Are you in God’s favor? Often we think about favor as the purview of the super saint. We cast ourselves at the mercy of God, but it is the prayers of ‘a righteous man’ that ‘avails much.’ Or we think of the favor of God as some health and wealth, prosperity gospel promise. If we seek first the kingdom, all these things will be added to our bank account.
Greg Gilbert is senior pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church, author (or co-author) of several resources for Crossway’s 9marks series ( resources for one of those manly men church movements). He explores the concept of favor in the aptly titled: Favor: Finding Life at the Center of God’s Affection.
Gilbert places the concept of God’s favor back in a theological frame. If you are in Christ, you exist, and subsist, in God’s favor. You didn’t earn it. God gave you his favor through Jesus, whose perfect life and sacrificial death earned us God’s favor the moment we trust in him, and live in growing intimacy with Him.
The book divides into two sections. In part 1, Gilbert explores what the favor of God is and how to get it? In chapter 1, he describes God’s favor as being pleasing to Him (25), having an intimate, personal relationship with God (26), being a recipient of God’s blessing (30-32) and being acceptable to Him (33-35). Chapter 2 and 3 probe our inability to win God’s favor because of our sinfulness. Chapter 4 describes how Jesus won for us God’s favor through his life, death and resurrection, and chapter 5 how we enter into God’s favor by our union with Jesus:
Have you realized that God’s favor is not some cherry on top of the Christian life that only the really good Christians get? I hope so. I also hope you’ve discovered that the favor of God is not something you will ever be able to win for yourself, that your only hope of getting it—of being well pleasing to God—is to be united to the One of whom God said, “This is my beloved Son , with whom I am well pleased.” Rest in Jesus, dear Christian. Your salvation is secure in his strong hand. God is pleased with you, and he will cease to be pleased with you only when he ceases to be pleased with his own Son. (96).
In part 2, Gilbert explores the benefits of God’s favor: contentment (chapter 6), peace with God (chapter 7), the blessings of new life (chapter 8) and our adoption as sons and daughters of the King (chapter 9).
In a lot of ways, Gilbert is giving us old-school evangelicalism here. God’s favor is God’s grace and the ensuing blessing. Like grace, we can’t earn God’s favor. We experience it as we live in relationship to God through Christ. As I read through the latter part of this book, I thought especially of Paul Little’s Know Why You Believe (IVP, 1966), which apart from being an ‘apologetics book,’ extolled the benefits available to us in Christ. The language of favor, may be a different way of talking about it, but the message remains unchanged.
I give this book three and a half stars. ★★★½
Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review