Living Into Our Call

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The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,

the world and those who dwell therein, 

for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. 

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?

And who shall stand in his holy place? 

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul 

to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 

(Ps 24:1-4)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sometimes decreasing tension with a holy God means increasing our tension with the world. In David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ recent book, UnChristian, the six most common points of tension between Christians and non-Christians were:

1. Hypocritical. We say one thing and do another.

2. Christians are: “too focused on getting converts.”

3. Homophobic. “Christians are bigoted and show distain for gays and lesbians.”

4. Sheltered. Christians are: “old-fashioned, boring, and out of touch with reality”.

5. Too political. Christians: “promote and represent politically conservative interests and issues.”

6. Judgmental. People doubt that “we really love people as we say we do.” (Kinnaman 2007, 29–30).

Non-Christian doubts about Christian holiness lie behind each of these criticisms. For example, Christians who act like everyone else—especially in matters of sexuality—are rightly seen as hypocritical, not holy. By contrast, Christians who pursue holiness may make some others feel uncomfortably judged, eliciting unfair criticism and well-earned tension.

When holiness issues are raised within the church, discussion is often cut off with a question—where is the grace in your worldview? In view here is the presumed tension between grace and law in the Gospel of John: “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16–17) Grace and law appear to oppose one another, but this interpretation is misleading for two reasons.

The first reason is that grace and truth are divine attributes revealed to Moses immediately after the giving of the law (Exod 34:6). If the law and grace appeared together from the beginning, how could they be in conflict? It is more helpful to interpret law and grace as complementary because the giving of the law was itself act of divine grace in that the law revealed God’s will for daily living. Consequently, Christ’s atoning sacrifice was not God’s first an act of grace.

The second reason is that grace and truth (law is a kind of prescriptive truth) go together in personal transformation. According to Calvin, because the law is concrete, it is useful for educating in righteousness, for law enforcement, and for outlining how to be holy every day (Haas 2006, 100). Everyone loves to receive grace, but not everyone likes to hear the truth because it often requires corrective action.

The commentary nature of law and grace is never more obvious than in the words of Jesus: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt 5:17) Attempts to abrogate the Law of Moses in favor of grace often arise because the law divides into two parts: the holiness code and ceremonial law. This distinction arose historically because the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70 making it impossible to perform the ceremonial laws. However, the destruction of the temple had no such effect on the holiness code, whose prohibitions against sexual immorality were never abolished or abrogated, as confirmed in the Council of Jerusalem in AD 50 (Acts 15:19-20).

The holiness code is not obsolete. Consider the cleanup in New York City that occurred in the 1980s. Two criminologists, James O. Wilson and George Kelling, started the clean-up with what they called the broken windows theory. They argued: 

Crime is inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and a sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street it faces, sending the signal that anything goes. The idea is that crime is contagious. 

So New York City waged a war on broken windows and graffiti in the neighborhoods and subway. Minor infractions of law were not tolerated. And crime throughout the city began to fall precipitously to everyone’s surprise (White, 2004, 158). 

The broken windows theory is to cities what the holiness code is to individuals. King Solomon famously wrote of the little sins: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” (Song 2:15) The point is that little things matter—they form and reflect your attitude.

Our conduct matters. Our conduct matters to our families, for whom we model Christ and express our deepest commitments. It matters to our neighbors, for whom we witness and work for peace. It matters to God, who gave Moses the law, in whom we put our faith, and on whom we depend for our salvation. Our conduct matters.

References

Haas, Guenther H. 2004. “Calvin’s Ethics.” In The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin, 93–105. Edited by Donald K. McKim. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kinnaman, David with Gabe Lyons. 2007. UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why It Matters. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks.

Wallace, Daniel B. 1996. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

White, James Emery. 2004. Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.

Living Into Our Call

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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Prune, Intensify, and Apply

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. 

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent 

has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. 

For it is better that you lose one of your members 

than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

 (Matt 5:27-29)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

The Sixth Beatitude focuses on a clean heart—“Honored are the pure in heart”—but, how can I remove the impurities? Jesus provides three methods: pruning, intensifying, and applying.

Prune

Jesus gives us two metaphors of pruning—cutting away unnecessary or unwanted growth to make a plant stronger and more fruitful (John 15:2). The first metaphor involves eyes: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” (Matt 5:29) The second metaphor involves hands: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matt 5:30) In both metaphors, we remove sin from our lives by pruning.

The eye gouging and hand chopping metaphors could also have been heard by Jesus’ audience as a messianic call to arms. When the Prophet Samuel anointed Saul messianic king of Israel, he said to him: “And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies.” (1 Sam 10:1) Notice the hand metaphor in this blessing. Saul’s first act as king was to save the besieged city of Jabesh-gilead from an Amorite king whose condition for surrender was: “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.” (1 Sam 11:2) Understanding the story of Saul, Jesus’ metaphors might be interpreted as saying: stand on your own two feet.

Jesus’ pruning metaphors imply that sanctification—casting off sin and taking on godliness—is serious business: eyes and hands are parts of the body—parts of us—that are not easily discarded. If the threat of sin were trivial, then a better analogy might have been to trim your nails or cut your hair. But if sin threatens both our physical and spiritual lives, then amputation is an acceptable option and the analogy is not hyperbolic.

Intensify

Jesus widens the scope of commandments under the law by drilling into the motivation for breaking them, intensifying the scrutiny given to sin. For example, when Jesus talks about adultery, he focuses on the lustful look that corrupts the heart, not the sinful act that follows. As evangelist Billy Graham (1955, 78) reminds us:  “What does this word adultery mean? It is derived from the same Latin root from which we get our word adulterate which means corrupt; to make impure or to weaken.” If sin begins in the heart, then sanctification must strive for purity of heart, and not only avoiding sin, but pursuing godliness, as the Apostle Paul writes:

But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:20-24)

The likeness of God, of course, refers to the divine image in creation, as implied in the word, godliness, used by Paul in admonishing Timothy: “train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim 4:7).

Apply

In the Jewish mindset, it makes no sense to separate heart and mind or faith from action, as we read in James:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (Jas 1:22-25)

As a devote Jew, James would almost certainly share Jesus’ conviction that unity of person (heart and mind) implies unity of faith and action (Dyrness 2001, 81). In fact, the gap between what we say and what we do is a good measure of the amount of sin in our lives. After all, Jesus was the first person in scripture to use the word, hypocrite, to mean two-faced—saying one thing and doing another (Matt 23:25). Prior to Jesus, an hypocrite was just an actor on a Greek stage.

Unity of faith and action is, of course, a divine attribute, as we see in the life and work of Jesus Christ. In life, Jesus modeled God’s sinless nature for us (Heb 4:15). In death, Jesus redeemed us from our sin (Gal 3:13). In resurrection, Jesus gave us the hope of salvation (1 Cor 15:20). And, in ascension, intercedes for us before Almighty God (Rev 22:3). Following the ascension at Pentecost, Jesus conferred on the church and on us the Holy Spirit to assist us in overcoming our sinful nature (John 16:7–8).

Because part of our sinful nature is to focus only on ourselves, it is helpful to distinguish self-help efforts from sanctification. Self-help focuses on us while sanctification focuses on modeling Christ.

So when we act in unity of faith and action, we echo the Trinity:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deut 6:4-5)

In this manner, we model God’s sinless nature to those around us. Modeling Christ, we must prune, intensify, and apply if we are to be pure in heart and see God.

References

Bridges, Jerry. 1996a. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Bridges, Jerry. 1996b. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Dyrness,William A. 2001. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Graham, Billy. 1955. The Secret of Happiness. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc.

Prune, Intensify, and Apply

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

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A Right Spirit and Clean Heart

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, 

and renew a right spirit within me. 

Cast me not away from your presence, 

and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 

(Ps 51:10-11)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

When we think of the word, “holy”, we usually think of moral purity, but another definition is: “pertaining to being dedicated or consecrated to [set apart to] the service of God” (BDAG 61). The same word for holy in Greek also means saint, as well as morally pure and separate.

Moral purity and separation are fundamental ideas in the Old Testament understanding of God, as seen in Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) Two acts of separation occur in creation: non-being is separated from being (Gen 1:1a) and the heavens and the earth are separated from one another (Gen 1:1b). Other separations—darkness and light, morning and evening, dry land and water, male and female—follow in the creation account which God declares to be good.

Contemporary attacks on the goodness of God often start by declaring these separations arbitrary and capricious, especially as they pertain to gender. The argument goes that if these separations are arbitrary, they are also discriminatory, hence not good. Therefore, the Bible teaches discrimination and cannot be considered normative for postmodern Christians.

Good separations, often referred to today as boundaries, need to be clear and concrete. In the Ten Commandments (Exod 20), the law sets forth voluntary boundaries defining who is and is not part of the household of God. This covenant between the people of Israel and God begins with a reminder of the benefits of the covenant: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exod 20:2) The point here is that you were once slaves, but I set you free—you owe me.

A Christian interpretation of this passage takes a different twist. The Apostle Paul talks about being a slave to sin (Rom 7:14). Today we talk about slaves to an addiction, being slaves to fear, or slaves to other passions. God offers us the freedom to escape such bondage, if we seek him. 

The covenantal benefits (blessings) and strictures (curses) were laid out in greater detail in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy, which means the second book of the law, needed to repeat the covenant for a new generation because God cursed their parents (who had lived in Egypt) for their lack of faith to die in the desert (Deut 1:20–37). Here we first read about the benefits:

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field…. (Deut 28:1-3)

Later in parallel fashion, we read about the strictures:

But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field… (Deut 28:15–16)

These blessings and curses are cited again in Psalm 1: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers… (Ps 1:1)

Reminding people, especially leaders, of these blessings and curses was the primary responsibility of an Old Testament prophet. Those that kept their covenantal obligations were considered righteous under the law (Phil 3:6).

If God considered Job righteous, then why did Job end up suffering? (Job 1:1)

One response to the question of suffering is that Job’s faithfulness was tested by evil circumstances (Job 1:9) and confirmed to be true (Job 42:1-7). Another response is that suffering is a consequence of foolishness (Prov 1:7). The best response is that sin brings suffering, is part of our nature, and God’s intervention is required to overcome it, as we read:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another… (Job 19:25-27)

This theodicy of Job reveals God’s glory and his love for us in providing us a redeemer.

The possibility of a redeemer is prophesied by Moses (Deut 18:15) and expresses God’s forgiveness (Exod 34:7). In praying for God’s forgiveness, King David expressed most clearly God’s intervention in our moral condition, cited above in Psalm 51. David recognized that divine intervention was required for a human relationship with a holy and transcendent God. To be human means to be unholy and mortal, not holy and immortal (transcendent), like God.

Later, God intervened through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to atone for our sin (1 Cor 15:3–10). In Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we can live in obedience to God (set free from the law) and can come before God in prayer and worship.

A Right Spirit and Clean Heart

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net

Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

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Holiness: Monday Monologues (podcast) July 6, 2020

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Stephen W. Hiemstra 2020 (Ken Burtram Photography)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on holiness. After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Holiness: Monday Monologues (podcast) July 6, 2020

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

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Prayer for Greater Holiness

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By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Holy and Eternal Father,

We praise you for your mercy and grace through Jesus Christ, who died for our sins before we were even born.

We confess that you alone are holy.

From our mother’s womb we have tried your patience and even now come to you with blood-stained hands.

Forgive us in our rebellion against your covenant and against your son.

In the power of your Holy Spirit, cleanse our hearts and minds that we might become fit stewards of your mercy and grace to those among us who have not heard the good news or have rejected it on account of our sin and folly.

Draw us to yourself today across the gaps that separate us that we might have new life in you, this day, and forever more.

In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Prayer for Greater Holiness

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Believer’s Prayer

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Spiritual Disciplines: Monday Monologues, September 16, 2019 (podcast)

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflect on Spiritual Disciplines.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on the link below:

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Spiritual Disciplines: Monday Monologues, September 16, 2019 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Spiritual Disciplines

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Living in ChristBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then staying attached to the vine is our first priority. The First Commandment makes this point: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod 20:3) John’s Gospel goes a step further declaring Jesus as the ethical image of God with God during creation:

“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John. 1:2-5)

The idea of an ethical image is introduced here in describing him as “the light of men.” 

In describing Jesus as the light of the world, John draws our attention to God’s first refinement—creating light—after creating heaven and earth (Gen 1:3). The implication is that creation itself started with an ethical intent, which we share in by virtue of being created in God’s own image (Gen 1:27).

Two Objectives of Spiritual Disciplines

In his Sermon on the Mount uses this same light metaphor of his disciples:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16)

The implication here is that staying attached to the vine is the first priority and that the purpose of this attachment is to convey light, an ethical mandate. Thus, for Christians spiritual disciplines have two objectives: increasing our openness to God’s blessings and extending them to others (Gen 12:1-3; Matt 22:36-40).

Jesus is not looking for fans, he is looking for extension cords.

Rapprochement

The eating of forbidden fruit led to humanity’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Banishment is a penalty reserved for rebels and it creates a physical barrier between us and God that only God can overcome. For as creator of the universe, God stands outside of time and space while we remain within time and space unable to bridge the gap on our own.

Implicit in taking Christ as our example is that Jesus is the divine image in which we were created. As both God and human, Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is able to bridge the gap that we cannot (e.g. Heb 9:11-13).

In dying on the cross, Christ paid the penalty for our sin, but our remoteness from God requires rapprochement. We must accept Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and be willing to admit God into our lives. Admitting God into our lives—our sanctification—has three parts: renouncing sin (practicing holiness) and taking on the attributes of Christ (pursuing godliness) (Eph 4:20-24; Bridges). A third part is reconciliation with those who we have sinned against—social ministry.

How we approach practicing holiness and pursuing godliness naturally depends on the sins that we are most prone to commit. In a fractured world where people hide themselves from the consequences of their collective actions, social ministry might be seen as a particularly important sanctification activity.

Dancing with God

In some sense, sanctification is like taking God as a dancing partner. Accepting an invitation to dance is a verbal commitment, but dancing requires coordinated movement between two people. One would never claim the title of dancer having only accepted an invitation to dance. Neither would anyone enter a dance competition without practice. Faith is like accepting the challenge of a lifelong commitment to become the best dancer one can be.

References

Bridges, Jerry. 1996a. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Bridges, Jerry. 1996b. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Spiritual Disciplines

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Value Of Life

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Bridges Practices Godliness

GodlinessJerry Bridges.[1]1996. The Practice of Godliness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra, Author of Simple Faith and other books available online.

If you are like me, I always confused the words holiness and godliness, thinking that they were synonyms. Apparently, we are not alone. Bridges explains: “This book is a sequel to an earlier book, The Pursuit of Holiness. In Ephesians 4:20-24, Paul urges us to put off our old self and to put on the new self. The Pursuit of Holiness dealt largely with putting off the old self—dealing with sin in our lives. The Practice of Godliness focuses on putting on the new self—growing in Christian character.”(7)

This explanation made perfect sense to me because I read one right after the other.

 What is Godliness?

Bridges describes the Bible as “a book on godliness.” (11) He highlights these verses:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”(Gal 5:22-23 ESV)

Other such lists can be found in Colossians 3:12-16, Ephesians 4:2-3,32, James 3:17, and 2 Peter 1:5-7 (7). I have always associated these lists as practical translations of Exodus 34:6, where God describes his character:

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”(Exod 34:6)

Being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), our utmost desire is to emulate God in all we see him doing, which leads us to godliness because of his own self-disclosure of characteristics.

Rejoice Always

A key aspect of godliness in life and in ministry is the gift of joy. Bridges writes:

“But we are not to sit around waiting for our circumstances to make us joyful. We are commended to be joyful always. (1 Thes 5:16)”

Sometimes we need to give ourselves and others permission to be joyful.

Bridges sees four stumbling blocks to joy: (1) sin, (2) misplaced confidence, (3) God’s disciplining, and (4) trials and tribulations (109-112). He advises another four practices in practicing joy: (1) confess and forsake sin, (2) trust in God, (3) take the long view in life, and (4) give thanks in all circumstances (115-117). If we practice joy, he sees two benefits: (1) God is pleased and (2) we will be strengthened physically, emotionally, and spiritually (117-118).

This is interesting advice because I have prayed for strength daily for several years.

Background and Organization

Jerry Bridges (1929 – 2016) studied at the University of Oklahoma, served in the U.S. Navy, and worked on the staff of The Navigators, an evangelistic Christian group headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[2] He authored numerous books on the Christian life. Bridges writes in eighteen chapters, each centered on a particular passage of scripture. These chapters are preceded by a foreword and preface, and followed by a postscript.

This is almost the exact same format as Bridge’s other book and, as such, NavPress later issued the two books together with a Bible study as a compendium (2001).

Assessment

Like his earlier book, Jerry Bridges’s book, The Practice of Godliness, is destined to be a Christian classic. The wisdom found in this book has informed my walk with the Lord for almost twenty years. It is easy to read and well worth the effort.

References

Bridges, Jerry. 1996. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress. (Review)

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Bridges. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Navigators_(organization).

Bridges Practices Godliness

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Top 10 Book Reviews Over the Past 12 Months

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Bridges Breathes Life into Holiness

HolinessJerry Bridges.[1]1996. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra, Author of Simple Faith and other books available online.

As an author, I sometimes find reading good books difficult because I catch myself comparing my own writing to that of the author. Some authors recall details of every book they ever read; others write with such flair that every sentence reads like poetry; still others peer into the soul and catch points so profound that nothing appears unexplored. In a world of such genius, I think to myself, why do I even continue to write? The answer is that the call of the Christian writer is specific to our own talents and audiences, much like our call as Christians more generally is to glorify God with the gifts and calling that he has given us.

Introduction

In his book, The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges writes about a similar dilemma when it comes to holiness:

“We Christian greatly enjoy talking about the provision of God, how Christ defeated sin on the cross and gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us to victory over sin. But we do not as readily talk about our own our own responsibility to walk in holiness.”(10)

Pursuing holiness is a lifelong task for which diligence and effort are required (Heb 12:14), much like the effort required to a develop a talent like writing. Bridges writes: “…the holiness of Jesus was more than simply the absence of actual sin. It was also a perfect conformity to the will of the father.”(43) He refers to holiness as the throwing off of sin, while the putting on of Christ he calls godliness.

Background and Organization

Jerry Bridges (1929 – 2016) studied at the University of Oklahoma, served in the U.S. Navy, and worked on the staff of The Navigators, an evangelistic Christian group headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[2] He authored numerous books on the Christian life.

Bridges writes in eighteen chapters, each centered on a particular passage of scripture. These chapters are preceded by a foreword and preface, and followed by a postscript.

Why Worry About Sin?

Bridges poses an important question:

“If holiness, then, is so basic to the Christian life, why do we not experience it more in daily living? Why do so many Christians feel constantly defeated in their struggle with sin?”(16)

He cites three reasons.

First, “our first problem is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered.”(16) Obedience, not victory, is God’s will (17).

Our second problem is that we have misunderstood ‘living by faith’ (Gal 2:20) to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part.”(17)  

“Our third problem is that we do not take some sin seriously.”(18)

All sin is rebellion against God’s will for lives, which is why it is somethings compared to yeast that acts like an infection that spreads fast with devastating consequences.

Bridges makes an important point: “God does not require a perfect, sinless life to have fellowship with Him, but He does require that we be serious about holiness, that we grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it, and that we earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.”(36) We need to cling to Christ’s mantle, like the woman who suffered from bleeding (Matt 9:20-22)

The Journey

This is a book that I read in 2002, almost a decade before I attended seminary. As I reviewed my notes for this review, I was struck by how many insights that I have found myself repeating since then. One that my wife and kids even remember is this: “How do we view those who do not show love for us? Do we see them as persons for whom Christ died for or as persons who make our lives difficult?”(46) I cited this idea in a sermon only two weeks ago (link), not remembering where I got it.

Assessment

Jerry Bridges’s book, The Pursuit of Holiness, is destined to be a Christian classic. The wisdom found in this book has informed my walk with the Lord for almost twenty years. It is easy to read and well worth the effort.

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Navigators_(organization). [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Bridges.

Bridges Breathes Life into Holiness

Also See:

Top 10 Book Reviews Over the Past 12 Months

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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

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Holiness: Monday Monologues, July 29, 2019 (podcast)

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a prayer and reflection on holiness.

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Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Holiness: Monday Monologues, July 29, 2019 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/HotWeather_2019

Continue Reading