Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

4.3 10
by Tullian Tchividjian

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As today's Christians struggle to grasp the gospel's true power, Surprised by Grace unfolds a liberating story that helps us come to grips with the shocking extent of God's compassion.


As today's Christians struggle to grasp the gospel's true power, Surprised by Grace unfolds a liberating story that helps us come to grips with the shocking extent of God's compassion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A man stuck inside the belly of a fish may sound improbable, even ridiculous. But in this retelling of the biblical story of Jonah, pastor-author Tchividjian (Do I Know God?) means serious business. Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, creates a play-by-play version of this ancient tale to put today's audience at the scene. Drawn from a sermon series, the book employs typical sermon fodder--Scripture, descriptions of artistic representations of Jonah, and extended quotes from authors like Herman Melville (Moby-Dick) who have written on the subject. Through these interpretations, the reader discovers Jonah's characteristics-he is self-righteous, prideful, a work-in-progress-contrasted with the attributes of God, who is unwavering, all-powerful, and merciful. One can almost hear the author's voice rising and falling as he compares Jonah's reticence to contemporary human attitudes. The abrupt ending of the biblical tale may leave the impression that this well-loved character is no hero at all. Yet Tchividjian's animated, heartfelt homily will boost readers with the message that God's heroic grace is perfect.
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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

“Tullian’s masterful retelling of this familiar story will do just as it promises. It will surprise you—shock you even—as you hear the story of Jonah as if for the first time. And it will fill you with awe and wonder at God’s startling grace and his tender heart toward us, his lost and rebellious children. I loved it.”
Sally Lloyd-Jones, author, The Jesus Story-Book Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

“The book of Jonah is more than the story of a prophet who ran from God. It is actually the story of the grace of God that overcomes Jonah’s stubborn rebellion. In this outstanding book Tullian Tchividjian helps us see that there is something of Jonah in all of us and that we stand in need of the same grace of God every day. I was both convicted and encouraged by this book and highly recommend it to every Christian.”
Jerry Bridges, author, The Pursuit of Holiness

Surprised by Grace is a much-needed reminder that we should never get over the gospel, or try to move beyond it. The grace that saves is the grace that satisfies and empowers. Tullian’s book is gospel-saturated, Christ-exalting, and soul-refreshing.”
Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director, Eternal Perspectives Ministries; author, Heaven, If God Is Good and Money, Possessions & Eternity

“Twenty years ago Tullian was the wild, rebellious black sheep among Billy Graham’s grandchildren. Today he follows in his grandfather’s steps as a powerful preacher of the cross of Christ. As he retells the Old Testament story of Jonah he shows that while sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. Tullian’s heart to see rebels—as well as cold-hearted Pharisees—transformed by the gospel of grace shines through on every page.”
Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; author, Dug Down Deep

“A well-written, exegetically careful, pastorally sensitive journey through a familiar yet surprising book. Tullian mines the world of literature, art, and theology to bring out the abiding significance of this beloved story. Oh, and he also wonderfully points us to Christ.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“In this wonderful book Tullian creatively and clearly does with the story of Jonah what the Bible was designed to do. He helps you see yourself and weep and see your God and rejoice. Read. It will deepen your sense of need and your affection for the God who meets you in the middle of it.”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

Surprised by Grace fishes the gospel from the storms of Jonah’s life and conscience with wonderful images from art history, beautiful words from classic literature, and deep insight from the biblical record. The ways Pastor Tullian shows how the gospel spouts from so ancient—and resistant—a prophet is truly a surprising grace.”
Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois

“If you’ve been struggling with the Christian faith because it started with the gospel and moved quickly into the “elbow grease” of hard work, guilt, and rules, this book will change your life. The gospel isn’t just where we begin; it’s where we Christians live. If we aren’t surprised by grace, it isn’t grace. Read this book, and you’ll rise up and call me blessed for recommending it to you.”
Steve Brown, Host, Key Life Radio Program; author, Three Free Sins: God Isn't Mad At You

“Tullian has given us a crash course on the outrageous mathematics of God’s mercy and grace. The same God who pursues violent pagan kings also pursues his smug, self-righteous sons and daughters. Indeed, the God who bids us count stars, sand, and dust is actively redeeming a pan-national family of rebels, idolaters, and broken people just like me . . . and you! Thanks, Tullian, for helping me to see that the gospel is always bigger than I realized, or even wanted it to be!”
Scotty Smith, Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee

Surprised by Grace will delight many, and it will disturb some. The gospel does that. Tullian Tchividjian helps us all, as sinners, move the gospel down into our hearts, where we actually change. Thank you, Tullian. I need it. Every one on the face of the earth needs it.”
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Lead Pastor, Immanuel Church, Nashville, Tennessee

“As one who is both self-righteously religious and rebelliously irreligious (and sometimes on the same day!), I am repeatedly surprised by God’s relentless pursuit of my heart and his overwhelming grace. I’m sure that Tchividjian’s transparent interaction with a heartless prophet who is nevertheless an instrument of mercy to a wicked, godless nation will both convict and comfort you as it did me. In this wonderful book you’ll learn that Jonah’s story is not so much the story of a runaway prophet, a fish, a vine, and a repenting nation as it is a story of God’s persistent purpose to bless people he chooses to bless no matter the cost. If you need to remember that God is greater than your sin, that his purpose to bless isn’t really dependent upon your goodness, and that he will accomplish all his purposes no matter what, this Christ-exalting book will serve you well. It’s just splendid.”
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, counselor; speaker; author, Found in Him

“Calvin called Scripture a “mirror of the soul.” Tullian Tchividjian’s insightful guidance through the book of Jonah not only clearly explains the meaning of the book but helps us see ourselves in the reluctant prophet, sinners who are the recipients of God’s loving grace. I highly recommend Surprised by Grace for all Christians, young in the faith as well as mature, laypeople as well as pastors.”
Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“Grace is one of those words we use so much in the church that it’s easy to take for granted. It becomes ordinary. However, in this book grace shines in its biblical luster. Whether a new believer or a lifelong Christian, prepare to be surprised by grace!”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Calvin on the Christian Life

“The gospel is a surprising message of news seemingly too good to be true. Tullian shocks us with the gospel as he retells the story of Jonah, the story of a God who pursues, rescues, and even uses people who run away from him. What makes this book stand out is how Tullian presents the gospel in story form, carving deep grooves in one’s memory. I will not forget this book, and I will recommend it to all the “Jonahs” in my life, which is most everybody I know.”
Justin Buzzard, Lead Pastor, Garden City Church, Silicon Valley; author, Date Your Wife and The Big Story

Meet the Author

Tullian Tchividjian (MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary) is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a contributing editor to Leadership Journal, and a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of numerous books including the popular title Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

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Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone needs to read this book. It will reach your heart and your soul as you attempt to be there for a fallen child, friend, or family member that is willfull and unaccepting of Gods Grace in their lives. Restored my belief that I alone can not fix my child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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lipto96 More than 1 year ago
Recently I received a review copy of Tullian Tchividjian's book Surprised By Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels from Crossway Books. After trying to clarify the confusion of what is meant by "Gospel" Tchividjian begins to comb through the story of Jonah. He does a really good job of slowly working his way through Jonah's story. He creatively weaves parts of Herman Melville's Moby Dick into his explanation of the Jonah narrative. While I have difficulty with Tchividjian's clarification of what a Gospel is, I found his treatment of the story of Jonah very interesting. He offers a lot of thoughtful insights and observations into this story that open the story for further understanding of God's grace. This book is worth the ready to see a more careful consideration of God's grace in Jonah's life.
Daniel_Darling More than 1 year ago
You don't grow up in the church, as I have, without knowing, memorizing, and internalizing the story of Jonah. From the time I was old enough to do Sunday School, all through Vacation Bible School, Children's Church, and on through sermon series, books, teen discussions, etc, I have heard Jonah's life dissected in every which way. Jonah is the preacher's favorite "don't-rebel-or-you-will-face-God's-wrath" text. But often, in our desire to zing the rebel, we miss the very heart of the story of Jonah. This is why I was so wonderfully captivated by the majestic presentation of the book of Jonah by one of my favorite pastors and authors, Tullian Tchividjian. Tchividjian approaches the story Jonah from the perspective of the Gospel, seeing Jesus on every one of its pages. The real message in this short prophetic book is not about how angry God is when we rebel, but how merciful God is to pursue rebels and to extend grace to the most heathen. God's grace isn't just big enough for self-righteous God-followers like Jonah, but it's also big enough for the most despicable of peoples. Pastor Tullian uses the Gospel as your guide, walking the reader through every aspect of Jonah's epic life story, leaving no stone unturned. He adds color by tracing history's rendering of this story, both in literature and in art. The book reprints some of the most famous Jonah paintings and sculptures. This is easily one of the best books I've read all year. I highly recommend it. If you want your faith to be challenged, you're grace expanded, and you're appreciation of the gospel to grow, pick up Surprised by Grace. Then, pass it on to a friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tullian tchividjian (billy grahams grandson) has a new and exciting and inspirational book that is very hard to put down. he uses the story of jonah to show every day people and christians with a wonderful study guide and scripture that even though you have had a tough life or questians about your faith that you have a loving God and savior that like jonah and like the arthur will bring you back even stronger into his love. this book is very easy to read and would make a great gift idea for a friend or family member or pastor friend or soldier serving over seas