Apart From Works for Justification, By Works for Sanctification?

Josh Moody avoids writing about the topic of Jesus dying only for the elect. Since he is not teaching that glorious doctrine, he Is teaching that Jesus did die for everybody.

If you think that kind of antithesis is unfair, then I will use one of Moody’s analogies: if you can’t go by train (because the train doesn’t go there), you have to go by car, and you can’t go by train and by car at the same time.

Since the only kind of atonement revealed in the Bible is definite and effectual (for the sheep, and not for those who will not believe, John 10), then there is no atonement revealed in the Bible for everybody, and you can’t have it both ways, no matter what John Stott or Martyn Lloyd-Jones or anybody tried to do.

You can say all matter of true things about the difference between justification and sanctification (and I have no doubt that the false teachers in Galatia did so), and still avoid the offense of the cross being A. for the elect alone and B. being alone effectual, being the difference, since Christ’s death was not for everybody.

You can say that Christ died for everybody and still not be a “Romanist” who confuses justification and sanctification. If Christ’s death was the righteousness intended and obtained for everybody, then it’s not His justifying death but our “sanctification” which must make the ultimate difference. And if that is so, we need to be very afraid.

Moody writes: “Nobody comes along and says that you don’t need faith. They just say it’s not faith alone. But if it’s not faith alone, then it is faith plus law; and if it is by law, then it is no longer by promise; then it is no longer by faith. The message of faith and works is really a message of work; it is simply legalism” (p157)

Let me say something different. Nobody comes along and says that justification is not by grace. They just say that our “sanctification” is caused by our cooperation They also say (or leave it implied) that Jesus died for everybody but that it doesn’t work unless the Spirit causes you to add works to your faith.

But if Jesus died for everybody, then it is that death PLUS you being changed so that you both believe and work, and if the difference of the new covenant is “sanctification”, then the promise is not about Christ alone or His death alone.

If “sanctification” is not about the one offering of the one body of Christ in death for the elect, then “sanctification” gets changed to being about your being changed (so that grace is not cheap and Jesus is King).

The message of His justifying death plus your “sanctification” by message is really at the end a message about you.

Harold Senkbeil, “In its most blatant form heresy claims that we must place our own good works into the balance to give us a favorable standing before God. Its subtle form seems more attractive. God does all the work in justification, but we finish the work in our sanctification.

“We may be declared right by God’s judicial decree through faith alone, but then it is up to us to perform the works of love and obedience that true holiness requires. This error makes justification merely the first stage of sanctification. God get us on the path of holiness and then we continue. God starts and we finish…”Justified; Modern Reformation Essays on the Doctrine of Justification, p96

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3 Comments on “Apart From Works for Justification, By Works for Sanctification?”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    Or they also imply that Jesus died for everybody, but that it doesn’t work unless you cause the Spirit to work by working His gift of faith.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Williams James

    The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well–morality suffices. But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down, and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind. To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o’er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. Well, we are all such helpless failures in the last resort. The sanest and best of us are of one clay with lunatics and prison inmates, and death finally runs the robustest of us down. And whenever we feel this, such a sense of the vanity and provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us that all our morality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can never cure, and all our well-doing as the hollowest substitute for that well-BEING that our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are not.

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wjames/ch02.html

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Christ is our holiness in the same sense in which he is our righteousness. He is a complete and all-sufficient Savior. He does not accomplish his work halfway but saves us really and completely. He does not rest until, after pronouncing his acquittal in our conscience, he has also imparted full holiness and glory to us.

    By his righteousness, accordingly, he does not just restore us to the state of the just who will go scot-free in the judgment of God, in order then to leave us to ourselves to reform ourselves after God’s image and to merit eternal life. But Christ has accomplished everything. He bore for us the guilt and punishment of sin, placed himself under the law to secure eternal life for us, and then arose from the grave to communicate himself to us in all his fullness for both our righteousness and sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). The holiness that must completely become ours therefore fully awaits us in Christ.

    — Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Academic, 2008), 4:248


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