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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"The Cause and the Effect"

Q. What is sanctification?

A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. 

(Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 35)

Several times I have heard Christians recite the following formula: “Christians are saved by grace, justified by faith, and sanctified by works.” On first hearing, this sounds right as the slogan attempts to capture three important biblical emphases. Yes, we are saved by grace and not by our works (Rom. 6:14; Eph. 2:8). Yes, the ground of our justification is the merit of Christ, which becomes ours through faith alone (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16). And yes, good works will be found in the lives of those who are saved by grace and justified by faith (Eph. 2:10). But — and here is where the slogan takes us in the wrong direction — we are not sanctified by our good works.

This is a very important point and is often misunderstood by many. The reason why the last part of the above formula is incorrect (“sanctified by works”) is because when discussing sanctification, the formula confuses the cause (God’s grace) with the effect (good works). To put it another way, while the process of sanctification inevitably leads to the production of good works, good works do not produce our sanctification.

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Reader Comments (4)

Amen and amen. This is something that I was instructed on 14 months back, when my wife and I moved to a reformed church. The Truth makes so more sense, one you put it together. Silly man - no sinful contribution to works makes one holy. Praise the Lord for His daily mercies in bringing us closer to Himself - for His glory.
February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterManfred
So then, if a person would "promote his sanctification" he should attend to the means of grace (Word and Sacrament - aka the work of God), and thus be "renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and [be] enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness." What a way to improve one's baptism!

This won't build mega-congregations, but God will certainly use His means to build His Church! (Church = the company of people called to grace through Word and Sacrament)
February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDB
If you want a great example of a book that is sadly passing by many reformed believers as representing Biblical teaching on how to grow in our sanctification it would be Pete Scazzero's book on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. He clearly presents that our sanctification is accomplished by our works when he combines notions he calls Contemplative Spirituality and Emotional Health to arrive at a system of activities that he believes will "provide a means to decisively conquer the beast within us and in our culture." p. 44.

Scazzero either has forgotten or is completely ignoring the teaching of Colossians where Paul says that these types of experiences and practices can not restrain our sinful passions.

He makes me think of Pope JP II who flatulated himself, excpet that he stinks more.
February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBro. Cadfrey
A great post. This answers some of us who are still entranced by Rick Warren's "Purpose-Diven Life" book, which starts off talking about how it is all about God, and then takes up the rest of the book talking about us.
February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

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