A Review of Kevin DeYoung’s ‘Impossible Christianity’

The subject matter of ‘Impossible Christianity’ is important and weighty, but DeYoung has a winsome way of communicating, and a few times I laughed out loud. Though a small book of 128 pages, it contains much food for thought, and the book might be better digested by reading it with others and discussing it together. It is rich with comforts for the Christian who is striving to follow the Lord but feels weighed down with defeat and discouragement.

“God loves us even though we are spiritual failures.”

True, or false?

We would all agree that God loves us, His children, who have been saved and reconciled to Him through faith in Christ. Certainly, we do fail in many ways by doing what we should not and failing to do what we ought. But does the Lord look on us as “spiritual failures?” If He does, that means that he loves us, but does not really like us: He just puts up with us with a scowl on His face. It means that we should carry around a load of guilt because we are not really pleasing to God. It might mean that we should just give up on trying to follow the Lord, because we always fall short anyway. If God sees us as disappointing, then the Christian life will feel like it is impossible.

Kevin DeYoung’s helpful book Impossible Christianity (Crossway, 2024) makes the case that the statement above is false. He helps us to see that the Christian life should not be one of constantly feeling like a disappointment to God, but that believers can and should joyfully, purposefully, and peacefully run the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

DeYoung starts out by stating what he isn’t saying. He doesn’t want to cause confusion by implying that we can get to heaven by our good works or be perfect. He does not want to downplay the seriousness of sin, or that we should expect the Christian life to be trouble- and risk-free. He does want us to know that we can live in such a way that we someday will hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

We should be confident, firstly, DeYoung says, that we are in Christ. 1 John offers three “spiritual signposts” to us so that we may know that we are God’s children. These three are: believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God (5:11-13), living a righteous life (3:6-9), and loving others (3:14). 

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