a perfect summary of his position when he quotes a brand new believer, infant in his faith but displaying wisdom beyond many, in saying, “(i)f we just stuck with the old confessions (in reference to the Westminster Standards and the 3 Forms of Unity), the church wouldn’t constantly drift away from the Gospel.”
This minimization of grace leads directly to the dangerous practice of relegating the Gospel to the unbeliever—that is, treating the Gospel as a springboard into the Christian life that has little-to-no relevance in the life of a believer. It is a gateway or an entry card, but once you are in it is of relatively little importance, other than as a means of helping others to get in. This method of starting the Christian life by grace alone through faith alone and progressing by works of the law is an error that may not often be explicitly articulated, but it is quite often lived and assumed. This is also an error that leads many believers to “live lives of quiet desperation” or grow in arrogant, yet baseless, confidence. In short, it is dangerous if not deadly. And it must be confronted with the truth that the Christian life is “all of grace”.
I am glad that Douglas Bond and P&R put this together for those of us who desperately need grace in a world full of consistent and constant forces seeking to, even when well-intentioned, pull us away from this grace we so mightily need. Bond reveals his heart beautifully when he says, “I’ll leave the minutia of the theological arguments to the theologians, but I’m far more concerned with what the congregation hears, how words like these [and an overall neglect/opposition to grace] affect the minds and hearts of the flock.” Bond’s heart is not about academic exercises and trivial controversy. It is about the everyday life of the professing believer who is so quickly driven to despair when overdosed on law and starved of grace. Grace Works! makes a great case that for just that—that grace works!
- 5.0 out of 5 stars The Glory of the Gospel,
July 4, 2014By
Douglas Bond is concerned; deeply concerned. He along with a handful of evangelicals including R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer, Jerry Bridges, John Piper, and Tim Keller are concerned that the gospel is being eclipsed by works-based righteousness. John Calvin had a similar concern in the 16th century: "We must exercise the utmost caution lest we allow any counterfeit to be substituted for the pure doctrine of the gospel."
Douglas Bond alerts Christ-followers to this gospel counterfeit in his latest book, Grace Works. The author shows how this counterfeit gospel has emerged throughout church history. He demonstrates the subtle shift that took place in European churches that once glowed with Reformation fervor. He cites several examples of how the gospel has been distorted and continues to be distorted in the contemporary church.
At the heart of the book lies a concern that many believers appear to be confused about the biblical gospel. While many give lip-service to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, many continue to add requirements which muddy the "waters of grace" in the final analysis.
The author cites Tim Keller approvingly who says, "It is only in the gospel of Jesus Christ that you get the verdict before the performance." Bond adds, "Every other religion requires performance before the verdict. But in the gospel, Christ has stooped down and perfectly obeyed for us, as our substitute. Jesus the righteous one was righteous in our place. By the grace of the gospel, performance will follow, but in justification the verdict is already in: we are forever righteous in Christ. That is immeasurably good news!"
Yet, a stunning number of professing evangelicals are repudiating justification by faith alone by adding requirements which is tantamount to a works-based approach. The road back to Rome may be paved with good intentions, but thoughtful observers can hear the gnashing of teeth.
Bond warns readers of the subtle ways that law creeps into the gospel, especially when pastors and Christian leaders make obedience a requirement for justifying grace. Bond adds, "Serious error arises when trusting and obeying are required as concurrent actions the sinner must do in the context of his justification. Trusting is not sufficient - which is the same as saying that faith alone is not sufficient; you must also obey the law to win God's final favor." Several examples are cited and once again readers are warned to flee from the city of Rome.
Douglas Bond is to be commended for writing a book that is timely, especially in light of the so-called New Perspective on Paul movement. The gospel shines brightly in Grace Works. The doctrines which were rediscovered by the Protestant Reformers are put on display. The law is put in its proper place as a tutor which leads us to Christ. Readers are reminded that the law cannot justify; nor can the law sanctify.
My hope is that Grace Works receives a wide readership and that thousands of people will be equipped in gospel-centered reality. My hope is that many will see the errors of the Roman road; that they will turn back and swim in the waters of free grace and be refreshed by the sola's of the Reformation!
I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley I was not required to write a positive review.
- Review by Doug King, MD: I just completed the book this afternoon. I very much enjoyed the reading. The book is well-organized and convincing, very readable and full of memorable illustrations. I've been meaning to wring from you the story of your spiritual journey... but now the book has answered most of my questions in this regard.
THE PSALMS PROJECT now in book form--a chapter by Douglas Bond
FORGOTTEN PSALMS: Reclaiming the Psalms for Worship. I was asked to participate in the PSALMS PROJECT at Union University March 6, 2009. Sponsored by The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and funded by a Lilly Foundation Grant, a number of men were brought to the campus to deliver chapel messages on the importance of Psalmody in worship. Each of our messages have been recast as chapters for a new book on recovering the Psalms in worship. Forgotten Songs, edited by Ray Van Neste, includes chapters by Leland Ryken, Ray Ortlund, Jack Collins, Douglas Bond, and others.Biblical Poetry in a Post-Biblical, Post-Poetry World. My chapter is drawn from this address I delivered at Union University chapel, as part of the Psalms Project, March 6, 2009