Holiness: More Than Middle-Class Family Values & Checklist Spirituality

Today I finally received my copy of Kevin DeYoung’s new book, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Go0spel Passion and the Pursuitof Godliness.  I have been waiting on this book since late Spring when I watched his presentation “Spirit-powered, Gospel-driven, Faith-fueled Effort,” which he gave at this year’s Together for the Gospel Conference, in which he provided a heads-up that this book was forthcoming. His presentation, which you can watch by following the link provided, is a small snapshot of what he deals with in the book – his fear that the current trend of emphasizing gospel living is leading people away from a serious pursuit of holiness.

Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel-driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches. . . . My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to. Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness? I worry that there is an enthusiasm gap and no one seems to mind, (p. 10-11, emphasis in original). Continue reading

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Are God’s Precepts The Measure of Our Strength?

Does the fact that God gives us commands mean that we have the ability within ourselves to fulfill them?  John Calvin writes:

Of course, if Scripture taught nothing else than that the law is a rule of life to which we ought to direct our efforts, I, too, would yield to their opinion without delay. But since it faithfully and clearly explains to us the manifold use of the law, it behooves us rather to consider from that interpretation what the law can do in man. With reference to the present question, as soon as the law prescribes what we are to do, it teaches that the power to obey comes from God’s goodness. It thus summons us to prayers by which we may implore that this power be given us. If there were only a command and no promise, our strength would have to be tested whether it is sufficient to respond to the command. But since with the command are at once connected promises that proclaim not only that our support, but our whole virtue as well, rests in the help of divine grace, they more than sufficiently demonstrate how utterly inept, not to say unequal, we are to observe the law. For this reason, let us no longer press this proportion between our strength and the precepts of the law, as if the Lord had applied the rule of righteousness, which he was to give in the law, according to the measure of our feebleness. We who in every respect so greatly need his grace must all the more reckon from the promises how ill-prepared we are.

Are You Cultivating a Culture of Grace or a Culture of Law?

This past Lord’s Day, my church began a Sunday school class that is on the topic of developing a culture of grace in the church.  For this class, we are utilizing Paul David Tripp’s lectures Your Christian School: A Culture of Grace?.  In the first lesson, this question was asked, “Are we asking the law to do something that only grace can accomplish?”  Behind this question is the truth that the law cannot accomplish what it demands.  That is not its purpose.  But so often, this is exactly how we approach the law.  We think, “If I can just do [ a certain outward behavior] enough, even when I don’t want to do it, then eventually there will be an inward positive effect.”  Or, we think something like this, “If I can just do it for thirty days, then it will become a natural habit that I will do all the time.  If I can thank God enough for my difficult trials, then I will truly become thankful.”  This approach to the Christian walk is a legalistic approach and it just simply won’t work. Continue reading