Put what you received into practice

Posted: August 31, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Discipleship, The Christian Life

“Just as we are justified by Christ’s righteousness worked out by Him and imputed to us, so we are sanctified by holiness accomplished in Christ, then imparted to us. As our corruption was produced in the first Adam, then passed on to us, so our holiness is first produced in Christ, then passed on to us. We don’t actually work with Christ in producing holiness, but we receive holiness from Christ. We put holiness into practice by using what we already received from Christ.… The only way to be holy is to receive a new nature out of the fullness of Christ, then practice holiness out of Christ’s holiness.”

— Joel Beeke, Introduction
Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Reformation Heritage Books, 1999), x

(HT:OfFirstImportance)

Comments
  1. George Dakowah says:

    send me topics on prayers

  2. Peter Black says:

    Beeke says: “The only way to be holy is to receive a new nature out of the fullness of Christ, then practice holiness out of Christ’s holiness.” To me, this sounds like the medieval doctrine of “meritum congruo.” Maybe I am misreading the implications of his statement “practice holiness out of Christ’s holiness.” But if what we do is a congruent part of holiness, then what we do becomes a necessary and existential part of holiness. Does that not contrast with I Corinthians 1:31, which says that Christ is “our holiness”? I am concerned that Beeke’s teaching here is a reflection of the English Puritan idea that what we do determines the degree to which we attain holiness.
    Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Peter

  3. doulos tou Theou says:

    @ Peter

    Thanks for the question,I don’t know all of Beeke’s thoughts, but in regards to the quote I think this phrase is essential to understanding the sentence you quote:

    “so we are sanctified by holiness accomplished in Christ, then imparted to us..so our holiness is first produced in Christ, then passed on to us. We don’t actually work with Christ in producing holiness, but we receive holiness from Christ.”

    It ‘s like this quote is encouraging us to be Holy since Jesus imparts to us what He is we should live like who we really are in Christ not just as forgiven, but as those who are being made Holy by His perfected life lived out.

    Here’s another phrase to help with this thought from John Piper preaching on Romans 6:1-14:

    “Underneath the call and the freedom to do hospitality with soup and Styrofoam bowls, and to push dead cars for a stranded friend, and to be real with each other in small groups – and everything else beautiful that displays Christ – is a deep and glorious foundation of what happened once for all for you when Christ died, and what is happening progressively in you by faith.

    In sum: If you are a Christian, God created a union between you and Christ, as verse 5 says. Because of this union, you died with Christ, when he died. Because you died, you are now free from the guilt and power of sin in your fullest and truest identity, that is, in your union with Christ. And because of this unshakable position and identity, you are already justified, and you are most certainly being sanctified, but you are not yet perfected. Therefore, confirm this great transaction by reckoning yourself to be what you really are in Christ.”

    At least on the surface that’s what I see.

  4. Peter Black says:

    doulos…
    Thank you for the expanded comments. The doctine of the believer’s union with Christ is certainly a mainstream truth, to which I do indeed subscribe. I am less willing to view either the positional sanctification or the progressive sanctification of the believer as a synergistic process. It seems to me that there is potential for that approach [a synergestic one] which ought to be carefully identified. I share the older Reformed teaching that all of the elements of the “ordo salutis” are monergistic, being the work of God alone. There is unanimity about the monergistic nature of most of those elements (such as Justification, Glorification, and the rest). There are some in the Reformed tradition who wander into the path of seeing Sanctification as a synergistic process, in which the “work” of the believer is both necessary and congruent with that of God. As I mentioned earlier, just such a teaching was devised by medieval Catholic theologians, and it appears to me that it has in practical terms re-emerged among contemporary Reformed students who emphasize the synergy of my work plus God’s work. A thoughtful analysis of that idea leads to the correct perception that it necessarily involves the belief that good works are, in and of themselves, therefore meritorious in God’s eyes. I hope you will agree with me that no such merit is possible; not because of the fact that every believer is still a sinner (which she/he is), but rather because God is sovereign. If so, if God is truly sovereign, then He cannot be constrained or obligated or even inclined to credit the merit of the works of a created, contingent being. If He were thus obligated to recognize the merit of good works, then His will would not be perfectly free, and of course in that eventuality He would not be sovereign.

    So I hold that Christian persons cannot regard their own good works including their obedience to the commandments of God as being meritorious, and thereby synergistic in the work of sanctification—which is, as you say, being accomplished in him or her by the Holy Spirit. I subscribe to the monergistic understanding of Sanctification, as with all the other works of Salvation.

    Peter

  5. doulos tou Theou says:

    @ Peter

    “I subscribe to the monergistic understanding of Sanctification, as with all the other works of Salvation”

    I agree

    usama

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