8 comments on “Justification and Sanctification

  1. “Let not thy comfort depend upon thy personal sanctification, because from it there can no sure settled constant comfort flow. The seeking of comfort from our sanctification is a cause of much trouble in many weak believers.” Amen, St Sam!

    The Richardson quote uses “personal sanctification” to mean progressive sanctification, as you indicate with our “ever-imperfect growing in sanctification.”

    We recall Sinclair Ferguson years ago saying at a Ligonier conference that looking to one’s sanctification (personal holiness) for assurance is “sinking sand”!

    He also is quoted as saying, “Jesus Christ is our sanctification or holiness (1 Cor. 1:30); and it is through union with Christ that sanctification is accomplished in us… Christ is our sanctification. In him it has first come to its fulfillment and consummation.”
    (Emphasis is Ferguson’s. From E. Calvin Beisner’s undated online monograph, “The Roles of Faith in Justification and Sanctification.”)



  2. I wrote that synopsis with you in mind, Hugh. I like Ferguson. I know Mark Karlberg & Marc Carpenter (writing for Trinity Foundation) have issues with his covenant theology and being too close to Richard Gaffin, but I don’t know much past that.


  3. Surely there is great fault in us all. But our Scottish friends can be absolutely right at times! Methinks of Ferguson and his teacher, John Murray.

    Another choice quote of St Sinclair:

    …from the New Testament’s point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about itself and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.” [no reference cited]

    John Hendryx there comments: “So the question often arises to me about how much spiritual activity is enough? The answer is the same every time: what Jesus has accomplished for you is already sufficient. God is as pleased as He can be with you and could not be more pleased with you because of Jesus. Preach this gospel to yourself every day and you will begin to see a new world open before you. You will rest in Christ’s completed work and out of the overflow of the new life you have in Him, you will do all things filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    Found @ http://monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/cvmoralism.html


  4. I agree and I think it is clear that justification is entirely monergistic while sanctification requires both the work of God and that of man, making it synergistic. No question, our comfort flows from justification as does the power for sanctification. But if there is little to no comfort to be found in sanctification, how are we to understand 2nd Peter 1:1-11 which seems to clearly indicate that our growth/sanctification makes our election more clear? I wonder what Richardson would say?


  5. Thanks for commenting, Eric!

    I believe Peter’s point is that if we continue to persevere in obedience, our fellowship with God will remain healthy and our knowledge of the truth will increase, which brings comfort, rather than ignoring those things to the point where we have forgotten that from which we have been delivered.

    What Richardson speaks against is an attitude I have often encountered, which encourages people to examine their level of sanctification, not as a measure of their behavior or growth in the ways of God, but rather to determine their eternal standing before God. I have seen believers so confused by this that they doubt the sincerity of their own faith, thinking, “Surely, a *true* Christian would not think this way or behave like this. Is my faith sincere enough?” Instead, people who struggle with these things should be encouraged always to look to Christ (look to Christ, look to Christ), rest(!) in his salvation, *then* get to work in obedience in thanks to God and service to neighbor.


  6. Amen Bro. Patrick! I think that we often offer different emphases/views depending on the struggle that a brother/sister may be struggling with. I totally agree with you that our view of personal sincerity is a poor judge of our actual standing before God. So, for such persons, it’s good to highlight the certainty of Justification over synergistic sanctification. Then there are those who we have the loving duty of warning against libertine lifestyles and anti-nomianism who need to be exhorted to sanctification. May God give us wisdom to know the difference.


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