Thursday, March 6, 2014

Salvation as Justification and Sanctification

I have NOT often used the word, sanctification, because some Christian factions used that same word, but gave it very different meaning; today I will use it.

Salvation is to be understood as comprising Justification and Sanctification. 

You get justified at the time that you enter into Salvation (or get converted or said the Sinner’s Prayer).  What that means is that you are forgiven of all your past sins, including the Original Sin.  Technically, I don’t favour talking about present sin, although it is common to read it used, and I ended up sometimes, putting it in, too.  It is either one has sinned or one has NOT.  When one has sinned, it is past. 

Scripture did talk about all our sins are forgiven us, at our entry into salvation.  My understanding is that as stated above, the all does NOT cover FUTURE sins.  FUTURE sins have NOT happened and so, could NOT have been forgiven by God at your entry into salvation, which could be some donkey years ago.  We can expect that post-entry (into salvation) when we confess the sins we have committed, to God, He is just and faithful to forgive us, and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

John 3:16 said that God so loved us that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life.  The Gospel is God’s love for men.  He loved you and He acted by giving His Son to die for us.  Why His Son had to do that, die for us, essentially explains what Justification is all about. 

Scripture said the penalty for sin is death.  In other word, a sinful man is already on a death-row; and he cannot say, “I will die for another; say, spare Anthony, I will die in his place”.  He cannot, because he, himself, is supposed to die, anyway, being on the death-row.  Everyone is a sinful man.  Why?  Because everyone has “inherited” the Original Sin, and so, everyone is born sinful, and so, none can pay for the penalty of sin, for another.  Only a sinless life can do that, using his life to pay for another, so that, that another, can be free. 

Jesus Christ being the Son of God in Heaven was sinless, and He was holy, for God and the Godhead is holy.  No one can say God have NOT loved him; God has loved him, for God had given, and the Son, Jesus, had agreed, to come to die to atone for the sins of him; and we know Jesus did come and did die crucified, for the Salvation of men. 

God has loved; He sent His Son.  The Gospel is a love story.  Now, you have loved Him back when you came into salvation.  Your entry into salvation was the very first act of love on your part; you have loved Him back, by obeying God, to receive the Justification.  I will NOT elaborate here, but the kinda of love of God is love unto righteousness.  To understand this God’s kinda of love, read: ‘Ahab love – love unto righteousness

So, the very first thing God did, to have you and I able to come into the love story, loving, was to have us justified.  When you are justified, you are once again righteous.  Men were created righteous, but men became unrighteous, because of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  When you were unrighteous, you could NOT love God rightly, and you really could NOT do any works, pleasing God (short of Him still counting righteousness to you, despite you NOT meeting up to the righteousness and holiness of God.  The concept of God counting righteousness to people was found in the OT, because the people then had NOT, the kind of justification that we are now [since Christ’s death and resurrection] having).  That was why, generally speaking, it would be as Isaiah put it down, that all the works of the people were as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). 

I, however, if I can, I will discourage pastors hitting their congregation with such harsh words like “ALL their works or deeds are as filthy rags”.  No, with Justification by Christ Jesus, it is NOT necessarily that ALL the works of a believer is as filthy rag to God.  It is however right to highlight that if we get ourselves into all kinds of sins and bondages, our works may NOT please God; for one thing, our motive of works could be no longer pure.  For one thing, God wants you and I to work on our problem with sins and bondages, even as we serve.  If we ignore our sinful condition, he is NOT pleased. 

It is NOT that you and I cannot serve at all.  God NEVER expects perfect ones, or He will have no one to serve or to do the works.  God is after the heart-condition of a believer.  But please, you cannot argue “my heart-condition is alright with God”, when you want NOT at all, to be of good works, and want NOT to resist sins and the Devil.

Is that all, just Justification will do?  After Justification, can I just ignore God, and then when the time comes, God comes to bring me to Heaven to live with Him (the people without Justification, to Hell)?  No, you can’t.  You and I cannot ignore the Sanctification portion. 

For in-depth discussion of atonement (when atoned you are justified), read under propitiation heading in this article: What about propitiation, forgiveness, and appropriation?

Before the Heaven, there is the Sanctification portion, and that is the Salvation Journey, or what Isaiah called it as Way or Highway of Holiness, which we have to journey on (Isaiah 35:8-10; this, a dual context prophecy). Yes, when you were justified, you entered into the Kingdom of God, but that phase of the Kingdom is the earthly phrase.  Sanctification is the will of God for believers.  1 Th 4:3a – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified”.

Sanctification is about this earthly phase of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God has invaded the world, and when you were justified, you became part of the contingent living out and perpetuating the Kingdom here, in the world.  The Greek word for sanctification is G38 – hagiasmos.  G38 is often translated as holiness (Rom 6:22 [KJV], 1 Th 4:7 [KJV], Heb 12:14 [KJV]).  The word, saint, comes from the Greek word, hagios - G40.  When a sinner enters into salvation and is justified, he is called a saint; and a saint is to undergo sanctification.  If one does NOT want to be sanctified, he has to ask himself if effectively he is wanting to be back as a sinner.

You and I were from the world (fallen world) and therefore, were once sinners; and there are 2 things upon our justification that we are committed to do:

1) We to go through the sanctification process before we are ready to go the motherland, Heaven, to live with God.  The world is NOT the motherland, it is a “conquered land”, and we are the army of God in this conquered land.

2) We as active soldiers of the Kingdom are to expand, and as well as citizens of the Kingdom by our living, to influence others to embrace, the rulership of our God.  No physical violence, however.  In this respect, we have to understand that just like one country conquered another country, the conquered country is NOT fully “kingdomised” until all the people accept and embrace the laws and prescription from the Victor King.

Both the items above are proceeded by God in parallel, meaning at the same time.  We are being sanctified and we are to be engaged in the “kingdomization”.  So, in sanctification, we are being prepared for going to the motherland, Heaven, to live with God, and at the same time, serving God engaging in good works, in Kingdom expansion in the world.  So, sanctification is about being made holy, and sanctification is about being set apart in service for God.

Many preachers argue that sanctification is by God.  I am NOT saying it is NOT, yet it is when we are in step with God (that means we have to follow and so, obey), operating within His will and desires, that we can be sanctified, by God.  It is NOT that there is no part on the part of men, being all God’s part.  The correct perspective is given us in Phil 2:12-13.

Phil 2:12-13 - 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It is clear from this Philippians text that we have to work out our salvation; and it is also clear that we are to work with God, for it is God who, through His Holy Spirit, works in us to will and act in such a way or in things, that will go towards fulfilling His good purpose (the use of conjunctive “for” was meant to link what came after it, to the fear and trembling; the notion is that wow, God [The God] wanting to carry out His purpose through you, and therefore it expressed the truth of it is God making initiations in us to will and act to bring about good to us and to others). Eph 2:8-10 stated that we are saved by grace for good works. 

How are we being sanctified?  In brief, it is when we living according God’s ways as prescribed by the Word and being led by the Holy Spirit.  The ways of God include both the prohibitive prescription/commands as well as directive prescription/commands.  One may NOT see the prohibitive commands as leading to good works, but they collectively do works for our sanctification.  By that, I mean, we are, for example, asked NOT to lie; NOT to lie may NOT be seen as a good works, but in abstaining from it, we are learning to live righteously and it works towards our holiness.  Prohibitive prescription/commands generally go towards “to righteousness unto holiness”, like it is being used in this text (Romans 6:19):

Amplified Bible - 19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification.

KJV - 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Directive commands generally go towards good works, and when we work with God on them, we produce fruit unto holiness.  Romans 6:22 (KJV) reads “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

In Scripture, there are actually 2 classes of fruit, NOT one, as is wrongly understood and preached by some preachers (especially the overly grace ones, for they shunned works); there is the fruit of the Spirit which we are to develop, and these are given us in Gal 5; and there is the fruit from our good works.  Sanctification should result in both, but you and I have to work with God.  But why; why NOT God just zap us holy?

It is because you and I are still with our volition.  God does NOT remove our volition even after we have entered into salvation and are justified and technically speaking, we belong to God; Scripture said God has bought us already with the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.  So, why NOT the removal of our volition so that we cannot but obey Him, cannot but obey all commands, prohibitive or directive prescriptions and all?

It is because if God does that, we will NOT be capable of true love towards God.  Is it NOT true, when you have no choice, there can be no love to talk about.  Those who truly know love, understand that first of all, love is a choice (and it is a commitment).  You and I have made that choice, to love God, at our entry into salvation (if you still have NOT realised that, today, realise this, and today, ratify this choice, that you are committed to love God).  We have to continue to love Him, even as we would like Him to continue to love us and so, we have to continue to choose to be sanctified.  But why?

Because we are loving God in sanctification, for prime moulding “tool” in sanctification is obedience. Truth is NEVER passé; “The ones who love me, obey my commands (John 14:15), and the ones who obey me, are the ones who love me (John 14:21a)”.  What God wants is NOT just you have loved Him (have entered into Salvation), what God wants include you continue to love Him.  Wanting to continue to love God is wanting Sanctification, and wanting Sanctification is wanting to continue to love God, for Sanctification prepares us to go to live with Him, eventually, in Heaven. 

Imagine with me, remembering that the Gospel is a love story, is this right?: Say, “I love you” and kiss, and then go away into the “no music no sound” mode, and still hope to “wed” successfully and live happily ever-after, in the forever blissed place.  Another way of looking at it: I say, she is a mermaid, you are man, you must learn how to swim.  God is holy, you and I got to acquire holiness.

I will say as I often said of, 1 Pet 1:15-16, the text is NOT directed at God Himself, but at us; it is that we are called to be holy.

Amplified Bible - 15 But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. 16 For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

We are being called to be holy IN OUR CONDUCT AND MANNER OF LIVING.  It really isn’t referring to imputed righteousness or holiness.  It is about how we live.  Is there a part on the part of men?  Of course. If there isn’t, and that would mean it is all God’s part, and that would mean God is saying a thing that is superfluous (God telling Himself what He is to do!).  We have a part, and that part is that we have to work with God to be sanctified, so that we grow in holiness. 

Heb 12:14 Amplified Bible - Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.  Don’t you love God, and so, want to see God?  Don’t you think going Heaven will lead to you seeing God?  Therefore, don’t you think you need to work on your holiness, with God, so that, as Romans 6:22 (quoted above) said, “the end everlasting life”?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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