Dr. Peterson Answers Your Questions: Why the current emphasis on effort?

Published on September 29, 2016 by Joshua Centanni

IVP, 2001 | 191 pages

Have your own question for Dr. Peterson? Let us know and we’ll pass it on!


Q&A With Dr. Peterson

Last week Dr. David Peterson, author of Possessed by God, offered to answers your questions on the doctrine of sanctification and related issues. This week we’re posting his answers to your questions.


Duane writes,

What elements of historical theology enlighten us as to why the post-conversional experience and effort of believers, has predominated over the aorist passive emphasis of sanctification of the NT?

Dr. Peterson answers,

Duane, I think that there are at least two traditional debates that are relevant here. Perhaps you can think of some more!

The first concerns the link between grace and works. While many Evangelicals may be convinced about salvation being by grace alone, they easily drift into thinking that holiness of life, transformation, and Christian growth are matters of personal effort after conversion. This is a natural way of thinking that arises from a failure to understand biblical teaching in this regard.  The challenge is to reconsider the way NT writers relate our God-given status through faith in Christ to everyday life and obedience.

The second area of debate concerns the relationship between the forensic and the relational aspects of our salvation. Justification by faith can be presented in a way that obscures the relational implications of Christ’s work and the motivation for change. Sanctification properly understood expresses a new status and relationship that empowers and directs godly behavior. Sanctification does not follow justification, but is another way of describing the saving work of Christ and its implications for us.

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Possessed by God

IVP, 2001 | 191 pages

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