Thank you for visiting BibleTherapy.com. This section has articles and information on Biblical Counseling, Biblical Change, Counseling Errors, Sexual Addiction, Counseling Theories and other counseling topics. Our goal is to provide articles and information to help individuals deal with problems and issues from a Biblical foundation and perspective.
There currently are 'hundreds' of psychology theories that differ on how to bring change and what causes personal or interpersonal problems. Most are opposed not only to each other, but take a very unbiblical view of how to help others.
Thank you for visiting. We have a small set of Theology websites that are divided or separated by category (though there is some overlap).
To learn more about our main author and admin click here to go to our 'about us' page.
Is Sanctification Simply Remembering Your Justification?
QUESTION: In class you mentioned the current fad for saying that sanctification occurs by “meditating on our justification,” or “remembering the gospel,” or “contemplating the cross.” Can you elaborate?
I have no disagreement with any of these statements when they serve as part of a vast, multi-faceted whole. Each offers one wonderful word among many other wonderful words by which our Savior sets about making us over.
For example, the driving force of 1 Corinthians 5:14 is Paul’s remembering and meditating on justification and on how Christ’s cross and resurrection express the power and love of God and change us from living selfishly to living in loving obedience:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
But three things go wrong (seriously wrong, in fact) when any one aspect of God’s truth overrides and drowns out all the complementary truths. Ministry becomes a one-string harp played with one finger—while Scripture plays on a 47-string concert harp using all ten fingers. Wise ministry, like growth in wisdom, is learning to play on all the strings.
Truth Must Be Spoken in a Wise and Timely Manner
First, the Bible would be a brief pamphlet, not a long book, if everything reduced to remembering one key truth. Rather than offering one truth as the secret of sanctification, God employs many complementary truths, promises, revelations, observations, exhortations, commands, reproofs, and life experiences in order to change us. Consider a mere handful of examples:
In the “Mueslix” story (in which a girl lies about what cereal she likes to fit in to a socail crowd), the realities that “God makes you safe” and “Jesus will help you” invited a little girl to faith and obedience. We might be warranted in saying that justifying mercy through Christ’s death and resurrection provides the logical foundation for those realities. But these are also significant realities in their own right that can speak meaningfully in one moment of ministry. I do not think that mention of Christ’s death and resurrection would have spoken relevantly into that moment. And we might be equally warranted in saying that “God makes you safe” (he is for you, rather than leaving you utterly vulnerable, precarious, and under a death sentence) and “Jesus will help you” (he is with you, rather than abandoning you to your own devices) are the foundational promises, and Christ’s death and resurrection gives the objective proof that God delivers on these promises, and shows how he has done it: Romans 8:31-39.
In Charlotte’s story (“Frame’s Ethics” or “How Does Scripture Change You?”), a whole series of interconnected truths from Isaiah 51 captured her heart so that shyness began to yield to loving courage:
• the LORD himself comforts us
There we have eight more true things that organically interconnect with the forecast of Isaiah 53 about the substitionary death and resurrection of the Savior.
Life experience is part of what changes us. God can and will make life beat up on us, frustrating our selfishness: e.g., “The way of the transgressor is hard” (Prov 13:15). God often uses the experience of pain and disillusionment with the world to sanctify us: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray.”
Or consider this passage: “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2). When life is hard, when the night is dark, when cares are many, the Lord tells you that he will strengthen you, protect you, save you. And here he tells you this by a string of different images. Sanctification purifies, deepens, and animates your faith, and faith seeks and finds the God who is many good things to us.
Shorthand and reductionism do not help us to live, teach, and counsel the whole counsel of God. So pay attention to the details of Scripture, and you’ll grow rich in knowing the numerous factors that contribute to your growth into Jesus’ image. Don’t let a plausible theory press Scripture into a mold that God does not choose to fit.
Truth Must Be Practiced, Not Just Reflected Upon
Second, verbs such as “meditate, remember, and contemplate” are good verbs, and do play a significant role in our growth. In other words, when God says something, think hard about it. But left on their own, the action of these verbs terminates inside your own head. God calls us to come out and relate, not just think about it. We are not sanctified by thinking about things, but by acting on what he says.
In my observation, only people with a great deal of cognitive discipline and mental horsepower tend to be able to exert the vigorous mental action of concentrating on one thing and thinking in a straight line. Furthermore, these mentalistic verbs are not intrinsically relational—and everything about our sanctification calls us into conversation and relationship. Fortunately when cognitively disciplined people love the Lord, they always move to relate to him. They go beyond meditating and contemplating. It is this relating to God that changes a person. In fact, this relating is the change.
Even more fortunately, people whose thought life gets confused, who get baffled by contradictory and distracting thoughts, feelings, and impulses, who have a hard time thinking in a straight line (i.e., have a very hard time meditating, remembering or contemplating!) can also seek, and find, and be heard by the God who works in us and hears our cry of need. I suspect that this shoe fits some of us in this class? All of us?!
Notice the activities captured in blue:
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6–10).
See how active all that blue is—the change process of the Christian life is relational, not meditative.
(Also notice the variety of the green. Theologically, we know that God’s promises about his actions implicitly include his foundational promise to justify us by grace through faith, but he freely offers his mercies to us in many other ways, too. The current fad will ultimately prove boring, because it just keeps saying the same thing, when God says—and would have us say—many things. And the current fad will ultimately prove disappointing, even disillusioning, because remembering that God forgives us by the cross of Christ is not the only thing we need to remember and act on. It speaks life into some struggles and situations. Other things speak life into other struggles and situations.)
Obedience is Freedom, Not Legalism
Third, the current fad downplays calls to obedience, effort, and struggle, as if these were inherently “legalistic” or “moralistic,” as if our Father’s commandments to us were somehow bad and burdensome. The problem with this is obvious: the Bible shows no hesitations about calling us to effort and obedience, yet the Bible is never legalistic or moralistic. Simply look again at James 4:6–10 cited above, the blue commands vigorous actions. God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:1–3). They are variations on what a human being is meant to become: loving him and loving others. The goal of our sanctification is simultaneously freely given by God to the utterly needy, and strenuously achieved through every effort of the whole person. The Latin church Fathers wisely summarized the Christian life as “ora et labora,” pray and work. Pray because it depends on God; work because it depends on you.
In that last paragraph, notice the order: gift and action, need answered and call obeyed, dependency and effort, the receiving of Christ and the imitation of Christ, being loved and loving. The greater part of wisdom is understanding the relationship between complementary truths, gaining feel for how they fit together and work together.
I encourage you to visit the original post and author's website by clicking here:
Leave a Reply
|© 2006 - 2012 LearnTheology.com, BibleTherapy.com and Cwebpro.com|