The Pursuit of Holiness Book Club Intro

HolinessBookClub

“Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”
Philippians 2:12-13 AMP

This verse was impressed upon my heart in a dream one night, probably about three years ago. Specifically, I woke up with the phrase “with fear and trembling” in my mind. The NIV version of these verses says, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” I studied these verses, reaching for the mystery and truth they give.

The apostle Paul was telling the Philippians to work out their own salvation, yet at the same time, God is all the while working within them. There is a part for us to do and a part that God does in us.

I think, especially in our culture of Christianity today, we talk about and focus so much on God’s grace – our free gift of salvation from God. As if we accept Him as our Savior, and that’s it…there’s nothing that is required of us. While it is true that God’s grace covers a multitude of sins and is sufficient, and He offers a gift we don’t deserve and can’t earn, we aren’t supposed to kick back and enjoy the ride to heaven without anything on our part.

I read this book about two years ago, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. {Affiliate link.} I reached for it partly because it had been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time and I hadn’t read it, and partly because of Philippians 2:12-13 that God had impressed upon my heart. Our part in working out our salvation is in pursuing holiness.

God commands us, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (Found in Leviticus 11:44 & 45 and in 1 Peter 1:16.) In this book, Jerry Bridges agrees that holiness is often missed in our lives, and much of that is because we’re not exactly sure what we should rely on God to do and what we should accept responsibility for ourselves.

Jerry begins by using the example of a farmer. The farmer has responsibilities, such as to plow, plant, fertilize and cultivate. God does His part by germinating the seed and providing rain and sun. God is continually working His part, but without the farmer doing his part too, there is no harvest.

In the same way,

“…the pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking. He does not do that for us.”

Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.” Jerry says that the word pursue signifies that diligence and effort are required, and that it is a lifelong task.

I feel God is leading me back through this book and the study guide. I want to do it in this space – bringing others along to explore these mysteries and truths. I think we can all benefit from digging into this. You don’t have to own a copy of the book, but it is a really great one. I’ll be following the study guide for twelve weeks – either writing or doing a video, discussing the main ideas.

It will be a very rich experience if you do snag a copy of the book (mine has the study guide included in the back) and a fresh journal to process what God is doing in your life and what you need to be doing. I’ll start with the first lesson, which covers chapters one & two, on Friday, Feb. 13th.

Invite some friends along with us, too.

Ephesians Chapters 1 & 2PS: The “4:41 Tribe” link-up opens on Mondays here. Write or video something to share with us that makes us stand in awe of God. How is God working in your life? What is something awesome He has done or is doing? What is something you want to praise or thank God for? You can drop by anytime in the week to link something up. Let’s praise Him, give Him glory, and build our faith together!