Reviewed by: Charles R. Biggs
Date posted: 07/07/2013
The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness, by Kevin DeYoung. Published by Crossway, 2012. Hardback, 160 pages, list price $17.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Charles R. Biggs.
The Bible teaches us to strive for "the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). God's glory and our holiness are the goals of our salvation (Eph. 1:4–6). J. C. Ryle wrote in the nineteenth century: "We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world.… Jesus is a complete Saviour."
Pastor Kevin DeYoung, in this clear and pastorally concerned book, says that the problem in many congregations today is that "there is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness" (p. 21). We love to hear the gospel (as we should!), but we are not as earnest about pursuing holiness.
DeYoung faithfully guides the reader past the erroneous ideas about holiness. He addresses the grave dangers of legalism and antinomianism in the Christian life (pp. 33–47).
We are saved by grace alone through faith, but we are saved for, or unto, good works (Eph. 2:8–10; p. 25). Redemption is salvation from both the penalty and the power of sin. We are forgiven and set free to serve God obediently (pp. 63ff.). As our Lord Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
As a help for growing in holiness, DeYoung makes the important distinction between the indicatives and the imperatives in Scripture. The indicatives tell us who we are in Jesus Christ, and the imperatives are those commands that we obey in light of who we are in him (Col. 3:1–4).
In Christ, believers can seek "extraordinary holiness through ordinary means" through prayer, Bible reading, and hearing the Word of God preached, as well as in fellowship with other believers and regular attendance at the Lord's Supper. These are the means that Christ has provided for believers to grow in holiness and be like him (pp. 133ff.).
DeYoung concludes by reminding us that we should seek to live a life of daily repentance. We always need God's grace to grow, and when we fall short, we should seek the grace and mercy of Jesus, asking him to help us in our weakness (pp. 137ff.).
I commend the careful balance and pastoral tone of the writer and the proper focus on the triune God in the salvation of his people. This book will be outstanding for Bible study groups and has a helpful study guide at the end. I would recommend this book highly for all Christians, and especially those who are new Christians or new to the Reformed faith, as a balanced and healthy guide to growing spiritually in Jesus.
DeYoung concludes: "God wants you to be holy. Through faith he already counts you holy in Christ. Now he intends to make you holy in Christ.… God saved you to sanctify you.… By his grace it can be yours" (p. 146).