Blog

Sanctification and Holiness (Part 2)

Tim Kimberley: Fellas it’s great to be back with you guys. We had a lively discussion last week around sanctification, around holiness and we’re narrowing in…

Michael Patton: Tim, Tim how are you? Are you more sanctified today than you were a week ago?

Tim Kimberley: Alas. You know what brother. I think based on our discussion I’m not sure because I do feel like when I look at my life it doesn’t feel like it’s a trajectory going up, but JJ gave the yo-yo. So I think my yo-yo has kind of… its on its way up maybe but hopefully the Lord walked up the stairs.

Michael Patton

Michael Patton: I think…

Tim Kimberley: Is that obscure enough?

Michael Patton: …you look better.

Tim Kimberley: Thank you. I feel like I’m just going to start crying and mumbling stuff here any moment.

Sam Storms: I think people…we left them last week crying and mumbling. I think they were pulling their hair out.

Tim Kimberley: That’s right.

Michael Patton: I think everybody needs a hug.

Tim Kimberley: Well, God though throughout church history and many of us are lovers of church history, it seems like He puts signposts along the way. That the Holy Spirit works through people who love Jesus, love the Bible, and put sign posts along the way that say don’t go this way, don’t turn here, stay the course, stay the course. It seems like he puts ditches and sometime uses scripture to build ditches to say don’t fall this way. But then if you go to the other side of the road He says don’t fall into this ditch either. And so in this issue we’re in agreement that there are ditches and their are signpost that have been laid out that say as you think about what it means to grow in Christlikeness throughout a lifetime don’t think this way.

JJ Seid: In the words of Martin Luther the church is like a drunken peasant who in order to save himself from falling off one side of his donkey promptly falls off the other.

Michael Patton: I interrupted Tim earlier and we are talking about sanctification. We are talking about growing in the Lord.

JJ Seid: What’s that word mean? That’s a $10 word.

Michael Patton: To become more Christlike.

JJ Seid: Except when it means something else.

Michael Patton: To become more set apart. To become more holy.

JJ Seid: And what’s the other way it’s used in the Bible? Two senses right?

Michael Patton: I don’t know.

JJ Seid: We used the word positional and progressive last time. So it’s good for people to know that in a sense…

Michael Patton: I wasn’t listening.

JJ Seid: …we’re drilling down into looking at progressive sanctification. Progressive sanctification is something that can only happen to somebody who’s already been, in the past, positionally sanctified. They’ve been made holy in one sense, where their status before God is holy, righteous, and blameless, and yet in another sense they’re being called to act what they are. To steal a phrase from one of my professors.

Michael Patton: That doesn’t sound like what Sam said last time. Sam really messed me up and I am less sanctified this week than I was last week because of Sam. And I’m… just been struggling with his statement…

Sam Storms: I am the Holy Spirit in your life buddy. I am there to probe and to convict and to unsettle your soul.

Sam Storms

Michael Patton: Well there are certain things that we’re gonna, maybe, disagree about later but there are things that we agree about that are really, as we said, Tim or JJ said, ditches that we need to avoid. What is the primary ditch that I think everybody in the church would agree we avoid. And I’m talking Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, some Protestants, all agree, avoid this ditch.

Sam Storms: I think the one that I would immediately identify is this idea that I can exert power from within my own self by my own will independently of and without assistance from the grace of God. This kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps, self help transformation, that one of the biggest, as well all know, one of the biggest controversies in the history on the church was between a man named (everybody known) Augustine and Pelagius. Back in the later part of the fourth early part of the fifth century. Pelagius basically said when Jesus made this statement in Matthew 5:48 You must be therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He said that necessarily implies that I can be perfect and I don’t need the internal…

Michael Patton: That’s what you sounded like.

Sam Storms: Yea… that I don’t need the internal grace of God to help me do that.

Michael Patton: So you are not Pelagius.

Sam Storms: Here’s the illustration, a guy said, what Pelagius would argue is this, we’re at a track meet and a guy is running let’s say the mile and he’s on his third or his fourth lap and God plays the role of the coach and all he can do is stand on the sidelines and cheer you on and tell you how you’re not running in good form and you need to change your stride, and you need to lift your arms, and you need to slow down your pace or increase the pace, but that’s all that God can do. He’s pretty much an external coach or cheerleader. As over against the idea that God can actually enter into the very body and soul and sprit of the athlete and energize him to finish the race and win. And so what Augustine said in sanctification God is actually in us. Grace is an internal energy and power than enables our wills to make right choice. And propels us forward in conformity with Christ. Pelagius and those who followed him in the history of the church said “No. We don’t need that. We’re not so bad off in our fundamental moral nature that we require God function within us. All we need him to do is give us his law, tell us what to do, and then it’s left up to us to figure out how to obey it.”

Tim Kimberley: That has massive ramifications in the church I would say because, in the illustration I use, I mean I think the track illustration is amazing, but I think like when I think Pelagius I think of like of like the soul aisle at Home Depot. And Jesus has built that aisle. God has stocked that aisle up. And you can go down that aisle when you need to. What Pelagius would tell you if you say “I want to look more like Jesus” he’d say well go down to that aisle and you do that stuff. And, you know, do it. Just do it. But Augustine, I think probably something that frustrated Pelagius was when Augustine wrote command what you will, will what you command. So God, whatever you ask me to do you’re going to have to do it. Whatever you want me to do there’s no chance I’m going to be able do it unless you actually do it through me.

Subscribe to Theology Unplugged in iTunes.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply