Sunday, April 16, 2006

Progressive Sanctification - Growing in Grace, Cooperation With God

Progressive Sanctification - Growing in Grace, Cooperation with God

God in redemption is not only to justify the redeemed but too sanctify them so that they be holy in mind and in action. (Eph. 2:8-10) This is a growth process which is normally known as progressive sanctification. It was not surprising when someone told me that they did not understand, nor had even heard of the doctrine of progressive sanctification. The reality is this doctrine is not taught in many churches even though it is the basic doctrine of Christian growth.. Overcoming sin is one of the great purposes of God in the work of salvation. This doctrine should be taught to all Christians. The purpose of redeeming man is the empowerment in in order to put God’s commands, principles and precepts into action in his life daily. To this end the Holy Spirit empowers each believer. In this work in cooperation there is real victory over sin since we are not alone but empowered by God Himself. It is through this doctrine that the Christian learns how to overcome and have victory over sin. Therefore here are some basic Christian thoughts on this doctrine.


I. Three Approaches to Overcoming Sin

.Christians are taught or themselves take one of three approaches in seeking to overcome and have victory over sin. They are a. “Fight sin all you can”; b. “Let go and let God”; c. “Cooperate
with the Holy Spirit”. Let’s take a quick look at each one of these to see which one is a biblical approach.
.A. Fight Sin All You Can –
.This approach to overcoming sin and changing your life calls for one to gear up to use all mental energy to fight all sinful tendencies. In this there is an aloneness. One is left alone being by themselves and must pull themselves up by their own “bootstraps”. One is to remove themselves from the presence of anything that mat tempt you to sin. All reasoning powers are used to control your sinful desires. You must identify and resolve any life issues so that you can conquer sin sin in your life.

In this approach sin is your fight and your overcoming sin is left up to your strength alone. This approach is totally left up to your self will and mere human thing. Therefore, internal turmoil and struggle will be continual since this is not a a solution for victory as we will see later.
.B. “Let Go And Let God” -
.This approach to overcoming sin is one of the most fascinating I have ever heard of. The approach is not to do anything to overcome sin for if a man does anything to defeat sin sin will defeat you! The Christian must give God a chance to take hold of his /her personality because the Holy Spirit wants to free and liberate the personality from the temptation of sin.
.Hannah Whitewall Smith states this teaching this way: “ The Christian must surrender completely to the Lord. He must put his life in the Makers hands like clay in the potters hands… passive.”

Other quotes statements: “Let go and let God…..aany victory that you have to get by trying for is a counterfeit. If you have to work for the victory it is not the real thing….We must not try not to sin for such efforts can and do actually prevent such victory….It is victory by freedom rather than victory by fight…effortless freedom (from all) sin impulses…..Therefore stop trying. Let Him do it all.”
.While recognizing the need of the Lord’s help in sanctification, this approach is just not biblical. There is a fundamental problem with this approach – simply that Jesus can be Savior and not Lord. Also there is the error is seeing God’s purposes in salvation to make His people a new creation, a people holy in both heart and conduct.

C. Cooperate with the Holy Spirit (God)
.This is the Scriptural approach. Victory over sin can only be accomplished by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. When born again a relationship is established with the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit who now works in a believers life. (Jn. 15:5; Gal.2:20) The believer then can be obedient to the scripture, pray, partake of the sacraments and work through the church discipline processes as needed.

.Victory over sin is secured as we say with John 1Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
(Rom 6:14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

.Sin is not totally done away with in the life of the believer. We will find that we sin daily in thought, word and deed but we are not left to wallow in our sin and the misery it can bring. AS a matter of fact we have the responsibility to overcome sin in our lives. We have been given power and ability in order to cooperate with God to do away with it and therefore not be mastered by it. Rom 8:9-12 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. And again: Phi 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

.So of all three approaches this approach gives the Biblical answer – Christians get victory over sin in Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit working in them so they can cooperate to do the pleasure of God in their lives.
.II. Progressive Sanctification Is Slow and Gradual
.Progressive sanctification is slow and gradual. There are no quick fixes to sinless perfection. In reality there is no sinless perfection in this lifetime. Perfection is a goal (Matt. 5:48) but will never be obtained. John understood this when he addressed sin and confession in 1 Jn 1:8. Peter made it known that it was a growth process when he exhorted us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

.In progressive sanctification the Holy Spirit empowers the person while also affecting the heart and soul of the believer. The Holy Spirit convinces men to change in the innermost depth of his soul. He affects the whole being of men in that he gives knowledge and understanding which then causes the emotions to move with conviction while propelling the believer to will and do the commands, principles and precepts of the Word of God.

So for fun let’s review some of what the Holy Spirit does for the believer:
.· Regenerates - Jn 3
· Renews - Tit. 3:5
· Sanctifies - 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pt. 1:2
· Leads - Rom. 8:14
· Indwells - Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:16
· Writes on our Heart - Jer 31; 2 Cor 3:3
.What does the Holy Spirit use in order to work in the life of a believer for progressive sanctification? Well He uses the tools of the faith which are given to all believers. He uses a. the Bible; b. the sacraments and c. church discipline and d. prayer

A. The Word of God – The Main Tool.
It is through the hearing and reading of God’s word that our souls are strengthened and our lives sanctified. Paul committed the elders in Ephesus to the word of grace: Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Jesus prayed John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. Peter called for Christians 1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. The word of God is to become effective in the life of the believer for growth in living so that they will die more and more to sin and live more and more as Christ would have them live; that is live righteously. Let’s then see how we are to approach the reading and teaching of the Bible.

B. .The Bible is to be read and used for the purpose of progressively being sanctified.
The Christian approach to reading the bible includes reading it in the following manner:
· With diligence
· With a plan
· With faith
· With Love
· With a desire to put into practice
Believers are to use the Bible diligently and carefully reading and applying it to their life. This tool of the faith is to be studied, memorized it, and meditated upon. Lay it up in your mind so you can recall it often. It does no good just to read it but it is useful as we not only listen to it, and talk about how wonderful it is but do what this perfectly law of liberty says to do. (Jas. 1:22)

.The Bible is a tool of the faith to be used on a regular basis. It is the Word of God and Inspired by the Holy Spirit. By it we learn and grow by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit. Therefore create a plan for reading the Bible and follow it. For example read the Gospels, Old Testament history , Paul’s letters, O.T. Poetry, N.T. General Epistles, O.T. Minor Prophets, Acts, O.T. Major Prophets, Revelation). There is a lot there and a lot that will be difficult to understand due to the historical time, culture and geographical differences. Therefore I suggest having a good Bible dictionary, concordance and a good commentary from solid biblical scholars in your home to help you through some of the more difficult aspects of the Bible. Read always with prayer asking the Holy Spirit to give you understanding (illumination) so that you can understand and apply the passage being read to your life (1 Cor.2).

.When reading and hearing the word of God pay attention to it approaching it with “ diligence, preparation, and prayer. Take note of what you hear in the scriptures and “receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God”. “Meditate” upon it and hide it in your heart in order to bring forth a life glorifying to God. You will find this to be the main tool of the Christian in gaining understanding of the faith and in how to live a life glorifying God.

.B. The Sacraments – Baptism and Lord’s Supper Declaring and Sealing Grace and Salvation
.I have met many Christians that have had great doubt about their salvation. Each person brings their own state and difficulties such as some have been in a depressed state, a few have gone to very weak churches. Weak in the sense that they have not had good doctrinal training. But all of them, without fail, have not had a clear understanding of the sacraments and their use. Therefore they had not been able to utilize and incorporate the sacraments into their lives. The sacraments are used by the Holy spirit to encourage and work a grace of growth in the Lord in a persons life.

Some churches teach against the idea of sacraments in the church. So you may be asking, “What is a sacrament? I have never heard of them.” Or perhaps you may feel that you cannot believe in them since your church has touched that there is no such thing. Either way, since they are biblical, the fact that they are not taught to you causes the Christian to miss out on using the tool of the sacraments.

.Even though the word Trinity is not in the Bible does not mean there is not such thing. So goes the term sacrament. The doctrine of the Trinity is defined within the scripture so is the doctrine of the sacraments. So then what is a sacrament? A sacrament is a sign and seal used by God in order to give a clear message of what he does for us and His church and to place His stamp on us to mark us out as his people.

.Sacraments are a sign and a seal. Signs are used by God throughout the Bible. A classic example in the Old Testament is circumcision So you see God giving a sign and a seal of the reality of the covenant of grace is not new to God’s people. The sign of the sacrament tells us “what is”. For example the sign of Moses rod turning to a snake let Pharaho and his entourage told that God had spoken to him (ex. 4:1-5). Also when Jerusalem was destroyed it was made know that the mediatory reign of Christ in heaven would begin (Mat. 24:29-34). Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. Remember he believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness ( Rom 4:11, 9). Then in the New Testament there are the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper which God uses to communicate to us a full and complete salvation by grace through the redeeming blood of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

.The sacraments are not only signs used by God to communicate to His people but they are seals given by God to benefit the persons receiving the seal. Think of a college student that has completed class work for their bachelors degree. The seal or stamp on the certification of diploma does not make him / her educated. The seal is from the collegiate board authorities officially declaring the person educated. The person could be educated without the seal. The seal is useful to the recipient in that it convinces others when they see it being hung from the office wall the person is educated.

.There are two sacraments given to the people of God in the New Testament: Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. In these sacraments God uses common elements such as water, bread and wine to communicate grace to His people. In these sacraments God gives the church a nonverbal proclamation of the gospel. This is the same gospel as the one we hear proclaimed by the preaching of the Word and which we share with people as we witness and evangelize. In other words the sacraments nonverbally proclaim full salvation and that by God’s grace to the recipients and members of the church.

.> Sacrament # 1 Baptism – Salvation is of God the Author and Finisher of Our Faith.Baptism is a sacrament which signifies (tells us what is) the full salvation we have in Christ Jesus. It is an outward sign of an inward work of grace by God through Christ’s redemption by the work of the Holy Spirit. Being united in Christ we are buried, planted, and crucified (Rom.6). But notice: we do not bury ourselves, nor do we plant ourselves, nor do we crucify ourselves but it is God who does the gracfious work!

.Our effectual calling,
Our being regenerated by the Holy Spirit,
Our conversion including repentance and faith,
Our justification and
Our adoption into son ship

.Baptism signifies that we are united to Christ.. The sinner is dead, but being one of Christ’s own, there is regeneration which makes the sinner alive. Once made alive in Christ there is an action and expression of repentance from sin and faith placed in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This expression comes from God to those redeemed, given new life and united to Christ (Matt 1:21; Acts 11:18; Eph 2:8-10). Baptism, therefore, declares by sign and authorized by a seal that we are in union with Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

.The seal of baptism authenticates God’s covenant promise that He will be our God and we will be His people (Gen. 15-17; Mark 10:14; Acts 2:28-39;1 Cor. 7:14 ). This seal grants to us blessings in that we are placed into the body of Christ, the Church. In this we have all the blessings of the church: the Bible to guide us, the Holy Spirit to give us power and energy to will and do the Father’s’ pleasure, and the confirmed promise that God will continue to work in us progressively to die to sin and live in newness of life.

.> Sacrament # 2. The Lord’s Supper – Christ Died For His Church

.The Lord’s Supper is the second sacrament established by God in the New Testament for His church. This sacramental meal communicates to the Church that Christ body was broken and that His blood was shed to redeem His people. The bread signifies the broken body Christ and the wine represents the shed blood of Christ. It is this meal that signifies God’s covenant of grace upon the lives of those that believe. (Matt. 26:28) Here is what the Apostle Paul said of the Lord’s Supper:
.1 Corinthians 11:23-33 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

.The Lord’s Supper signifies or speaks to us concerning:
.> Christ broken body and shed blood

> Our need to remember the Lord that bought us and that we are His and we partake of the sacrament “in remembrance of me”

> The Gospel evangelistic message in the meal since by partaking “ye do proclaim”

> The need for self examination and self judgment for growth in sanctification: “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat”

> Declares that the church is a community: “ tarry for one another”

> A meal of condemnation to those that partake of it unworthy “drink this cup of the Lord, unworthy, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord”

.Baptism and the Lord’s supper are visible tools given by God to help the Christian community grow in grace and knowledge of Christ. They are not to be used apart from the Word of God but with the word of God. The Word of God and the Sacraments are both equally to be used. They both are given by God and therefore are part of the fait, the church and worship. In the use of the sacramental tools the Lord imparts blessings for spiritual nourishment and growth in grace bring spiritual growth, life and peace. The blessing come because they are a visible sign that declares the salvation we have by the shed blood of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit, a sign of being set apart from the world of non-believers by having the seal of God upon us, being placed into the family of God, the church and a visible reminder given to us often to judge ourselves regarding the faith and our love of the brethren, etc.

.There is as much blessing received in them as there is in the hearing and reading of God’s word. The sacraments are in essence God’s word to us and also to others (see Lord’s Supper). When we understand them and their meaning then we can in faith appropriate the grace that is promised in them. The blessing is no greater than that of the hearing of the Word. The blessing that comes from them is based upon the word which gives understanding to their meaning, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, so that the believer can rest upon and obey the promises and duties required in each symbol. There is no reason to ever neglect the means of grace in the sacraments. To do so robs believers and the church of great blessings.

.C. Church Discipline
.The practice of church discipline has been established by God “tell it unto the church” (Matthew 18:17). This is one of the tools that the Holy Spirit uses to guide Christians in progressive sanctification. As sin is dealt with and repentance is done people grow. When discipline is received, and restoration is accomplished it is done by the poower of the Holy Spirit working in the individual and t herefore they are being progressively sanctified. Our Lord taught that this is the way of unity and peace in the church. It is the true church that maintains discipline over believers guarding their souls (Heb 13). Any group that calls itself a church, or is part of the body of Christ and does not exercise love for the people in helping restore them to righteous living, guiding them in their life, is not maintaining the practrice of a true church or church member in the body of Christ. It is only the true church that cares enough to help restore the believing brothers and sisters in a desire to honor God bring forth purity.

.Matt. 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.1 Corinthians 5:1-5 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ , To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

.The authority of the church does not rest in the personal and individual man made authority of the elders or pastors. The authority of the church leaders is a derived authority. Christ is King and Head of His church (Eph. 5:23; Col 1:18) and is carried out in the poer of the Holy Spirit. He has given the Bible as the rule of all faith and practice. The leaders of the church must learn how God’s process of discipline is established. Then they are to to, teach the layity how to proceed in God’s process so that when needed there is discipline being directed in its processes from the Word of God alone. In the church there can only be a speaking where the Bible speaks and teaching what the Bible teaches with authority. Therefore the church and the members are to be directed by the Word alone in all matters in life and godliness. This truly glorifies the Lord and maintains purity in His, one and only church. .Church discipline has a lofty goal. It is properly administered for the maintenance of the the glory of God, the purity of the church and the reclaimation, restoration and reconcilation of the erring brethren. Therefore as you approach a brother and sister that is erring either in life or in doctrine you need to include these levels and aspects of church discipline as needed:

.Teaching = It is is teaching the person what the Bible says concerning their sin, and how to change
.Convictiing = It includes the need to convince or persuade of the need to turn from sin to loving the living Lord unto holiness ;
.Admonishing = Discipline through admonishment includes all three of these encouraging, rebuking, warning,
.Excommunicating = Hopefully restoration will be accomplished before this step is taken. This is the farthest end of an extreme measure which includes expulsion from the Lord’s table
.Restoring = This is the goal of church discipline. It is an acceptance and compassion for a Christian brother or sister that has repented in order for there to be no grief.
.From the teaching of Scripture there are four major steps in the practice of church discipline. The following are the biblically steps of church discipline and restoration from Matt. 18:15-17. Read the passage from the gospel of Matthew and see if you can pick the three steps.

.Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican...Did you identify them? If not here you go:
.Step 1. Private meeting = there is to be a private meeting between you and the person that has caused an offense concerning doctrinal error or delinquent in proper Christian living. “…., go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone”..
Step 2. If restoration fails in step one then you must move to a second step where you “take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. The taking of others with you is for the purpose of supporting you in persuading the person to be restored. But sadly if the persuasion fails and the brother or sister does not repent the they are there in order to establish witnesses if the person does not repent and does not want restored in this second step..
Step 3. If this fails the discipline of the non-repentant brother gets very serious. It is here that you must get all of the information together and “tell it unto the church”. This does not mean that you tell the issue to the congregation but it is simply that you tell it unto the church leaders, i.e. elders. They must take up the process of discipline from this point forward. They are the church court and have the spiritual oversight of the people of the church. The church members are to “Obey … leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ( Heb 13:17). They are the leaders who speak the word of God and watch over the souls of the congregation. Perhaps the person will obey his or her leaders and submit to them and be restored. And if the person does this discipline ends since restoration would have been accomplished..
Step 4. If sorrowfully the above steps fail and “if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” This is the final discipline step that must be done, called excommunication. It must be accomplished for two major reasons: a. in order that the spirit of the person may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5) and for the purging of sin out of the church to keep it a pure as humanly possible (1 Cor. 5:7).
.The person that is delinquent in doctrine or in godly living, the person that has been sinned against, those brought in for support and witness and the elders of the church are all to be directed and guided not by their own thinking but by the word of God. If this is not done then there is no evidence that the people or the church leaders are Christian but show themselves to be self judging and at best just pragmatic people whether they stumble upon doing what is wrong or right. When one fails to be directed by the word, judged by the church and found to be in sin they are not to partake of the Lord’s supper They are living as the unsaved. Where there is no church discipline there are all kinds of evil. Humanism prevails, sin is in the camp, the leaders have no place to stand, doctrine can go anywhere since it is not checked, there is no growth at all and no watching over the souls of the people of the church.

.Church discipline by the word of God and by the church and its people following the above steps is a must. A congregation or faith group that does not practice church discipline is missing a critical mark of being a true church. .

Prayer – A Tool Used To Talk To God
.Prayer is another one of the tools that God gives to His people for growth in the Christian life. Jesus is our example and as He was given to much prayer so should all believers. Prayer is the means of communication to God. It is the drawing near to God with the result that He will draw near to you (Jas. 4:8). It is the tool we use as believers in crying out to “Abba Father’ in their times of distress and grief. In prayer we also cry out asking forgiveness for the sins committed, as well as crying to Him for comfort in this pilgrimage we are on toward the celestial city. Prayer is the means by which we ask of God what we need and we also ask the Holy Spirit to work sanctification in our lives.

.What is prayer ? Prayer is asking the Father for the things that are promised in His word. It is the coming to God with our desires, confessing our sin and acknowledging his mercies. Christ said “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer”. The writer to the Hebrews said that Jesus is passed into the heavens and we can come to Him boldly in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
.The tool of prayer is to be used so as not to be overtaken by besetting sins. “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”( Mark 14:38). Also when there is a need for wisdom the tool of prayer should be used since there is a promise that the omnipotent God will give that wisdom when needed. James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

.The believer should be disciplined to use this great tool. We are to always to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (Luke 18:1). So lets be faithful in our prayer life consistently coming “unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, (Ephesians 3:20).
.III. Sanctification a Cooperation With God
.Sanctification is the only aspect in the total package of redemption that men have a vital part in. God calls, justifies, adopts, and gives the grace of faith and repentance. (See Appendix A). Even the day of resurrection will be the work of God. But in the process of sanctification God gives His people His word with instruction, precepts, and commands. In progressive sanctification Gods people are given the Holy Spirit with power in order to carryout the word and will of God. In Sanctification we are not left alone to “fight sin all we can”, nor are we to sidestep responsibility and “let go and let God”.

.Sanctification is therefore 100% the work of God. It is God who must work. He works in regeneration, moving hearts of men, and in giving the energy to will and to do God’s will. In all of this all we do is believe in our Lord Jesus, Do good to our fellow man, resist evil and sin because He enable us to do that.

.Sanctification is 100% men’s work. God is the redeemer and energizer. Man is the performer of the work which God has saved them to carry forth “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10) Believers read and apply the Word in order to love the Lord and their neighbors as themselves (Ex. 20 see Appendix B). They also partake of the sacraments (see Appendix C). They come to the table in an appropriate manner after proper preparation they partake in order to grow in their faith and spiritual life. It is the believer that improves upon their baptism by their continual thankfulness for their deliverance and salvation and by dedication and commitment to live unto righteousness walking in love to their Lord and neighbors. It is also the believer that works with one another in the faith loving and helping a breother or sister in the Lord that has fallen into sin or doctrinal error. The one that repents is the one by the very nature of effective discipline grows in their faith and in sanctification. Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. It is the believer that fights the good fight (1 Tim 6:12), Renews the mind (Rom. 12:1-2), and puts on the armor (Eph 6:11-12).

.The purpose of God in redemption then was not only to justify the redeemed so as to treat them as sons and as if they had never sinned but also to sanctify them so that they would be holy in mind and in action. Redeemed man must act in putting Gods commands, principles and precepts into action in his life daily. To this end the Holy Spirit empowers each believer. In this work in cooperation there is real victory over sin since we are not alone but empowered by God Himself.

…………………………………………………………..APPENDIX A
Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling -
10:1 All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time effectually to call (Rom_8:30; Rom_11:7; Eph_1:10, Eph_1:11), by His Word and Spirit (2Co_3:3, 2Co_3:6; 2Th_2:13, 2Th_2:14), out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ (Rom_8:2; Eph_2:1-5; 2Ti_1:9, 2Ti_1:10); enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (Act_26:18; 1Co_2:10, 1Co_2:12; Eph_1:17, Eph_1:18); taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh (Eze_36:26); renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good (Deu_30:6; Eze_11:19; Eze_36:27; Phi_2:13), and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ (Joh_6:44, Joh_6:45; Eph_1:19): yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace (Psa_110:3; Son_1:4; Joh_6:37; Rom_6:16-18).

.10:2 This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man (Rom_9:11; Eph_2:4, Eph_2:5, Eph_2:8, Eph_2:9; 2Ti_1:9; Tit_3:4, Tit_3:5), who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit (Rom_8:7; 1Co_2:14; Eph_2:5), he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it (Eze_36:27; Joh_5:25; Joh_6:37).

.10:3 Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit (Luk_18:15, Luk_18:16, and Act_2:38, Act_2:39, and Joh_3:3, Joh_3:5, and 1Jo_5:12, and Rom_8:9 compared), who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth (Joh_3:8): so also, are all other elect persons who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word (Act_4:12; 1Jo_5:12).
.10:4 Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word (Mat_22:14), and may have some common operations of the Spirit (Mat_7:22; Mat_13:20, Mat_13:21; Heb_6:4, Heb_6:5), yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved (Joh_6:64-66; Joh_8:24): much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess (Joh_4:22; Joh_14:6; Joh_17:3; Act_4:12; Eph_2:12); and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested(1Co_16:22; Gal_1:6-8; 2Jo_1:9-11).
.Chapter 11: Of Justification
.11:1 Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth(Rom_3:24; Rom_8:30): not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them (Jer_23:6; Rom_3:22, Rom_3:24, Rom_3:25, Rom_3:27, Rom_3:28; Rom_4:5-8; Rom_5:17-19; 1Co_1:30, 1Co_1:31; 2Co_5:19, 2Co_5:21; Eph_1:7; Tit_3:5, Tit_3:7), they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God (Act_10:44; Act_13:38, Act_13:39; Gal_2:16; Eph_2:7, Eph_2:8; Phi_3:9).

.11:2 Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification (Joh_1:12; Rom_3:28; Rom_5:1); yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love (Gal_5:6; Jam_2:17, Jam_2:22, Jam_2:26).

.11:3 Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf (Isa_53:4-6, Isa_53:10-12; Dan_9:24, Dan_9:26; Rom_5:8-10; 1Ti_2:5, 1Ti_2:6; Heb_10:10, Heb_10:14). Yet, inasmuch as He was given by the Father for them (Rom_8:32); and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead (Mat_3:17; 2Co_5:21; Eph_5:2); and both freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace (Rom_3:24; Eph_1:7); that both the exact justice and rich grace of God, might be glorified in the justification of sinners (Rom_3:26; Eph_2:7).

.11:4 God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect (Rom_8:30; Gal_3:8; 1Pe_1:2, 1Pe_1:19, 1Pe_1:20), and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification (Rom_4:25; Gal_4:4; 1Ti_2:6): nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them (Gal_2:16; Col_1:21, Col_1:22; Tit_3:4-7).
.11:5 God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified (Mat_6:12; 1Jo_1:7, 1Jo_1:9; 1Jo_2:1, 1Jo_2:2): and, although they can never fall from the state of justification (Luk_22:32; Joh_10:28; Heb_10:14); yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance(Psa_51:7-12; Psa_32:5; Psa_89:31-33; Mat_26:75; Luk_1:20; 1Co_11:30, 1Co_11:32).

.11:6 The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament (Rom_4:22-24; Gal_3:9, Gal_3:13, Gal_3:14; Heb_13:8).
..Chapter 12: Of Adoption
.12:1 All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for His only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption (Gal_4:4, Gal_4:5; Eph_1:5): by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God (Joh_1:12; Rom_8:17), have His name put upon them (Jer_14:9; 2Co_6:18; Rev_3:12), receive the spirit of adoption (Rom_8:15), have access to the throne of grace with boldness (Rom_5:2; Eph_3:12), are enabled to cry, Abba, Father (Gal_4:6), are pitied (Psa_103:13), protected (Pro_14:26), provided for (Mat_6:30, Mat_6:32; 1Pe_5:7), and chastened by Him as by a Father (Heb_12:6); yet never cast off (Lam_3:31), but sealed to the day of redemption (Eph_4:30), and inherit the promises (Heb_6:12), as heirs of everlasting salvation (Heb_1:14; 1Pe_1:3, 1Pe_1:4).

..Chapter 13: Of Sanctification
.13:1 They, who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection (Act_20:32; Rom_6:5, Rom_6:6; 1Co_6:11; Phi_3:10), by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them (Joh_17:17; Eph_5:26; 2Th_2:13): the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed (Rom_6:6, Rom_6:14), and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified (Rom_8:13; Gal_5:24); and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces (Eph_3:16-19; Col_1:11), to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (2Co_7:1; Heb_12:14).

.13:2 This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man (1Th_5:23); yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part (Rom_7:18, Rom_7:23; Phi_3:12; 1Jo_1:10): whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (Gal_5:17; 1Pe_2:11).
.13:3 In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail (Rom_7:23); yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome(Rom_6:14; Eph_4:15, Eph_4:16; 1Jo_5:4); and so, the saints grow in grace(2Co_3:18; 2Pe_3:18), perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2Co_7:1).
..Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith
.14:1 The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls (Heb_10:39), is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts (2Co_4:13; Eph_1:17-19; Eph_2:8); and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word (Rom_10:14, Rom_10:17): by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened (Luk_17:5; Act_20:32; Rom_1:16, Rom_1:17; Rom_4:11; 1Pe_2:2).

.14:2 By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein (Joh_4:42; Act_24:14; 1Th_2:13; 1Jo_5:10); and acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands (Rom_16:26), trembling at the threatenings (Isa_66:2), and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come (1Ti_4:8; Heb_11:13). But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace(Joh_1:12; Act_15:11; Act_16:31; Gal_2:20).

.14:3 This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong (Mat_6:30; Mat_8:10; Rom_4:19, Rom_4:20; Heb_5:13, Heb_5:14); may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory(Luk_22:31, Luk_22:32; Eph_6:16; 1Jo_5:4, 1Jo_5:5); growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ (Col_2:2; Heb_6:11, Heb_6:12; Heb_10:22), who is both the author and finisher of our faith (Heb_12:2).
..Chapter 15: Of Repentance
.15:1 Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace (Zec_12:10; Act_11:18), the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ (Mar_1:15; Luk_24:47; Act_20:21).

.15:2 By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God (Psa_51:4; Psa_119:128; Isa_30:22; Jer_31:18, Jer_31:19; Eze_18:30, Eze_18:31; Eze_36:31; Joe_2:12, Joe_2:13; Amo_5:15; 2Co_7:11), purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments(2Ki_23:25; Psa_119:6, Psa_119:59, Psa_119:106; Luk_1:6)..
15:3 Although repentance be not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof (Eze_16:61-63; Eze_36:31, Eze_36:32), which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ (Hos_14:2, Hos_14:4; Rom_3:24; Eph_1:7); yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it (Luk_13:3, Luk_13:5; Act_17:30, Act_17:31).
.15:4 As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation(Mat_12:36; Rom_5:12; Rom_6:23), so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent (Isa_1:16, Isa_1:18; Isa_55:7; Rom_8:1).
.15:5 Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavour to repent of his particular sins, particularly (Psa_19:13; Luk_19:8; 1Ti_1:13, 1Ti_1:15).
.15:6 As every man is bound to make a private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof (Psa_32:5, Psa_32:6; Psa_51:4, Psa_51:5, Psa_51:7, Psa_51:9, Psa_51:14); upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy (Pro_28:13; 1Jo_1:9): so, he that scandalizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession, and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended(Jos_7:19; Psa 51:1-19; Luk_17:3, Luk_17:4; Jam_5:16), who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him (2Co_2:8).


The Ten Commandments:

Exo_20:1God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
IV. Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates ; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.

V. Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant nor his maid-servant nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.



WCF and the Sacraments.Question 161: How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

Answer: The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.
Question 162: What is a sacrament?
Answer: A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.
Question 163: What are the parts of a sacrament?
Answer: The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.
Question 164: How many sacraments has Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?
Answer: Under the New Testament Christ has instituted in his church only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Question 165: What is Baptism?
Answer: Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ has ordained the
washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed engagement to be wholly and only the Lord’s.
Question 166: Unto whom is Baptism to be administered?
Answer: Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.
Question 167: How is our Baptism to be improved by us?
Answer: The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.
Question 168: What is the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to the appointment of Jesus Christ, his death is showed forth; and they that worthily communicate feed upon his body and blood, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace; have their union and communion with him confirmed; testify and renew their thankfulness, and engagement to God, and their mutual love and fellowship each with other, as members of the same mystical body.
Question 169: How has Christ appointed bread and wine to be given and received in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: Christ has appointed the ministers of his Word, in the administration of this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to set apart the bread and wine from common use, by the word of institution, thanksgiving, and prayer; to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants: who are, by the same appointment, to take and eat the bread, and to drink the wine, in thankful remembrance that the body of Christ was broken and given, and his blood shed, for them.
Question 170: How do they that worthily communicate in the Lord’s Supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
Answer: As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, no less truly and really than the elements themselves are to their outward senses; so they that worthily communicate in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner; yet truly and really, while by faith they receive and apply unto themselves Christ crucified, and all the benefits of his death.
Question 171: How are they that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to prepare themselves before they come unto it?
Answer: They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.

Question 172: May one who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord’s Supper?

Answer: One who doubts of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God’s account has it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord’s Supper, that he may be further strengthened.
Question 173: May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, be kept from it?
Answer: Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s Supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ has left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.
Question 174: What is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in the time of the administration of it?
Answer: It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fullness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.

Question 175: What is the duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper?

Answer: The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is seriously to consider: How they have behaved themselves therein, and with: What success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
Question 176: Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree?
Answer: The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.

Question 177: Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ?

Answer: The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ, in that Baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s Supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.


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