“God has set before the Church of Jesus Christ two infinite journeys. These two journeys have one destination, one ultimate goal, and in the end will prove to have been one and the same journey after all.”
This is how Andy Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church or Durham, NC, starts his new book on sanctification called, An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness. Now you are probably asking, and rightly so, “What are these two journeys?” Well here they are: (1) The external journey of the worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations; and (2) The internal journey of an individual Christian from being dead in sin to gloriously perfect in Christ. Davis shows how Paul displays both of these journeys in the first chapter of his letter to the Philippians — in v.12, he speaks of “advancing the Gospel” (Journey #1) and in v.25 he talks about our “progress and joy in the faith” (Journey #2). In both verses, the verb used is the same Greek word, and speaks of “progressing” or “advancing” toward a specific goal.
Now the ultimate end goal of each of these is the same, as said in the quote above. And what is this ultimate end goal? The glory of God in the final perfection of the Church. On earth, in our finite existence, these two journeys exist as two distinct things. However, they will become one when every single individual elected by God comes to personal faith in Christ and is perfectly glorified in Christ. In the end, when it’s all said and done, these to journeys will become one and will accomplish their one, unified goal: “the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12, 14).
This book is about the second journey, the journey of sanctification, or Christian growth. This internal journey of sanctification is the personal, internal struggle and battle that each Christian has daily with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every single one of us struggles against these three things as we fight the fight of godliness and holiness, seeking to become more and more like Jesus, and being made by God more and more like Jesus. Davis argues that Evangelicalism has done much in the previous decades and centuries to focus on the first journey of evangelism and missions, but has largely neglected the second journey of sanctification and discipleship. Davis says,
“It is impossible for the Church to make progress externally to the ends of the earth if there are no Christians mature enough to pay the price to go as missionaries and martyrs” (24).
So to correct this neglect of the journey of sanctification in Evangelicalism, Andy Davis has decided to write this book and provide a full-scope, comprehensive look at the sanctification journey that every Christian is a part of. In the book, he argues that “all of Christian maturity can be found under four major headings: Knowledge, Faith, Character, and Action” (29). Using these 4 headings, Davis develops a map, or a pathway, to Christian maturity.
The pathway starts with KNOWLEDGE. This is factual and experiential spiritual information. This factual information is gained from Scripture, and the experiential information is gained from living in God’s world. The knowledge then leads to FAITH (Rom 10:17). Faith is the assurance and commitment to spiritual truth. Under this heading of faith are things like certainty that certain specific invisible spiritual realities are true, conviction of sin, and reliance on Christ as the all-sufficient savior, refuge, provider, and shield. Progressing in this pathway to Christian maturity, faith leads to CHARACTER (Eph 3:16-17). This is where the believer’s internal nature is conformed to Christ. In this section of the book, Davis discusses affection (what you love/hate), desire (what you seek), will (what you choose/reject), thought (what you think about), and emotions (what you feel). All of these things are encompassed in the believer’s virtues, who the believer is. Finally, this character leads to ACTION (Matthew 12:23). This is the believer’s external lifestyle of habitual obedience. Davis discusses here a 7-fold obedience to God’s commands (1. Worship; 2. Spiritual Disciplines; 3. Family; 4. Ministry to Believers; 5. Mission to Non-Believers; 6. Stewardship; and 7. Work). And finally, this action leads to more knowledge (Psalm 119:100) and the process continues.
The book is split into 4 major sections, each discussing one aspect of this pathway to Christian maturity, with each chapter in the section discussing a various aspect of that step in the path.
Honestly, this book surprised me. I got the book to review without having a clue who “Andrew M. Davis” was (this is how the author’s name is on the book. I later discovered this is the same “Andy Davis” that I knew of, particularly in relation to his help in my life on memorizing large chunks of Scripture). Not only did I not know who the author was, I wasn’t quite sure what the book was about. However, it had glowing reviews from people like Don Whitney, D.A. Carson, and Tom Schreiner, so I decided to give it ago. And let me tell you: I sure am glad I did.
This is the best comprehensive look at the sanctification and discipleship process that I have ever read. We all talk about wanting to “encourage discipleship” more, and how everyone should be discipling someone, but oftentimes we are left wondering where in the world we should start. Different people are at different points in their Christian growth, and I am often left wondering where I should start — How can I diagnose where this person is in their spiritual growth in order to better understand where I should focus with them? And how can I track spiritual growth not only in myself, but in those I am discipling? These are questions that I’ve had for some time now, and this book really helped me answer those question. I can assure you, this will be a book that I turn to repeatedly in my ministry, and one that I will recommend to others. I think it is the best comprehensive resource out there dealing with the topic of Christian growth. I’d 100% encourage you to get this book!
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank Ambassador International for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review