Posts Tagged ‘Reformed Arminian’

The general ignorance of biblical theology these days have created great misunderstanding about the necessity and nature of sanctification.  J.C. Ryle’s chapter on Sanctification is a powerhouse which I’ll need 3 posts to cover with any integrity.  After 2 chapters, I’m wondering why I was so foolish as to have never read this book in 20 years of Christian living.  Perhaps it was my fear, that I would have to face some facts I don’t want to have to face.  There are still sins, or inordinate desire for good things, that I need to put to death, and areas of obedience I need to put on.  But Ryle’s treatment of this subject is first rate, and convicting to boot.

He begins with the assertion that justification, regeneration and sanctification are necessary for our salvation.  No one is truly a Christian unless they have experienced the first 2 and are undergoing the third.

Some of you are going.. “duh?” but there are people do refuse the notion that sanctification is necessary to salvation.  They think that though distinct, these 2 saving graces can be separated (this happens with some dispensational theologians like Ryrie & Shaefer).  This is essentially a “Reformed Arminian” position- Arminian in all things except for a pale imitation of Preservation/Perseverence of the Saints viewed as “Once Saved, Always Saved” (think Charles Stanley, or Ryrie’s infamous unbelieving believer).

Some Reformed folks are so afraid of the notion of works in justification (which they should be) that they could be guilty of denying the doctrine of sanctification in the process.  I think some of the guys from the Trinity Foundation are dancing on, if not over, this line.

In sanctification, Jesus “separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart, and makes him practially godly in life.”  He further sums our salvation up this way: “The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them, but also to sanctify them.”

He then begins to define the exact nature of sanctification.

1. “Sanctification… is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian.”  Ryle focuses on the “in Christ” idea without lapsing into a passivity that is foreign to Scripture.  Our election is “in Christ” or in union with him.  All he has done, we too have done because of our spiritual union with him (Galatians 2:20 for instance).  “The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God.”  This is counterfeit notion of this life-giving, life-transforming union with Christ.

2.  Sanctification is a necessary “outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration.”  This is something to which John MacArthur would agree, but didn’t seem to find itself into The Gospel According to Jesus.  As such, an otherwise fine book is hindered in its purpose of promoting gospel holiness.

3. “Sanctification … is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation.”  The Spirit will be at work to produce fruit in our lives; he will be at work to prompt repentance and faith, as well as the putting to death of sin.  John 3 talks about how the Spirit is like the wind (linguistically as well), he cannot be seen directly but only through the effects produced.  Instead of moving trees and flying debris, it is the movement toward holiness. 

4. “Sanctification is the only sure mark of God’s election.”  There can be counterfeit faith, a faith that does not result in sanctification.  So, we cannot point to faith alone, but a faith that is not alone- one that produces obedience by grace.


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