Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sanctification - Part 2

Theologians speak of a threefold process of sanctification; that is, (1) it has a beginning (at salvation), (2) it is a continued throughout the believer’s earthly life, and (3) it culminated at glorification in death or at the Lord’s return. The quote below from Sinclair Ferguson affirms this threefold perspective of sanctification

Union with Christ in his death and resurrection is the element of union which Paul most extensively expounds...if we are united to Christ, then we are united to him at all points of his activity on our behalf. We share in his death (we were baptized into his death), in his resurrection (we are resurrected with Christ), in his ascension (we have been raised with him), in his heavenly session (we sit with him in heavenly places, so that our life is hidden with Christ in God), and we will share in his promised return (when Christ, who is our life, appears, we also will appear with him in glory) (Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:11-12; 3:1-3).

Lehman Strauss gives this homiletically oriented construct: Positional (at salvation), Practical (in life), and Perfect (at death) Sanctification. One person (source unknown) has offered this outline of sanctification: (1) Spiritual Condition: actual sanctification, or sanctification de facto, (2) Behavioral Sanctification as a spiritual condition: progressive sanctification or imparted sanctification; and (3) Future Sanctification: consummated sanctification.

It should be noted, however, that there is a theological distinction between regeneration and salvation. This is seen in the J.I. Packer explanation of sanctification that we looked at yesterday, Packer makes this clear in his explanation of this difference:

Regeneration is birth; sanctification is growth. In regeneration, God implants desires that were not there before: desire for God, for holiness, and for the hallowing and glorifying of God's name in this world; desire to pray, worship, love, serve, honor, and please God; desire to show love and bring benefit to others. In sanctification, the Holy Spirit "works in you to will and to act" according to God's purpose; what he does is prompt you to "work out your salvation" (i.e., express it in action) by fulfilling these new desires (Phil. 2:12-13). Christians become increasingly Christlike as the moral profile of Jesus (the "fruit of the Spirit") is progressively formed in them (2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; 5:22-25). Paul's use of glory in 2 Corinthians 3:18 shows that for him sanctification of character is glorification begun. Then the physical transformation that gives us a body like Christ's, one that will match our totally transformed character and be a perfect means of expressing it, will be glorification completed (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:49-53). [Concise Theology]

Thus, we should understand that we are positional sanctified, or set apart for God at the moment of salvation, and the rest of one’s Christian life is the next step, and is generally the main focus, of what we mean when we study and seek to live-out sanctification day-to-day —that is, of being “holy” and set apart for God’s Glory and use in this world—until we are finally sanctified at death or resurrection.

Tomorrow, I will develop the first part of the sanctification process: Positional Sanctification.

3 John 8

Bill H.

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