Sanctification: A Slow Work of God’s Grace

Faith and Life  The Westminster Larger Catechism, among other things, says that sanctification is “a work of God’s grace” wherein his people “more and more die unto sin and rise unto newness of life” (Q/A 75).  Here’s how B. B. Warfield concludes a sermon on this topic from 2 Thessalonians 5:22-23.  This is an outstanding and much-needed reminder to be patient with God’s process of making us more like Christ.

“Certainly the gradualness of this process ought not to disturb us. It may be inexplicable to us that the Almighty God acts by way of process. But that is revealed to us as His chosen mode of operation in every sphere of His work, and should not surprise us here. He could, no doubt, make the soul perfect in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; just as He could give us each a perfect body at the very instant of our believing. He does not.

The removal of the stains and effects of sin—in an evil heart and in a sick and dying body—is accomplished in a slow process. We all grow sick and die—though Jesus has taken on His broad shoulders (among the other penalties of sin) all our sicknesses and death itself. And we still struggle with the remainders of indwelling sin; though Jesus has bought for us the sanctifying operations of the Spirit. To us it is a weary process. But it is God’s way. And He does all things well. And the weariness of the struggle is illuminated by hope.

After a while!—we may say; after a while! Or as Paul puts it: Faithful is He that calls us—who also will do it. He will do it! And so, after a while, our spirit, and soul and body shall be made blamelessly perfect, all to be so presented before our Lord, at that Day. Let us praise the Lord for the glorious prospect!”

B. B. Warfield, Faith and Life (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1990), 372.

rev shane lems

1 thought on “Sanctification: A Slow Work of God’s Grace”

  1. Thank you for the reminder. D Martyn Lloyd Jones in his book, The Christian Soldier says, in chapter 3, Who does the fighting? People are constantly being told; “Hand it over the Lord. It is not your battle, it is His; hand it over to Him.” Another saying is: “Let Him do for you; that is what He is offering to do.” They say that there is no need for a struggle; that our mistake is that we have gone on struggling; that our mistake is that we have gone on struggling and striving; but that is quite unnecessary. There is no need to struggle there is no need to feel any difficulty.”
    “There are many Christians who are trying to surrender, trying to be willing to surrender, trying to willing to be made willing, as the phrase goes…. There are certain considerations, I suggest, which show this teaching is contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture itself, and that is the first test we must apply. I mean, for instance, that if this teaching is correct, then the second thing the Apostle tells the Christians to do here is unnecessary, namely, “Put on the armor of God.” “He repeats the exhortation in Ephesians 6:13: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, and he then proceeds to take these pieces and portions of armor, one by one in order that we may now how to use them. My argument is that if the Lord does it all for us and we have nothing to do but abide in Him, then it is needless to tell me to put on the armor.


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