Brief Review of Bryan Chapell’s Holiness by Grace

Bryan Chapell’s work is a tour de force. Pastorally and academically equipped, Dr. Chapel engineers his way through the topic of holiness. While he could easily fall into some of the theological traps along the way, he meticulously works through a myriad of texts and provides deep insight into the work of God in sinners. Holiness is not an impossible task, it is our calling. Holiness is not a legalistic demand of a holy God, but a holy God calls us to holiness because He is holy. But this holiness is not a joyless pursuit. It is a work of grace; the kind of grace that produces joy and promotes godliness.

Holiness is applied to everything we do from parenting to counseling. Filled with helpful insights and stories that engage the mind and the heart, Chapell equips the reader to see our status as saints, our journey as sinners and our destiny as recipients of glory. The book exalts the grace of God in our works by emphasizing that salvation is not by works, but salvation works. Or, as the Reformers stated, “Faith alone saves, but faith is not alone.” The antinomian tendency in certain groups derails our labors as Christians to obey and cherish God’s holy laws. Antinomian theology confuses the work of grace and fails to promote godliness. Our security in Christ is not an excuse to sin, but a call to grow in grace. On the other hand, individual calls to holiness rely too heavily on human ability to overcome sin. Both ideas—antinomianism, and neo-nomism—endanger the journey of holiness.

Ultimately, our holiness should lead us to repentance; a true life of confession. And this repentance should prompt us to doxologize (89). While we struggle with temptations and while God tests our faith, God daily provides the motivation and grace to delight us in our journey.

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