Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Sanctification Is God's Work

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Anybody who is justified by New Testament faith is automatically in the process of sanctification. He never has to change gears from salvation by faith to salvation by works. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, ... established in the faith" (Col. 2:6, 7). By his expression "the faith" Paul does not mean a creed or a set of doctrines, but the phenomenon of a heart-appreciation of Christ's cross. The method remains the same: by faith.

"Having been justified by faith, ... we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom. 5:1, 2). Or perhaps the same passage can be rendered more clearly, "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live" (Good News Bible). In sanctification, it is the Lord who brings us along our way, as He did in justification. Faith keeps on working by love, always in the present tense.

In no way does the Lord leave us to fly on our own, to keep up our speed or crash. Sanctification is never by works; neither is it a mixture of faith and works in the sense of self-motivated efforts to chalk up merit so we can earn a reward. Clearly, Christ told Paul that He was sending him to open people's eyes and "turn them from darkness to light, ... that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:18). We do not read anywhere in the New Testament that it is our job to sanctify ourselves. Instead, we are "sanctified ... by the Spirit of our God" (1 cor. 6:11). Jesus prays the Father to sanctify us (see John 17:17); and Christ also sanctifies and cleanses His church (see Eph. 5:26).

It is all summed up in Paul's comprehensive statement: "May the God of peace Himself, sanctify you completely, ... blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:23, 24).

The Lord doesn't give up easily. "He who has begun a good work in you will [carry it on to completion] until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). This work that He does is sanctification.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Gold Tried in the Fire, 1983.
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