Last week I finished going through By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Idenity by Wendy Horger Alsup. Having finished it I wanted to give my thoughts. Sadly, my initial reaction to the whole book was that I was a bit disappointed. I'll share why, then explain what I really liked about it. I think my disappointment stemmed from 2 key areas. 1) She skipped over a lot of the book. Ephesians is packed full of amazing deep truths and she hit on many of them, but also skipped over a lot and left me with some questions that I'm going to have to go back and study some more. Some of the more difficult passages to understand didn't become any more clear to me, mostly because there was little to nothing written on them. That's ok, but I was hoping for a bit more I think. 2) Wendy seems to have had some difficult times in church. And while we all have a history that plays into our sanctification process, I don't know that we need to hear about it as much as Wendy seems to bring it up. She'll mention how it was done wrong in the past in churches she's been a part of, and move on fairly quickly to the right way, but I don't know that the mention of the wrong was necessary. It adds a negative tone to her writing that I've noticed on her blog as well and has made me a less frequent visitor. 3) I was hoping for more application both at the heart level and at the behavior level. She leaves a lot of the application up to the reader. Granted I didn't do much with the questions at the back of the book, I think because they were at the back. I enjoy questions placed with the chapter they go with. Perhaps even some reflection space throughout the paragraphs.
I did pick up some really cool things from Wendy's study though. I loved the initial definition of grace and the sister passage she uses to explain the greek term. It hit me hard in the way I consider God's grace towards me and the way I think I might be showing grace to others. Do they deserve this? Then it's not grace! I also enjoyed her emphasis on the church and the way we should be living life together as believers. Ephesians talks about this a lot so I'm glad she fleshed it out a bit. Again I might have enjoyed a bit more specific application, but overall I was challenged. I also loved the continuous thought from the beginning to end keeping in mind what we have in Christ from the earlier chapters as we consider the way we live life together in the ending chapters. It brings a whole new light to the life we live together as believers. I particularly found refreshing thinking through the armor of God in light of these truths.
I was hoping to recommend this as a good small group resource for our church. I don't know that I'll be able to... it's missing the kind of application at the heart and behavior level that we like to have, as well as had a few theological differences, but I think I could recommend it to individuals looking for a resource to use along with their personal time in the Word. Thanks Wendy for your hard work!