It has been awhile since I have blogged through a book. But, based on the amount of red ink I used underlining things in the first chapter of Kevin DeYoung’s new book, The Hole in Our Holiness, I thought it might be a great time to do that.
“Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.”
The first chapter is about the gap in our holiness. He builds an analogy in the beginning. He doesn’t like camping. Just didn’t grow up in a camping family, doesn’t talk about camping and has no interest in camping. What would happen if we thought that way about holiness? Some people do think this way, as though holiness is an optional recreational activity.
“My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has save us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to.”
What is particularly disturbing to DeYoung (and should be for us) is that this holiness gaps in a time of gospel-centeredness. We are rightly enthused about forgiveness and justification. We are not as enthused about sanctification.
He brings up 3 questions from Packer’s Rediscovering Holiness (a great book!). These questions should alert us to a problem.
Is Our Obedience Known to All? Packer gets this from Romans 16:19. Yes, sometimes our reputation is completely off base (Rev. 3:1). But, what is your church known for? Is it obedience to God, being hip or cool, creativity, relevance? He brings up the Puritans, who enjoyed God’s good gifts and pursued godliness as one of the them. Catch that? Holiness is one of God’s great gifts to us. He brings up some quotes from William Ames and William Perkins. But I’ll point you to the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” All theology should enable us to glorify and enjoy God.
“No matter what you profess, if you show disregard for Christ by giving yourself over to sin- impenitently and habitually- then heaven is not your home.”
Is Our Heaven a Holy Place? He brings up Revelation 21, and the reality that there is NO sin and NO sinners there. Revelation is about the various pressures put on God’s people to compromise- deception, economic pressure, political pressure. But we see that the promises are for those who overcome thru the blood and testimony of the Lamb. Hebrews 12: 14 is clear, there is a holiness without which we won’t see the Lord. This isn’t justification, but sanctification based on the context.
Are We Great Commission Christians? Part of the Great Commission is to teach them “to obey everything” Christ has commanded us. In other words, it is about holiness. Discipleship doesn’t end with doctrinal instruction. That must be used to promote and facilitate holiness. We don’t stop with the indicative of the gospel, but include the imperatives that flow from those indicatives.
Answering these things honestly, should reveal that there are gaps. Why? Some people misunderstand holiness to be rule keeping. I’m taking man-made rules: Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t go with girls who do… We confuse holiness with legalism, and legalism is to be avoided just as much as antinomianism. Both shipwreck souls.
Some are afraid of standing out and being “different.” The ante has been upped in our day and age. In America, holiness is becoming increasingly demonized as hate. One of life’s rich ironies. Our culture puts boundaries breakers on a pedestal. It puts moral conservatives in the pits of hell.
But, sadly, some think that being gospel-centered means we don’t talk about gospel imperatives. They think that grace avoids moral exertion. We are so allergic to legalism, “antinomianism feels like a much safer danger.”
“Then there is the reality that holiness is plain hard work, and we’re often lazy. We like our sins, and dying to them is painful. Almost everything is easier than growing in godliness. So we try and fail, try and fail, and then give up. It’s easier to sign a petition protesting man’s inhumanity to man than to love your neighbor as yourself.”
DeYoung reminds us that one of the constant drumbeats of the Bible is holiness. We tend to focus on things of less importance. They create a sound today that drowns out the drumbeat. We are distracted from the main thing, and there is a decided lack of holiness in many churches. This, my brothers (and sisters) is a problem.