I read Tim Challies’ blog, and It was from him that I heard of this book. I had big expectations for this book too, but, unfortunately, I had a hard time reading this book. I can’t say it’s so much because of its length (it’s over 400 pages, and I’ve read longer), but I felt as if I kept losing the plot. Or maybe Davis does. Or maybe I do. Or maybe I can’t figure out what’s going on.
Dr. Andrew Davis is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, NC. He graduated with a BSME from MIT, and received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and his PhD in Church History from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From reading this book I can tell that Davis wants to glorify God with all that is in Him. It is his desire in this book (it’s over 400 pages long) to point the believer to God so that the believer would desire to live for God with all of his heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Davis quotes author Henry Scougal (K. Location 2542-2544) saying,
“‘The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its desires.’ If we desire worthless things, it shows something about the excellence of our souls. Conversely, if the object of our desire is something great, noble, and virtuous, that also speaks of the excellence of our souls.”
When we are saved by Christ there’s a change that occurs inside of us. We begin to love what He loves and begin to hate what He hates.
His purpose is to give a thorough description of sanctification, to instruct people concerning the fullness of the Bible’s teaching on Christlikeness, and to encourage people to strive daily to reach that goal.
Clearly, Davis wants us as believers to desire to follow after Christ and to have our character formed into what is Christlike. And the book is all about that: the infinite journey we embark on to know an infinite God who supplies us with an infinite power to complete our journey. There are two journeys we go on:
- The external journey where we proclaim the gospel to all tongues, tribes, and nations to the world
- The internal journey where we grow in likeness to the one who paid it all, Christ.
Davis attempts to map out the journey, sort of a systematic theology of sanctification. He puts our sanctified growth under four main headings: Knowledge (chs. 4-5), Faith (chs. 6-10), Character (chs. 11-16), and Action (chs. 17-28). Davis doesn’t act as if these are separate events, for knowledge leads to faith, faith to character, and character to action. So-called “Head-“knowledge doesn’t have to be a bad thing, for, we do have to know about Christ to believe in Him and His work. But “head-“knowledge should lead to true faith, leading to right character, leading to right action.
Desiring to show us a general idea of the peaks of progress (and lack thereof) in different Christian lives, Davis provides a few graphs on Christian sanctified progress. He explains they are not representative of every person, but he puts them there to give a visual of how our lives, if put on the graph, could look like in the end. A few examples are the Consistent Fruitful Christian, the Late Bloomer, the Thief on the Cross, the one Restored from Great Sin, etc. They’re presented “to capture the variety of experiences that the people of God have in sanctification” (Kindle Locations 675-676).
I’ve seen another reviewer mention this, and I have to agree. A weak section I found was on how the Lord guides us. He talks of David receiving constant guidance from the Lord, and Paul receiving loads of guidance from the Lord in Acts. Yet how constant is constant? And Paul’s three missionary journeys took place over a number of years. But I can’t expect to have the Lord at my bedside numerous times there to encourage me. I won’t refuse Him, but does it really happen just like that?
He agrees that supernatural visions, dreams, angelic visitations, etc are not the norm, but says “the Lord speaks to us as he did to Elijah in the cave on Horeb, in a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12, KJV)” (Kindle Location 2153). Though he does agree that these impressions should be tested by Scripture itself, he doesn’t elaborate any more on what the still small voice is like.
I always felt lost. I forget where I had come from, and I couldn’t remember where I was going. The illustrations were usually alright, but there were a lot. The book itself is 477 pages (and according to Kindle, 4% is due to the introduction pages and endnotes) which leaves a lot to be read. Long books aren’t bad, but I felt like this had more talking than explaining.
I felt like Davis was always losing the plot. He repeats himself at times, and, while not direct re-quotations, it’s bound to happen when you write a 477 page book on sanctification. However take out the fluff, and this would be an easier, more consistent reading. It was as if I was reading one long topical sermon where everything is on topic, but the flow in between can be hard to find.
This book couldn’t hold my interest. For other people, this book is great! (Just read the reviews on Amazon. Most are 5 star ratings). I kept thinking to myself that I would have to push through it to make it to the end. Really, I only made it 45% of the way, and I had made up my mind. It’s good to take this book in smaller chunks, but this book simply isn’t for me.
- File Size: 1654 KB
- Print Length: 380 pages
- Publisher: Ambassador International (December 15, 2013)
[Special thanks to Alison at Ambassador International for sending me this book for review! I was not obligated to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]