Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The difference between justification and sanctification

I found this public domain article written by bishop J.C. Ryle explaining the essential difference between justification and sanctification. As there is much confusion nowadays on these subjects, I consider it necessary to understand these theological concepts if we want to really understand what practical sanctification is.

Justification and SanctificationHow do they Differ? by J.C. Ryle

I now propose to consider, in the last place, the distinction between justification and sanctification. Wherein do they agree, and wherein do they differ?

This branch of our subject is one of great importance, though I fear it will not seem so to all my readers. I shall handle it briefly, but I dare not pass it over altogether. Too many are apt to look at nothing but the surface of things in religion, and regard nice distinctions in theology as questions of” words and names,” which are of little real value. But I warn all who are in earnest about their souls, that the discomfort which arises from not” distinguishing things that differ” in Christian doctrine is very great indeed;and I especially advise them, if they love peace, to seek clear views about the matter before us. Justification and sanctification are two distinct things we must always remember. Yet there are points in which they agree and points in which they differ. Letus try to find out what they are.

In what, then, are justification and sanctification alike?

(a) Both proceed originally from the free grace of God. It is of His gift alone that believers are justified or sanctified at all.

(b) Both are part of that great work of salvation which Christ, in the eternal covenant, has undertaken on behalf of His people. Christ is the fountain of life, from which pardon and holiness both flow. The root of each is Christ.

(c) Both are to be found in the same persons. Those who are justified are always sanctified, and those who are sanctified are always justified. God has joined them together, and they cannot be put asunder.

(d) Both begin at the same time. The moment a person begins to be a justified person; he also begins to be a sanctified person. He may not feel it, but it is a fact.

(e) Both are alike necessary to salvation. No one ever reached heaven without a renewed heart as well as forgiveness, without the Spirit's grace as well as the blood of Christ, without a meetness for eternal glory as well as a title. The one is just as necessary as the other.

Such are the points on which justification and sanctification agree. Let us now reverse the picture, and see wherein they differ.

(a) Justification is the reckoning and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another, even Jesus Christ the Lord. Sanctification is the actual making a man inwardly righteous, though it may be in a very feeble degree.

(b) The righteousness we have by our justification is not our own, but the everlasting perfect righteousness of our great Mediator Christ, imputed to us, and made our own by faith. The righteousness we have by sanctification is our own righteousness, imparted, inherent, and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.

(c) In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful.

(d) In sanctification our own works are of vast importance and God bids us fight, and watch, and pray, and strive, and take pains, and labour Justification is a finished and complete work, and a man is perfectly justified the moment he believes. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.

(e) Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ by faith as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is eminently a progressive work, and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives.

(f) Justification has special reference to our persons, our standing in God's sight, and our deliverance from guilt. Sanctification has special reference to our natures, and the moral renewal of our hearts.

(g) Justification gives us our title to heaven, and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our meetness for heaven, and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.

(h) Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God within us, and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

I commend these distinctions to the attention of all my readers, and I ask them to ponder them well. I am persuaded that one great cause of the darkness and uncomfortable feelings of many well-meaning people in the matter of religion is their habit of confounding, and not distinguishing, justification and sanctification. It can never be too strongly impressed on our minds that they are two separate things. No doubt they cannot be divided, and everyone that is a partaker of either is a partaker of both. But never, never ought they to be confounded, and never ought the distinction between them to be forgotten. It only remains for me now to bring this subject to a conclusion by a few plain words of application. The nature and visible marks of sanctification have been brought before us. What practical reflections ought the whole matter to raise in our minds?

(1) For one thing, let us all awake to a sense of the perilous state of many professing Christians.”Without holiness no man shall see the Lord”; without sanctification there is no salvation. (Heb.xii. 14.) Then what an enormous amount of so-called religion there is which is perfectly useless! What an immense proportion of church-goers and chapel-goers are in the broad road that leadeth to destruction! The thought is awful, crushing, and overwhelming.Oh, that preachers and teachers would open their eyes and realize the condition of souls around them! Oh, that man could be persuaded to”flee from the wrath to come”I If unsanctified souls can be saved and go to heaven, the Bible is not true. Yet the Bible is true and cannot lie! What must the end be!

(2) For another thing, let us make sure work of our own condition, and never rest till we feel and know that we are” sanctified” ourselves. What are our tastes, and choices, and likings, and in clinations? This is the great testing question. It matters little what we wish, and what we hope, and what we desire to be before we die. Where are we now? What are we doing? Are we sanctified or not? If not, the fault is all our own.

(3) For another thing, if we would be sanctified, our course is clear and plain— we must begin with Christ. We must go to Him as sinners, with no plea but that of utter need, and cast our souls on Him by faith, for peace and reconciliation with God. We must place ourselves in His hands, as in the hands of a good physician, and cry to Him for mercy and grace. We must wait for nothing to bring with us as a recommendation. The very first step towards sanctification, no less than justification, is to come with faith to Christ. We must first live and then work.

(4) For another thing, if we would grow in holiness and become more sanctified, we must continually go on as we began,, and be ever making fresh applications to Christ. He is the Head from which every member must be supplied. (Ephes. iv. 16.) To live the life of daily faith in the Son of God, and to be daily drawing out of His fulness the promised grace and strength which He has laid up for His people—this is the grand secret of progressive sanctification. Believers who seem at a standstill are generally neglecting close communion with Jesus, and so grieving the Spirit. He that prayed,”Sanctify them,” the last night before His crucifixion, is infinitely willing to help everyone who by faith applies to Him for help, and desires to be made more holy.

(5) For another thing, let us not expect too much from our own hearts here below. At our best we shall find in ourselves daily cause for humiliation, and discover that we are needy debtors to mercy and grace every hour. The more light we have, the more we shall see our own imperfection. Sinners we were when we began, sinners we shall find ourselves as we go on; renewed, pardoned, justified—yet sinners to the very last. Our absolute perfection is yet to come, and the expectation of it is one reason why we should long for heaven.

(6) Finally, let us never be ashamed of making much of sanctification,, and contending for a high standard of holiness. While some are satisfied with a miserably low degree of attainment, and others are not ashamed to live on without any holiness at all—content with a mere round of church-going and chapel-going, but never getting on, like a horse in a mill—let us stand fast in the old paths, follow after eminent holiness ourselves, and recommend it boldly to others. This is the only way to be really happy.

Let us feel convinced, whatever others may say, that holiness is happiness, and that the man who gets through life most comfortably is the sanctified man. No doubt there are some true Christians who from ill-health, or family trials, or other secret causes, enjoy little sensible comfort, and go mourning all their days on the way to heaven. But these are exceptional cases. As a general rule, in the long run of life, it will be found true that”sanctified people are the happiest people on earth. They have solid comforts which the world can neither give nor take away.”The ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness.”—” Great peace has they that love Thy law.”—It was said by One who cannot lie,”My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—But it is also written,”There isno peace unto the wicked.” (Prov iii. 17; Ps. cxix. 165; Matt, xi. 30; Is. xlviii. 22.)

P. S. THE subject of sanctification is of such deep importance, and the mistakes made about it so many and great, that I make no apology for strongly recommending” Owen on the Holy Spirit” to all who want to study more thoroughly the whole doctrine of sanctification. No single paper like this can embrace it all. I am quite aware that Owen's writings are not fashionable in the present day, and that many think fit to neglect and sneer at him as a Puritan! Yet the great divine who in Commonwealth times was Deanof Christ Church, Oxford, does not deserve to be treated in this way. He had more learning and sound knowledge of Scripture in his little finger than many who depreciate him have in their whole bodies. I assert unhesitatingly that the man who wants to study experimental theology will find no books equal to those of Owen and some of his contemporaries, for complete, Scriptural, and exhaustive treatment of the subjects they handle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The beauty of big cats

"I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine"

Psalm 50: 11

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Exhortations to Holiness

Here is is a wonderful exhortation to Holiness by pastor Claude Duval Cole. We have covered so far the essentials about God's holiness. Starting next week, we will begin to be more practical and will examine how we can become more holy in our daily lives.
Volume I
The Doctrine of God
Chapter 23

The Scriptures abound in exhortations to holiness. "Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16). We are exhorted to lift up holy hands in prayer: "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting" (I Tim. 2:8). "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14). "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children" (Eph. 5:1). All these exhortations to holiness are addressed to believers, and show that we are not personally 'holy.' "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness" (Ps. 17:15). We are holy in Christ now; we will be personally holy when we are glorified, for our glorification will be our personal holiness.

It is a principle of universal recognition that all imitation of others is from an intense love and admiration of their persons. And we become like those with whom we associate. The heathen are so wantonly wicked because their gods are represented as vulgar and vicious. It is said that Plato wanted to have all the poets banished, because, in their poems, they dressed the gods in such wicked and vicious garb, thus encouraging the people to commit crime.

Take Time to Be Holy

Believers, in the pursuit of holiness, must take time to meditate upon the holiness of God. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Ps. 1:1-2). It takes time to be holy. Sin cannot be banished by a single gesture or an occasional look at the good and beautiful. Meditation upon the holiness of God will develop a spirit of meekness and humility, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (I Peter 3:4). Comparing ourselves with ourselves may lead to pride and boastfulness, but when we are occupied with thoughts of the holiness of our Savior we will be filled with reverence and godly fear. "What torch can be proud of its own light when compared with the light of the sun?"

The temple of Incas at Cuzco, Peru, consisted of three walls, north, south, and west. The eastern side of the structure was open. The walls were smoothly plastered, and overlaid with finely hammered gold. These people were sun worshippers, and this was the way they worshipped: they would come to the temple just before dawn and stand in the opening to the east, facing the western wall. In front of them and on either side was a golden mirror. The sun would rise at their backs, and long before they could see it directly they could see its reflection in the western wall, and be covered with its golden light. Their faces would be illuminated, and their bodies would be literally bathed in light. Now the Gospel covenant is a mirror into which the believer looks with unveiled face at the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ultimately will be entirely conformed to His image. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. 3:18). Occupation with the holiness of the Lord will change us from one degree of holiness to another degree of holiness."And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints" (I Thess. 3:12-13). "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness" (I Thess. 4:7). "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14)
"Holy God, we praise Thy name!
Lord of all, we bow before Thee;
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

"Hark! the loud celestial hymn,
Angel choirs above are raising:
Cherubim and Sehaphim
In unceasing chorus praising,
Fill the heavens with sweet accord
Holy! holy! holy! Lord!
"Holy Father, Holy Son,

Holy Spirit, three we name Thee,
While in essence, only one,
Undivided God, we claim Thee;
And, adoring, bend the knee,
While we own the mystery."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The beauty of the butterfly

"The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein"
Psalm 111: 2

Friday, March 09, 2007

The holiness of the Holy Spirit

Here the great theologian John Gill will speak of the holiness of the Holy Spirit:

"The holiness of the blessed Spirit, is visible in the formation of the human nature of Christ; in separating that mass out of which it was framed in the virgin; in sanctifying it, and preserving it from the taint and contagion of original sin; in filling the human nature, when formed, with his holy gifts and graces, and that without measure; and through him it was offered up without spot; and he was declared to be the Son of God with power, by the Spirit of holiness, through the resurrection from the dead. Moreover, his holiness is manifest in the sanctification of the chosen of God, and the redeemed of the Lamb, which is therefore called, "the sanctification of the Spirit", (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2) in convincing them of sin, of the evil nature and just demerit of it; in converting them from it; in calling them with an holy calling, and to holiness; in implanting principles of grace and holiness in them; in purifying their hearts by faith, through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus; in leading them in the way of holiness, in which men, though fools, shall not err; and in carrying on, and perfecting the work of sanctification in them, "without which none shall see the Lord".

Friday, March 02, 2007

The beauty of creation

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth"
Psalm 33: 6

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The holiness of the Son of God

The great theologian John Gill speaks here about the holiness of Jesus-Christ, the Son of God:

"The holiness of the Son of God is to be seen in all his works; in the works of creation and providence, in common with his divine Father; and in all his works of grace; in giving himself to sanctify his church, and make it a glorious one, without spot or wrinkle, through his blood and righteousness; in redeeming his people from all iniquity, to purify them to himself a peculiar people; in bearing their sins, and making satisfaction for them, that they might live unto righteousness, and that the body of sin might be destroyed, (Eph. 5:25, 27 25: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26: That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27: That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." ; Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." ; 1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. ; Rom. 6:6 "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. ") and so in the execution of all his offices; as a Prophet, he has appeared to be an Holy One; the faith delivered by him to the saints, is a most holy faith, wholesome words, doctrines according to godliness: as a Priest, he is holy and harmless, separate from sinners, and has offered up himself without spot to God; and though he makes intercession for transgressors, it is upon the foot of his sacrifice and righteousness: as a King, all his administrations are in purity and righteousness; and his laws, commands, and ordinances, are Holy Ones; and when he comes as judge of the world, he will appear without sin, and "judge the world in righteousness".

The wondrous works of God

"...stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God"
Job 37: 14