The Sufficiency of Our Justification -- By: Thomas Edgar

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 02:6 (Sep 1998)
Article: The Sufficiency of Our Justification
Author: Thomas Edgar


The Sufficiency of Our Justification

Thomas Edgar

Professor of Theology
Capital Bible Seminary, Lanham, MD

Introduction

The Apostle Peter said that God has given the believer everything for “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The entire tenor of the New Testament seems to support this premise. However, there are those who believe that we lack an additional step apart from which we cannot be spiritual. Is our justification sufficient so that upon salvation we are provided with all that we need for the spiritual life?1 Is there anything from God that we are lacking and, therefore, should seek? Once justified, are our shortcomings due to our own weakness or in part to the lack of something yet to be supplied by God? “Experiences,” including those recorded in Scripture, can be interpreted in diverse ways. The Scriptural interpretation of these experiences and the teaching on this issue must be determinative. The scriptural teaching will often contradict “interpretations” of the experience. It will not disagree with or contradict an accurate interpretation of the “experience.”

“Two-Stage” (Post-Conversion Crisis) Theology Is Prevalent

Several groups hold to a “two-stage” theology. They believe in the necessity for salvation but also in the necessity for a second event, a post-conversion crisis experience. Apart from this, one is not and cannot be spiritual. With it, spirituality is almost automatic. The following is based on the helpful grouping and summary presented by Lederle, a South African charismatic.2 Of course, proponents of the various views do not agree on all the details.3

This two-stage concept is present or nascent in “pre-charismatic” theology. a) Certain Puritans, known as the “Sealers” and possibly early primitive Baptists held to a dramatic experience to be sought which brings “assurance of one’s sonship” and results in power (a new boldness). b) Wesleyan theology clearly holds to a second work of grace, “entire sanctification,” defined as an instantaneous eradication of indwelling sin which, among other things, roots out sinful motives. It is sometimes described as “perfect love” and must be longed for, sought.4 c) Keswick theology stresses the victorious life. The second work is not eradication of sin but the life of victory, an enduement with power. This comes when the believer ceases striving and “res...

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