Book Review: Beat God to the Punch

by Nick Weyrens – Oct 28

Eric Mason, Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2014. 128 pp. $12.99.

BeatGod_MasonThere’s a good chance that upon reading the title of this book that, like me, you furrowed your brow a bit.  From the opening sentence, Dr. Eric Mason puts your mind at ease. He writes, “This title is meant to draw the reader into the complexities…of a grace-filled life.”(1)Mason writes in an engaging manner and walks the reader through what it looks like to experience God’s immeasurable grace and how to see it manifested in every-day life.

Mason begins with the reality that upon Jesus’s return all will bow down before the King.  “By implication, we have the option to bow by choice, or to bow by force.  This reality extends to our whole life. Willfully bowing to Jesus now – rather than later – is the option we have in our everyday life.”(1) Unfortunately, many will bow by force and will face “the punch of [God’s] wrath, justice, and judgment.”(7)By God’s grace, through faith, we can beat God to the punch and willingly bow down and submit to His Lordship.  For Mason, this book is an invitation and is “all about the life available to those who embrace Jesus as Lord, those who willingly bow the knee.”(7)

For those who are still a little suspicious, Mason assures the reader that he is not in any way insinuating that we can, on our own ability, evade God’s punch of wrath; he writes, “beating God to the punch is never accomplished through our own effort, enlightenment, strength, or power.  Only by God’s grace is one able to bow.”(3) He repeatedly emphasizes that though we are beating God to the punch, it is only because Jesus Christ absorbed that punch for us.  He writes, “In order to beat God to the punch, you have to place your trust in Jesus Christ…Jesus, on the cross, took God’s best shot.”(97)

Mason walks through various aspects of God’s grace throughout the book.  In the first chapter he discusses the embodiment of God’s grace in the man of Jesus Christ and connects it to our lives today. “We must recognize that grace still walks with us.  It is a beacon for us to see grace through Jesus Christ…All cross paths with grace, but not all respond to it.”(14) Those that do respond by faith become a part of Jesus’ “crew” (a hip-hop term that Mason likens to discipleship).  We become all about Jesus; we like what he likes and do what he does, we’re now in his “crew.”

In chapter two, the author discusses how we experience grace.  For him, an experience of grace comes from the knowledge of grace.  He walks through five aspects of grace to help the reader better understand what grace is and is not.  These five aspects are: (1) grace is rooted in who God is, (2) this grace is rooted in God’s loving-kindness, (3) grace as a Person, (4) grace symbolizes something that was withheld from us, and (5) grace is the mans by which we respond to God.  Understanding grace helps us experience grace; we need both truth and grace. He writes, “grace and truth are the key ingredients for God to be glorified and therefore, unleashing the contagious nature of the gospel.”(38)

The next chapter addresses how we live in light of God’s grace.  Mason writes, “Living a grace-filled life requires us to look into the name of Jesus and discover what we lack. When I look at the names of Jesus, I see a buffet of grace. All the food groups of the soul are in His name, so that our souls will never find themselves malnourished. This grace buffet is for us to see that nothing we have could have been obtained on our own.”(47) It is through an intimate, deep knowledge of who Jesus is that we can experience is ever-present grace in our lives.  This is all done through Jesus sending us his Spirit. “The Spirit of God is the means for which we initially experienced the grace of God and continue to experience grace in our every day lives.”(57) Only by being filled with the Spirit can we be filled with the grace of God, because it is only through the working of the Spirit that grace works.

After moving through a sort-of historical survey of grace in chapter 4, in which the author looks at various theologians views of grace, Mason moves to the “completing work of grace”.  “As we live in this day and age, we find ourselves longing for the eternal when the fullness of God’s grace will be dispense to us.  Yet, between now and eternity we are to look forward to this grace and pursue living in light of it.”(82) We now live in a time of tension; God’s Kingdom is here, but not in its fullness.  It is the same for God’s grace; we are experiencing it in a very real way, but not in its entirety.  The author encourages readers that as we hope and long for the coming Kingdom, “Jesus desires that, until He returns, we extend grace’s borders through the power of the gospel.”

In the final chapter of his book, the author tells us just how we beat God to the punch. “Jesus Christ came to empower us to beat God to the punch. Beating God to the punch was God’s idea; we are not fooling Him or anyone else.  God’s idea in eternity past was to provide Jesus as a substitution for our sin. There is a Judge and judgment coming…In order to beat God to the punch, you have to place your trust in Jesus Christ.”(91, 97)

Overall this book is a great, in-depth look at God’s grace.  Dr. Mason admits “it will seem as if this book is more about grace than anything else.”(3) More than that though it is a call to live in light of God’s grace.  The reality is that when Jesus returns, you will bow down.  But why not beat God to the punch and bow down now, and by grace submit yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Whether you’ve been a Christian for decades or minutes, or even if you’re not a Christian, this book will serve as an encouragement to you as you learn more and more about God’s grace.

Nicholas J. Weyrens is an M.Div student at Southern Seminary and is the assistant to Dr. Timothy Paul Jones.  He received a BBA in Managerial Finance at the University of Mississippi where he met his wife, Sarah. He writes regularly at Formed & Fueled (www.formedandfueled.com).