Richard D. Phillips
111 pages

Recommend: Yes

Genre: Doctrine / Calvinism


The “doctrines of grace”– or Calvinism — are often seen as outlandish and an unbiblical view of man, God, and salvation. Richard Phillips wants to take a look at these doctrines and, in survey format, highlight the biblical grounds for such doctrines.

The introductory chapter contains a fine exposition of Isaiah 6:1 – 7:14. He examines how Isaiah’s vision of God’s sovereignty and that awareness lead him to live differently. He lists four “hallmarks” which no doubt will cause us to live differently: 1) a readiness to serve; 2) humble, trusting obedience; 3) holy boldness; 4) reliance on sovereign, saving grace. Great chapter!

Read it for what it is: a short yet helpful introductory work into the vast subject of the doctrines of grace. Do not expect to go very in depth into the subject.

Book Structure:

There are six easily divided chapters:
  1. What’s So Great About . . . the Sovereignty of God?
  2. What’s So Great About . . . Unconditional Election?
  3. What’s So Great About . . . Limited Atonement?
  4. What’s So Great About . . . Irresistible Grace?
  5. What’s So Great About . . . the Perseverance of the Saints?

Notable Quotes:

  • “Indeed, is is when we best see our lost condition that we most treasure the gospel. This is what the doctrine of total depravity tells us—that the only way someone like this, someone like you and me, is going to be made right with God is by radical grace. And when we combine an accurate appraisal of man’s total depravity with a biblical vision of the absolute holiness of God, we see the gospel in all its glory. It is when we set God’s high and right demands next to our low and base performance, and when we compare His glorious being with our utter corruption, that we see the true problem of life. This is the great gulf between us and God, indeed an infinite one, as high as the heavens are above the earth. It is a problem that could be solved, a chasm that could be spanned, only on a hill far away, on an old rugged cross, ‘where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain'” (p. 29).
  • “Awe and gratitude drive the true Christian life and draw us joyfully to God’s grace in Christ. It is from the pit of our lost condition that we gaze up toward a God so high and perfect in His holiness. But from that vantage point we come to see fully . . . its height. The cross of Christ then rises up to span the full and vast distance that marks how far short we are of the glory of God, and that cross becomes exceedingly precious in our eyes” (p. 31-32).
  • “When we realize that no one could be saved by God’s justice and that His mercy is by its very nature sovereignly distributed, and recognize that our faith in Christ reveals that God chose us despite our demerit by His simple, sovereign grace, then we will see what a great doctrine this is. But more than that, we will start to glory in the perfection and majesty and the wonder of God’s grace for us. And we will ascribe all glory to Him with unspeakable joy” (p. 49).
  • “Indeed, irresistible grace glorifies the entire Trinity by proving how intimately involved God is in every conversion. It reminds us that when we speak about God’s grace, we do not mean that God sits afar and cuts sinners a little slack by giving them a second chance. Rather, God places His holy hands on our filthy hearts. With more personal contact than any surgeon uses in operating on our bodies, God is intimately involved in saving our souls. How sublime beyond words it is to realize that the transcendent, majestic God takes such a personal interest in every sinner who comes to faith in Christ. Far from being a nameless number in a vast crowd, every believer has been personally ministered to by God’s overwhelming grace. Truly, He is to us as a Father to His dear children and as a Shepherd to His beloved flock” (p. 80-81).