Wednesday, December 05, 2012

“Bringing fuller clarity”

A week ago, I noted the discussion between Tullian Tchividjian and Rick Phillips (TCG vs Ref21) on sanctification. This week, Tchividjian reiterates, “Sin Remains”, and Phillips reiterates, “We are Debtors to Grace”.

I think we are looking at two sides of the same coin, two different emphases on the same phenomenon: Christians are not perfect, and never will be perfect in this life, but God assists us to grow in grace.

But the more important part, as I said, is the “fuller clarification” that comes from these kinds of discussions.

This week, Tony Phelps, Pastor of Christ Our Hope PCA in Wakefield, RI, consulted the Westminster Standards to say just how much God assists us in our sanctification.

He writes:

As I read Westminster, for example, I find such expressions as “sanctification is synergistic” or “effort in sanctification” woefully inadequate…

After we are reminded that the Holy Spirit alone enables us to do good works – and that His influence is essential to any truly good work – yet we are not “hereupon to grow negligent, as if [we] were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but [we] ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in [us].” No “letting go and letting God” in the Christian life! We have Christian DUTIES – outward and observable things we are to diligently DO – in the Christian life.

In fact, one of our duties is to stir up the grace of God that is in us. Yet if this is truly a good work, it too is the result of God’s sanctifying work within us. Nonetheless, WE are to do it! And as we do, by the grace of God, we will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

This is not to say that any of these things contributes an iota to our standing in Christ. But the world depends on us to be salt and light – preserving and edifying in the things we do in the world.

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