Sanctification

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, (as long as you give it a decent effort).(ESV)

Conrail Quality by Luke S.

_______________________________________________________________

…or something like that.

 

Will He really complete the good work that He started in us…all by Himself?

 

Is He a big enough God to handle that?

 

Or… is he a puny god who needs our help?

 

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34 Responses

  1. I thought that was the New Living Today’s Modern Expanded Version.

  2. Well, of course He’s the one actually doing the work, there’s no denying that. But…He also left us with the third use of the law to show us how what holy living is all about, right? WWJD, and all that, right?

  3. We kid about this stuff…but make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of Christians believe in the co-op version of the gospel.

  4. Also, we make a choice to follow Jesus, right? So how I live after that says a lot about my seriousness and my commitment to him, doesn’t it? I mean, God wouldn’t purposely give us rules if he didn’t also make it possible to follow them, right? I mean, that would just be really unfair, now wouldn’t it, and I just don’t think God is like that. So He must be enabling me to do it thought the HS.

  5. Keep it up, Erich…your p.h. sized hat awaits you! 😀

  6. Why don’t you have a blog??? (seriously)

  7. Gotta run …late for work.

  8. It’s clear to me that you guys don’t know your way around a bible. There’s one VERY OBVIOUS verse that you failed to mention:

    “God helps those who help themselves.”
    –3rd Peter something or other…or maybe is in 2nd Paul

  9. “Why don’t you have a blog??? (seriously)”

    Because your needs too much help, Steve. (Not seriously.)

  10. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:5-11

  11. Have you had enough servings of fruit yet?

    “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

    That’s just it, where do you look to make your election (sanctification) sure? To your fruit, or to Christ and his work? If you practice these, you will never fall. And if you slip up? There’s that impossible law again. Have we forgotten that it is Christ’s work that has cleansed (sanctified) us from sins? Thank heaven He makes the rotten fruit we produce good for his sake, not on account of our effort.

  12. Darius and Erich, I thought we had a good discussion about that at Bror’s.

    http://utah-lutheran.blogspot.com/2010/01/sanctification-not-by-law-third-use-or.html

  13. That’s where you’re terribly wrong, Erich. The fruit our new hearts produce is not rotten, but good because of the work of Christ to redeem us. The gospel you preach is one that says that Christ doesn’t redeem us on this side of His Second Coming, just on the other side. But the Gospel preached in the Bible is one where God renews us both in this life and in the one to come.

    Where in the Bible does it say look for bad fruit turned good? Rather, it says look for the bad branch turned good and grafted into the true Vine, which in turn produces good fruit. We are to make our election sure by supplementing our faith with the fruits of the spirit, all of which is enabled by God.

    It’s amazing to me how badly some Lutherans want to twist Scripture to fit their desires.

  14. I heard Greg Laurie with my own ears say, “God has done His part, now we must do ours”… that settles it for me..He agrees with the message of Rome.
    Like Charles Finney and Pelagious taught us; “God would not command something if we didn’t posses the ability to obey”..We are not so tainted by sin that we cannot co-operate with the grace of God… Grace alone indeed! Sheesh, you people….

  15. “We are to make our election sure by supplementing our faith with the fruits of the spirit, all of which is enabled by God.”

    We are to make our election sure by trusting solely in the salvific work of Christ alone; not by looking at our own works, all of which are filthy rags.

    The passage you quoted, St. Peter’s (if it is indeed St. Peter, antilegoumena and all that, you know) point is just that: don’t forget that it is Christ alone who has cleansed (sanctified) you.

    • Mk 7:21-23 Jesus says we can’t trust what comes out of our heart–it’s all rotten, “evil” in fact:

      “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

      Yet, Peter(?) says if you practice these things (i.e., your “good fruits”) you will be sure of your sanctification?

      Let’s be honest, shall we? Who does this? We don’t practice (i.e. “keep”) this. We are spiritually blind, dead and enemies of God.

      So, Peter’s point, have you forgotten that it is Christ’s work that cleansed (sanctified) you.

      You can supplement your faith with your good works all you want. I, however, will trust Christ’s word of promise in the means of grace. Grace and grace alone.

  16. “We are spiritually blind, dead and enemies of God.”

    Wrong again. The Bible says that we have been born again, given new hearts to replace our sinful stone ones, and renewed in Christ. It’s ironic that your brand of Lutheranism actually has a very low view of Christ’s saving work, at least as it applies to this life.

  17. Spiritually “blind,” “dead,” “enemies of God.” St Paul’s words in scripture, not mine.

    “Simul iustus et pecator” (saint and sinner) is our condition here. A Lutheran concept with a very high view of (completely dependent upon) Christ’s salvific work, not ours. What can I offer to God that is truly good? We are beggars, this is true.

  18. Rally good thread here Steve. I was considering purchasing a book by Edward T. Welch called when man is big and God is small– so much theology in just the title.

    http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/2-timothy-3-pauls-charge-to-dismiss-the-gospel-and-its-wisdom/

  19. Sorry, Erich, but you’re twisting Scripture again. Paul says repeatedly in Ephesians that we “were” spiritually dead, but now we’re alive in Christ.

  20. Christ does make alive, that is for sure.

    But the Old Adam fights, struggles, persists until the end.

    We do have a dual nature while we are alive and taking nourishment.

    We do rebel against God. Everyday. There is a spiritual battle going on for our souls. As Luther wrote in his great hymn, “we are not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Were it not for Him our striving would be losing.” (something like that)

    Anywho, it is a matter of emphasis. Lutherans emphasize Christ and His work. And while others may pay lip service to that idea, in practice, far too often the emphasis is on ‘us’.

  21. Jon,

    Sounds like a good book.

    “We must increase, He must decrease.” That’s also in the Bible (or so it would seem).

  22. “Is He a big enough God to handle that? Or… is he a puny god who needs our help?” (Steve)

    If it’s only a choice of one or the other, then I would say a puny God in need of out help concerning this issue.

  23. “It’s ironic that your brand of Lutheranism actually has a very low view of Christ’s saving work, at least as it applies to this life” (Darius)

    Exactly – B I N G O!

  24. As if it weren’t enough the heart fails the test, check out James, you know, the “good works” guy:

    “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. ” James 3:7-12 (ESV).

    Impossible to tame, “ought not be,” he says, but yet so it is, our sorry sinful condition, o wretched (wo)man that I am.

    He’s grafted us into himself, into the *good vine* to be sure, thank heaven. But, looks like we still produce sour grapes! Thankfully, it is his fruit that counts as truly good.

    That’s grace! If I have to produce something good or wonder if I have), then it wouldn’t be grace alone.

  25. Good, Jason!

    That’s what I was after! Clarification!

    Your god is puny and needs our help…our God is a real God (not a mendicant with his hand out) and acts for us.

  26. Ezekiel 36:25-27……emphasis on personal pronoun “I”.
    “Then “I” will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; “I” will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, “I” will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and “I” will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (one that will respond to spiritual stimuli). “I” will put My Spirit within you and “cause” (MAKE) you to walk in My statutes, and you WILL be careful to observe My ordinances.

    Does anyone see any doubt in these verses? It’s all about Him!

  27. So, which ones of y’alls is going to heaven and who’s going to hell? Who’s reading the instructions correctly?

  28. Whoever puts their trust in Christ’s work on the cross and not in their own work…

    • Which is what all your Lutheran friends are attempting to get accross to you. Keep you eyes on Jesus and off your puny accomplishments. They will follow you into eternity but serve no purpose in getting you there or keeping you on the way there.

  29. “That’s what I was after! Clarification! Your god is puny and needs our help…our God is a real God (not a mendicant with his hand out) and acts for us.” (Steve)

    Question: In the exodus story of the freedom of the Israelites from slavery…did God just lift them out of that wretched hell hole and put them in Canaan – or did they have to walk and wander for 40 years before getting to the end?

    Why is it you think God is going to do everything on your behalf exactly again?

  30. “Your god is puny and needs our help…our God is a real God (not a mendicant with his hand out) and acts for us” (Steve)

    Based on the 2 lone choices I was given I would say my God is puny – the definitions were too weak and shallow to truly explain my theology based on the biblical texts…there just wasn’t much info to work work (just 2 choices). If I had to be honest, I don’t believe either of these reflect God in all His fulness:

    “Is He a big enough God to handle that? Or… is he a puny god who needs our help?”

    I believe like that of the Exodus story – the foundational inspiration for Matthew’s outline of Jesus.

  31. This is simply too good not to share..It’s a response from my friend Pastor Donofrio:

    I have observed here that part of the problem seems to be in the defining of terms. It seems that one guy speaks of original sin in a different way than another does. It is like talking with a Mormon who uses all of the Christian words, but they carry different meanings. To a Lutheran grace means “God’s unmerited favor” but to a Mormon, according to 2nd Nephi, grace is God giving you the ability to live out the law. To a Lutheran when we talk about Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross which pays for the sins of the world, the Mormon says yes, that’s true and now the debt holder has become Jesus instead of the Father and now we have to pay Him back…

    I say all of this because with so many denominations and religions, we tend to talk past each other.

    So here is my $.02 worth as a Lutheran Pastor. First let me note that when the Bible was written, not only were there no chapter numbers, but also no verse numbers. Those things have provided a nice service in that we can easily locate things, but have created mayhem with proof texting and taking things out of context.

    When the Bible tells us in Romans 3:21-26 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    This passage seems pretty clear that a few things are at work.
    First – righteousness is our not by our keeping of the law, but apart from the law, that would be the Gospel, the Good News that the Lamb of God has come and truly taken away the sin of the world. Faith is not a work of man, but a work God does in us, in a real sense, He faiths us. So, as good Bible scholars, we say Scripture interprets Scripture and let Paul interpret Paul (it doesn’t get much better than that) and so we read St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and in chapter 2, what do we find?

    St. Paul says… “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…”

    What is the gift? Grace and faith, not one or the other, but together as a unit for God grants us His favor to believe and faith relies on it’s object which is Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. We could never confess the Christian faith unless it was given for us to do so – extra nos – from outside of us. Truth does not lie in our natural hearts, for they are corrupted and fallen. What proceeds from the heart of man, asks Jesus, then He tells us – sin, lust violence and the like. Our hearts are black and evil places.

    This talk about an age of accountability is nice and sounds good, but the problem is that it is not Scriptural. For years I did radio in New England and I had a $1,000 wager. If anyone could clearly show and defend such a notion from Scripture, I would give them $1,000 – never paid it, never will because it isn’t there.

    Back to the discussion and back to Romans… We are reminded that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. “Pante gar harmarton” – ALL have sinned. Unless you are a Calvinist (we will argue about supra lapsarianism and infra lapsarianism vs universal atonement later) all means all, each and every one. In short, apart from Christ, we’re all royally screwed. Yes, we fall back on passages like Psalm 51, 1John 1 and many others that tell us that from our conception we are sinful and if we say that we aren’t sinful, we are stupid and call God a liar (author’s translation).

    The reality is this – if all are not sinful, then all do not need a Savior to be saved, yet God in His loving kindness had mercy on you and me and sent His only Son to live perfection for us who could not, He died to take the death that each of us had coming and exchanged it for His life. On the cross, He inhaled the sins of the world and exhaled His life for the world.

    “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
    But we can’t just leave it there, because that just says, since Adam, we are all screwed, but Jesus comes and where there was only death, now there is life.

    Paul continues – “and (all – going back to earlier in the sentence) are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” OOPS! Yes – All are justified by His grace. Is Paul a Universalist? No, but he is a universal gracer.

    Notice the gift language. Gifts are neither merited nor earned, they are simply given. Christ gives freely to all and yet there are so many who insist on not having that sort of a Savior, but they insist on having one of their own invention. So like the Israelites in the wilderness, they build idols in their own image and proclaim themselves to be worshiping the real god, the one they control and the one who does being god the way they want him to.

    But gifts are given nonetheless and gifts can certainly be rejected. If I tuck a $20 bill in your pocket, you now have an option to have joy of that gift or to reject it and throw it away. So it is with salvation, we do not have any options until the gift is given because we are still born before God, our inclinations are incurvatus se est – turned in on ourselves – sinful, self absorbed.

    Yes, I too have worked with Down Syndrome people, mostly adults and you know what they do quite naturally? Make things to be about themselves. Just like you and me, they seek attention, pitch fits and the like, because just like you and me, they are curved in on themselves.

    One of the problems is that too many misunderstand. I sin because I am a sinner, I am not a sinner because I sin. I am born in sin and iniquity, and so I do what I was born into. But now a new Adam comes forth. In baptism, we were laid to death in Christ Jesus and raised anew. So, we Christians struggle, like my boy St. Paul in Romans 7, the good that we want to do, we do not and the evil that we hate, we keep doing – and so masturbation and other silliness continues. But God bless Paul, he comes to it… Who will deliver me from this body of sin? CHRIST JESUS!! that’s who!!!!

    So this is where I leave off. I am a sinner, I am a wretch, always have been and will be until I die, but because Christ laid His life down for me and since He washed me in the waters of Holy Baptism and clothed me with His righteousness (Galatians 3) even in the midst of my sins, God only sees me for the perfection of His Son. You too. Gift received. Amen!

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