Term Paper: Sanctification

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[. . .] He can then produce the fruit of life of the Christian. Faith is not only the source of justification, but also sanctification. (Sullivan, Five Views on Sanctification: An In-Depth Analysis)

How does the process of achieving sanctification help in the life of a Christian? According to Hoekema, there are two benefits: the immediate and the ultimate goals through sanctification. The final benefit of sanctification is the glory of God. This is clear from what Paul has said in Ephesians 1:12 in the phrase "to the praise of his glory." The immediate benefit of sanctification is the achievement of perfection, and God has desired that every Christian be similar to Christ. Thus once we conform to the image of Christ, then the Christian is taking part in the glory of God, and is also a living proof of the glory of God. To achieve the glory, both God and man have to play their part. On his side God starts the sanctification by choosing the individual for conforming to him, and according to scripture, all the three parts of the Trinity are involved in this. The Bible tells us that the Father gives us the discipline and sanctifies the individual through truth (Heb. 12:10; John 17:17). The Son has cleaned the Church through the word (Eph 5:25-27) and the Holy Spirit takes care of washing, rebirth and renewal (Titus 3:5). (Sullivan, Five Views on Sanctification: An In-Depth Analysis)

The different roles played by the members of the Trinity in sanctification are not totally compartmentalized, and the total process of sanctification is the mercy of the three of them together, notes Hoekema. This shows that sanctification is achieved by God, but it still requires the active participation of men and women. On our part we have to fight sin, give the grace to God and give him total cooperation. We have to follow the way of Christ (Phil. 2:5-7: John 13:14-15. The necessity of the joint action of man and God is seen in Philippians 2:12-13. But Hoekema states clearly the relationship of the work between man and God should not be taken as cooperation. This has been clarified with the example of John Murray: God continues to work in us because his work will be suspended without our work, or our work will be suspended because of God's work, but we have the relationship with God that God works when we work. (Sullivan, Five Views on Sanctification: An In-Depth Analysis)

According to the reformed view of Anthony Hoekema, there is the guilt in sin of the condemnation of the person standing before God due to his violating the correct law through sin. The pollution of sin is an error in human nature and it ends up producing more violations. When we receive the blessing of Christ, the pollution of sins are washed away more and more till the total removal at completion. This permits the person to live once again in holiness, and that is satisfying to God. Through sanctification, the attitude of the person is also moved away from sin and directed towards union with Christ. This is a change that enables the fulfillment of the potential in all human beings to be completed. This is the process of sanctification and completed through the power of the Word of God and it is the same word which leads to the sanctification through faith. Once the sanctification through faith is completed, we await our union with Jesus as we recognize that we are no longer controlled by sin, and for this purpose we get attached to the power of the Holy spirit so that sin can be overcome and live on only for the glory of our Lord. It is also our responsibility to live on. It is only the supernatural power of God which the believer starts through faith in the start of God's power. (Five Views on Sanctification -Gene Brooks)

The definitive process of sanctification starts once and for all through the process of holiness, according to Hoekema. This occurs when we make the definite break with sin and give rise to the Spirit of Christ in us. Justification causes it to start and makes the individual concerned a totally new person, but the reflection of the glory of God in him is not new. Further sanctification takes place through the efforts of the Holy Spirit which is always renewing and changing us to the likeness of Jesus. This is the process of development of a sanctified person. Justification in the Reformation rubric starts off sanctification. Hoekema describes it beautifully - there is a feeling of old self and new self, and the old self is left off at the time of justification or at definitive sanctification and the new self starts just like a change of clothes. (Five Views on Sanctification -Gene Brooks)

Hoekema goes on to add that the real Christian has to live a life correct as per the law. The real believers do not keep the law merely to reach salvation, but keep it as a gratitude for the attainment of salvation. This is just an expression of the Christians love and reflection of the glory and beauty of God. The final aim of sanctification is the success in achieving the desire of God. The goal of all sanctification is to make all of God's people perfect. The reformed continuum is not as apparent to most people, but equally real. Hoekema discusses the guilt caused by sin, and the condemnation of the old self and that is justified because it is an aorist event of definite sanctification. It is the killing of the old self and giving rise to the new self. The final aim of all sanctification is the beauty of God. Hoekema also talks about the damages caused by sin, and the way in which sin pollutes the old self and which has to be continuously renewed through more and more sanctification through new self till one reaches the goal of perfection. (Five Views on Sanctification -Gene Brooks)

Scripture presents sanctification in two parts according to Berkhof. The first is the regret of the old man who is the body of sin. In the Scriptures this is denoted as an act of God through which the pollution and corruption of human nature that has occurred due to sin is removed slowly. In the Bible this is often shown as the crucifixion of the old man and is thus related to Jesus on the cross. The second part is the creation of the new man, and created like Christ for good work. Thus the first part of the man is negative in character, and the second is positive. This is an act of God and this action strengthens the holy aspects of the individual's character, and gives him a new path to live in. (Summary of Christian Doctrine)

Sanctification is a process started by God and completed by Him and not man, says Berkhof. Some people however claim that man has free will and they only say that it is done by man. But it is different from the concept of regeneration and the process says that man can and must try to strive for increasing sanctification in his life through the methods that God has given him. Sanctification is in part controlled by our subconscious processes, but is controlled by the operations of the Holy Spirit. It also takes place partly in our consciousness, and is also dependant on the use of certain methods. These are methods like the regular use of faith, the study of the Scripture, prayers and combining with other believers. (Summary of Christian Doctrine)

The process of sanctification takes a long time, and may not even be completed in a lifetime, according to Berkhof. On the other hand, it may also be completed in a short period or even within one trial. These are cases in which regeneration and conversion takes place immediately and the person also leaves the temporal world. In those cases, it is believed that the sanctification of the believer is completed at the moment of death or even after his death, so that the soul is purified, and can be present at the time of resurrection for the body to come there. Sanctification is a work done by all three aspects of God, but is more attached to the Holy Spirit according to the Scripture in Rom 8:11; 15:16; I Pet 1:2. It is very important in the current times when we are laying emphasis on the study of theology in an anthropological manner. This is giving a one sided call for the service to God and we have to stress that God and not man is the author of sanctification. (Summary of Christian Doctrine)

Activism is now a characteristic feature of American religious life and that glorifies the work of man more than the divine grace which made it possible. One has to say repeatedly that sanctification comes through the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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