November 19, 2012

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving week as you connect with your dear loved ones.

For me personally, sanctification remains one of the most difficult issues in my life. I find it difficult to experience it to the degree I’d like, and I find if difficult to structure a full-blown theology of sanctification. Keeping in mind my handicap in this area, I’d like to recommend two helpful articles about the Christian’s continuing sin. Tullian grapples with the question as to whether Christians are in some sense still totally depraved. Ed Welch delineates what the victorious Christian life really looks like.

Tyndale House wins mandate court battle. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this.

Judge temporarily exempts the Christian book publisher from the HHS contraceptive mandate, allowing it to operate its business according to its beliefs.

The question of what to do with political Israel is a tricky question. I believe that the church has been grafted into Israel and that the blessing of Abraham belongs to those in Christ, Gal 3:14. That said, political Israel is often a beacon of light in the dark Muslim/Arab world. Doug Wilson empathizes with Israel’s plight and mission as he balances his theology with Israel’s situation.


7 Responses to “Destinations”

  1. phfs9 Says:

    Oh wow! What a great topic!

    First, gives a great definition of sanctification as:

    “Calvinist and Evangelical theologians interpret sanctification as the process of being made holy only through the merits and justification of Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification cannot be attained by any works based process, but only through the works and power of the divine. When a man is unregenerate, it is their essence that sins and does evil. But when a man is justified through Christ, it is no longer the man (in his essence) that sins, but the man is acting outside of his character. In other words, the man is not being himself, he is not being true to who he is.”

    I am really in tune with this definition. This url also lists compartive definitions for Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Methodism, Roman Catholicism, Other Christian denominations and movements, Non-Trinitarian – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    To me this entire issue hinges on the lessons in the Book of Job. Our constant state of sin is what keeps us learning and connected to God. Earthly discomforts and self-doubt are, to me, very connected to santification. To me, santification is a constant state of continuing to learn from each sin we commit – leaping that hurdle and going on to the next sin. In this way we continue to learn and continue to stay connected to God. What I glean from Tullian’s article is that our constant state of sin is what keeps us connected to God. From Welch’s article I see teachings from the Book of Job yet again. The Book of Job surely teaches us there is not “victorious life” and the Bible overall teaches us there is no perfect human being therefore we are never sin free. I do not believe we are rewarded (health, wealth, etc.) because we believe we are sin free or a good Christian.

    The Book of Job teaches us that when we are in the midst of our earthly troubles we should ask for God to use us at His will and not ask why me. God does not punish us because Jesus bore that punishment for us. Therefore, any unpleasant thing that happens to us is for our own Christian growth. All that happens to us works for our own good.

    I do not understand how sanctification can not have anything to do with our human imperfection. Perhaps santification is more the process of keeping us in touch with God.

    • Mark Says:

      Like I said in the post, sanctification for me is the final theological frontier. There wasn’t much in the Wiki piece about the Lutheran view. I’m somewhere between the Reformed view and the Lutheran view. Perhaps I’m leaning more toward the Reformed tradition than the Lutheran. Here’s my question: how much of sanctification is us and how much is God? Put differently, are we sanctified by faith or by effort? I tend to think that God is the one doing the sanctifying as we put to death the deeds of the flesh (Col 3:5).

      • phfs9 Says:

        “I tend to think that God is the one doing the sanctifying as we put to death the deeds of the flesh” – That is the message I derived from the Calvinistic quote from Wikipedia and also from my Bible.

        However, for every deed of the flesh we put to death there seems always to be another just behind it coming our way for us to deal with. Since we are not perfect I do not believe there is an actual end to sin in our earthly lives. Perhaps santification is a gift or reward of sort that God gives to us if we continue on in Him and continue to fight sin after sin. Perhaps the works on our part is our willingness and faith in Him to continue to fight sin. If that is so then our works grant us the gift of sanctification from God.

        (Job 37:14) ​​Pay attention to this, Job! ​​​​​​Stand still and consider the wonders God works.(Job 36:10)​​​​​​​And he reveals this for correction, ​​​​​​and says that they must turn from evil. Surely if we do not do the works to turn from evil we will not be granted sanctification. Thus, our works would have a part in the gift of sanctification. Romans 6:15-19 would support this thought. Also in Romans 6:21

        1Cor 1:30 leads me to think that the sequence is first righteousness, then sanctification and then redemption which might again support a thought that sanctification comes from continuing to fight sin in our lives as a gift from God just as redemption is a gift. Again in 2 Thesalonians 2:13 I get the same message that if we continue to fight sin we receive God’s gift of sanctification but if we do not do the works for it we do not receive it.

        Did you know the word sanctification appears in the Bible only 4 times.

      • phfs9 Says:

        This is an article I enjoyed reading about the Lutheran view of sanctification.

  2. Mark Says:

    I appreciate the Forde piece. Actually, I’ve been grappling with what he wrote in that article for at least 20 years. There is a sense in which we are already sanctified, past tense, 1Co 1:2. Yet, there is a sense in which we’d say that it is a present tense thing, 1Th 4:13. It is finished and yet it isn’t. It is finished in that God sees us in Christ as completely righteous in Christ. Yet, it is ongoing. Sin doesn’t reign over us (Ro 6:14) and yet it is still around so that we don’t do what we want to do (Ro 7:15). So, it seems that there is a dialectical tension when it comes to sanctification. It is finished but it is ongoing. Sin has no dominion and yet I can’t obey God. I don’t have to sin and yet I can’t help myself. In the end, I celebrate my salvation and this motivates my obedience. If I focus on the law, sin wins almost every time. In other words, God’s grace has to drive my life.

  3. phfs9 Says:

    The Forde piece was good reading for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean I agree 100% with every thought in it. I had a feeling you might already have read that.

    You write that “It is finished yet it isn’t.” That kind of goes back to what I posted earlier. Man is not perfect so there will be sin in man’s earthly life always until he physically dies. I “think I believe”, if you please for lack of a better way to state that, at this point in my Christian-learning and study, that santification goes hand-in-hand with justification, then sanctification and then finally redemption – you cannot have one without the other and you cannot have any of them out of sequence. I feel it is God’s process that He has set down for us to keep us interested, compliant, on the path He chooses for each of us, etc. These gifts, in my mind, are all just that, gifts just as His Grace is for us. I believe His gifts are always there for us but we must work to be able to take advantage of them. I am not speaking of “works” as in earning these gifts but of working to keep on the path in order to be able to enjoy these gifts.

    It is hard and constant work to be a Christian. There is nothing easy about Christianity. Perhaps you could call it a test of our faith that we reach for or desire sanctification. It isn’t an easy or short path. I wonder if a person who has achieved sanctification and turns to sin and away from Christianity looses all his/her gifts at that point. David did it constantly as did many Biblical individuals. They did not loose their place with God because they repented and got back on the path. Could sanctification be a part of that “pick me up by the bootstraps” thing? If it is then that again tells me my thinking might be on target – we are sinners until we die and to be sanctified we have to continually pick ourselves up by the bootstraps.

    A new Christian can feel suddenly lighter and enjoy a sense of euphoria for a short time. It is the transition from the old self to the new self. Soon that wears off with the burdens that a faithful Christian must endure. That feeling isn’t something that can be expressed in words and basically it is for that person and God to enjoy. So sanctification goes as well, in my personal opinion. Every gift God gives comes with a burden of Christian responsibility attached. I have never found that to be any different. You don’t get to be that new Christian without working at it. You don’t get to enjoy God’s gift of sanctification without working for it. Nothing drops from the sky into your lap unearned except Grace and even that comes with a price.

    You posted earlier “Put differently, are we sanctified by faith or by effort?” I still feel if we don’t work to get there we won’t be able to enjoy sanctification. Our faith in God teaches us to work for God’s gifts in order to reach that ultimate goal – Heaven. We will never deserve anything God gives us but if we want what He offers us it takes work….not works but work.

  4. Mark Says:

    I don’t disagree with what you have written. I think for me, at this point in my understanding, the issue is emphasis. I think the emphasis on work is misplaced. I would stress faith. The emphasis, in my view, is trust. If trust is in place, we will work and yet it will hardly seem like work, after all, his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Granted we “work” out our salvation with fear and trembling but again we only do this because we know that God is working in us “to will and to do his good pleasure.” The problem with work is that it goes back to the law and the law never works. Only the gospel works. So, again, I find myself very close to the Lutherans on this. I do see that sanctification is getting used to justification.

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