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This is the firth and final part of this paper. Hope that the has been a benefit to all you who have read it. The firsts though third sections can be read here(1), here(2), and here(3).



Summary. The reformed view of sanctification has its basis in the believer’s union with Christ and its means in the actions of the believer. The foundation and source of the believer’s progress in holiness is in union with Christ.[1] Any progress is a fruit of this union,[2] for the holiness of the progression is found in Christ and imparted to the believer.[3] The One who works the holiness of Christ into the believer is the Spirit.[4] Every action of holiness by the believer is energized by the Spirit.[5] Thus, the attainment of holiness cannot be attributed to the workings of the believer.[6] Yet, this process of sanctification requires our responsible participation.[7] We are to participate by doing the appointed means God has given for men to do.[8] By all of this, the Christian is moved into greater and greater conformity with the image of Christ.

Benefits of this View. The benefits of the Reformed view are in its God-centeredness and its call for human responsibility. From beginning to end salvation is of the Lord. No merits, no boasting, no glory can be give to any believer. All glory, honor, and majesty can only be attributed to the Lord. He and He only is center. From this, the believer can take absolute assurance in the completion of His salvation; victory has been attained! This victory has not been done by our own striving. Christ has come to be the champion of the believer’s salvation! It is in His gospel that the believer is to remain stable and steadfast in their faith (Col 1:23). Yet, all the while, Christ calls his disciples to engage in means by which the Spirit makes the image of Christ real in their lives. Our humanness in engaged by commands to follow; there is no passivity. For the Christian is called to make real steps after the way of Christ. It is inside this mysterious capatibalism of God’s work bring forth our real works by which we are sanctified.

Rebuttal of Arguments. Since every facet of sanctification flows from the finished work of Christ by the work of the Spirit there is absolutely no ground for human boasting in any progress in one’s sanctification. The Lutheran’s worry that if the law is present then moralism will follow is shown to be a wrong inference. The focal point of the Christian’s view is Christ. Christ perfectly fulfilled the law, imputing his merits to believers (Rom 5:19). He removed the curse of the law by becoming a curse himself (3:13). He secured justification by His resurrection (Rom 4:25). He has obtained salvation for His people and no power can separate His children from His salvific love (Rom 8:31-39).

It is by looking at this glory that the Spirit transforms the believer from one degree of glory to the next (2 Cor 3:18). Being so encapsulated in the accomplished work of God the believer can then fight to live according to the Spirit (5:16-22). Thus, the believer is never to leave Christ. Instead, his sanctification is to be done at the foot of the cross.

The believer walks in a completed pilgrimage. There is no illusion of perfection. There is the truth that everything for the believer’s salvation has been completed by Christ.[9] At the same time, “The Christian…lives in the tension between the now of living ‘by faith’ and the not yet of knowing the full reality of the kingdom ‘by sight’.[10] Thus, victory is a reality for the Christian. The Christian has died, by Christ’s death, and thus able to put to death the sin that is in his earthly members (Col 3:3-5). Hope is to be the bountiful possession of the Christian since he keeps in view the redemption God has accomplished (Rom 15:8-13). We do not have to construct a goal of perfection here on earth. The Perfect One has already run the course and sits at the right hand of God to be the perfector of the believer’s faith (Heb 12:2).

Yet, the consummation of this reality has not been reached; it will be reached with the second coming of Christ.[11] So, for now the believer will stumble in many ways (James 3:2). The war to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh will be one of the characteristics of his life (Gal 5:16-23). Yet, though he sins, he has an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for his sin (1 John 2:1-2). So God comes to us with the promise of victory by Christ while acknowledging our failures.

What the other two views say cannot be done are done in the Reformed view. We can rest fully in the sufficient work of Christ while progressing towards greater degrees of holiness. We can have the promise of victory while still living in the reality of our struggle with sin. The reformed view more adequately takes the full biblical scope on sanctification and presents it more faithfully than the rest.

Application to Ernie. Ernie would be directed to focus on what is his in Christ Jesus. He should have no doubts about his salvation. Yes, his sin is grievous before God. Yet God chose instead to put the wrath for Ernie upon His own Son—Jesus. Ernie must rest in this salvation! Part of this salvation is not only the truth that he has been forgiven but that he has been made anew! He is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); therefore, he does not live under the dominion of sin, and he can make progressive steps in defeating his lust. This will happen when he starts applying the means of grace to his life that the Spirit may transform him into the image of Christ in this area.


Having analyzed the Lutheran, Wesleyan, and Reformed views of sanctification we have concluded that the reformed model is the most biblically faithful one. The Lutheran, while having a commendable centrality on Christ, does not deal with all the biblical witness. The Wesleyan view, while having an inspirational view on victory of the Christian, cannot hold up to both the Bible and reality. Against both of these, however, the reformed view holds faithfully to the full scope of biblical teaching on sanctification.

[1]“It is by calling that we are united to Christ, and it is this union with Christ which binds the people of God to the efficacy and virtue by which they are sanctified.” John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 141.

[2]Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 3rd ed. rev. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1946), 532-533.

[3]“The holy frame and disposition whereby our souls are furnished and enabled for immediate practice of the law, must be obtained by receiving it out of Christ’s fullness, as a things already prepared and brought to an existence for us in Christ, treasured up in him; and that as we are justified by a righteousness wrought out in Christ, and imputed to us; so we are sanctified by such a holy frame and qualifications, as are first wrought out, and complete in Christ for us, and then imparted to us.” Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (London, England: Oliphants LTD, 1954), 27. See also

[4]Sinclair B. Ferguson, “The Reformed View,” in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 62.

[5]Murray, Redemption, 183.

[6]“men do not make themselves holy; their holiness, and their growth in grace, are not due to their own fidelity, or firmness of purpose, or watchfulness and diligence, although all of these are required, but to the divine influence by which they are rendered thus faithful, watchful, and diligent, and which produces in them the fruits of righteousness…The hand is not more dependent on the head for the continuance of its vitality, than is the believer on Christ for the continuance of spiritual life in the soul.” Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), 218.

[7]Hoekema, Saved By Grace, 200.

[8] “several means are appointed of God for the begetting, maintaining and increasing faith,” Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, 184. Marshall gives a thorough explanation of the different means in chapter 13.

Yet, we are not to see the function of means as making man co-operating with God in sanctification. “All working out of salvation on our part is the effect of God’s working in us…The more persistently active we are in working, the more persuaded we may be that all the energizing grace and power is of God.” Murray, Redemption, 185.

[9]“The gospel—the first coming of Christ—wins for the believers all the riches of glory. The acceptance of the believer with God is perfect the moment he believes because Christ and his work are perfect…There is nothing the believer will possess in glory that he does not now possess in Christ.” Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament (Exeter, Australia: The Paternoster Press, 1981), 99.

[10]Ibid., 99.

[11]“For the believer the second coming of Christ will be the manifestation of his glory and of the glory of his kingdom, a glory which we already grasp by faith.” Ibid., 99.

This is the third part of my paper. The first part can be found here and the second part can be found here.



Summary. Wesleyans believe that Christians are to become what is theirs in Christ.[1] Thus, the Christian’s purpose is to be renewed into Christ’s own image.[2] This goal can be attained, and should be endeavored to be attained, in this life.[3] This is accomplished by a “second blessing” that comes upon the Christian after conversion.[4] This second blessing has been called “entire sanctification”[5], which is the removal of rebellion from a Christian’s heart.[6] This “entire sanctification” is not the removal of sin.[7] It is, instead, the removal of willful sin by this second work.[8] One receives this second blessing by having faith in the work of Christ[9] and expecting God to do what He had promised.[10] After this second blessing the Christian freely loves God and his neighbor with all his heart.[11] All his affections, heart, soul, and mind are directed toward the things of God and love for Him.[12]

Benefits of this View. One of the benefits of having this view is that one looks upon one’s sanctification with optimism. Robert Flew correctly points out that the doctrine of entire sanctification directs our minds to the wonders of what God can do in and with our lives.[13] Personal sin is not seen as an unconquerable foe, but one that can be subjugated to the love of Christ. The hope of victory can keep one pressing forward when frustrated with sin.

Another benefit is the zeal for the good life of holiness that comes with the Wesleyan doctrine. Holiness is to be pursued with zeal because holiness is beautiful to obtain. Holiness is not a cold lists of regulations. Instead, holiness is a blessing to partake in when we yearn for it enough. Such a view can bring needed heat to cold views of holiness.

Problems with this View. A major problem with the Wesleyan view arises when it comes to the definition of sin. Wesley’s definition of sin is that it is “a voluntary transgression of a known law.”[14] With this definition, “one may be blameless, even though far from being faultless.”[15] The problem with this is that it is making the existence of sin dependent on the existence of the law. Romans 5:12-14 demonstrates such an assertion to be false. The first section of verse 13 states, “for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given.” Even though there was no law, “sin was present in mankind and men actually sinned.”[16] Thus, a Wesleyans view of sin is defective when viewed biblically. Death resides where there is no law. Ignorance about divine law does not remove the problem of death, and, since death is the produce of sin, sin must come about even where no law is found.

Because it moves from biblical definition, the Wesleyans hold a weakened understanding of sin. Sin is only a wrongdoing when the person recognizes it as such. Yet, experience, as it correlates with the bible, stands against such a claim. Any Christian can testify that they have walked in sin while not knowing it. “How easy it is not to recognize sin as sin! Often what is called ‘sinful anger’ in others we deem ‘righteous indignation’ in ourselves.”[17] Just keeping the definition of sin at the Wesleyan level has one pass over the vast amount of sins in a believer’s life.[18]

There are also several texts which are very problematic for the Wesleyan view. James 3:2 states that every believer stumbles in many ways[19] (πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες). Thus, the reality for the believer is that they will continue to sin.[20] In 1 Corinthians 4:4 Paul gives a decisive blow against the Wesleyan view of sin. He says, “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” Paul’s lack of knowledge of his actions does not acquit him of it. Since his final judgments of his actions are fallible he must wait for God’s final verdict.[21] Then, in Philippians 3:12; Paul’s denial of his own perfection (Οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβον ἢ ἤδη τετελείωμαι). Paul discounts the possibility that he had obtained the goal of gaining Christ and being made perfect.[22] If Paul cannot reach perfection, what Christian can? Such texts do not fit within the Wesleyan system.

The final problem is the contradictory meaning of sin that has to be crafted in thinking about confession. An example of this can be seen in regards to confession. The question of the need for the “perfect” believer’s confession was posed to him.[23] Wesley’s answer had the mistakes a “perfect” Christian committed needing the atoning blood of Christ since it was “a transgression of the perfect law.”[24] But how could it be a transgression if a transgression is only a known transgression? As was quoted before, Wesley clearly defined sin as a known transgression of the law of God. If one did not know about it, it was not sin. What we are faced with is a contradiction.[25] The Wesleyan view, however, has to hold this considering that the Apostle John clearly states that confessing one’s sin is a staple part of the Christian’s life (1 John 1:9). Wesley would have to hold that “perfect” Christians would not need the blood of Christ anymore. Thus, Wesley had to hold to a contradiction.[26]

Because of these problems, the Wesleyan system of sanctification should be rejected. Within the system, there is a strong push to have real victory in the believer’s life, but the biblical testimony speaks differently. There are too many problems spanning from wrong views of doctrines of sin to problems with individual texts. Finally, contradictions ensue when trying to live out the “perfect” life of a believer.

Application to Ernie. The Wesleyan’s counsel to Ernie would be for him to seek Christ and the second blessing that comes from Him. Ernie will never win the battle by doubting the love of Christ. Christ has completely forgiven him of all his sins and the Holy Spirit of God resides in him. It is not his portion to remain defeated in his sin. Instead, if he seeks after Christ and waits, the powerful second blessing will descend upon him. Ernie will find himself losing all interest in the sin that once ensnared him. He will find, instead, that his heart is devoted to pleasing the Lord and loving the people who surround him. Victory can be attained over his sin and new love for Christ can pour out of his heart.

[1]Laurence W. Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 96.

[2]Melvin E. Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” in Five Views on Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987),  15.

[3]R. Newton Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology: An Historical Study of the Christian Ideal for the Present Life (London, Great Britain: Oxford university Press, 1934), 397. Also compare, Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” 15.

[4]Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” 97. See also Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology, 317-323, who lists 6 characteristics of this second blessing.

[5]Other terms for this doctrine would include, “Perfectionism,” “Perfection,” “Perfect love,” or others.

[6]“Entire sanctification—a personal, definitive work of God’s sanctifying grace by which the war within oneself might cease and the heart be fully released from rebellion into whole hearted love for God and others.” Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” 17.

[7]“[Perfection] does not mean freedom from ignorance, nor from mistake. Christians may fall into a thousand nameless defects, either in conversation or behavior—such as impropriety of language, ungracefulness of pronunciation. They are not free from infirmities such as weakness of understanding, heaviness of imagination.”  Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology, 325. A fuller understanding of what perfectionism does not mean can be read from Wesley, John Wesley, “Christian Perfection,” in The Works of John Wesley, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 1-22.

[8]Dieter, “The Wesleyan Perspective,” 15.


[10]Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” 97

[11]John Wesley, “On Perfection,” in The Works of John Wesley, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 413.

[12]Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” 96. See also Wesley, “On Perfection,” 413. Since such is the case, what is being communicated by those that hold perfectionism is that the Christian who has been entirely sanctified cannot commit willful or voluntary sin. The heart is in total devotion to the things of God. All identifiable sins have been rejected. See Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology, 325-326. The issue with voluntary and involuntary sins will be discussed later.

[13]Ibid., 397.

[14]Wesley, “On Perfection,” 417.

[15]George Allen Turner, The More Excellent Way: The Scriptural Basis of the Wesleyan Message (Winona Lake, IN: Light and Life Press, 1952), 75.

[16]C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton and C. E. B. Cranfield (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1975), 282. See also Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998), 277-279, who agrees with the over all conclusion of Cranfield and gives a good rebuttal to the idea that it is only the cooperate sin of Adam being identified here.

[17]Anthony A. Hoekema, Saved By Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 220.

[18]Stephen Neill makes this point beautifully when he writes, “In certain circles, perfection is interpreted as meaning no more than the avoidance of all known or conscious sin. This is by no means a contemptible ideal. But how far short it falls of an understanding of the depths and realities of our problems!…How often we find that we have done wrong, without at the time being aware that we were doing it!…To go one stage deeper yet, which of us will venture to claim that the motives which impel us to action are always free from an admixture of dross, perhaps unobserved at the time, but painfully evident to us when we have leisure to be completely honest with ourselves? Over nearly forty years there comes back to me a beautiful description of a preacher returning from the University Church at Oxford with a bulky manuscript under his arm, bursting with pride because he had just preached so excellent a sermon on humility.” Stephen Neill, Christian Holiness (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1960), 37-38.

[19]One could translate πολλὰ to speak to the amount of sins one commits as does the NKJV and the NRSV. But whether one translates it as speaking to amount or variety does not change the argument from the text.

[20]Wesley tries to explain the passage by saying that the subject of the verse is neither the Apostle or the Christians but false teachers. Wesley, “Christian Perfection,” 13-14.

However, verse two is clearly connected to verse one by the use of γὰρ. And the subject in verse one is plainly stated as the Christians (ἀδελφοί μου). Compare with Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 150-151.

[21]Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Commentary, ed. I Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 340-341.

Wood tries to do away with this text by saying that it refers to a psychological problem Paul is having. Apparently, Paul can repress psychological “complexities” which would have him act out of wrong motives and still not sin. Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” 98.

Such speculations have nothing to do with the text which is before us, presents a host of complexities for understanding the meaning of sin, and relies on unbiblical psychological theories. With such being the case, his argument can be discounted.

[22] O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians, 420-423.

[23]John S. Simon, John Wesley: The Master Builder (London, England: The Epworth Press, 1927), 50.


[25]Wood tries to make the argument that there is a difference between an ethical and a legal transgression of the law. Wood, “The Wesleyan View,” 112-113. Yet, such a distinction is nowhere found in the biblical witness. Unethical actions always bring the just condemnation of God.

[26]Curtis, sympathetic to Wesley’s views, makes this statement about his research about contradictions of this nature in Wesley’s system, “I have found no way of harmonizing all of Wesley’s statements at this point; I am inclined to think that he never entirely cleared up his own thinking concerning the nature and scope of sin.” Olin Alfred Curtis, The Christian Faith: Personally Given in a System of Doctrine (New York, NY: The Methodist Book Concern, 1905), 378.

This is the second section of my paper. The first can be found here.


The Lutheran View

Summary. The simplified way to communicate the Lutheran view is to say that sanctification is growing in understanding of how justified one is in Christ.[1] In this view, it is not as if sanctification is a process that takes place after one is justified. Instead, it is another aspect of our justification.[2] There are the ethical good works which a Christian will perform.[3] Yet, these good works are motivated by the faith which one has in work of God.[4] Faith frees a person to live a life of godly service and love.[5] Works, however, are not to be used as being a clear basis to establish the existence of true faith.[6] There is no linear progression in one’s ethical development.[7] It is not as if there is a goal which one is trying to attain in one’s ethical development.[8] This does not mean, however, that there are no advancements in ethical behavior.[9] There is the fruit of true faith which is spontaneous acts of good works;[10] but this advancement is not caused by attempts to attain it. The advancement the Lutherans would have us strive to obtain is grasping the immeasurable amount of grace we live in.[11] And it is by grasping this truth, how much we are sanctified in Christ, that our heart begins to love the things of God.[12]

Benefits of this View. The primary benefit is the centrality of Christ within this framework of sanctification. Everything is understood and lived within the finished salfivic work of Christ. There is no hope of meriting one’s salvation here. People can slip a merit theology in the back door when constructing a doctrine of sanctification, effectively saying, “Christ did justify me, but now I have to keep the ship afloat with my works.” Such a danger finds no place within the Lutheran view. From beginning to end the believer’s eyes are directed to Christ—His work and His accomplishments. The believer never should slip into despair when considering his own sinfulness and failures, for the believer’s salvation, from beginning to end, rests totally, finally, and sufficiently in the work of Christ on his behalf.

Problems with this View. The central objection to this view comes at the issue of motivation and action in dealing with sins. How does the bible instruct the believer to deal with sin in his life? From what the Lutherans would say, true obedience springs from the amazement of grace. As one grasps how justified they are in Christ, advancement in ethical living happens; the Christian does not aim at making a progress toward a more sanctified position.

Forde defends this by appealing to the texts which state that sanctification is a present possession for the Christian. In 1 Corinthians 1:2 Paul tells the Corinthians that they are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” In verses 28-31 of the same chapter, Paul says that Christ is our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Hebrews 10:10 says that Christians “have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”[13]

The question, however, cannot be settled just by referring to the biblical testimony about definitive sanctification. Theologians outside the Lutheran tradition have recognized a definitive aspect of sanctification.[14] Definitive sanctification can be adequately worked into other models of sanctification as well. So then, the evidence must move beyond the fact that believers are sanctified in Christ. Thus, we must ask, does the bible limit sanctification to the definitive understanding or should we see more to sanctification?

Many verses testify that there is a present striving to attain holiness for the believer. Philippians 2:12 states, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The verb for “work” (κατεργάζεσθε) clearly speaks of the believer making an effort in his sanctification.[15]

In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul admonishes the believers that by cleansing themselves of all defilement they will bring “holiness to completion in the fear of God.”  The words, ἐπιτελοῦντες ἁγιωσύνην, speak of “a process of sanctification.”[16] In Hebrews 12:14, the author plainly communicates a linear movement in regard to growth in holiness: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” The word the author uses for strive, διώκετε, “draws attention to an intensity and urgency that the community needs to display in order to heed the exhortation.”[17] The same verb is found in Romans 14:19 when it gives a similar imperative about love, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”  Once again the verse speaks to an action the believers must do.[18] Such verses clearly communicate that there is more than a definitive aspect. What they communicate is that Christians are commanded to make knowledgeable endeavors to be more Christ like in their lives.[19] “Everything [in the verses] points to a consistent and active endeavor.”[20] Merely letting faith produce fruit does not work with these verses.

Another question which can be raised is that if the Christian is only supposed to look upon their justification, not attainment of obedience, why don’t the Apostles teaching reflect such an emphasis? Paul, along with the rest of the Apostles, was a minister of the new covenant (2 Cor 3:1-18). Yet, Lutherans would have us believe that Paul would teach as if he was under the old covenant with regard to commands. In all of his epistles, however, there is not even a hint that when Paul gives commands that he considers himself as speaking as if the old covenant is still applicable for Christians. Namely, that the commands are only to drive people to trust in Christ. Instead, imperatives flow out in indicatives. Paul will tell the Christians to do something because of their present identity in Christ. There is no hint that Paul is solely driving Christians to trust in Christ’s work on the cross;[21] he knows that the Spirit is presently active in believers. Thus, he speaks about his boldness about the success of his ministry with the Corinthians (2 Cor 3:1-6). He speaks as if obedience is attainable. If the Lutheran view is true, then we must ask why Paul, along with the rest of the Apostles, speak this way. Why is there not clarity about the believer just needing to see his need for Christ? The most obvious answer would be that the Lutheran view is foreign to the teachings of the Apostles. They speak as if the commands can be obeyed by those indwelt by the Spirit.

Such is the central problem in the Lutheran view of sanctification. In an attempt to avoid legalism, the view has dismissed the biblical teaching about the Christian’s need to progress in holiness. Yet, the bible clearly speaks of a growth in holiness that is linear, a movement toward a goal.

Application to Ernie. The Lutheran’s counsel to Ernie would be to rest fundamentally in the grace of God given to him through the sacrificial death of Christ. Christ is his righteousness, thus, there is no fear as to whether or not he is accepted by God. He is justified before God because all his present sins were placed on the Lamb slained. What he must grow in is the knowledge of this grace, and as he grows in knowledge of it, he grows in love for the One who has given him such grace. This is where Ernie grows: in the knowledge of how justified he is in Christ. Will the lustful thoughts go away? Maybe, but Ernie will not be trusting in his adherence to the law any longer. His faith will be rooted in Christ and he will grow stronger and stronger in this faith. The Spirit may decrease the pattern of lustful thoughts in his life, but Ernie will be unaware of such a work. What he will be aware of is how justified he is because of Christ.

[1]Gerhard O. Forde, “The Lutheran View,” in Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, ed. Donald L. Alexander (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 13.

[2]Oswald Bayer, Living By Faith: Justification and Sanctification, Trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 58-59.

[3]Ibid., 56. This is where the break in categories happens. Lutherans would not equate sanctification with ethical/godly living. “Now living morally is indeed an important, wise and good thing…But it should not be equated with sanctification.” Forde, “The Lutheran View,” 14.

[4]Oswald Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology: A Contemporary Interpretation, Trans. Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 283.

[5]Ibid., 289. Also compare Forde who uses the term, “spontaneous” to describe this. Forde, “The Lutheran View,” 14. The Christian accomplishes the work without a personal acknowledgment of the effort which accomplished the work. For instance, a Christian would just be generous when an opportunity arises. There would not be an internal effort in the person to push him to accomplish it.

[6] Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 291. Also, “But this process of sanctification cannot be assigned grades. Believing means that one is removed from being in charge of oneself and responsible for one’s own judgment.”

[7]Bayer, Living By Faith, 62-65. Also, compare Forde, “It is not that we are somehow moving towards the goal, but rather that the goal is moving closer and closer to us…It is the coming of the kingdom upon us, not our coming closer to our building up the kingdom.” Forde, “The Lutheran View,” 29.

To contrast this view, other traditions would say that we are to attain to the image of Christ in our daily lives. So, let us say that that one is trying to be like Christ in regards to anger. Other traditions would say that you need to progress to the point where your use of anger matches the way Christ gets angry. There is a goal in this sanctification.

The Lutheran view, on the other hand, says that ethical living is not about the progression. There is no goal one obtains. One does not make an intentional effort to motivate themselves to not be angry.

[8]Ibid., 66. Also, compare Forde, “It is not that we are somehow moving towards the goal, but rather that the goal is moving closer and closer to us…It is the coming of the kingdom upon us, not our coming closer to our building up the kingdom.” Forde, “The Lutheran View,” 29.

To contrast this view, other traditions would say that we are to attain to the image of Christ in our daily lives. So, let us say that that one is trying to be like Christ in regards to anger. Other traditions would say that you need to progress to the point where your use of anger matches the way Christ gets angry. There is a goal in this sanctification.

The Lutheran view, on the other hand, says that ethical living is not about the progression. There is no goal one obtains. One does not make an intentional effort to motivate himself to not be angry.

[9]Bayer, Martin Luther’s Theology, 292.

[10]Forde, “The Lutheran View,” 29

[11]Ibid., 28.

[12]Ibid., 29.

[13]Ibid., 16-17. He would also point to 2 Thessalonians 2:13 as basis for the Lutheran view.

[14]“We are thus compelled to take account of the fact that the language of sanctification is used with reference to some decisive action that occurs at the inception of the Christian life, and one that characterizes the people of God in the identity as called effectually by God’s grace. It would be, therefore, a deflection from biblical patterns of language and conception to think of sanctification exclusively in terms of a progressive work.” John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: Volume II Select Lectures in Systematic Theology (Carlisle, PN: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 278.

[15]“ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε is an exhortation to common action, urging the Philippians to show forth the graces of Christ in their lives, to make their eternal salvation fruitful in the here and now as they fulfill their responsibilities to one another as well as to non-Christians.” Peter T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Commentary, ed. by I Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), 280.

See Moises Silva, Philippians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, ed. By Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic), 118-123, for a defense on why σωτηρίαν should been seen as sanctification and not total salvation.

[16]Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, The New International Greek Commentary, ed. by I Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005), 513.

[17]Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Hebrews, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, ed. by D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 472.

[18]C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton and C. E. B. Cranfield (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1975), 721.

[19]Other verse which speak of active endeavoring of holiness: Rom. 12:2, Gal 5:25, 1 Thess. 4:3-5; 5:15, 1 Cor. 14:1, 1 Tim. 6:11.

[20]G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1952), 101.

[21]Though, as will be brought out in the Reformed view, it is an aspect with every command.

So that I am not burdening anyone with posting my papers in one massive post I decided that I would break them up. So when I post my papers they will be given in sections which come out every week. This way one does not have to block out 45 mins of a day to read the paper. Instead, they will come in manageable sections.

If you want to read the paper in full you can go to the papers section of the blog. I have a link that will direct you to the paper in google documents.

Also, my requests and reasons for posting my papers are found there as well.

Hope these are a benefit to you.




Sanctification is a fundamental aspect of the Christian’s life. Sanctification is the doctrinal position which encompasses the believer’s life after initial justification. To talk about sanctification is to talk about how a Christian grows more and more obedient to the teachings of Jesus. But what does that look like? When one looks at the bible what picture is painted about what growth in obedience looks like?

In this paper three major views of sanctification will be analyzed, critiqued, and worked out practically, with one view being defended. This paper will look at the views of sanctification espoused by the following theological traditions: Reformed, Lutheran, and Wesleyan. Each view claims that it understands how the doctrine of sanctification is lived out. Yet, their biblical backing will be tested in this paper with one position coming out of the refining fire as the most biblically faithful position.


In the body of this paper, each view will be analyzed. There will be a summary of each view given at the beginning. The strengths of the view will be brought-up. Then the view will be critiqued in its faithfulness to the Biblical witness. One position will be shown as being the most faithful to the bible

The final outworking will be practically applying the view of sanctification to the life situation of a made up character called “Ernie.”[1] The situation with Ernie is that he has a habitual struggle with lustful thoughts. In light of this problem Ernie has prayed many times to God that he would be delivered from this sin. No answer to this prayer has been given. When he thinks of God, Ernie knows that God cannot look upon sin. Thus, Ernie is beginning to think that God can no longer forgive him of his sin. It is into this situation that each position will be brought to see how they would instruct Ernie.

More to come later…

[1]The character and the situation are taken from Donald L. Alexander, Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 7.

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