progressive sanctification

June 10, 2008 at 2:04 am (Insufficiency of Man, Sovereignty of God, The Gospel)

Definitive and Progressive Sanctification

This past week at The Village, Matt spoke on progressive sanctification.  I know what progressive sanctification is, but I wanted to see what others said about it.  I was hanging out with some people after church that night and one did not know what the two words meant.  So, at work, I decided to take a break and study a little progressive sanctification.  Here I have posted some thoughts from others on the definition of progressive sanctification.  If you don’t really understand what these words mean, hopefully these definitions will give you a better idea of what it means..I think these definitions came from http://www.monergism.com.

Definitive sanctification, as defined by John Frame, is “a once-for-all event, simultaneous with effectual calling and regeneration, that transfers us from the sphere of sin to the sphere of God’s holiness, from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God.” Definitive sanctification marks us out (or separates us) as God’s chosen people – His treasured and covenantal possession (Acts 20:32; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). So too, definitive sanctification redeems (or frees) us from the dominion (or slavery) of sin by uniting us to Christ, particularly in His death, resurrection and ascension. Sanctification, in this sense, refers to a decisive and radical break with the power and pleasures of sin.

Progressive sanctification, as defined by Wayne Grudem, is “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” According to John Frame, “We can think of sanctification as the outworking of the new life given in regeneration.” It involves the gradual, incremental and (S)piritual work of both putting to death the remains of “indwelling sin” as well as putting on the likeness of Christ.

Sinclair Ferguson says that union with Christ in his death and resurrection is the element of union which Paul most extensively expounds…if we are united to Christ, then we are united to him at all points of his activity on our behalf. We share in his death (we were baptized into his death), in his resurrection (we are resurrected with Christ), in his ascension (we have been raised with him), in his heavenly session (we sit with him in heavenly places, so that our life is hidden with Christ in God), and we will share in his promised return (when Christ, who is our life, appears, we also will appear with him in glory) (Rom. 6:14; Col. 2:11-12; 3:1-3).

This, then, is the foundation of sanctification. It is rooted, not in humanity and their achievement of holiness or sanctification, but in what God has done in Christ, and for us in union with him. Rather than view Christians first and foremost in the microcosmic context of their own progress, the doctrine of sanctification first of all sets them in the macrocosm of God’s activity in redemptive history. It is seeing oneself in this context that enables the individual Christian to grow in true holiness.

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