A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
About the Editor
Kelly M. Kapic is professor of theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He is the author or editor of nine books.
This book is a collection of essays on various theological, historical, and practical topics that all consider the doctrine of sanctification. The contributors are well-versed in contemporary debates about the relationship between justification, sanctification, and union with Christ, but they are also keenly aware of how these doctrines have been treated in church history. All of the essays are scholarly, but some are more technically academic than others. After an opening homily on the restoration of God’s image in redeemed sinners, the book is divided into three parts.
- Part One: “Sanctified by Grace through Faith in Union with Christ”
- Part Two: “Human Agency and Sanctification’s Relationship to Ethics”
- Part Three: “Theological and Pastoral Meditations on Sanctification”
Sanctification is a highly debated doctrine, but it is both important and practical. The church needs to understand it theologically and experience it ethically.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: A Homily. Holiness: Restoring God’s Image Colossians 3:5-17
Chapter 2 : Living by Faith—Alone? Reformed Responses to Antinomianism
Chapter 3: Sanctification by Faith?
Chapter 4: Covenantal Union and Communion: Union with Christ as the Covenant of Grace
Chapter 5: Sanctification After Metaphysics: Karl Barth in Conversation with John Wesley’s Conception of “Christian Perfection”
Chapter 6: “Let the Earth Bring Forth…” The Spirit and Human Agency in Sanctification
Chapter 7: Sanctification and Ethics
Chapter 8: On Bavinck’s Theology of Sanctification-As-Ethics
Chapter 9: Gospel Holiness: Some Dogmatic Reflections
Chapter 10: Faith, Hope and Love: A Theological Meditation on Suffering and Sanctification
Chapter 11: Sonship, Identity, and Transformation
Chapter 12: Sanctification through Preaching: How John Chrysostom Preached for Personal Transformation
A Homily. Holiness: Restoring God’s Image Colossians 3:5-17
Human beings are God’s masterpieces, designed in his image, but they have been damaged and marred. The essence of holiness is the restoration of this image. Through the work of the Spirit, Christ restores us. Colossians 3:5-17 shows us some of the attitudes and actions that we need to get rid of, the way we change dirty clothes or throw out the garbage. Shedding sin is not enough, however — we also need to clothe ourselves in virtue and learn to live in a new way. We need to learn how to live, humbly using our minds to submit to God’s truth and direction.
The sanctification experience envisioned in this passage is a process. It is an ongoing experience of learning how to walk with God in fellowship and obedience. The goal is to be renewed in the image of our Creator. This is not an isolationist experience — believers are called to grow in holiness as part of a holy community. We are to learn to relate to others the way that Christ relates to them. Holiness is incompatible with social sins (racism, sexism, disunity, etc.). Christ is making individuals holy and his corporate body holy.
Living by Faith — Alone? Reformed Responses to Antinomianism
Christians in the Protestant tradition have affirmed that faith is the instrument for justification, but they have not as clearly seen that faith is also the instrument for sanctification. Believers are called to grow deeper in the gospel, and since the gospel is a message of full salvation through faith, faith cannot drop out at any point. Works do not serve any instrumental function for bringing us closer to God — if they did they would give grounds for boasting.
Charles Hodge taught justification by faith on the basis of Christ’s righteousness and atonement, but he also taught that we are subsequently judged on a different standard (our works). There has often been a fear amongst Protestants that unless sanctification is works-based then antinomianism will be the result. We need to distinguish two types of antinomianism. The first type maintains that obeying the law does not serve as the basis for our relationship with God. The second type denies the reality of a normative moral center. Both are wrong.
Even after we are justified we are sinners — yet we are declared sanctified by God. This means that sanctification cannot be something that is generated from inside of ourselves. We are sanctified because of our relationship to Christ, which is by faith. This is possible because of the grace of God. Grace directs us not inward but outward, looking to God. It is grace that fuels sanctification. As believers we should recognize that even our best works are tainted by sin, and unless they were sanctified in Christ they could not be acceptable to God. Faith looks not to oneself but to Christ who gives us the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit’s presence that makes us holy. The church is not holy because of her works but because of the Spirit. Nothing we do can complete the work of Christ who sanctifies.
The answer to antinomianism is not for us to strive to obey law, but for us to delight in God through the Spirit. Because we are given a new orientation, we are able to turn from idols and delight in God, as we were created to do. The law does not have a forensic function in the life of the believer, but a sapiential one. It teaches us how to live and honor God and each other. Wisdom is oriented towards satisfaction rather than punishment or reward. We are to delight in God and follow his ways, and in this regard the law provides us moral principles for worship. Since God gives us new hearts so that we can delight in him, rather than thinking of sanctification as a works-based response to moral law, we should see it as God’s restorative work in our hearts to orient us back to a posture of proper worship and delight….[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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Sanctification: Explorations In Theology And Practice