The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

... will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification

The resurrection was necessary for our justification because His resurrection was the basis of us being born again (1Pet. 1:3). Because His resurrection declared Him to be the victorious Risen Lord of all. Wayne Grudem explains this verse this way:

If God “raised us up with him” (Eph. 2:6), then, by virtue of our Union With Christ, God’s declaration of approval of Christ is also his declaration of approval of us. When the Father in essence said to Christ, “All the penalty for sins has been paid and I find you not guilty but righteous in my sight,” he was thereby making the declaration that would also apply to us once we trusted in Christ for salvation. In this way Christ’s resurrection also gave final proof that he had earned our justification.[11]

John Gill writes:

was raised again for our justification; he was raised again from the dead by his Father, to whom this is often ascribed; and by himself, by his own power, which proves him to be the mighty God; and this was done not only that he might live an immortal and glorious life in our nature, having finished the work he undertook and came about, but for "our justification". He died in the room and stead of his people, and by dying made satisfaction for their sins; he rose again as their head and representative, and was legally discharged, acquitted, and justified, and they in him. Christ's resurrection did not procure the justification of his people, that was done by his obedience and death; but was for the testification of it, that it might fully appear that sin was atoned for, and an everlasting righteousness was brought in; and for the application of it, or that Christ might live and see his righteousness imputed, and applied to all those for whom he had wrought it out.[5]

Here I end our brief study of Christ's resurrection.

The Ascension of Christ

Luke tells us that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples about the Kingdom of God for forty days between His resurrection and ascension. With the same body, He blessed His disciples and was taken up from them.

Acts 1:8-11 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heavenwill come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” 

The account is straightforward. As the Lord was speaking with His disciples, the time for Him to depart came. Therefore, He blesses them and gives them the promise of the Spirit and then is carried by a cloud into heaven. It was necessary for the Lord to depart so that the Holy Spirit would come. The Lord told His disciples –

John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

Indeed, after ten days, on Pentecost the Spirit did come in power and glory. The ascension of Christ demonstrates that His mission was complete. He did what He was suppose...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

...waiting until the resurrection and judgment of the last day. We conclude with the words of Vern Poythress who writes:

As the second death implicitly includes and accompanies an act of bodily resurrection, so the first resurrection implicitly includes and accompanies bodily death. We find an allusion to just this bodily death in 20:4, the souls of those who had been beheaded. The phrase refers to those who have suffered martyrdom for not worshiping the Beast. These are now disembodied souls living in the presence of God and of Christ, as represented in 6:9-10. The important thing to see is that these souls are living, triumphant, because of their Union With Christ and victory through his blood (12:11).[33] [emphasis original]

Blessed and Holy

Because of these things believers are blessed when they die. Revelation 14:13 says:

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

They are blessed because they rest from their sins and persecution and they are reigning with Christ. They have the fulfillment of the promise made to them in Revelation 2:26; 3:21. Their rest does not imply that they are inactive or that they are not reigning. Meredith Kline writes that “the biblical concept of sabbath rest includes enthronement after the completion of labors by which royal dominion is manifested or secured (cf., e.g. Isa. 66:1).”[35] The Church is also told by the Savior to “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10-11). The believers will receive this crown after their death. Moreover, as Revelation 20:6 says in connection with the Millennium:

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

They are blessed because they become priests, serving God and their Christ, but not only that. They are not merely servants, but they have the blessing of sharing in the heavenly reign of Christ over the world. They reign together with their beloved Savior. Their existence in the Intermediate State is blessed and they are now vindicated before God for the testimony of Jesus, which some of them have sealed in their blood. Even so, their final and public vindication awaits the last day.

The Last Battle

Rev. 20:7-10 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Now that the Millennium is ended, Satan is released from his prison and all the restraints, which God had placed on him, are removed. He is free to do that which his heart has long desired: gather all the wicked to destroy the people of God. We again note the similarity in the description of the battle in cycles 5-7:

Revelation 16 (Cycle 5) Revelati...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,

The first thing we should note is the stress that Paul lays upon the believer’s Union With Christ. We are in Him and we are with Him. We have become one with Himself. Paul says that we were circumcised. But how? Obviously not physically, but this must be a circumcision of the heart, a spiritual circumcision in accordance with the OT promises (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Ezek. 36:25-27). This is also clear when he says “circumcision without hands”. A circumcision without human doing, but solely the work of God on the heart of man. How did this happen? By putting off the body of flesh, meaning by putting off the fleshly desires and fighting against them, rather than being in the flesh as we formerly were (e.g. Rom. 8:1-11). This is confirmed by what is said in verse 13. Paul says that before Christ we were uncircumcised in the flesh, but more importantly, we were uncircumcised in our hearts. We were dead in sin and unrighteousness. But now that Christ has circumcised us (“the circumcision of Christ”) through His Spirit, we were raised from spiritual death to life. We were circumcised at heart and were forgiven of our wickedness.

Let us now observe the connection with baptism in v. 12. This passage, coupled with Romans 4:11 (which we looked to briefly above) is often used to prove that baptism has replaced circumcision and is the sign and seal of the covenant. Since our Presbyterian brethren believe that the OT covenants where administrations of the Covenant of Grace and the New Covenant was the final administration of the Covenant of Grace, they argue that since children of believers were included in the Abrahamic Covenant, therefore they must be included in the New Covenant also, as the Abrahamic and the New have the same substance. Therefore, children should receive the sign of the New Covenant, which they believe is baptism. See here for a longer discussion on this passage.

We’ve already taken issue with the idea of multiple administrations of the Covenant of Grace and tried to point out that the Abrahamic Covenant or any other covenant in the OT is not an administration of the Covenant of Grace or is the Covenant of Grace, but they contain the promise of the Covenant of Grace. But now, let us get back to our text (v. 12). This verse shows us our union with our Lord and what baptism actually symbolizes. Baptism, the going into the water by immersion, perfectly symbolizes the believer's going into the grave with the Lord Jesus, dying to self and burying the old man and putting off the body of flesh. But coming out of the water, symbolizes our spiritual resurrection with our Lord, that through Him we overcame death and sin and reign in life with and through Him. Such an intimate union that is connected with baptism cannot possibly be experienced or realized by an infant! This text is similar to that found in Romans 6, which points out an implication of the fact that we have been baptized:

Rom. 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in o...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

  • Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27[1]
  • Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16
  • Rom. 6:4
  • Baptism is an ordinance of ”positive and sovereign institution” (chapter 28:1) and it is an ordinance of the New Testament. Baptism is a sign of...fellowship (e.g. Gal. 3:27) and Union With Christ for the party baptized. Baptism is a sign, i.e., something visible representing something invisible (Union With Christ). Baptism signifies our fellowship with Him, in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). As we are submerged in the water, we picture the Lord's death and ours. As we come out of the water, we picture the Lord's resurrection and ours. Baptism our Union With Christ or as it is here called our being engrafted into Him (Gal. 3:27; see chapter 27). It signifies the washing away or remission of sins (Acts 22:16 ). It also signifies our giving up into God or our determination to submit to God, through Jesus Christ and to live and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4 ), which we have received from the Lord and which baptism pictures. Notice that baptism is called a sign and not the cause or an instrument of fellowship with Christ. It does not cause those things enlisted, but pictures these realities visibly. Which brings us to the subjects of Christian Baptism in the next paragraph.

    Things Which Baptism Signifies

    Christian Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water, in token of his previous entrance into the communion of Christ's death and resurrection,—or, in other words, in token of his regeneration through Union With Christ.[2]

    Baptism signifies the new life and the blessings thereof, which the believer has received through faith and repentance. The Confession describes it as “a sign of fellowship with” Christ. Baptism shows our Union With Christ, just as He Himself was baptized, so we share in a baptism similar to His and follow His example. Stanford E. Murrell defines baptism as:

    an ordinance wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, signifies and seals the engrafting of a soul into Christ, and the partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace and our pledge to be the Lord’s.[3]

    We will look at the different aspects of baptism as presented in the New Testament below.

    Union With Christ In Death, Resurrection, Newness Of Life

    Galatians 3:27

    Gal. 3:25-27 But now that fai


    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

    ... for our forgiveness. It is also given for the confirmation of the faith of believers to remind them of the sacrifice of Christ which is their only ground of hope and peace with God. It is for their spiritual nourishment, and growth in Him because the Lord's comes very close to us as we partake of His supper and sit at His table. It reminds us also of all the duties which we owe to Him thanks to His sacrifice on our behalf. But it is also a bond and pledge of our communion with Him, and with each other. Since we are all in Union With Christ and as we partake of His blood and body, we also partake and are united with each other as believers. Christ unites all believers together and this is also signified by the Lord's Supper and it is a pledge of it (i.e., a solemn promise or undertaking to keep this communion).

    Institution And Command Of Observation

    The Lord's Supper is an ordinance which is directly commanded by Christ. It's not a deduction from multiple passages, but a direct and positive command of the Sovereign Christ. It is meant to cause us to look back to the perfect sacrifice of Christ of Himself by Himself for the perfection of all the elect of God. We are to look back to the sacrifice and look forward to the Parousia when He will fulfill and bring to pass all the benefits of His sacrifice. We read of the institution of this blessed ordinance in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:14-23 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. I will use Paul's text as the basis (which was taken from Luke's Gospel) to discuss the institution of the Lord's Supper.

    1Cor. 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes

    Before being betrayed by Judas, the Lord Jesus instituted a New Covenant meal in which His disciples would always have a way to remember and celebrate His work of redemption on their behalf. They were celebrating the Jewish Passover as the New Covenant Mediator instituted the New Covenant meal. The Passover was the remembrance of God's great deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. The Lord's Supper is a token and a sign of even a greater deliverance, i.e., the deliverance from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ. This ordinance, Christ institutes simply based upon His authority as the New Covenant High Priest and Mediator, for His people to observe. He did not give this ordinance based on other authorities, but He gave it based on His authority and this is the way that we should receive this ordinance. Christ was pleased to institute this New Covenant meal as a means of remembering Him and His work by His people. Christ's words are not “Do this, if you like to, in remembrance of me,” but as the Sovereign Lord that He is, His word is solemn and demands obedience: “Do this in remembrance of me.” All Churches who name the name of Christ must of necessity, because of His clear command, celebrate this New Covenant meal. Virtually all churches from all backgrounds, as far as I know, celebrate the Lord's Supper. A church, which d...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary they belong to Christ and His assembly. He is their Mediator and He is the Mediator of only one covenant, the New Covenant in His blood. If He stood for them before God, He stood as the Mediator of the New Covenant or the Covenant of Grace on their behalf. Therefore, they had to be members of the New Covenant or people chosen to be in the New Covenant for Christ to able to represent them. This was, in fact, the covenant which the believers under the Old Testament were called into (Heb. 9:15-17). Dr. Sam Waldron writes:

    the church is the climactic earthly expression of the people of God. Thus language is frequently used which equates the church with all those in Union With Christ. The church is the body and bride of Christ (Eph. 1:22; 4:11-16; 5:23-27, 29, 32; Col. 1:18, 24). Furthermore, the bride of Christ is composed in the last day of the saved from every age (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:9-14; note also Matt. 8:11-12; John 10:14-17; Heb. 11:39-40). Thus the church will one day be composed of all the redeemed. As the people of God, the church does consist ‘of the whole number of the elect’.[5]

    A. H. Strong defines the church as:

    The church of Christ, in its largest signification, is the whole company of regenerate persons in all times and ages, in heaven and on earth (Mat. 16:18; Eph. 1:22, 23; 3:10; 5:24, 25; Col. 1:18; Heb. 12:23). In this sense, the church is identical with the spiritual kingdom of God; both signify that redeemed humanity in which God in Christ exercises actual spiritual dominion (John 3:3, 5).[6]

    Later he adds, “Union With Christ is the presupposition of the church.”[7]

    §2 Visible Saints

    1. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted. 2
      1. 1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 1:7-8; Acts 11:26; Matt. 16:18; 28:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-9
      2. Matt. 18:15-20; Acts 2:37-42; 4:4; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 5:1-9

    All people...professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ (Rom. 1:5-8; 1Cor. 1:2), who are not destroying their profession are to be called visible saints. Notice the careful wording of the Confession. While paragraph 1 speaks of the universal or invisible church consisting of the whole number of the elect and thus those who are truly regenerate, the second paragraph says nothing of election. It speaks of those who are professing the faith and obedience unto God by Christ. This is the only way in which we as people can know if one is regenerate or not. Indeed, some will be able to deceive us, but we do not have the ability to look into one’s heart to determine if they’re elect or not. Therefore, profession and the way of life is the only way in which we can (fallibly) determine if one is a Christian or not. If this is the case for someone, they are may be called visible saints, i.e., saints of the visible church. Finally, all particular congregations, i.e., local churches, should consist of visible saints, i.e., those professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ. The Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 25:2 (which is the parallel for this chapter) says that the invisible church “consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, together with their children” (compare ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints


    Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints

    What does it mean that we are in Union With Christ? What are the benefits from being united with Christ? What are our obligations toward fellow believers?

    §1 Union With Jesus Christ

    1. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, 2 although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; 4 and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, 5 and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man. 6
      1. Eph. 1:4; John 17:2, 6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 6:8; 8:17; 8:2; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4[1]
      2. Eph. 3:16-17; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 3:17-18
      3. 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:18-19; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Isa. 42:8; Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:8-9
      4. 1 John 1:3; John 1:16; 15:1-6; Eph.2:4-6; Rom. 4:25; 6:1-6; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3-4
      5. John 13:34-35; 14:15; Eph. 4:15; 1 Peter 4:10; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 12:7, 25-27
      6. Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13; 1 Thess. 5:11,14; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:17-18; Col. 6:10; Gal. 6:10

    All saints...are united to Jesus Christ (e.g. Eph. 1:1, 4; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). They are in Him and identified with Him. To be united to Jesus Christ means that they have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory (Rom. 6:1-6; Col. 3:3-4; 1John 1:3). They are united with Him in these aspects. For example, the case of His death and resurrection, it is like we died and rose again with Him. We did not literally and physically die with Him, but since we have been united to our Head, whatever He does or did on our behalf is counted as our own. This union with Jesus Christ is by His Spirit, and faith (Eph. 3:16-17; 2Cor. 3:17-18). There is no other way in which we can be united to Jesus Christ and experience the benefits of this union. In all of this, we do not become one person with Him. We still remain us and separate from Him, but we share in Him and are one with Him spiritually and by virtue of His headship.

    This union to Jesus Christ goes beyond us and the Lord. In fact, after we have been united to the Lord, we are united one another in love (John 13:34-35; Eph. 4:15). Union With Christ does not only make us one with the Lord, but also it unites us to others who are one with the Lord. In the same way, we share and have communion in each other gifts and graces. We seek to serve each other and bless others with the gifts and graces which God has bestowed upon us. We are, in fact, obliged to the performance of such duties which conduce to our mutual good (Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13). This duty is public and private, and it does not only concern spiritual things (in the, but also physically providing for those lacking supply and in need of help materially (in the...outward man).

    Defining Union With Christ

    All the elect are united to Christ. They were united in His death (Gal. 2:20) and share the undeserved blessings coming from his perfect life, death, resurrection, and ascension in glory. This Union With Christ does not make us one person with Him or with God, that is blasphemy. Rather, we become one with Him in spirit, love, and communion sharing in all those blessings which the Father has given to Christ. This Union With Christ spans from eternity past to eternity future. What is then this union with...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

    ...e they are united to Christ, the perfectly righteous Man. In further support for our point that dikaioo means declaring and counting one righteous, rather than making we call upon Luke 7:29. There, the text literally says that the people "justified God" (KJV). Now, what does this mean? Does anyone think that the people made God to be righteous? Absolutely not! Rather, as the ESV renders the passage, "they declared God just".

    The Judge of the Universe, because of the atoning death of His Beloved Son on our behalf, declares us to be righteous. Our Union With Christ makes it so that His death becomes our death, His resurrection our resurrection, His life our life, His righteousness our righteousness. Although we have not yet been perfectly conformed to His image, we are certainly predestined to that end (Rom. 8:29). In other words, God will make us righteous, but this is not what the New Testament speaks about for our salvation. Rather, this is sanctification in which the Holy Spirit works to change us into Christ's image, but it is a life-long process of ups and downs (see here).

    Faith is a Gift

    This is a controversial point, especially with Arminians and other non-Calvinists. Calvinists have always insisted that faith is a gift from God given to us and does not have its origin in us or our wills. We don’t believe that God believes for us, but we believe that it is God who works faith in our heart and changes our nature so that we are made able to exercise faith in Christ. God gives us faith and we believe. Faith does not originate with us. It is a divine work which lasts until we see Him in heaven. Unless this work of grace takes place, Scripture teaches us that we are both unable and unwilling to come to Christ (see chapter 6). Let’s take a look at a few passages which Calvinists have used to support the idea that faith is a gift and to see whether this is indeed biblical.

    It would be pointless to point to verses which declare that people repented or believed. We do not dispute that. We simply believe that God is the One who works in us faith and gives us the true and lasting faith, which we exercise every day. Unless God works faith in man, man will never believe. That is our position. Ephesians 2:8-9 states–

    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    We are saved by God’s grace, which comes to us through the channel of faith. This is how we are justified, by grace through faith. Both are present. But the question here is to what does “this” refer to? The ESV Study Bible says:

    this. The Greek pronoun is neuter, while “grace” and “faith” are feminine. Accordingly, “this” points to the whole process of “salvation by grace through faith” as being the gift of God and not something that we can accomplish ourselves. This use of the neuter pronoun to take in the whole of a complex idea is quite common in Greek (e.g., 6:1); its use here makes it clear that faith, no less than grace, is a gift of God. Salvation, therefore, in every respect, is not your own doing.[8]

    The “this” refers to the whole “by grace through faith”; it refers to the whole of our salvation. Neither our faith nor our repentance (2Tim. 2:26) did originate with us but were given to us by grace (demerited favor). Our entire salvation, including faith and repentance (Acts 20:21), was given to us as a gift with the purpose that we...

    2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 'he died for all'


    5:13-14 Paul's opponents probably had suggested that he was religiously unbalanced (see Ac 26:24). He was "insane" in that Christ's love compelled him into vigorous apostolic ministry. On the other hand, his ministry among the Corinthians had never been that of a madman (1Co 2:1-5). Indeed, he had kept his "third heaven" vision private for 14 years until he mentioned it later in this letter (12:1-10). The heart of Paul's message was that the Jewish Messiah had died on behalf of all kinds of sinners (1Co 15:3). Jews as well as Gentiles were included in Jesus' substitutionary death (Rev 7:9). In Union With Christ, sinners who believe the gospel have died to sin and have been raised to walk in a new way of life.

     5:15 The phrase those who live refers to believers who are now spiritually alive (Eph 2:4-6). Christ's death and resurrection ministry have become the pattern for the believer's death and new-life ministry. Paul personally modeled this as well.[3]


    1. ^ ESV Study Bible. (2008). Crossway. Taken from the Online Version at
    2. ^ John MacArthur. (2010) The MacArthur Study Bible. Crossway. 
    3. ^ HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible®) Study Bible. (2010). Holman Bible Publishers. Taken from the online version at 

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 13: Of Sanctification - Commentary
    The 1689 Second Baptist Confession Of Faith Confession Commentary Reformed Baptist Chapter 13 Chapter Thirteen Sanctification Holiness

    ...nd overcoming sin and temptation, but we are also progressing toward holiness in being more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving grace. This is so that we would practice all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). The Lord grants us holiness and calls us to holiness so that we would see Him.

    United, Called and Regenerated

    I refer the interested reader to the previous chapters where we dealt with these things. I lightly touched upon our Union With Christ in chapter 8 paragraph 5. We dealt with the effectual call or Irresistible Grace in chapter 10 and Regeneration and Justification were dealt with in chapter 11.


    What is sanctification? Wayne Grudem defines sanctification in this way:

    Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.[2]

    In sanctification, God works in us to make us more Christ-like. It is a process throughout our whole Christian life on earth where God works to conform us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29). Throughout our Christian life, we will by the grace and work of the Holy Spirit, learn to hate and forsake our sins and follow Christ more faithfully. We should not think of sanctification as happening in one moment as some have done who believe that the Christian can be sinless. Nor should we think of sanctification as a line going only upward. But rather, sanctification is a life-long process of ups and downs.

    Obviously, once we come to know Christ, especially if we had lived a gross life, we will realize that it is no longer acceptable for us to do certain things and we will try to stop doing them. Therefore, there is a direct growth and going upward in a sense, but as we read the Word of God and learn God's will for us we will discover more and more sin in us and we should call on the Spirit of Christ to help us in our war against sin. But Christians do sin and fall into sin, we sometimes have seasons of disobedience and negligence to the means that God has ordained to bless us and sanctify us as for example the Word of God, prayer, corporate worship, etc. Therefore, there are also downs in our Christian life. It is not a straight line gradually going upward, rather a sort of zig-zag or flatline.

    Romans 8:28-30 is a life passage for me. I love it and I take great comfort in it. Let us look at this passage and see what it says about sanctification.

    Rom. 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 

    For those who are God's, whom He has pleased according to His sovereign pleasure without anything in them to incline Him to save them, God the Sovereign Lord works in all things for their good. Whatever tragedy, whatever sin, whatever evil, whatever pain, whatever suffering I can cling to this verse because it gives me comfort and hope in God. It is God who is Sovereign and works all things according to His will and everything is under His control, therefore my suffering and evil too. But what is amazing about this passage is that the promise is made only for those who are called according to His purpose, i.e., the elect. It is alone to them that God promises that all things will work for good. But what is the "good," the...