The Disjunction Between Justification And Sanctification In Contemporary Evangelical Theology -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 006:1 (Fall 2001)
Article: The Disjunction Between Justification And Sanctification In Contemporary Evangelical Theology
Author: William W. Combs


The Disjunction Between Justification And Sanctification In Contemporary Evangelical Theology

William W. Combsa

In the sixteenth century the Protestant Reformation succeeded in recovering the doctrine of salvation from the errors of Roman Catholicism. The mature thinking of the Reformation culminated in the Westminster Confession (1646). This “noblest of all Evangelical creeds,” as Baptist historian William L. Lumpkin described it, was adopted by English Baptists with necessary Baptist modifications as the Second London Baptist Confession (1689).1 This most important Baptist Confession was then adopted, with slight modification, in America as the Philadelphia Baptist Confession (1742).2 The Second London Baptist Confession was updated by Charles Spurgeon in 1855 and became the basic statement of his theology.3 The Confession was embraced by most regular Baptist churches in 19th century America. The section on sanctification reads:

  1. Those who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having had a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are then further sanctified in a very real and personal way. Because of the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, and by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them, the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed. The different lusts of the body of sin are increasingly weakened and mortified, and Christ’s people are increasingly quickened and strengthened in all saving

graces, to practice all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

  1. This sanctification extends throughout the whole person, yet it remains imperfect in this life. Some remnants of corruption live on in every part, and from this arises a continuous war between irreconcilable parties—the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
  2. In this war, although the remaining corruption for a time may greatly prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes. And so the saints grow in grace perfecting holiness in the fear of God; pressing after a heavenly life in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word, has prescribed to them.4

We should note several important points in this understanding of sanctification:

  1. Sanctification begins at the moment of convers...
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