HOLINESS BY GRACE by Bryan Chapell
The subtitle of this book is “Delighting in the Joy that Is Our Strength.” This is an apt description of the design of Dr. Chapell’s book. I realize this book was published in 2001 but I have been late coming to it. I was made aware of it last year, but was recently able to actually get to and read it. I am glad I did. As a result, I want to make a simple recommendation to others who might be late in coming across it.
Holiness by Grace is about our response and responsibility to God’s command to His children to, “Be holy, because I am holy.” Chapell comments, “Without Christ we would hear this command and shudder. How can God expect us to be holy as he is? Isn’t it unrealistic, since he is infinitely pure and we are clearly imperfect?
He then begins with an introduction that resonates with honesty, transparency, and the recognition of just how difficult it is to be holy. Particularly if one is trying to be holy in one’s own energy or system of “works.”
Chapell recounts a service where a young preacher quoted those words from Leviticus with what he calls “such fervor” that Chapell had little doubt that the preacher expected those in the congregation to be obedient to them. What I appreciated because it was a snap shot of reality was his thoughts as he heard this imperative but surveyed those around him. He recounts:
· two sisters one the front row recently divorced and one had turned to sinful relationships and the other to the numbness of alcohol in order to cope
· a successful business man and elder who had recently ousted the last pastor
· a young mother who was trying to manage two out of control preschoolers
· a teen-ager who sat at the opposite end of the pew in order to make a statement to his feelings about his family
· a Seminary professor who had been moody to his family for days
His thoughts jarred him into the realization that “there was not a sinless person among us.” This book asks and answers the question “does God really expect us to be holy as he is holy?” Through 10 chapters he takes us on this journey of recognizing that we can’t do this in our own strength but demonstrates that God has made a way.
Holiness by Grace is a 243 page practical step by step guide in how to abandon self efforts and ideas of holiness and the adoption of the grace of God as God uses means to produce holiness within us. Dr. Chapell in a very down to earth, man in the pew manner demonstrates how the grace of God and the joy of the Lord join hand in hand in producing holiness.
At the end of the book there is a “workbook” of discussion questions on each chapter to help the reader go deeper. This is not only a great book, but a very needed book. As a Pastor (w/o a charge), man, husband, and a father, I heartily recommend this you all who are believers. I plan to read and re-read this book many times as I realize that God is serious about holiness even in this life.