Immediate Grace In The New Birth, Mediate Grace From There On?

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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Once we have experienced the grace of the new birth, is our sanctification totally dependent on our prayer, that is, is prayer, then, the only means by which God brings about our sanctification? OR does God still practise immediate grace in us? (Note: when I say 'immediate' I don't mean to deny the precious truth of the Bible that Christ "ever liveth to make intercession for [us]" (for our sanctification) - Heb 7:25) So, what I mean by 'immediate' is simply where there are no means (i.e. prayer) made use of by US.)

In Christ Our Lord,

Brother Samuel
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
LBC 13, Paragraph 1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts of it are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

The means by which we are sanctified is 'His Word and Spirit'.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; *26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, *27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
LBC 13, Paragraph 1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts of it are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

The means by which we are sanctified is 'His Word and Spirit'.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; *26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, *27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I agree God's word and Spirit are both means of our sanctification (the former being mediate and the latter immediate). But what about PRAYER? What role does our prayerlife play in our sanctification, that is, conformity to the image of Christ? Do we not have the right to ask the Father for grace for our sanctification for the sake of Christ, God's glory?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Definitive sanctification, i.e. regeneration, is monergistic.

Progressive sanctification is down to the believer and the Holy Spirit. But all the glory goes to God because only a regenerate soul would be interested in being sanctified and only a regenerate soul can produce truly good works.

Having said that, these truly good works by regenerate souls will be rewarded. Anything good that Man does is by grace in one form or another, and a teaching that good works traced to, and produced by, God's grace should not be rewarded would preclude any rewards. It is still the believer that does the truly good works, and that makes progress in sanctification, by God's grace in and through Christ.

In contrast, justification is achieved by the life and work of Christ Himself, and not the life and work of the believer.

Perfection at death is monergistic.


But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.(I Corinthians 15:10, ESV)


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

Denying the regenerate soul's part in making progress in sanctification, producing good works and being rewarded for those good works, leads to quieticism and mysticism and pietism, even in true believers.

Denying the role of the grace of God in Christ and by the Holy Spirit, in making progress in sanctification, producing good works and being rewarded for those good works, produces legalism, works righteousness, and Pharasaism, even in true believers.

The biblical position is to acknowledge the role and responsibility of the regenerate soul in making all good use of the means of grace - including prayer - in sanctification, while acknowledging that all the glory must go to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in regenerating us monergistically and in giving us ongoing supplies of His grace to help us produce genuinely good works of our own.

The idea that progressive sanctification has nothing to do with us is pernicious. It is our justification that has been completely achieved by Christ in His life and death, not our progressive sanctification.

The idea that we should take the credit and glory for our progressive sanctification is also pernicious.
 
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KMK

Administrator
Staff member
LBC 13, Paragraph 1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts of it are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

The means by which we are sanctified is 'His Word and Spirit'.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; *26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, *27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I agree God's word and Spirit are both means of our sanctification (the former being mediate and the latter immediate). But what about PRAYER? What role does our prayerlife play in our sanctification, that is, conformity to the image of Christ? Do we not have the right to ask the Father for grace for our sanctification for the sake of Christ, God's glory?

Prayers are not heard by any who are not already united with Christ and therefore sanctified. Boldness to come before the throne of grace is the foundation for prayer, not the other way around. Because we have access to God through Christ, not only do we have the right to ask the father for grace for our sanctification, but we have the obligation to do so.
Luke 11:4 And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

This does not mean that our sanctification is dependent upon our prayers.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
This does not mean that our sanctification is dependent upon our prayers.

But if - somewhat hypothetically - we refuse to pray and make use of the other means of grace, we can be sure that our progressive sanctification will take a nose dive.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
This does not mean that our sanctification is dependent upon our prayers.

But if - somewhat hypothetically - we refuse to pray and make use of the other means of grace, we can be sure that our progressive sanctification will take a nose dive.

As it would if we despised any of the means of grace.
 

amg

Puritan Board Freshman
The Lord is the one who sanctifies the believer (Leviticus 21.8). Even in the Lord's prayer in John 17 Christ prays for us that we would be sanctified through the Word of Truth. The very fact that Christ has made and is making intercession for this very need points us to the fact that we are totally dependant on the grace of God for both our justification and our sanctification. Our justification secures our adoption, sanctification, perseverance and ultimate glorification but those things are still of grace- not merit.

Sanctification is in every way, as the Shorter Catechism states, a work of God's free grace. It is a work, not an act. Justification and adoption are acts, in that they happen at a definite point in time. However, sanctification is a work because it is progressive. It is also of God's free grace, in other words, it is unmerited, or, gratuitous- it is a work of God's free grace alone.

Now, with that being said, sanctification is every bit as monergistic as our justification. There is nothing that we can do to merit our justification and there is nothing that we can do to merit our sanctification- it is a work of the Lord. Adam in his perfect estate had a perfect holiness which was not attributable to himself, it was created by the Lord. Look at the seraphim in Isaiah 6, they are the holiest creatures in heaven and on earth and even they veil themselves in the sight of Christ the Holy One of Israel- the glory of heaven. Only one who is inherently holy can sanctify and only God is inherently holy.

However, this does not mean that there are not means of grace, or means of sanctification, made available to the child of God. Rather, God has given us His Holy Word, prayer and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper which He expects us to utilize as means of grace. Read through the Pentateuch and notice how many times the Lord tells Israel to sanctify themselves, He expects us to utilize the means which He has given and by faith grace is communicated to us. Once again though, this is not synergism, Rome propagates synergism in both justification and sanctification. Rome teaches that you labor and the Holy Ghost will then come alongside to help if you work hard enough. Scripture teaches that it is a gratuitous work of the Lord.

Read the 13th chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, it will help. It may also help to review the Westminster Shorter Catechism questions 29-36.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
This does not mean that our sanctification is dependent upon our prayers.

But if - somewhat hypothetically - we refuse to pray and make use of the other means of grace, we can be sure that our progressive sanctification will take a nose dive.

I would like to know more about these "other means of grace". Could you list them, or are there countless means of grace?
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
This does not mean that our sanctification is dependent upon our prayers.

But if - somewhat hypothetically - we refuse to pray and make use of the other means of grace, we can be sure that our progressive sanctification will take a nose dive.

I would like to know more about these "other means of grace". Could you list them, or are there countless means of grace?

To quote Q&A 154 of our Larger Catechism:
What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.​

As the subsequent questions reveal, we confess that primary for the Word is the public preaching, but also that all people are bound as they are able to read the word privately as well. This public ministry of the Word involves not just our hearing it, but our prayerfully preparing for it and our subsequent meditation and conference therein. Again, by the sacraments is not meant the bare receiving of them, but, for example, our "improving our baptism," or our "renewing of [our] covenant with God" in receiving the supper. Though I realize the appropriate shorter catechism questions were already mentioned in a previous post, you might find it profitable to consult questions 154-175 especially of the Westminster Larger Catechism, where is disclosed more fully what is involved in the hearing of the Word and the receiving of the sacraments. Likewise, prayer is another outward ordinance whereby the benefits of Christ mediation (one of which is sanctification, or the application of Christ's death and resurrection to the believer). Though many of our spiritual duties may be "reduced" to their relation to the three heads mentioned in the catechism's answer (our meditation is meditation on the Word, etc.), there are, of course, other means and duties which God has prescribed for us, such as fasting, edifying fellowship, spiritual conference, the singing of psalms, etc. Whatsoever gospel ordinances God has given to man, these will aid in increasing our faith and our sanctification. Note, however, we do not need to necessarily try and analyze which aspects of our sanctification pertain to which particular outward means - rather, we simply recognize that we have incumbent duty laid upon us which we are to pursue faithfully and with confidence, and we leave the increase to God.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Alan-Michael
However, this does not mean that there are not means of grace, or means of sanctification, made available to the child of God. Rather, God has given us His Holy Word, prayer and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper which He expects us to utilize as means of grace. Read through the Pentateuch and notice how many times the Lord tells Israel to sanctify themselves, He expects us to utilize the means which He has given and by faith grace is communicated to us. Once again though, this is not synergism, Rome propagates synergism in both justification and sanctification. Rome teaches that you labor and the Holy Ghost will then come alongside to help if you work hard enough. Scripture teaches that it is a gratuitous work of the Lord.

When I said that progressive sanctification was synergistic rather than monergistic, I was meaning that the regenerated child of God is involved and responsible to make use of the means of grace and produce good works by God's grace, and is not passive in his/her progressive sanctification.

In definitive sanctification/regeneration he/she is passive, in that he can't contribute to his regeneration.

Maybe this isn't a theologically correct use of the term "synergism" in Reformed thinking (?)
 

amg

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say synergism is a poor word choice. Synergism comes from the Greek word sunergos and it means to labor alongside (see Romans 16.3, 9, 21 [translated: helpers, helper, workfellow]). The child of God is responsible to utilize the means of grace and it is a thoroughly un-christian thing to not do so, but even as the Westminster Shorter Catechism makes plain, it is not anything in particular about the words of the Bible, or the effort of our prayer, or the elements of the sacraments that communicate grace- it is by faith alone and faith is not of ourselves but of grace. Sanctification is by the grace of God alone.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Sanctification is by the grace of God alone, but it is accomplished in a different manner than justification and adoption. I don't agree with the word 'synergism' either, but when people use it in reference to sanctification, they are simply referring to the participation of man in his sanctification.

Q. 1. Wherein doth sanctification differ from justification and adoption?
A. Sanctification doth differ from justification and adoption, in that — 1. Justification and adoption are acts of God without us; sanctification is a work of God within us. 2. Justification and adoption do make only a relative change; sanctification doth make in us a real change. 3. Justification and adoption are perfect at first; sanctification is carried on by degrees unto perfection. Thomas Vincent; The Shorter Catechismof the Westminster AssemblyExplained and Proved from Scripture
 
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Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
All who are truly justified by grace through faith are "positionally" sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ, yet the believer still participates in how sanctification works itself out "experientially" in their lives.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
All who are truly justified by grace through faith are "positionally" sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ, yet the believer still participates in how sanctification works itself out "experientially" in their lives.

I agree with Phil and would like to add....To be sanctified literally means to be “set apart unto God.” Theologically, the force of the doctrine is less an idea of separation from sin, but a closeness to God that is necessarily separate from the sin. In this sense, sanctification is both a position and a process. The Christian has been sanctified …..in….
1 Corinthians 6:11 New International Version 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

But there is also a sense in which he or she is working toward a realization of this reality in their spiritual walk ….Romans 6:22 New International Version 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Furthermore the bible instructs us to do everything without grumbling Philippians 2:12 New International Version 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

There is nothing which makes us worthy of God’s grace; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God treats us as righteous because of what Jesus did on the Cross.

Heb. 9: 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

God counts the people He has called as righteous by means of their faith and not their works. This does not mean the elect are counted righteous on the basis of their faith. Since faith is itself a gift from God, no one can boast of this as if he has done anything to merit it.

Eph. 2: 8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
All who are truly justified by grace through faith are "positionally" sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ, yet the believer still participates in how sanctification works itself out "experientially" in their lives.

I agree with Phil and would like to add....To be sanctified literally means to be “set apart unto God.” Theologically, the force of the doctrine is less an idea of separation from sin, but a closeness to God that is necessarily separate from the sin. In this sense, sanctification is both a position and a process.

As a theological term, 'sanctification' does not mean 'set apart unto God', but the enabling of sinful man to die to sin and live unto righteousness.

Sanctification is not to be understood here as a separation from ordinary use or consecration to some special use, although this meaning is often present in Scripture, sometimes referring to outward and sometimes to inward or effectual separation. If this meaning is taken, sanctification may relate to calling or that first rebirth in which faith is communicated as a principle of new life; a common confusion of regeneration and sanctification hereby arises. The term is rather to be understood as that change in a believer in which he has righteousness and indwelling holiness imparted to him. (2 Thess 2:13) William Ames; The Marrow of Theology; 29:6

WSC Q: What is sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
All who are truly justified by grace through faith are "positionally" sanctified by virtue of their union with Christ, yet the believer still participates in how sanctification works itself out "experientially" in their lives.

I agree with Phil and would like to add....To be sanctified literally means to be “set apart unto God.” Theologically, the force of the doctrine is less an idea of separation from sin, but a closeness to God that is necessarily separate from the sin. In this sense, sanctification is both a position and a process.

As a theological term, 'sanctification' does not mean 'set apart unto God', but the enabling of sinful man to die to sin and live unto righteousness.

Sanctification is not to be understood here as a separation from ordinary use or consecration to some special use, although this meaning is often present in Scripture, sometimes referring to outward and sometimes to inward or effectual separation. If this meaning is taken, sanctification may relate to calling or that first rebirth in which faith is communicated as a principle of new life; a common confusion of regeneration and sanctification hereby arises. The term is rather to be understood as that change in a believer in which he has righteousness and indwelling holiness imparted to him. (2 Thess 2:13) William Ames; The Marrow of Theology; 29:6

WSC Q: What is sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Ken I think I do like your definition better; enabling of sinful man to die to sin and live unto righteousness. I am new to the Reformed faith and Protestantism, I am still learning and you taught me a better perspective and understanding tonight on Santification.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks for the compliment, brother, but it is in no way, shape, or form my definition. :D
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I meant to say you clarified my understanding of santification by your post. I thank you brother. I am learning and I am loving the Reformed faith and theology more each day.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Alan-Michael
Sanctification is by the grace of God alone.

It is all to be ascribed to God's grace and all the glory to be given to God, because we wouldn't even want to be sanctified without regeneration. But progressive sanctification and good works are done by the child of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is us who do this by God's grace.

Therefore - in the context of God's grace - God gives rewards for good works, which He wouldn't do if we had done nothing.

Our justification on the other hand didn't involve us doing anything at all in any sense , but our Lord Jesus bought us a place in Heaven by His life and death.

I looked up Louis Berkhof on sanctification and he, by God's grace, clarified one or two things in my heart and mind. Here's what he says about the meritorious character of good works, which of course are intimately linked to progressive sanctification:
P.542: Scripture clearly teaches that the good works of believers are not meritorious in the proper sense of the word. We should bear in mind, however, that the word "merit" is employed in a twofold sense, the one strict and proper, and the other loose. Strictly speaking a meritorious work is one to which, on account of its intrinsic value and dignity, the reward is justly due from commutative justice. Loosely speaking, however, a work that is deserving of approval and to which a reward is somehow attached (by promise, agreement, or otherwise) is also sometimes called meritorious. Such works are praiseworthy and are rewarded by God. But however this may be, they are surely not meritorious in the stricty sense of the word. They do not, by their own intrinsic moral value, make God a debtor to him who performs them. In strict justice the good works of believers merit nothing.

There could be no rewards in this life or the life to come if rewards were denied to works done by grace. Because whatever a fallen human being does - whether an unsaved or a saved fallen human being - that is praiseworthy is of God's grace; common grace or saving grace.

But Protestants shouldn't be afraid of the ideas of merit and reward, as long as it is explained that this merit and reward is in the context of good works being done in the power of God's saving grace, through faith in Christ, with all the glory for the good works done and the sanctification progressed in being ascribed to God's saving work with thankfulness to God for any rewards received.
 
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