Saturday, November 21, 2009

God is really teaching me lately.......

In relation to justification and sanctification, there is a substantial difference and that Luther did not protest in vain. Scripture teaches that justification is a declarative act of God, not a process. Jesus promised immediate salvation to believers: “He who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24). That verse clearly states that on the basis of faith alone, sinners pass out of death and into eternal life. Sanctification is a result, not a prerequisite.We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). As a part of His saving work, God will produce repentance, faith, sanctification, yieldedness, obedience, and ultimately glorification. Since He is not dependent on human effort in producing these elements, an experience that lacks any of them cannot be the saving work of God.

Those who have been born again are new creatures in Christ; they are the products of grace, not the achievers of it in any way, shape, or form. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, not by human works or human merit of any kind or to any degree (Eph. 2:8, 9). And yet, we are saved unto good works, as Ephesians 2:10 makes so abundantly clear. And the ability to do these good works is the result of the washing and renewing work of the Spirit within us (Titus 3:5). That cleansing work (called regeneration) is also a work of transformation. If we have been truly transformed on the inside, it will affect our outside lives as well.

John 10:26–27. Here, Jesus plainly says to his unbelieving listeners: “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

The word used here for “follow” is akoloutheo. Whenever it is used in a religious context in the New Testament, it refers to discipleship. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says this about the term:

The distinctive statistical evidence shows that the special [meaning religious] use of akolouthein is strictly limited to discipleship of Christ; apart from a single reference in Revelation it is found exclusively in the four Gospels. … The disciple leaves everything to go after Jesus (Mk. 10:28; cf. 1:18; Lk. 5:11). This implies, however, that akolouthein signifies self-commitment in a sense which breaks all other ties (Mt. 8:22; Lk. 9:61 f.). … The exclusiveness of the NT use arises from the fact that for primitive Christianity there is only one discipleship and therefore only one following, namely, the relationship to Jesus. The demand akolouthei moi in Mk. 2:14 and par. is a Messianic demand (–> sunakoloutheo). Because it signifies following the Messiah, this discipleship is essentially a religious gift. Akoulouthein means participation in the salvation offered in Jesus. (Gerhard Kittel, TDNT, vol. 1, pp. 213–14; Greek terms transliterated).

So Jesus’ Himself uses a term for discipleship to refer to the characteristics of His sheep (true believers). If I am truly born of God, I have a faith that cannot fail to overcome the world (1 John 5:4). Even though I may sin (1 John 2:1)—I will sin—but the process of sanctification can never stall completely. God is at work in me (Phil. 2:13), and He will continue to perfect me until the day of Christ (Rom. 8:29-30; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23–24).

Justification is free (Jn. 4:1)
Sanctification is costly (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification is instantaneous (Jn. 3:8)
Sanctification is a life-long process (Jn. 8:31)

Justification is by faith (Eph. 2:8)
Sanctification is by faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2)

Justification is not of works (Eph. 2:9)
Sanctification is of works (Eph. 2:10)

Justification involves Christ’s love for me (Jn. 3:16)
Sanctification involves my love for Christ (1 Jn. 4:19)

Justification concerns Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)
Sanctification concerns my righteousness (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification involves my position in Christ (Col. 2:11-14)
Sanctification involves my practice (Col. 3:1-11)

Justification considers what God has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Sanctification considers what I am doing (Lk. 14:25-33)

Justification is God’s commitment to me (1 Jn. 5:9-13)
Sanctification is my commitment to God (Jn. 14:15)

Justification requires obedience to one command: to believe the Gospel (Ac. 6:7)
Sanctification requires obedience to all of Christ’s commands (Matt. 28:19-20)

Justification focuses on the cross which Jesus took up once and for all (1 Cor. 1:18)
Sanctification focuses on the cross which I am to take up daily (Lk. 9:53)

Justification is finished at the moment of faith (Jn. 5:24)
Sanctification is not finished until I go to be with the Lord (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
Author Unknown

Quotes from theologians
You cannot take Christ for justification unless you take Him for sanctification. Think of the sinner coming to Christ and saying, “I do not want to be holy;” “I do not want to be saved from sin;” “I would like to be saved in my sins;” “Do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.” What would be the answer? Could he be accepted by God? You can no more separate justification from sanctification than you can separate the circulation of the blood from the inhalation of the air. Breathing and circulation are two different things, but you cannot have the one without the other; they go together, and they constitute one life. So you have justification and sanctification; they go together, and they constitute one life. If there was ever one who attempted to receive Christ with justification and not with sanctification, he missed it, thank God! He was no more justified than he was sanctified.
A.A. Hodge
Evangelical Theology.

If you do not put a difference between justification wrought by the Man Christ without, and sanctification wrought by the Spirit of Christ within…you are not able to divide the word aright; but contrariwise, you corrupt the word of God.
John Bunyan

My final thoughts:
I have to remember that its not the scriptures that are corrupted so before I blame, I am to lay blame where it is deserved. This is where I should have a serious responsibility in this matter to search in my heart about my motives when I try to glorify God. Paul said, "But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment" (1 Corinthians 11:31). I can learn from others who believe such doctrines and examine my own. I am to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me and convict me the truth. Often my flesh's desires gets in the way of spirit-lead truth. Spiritual truth is so necessary to understand God as who He is, not the way I want to think. I have been thinking, like most Christians,I often question myself about my own spiritual issues and motives. Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture? Thinking theologically is a tough thing to do. It works against my human (sinner) and horizontal perspective on life. I will never forget C.S. Lewis' quote: "You never know how much you really believe anything until truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you." I remember that it is not the scriptures that are corrupted. Its a man's heart (as in my own) that is corrupted in all areas such as in intelligence, reason, and choice. Even forgiven sinners who are not sanctified in the renewal by the Holy Spirit even though they are justified by faith. The Scriptures aim to affect my heart and change the way I feel about God and His will. It is the will of God that His Word crush my own feelings of arrogance and self-reliance and that it give hope to the poor in spirit. Christianity will always be running against the prevailing movement of society with individualistic doctrinal beliefs. I am in the world of self-deceit that sometimes I am too focused on myself to see the eternal truth.

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