Thinking About Sanctification

25 Sep

This weekend, I will be attending the 2012 Desiring God National Conference.  The theme of this conference is “Act the Miracle” and the focus is on the roles both we and God play in the work of sanctification.  Speakers include such people as Russell Moore, Kevin DeYoung, Ed Welch, John Piper, and Jarvis Williams, and other presenters include Fernando Ortega, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and RW Glenn.

Having had the privilege of attending the previous two conferences, I can honestly say that I think this is the most intriguing (as well as significant) one yet because it will examine an aspect of the Christian life that is often abused and misunderstood: sanctification.  Even as I write this post, I struggle with how to express the ways in which we wrongly view sanctification.  However, I can say two things:

1. We often fail to understand sanctification in terms of our union with Christ, and therefore, its connection to the Gospel

2. We often equate sanctification with following a set of Christian rules (or expectations) developed by the church or culture in we live (you need a certain amount of time in the Bible, in prayer, a certain level of service in the church, etc.), which puts the work of sanctification solely on our shoulders.  

And while we often think in these terms, God’s word says:

“work our your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).”

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).”

There is a role that both we and God play, and it cannot be separated from Christ, and our being united to Him through faith according to His work on our behalf.  As Calvin put it (and as I have explained in this previous post), our justification and sanctification are both of the grace of God, but they take on very different forms in our lives.

And that leads me to the second reason I am very excited for this conference.  Not only do I believe it will be encouraging and educational with regard to gaining a better understanding of our role, as well as God’s, in our sanctification, I also believe it will be overly applicable to local church life.  I am excited, as a staff member of a local church, to bring back ideas that can be implemented among the flock.  How do we help others see how sanctification works?  How do we implement edifying efforts towards seeing this work done in our local churches?  These are the types of questions that I think will be answered, or at least pondered, at DG 2012.

Be sure to check back after the conference for links and quotes from the weekend.  And perhaps I will see you there!

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