• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • June 2008
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Wait Till You See Who’s Suing Al Gore!

Are You Walking The Ancient Paths?

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'” (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV)

Have you ever been told to do something because it is good for you?  Did you verbally say “Yes,” while your heart was saying “No”?  I have done this many times in my life – even after becoming a Christian.  Therefore, you know that I am a sinner saved by the mercy of God’s grace.  We cannot, however, stop at this point and say, “That’s all there is to it.  Things are fine as they are.”  The Christian life calls us to more.  Christians are called to be “disciples” of Christ.

A disciple is a person who submits to the authority of another in order to receive instruction which encourages proper conduct and behavior.  Although Christian discipline is often frowned upon as legalistic, Christianity calls for a change that should be seen in our behavior.  This change is part of the process known as “progressive sanctification.”

Today, the philosophy of instant gratification has crept into the Church.  Hype and sensation are sought out.  There appears to be no concern about working “out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12, ESV)  Even less considered is Paul’s appeal “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV)

Faith and good works are often misunderstood by Christians.  Good works add no merit to our faith in God, but if good works do not follow our profession of faith, it is clear that we do not have saving faith.  True justification always leads to the process of sanctification.

It is a terrible error to think that when you are justified, you are as sanctified as you ever will be.  This is absolutely contrary to the doctrine of “progressive sanctification.”  It is like saying “Yes” to Jesus, but refusing to do what He asks you to do (refusing His Lordship).

Progressive sanctification is the process in a Christian’s life by which he becomes more (holy) like Jesus. “Sanctify” means to “set apart, make holy.” It has three facets: (1) Positional sanctification, (2) Progressive sanctification, and (3) Ultimate sanctification.

Positional sanctification takes place the moment you believe in Christ.  God looks at the Christian, and sees the righteousness and holiness of Christ.  Ultimate sanctification occurs at death, when a Christian is absolutely perfected in God’s presence.  Progressive sanctification is the process of living what we are positionally, and what we will be ultimately – and progressively making it a reality in our own Christian lives.

The process of progressive sanctification is described in Galatians 5:19-23. Progressive sanctification is the life journey of producing less and less of the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21) and more and more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Progressive sanctification is a process empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), prayer, and the study of God’s Word.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

Let us not be like the people of Jeremiah’s day.  We must learn to take the Biblical path where the good way is.  If we tread that narrow, ancient path, we will grow in holiness and find rest for our souls.  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14, ESV)

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