Saturday, March 26, 2016

Are There Two Kinds Of Sanctification?

Are We Sanctified Already Or We Need To Be Sanctified?

Question : A leading hyper-grace teacher claims that the doctrine of progressive sanctification is a "spiritually murderous lie." Does that mean that grace preachers like Charles Spurgeon, who believed in progressive sanctification, taught this alleged lie? And if "progressive sanctification" simply means to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit, what is so dangerous about this teaching? Put another way, do you reject the concept that the one who made us holy now calls us to live holy lives in thought, word and deed, thereby "completing our sanctification in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1)? Doesn't Paul say we are called saints (that is who we are) and called to be saints (that is how we live)? (See 1 Cor. 1:2.)

Answer : Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! There are two kinds or aspects to sanctification of a child of God, one is the truth of what Jesus has done for all believers, the other is how we respond in faith to what He has done for us. So we can safely call the first thing of what Jesus has done for us as positional or completed sanctification which we received from Jesus at out conversion, the other kind is a calling from God to respond in faith and gratefulness to stay separate from sin, self and the world that taints the Glory of God when we are involved in it. And this is the progressive or continuing sanctification which is the work of the Holy Spirit that has started after the time of our conversion and will continue to the day till we die to go on to be with the Lord to see Him face to face. By being conformed to the image of the Lord day by day in our Christian lives, we see the Lord dimly as in a mirror now, but at least more and more each new day (1 Cor 13:12). So we need to purify ourselves until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we will not be taken by surprise of His Holiness by failing to see more and more of it now itself (1 John 3:2, 3; Luke 21:34; Heb 12:14). The more nearer we become transformed in to His image, the more we will be able to see the Lord working in and through us (1 John 1:7, 9).    

In the following verses we see both the sanctification mentioned, "10 By that will [of God's New Testament promise] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all... 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." (Heb 10:10, 14). When we see the phrase "we have been sanctified", it speaks in past perfect tense which shows that there is nothing that need to be done to further our sanctification because we have attained a perfect positional or completed sanctification which actually Jesus has achieved to make us perfect before the Father or in His sight, but it doesn't stop there but continues. Not in a sense that we need to add something to make it more perfect, but rather we see that the very perfection that Jesus has achieved for us through that one perfect offering of sacrificing Himself by which He has "perfected forever those who are being sanctified," is to make us more sanctified progressively through transformation by the Holy Spirit from one level of His glory to the other Higher level of His glory (2 Cor 3:18), which is progressive or continuing sanctification. We are involved in progressive or continuing sanctification not to make ourselves acceptable to God through it, but as we are already accepted in Christ Jesus and are justified by our Father God, we are giving voluntarily ourselves and our bodies to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we might be able to fulfill the good or acceptable or the perfect will of God (Rom 12:2). Through this progressive sanctification we out of gratitude for what Jesus did for us already, we moment by moment choose to put off our old self and put on the new man of Christ's nature to glorify God in our daily lives (Eph 4:22, 23, 24). So the doctrine of progressive sanctification is not a "spiritually murderous lie," but rather a complete picture of truth that gives us all a reason to be thankful to God so that we can receive His reward according to our doings (Rev 22:12).

The doctrine of progressive sanctification is God's clear call to live a grateful life of gratitude towards Him, that is why Paul prayed for all believers saying, "23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." (1 Thess 5:23-24). The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification (Rom 15:16; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Cor 6: 11), so our separation to God (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2) and the course of life befitting those so separated (1 Thess 4:34,7; Rom 6:19,22; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14), can only be achieved through co-operating with the Holy Spirit in our day to day lives. But God want us to be confident of this one thing through His promises, that He who started this good work through the Holy Spirit will finish it until the end of our lives (Eph 2:10; Php 1:6).

I believe that Spurgeon was a grace preacher and is also the prince of preachers as he was lovingly called by people, he has preached the doctrine of progressive sanctification which shows that a person of His stature had a clear understanding of this important doctrine.

I also believe that it is not wrong to express "progressive sanctification" by the simple definition "to walk out our holiness with the help of the Spirit", which is absolutely true. But at the same time we as believers should understand that it is the love of God that has called us to respond in gratefulness and commit our lives to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus our Lord, of which if we fail and continue to fail to respond positively, God will automatically correct us in His Love through chastening us if we willingly let Him do it in our lives (Rom 8:29-30; Heb 12:6, 7, 10-11, 14). Therefore, if we as believers fail to respond to God's call to progressive sanctification, we are those who will miss the eternal reward that God has for us (Rec 3:11), God doesn't lose anything except the joy of giving you His reward (Job 35:6-8; Acts 20:35). I mean if you miss it, he will joyfully give the same reward to another child of His who deserves it because of taking God and His word seriously, and thus co-operating with the Holy Spirit to be progressively sanctified until their death (Rev 2:10, 25; Matt 25:21, 23, 34; Luke 19:17, 19).

So we know now, God's Word sanctifies us progressively until the end of our lives: "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). God's Spirit also works with us to help us make good choices every time we are tempted, and therefore it is He who make us live in the empowerment of heaven to fulfill this progressive sanctification, as Paul also agrees with this doctrine to say, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). Take Spirit's help to be progressively sanctified and live in the abundant life that Jesus provides (John 10:10).

Apostle Paul continues saying, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). This is the crux of the whole matter, if we fail to give ourselves to perfect ourselves in holiness through the help of the Holy Spirit, we will not just experience loss of temporal blessings from God, but actually eternal blessings of God which cannot be gained for eternity ahead forever once we choose to lose and waste the opportunity of it.

Having said it, I agree with you and can say that I do not reject but rather affirm the concept that the one who made us holy now calls us to live holy lives in thought, word and deed, thereby "completing our sanctification in the fear of God" till the end of our earthly lives (2 Cor 7:1). Yes Paul the apostle is right when he says that we are called saints (that is who we are by what Jesus has done for us) and therefore are called to be saints (that is how we live in gratitude by giving our body as a reasonable sacrifice for what Jesus did for us by His life, death and resurrection) (1 Cor. 1:2). There are no paradox in the sanctification of a believer in his/her Christian life, but we should make sure that we have both side of the coin or both aspect or kinds of sanctification in our understanding together to make it a real one and not a counterfeit. By failing to accept the truth of progressive sanctification, though all believer will not fail to enter heaven because of what Jesus has done already (1 Cor 3:15; Heb 9:28; 2 Cor 5:10-11), they will miss the eternal rewards that are marked by God to be given to them by failing to walk in the aspect of the other progressive side which God expects from us. 

Much Blessings....


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