Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."

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1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"Justification, Not the End All of Salvation!" by Shane C. Montgomery

Thursday, December 2, 2010
  
  It is getting to the end of the worship service, the hymns have all been sung, the testimonies given, the collection has long since been taken up for the week.   The pastor has minutes ago wrapped up another sermon on the importance of tithing and now the worship leader is on stage, his lovely, well dressed wife is sitting at the large, black piano, the lights shinning off the perfectly waxed surface of the Baby Grand.  The worship leader signals to his wife to begin playing a slow, moving song, you know the one, "All To Jesus" maybe, or one of the new Christian pop songs that have been burning up the radio waves, the worship leader ask that the lights be dimmed, he slowly walks the length of the stage and back, you can begin to see the moisture swelling up in his eyes,


 they are turning red, puffy and wet, he will no doubt cry soon.  He raises the microphone to his lips, breathes deeply, sighs long.   "Christ is here today, He is knocking at the door to your heart, wont you let Him in!?   Come up front right now, come to the alter, kneel at the alter and pray to God to save you, ask Him to forgive you of your sins, say "God, I am a Sinner!  Forgive me!  Save Me!"   Dozens of souls make their way from their pews, they hurry to rush the alter and quickly fall to their knees in prayer.  The head pastor makes his way down to the alter, as well as the youth pastor, and the elders, all head to the front.  They find a soul that is praying on his or her knees who they have never seen in their church before, or one who has visited a few times but has never approached the alter.  Then they kneel with them and put their hand on their back, they whisper in that persons ear, "are you a sinner?  Do you want to be saved?  Do you want to got to Heaven when you die?"


The pastor who led this person in prayer will then stand them up, wipe the tears from the eyes of the new convert, turn him or her to the pews and say, "Welcome our newest member of God's family!"  Everyone applauds and as the person walks back to his seat,  he is greeted with several back slappings, hand shakes, high fives and thumbs ups.   This is a great time, a turning point, and now for that convert, all that is left is to attend church services every Sunday and tithe.   He is now saved, Justified, and ready for Heaven, the work is done.




  This scenerio plays out every Sunday in churches around the nation.   Is salvation truly this easy?  




       Most of us have a good working knowledge of "Justification", most believers, though they may differ on the means of Justification, be it "By Grace Alone"- (Monergism)  or the evermore popular Romanists/Free Will/Arminian view " "God's efforts plus Man's efforts"- (Synergism).   If you follow this blog more than likely you are a believer of the Monergistic view of Justification but this post is not about Monergism -vs- Synergism this post is to raise awareness to a ever increasing problem in the modern day Evangelical Church.


  But before we drift to far off course of the subject matter at hand, why is this happening?   Is this all there is to getting to Heaven?  Is it really this easy?   Is Justification the end all of salvation?   It would appear that the mega church has found a secret for success in that they have found a way to mass produce converts, and these converts are loyal to the church and the pastor that delivered them.  I know, I know, just wait, we will work this all out, I hope.   I feel this to be a correct explanation and the secret recipe that these big churches are using is nothing new, in fact it is as old as the Church itself.  Funny how even though we have tons of literature on this very problem from decades and centuries past, that so many men of God have written extensively on this subject for hundreds of years, that this could even be a remote possibility is laughable.




  But the truth remains, this false teaching still works wonders in bringing in visitors and mass producing false converts.  Now here is the catch, that is nothing new, that is not news that needs to go on the front page of the New York Times, many true believers know this to be true and hate the fact that it is happening.   We recall all to well the damage caused by Charles Finney and Billy Graham.  I guess the question really is that if these people are Justified, no matter how, isn't that something to be glad about?   And the answer is yes!


  Yes it is something to be happy about, if a man is Justified, even if they do not truly understand how or why and they do not have the ability to put this new faith into words, then they are still Justified.  This though is where we have a problem in the Church today.   We see so many new converts walking the aisle to the alter to say the "Sinners Prayer" and become new converts, so now they are part of the family of believers, they will go to Heaven and have eternal communion with God in this life and the life to come.   By this one act, they are Justified, in an instant they are Justified before God.  


  The problem here lies in that they very well might be Justified and that is wonderful, but their faith does not end here!   Justification is by grace alone, not by works, "That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."  Eph 2:7-9 (KJV)


  No one is arguing this point, that Justification is indeed by grace alone and that we cannot merit this salvation offered to us.  But to say that sense Justification is by grace instead of works and thusly we can just sit back and accept this wonderful offer of salvation and begin to look forward to Heaven, well, it is not that simple, see I believe the Bible is clear in it's teachings that Justification is a free gift that we cannot earn, all of our works do nothing for us, but we seem to forget there is another process after Justification.  We know the very first process to be Justification and if we are diligent students of the Bible, as we are called to be, then we know that that process must be followed by another process, Sanctification.


  But are they the same? Well, yes and no.  They do have similarities, such as both Justification and Sanctification are both of God's free grace.  It is true that it is from the free grace of God alone that believers are Justified and Sanctified at all.  Without God's intervening work, neither would ever happen.  No man has the power to Justify or Sanctify him or herself.


  Both Justification and Sanctification are part of the work of Salvation which Christ in His eternal covenant, has undertaken on behalf of His people.  Christ is the river in which both pardon and holiness flow.


  Both Justification and Sanctification are always found in the same person.  "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."    Romans 8:30 (KJV)   Those who are Justified are always Sanctified and those who are Sanctified are always Justified.  God has made it this way.


  Both Justification and Sanctification begin at the exact same time in history in the believers life.  The moment you began to by Justified, you began to become Sanctified.


  Both Justification and Sanctification are absolutely necessary to obtain Salvation.   So does this mean they are one in the same?   Once Justified are we free to live and do as we please?  Once Justified are we set for Heaven?   In fact we read in the Gospel of Luke,- "But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."     Luke 23:40-43 (KJV)


  Whenever I speak of Holiness, this is the first verse people will bring up in their defense.  They are quick to pull this one out of the holster, and for good reason, this verse clearly states that the thief on the cross was instantly Justified (and according to who you are speaking) also Sanctified and he was surely to be with Christ in paradise that very day.   We cannot deny this to say what it says.  But this one verse cannot supersede the rest of Hoy Writ!  We cannot and would be foolish to take one verse from Scripture and base an entire doctrine on it  and from it.


  It is my honest belief that no one can enter into Heaven without first being Sanctified.  I will head off your rebuking quickly and tell you that I agree, we will never be Glorified in this lifetime and as likely, we will never be Sanctified completely in this life time.  But we cannot deny the body of Scripture clearly states that Heaven is an Holy place, made by God.   God is holy, so is Heaven.  This means, in the simplest terms I know, we will not enter Heaven in our unholy state.


  Being Justified, we have pardon, we have forgiveness of our sins.  We know longer have to worry about our sinful record barring us from entrance to Heaven, in God's Holy Eyes, we have been made acceptable, holy in His Eyes.   But though we have imputed righteousness, the very righteousness we inherit from Christ our Savior, we are not Holy!   We are far, far from Holy.   This is why, after Justification, that being one process, we instantly begin another process, that of Sanctification.  God who Foreknew us, who Predestined us, Elected us for Salvation, who sent His Son to die on a cross to Justify us, He now calls us to and allows us to begin the Sanctify of our lives, the making us Holy and ready for Heaven, for on the day we die we will be ready, more Holy  to enter Holy Heaven where Holy God reigns.


  Is Sanctification then necassary for Salvation, yes!  We are saved, Justified but none of us are Holy, we have yet to be Sanctified by God.  Scripture tells us that He sends His Spirit to aid us and to grow us in His grace.  We are called to grow in grace, to mature in our faith and in knowledge, what knowledge?  The knowledge of His Will for us.  The knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  The knowledge that is required of us to be made ready for eternal life in Heaven.   So many people tell me that I make Salvation to academic, that I make it all about doctrine and nothing about Feelings!   This is part true and part ridiculous.  For God gave us His Word for a reason and that reason is to grow us!   We are called to read and study His Word, to become intimately familiar with His Word and His Will.   This is knowledge and this knowledge takes work.


  There, I have used that dirty word we Christians are not to use, especially us Reformed Christians.  "Work" Oh, what an evil word indeed!    Shane, dear brother!  Must I read to you again the second chapter of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians?     No thanks, I know that letter very well my friend and to deny Paul teaches of Sanctification and that indeed through the very works of believers, is to deny Scripture.   We as believers, having been freely Justified and not by our works, and being freely given the ability and desire to begin Sanctification are now called to WORK!    Is this true?    Are we saved by grace, Justified freely and Sanctified freely, with the aid of Christ in all this and then required to work for our Salvation?.....   Well, Yes and No.   Sanctification is indeed free, it is indeed a gift of God, just as our Justification.  It is indeed true that we cannot, on our own, Sanctify ourselves.  But we are told to work on becoming Holy.


  To say we are Justified and that now we can do nothing but sit back and wait goes against Scripture.  Sanctification requires us to work at being Holy.   It might sound wrong to you but it is true my friend.    Without Sanctification, you are not Holy, and we know nothing unholy can enter Heaven where Holy God dwells.  Why do we think we say a simple prayer and all of a sudden we are made Holy?   It says this no where is Scripture.   We see the evidence of the Thief on the cross with Christ, but this is a unique example.  I know not what this says of "Death Bed Conversions" or if I even believe such a thing is even possible.  I know many non-believers who are holding out for just such a conversion and I do believe to premeditate a Death Bed Conversion seems a sure sign of being Hell bound.  Why would God honor a pact like that?   I will recant on my death bead some will say.   Where does it say that God has to accept that offer?   A Sovereign God would have no part in this and the very thought of it by any sensible person would be laughable.   We need not enter into a discussion of Election and Predestination to know that the mere Sovereignty of God disallows such a conversion.


  But getting back to the Thief of the cross, again, I believe this to be an example of Christ's love and Power.  Christ being God, had and yet has the ability to Save, no matter what.  This one verse cannot override all of Scripture.   Not to mention, even though I just did, there is a better explanation for this verse than what I have given, but lets save that for another time.  Our issue today remains Sanctification must take place prior to eternal life.


  If we would think clearly for a moment we can see this to be true.  We recognize there are different types of grace for one thing.  Active grace and Passive grace, both of which are required for the Heaven bound saint.   Every believer, if truly regenerate and not simply apostate, will show Clear Physical Evidence of Sanctification in his or her life.    What are the Visible Marks of a Sanctified Man?   Well, there are many and if you think for a moment, I am sure you can come up with a few I have left out or forgotten.
1)  A constant respect of the Law of God. "If ye love me, keep my commandments."  John 14:15 (KJV)
2)  A constant desire to live up to the standard set forth in Scripture.
3)  Believing in the total Inerrancy of Scripture.
4)  Believing that the Bible is God's Word, every bit of it and that it has the power to convert. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb 4:12 (KJV)
5)  Active participation in Active Grace. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another"   John 13:34-35 (KJV)
6)  Active participation in Passive Grace. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal 5:22-23


7)  Habitual Acts of Good Works. Showing Christ to the World.


8) Not Hiding from the World, but Living to Change the World.


9)  Not Fearing Any Man, but Fearing God Alone. " It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."   Heb 10:31 (KJV)


10)  The Ability to Discern Truth from Frivolous Religious Feelings and Emotions.


11)  A Burning Desire to Share the Gospel with Everyone.  How can you hear the Good News and not want to share it?

  This list could go on and on and I am sure you have found several that I have omitted.  But we see the general point.  Justification is free, we do nothing in obtaining it, as well, Sanctification is free, it starts the moment we are Justified in God's Eyes.  But we are to be about the business of Sanctification.  We are to work, to labor, to study God's Word to be proficient in all areas of the things of God.  We are to Work to show Christ to the World.   We are to Work to show the folly of a Sinful life.  We are to Work in fighting against the Temptations of this World.  We are to Work hard and diligent at Avoiding Sin in our lives.  We are to Work at being a better Saint. We are to Work with our children, our wives, our husbands.  We are to bring them up and train them up in the way God would have us to, in His Word.  We are Ambassadors for Christ to this Fallen, Lost World and we are and we must Work at this.


  We cannot afford to simply sit and do nothing to close ourselves off from the world, to join a monastery in South America will not Sanctify us, joining a convent will not Sanctify us.  We have a duty to remain in this Sinful world and to show Christ, and His Love and to Share the Gospel, to Preach the Word is season and out of season.  We must remain in this world and fight against all evil.  Even if we were to hide, to simply run off and live in the mountains all by ourselves, and do nothing but pray, fast and read Scripture, we will not avoid evil and we will not be Sanctified.   Think of this, no matter where we run, the root of all evil runs with us, our own evil hearts!


  So we Work at our Sanctification.  True Sanctification will be a result of our labors along with the Holy Spirits, from a deep desire to learn and love more of God.   If you love Him because He first loved you, then you will desire to be like Christ.   You will desire to please God and obey His Will.   Do you?   Then what you truly desire and maybe you just do not know how to put into words is, you desire Holiness, for God is Holy and you must indeed be Holy to enter Holy Heaven.     You must seek Holiness in all you do, seek God while there is still time, and desire Him more than life itself, more than the follies of this world, forget the shiny things and desire Him who loves you.   Sanctify yourselves.  Sanctification is a Life Long Process. You will never be Completely Sanctified in this Life, but we are required to seek Holiness.   It will take Work friends.


Instead of ending this as so many of us Christians do, by saying "May God Bless You"  
May I end this in a manner more fitting,....
May God Continue to Sanctify You...


Soli Deo Gloria!      
Shane C. Montgomery
Covenant Reformed Church

2 comments:

{ Nick } at: December 2, 2010 at 7:39 PM said...

What most don't know is that Paul was well aware of the term "impute" but never used it in any of the senses most people claim and think.

In my study on this topic of imputed righteousness, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular lexicon here is what it is defined as:

—————-
QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”
http://tinyurl.com/r92dch
—————-

The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:
——————-
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
——————-

Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
This cannot be right.

So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such. This is confirmed even more when one compares another similar passage, Hebrews 11:4, where by faith Abel was commended as righteous.

{ Bold Witness For Christ } at: December 2, 2010 at 7:58 PM said...

Well put Nick. I agree with you on the point of imputation, and I also believe many believers do not truly see that the Apostle Paul teaches on Works for Sanctification,just not in the same way we would think of as in "Works for Justification" meaning of course we are Justified by faith apart from Works but once Justified(and knowing that Sanctification always follows Justification) we are required and expected to seek out our Sanctification through hard work. Examples would be that once we are regenerated we should have daily family worship to insure the sanctification/edification of our regenerated family members, along with public and private worship, fastings, Bible Study and the like. I love what you had to say but I am convinced we are expected to seek out Holiness, and not in a Legalistc way but in a way obedient to God and mindful and respectful to His Laws. We know God will not open the back door to Heaven to sneak in a unholy person, right? Thanks for reading.

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