I'll admit, I'm somewhat of a bibliophile, and I'm cheap. I love books. Especially free books. So when I saw I could get John MacArthur's new book in exchange for writing a review (this very review you're reading right now) I jumped at it. I've read a lot on forgiveness, both toward God and man, and was planning on taking an hour, skimming the 115 page book, and getting the next book in his series. My plan failed... Let me explain why.
From the first page, I found myself screaming "Yes!" I assumed that this was going to be a basic book, but MacArthur hits the nail on the head when dealing with reasons we don't want forgiveness. He starts by rallying against the sin as sickness mentality in one of the best presentations I've ever read (this is coming from a Biblical Counseling student. I've read about it before.) Granted, it is a few years dated (cites the DSM III-R, DSM IV-R is current [p. 5]), but it is true none the less. He describes the ways man tries to obtain forgiveness, through the law or through Christ. He cites studies and scripture, and is poignant and eloquent in doing it. I'm in love with this book... and I haven't even started chapter two.
Now chapter two: MacArthur speaks of the fact that only God can forgive sins. And Jesus forgave sins, which means that Jesus is God and forgives sins. He uses the case study of the quadriplegic lowered through the ceiling's healing to show this. He presents the story and it's meaning and implications well - he is helpful in showing the connections between healing and forgiveness, and offers a fresh (read: biblical) take on the story (not "what will you do to bring your friends to Jesus.")
Chapter three then deals with God's forgiveness in spite of who we are, not because of who we are. MacArthur speaks clearly about confession and repentance as necessary. He continues in chapter 4 to show from the Prodigal Son and story of Joseph how God actually wants to forgive. MacArthur is faithful to present the full truth of the scriptures on the issue of forgiveness. I'm glad I didn't skim like I wanted too! Chapter five finishes up the story of the Prodigal Son focusing on the father's desire to forgive.
Chapter six speaks of the narrow and wide paths, and speaks against Finny-esque easy believism. He does not (unfortunately) outline a doctrine of substitutionary atonement, but rather focuses on man's role in forgiveness with God. Which is the point of the book - and it is brief - which is why I'm keeping my "unfortunately" comment in parenthesis. Chapter seven concludes with our response: Seek forgiveness from God and forgive others.
Final Thoughts: throughout my summary, you get some of my opinions. Here are the rest. I really do like this book. Run, don't walk, to the internet and consider buying it. It's a really good book. It's very practical and not theology heavy. You can read the book quickly, I did it in one day. This is somewhat peripheral, but the binding is a little bit cheap. I'll probably have some loose pages in it because I'm bound to be lending this book out and reading it over again.