Christians have long been on a quest for the “holy grail” of the Christian life. The popular Keswick conferences that emerged in England in 1875 called it the “victorious Christian life.” Charismatics seek a so-called “second blessing.” Tragically, many evangelicals roll up their sleeves and seek supernatural transformation via will-power or works. These well-meaning followers of Christ are genuinely seeking something great in their Christian journey. They want something more. They are in need of transformation. They merely want to go deeper. Each of the above proposals falls short of the biblical model of sanctification and leaves Christians confused, disillusioned, and discouraged.
Dane Ortlund’s newest book addresses both the need and the desire to go deeper into the Christian life. Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners is a book about sanctification. The book strikes the biblical balance between vigorous God-centered striving and trusting the Holy Spirit to produce sanctification. Scripture is clear on this matter:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12–13, ESV)
Ortlund offers nine meditations that push and encourage readers to a biblical model of sanctification. But more important than a model, the author suggests that “we grow specifically by going deeper into the gospel, into the love of Christ and our experienced union with him … we are reflecting on the way our souls must go out to God in Christ to desire, to long for, to receive, to dwell in, to thank him for his endless love. The gospel comes to us in the Scriptures, and in prayer we receive and enjoy it.”
Ortlund is not impressed with sanctification strategies or gimmicks, nor does he offer a series of steps that produce sanctification. Deeper is a book that pleads with Christians to do one thing: LOOK TO CHRIST!
Here is a book that is exceedingly warm, theologically rich, informed by Puritanical wisdom, and deeply personal and practical. I commend Deeper and trust that many will benefit from this wonderful book.