We continue our journey through “The Hole in Our Holiness” By Kevin DeYoung with chapter 2, The Reason for Redemption.
Why did God save you? We learned yesterday one of the reasons was our holiness.
Some of the most sobering passages of the New Testament deal with the fact that the unholy will not be in heaven. Holiness is the evidence of our redemption, and without it, we ought to be very concerned. Now, let me say this (DeYoung does too), our works do not gain us heaven. We are justified by faith alone. But, faith without works is dead. What follows are a sampling of Scripture passages that DeYoung deals with in understanding the reason for our redemption:
- According to Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven’ (Matt. 7:21). It’s possible to profess the right things and still not be going to heaven. Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom. This means hearing Jesus’ words and doing them (v. 26).
- Many passages like 1Corinthians 6:9-10 teach that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.” We find this same emphasis in Galatians 5:19-21. It’s the consistent and frequent teaching of the Bible that those whose lives are marked by habitual ungodliness will not go to heaven. To find acquittal from God on that last day there must be evidence flowing out of us that God has flowed into us.
- In particular, 1 John outlines several criteria for determining whether we truly belong to God. Not only will those born of God confess the Son (1 John 2:23; 4:15) and believe that Jesus is the Christ (5:1), they will also keep God’s commandments (2:3-4), walk as Christ walked (2:5-6), practice righteousness (2:29), and overcome the world (5:4). “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him,” (5:18).
- Likewise the book of James makes clear that a faith without accompanying works is no saving faith (James 2:14). “So also by faith itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (v. 17).
- And then there’s Hebrews 12:14: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” In other words, holiness is not an option. Some of you might be thinking, “Yes, that’s absolutely right. We must be holy, and we are counted holy because of Christ.” That’s true. And in fact elsewhere in Hebrews we see that holiness-what some theologians call “definitive sanctification” -is a gift we receive through the gospel (10:10, 14). But Hebrews 12 is about the practical outworking of this positional holiness. The holiness of Hebrews 12:14 is not a holiness we receive but a holiness we “strive” for. This makes sense given the context of discipline in the first half of chapter 12. The Hebrews were professing Christians suffering for their Christianity and in danger of making shipwreck of their faith (10:39). God the Father disciplined them so that they might be trained by it unto righteousness (12:11). God was intent on making his children holy, because holiness must mark out all those who would have fellowship with a holy God.
And this just scratches the surface of the NT’s teaching on holiness. Next, DeYoung will explore “5 Cheap Imitations of Holiness” and “5 Real Deal” views of holiness. But those will have to wait until next week.