The "hole in our holiness" is that evangelicals don't look particularly holy, and, despite the flood of gospel-centered discussions, there seems to be a greater focus on personal depravity than on the pursuit of holiness. Looking to right the balances, Kevin DeYoung presents a popular-level treatment of sanctification and union with Christ, helping readers to see what matters most--being like Jesus. He shows how one can be like Christ in being joined to Christ. The market is ready for DeYoung's timely book, ready to avoid legalism and ambivalence, and they are ready for someone to articulate the inextricable relationship between grace and holiness.
- Great book!!!
For so long I struggled with my sanctification wondering if it was my job to walk out the grace that God has given me, or was it God's job to make me holy and pure. This book is amazing for those struggling with the same questions. It is well written full of scripture and provides hope for the hurting heart wondering how to grow and godliness and purity.
- It's about holiness not morality...
I love this book! Simple, easy and practical ways to understand God's plan for us a Christians to be holy and not moral. If you are battling with sin this book is a must.
- A Focus On Personal Holiness
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung is a quality book on an old fashioned value that is largely overlooked in today’s church. As a consequence he points out that holiness is lacking the church as the focus is on other areas such as grace.
He rightly asserts that grace does not mean no more law, it means that through Christ’s perfect life we have fulfilled the law but Jesus still mentions several times that we are to keep His commandments. The chapter on sexual immorality is also a telling one in a world that sex is used to sell everything and sex outside of marriage is common place how do Christians keep themselves free from this moral pollution.
The last part of the book focuses on the difference between union with God and being in communion with God, which is the deeper level of intimacy that Christians should achieve. Also the importance of repentance is focused on as we are bound to mess up and need forgiveness from God or others we have hurt.
The narration was very good, it seemed to flow along at a nice pace and it was easy to understand.
This book is a wakeup call for Christians who have been drifting along with their personal holiness expecting the grace of God to cover all their wilful sinning. Also it is a great book Christians who really want a more intimate relationship with Jesus.
This audio book was gifted as a part of the christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. More information can be found about this and other Christian audio books at christianaudio.com.
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- Biblical, Must-Read For All Christians
Here's another offering from an author whose blog I've followed for quite a while but whose book is my first. Kevin DeYoung writes often for The Gospel Coalition and has written many other books prior to this one, which really shows in his clear and contemporary writing style. The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness is DeYoung's exhortation for Christians to embrace the command from God to be holy as He is holy, and to pick up our responsibility by responding in obedience - in the right way.
DeYoung's argument is that Christians today are concerned with many things, but have forgotten to care deeply about holiness. He explains - gently and urgently, not with any judgment or self-righteousness - that holiness should be a primary focus in the personal and corporate life of all Christians, leading to the production of "good fruit" which bears witness to the gospel of Jesus. Growing in holiness, therefore, is balances obedience to the gospel (faith) and evidence of it in the Christian's life (works).
The means of achieving this are very biblical, as you can expect from DeYoung, and grounded in solid theology. He describes the process as being Spirit-powered, gospel-driven, and faith-fueled. In other words, holiness is something that requires faith on the part of the believer to obey God's commands, becomes possible through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, and centers around Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
There are no magical pills or extraordinary behaviors of pursuing holiness. Instead, the ordinary acts of prayer, bible reading, fellowship in church, and the sacraments are highlighted as the means of producing the extraordinary result. Many modern Christians may see these as outdated, monotonous, legalistic, and unspectacular means, but DeYoung reminds us that these daily acts produce fellowship with Christ in a personal relationship, manifested in community with others doing the same. It is these very ordinary daily obediences that allow Christ to sanctify us, as this is His work and not ours. He offers no shortcut or simple way of achieving what can only be attained through laboring and longsuffering, as the Bible does no such thing either.
A final highlight of The Hole in Our Holiness is DeYoung's address on holiness within our sexual lives. This has to be one of the most relevant of all themes, particularly because of the American culture's fixation with and desensitization to sexuality. It did seem to stand out a bit as a targeted topic, but after reading it I could see why this was so. I won't say more on this but recommend you read it yourself to find out why it was a necessary focus in this book on holiness.
As far as the narration goes, it was superb. Adam Verner does a solid job of characterizing the tone of the book, he's easy to understand, and reads at a good pace (one of my personal particulars).
Overall, this book sits confidently on the shelf (or Kindle) next to others on holiness from the likes of Jerry Bridges and JC Ryle. While it's easy to read, it's challenging to swallow because it's Scripturally grounded and convicting. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus - you won't be disappointed!
Desiring God interviewed the author and posted the series in 7 videos, addressing these topics from the books. I found the clips to be a great introduction to the book, and well worth the time if you're interested in possibly picking up the book. You can watch them here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/whats-the-hole-in-our-holiness
I listened to this audiobook through christianaudio.com's reviewers program and was given a copy to download in exchange for my unbiased review.
- great pairing
I have reviewed this book before. My results on the content? I found it to be absolutely amazing. The content was fluid and well-paced. Here is an excerpt of my review on the book edition:
DeYoung is a smooth writer. As an occasional reader of his blog, I find that his blog is very dense, theologically, and expects too much of casual readers. Yet, in the form of a book, his writing is very eloquent and at ease for enjoyment. Using personal anecdotes and giving a caring yet authoritative voice with his writing, he pens words that are not overtly Christian and unknown to many, but rather the ink (or e-ink) gives way to a theological treatise that is easy to read, enjoyable in nature, yet demanding in response.
As for narration, Verner does an excellent job. He manages to take the text, already great for reading, and pair it for excellent audio. Well-paced in his narration, Verner's voice gives life to the text in an empathetic and enlightening manner, encouraging readers to give a listen. If you can, read and listen at the same time - I've heard that's the best way to learn material well.
christian audio commissioned this review. Read this review and others like it at scriptedgenius.com.
- Great Book on Grace and Holiness
Grace, works, and Jesus. How do these all fit together? Does personal holiness even matter? What is holiness anyway? If you're wrestling with these issues, I think this would be a great book for you. In fact, even if you're not, maybe you should be. Have a listen to this work.
While I'm not overly familiar with DeYoung, in this book I sensed a man with a deep respect for the great ancient saints, a love for the person and work of Jesus Christ, and a burden to see Christ's bride being obedient to Scripture.
Kevin has a great writing style which I thoroughly enjoyed. While some books theological in nature tend to put my mind in a daze, this isn't one of them. Conversational is a great word to describe DeYoung's writing. I really appreciate when I can listen to a book that has a lot to teach me and keeps my mind engaged. Thanks Kevin, I felt like you were talking to me. The fantastic reading of this book definitely aids this experience.
This review was completed on behalf of christianaudio.com and their reviewers' program.
- Soundly Scriptural, Wisely Contemporary
J. I. Packer recently said in an interview with Desiring God,
There are writers who think that simply by crisp, orthodox formulations of Bible truth and wisdom—without any searching application to the reader—they are fulfilling the full role of a Christian writer and that nothing more is required of them.... There are enough people around already who can verbalize orthodoxy on paper. What we haven't got is writers who can join truth and wisdom about God from the Scriptures with personal communication; that is, communication that hits the heart, that makes you realize that this writer is a person talking to other persons and that this writer is trying to search me in order to help me and I must let him do it... There is a certain art and craft in writing in such a way that it gets to the reader's heart.
That quote kept coming back to me as I listened* to Kevin DeYoung's book The Hole in Our Holiness. This is a timely book targeting a large group of American Christians who, in their rush to embrace grace and avoid legalism, have swung the pendulum a bit too far. DeYoung is calling people in his own (YRR) movement to take the Bible seriously—not only in its invitations to revel in God's grace but in its commands to mimic God's holiness. In my view, DeYoung did an excellent job targeting my own heart and bringing his reader back to the scriptural "plumb."
DeYoung's thesis is simple: "A concern for holiness is not obvious in our lives like it is obvious in the pages of Scripture." If you don't think such a book is for you, if it sounds legalistic, then ask yourself DeYoung's three diagnostic questions:
1. Paul commends the Roman believers by saying "your obedience is known to all". Could that be said about us?
2. Is your heaven a holy place? Or is it a place of perpetual divine affirmation for us? Some Christians have never been taught that sorcerers, adulterers, and everyone who loves falsehood will be left outside the gates of heaven.
3. In our evangelism are we teaching people to do all that the Lord commanded?
For some Christians, DeYoung says, holiness is a lot like camping. It's great for those people who for some reason want to make life harder on themselves, but it's unclear why I should feel any obligation to try it. But you won't find such a view of holiness in the Bible, as DeYoung's book abundantly proves.
And his book is full of Bible, full of good theology applied searchingly to you and me. If DeYoung's exhortations sound more than a little fundamentalist, the problem doesn't lie with him. With some careful work through conservative doctrinal themes—union with Christ preeminent among them—DeYoung faithfully expounds the Bible's teaching on holiness.
But as Packer said, many people know these doctrines and can explain them accurately. What DeYoung adds is skilfull, heart-felt writing. He has many well-formed phrases that, for me, stuck.
• "When it comes to growth in godliness, trusting does not put an end to trying."
• "It's one thing to graduate from college ready to change the world; it's another thing to be resolute in praying that God would change you."
• "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."
• "To find acquittal from God at the last day, there must be evidence flowing out of us that grace has flowed into us."
• "Don't be so scared of works righteousness that you make pale what the Bible writes in bold colors. We are saved by grace through faith—Ephesians 2:8–9. We were created in Christ Jesus for good works—verse 10. Any gospel which purports to save people without changing them is inviting easy-believism."
• "[Sometimes biblical] imperatives hit us like a ton of study Bibles."
One of the most helpful things DeYoung did for me was to note that Jesus is a great physician who can writes different prescriptions for different maladies or different patients. Gratitude and duty are not the only appropriate motivations for holiness. Sometimes people are told to do right simply because it is right—for example, Ephesians 6:1. But compare Ephesians 4:32. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." DeYoung put together a whole list of verses offering different motivations to do right. This was excessively valuable, because we all need as many inducements to holiness as we could possibly and righteously and biblically get.
THE SITUATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
One reviewer of DeYoung's book on The Gospel Coalition blog issued a mild criticism of it, saying that while some people may be too liberated by their (mis)understandings of grace, he still knows plenty of people who need to catch the gospel-centered wave. I could echo this criticism, but I wouldn't call it a criticism, only a suggestion to book-recommenders. This may not be the book to give to a legalist (try Milton Vincen'ts Gospel Primer for that), and that's okay. DeYoung witnessed a problem in his circles, one I've seen in my own heart, and he offered the Bible's answer to it. The question of legalism, though DeYoung does bring it up several times and though it is a significant problem, simply wasn't the situation DeYoung was addressing.
The holiness DeYoung is urging on his readers is one that makes worldly entertainment a serious issue. It's one that isn't flippant about dating standards (and here DeYoung gives a memorable personal illustration). And it's a holiness for which there are no performance-enhancing drugs. He argues that "the only way to extraordinary holiness is through ordinary means:" church, prayer, Bible reading, the ordinances.
His book is one of those means. It is an example of a Christian teacher exercising his gifts for the good of the whole body of Christ (Eph. 4:11ff.). And in the end it does not pit grace against holiness. Both the indicatives of scripture and its imperatives are from God for our good, given in grace, DeYoung says.
*I received this review book from Christian Audio, but was not required to say anything positive. Because I listened to the book rather than reading it, direct quotations may vary slightly in punctuation from the printed book.
- Conversational and Helpful
Kevin DeYoung’s newest book is a conversational treatment on the role of holiness in the life of a believer. We’re often drawn towards either an “anything goes” mentality or a self-righteous pharisaism that misses the mark of Biblical holiness. DeYoung, on the other hand, aims to stay true to the Bible and do it in such a way that is clear and helpful to his readers.
One thing I most appreciate about DeYoung is his conversational manner of writing that can take a challenging and complex topic and explain it in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re reading a technical theologial work. His writing is witty and clear, and resonates well with an average guy like myself. Likewise, his stories and humor serve to teach and engage, not merely to break up a weighty paragraph or topic.
Regarding holiness, DeYoung takes readers to the Bible and brings into focus the key areas of motivation and empowerment, which helps us avoid those two pitfalls mentioned above. Although the book was a helpful resource, it didn’t feel as well unified as others he’s written or that I’ve read on the same topic of holiness. Maybe it’s because I listened to this shortly after listening to Jerry Bridges’ The Discipline of Grace, but after comparing the two, I’d have to give this book only three out of five stars because Bridges’ book was more unified, personal, and devotional than DeYoung’s.
Even still, I recommend DeYoung’s book, just not as much as Jerry Bridges’.
I received this book from christianaudio for the purpose of review.
- Scripture Packed
I just finished the Christian Audio version of The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung and read by Adam Verner. The full title of the book is The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness.
The Editorial Description:
The “hole in our holiness” is that evangelicals don’t look particularly holy, and, despite the flood of gospel-centered discussions, there seems to be a greater focus on personal depravity than on the pursuit of holiness. Looking to right the balances, Kevin DeYoung presents a popular-level treatment of sanctification and union with Christ, helping readers to see what matters most—being like Jesus. He shows how one can be like Christ in being joined to Christ. The market is ready for DeYoung’s timely book, ready to avoid legalism and ambivalence, and they are ready for someone to articulate the inextricable relationship between grace and holiness.
I absolutely agree with the basis of this book. In my own circles of friendships and acquaintances, I have seen this consistent slide towards a relaxed view of holiness. With many it has even been a, "We can continue in sin so grace may abound!" sort of view. Though most wouldn't admit this truth, their lives proclaim it day by day.
I have seen this tendency in my own life as well. The "big-bad" sins are gone, but those lingering ones tend to remain for a long time. It has been through great conviction, and some trials and tribulations, that God has begun to work those out of my life as well. It has now moved to the forefront of my mind that this is essential to all Christians. And the critical nature of personal holiness has also shown itself in my study of Ephesians at Edgewood Baptist Church.
The thing that I really enjoyed about this book, that moved it up to an "excellent" number of stars on my ratings, is that it is full (to the brim) with scripture. And not just references, I love it when an author includes whole verses and passages of scripture in their book. It isn't just "filler" for a book, it becomes the book's spinal cord.
I also appreciated how Kevin DeYoung starts by showing us the "why" of holiness, but he also tells us the "how" from more than one perspective. There were huge applicational points throughout the book, but he really zoned in on the marriage between God and his Grace in Jesus Christ and the effort that is exerted in a pursuit of holiness.
I highly recommend this book. I really enjoyed the voice talent as well. Adam Verner was a new name for me, but he really reminded me of the times that I have heard Kevin DeYoung speak. There was such a personal feel to the reading that I thought that it was actually the author reading the book through most of it.
- Sweetly Convicting
Kevin DeYoung is a pastor, author, blogger, and solid thinker whose stuff I love to read. His book Just Do Something is one of my favorites on the topic of discerning God’s will. Now DeYoung has once again penned a solid, rich, and helpful work in The Hole in Our Holiness.
I heard Kevin DeYoung speak at Together for the Gospel 2012, and found his message wonderfully convicting. He challenged us to love grace, but to not forget that God’s word also calls us to take action, to obey God, as part of our own sanctification. So, when DeYoung published a book explaining and expounding on this concept, I was extremely glad to get a chance to read it. I had high hopes. I was not disappointed.
DeYoung teaches with clarity and depth on the topic of sanctification, our growth in Christ. His premise is, as stated above, that God calls his children to obey him and to join him in the work of sanctification. Of course DeYoung understands that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone; however, he also knows that the New Testament is full of commands from our Lord for his followers. The simple truth being communicated here is that we are saved by grace alone, but we obey as an outworking of that salvation for God’s glory and our good.
If the book has a weakness—and one is not easy to find—it would be that the language or the content can get heavier than light readers might want. DeYoung has put together some pretty long lists of commands or Christian attributes that God calls us to. Those who are looking for a fluffy piece on strengthening their faith might find such heavy-lifting difficult. DeYoung also quotes puritans, which can lead to convicting thoughts delivered in stilted prose. But, honestly, I cannot call either of these things a weakness.
DeYoung’s book is simply a good piece of work reminding us that, as believers, we do not continue in sin simply because we are under grace. There is no call for us to stop trying and just assume God will make us stronger. God commands our obedience, and works in and through us to accomplish it; yet we must take action and be disciplined.
I happily recommend DeYoung’s book, and the excellent Christian Audio recording read by Adam Verner, one of my favorite Christian Audio narrators. I received a free audio copy of this work to review as part of ChristianAudio.com’s reviewers program in exchange for an honest review.