Sanctification

Sanctification, Faith and Works: An Index of Recent Web Debate

Updated 6/13/14

Debates about various aspects of the doctrine of sanctification have been around for a long time. In the summer of 2011, a fresh round of debate on sanctification, works, faith, depravity, justification and union with Christ broke out on the Web and has continued, in one form or another up to the present.

Because the exchange has featured skilled and articulate participants, it has also been insightful. The following is offered as a tool for the benefit of anyone interested in studying the matter from the perspective of recent interactions among theologically conservative, mostly (but not entirely) Reformed leaders.

A few notes appear below, randomly. I hope to eventually annotate most of these entries more fully and fairly.

Despite the length of this list of links, it is not comprehensive. Feel free to post other links of importance in the comments.

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From the Archives: Fulfilling God's Law by Walking in the Spirit

The God of the Bible is presented without apology as a law-issuing God who expects us to be law-keeping people. God does not ask permission to assert Himself as the arbiter of human ethics (Gen. 2:15-17). He determines for His creatures the standard of right and wrong and we are duty-bound to know His commandments and honor them.

Such notions are naturally unsettling, particularly when one begins to comprehend precisely what God requires of us. I am reminded of a conversation I had with a stranger seated next to me on a commercial flight home from the east coast some years ago. I came to find out later that he had grown up in a strict Jewish family in which God’s Law to Israel was studied and honored. He was heading to Minneapolis on business and initially asked my advice on the hottest downtown night clubs. We were obviously strangers. He may as well have asked my advice on nuclear physics.

Perhaps it was my bald ignorance of the Minneapolis night club scene that piqued his curiosity, but in any event he began to probe to discover who I was. When he learned the orientation of my life as a minister of the gospel, he proceeded to poke fun at the religion he had long ago left in the dust. Along the way, he explained, he had decoded the vision of God presented in the Hebrew Scriptures. “What is the tastiest meat?” he pressed me. I hesitated. “Obviously, it’s pork,” he asserted with an air of confidence. “So what does God say? ‘No pork.’”

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"Protestant churchgoers say they can walk with God just fine by themselves, but they also say they need other believers to help them do it."

"A LifeWay Research survey sponsored by the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary finds majorities of those who attend U.S. Protestant or non-denominational churches at least monthly agree with the two sentiments that are seemingly in conflict." - Facts & Trends

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Is It Wrong to Draw Moral Lessons from OT Figures?

"It’s important to distinguish between 'moralism' and 'morality.' One is anti-gospel, the other is a byproduct of the gospel. Moralism focuses on outward behavior and is generally encouraged for personal profit and reputation. Moral transformation and conformity to the will of God is rooted in the fear of God, the pleasure of God, and is demonstrably tied to the Word of God." - TGC

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The Enduring Appeal of Antinomianism: Why a 17th-Century Theological Debate (Still) Matters Today

"While I’m not an expert on American evangelicalism, I think aspects of 17th-century antinomianism have become mainstream in many of our churches. Many believers assume that some, if not all, of the moral law no longer applies, or that it only applies because the commands are re-affirmed in the New Testament" - TGC

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Richard Foster: Effort Is Not the Opposite of Grace

"There’s a back and forth—there is a role that we play in our relational life with God. That role is, as Paul puts it, that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. Now, how do you do that? I’d say primarily—not exclusively, but primarily—through the classical disciplines of the spiritual life." - CToday

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Who Needs Revival?

Some years ago, I was visiting a small rural church in Michigan where a preacher delivered a message on revival. His text was Genesis 26:18.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham.

He argued passionately that what we need more than anything else in these times is revival. In fact, revival would solve every significant problem that exists in our nation, our churches, and in the lives of God’s people everywhere. Near the end of his message, he summarized with these words. “Our nation needs revival, God’s people need revival, we here—we all need revival… I need revival.”

The message illustrates a widespread way of thinking about revival and a common pattern in pulpit use of the term. But three problems with this usage call for our attention.

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"[B]e vigilant to avoid embracing legalism in a cloak of godliness ... and lawlessness in the cloak of grace"

"In all three pastoral letters, Paul impresses the need ministers have to pursue personal godliness and to call the people of God to pursue true, Gospel-motivated holiness and good works." —Legalism, Lawlessness and Pastoral Ministry

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