Beeke’s Book of the Month for July 2023 is Following God Fully by Dr. Joel Beeke and Michael Reeves.
Enjoy this brief excerpt from the preface of the book that sheds light on how the Puritans strived to pursue godliness. (Note: All of the references in this article are properly footnoted in the full text of Following God Fully.)
Twice God said of Caleb that he followed Him fully—once before the forty-year wilderness journey and once after (Num. 14:24; Josh. 14:14). As a fruit of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him, Caleb was enabled by God’s grace to follow God fully all the days of his life. To follow God fully means to follow Him in these ways:
That’s what Caleb did. Caleb didn’t just follow God when it was easy. He refused to yield to murmuring rebels who surrounded him for forty years in the wilderness. He was determined to follow God constantly, perseveringly, patiently, unswervingly, in season, and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2), even if it meant rejection by his peers.
To follow God sincerely means following Him with all your heart regardless of the cost because He is holy, beautiful, lovable, and worthy to be worshiped. It means being willing to sacrifice all for Him.
That’s what Caleb did; he loved not his life unto death. When the Israelites picked up stones to put Caleb to death because he said that Israel should go into the land of Canaan, Caleb didn’t flinch, compromise, or negotiate. He would rather die than disobey God.
Caleb didn’t pick and choose which commands of God he felt like obeying, but he did whatever the Lord told him to do. His obedience was not a partial, halting obedience, but a consistent, complete obedience. Every area of his life was fully devoted to God—including all its particulars. Like the Puritans, Caleb believed that God’s law must be reduced to its particulars since to offend in one point is to offend in all (James 2:10). Caleb did the particular duties he was commanded to do at the time, rather than rest in a general assent to the whole of the law while excusing any momentary lapse or disobedience.
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness and after fierce battles with the Canaanites, Caleb was rewarded in Joshua 14:14 “because…he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.” After all those trials, difficulties, and temptations, Caleb is described as one who wholly followed the Lord, who allowed no other gods in his life. He didn’t waste his life but lived exclusively for his God, the only God. By grace, he lived life to the fullest—for his God, by his God, unto his God’s glory.
Despite their shortcomings, the Puritans strove to be Calebs (and Joshuas) before God, to follow Him fully in every area of their lives. Like Caleb, they were but men, beset with the common infirmities of our race; but they were men of faith, and that set them apart from many others. It was saving, justifying faith that set Caleb, Joshua, and the Puritans apart from their contemporaries—that is, faith lived out, salvation worked out with fear and trembling. By grace, they followed the Lord constantly, sacrificially, consistently, and exclusively. Hence the title of this book.
What follows is an introduction to the Puritan story—to their lives, their faith in God the Father, their focus on Jesus Christ, and their sanctification by the Spirit. It unveils them as the bride of Christ and shows how they lived their daily lives. It teaches us what we can learn from them—both from their Caleb-like convictions and from their weaknesses.
Welcome to our introduction to the Puritans in forty-four short chapters. May God use this book in some small way to make us a bit more like Caleb and the Puritans so that we would follow them insofar as they followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).