The Higher Christian Life

The Higher Christian Life

Author: William Edwin Boardman
Book Reviewer: Seneca Law

It is not difficult to discover the main premise of The Higher Christian Life because throughout the book, the author William Boardman is persistent inconveying the message of full trust and full salvation in Jesus Christ. He expressses the much needed message, or perhaps reminderfor many, that “as faith is the all-inclusive condition of salvation, fulltrust expresses the sole condition of full salvation.” Simply put, Jesus only is the Way and faith alone is the means. But the author presses a furtehrpoint, and that is the necessity for believers to experience a “secondconversion”, not implying the need for a second regeneration per se, butthe need to embark on the journey of sanctification. This is what the titlerefers to, a higher life attained after conversion.

The volume is separated into three parts: What is Is, How Attained, andProgress and Power. The author’s choice of expamples outside of the Bible is agood way of introducing freshness to the reader and could perhaps shed newlight on something that they may be familiar with. In the life of MartinLuther, we see that he had the full assurance of justification by faith, thatJesus died on the cross for his sins and he was declared righteous, with hissins freely forgiven. The converted know that they cannot attain salvation byworks, and as Paul wrote to the Romans, “the just shall live byfaith” in Jesus. Yet Lutehr did not have the joy of full salvation becausehe “had not yet learned to take Jesus for his sanctification.”Eventually, Luther understood the meaning of Romans 1:17, that “the justshall live by faith”, be kept alive by faith, sanctified, made holy onlyby faith in Jesus. Sanctification is not by works, just as justification is notby works. This realization is what the author refers to as “secondconversion”, not that the person did not receive sanctification already,but evidently, there is a deeper understanding, a more complete picture, andthat is salvation attained to the fullest. Boardman explains that “a senseof abosolute dependence upon Christ for holiness of heart and life, just as forforgiveness of sin is the sum and substance of the soul’s attainment.

For the rest of the book, Boardman explains in detail the answer to thequestion of how this higher Christian life is attained: Faith. This should notbe a surprise to us. Since faith is the condition for justification, it followsthat faith is also the condition for sanctification, the higher life afterconversion. Boardman continues to emphasize that for salvation at any stage ordegree, Jesus alone is the Way and faith alone is the means. The author thenenters into a part about the progress of the higher Christian life, so that thereader is not misled into thinking that a perfect Christian life can beattained on earth. The basic belief is that sanctification is a continualprocess, not of our own works, but through faith in Jesus.

A few shortcomings were found. First, the book was written in 1858 andalthough its message of full trust in Jesus is applicable and relevant in anyage, the style of language that the book is written in maybe not be appealingto our modern generation. Further, the book is rather lengthy and containsexamples that may not be completely relevant today. It is still interesting toread about heroes of the faith from the past, but their effectiveness isquestioned, especially when the lives of those mentioned contain similarexperiences used to bring out a common point, which is seemingly a bitredundant. Although difficult terms are explained, this book maybe not besuitable for new believers. It is more useful for believers who are looking togrow deeper in Christ, with the intent of pursuing the higher Christian life.

Nonetheless,the author’s dedication to his thesis is admired. He stresses that our work isto witness for Jesus to the ends of the earth. We are not alone in this for weare not preaching a dead or absent Saviour, but we are telling the story of theOne who is risen, who in all power and glory, is ever-present with us until the end of the age. The message is clear; abide in Jesus, who is the door to salvation and the Way ofsalvation. Without him, we have nothing. Apart from him, there is no other.

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