May 14th, 2008
Blackaby, Henry. Holiness: God’s Plan for Fullness of Life. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003. 106 pp. $14.99.
Introduction and Background Information
Henry Blackaby has been in the ministry for over 50 years. He has served in the local church, as a college president, as a missionary, and as an executive in the Southern Baptist Convention. Of the many offices he has held in the convention, his role as the leader of the Revival and Spiritual Awakening division is why Dr. Blackaby is qualified to talk about revival. Currently, he serves as the president of Henry Blackaby Ministries.
He states on the first page of the introduction he states, “these messages are the heart of my present ministry. They are my life-messages to God’s people, as God calls us to renewal, revival, and spiritual awakening” (ix). Having traveled all over the United States, Blackaby has witnessed revival in local churches and communities. However, he has witnessed more lip service about wanting revival than ministers and lay people actually doing something about it. This book is about the prerequisite for God’s people that must be met if true revival is to break out across the land or in your own church.
Summary of Holiness
The book is broke down into three chapters easily read in one sitting. The first chapter deals with a general sense of a loss of the fear of God by His people. Blackaby contends that it is the people of God who steer the nation. Many believe that because God does not judge immediately, He will not judge ever. We are too dull to notice God’s judgment on our nation.
In chapter two, Blackaby discusses seeing sin from God’s perspective. He traces the problem of a loss of fear of God in America (in a general sense) back to the 1960’s and then builds his case that most Christians in America no longer see sin as an offense to God. Rather, we now proclaim sin to be that which is not acceptable by the culture in which we live. He makes the point that most of what we find “acceptable” would have led to our being stoned in the Old Testament.
By far the longest chapter of the book is chapter three. This chapter entitled, “The highway of holiness” comprises more than 40% of the entire book. Based upon Isaiah 35, Dr. Blackaby shows how God moves in the lives of His people when they live a life holy unto the Lord. He argues that as Christians, we need to be accountable to living a holy life to God. We must first seek holiness if we expect God to bring about revival.
Critical Evaluation of Holiness
Given the nature of the book, my critiques are to be held subjectively in that not everyone will agree with me. For some, what I view as a weakness will be a strength. With that in mind, I felt there were two glaring problems with Holiness.
First is Dr. Blackaby’s use of his own paraphrase of Scripture. While he does not violate the texts, in my opinion, he does reword some passages to make his point come more into focus. This is especially evident when he discusses the sins of David and God’s dealing with him. He uses his paraphrases so frequently that it is sometimes a bit difficult to discern what he is saying versus what God has spoken in His Word.
Second, on pages 24-26, Dr. Blackaby sounds the alarm that he believes this generation to be the generation in which Christ returns. I guess at some level, we must all think as though this is the case-it seems as though every generation since the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ has thought this. While there is nothing wrong in thinking like this, I believe that those who preach this particular message have caused many to become callous to the call of the gospel. How many preachers must proclaim that “this is the generation” and then the next generation comes and goes and we are still here?
I realize this is an extremely volatile issue for many so I do want to be careful with what I am saying. In my opinion, we should preach, “the end is closer than you think” because for you, it may be that you will die today. However, I think to preach the end of time will be this generation is extremely dangerous and unnecessary.
I have owned this book for more than three years and have read it at least a dozen times (I try to read it once a quarter). This book should be on the shelf of any believer whose heart cries out for revival. This little book, easily read in a couple of hours, is a must read for ministers and missionaries. Actually, a missionary serving in Botswana recommended the book to me. There are many “gut-checks” found within the pages of this book that ought to be meditated upon. Every time I have read this book, I find myself putting down in order to stop for prayer. It is a sobering call for personal holiness, which we could all use, in order that we may experience true revival that is of God and not man.