Originally published Thursday, 27 February 2014.
Andrew Davis’ book, An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, is a real diamond in the rough.
I received a free copy for review from the publisher, Ambassador International, and to say that I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement.
Upon receiving my own copy, I was amazed to find praise from D.A. Carson adorning the cover as well.
My respect for both of these thinkers and writers was a sturdy preface indicating the quality of the content to come.
I was not disappointed.
Davis’ main premise is this: We are all on two infinite journeys – the external journey of the gospel’s advance to all nations, and the internal journey of sanctification (pp. 17-18). Davis points out that “these two journeys have one goal: ‘the praise of His glory’ (Ephesians 1:12, 14)” (p. 21).
Why are the two journeys called infinite? Not because they will never be accomplished, but because they both require the infinite power of God in order to take place.
An Infinite Journey is an attempt to organize the Bible’s teachings on sanctification. As outlined by the author, “… all of Christian maturity can be found under four major headings: Knowledge, Faith, Character, and Action” (p. 29).
Davis uses thorough precision to touch on a myriad of topics in each of these categories, and I found him to be a down-the-line, biblical thinker. It was refreshing to find a present-day author churning out such solid truth with equal conviction.
I was particularly challenged by this premise near the beginning of the book:
“The Church needs to reclaim a Bible-saturated, Spirit-drenched emphasis on both of these infinite journeys, learning that they are absolutely intertwined. 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. And it is impossible to make genuine progress in sanctification if the people only read good Christian books and stay in classrooms, but refuse to get out into the world as witnesses. These journeys are mutually interdependent: without progress in one, there can be no progress made in the other” (p. 24).
The chapter that impacted me most was the one entitled, ‘Reliance on Christ.’ God really used that chapter to convict me of my own reliance on myself, as opposed to genuine faith and trust in God. I was able to see how I have shifted my weight from leaning wholly on God to depending on my own strength (or lack thereof). This chapter reminded me that God not only initiates salvation, but He brings it to completion, and every step I take in between is purely through His sustaining grace.
One component that I had never considered before was what Davis calls the ‘two-sided coin’ of faith (p. 153ff). He explains the definition of faith as found in Hebrews 11:1 — “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” According to Davis, the Greek word for ‘conviction’ as used in this verse actually refers negatively to a sense of rebuke or reproach for sinfulness that leads to repentance. As such, faith has two components, namely the positive looking forward and assurance, and the negative aspect which causes us to see our sinfulness and turn from it. Previously, I had always considered both parts of Hebrews 11:1 to be synonymous, as opposed to complimentary.
A criticism I’ve read about the book is that its hefty length deters churches from being able to digest it piece by piece, as for a weekly Bible study. I understand how this could be a hindrance, but I don’t think that should be a reason for not using the book. To overcome this hurdle, perhaps one leader could read the whole book, highlight key premises for the group, and choose six or eight topics to focus on in depth for discussion purposes.
Another potential criticism could be a tendency to emphasize works over grace. Though the book is filled with things we are commanded by God to do, I believe the author would be the first to argue that none of these good works could ever be accomplished apart from the grace and strength of God. Towards the end of the book, I started to feel a bit heavy from the weight of all the requirements of Scripture on a believer, but then the Lord reminded me of Davis’ initial premise, that both of these infinite journeys require the infinite power of God.
An Infinite Journey is a book I would highly recommend not only to pastors and others in full-time ministry, but to laypeople as well. It is an extremely valuable resource, as it addresses nearly every conceivable component involved in the path of becoming more like Christ.
I would especially encourage missionaries, spiritual mentors and evangelists to obtain a copy, as it is a worthwhile tool for new believers seeking to navigate the forthcoming and lifelong journey of sanctification.
Though it is best read cover to cover, the book could also be useful as a topical reference to answer specific questions regarding certain aspects of the Christian life, such as emotions, self-reliance, or stewardship.
Thank you, Pastor Davis, for this gift to the Church at large. It is evident through your testimony that you are a man who walks the talk. May this book be used to encourage many in their growth toward Christlikeness, and may you see the fruit of your labor.