Keep Looking, Desiring God

BY JAY SAWRIE

My parents will be the first to tell you, I can really put my foot in my mouth. I often don’t say the right thing. Often times, I can frustrate Allyson because I try to hunt for just the right words for the situation. Different people interpret words differently. My family knew that frustrated, mad, and pissed were all different levels. Her family will use them all interchangeably. It causes confusion.

When I read the now infamous Piper article about sanctification I was hopeful that perhaps this was just a misstatement. I’m often not clear and so want to be gracious in this area. However, Saturday evening, Greg Morse (a Desiring God affiliate) wrote again in this issue and said exactly the same thing. Taking up the topic of killing sin, Morse seems to redirect and go on a tangent:

“But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.”

The likelihood that this is two verbal slips within a week of each other isn’t coincidental. There’s no room for me to be gracious the second time around here. What’s being said is very plain. The New Law camp has invented this brand new theological term “final salvation”. One that I’ve not found anywhere in the Scriptures. Yes, I will agree justification is not sanctification and both of those are parts of the ordo salutis. But Paul writes in Romans 8 as if justification is the declarative decision in our glorification. The New Law Camp would be good to not invent categories for things that have no basis in Scripture.

But while they may pay lip service to Grace and monergism, the New Law idea is simple: Justification is our entrance into the kingdom, but sanctification (that is our good Works) are what keep us in the kingdom. This is contrary to the teachings of Scripture. This sounds like the Galatian issue all over again. What we’ve now begun in the Spirit will we continue in the flesh? By no means! But this is the position that is being placed before us.

Morse then quotes Heb 12:14 and 2 Thess 2:13, the two verses the New Law Camp seem to have rallied behind. Because they need a Biblical argument, they’ve found these two niche verses to prove this idea that justification can be possible without the promise of salvation. But this cannot be. Because if God is truly the Author and Finisher of my faith than one thing is certain. It’s not me. Sanctification is wrought in us when we look to our union with Christ and our justification. If the basis for our “final salvation” is Jesus plus my Works, then nobody’s getting in.

Works are not the instrument by which we are sanctified. If that’s the position the New Law Camp want to run to, the arms of the Federal Vision are wide open. They are more than welcome to excuse themselves and head to Moscow. I reject any form of Christianity that says that the more you perform Good Works, the less you need of Grace. So if Mr. Morse, Mr. Dukeman, or any other want a foolproof way to fight sin, it’s very simple.

Keep looking to Jesus. Keep coming back to the sacraments with the mind of “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling.” You want to kill your pet sin? Keep reminding your flesh “I am not my own, but belong to my faithful savior.” Keep coming back to the Wellspring that declares “if you're thirsty, come to Me”


This article first appeared on Late Night Theology

We are a Law & Gospel collective of creative contributors, dedicated to proclaiming to people how Christ remains faithful even when we are faithless. We provide a voice for Christians who are both Sinner & Saint. We promote the bad news that you are a greater sinner than you think and the good news that Christ is a greater savior than you can imagine.

Twitter @ChristHoldFast