Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

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



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)

Sanctification: Three Words That Will Help! by Shane C. Montgomery

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  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 8:29-30 (KJV)

  We can read these two verses from Romans chapter 8 and we can come to many conclusions, of course on display here is the  Sovereignty of God, Foreknowledge, Predestination, Election, Justification and Glorification.  I can't help but wonder every time I read these verses, why did the Apostle Paul leave out Sanctification?   Look, right there, between "Justified and Glorified" there Paul seems to gloss over a major step in the life of the believer.  

  Now I know this is no error, I know the Word of God to be infallible, it cannot and does not contain any errors, looking at this at first glance it appears Paul by passes Sanctification, but if we read these two verses a little closer, a little slower maybe, we see in verse 29 he does mention Sanctification, "he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son."   That is Sanctification, so then Paul did not leave it out, he simply listed it earlier and worded it different, and it is not that he so much miss named it, or reworded it, but truly, he called it what it most truly is.   The word "Sanctification" means different things to different people.  Theologians interpret this word to have different meanings, of course most times the nature and mindset of the theologian will determine the meaning of the word, that is at least, their interpretation of the word.  

  Scripture uses different words and terms to identify Sanctification in the believer and in it's use.  Examples are "Holiness, Growing in Grace, Maturing in Faith and Sanctify,"   as well as others.   The short definition for the word Sanctification is of course, "To be set apart, by God, for holiness."   But this might not be the best answer, it is by no means a full answer and it is sort of vague, to the new believer this could be interpreted just about anyway they want it to be.  We know there exist different types of Sanctification, I honestly do not trust this to be true.   Lets look at two theologians use, "Definite and Progressive Sanctification."

  Here is a definition of the two, the best I could find anyway..... Definite Sanctification-  Definitive sanctification, as defined by John Frame, is "a once-for-all event, simultaneous with effectual calling and regeneration, that transfers us from the sphere of sin to the sphere of God’s holiness, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God." Definitive sanctification marks us out (or separates us) as God’s chosen people – His treasured and covenantal possession (Acts 20:32; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). So too, definitive sanctification redeems (or frees) us from the dominion (or slavery) of sin by uniting us to Christ, particularly in His death, resurrection and ascension. Sanctification, in this sense, refers to a decisive and radical break with the power and pleasures of sin

Here is the definition of Progressive Sanctification- Progressive sanctification, as defined by Wayne Grudem, is "a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives." According to John Frame, "We can think of sanctification as the outworking of the new life given in regeneration." It involves the gradual, incremental and (S)piritual work of both putting to death the remains of "indwelling sin" as well as putting on the likeness of Christ.

Now, which of these two definitions sound more like what Paul stated Sanctification to be in Romans 8:29-30?    No doubt about it for me, Progressive Sanctification is closer, I do not agree with Wayne Grudem very often, his "Systematic Theology" is so full of error it is ridiculous.   At times it reads as if Mr. Grudem is Reformed, at other times, a Dispensationalist, and still at other times he makes himself sound like a Charismatic.   He is all over the place, being Reformed in doctrine myself, it bothers me when others, especially learned theologians  and those that publish books no less, cannot find a doctrine and stick with it, if it is not right, find one that is, but please do not call yourself a "Reformed Dispensationalist Charismatic.  That abomination of a theological monster should not exist anywhere and if it does, should quickly be put out of it's misery!

  All joking aside and returning back to Paul's definition of Sanctification, at least in Romans 8, I find this to be far and away the best description of Sanctification.  We can use our knowledge of the overall subject of the Bible to see, God, in His glory, desires His adopted children, those foreknown, predestinated, elected, justified and promised to be glorified, must first be Sanctified, set apart, to be made holy, to be used for holy things, and what does that look like?   It looks like Jesus Christ!   So God conforming us through the indwelling of His Spirit, we are conformed to the image of His Son.  I cannot think of a better answer, or a simpler answer, and by no means, a more accurate answer than this, Paul hit it out of the park in chapter 8 of Romans.

  God wants us to be conformed to the image of His Son Christ, so He begins a work in us that He promises to finish, this finished work is our glorification when we stand before Him in heaven.  Our God is a Holy God, he resides everywhere, but we can say Heaven, which is a Holy place, the angels who reside there and give Him praise and worship are Holy, we on the other hand, though justified, we are no where near Holy.   So God uses the remainder of our lives to conform us to the image of Jesus.   He is making us more holy so we will be prepared for the Holy place of Heaven!   What would it be like for a sinner to go to holy heaven?   Would this sinner enjoy himself?   No, he would be very, very miserable.  Sinful man craves sinful places, heaven is not sinful.  This does not mean sinful man would enjoy Hell, though many of them boast they would, but this is simply bravado and macho talk, no one wants to go to Hell, no one.  Every one in the end, deep down inside, they desire Heaven in the next life, they just don't desire it now, in this life and they do not want God to be there when they get there.   They want a heaven without God.  Funny thing here, that will not be the case, so they will earn Hell, which is no escape from God either, for God created Heaven and He created Hell for the Devil and his demons, God is omnipresent, He is everywhere, including Hell!  The sinner will not avoid God in Hell, even worse, he will have to face God as His entire wrath is poured out upon him for his denying God his whole life and not giving Him the glory, praise and worship He deserves and covets.  The sinful man has no idea what is in store for him after death.  

   Another definition I really like is the one given in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, 

-Question 35:  What is sanctification?

Answer:   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.

 Once again, this sounds closest to what Paul explains in Romans 8:29.  This is the catechism I use, in worship, public and private and in family worship.  I believe this to be the best catechism ever penned along with the Westminster Confession of Faith as being the best confession ever penned.  Outside of Scripture, I have found no better writings on the things of God and that are as beneficial in the believers life.

  "To be Conformed to the image of His Son" the whole point of our lives after justification, we are to grow in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge of His Son.  If not, why would He want us to conform into Christ's image?   We are of course to glorify God and love one another, but we are to spend time in our sanctification.   This I fear is something that is being skipped over, glossed over, ignored, however you want to say it, we as a church are not doing it in so many places.  The Body of Christ, His Church has thought it best to go from A to C and to not even bother with the life long process of sanctification, but what damage does this do?   I would have to say it does total damage, at least to that believer who thinks this way.

   We all know Christians who have been in the faith for years, we all know believers, those who attend church every Lord's Day, who claim Christ as Savior, they have been Saved as they put it, for 20, 30, 40 years or longer, but they stopped growing in grace.  How can this be?  What happened?   It is true, we all know at least one believer who just simply quit on his sanctification, now you might say, whoa!   God began a good work in him, He will most surely finish it!   and you would be right, which leaves me to wonder, "Did God even begin a good work in this person to start with?"   Is this person deceiving him or herself thinking themselves assured of salvation?   When they just might be yet a unregenerate sinner who is playing church?   Could be, could be.

   If God begins the process of Sanctifying a believer, He will finish it, but this does not mean once we are Justified we go home and sit on our hands and wait for heaven.   We have things to do now, we do not earn our salvation, we have been Justified by grace and not by works, we did not earn our justification, nor can we or should we try to maintain ownership of our justification by doing good works, but this does not mean we are to remain infants for ever in the grace and knowledge of God!   We have work to do people.   

  Late last night, I was lying in bed about 2:00 in the morning, knowing I had to get up at 7:00 and get ready for church and deliver a message on Sanctification, well, as I laid there, three words, all beginning with the letter "P" kept popping into my mind, this is what happens when you give to many Three Point Sermons!   These words were "Pursue" "Practice" and "Purchase" over and over they ran through my head.  I began to think, this makes some sense here,

  Three things we cannot avoid in our personal sanctification.

Pursue- we must pursue our Sanctification with all effort.  We cannot make excuses, we must work diligently at it.  We must keep after it, we cannot come to a point where we believe we are "There" we cannot start to think, we are "Good enough" or we have attained holiness, we must continue to work on our personal holiness, we must continue to prepare for heaven.  We have to be made more holy everyday to be prepared for holy heaven.  We have to Pursue with all our heart, mind and soul our sanctification.

Practice-  We have so many tools at our disposal, we have tools to help us, we have Scripture, we have prayer, we have other believers, we have pastors and teachers, we have great writers of years past and present who have been there and know what we need and what we are looking for, they know the questions we have and often times have the answers, we just have to be wiling to do some reading.  We have to practice with the tools God gave us, to use in our growing in grace, our maturing in the faith, in our preparation for heaven.  We have to Practice, we cannot become complacent, or to get lazy, we have time, but how much we do not know, we cannot afford to waste much time  at all in getting ready, we have to read Scripture, read commentaries, read the Puritans and other men of God long since past.  Pray fervently, speak with other mature believers, attend worship and pay attention to the sermons.  Don't be so quick to blow off church.  Study your Bibles daily.  Pray constantly.  Your sanctification, will take Practice, your conforming will take Practice, no one ever becomes good at sports without practice, no one ever learns another  language without practice, no one ever learns their job without Practice, this is no different. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Purchase-  Now, this one might have you confused.  I am not speaking of investing money, not at all, I am not speaking of sending in a love offering or planting a financial seed of faith, this is all garbage used by shysters to make money of the simple folk.   I am not even speaking of the modern church ritual of Tithing, which I will never be convinced is taught in the New Testament.  I think Tithing is a tool used by greedy pastors to guilt you into paying them a larger salary and building bigger buildings, I also think that if you Tithe for the purpose of avoiding guilt, you are doing it for the wrong reason, and you are sinning.  I believe that if you Tithe because your believe or worse yet, your pastor has taught you that you will be blessed a hundred fold if you continue to Tithe 10% of your income, well then, your are greedy and treating God like a ATM, shame on you and stop trying to buy God's grace!  Hell is full of people who attempted to buy God's favor, you will be no different.   Now you can and should give offerings to your church, they have bills and they must be paid, but do it for those reasons, give offerings to the poor and needy as well, give offerings to the widowed and the orphans, just as Christ, Paul and so many others preached.  If you want to give an offering of 5% and you want half that to go to the church and half to go to the needy, then great!   You will not go to Hell for that!   Don't Tithe at all, for any reason, don't use th O.T. as an excuse, read what Jesus wrote in Matthew 23:23 then tell me about tithing, are you a Pharisee?   They tithed and for the same reason as you, the outside of their bowels looked clean and shiny, but the inside of their bowels were dirty, infested with filth.  That is what Tithing does, makes you look good when you are not, "Oh God, I am glad I am not like others, like that Tax Collector over there, for I tithe!"    or "Have mercy on me O God, a sinner"   which one was Justified again?

Getting off topic, what I mean by Purchased is this, make an investment in your sanctification, invest your time, invest your efforts.   Invest your money if you will, but do it not to buy favors or blessings, but to buy books that will edify you, that will help you mature in grace.  You might have to spend some money on materials that will help you understand Scripture better.  I invest money in the purchase of commentaries and in the writings of the Puritans mostly.  But other edifying books as well and find it money well spent, it has grown me much.   Better than paying TBN money so Benny Hinn can have more fuel for his private jets.  

   What a waste TBN is, I mean really, I have to think that God is going to deal very harshly with these liars and thieves, these blasphemers of His Holy Name.  All they do is in the name of greed and self, never in the name of Christ Jesus.

   There you have my three "Ps" they kept me up half the night and I wanted to share them, just maybe, they might help you in your Sanctification, you never know, at least these are free!   

Be Holy!


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