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)

"Three Stages of Sanctification" By Shane C.Montgomery

Thursday, January 13, 2011

When a believer is Justified, he immediately begins the process of Sanctification.  Most believers are unaware that they have just began a life long journey that ends on the day their earthly life comes to an end.  Today I would like to speak with you about the Three Stages of Sanctification in every believers life.  This is not a process we can choose to begin early, or that we can choose at anytime, for just as Justification, where God imputes the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ, to us in a process that is most correctly viewed as "Penal Substitution" whereby Christ, through His obedient life to the Father has paid our ransom upon the cross and has thereby purchased us from sin unto righteousness and freeing us from  bondage to Satan and Sin, Christ did in fact pay a ransom for our souls with His very life. 

 His obedience toward God the Father, by keeping God's Laws perfectly in thought, word and deed over the course of His earthly life enabled Him to be the spotless sacrifice for us.  He took our sinful record upon the cross and was punished in our place.  Now we are made holy in God's eyes, we now are Justified to enter into eternal communion with God in this life and in heaven.  This process is known as "Justification" and this is where we believers begin our lives of service to God.

  Justification is not the end, no where near the end in fact for us, we immediately begin a process that takes a life time, this process known as "Sanctification" begins immediately after Justification in every believer.  In this period of our lives we are known as "Infant Christians" or "Baby Believers" a stage we are not expected to remain in long, though many believers will spend most if not their entire lives in this first stage of Sanctification. This is why we see in Paul's epistles in the New Testament where Paul warns believers to strive vehemently to grow in knowledge of God and in knowledge of the Son of God so they can better conform to the image of Christ.  Which we see in the New Testament to be the goal of every believer and the single most important reason for the existence of every Christian, to conform into the image of Christ.

  To many, this process is too confusing and they feel it belittles the love and work of Christ on their behalf so they simply choose to pay no attention to their call to grow as believers and rest on the fact they are born again.  This is enough for them, but this way of thinking is not Biblical and will not do in the end.  Many people will spend their entire lives in a state of denial and they will claim Christianity till the day they die and will even then claim Christ when they staid before Him on the day of Judgment, unfortunately they will have to here from Christ Himself that they do not know Him at all and they lived a lie.  Their sentencing to Hell will come as a major shock to them.

  Scripture tells us we are responsible, the Holy Spirit brings us the will and the ability to change, to grow and mature, but what do we do with that gift.  It is truly a gift because just as our initial Justification, it is something we cannot do of ourselves, the Free Will Baptist's are wrong in telling you it is something we can do, it is instead a free gift from God, same with Sanctification, or at least the want of that is.  We are enabled by God to grow and learn and we are given the desire to do so, but too many want to rest on the work of Christ on the cross and do nothing instead of working at growing.  I often hear people saying they were Justified and they are saved now, they have no need to attend worship regularly or to study the Bible, the work is done!  I have to say that is a very dangerous position to take!  It is then that I have to inform these people that.....Yes, if God begins a good work in you, He will finish it, but if He did in fact begin a good work in you, then you will desire to grow, not simply be lazy and blow off your duties to strive vehemently to Sanctify yourselves!

  This almost always falls on deaf ears.  Too many free will Baptist's pastors and evangelist's, not to mention all the Pentecostals out there have ruined these people forever.  Are they salvageable?  I would say yes, but 9 times our of 10 they are not!  These good intentioned, but poorly educated and often lazy preachers have taught them wrong.  But the truth is, if these people hear the Gospel call and they come forward to "Accept Christ" at the alter and then the pastor prays with them, and has them sign the date of their "Salvation" in the back of their Bibles,  more often than not, these people are mere apostates.  They lack the true inward call of the Gospel, the true effectual calling by God of those whom He did Foreknow and Predestine for eternal life.  Rather these people were simply caught up in the moment of feel good music, dim lighting and a smooth talking speaker, the work of God they thought they felt was only their mind being swayed by a professional preacher, rather than the Gospel Call of one of God's ministers.

  Let's spend the rest of this time looking at Sanctification, or at least the First of Three stages of it in every true believers life.  

 Stage One, as I mentioned earlier, begins immediately after the second God sees this person as Justified. At that very instance, God begins a good work in them, instilling in them a strong desire to depart from their old master (Satan) and embrace and love their new Master (God.)  At this very point, believe it or not, you are free from servitude to sin!  You have a new Master now.  You might not feel as if you are free from that bondage of sin, but you are.   This is a very wonderful and lovely act, freedom is at last yours!  Of course sin is still present in your life, as well as the desire to sin but that desire is very much diminished, you just do not know it as of yet.  You instantly begin to love the things that God loves and begin the process of hating the things that God hates, which is the very things Satan loves.  Your former master in Satan also begins quickly scrambling to regain control over you, but he will have little luck because you have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb.   

  This is where so many of us in the Church today fall off tract, we are too easily swayed by the dribble we hear so often in bad churches, I do not want to say "bad churches", maybe a better word would be "false churches, because as the pastor and elders go, so goes the church body.  If your church is headed by a pastor who has been taught and truly believes in false doctrines, and I am speaking of the Cardinal Doctrines here, Justification by Faith Alone, In Christ Alone, By Faith Alone, to the Glory of God Alone and in the teachings of Scripture Alone.  Also proper views on the Trinity are required as well as a few more details on doctrine and in worship.  An improper view of the Sacraments will only lead to the confusing and misleading of the sheep as well.  Too often in our modern churches we see money hungry pastors and elders who throw out sound Biblical doctrine in favor of entertaining the flock so as to generate more revenue, let me tell you, God is not hurting for money!   He is not facing bankruptcy, He needs and require nothing we own to maintain His existence!  We are often lead to believe this, but it is a lie, as well as the lie that if we sow a seed offering of faith by handing over a large portion of our earning and savings to the pastor and elders that God will bless us ten or twenty fold financially.  This is an entirely wrong view of what Biblical blessings are my friend. God does not need your money, period!   He wants your obedience, love, worship, praise, prayers and for you to grow into the image of His Son.  What does any of this have to do with giving your money to the pastor?  Nothing, we are required to give to those in need, widows, orphans, the needy and your church does have legitimate expenses they incur and these needs, utilities, gas for the vans, materials and so forth need to be paid for by the offerings, but never let anyone guilt you into tithing, especially if they lead you to believe you will not enter heaven by not doing so, or that you will be blessed with more money.  This is the lies of Satan who wants you back.  He gains control over entire congregations this way.

  Enough of all that, Sanctification is a process, once Justified, and if truly Justified, God begins a work in us, one that will endure to the end.  Stage One- You begin to recognize your sinful lifestyle and desire and work on changing that to a godly lifestyle.  That means that you avoid the things of the world and embrace the things of God.  This first stage is often slow and tedious, we stumble often and we doubt often.  We wonder if we are truly saved, are we fooling ourselves, but we have indicators that show us we are on the right tract.  When we stumble in sin we are torn up over it, we hate the fact we dishonored God with our sin.  We fall to our knees and confess our sins, we beg for forgiveness.   We are assured forgiveness and so we march on.  We read our Bibles, we study as much as we can, we pray without ceasing and we love God more and more and we hate sin more and more.  During this time of Sanctification, God will often raise hidden sins in our lives, raises them up to eye level, where we cannot deny or avoid them, we are then forced by God to confront these sins so we can better be rid of them.  We begin to notice we no longer fit in in this sinful world and we begin to desire our heavenly home.  We are more aware of right and wrong, the things we use to seek out we begin to avoid, the things we use to love, the sins, we now abhor.  We grow in grace, we attend worship services regularly, we read more, we begin to look into books and commentaries to help us grow, we embrace devotionals and we incorporate and entirely new system of the practice of holiness into our lives.  This is work my friends, we do not do this work on our own, we have the Comforter to help us, to encourage us, to make us bold, to instill the desire to be Christ like, but we still work, we did no work in our Justification, we merely received that free gift, but now we work, we strive, we study, we pray, we cry, we plead, we confess, we bear witness to the glories of God.  We show clear and visible signs that we belong to God.  We do good works, not as a means of maintaining our Justification, for we need not bother with that, we will never be More Justified than the day we were first delivered.  But we do work hard at trying to become more Christlike in thought, word and deed.  We show to the world our love for Christ and the things of God.

  This initial step includes a definite break from the ruling power and love of sin and an embracing of Christ.

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."                Romans 6:6-18 (KJV)

These verses from Romans tell us all that we really need to know.  I ask you not to worry about falling back into servitude to Satan and Sin, if you are truly Justified you will not bow to them anymore, but a sure sign you  belong to Christ is that you take this step in Sanctification, and you will continue into Stage Two, which we will look at in more detail next time, in the mean time, study, acquaint yourselves with sound doctrine, do not listen to those who wish to derail you or set you back in your work.  Believe that God will finish the work He began in you and do not wait for things to happen, make them happen, read your Bibles, pray without ceasing, show the love of Christ, be a witness.  Next time we will go over what it means to continue on in your Sanctification, as Paul Bunyan wrote in his classic work, "The Pilgrims Progress" we will learn how to utilize the tools God gives His adopted children, how we are to dress for battle, putting the Full Armor of God to good use.   

Be Holy!


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