The Weekend Word

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41 Responses

  1. Neo says:

    *slow claps

  2. Neo says:

    Indeed. Sanctification is grueling work. Thank God it’s not my work.

  3. Michael says:

    I think this is as good a place as any to get the sanctification issue back in balance.

    I think Scripture is clear that , at least in part, sanctification is synergistic.

    The confusion comes not from improperly dividing law and Gospel, but from not delineating between “practical” and “positional”.

    According to Romans 8 we are positionally already sanctified as well as positionally glorified.

    Practically, we are still a work in progress and we are expected to participate in the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

  4. Michael says:

    Thus sanctification is both a gift (that is one side: God working in us to renew and transform us) and a task (the task of obedience, righteousness and pleasing God). And we must never so stress either of the two sides that we lose sight of the other. Think only of the task, and you will become a self-reliant legalist seeking to achieve righteousness in your own strength. You will not make any headway at all. Think only of the work of God in your life, and the chances are that Satan will trick you into not making the necessary effort and not maintaining the discipline of righteousness so that, in fact, even as you rejoice in the work of God in your life, you will be dishonouring it by your slackness. Hold both sides of the matter together in your mind, if you want your living to be right.

    Storms, Sam (2015-06-30). Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit (Theologians on the Christian Life) (p. 97). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

  5. Em says:

    sanctification, on-going – thru the life of a Christian (i prefer Born Again One) is not forced on us (speaking experientially here, not doctrinally) … we can resist, we can stay babies (we’re told not to do that) and so, it follows that, at the very least, we must be receptive, positive to God’s directions and actions on our spiritual behalf… are we confusing the Source, His supply for us, the nurture and admonition – with the synergism of the process, itself? … somehow?

    my spirit is at the mercy of a fried brain, so i may written a circular thot up there … oh well… amen to Michael’s post

  6. Em says:

    And another amen … to #4 also 🙂

  7. Jean says:

    MLD, once again, thank you very much for this wonderful lesson.

    In the OT, the seminal historical event for the Jews was their Exodus from slavery in Egypt. In this week’s text, we have strong echoes to that Exodus and a narrative that describes a new and better Exodus for the followers of Jesus. In this Exodus, Jesus **delivers** these Jewish Christians from **lifelong slavery** to the fear of death and “leads” them to the ultimate promised land (i.e., **glory**). Within this narrative, the Jewish Christians are on the pilgrimage in the wilderness (so to speak) where “we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.”

    “Fitting”? As St. Paul said, Jesus’ suffering was scandalous to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. Yet, Jesus was made perfect through suffering for our sake, so it was fitting. As His followers on this pilgrimage that He pioneered for our sake, Christians also suffer. I wonder if Osteen and some of the other prosperity preachers got the memo.

    When we read Jesus speaking the words of the Psalmist or the Prophet (12-13), I am reminded of two things about Scripture: (1) it is God breathed; and (2) “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

    Sanctification: By being made “perfect through suffering” (including, having endured temptation, including the fear of death), Jesus, as our high priest is able to sanctify us by making the perfect atoning sacrifice and intercession with the Father. St. Paul put it this way: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” The sanctification that Jesus does for us is through our union or familial relationship with him. It is objective and alien.

    Lastly, reflecting on this passage, as amazing and encouraging as it is, nevertheless brings me great sorrow this afternoon. I can’t help thinking about our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East and parts of India and Africa who are suffering greatly at this moment (numbering in the thousands), while the Christian world is relatively silent. I can only imagine that their under-shepherds are leaning heavily on the Letter to the Hebrews to strengthen the faithful in their care.

  8. Jean says:

    I’ve learned over the past few months that if different traditions use different words for the same concepts, or the same words for different concepts, the discussion can be impossible to reconcile. While I was writing my #7, I was not aware of the prior comments regarding sanctification. Therefore, I would like to clarify what I meant here:

    “The sanctification that Jesus does for us is through our union or familial relationship with him. It is objective and alien.”

    Here I was talking about vertical or passive sanctification in our relationship with God. This is something that Jesus accomplished for us. We can’t contribute to it, because we can never self-justify ourselves before God. It is objective because Christ did it for us, so we don’t look at ourselves to see if we have it. It is alien because it is Christ’s sanctification that is imputed to us.

    I don’t think the author of Hebrews is talking here at all about horizontal or active righteousness here (i.e., doing good works for our neighbor).

  9. Michael says:

    I will say that I believe that Jean is conflating sanctification with justification.

    While I believe utterly and without question the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ, I also believe that we must hold this in tension with the Biblical commands to participate in our sanctification.

    There is more to sanctification than “doing good works for your neighbor”.

    Sanctification is the process by which we are being renewed and transformed into the image of Christ.

    That process is positionally complete, we struggle through it practically.

    “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
    (Philippians 2:12–13 ESV)

  10. Uriahisaliveandw@ell says:

    #4 Amen!!!

    Both must be active. Without the other, it is simply half a gospel and works of the flesh. One must receive the Holy Spirit —– be born again, to be empowered, led, and able to choose that which is no longer of the flesh. Thus becoming more like Him and in Him.

  11. Nonnie says:

    Michael said: “While I believe utterly and without question the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ, I also believe that we must hold this in tension with the Biblical commands to participate in our sanctification.”


  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As a Lutheran we do conflate sanctification into justification. If you are saying that sanctification is getting a better handle on the rule book I disagree.
    But as I said the passage isnort about sanctification itself but about the sanctifier..

  13. Michael says:

    When one is being transformed into the image of Christ, one will inevitably get a better handle on the rule book.

    here is a difference in traditions.
    Lutherans do conflate justification and sanctification, the Reformed do not…at least as the Lutherans understand it.

    In the Reformed traditions, all of redemption is of God, but we do participate in the our sanctification.

  14. Michael says:

    The best thing about the Lutheran tradition is they indeed point consistently and always to Christ.
    That is why I asked MLD to teach us here…and he has not failed us at all.

  15. Jean says:

    Let’s look at what it is the Christ gives us in the New Covenant.

    From the eighth chapter of the current book:
    – I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,
    – The shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me.

    And in Ezekiel, Jesus says:
    – “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

    This is what sanctification looks like. This is Jesus’ New Covenant promise for us. This is what we receive when we are born from above/again. When God looks at us, this is what He sees.

    We don’t see ourselves like this because sin still dwells in our members. Our new creation lives are hidden in and under our sinful flesh. As Paul wrote: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

  16. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think as soon as I say something is up to me or depends on my participation then I have taken away from Jesus and what he promised to do. Jesus makes the change and I live in that change – not by my choice but because of who Jesus now made me.

  17. Jean says:

    “Jesus makes the change and I live in that change – not by my choice but because of who Jesus now made me.”

    Agree. St. Paul says that very thing:

    “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”
    Philippians 2:5 ESV

  18. Michael says:


    I did not say it was up to me, nor did I say it was dependent on me.

    The Scriptures are clear that it is God working and willing us to be transformed.
    The Scriptures are also clear that we are to participate in that process through obedience and spiritual disciplines.
    The outcome is certain, but the effort is still asked.

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    When the angel touched Isaiah’s lips with the burning coal was that God’s part to clean up Isaiah’s unclean lips and the rest was up to Isaiah? Or did God do it all?

  20. Michael says:


    You are drawing a conflict that doesn’t exist.
    You are conflating the positional with the practical and making sanctification utterly passive.
    This is not what the Scriptures teach.
    There is a tension between the completed work and the practical process.

    Sanctification is also, in one sense, the work of God. God is the one who is at work, gradually demolishing our bad habits and the wicked ways of the old man in Adam. God is the one who is actively constructing with us good and godly new habits of Christlike action and reaction. We must never lose sight of the fact that it is God who is making us new. “God is doing something entirely supernatural in our lives. God is changing us into the image of the Lord Jesus. This cannot be explained in natural terms. It is the work of grace and of his indwelling Holy Spirit.”

    However, sanctification is also in one sense synergistic— it is an ongoing cooperative process in which regenerate persons, alive to God and freed from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6: 11, 14– 18), are required to exert themselves in sustained obedience. God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7: 1; Phil. 3: 10– 14; Heb. 12: 14). In other words, there is the human side of willing obedience in addition to the divine work of enabling grace.

    Storms, Sam (2015-06-30). Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit (Theologians on the Christian Life) (p. 97). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

  21. Michael,
    And this is my concern between the Reformed view and the Lutheran view and it shows up in preaching. The Reformed (and I am sure you know that Lutherans consider all who are not Catholic or Lutheran to be Reformed) will always have messages centering on the Christian and how they should act and what they should do. The Lutheran message, should be (but not always because even Lutheran pastors get in on buying Rick Warren sermons) about Jesus and what he has already done for us.

    A Lutheran preaches the law followed by the gospel. The others, those who feel compelled to urge people on in their own sanctification at best will preach law, gospel law.
    1.) here is what you are saved from (law)
    2.) here is the solution to your problem (gospel)
    3.) here is what you must now go out and do (law)

    A Lutheran sermon is
    1.) here is what you are saved from (law)
    2.) here is the solution to your problem (gospel)
    3.) now get out of here

  22. I don’t know how this got centered on sanctification when I openly made the point it wasn’t about sanctification;

    “But, and people do get off track, the purpose of the verse is not a lesson in sanctification – it is the common joining of the sanctifier and the sanctifyees.

    Michael you have missed that importance here – the joining of the sanctifier and those being sanctified.

  23. Michael says:


    “The Reformed (and I am sure you know that Lutherans consider all who are not Catholic or Lutheran to be Reformed) will always have messages centering on the Christian and how they should act and what they should do. ”

    This is nonsense.
    The Reformed are those who follow in the traditions of Calvin and the other second generation Reformers.
    It is a distinct tradition.

    We preach the text…which will usually mean the law, followed by the Gospel, followed by an exhortation to respond to that good news in the manner that is prescribed in the text.

    Even a cursory reading of the Scriptures shows that a response is expected…not simple passivity.

  24. I also think that the writer’s placement of v.10 & 11 together supports my position as he speaks of our salvation and sanctification in one breath.

    But there is much more important items in this passage.

  25. Michael says:


    I was responding to Jean.

    The joining of the sanctified and the sanctifier is part of the doctrine of union with Christ…which I consider to be the primary doctrine of the Reformed tradition.

  26. Sanctification is spelled out by Jesus in John 15.

    The branch does nothing to produce the fruit. Because Jesus has sanctified us we produce the fruit.

    Folks will judge us by our fruit – you have fruit you are a Christian – you have no fruit you are not a Christian. But you did not produce the fruit.

    So, when you preach tonight, what is the to do list that you will give them to go with the sermon? And will any come back next Sunday and say Done! 🙂

  27. Michael says:

    I don’t preach to do lists.
    I preach the texts.

    I was just looking at the book of 1 Peter.
    There are numerous exhortations to different kinds of behavior and holy living.

    How would you preach those?
    Would you… or do you guys just skip that one and say “done””?

  28. Em says:

    sigh… how many Lutherans and Calvinists can dance on the head of a sanctified pin?

    are the Reformed (whoever they are) legalists?
    are the Lutherans (we know who they are 🙂 ) all of grace gained thru passive submission? err … something … dunno

    follow Christ, enjoy doing so, bow at His feet, bow at the cross of our redemption and focus, focus, focus on this King of Glory. err … something … dunno … seems to work for me

  29. I think I figured the difference and this goes back to preaching the Christian

    Our District President preached today at church on I think Deut 4 about teaching our kids, about keeping the message of Jesus going not only from generation to generation but also out to our neighbors – as he reminded us only 16 % of people in Orange County go to church.

    Now, he exhorted us to do something, not because we aren”t sanctified enough or not to make improvements in ourselves and not even because we are not doing enough – but as a reminder of who we are and the message we bare.

    It was a gospel message 100% – a message of who we are in our salvation (justification) not a message of where we are to go or what we are to be (sanctification)

    And the difference will always be there.

  30. Michael says:

    Here’s 2 Peter…

    “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
    (2 Peter 1:5–11 ESV)

    So…should I “make every effort” and “be more diligent” or not?

  31. Here is the question Michael – are you going to do those things to improve or increase your sanctification or are you like me doing those things because you are already 100% sanctified.

    If you answer the first, I have no way to continue the conversation. If you answer yes to the second, then you are doing what I said.

    And I think when Peter calls people blind and unfruitful in this area he is saying they are non believers.

    I gotta run for a while. But remember, the passage is not about sanctification

  32. Donner says:

    Jesus did NOT die “as a convicted felon.”

    He was the Lamb spotless and blameless, slain before the foundation of the world.

  33. Em says:

    i guess i have trouble the dilemma being discussed here
    i see the unredeemed one as body (dying) and soul (eternal) with either no spirit or a dead one, your choice… upon redemption one receives their spiritual birth and becomes a 3 part being – the sanctification processing thru our mortal lives is dependent upon which of those 3 parts of our being are having the greatest influence on our conduct… from the spirit to the soul to the body – now this probably won’t pass any cleric’s theology test for sound doctrine… but, for me, it makes it so easy to see the how and the why of ongoing sanctification… it is a control issue… who’s gaining/holding ground in the life of the redeemed one

    dunno – just sayin … again

  34. Last comment on sanctification. I think I said this a couple of weeks ago – I think people get confused and consider this secondary sanctification with behavior modification. I remember joining a Baptist church and the pastor told us “we believe drinking is a sin and we do not tolerate drinking.” So my wife and I did not drink – it was not a sanctification issue at all – but I will bet the pastor thought I had made great strides.

    I could turn my behavior Mormonlike and that would not be any indication of my growing sanctification. But many people point to “this is how I used to be and this is how I am not like that any longer” – and that is not that type of sanctification either.

  35. Now there is more – Donner took issue with my comment about how Jesus died. I will stick with what I said and God did use it to sacrifice Jesus as the spotless lamb.

    How about others?
    How about v.14-15 where the writer declares the devil as bound / defeated / powerless

    How about the use of the word propitiation? … no discussion?

    How about the 2 things no other religion has that Christianity stands or falls on
    1.) No other religion has a suffering God. Discussed in the text
    2.) No other religion has a God that comes down to them. All other show you ways to reach up to God.

  36. Jean says:

    “No other religion has a God that comes down to them. All other show you ways to reach up to God.

    This statement teaches us two very important things about God:

    1) God is both transcendent and immanent (i.e., He is hidden and near). As St. Paul said in Athens: “Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’”. In the incarnation, the Son was hidden in the flesh of a ordinary human being. Not a high class human being, like a Caesar or a Herod, but a carpenter’ son. Why is this important? Because Jesus tells us that he will be hidden to us in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger (wow!), the naked and the prisoner. Will we recognize him?

    2) As you have taught us repeatedly, God deals with us through physical means: Human flesh, water, bread, wine, the preacher who proclaims the Gospel and absolves sins. God attaches himself to his creation. he deals with us through mundane physical means.

    As you said, the Christian God is not one to which we ascend, or who requires special spiritual skill or discipline to find. There are no spiritual masters. God comes down to us in mundane, physical means. Christian spirituality is lived in the vocations to which we are called. In our vocations, God is hidden in us. Call it good works or the fruit of the Spirit.

  37. Jean,
    The funny thing is that we see God coming down to us in the Jacob story where he saw angels descending and ascending – but some folks teach their kids to climb Jacob’s ladder (because they are being taught to climb Jacob’s Ladder) as if they are going to reach God. Evangelical kids sing the song “Climbing Jacobs ladder” and I don’t know why.

    Now, there may be a ladder and if there is it goes down from earth to hell.

  38. Donner says:

    Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus died as a convicted felon. In fact the Bible says the exact opposite — that Pilate “found no guilt in Him.”

    Now, if you’re using that phrase as hyperbole to demonstrate that Jesus took on our sin, identified with us in our sin, was numbered with the transgressors, well then, OK. Just go ahead and say that.

  39. Donner – from the vantage point of the Jews, of whom all these hearers were before coming to Christ, they knew nothing of what you are suggesting. As far as they were concerned Jesus was guilty of blasphemy and although they had a different legals system, I am sure that we could equate that to a felony. After all, he did receive the death penalty.

  40. Paul A. Lytton says:

    In my opinion (1 cent worth) in the term “as” in, “Jesus died as a convicted felon” is merely meaning “in the way of”.

    He was not technically “convicted” as a felon but he certainly did die “in the way of” a felon. He was surrounded by convicted felons whom died in the same manner. He was not separated from the convicted felons. And He was placed there by the same people as the convicted felons.

  41. Em says:

    the symbology of our Lord’s death, the identification with condemnation – unjust? of course it was, it was worse than unjust, but nevertheless, he did die on that cross, in the eyes of the people, a criminal – convicted by us and sentenced… there is great symbology in that and, worse, great condemnation for those who, knowing of His crucifixion, do not ever turn around and repent of what we, the human race, did that day…
    yes, i know, not everyone knows the history, let alone that the Son of God – Immanuel – died … that’s another issue (solvable, i think)

    like MLD says, this sanctification issue is a snag keeping us from considering so much edification that Hebrews holds… we all agree sanctification is necessary and we ARE sanctified, do we not? stuck on how, when and why … i’ll have to leave to the theologians … too much sanctifying to be done today to spend time thinking about HOW and WHEN God does it 🙂

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