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R.C. Sproul – Sin Is Cosmic Treason

16 Jan

Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgment is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.”

~R.C. Sproul~


The Holiness of God (Carol Stream, IL; Tyndale House Publishers; 1998) p. 116

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D.A. Carson – From Duty to Delight

27 Sep

Christianity is never merely a matter of rules and regulations, of public liturgy and private morality. Biblical Christianity results in transformed men and women—men and women who, because of the power of the Spirit of God, enjoy regenerated natures. We want to please God, we want to be holy, we want to confess Jesus is Lord. In short, because of the grace secured by Christ’s cross, we ourselves experience something of a transforming moral imperative: the sins we once loved we learn to fear and hate, the obedience and holiness we once despised we now hunger for. God help us, we are woefully inconsistent in all this, but we have already tasted enough of the powers of the age to come that we know what a transforming moral imperative feels like in our lives, and we long for its perfection at the final triumph of Christ.

~D. A. Carson~


Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2010) p. 31-32

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Kevin Deyoung – Is it Possible to Please God?

19 Sep

It is a dangerous thing to ignore the Bible’s assumption, and expectation, that righteousness is possible. Of course, our righteousness can never appease God’s wrath. We need the imputed righteousness of Christ. More than that, we cannot produce any righteousness in our own strength. But as born-again believers, it is possible to please God by his grace. Those who bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God are fully pleasing to God (Col. 1:10). Presenting your body as a living sacrifice pleases God (14:18). Obeying your parents pleases God (Col. 3:20). Teaching the Word in truth pleases God (1 Thess. 2:4). Praying for the governing authorities pleases God (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Supporting your family members in need pleases God (5:4). Sharing with others pleases God (Heb. 13:16). Keeping his commandments pleases God (1 John 3:22). Basically, whenever you trust and obey, God is pleased.

~Kevin DeYoung~


The Hole in Our Holiness (Weaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 69

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Book Review: The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

17 Sep

“‘I am a spiritual failure, but, praise God, Jesus came to save spiritual failures like me! I cannot obey God’s commands for one nanosecond. I never truly God with all my heart or my neighbor as myself. Even my righteous deeds are like filthy rags. If you could see my heart, you’d see that my sins are as bad as anyone else’s or worse! I am a spiritual screw-up through and through, unfaithful to my faithful God. But the good news is, God has saved me because of Christ’s death and resurrection. I am his adopted child, forgiven and clean. Nothing I ever do can make God love me any more-or any less–than he already loves me in Christ. Even though I continue to sin, I can never disappoint my heavenly Father, for he looks at me and sees the righteousness of his beloved Son. What unspeakable good news!’

‘So what’s wrong with this?’ you may ask incredulously. Well, as a general statement confessing sin and clinging to the righteousness of Christ, it is absolutely true and beautiful. If I heard a paragraph like this my first reaction would be to praise God for such a powerful reminder of gospel grace. But if someone asked me to probe deeper, I’d caution that this statement is not very careful. And where our theology is not careful, our Christian lives are often adversely affected.”

This quote is an illustration of the dynamic that this book attempts to tackle head on. Speaking to the gospel-centered movement Kevin DeYoung’s book interacts with questions like: has our desire to be gospel-centered led us into any imprecise or careless ways of talking about the Christian life after believing the gospel? And, is it possible that we have in any way flattened the dynamic biblical view of holiness and reduced every problem or struggle we have to a failure to believe the gospel? Or, is the any more to holiness than simply needing to believe or appropriate the gospel more deeply? Can we even be holy? Is the Christian life only about simply giving God all the glory over and over as we continually fail and sin or can we actually grow in holiness, in lives that are pleasing to Him?

These questions and more DeYoung seeks to take up in his new book recently released by Crossway Books.

The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness

In this short and easy to read new book, DeYoung begins the by observing the apparent lack of enthusiasm to pursue holiness in our generation. We may be passionate about many things, but holiness is not often at the top of the list. In fact, for many of us, we have trouble connecting the pursuit of holiness with our passion for the free grace of the gospel. DeYoung helpfully moves right into helping resolve this disconnect by leading us through the very reason for our redemption: God creating a holy people for Himself. After establishing the fact that since God is in the business of conforming us to His image i.e. making us more holy He gets to what I consider the bread and butter of the book.

‘The Impetus for the Imperatives’ is the title of the fourth chapter and here is where DeYoung really helps to lay out for us in balanced fashion how the gospel rightly leads us to a pursuit of holiness. I appreciated his effort here to maintain the utter importance of the gospel on the one hand while also pushing us to think more accurately about the connection between gospel passion and the pursuit of holiness. For example, in regards to every command in Scripture simply and only being a command to further mediate on the gospel DeYoung says this:

“The irony is that if we make every imperative into a command to believe the gospel more fully, we turn the gospel into one more thing we have to get right, and faith becomes the one thing we need to be better at. If only we really believed, obedience would take care of itself. No need for commands or effort. But the Bible does not reason this way. It has no problem with the word “therefore.” Grace, grace, grace, therefore, stop doing this, start doing that, and obey the commands of God. Good works should always be rooted in the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection, but I believe we are expecting too much from the “flow” and not doing enough to teach that obedience to the law–from a willing spirit, as made possible by the Holy Spirit–is the proper response to free grace.”

Read that carefully, DeYoung is not casting gospel-centeredness aside, or down-playing gospel meditation. What he is saying is that there is a ‘therefore’ that comes with the gospel. It has implications.

He then moves into what was, for me, the most gloriously encouraging chapter of the book. The chapter, ‘The Pleasure of God and the Possibility of Godliness’ is a wonderful look at how we have been so changed by God that we actually can grow in godliness. If you’ve been a Christian for long you will have encountered seeming steps backward in your Christian walk. What are you to do with that when it continually occurs? Can you ever change? Will you ever stop committing that sin? If Jesus is your Savior, then the Holy Spirit dwells within you and you CAN change. It IS possible. What good news that is! Being careful not to be triumphalistic, there is something freeing in statements of faith like this that move me to action. We are no longer mere victims of our domineering sin but are able to make ground in this already-won-yet-still-to-be-lived-out war.

And to bring even more gospel-precision to this DeYoung helpfully distinguishes for us the difference between the reality of our once and for all union with Christ and our ongoing communion with Him in his chapters ‘Be Who You Are’ and ‘Abide and Obey’:

“Our progress in the pursuit of holiness comes largely from understanding and appropriating our union with Christ. As John Murray states, ‘Nothing is more relevant to progressive sanctification than the reckoning of ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 6:11).’ Apart from our union with Christ every effort to imitate Christ, no matter how noble and inspired at the outset, inevitably leads to legalism and spiritual defeat. But once you understand the doctrine of union with Christ, you see that God doesn’t ask us to attain to what we’re not. He only calls us to accomplish what already is. The pursuit of holiness is not a quixotic effort to do just what Jesus did. It’s the fight to live out the life that has already been made alive in Christ.”

And,

“We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are no being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God. Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to a slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging union with Christ leads to an ever-increasing communion with Christ….
Union with Christ is the irrevecable work of the Spirit. Once united, nothing can separate us from Christ. Nothing can make us a little more or a little less united. Union with Christ is unalterable. Communion with Christ, on the other hand, can be affected by sin and unresponsiveness to God’s grace.”

What a helpful paradigm through which I can view my Christian life.

Any charge that DeYoung needs to point us more to the gospel has simply not fully appreciated paragraphs like the above. This book is gospel-soaked. DeYoung pushes us to think in terms of the robust vocabulary of the Bible and urges us to see how gospel and obedience are not mutually exclusive terms.

There is much, much more to this book, including a chapter near the end titled “Saints and Sexual Immorality” that many will find of great encouragement.

This is a well-written, Bible-saturated work that will challenge and encourage you at the same time. We don’t need less gospel, but we do need more Biblical precision when it comes to thinking of our lives now as Christians. Let us be careful not to dilute the gospel or trample the work of the Holy Spirit by carelessly speaking or thinking in ways that the Bible does not regarding the gospel and our pursuit of holiness. The indicative leads to the imperative. The gospel leads us to the pursuit of holiness. The pursuit of becoming more like the one who is at the center of the gospel, Jesus. We’ve not only died with Christ, but we’ve also been raised with Him. And we can slowly but surely begin to walk in the newness of life He has given us. He has not only canceled our sin and saved us from much, but He has also spiritually resurrected us and saved us to much, lives that increasingly please our gracious Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the glory of Christ and empowers us know more of Him and, yes, to be more like Him.

“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10


Get a Copy Today:
Hardback | Kindle | Crossway


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Full Disclosure: This book was received for free from Crossway as part of their book review program. I was not obligated to review it one way or the other but was free to review it as I saw fit.

Kevin Deyoung – Union and Communion

17 Sep

We don’t just want holiness. We want the Holy One in whom we have been counted holy and are no being made holy. To run hard after holiness is another way of running hard after God. Just as a once-for-all, objective justification leads to a slow-growth, subjective sanctification, so our unchanging union with Christ leads to an ever-increasing communion with Christ….
Union with Christ is the irrevecable work of the Spirit. Once united, nothing can separate us from Christ. Nothing can make us a little more or a little less united. Union with Christ is unalterable. Communion with Christ, on the other hand, can be affected by sin and unresponsiveness to God’s grace.

~Kevin DeYoung~


The Hole in Our Holiness (Weaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 123

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Kevin Deyoung – Admitting the Gap

12 Sep

The sky is not falling, and it won’t fall until Jesus falls from it first. But we don’t have to pretend everything else is wrong to recognize we don’t have everything right. There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness. This must change. It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously. It’s the way of all those who have been called to a holy calling by a holy God.

~Kevin DeYoung~


The Hole in Our Holiness (Weaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 21

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Kevin Deyoung – Why So Many Worldly Christians?

6 Sep

Some pollsters and pundits look at the worldliness of the church and conclude that being born again doesn’t make a difference in how people live. We should come to the opposite conclusion; namely, that many churchgoers are not truly born again. As A.W. Tozer put it, “Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life.”

~Kevin DeYoung~


The Hole in Our Holiness (Weaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p. 18

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