We Believe In: Sanctification Part 4: Man’s Role in Present Sanctification (With An Appendix Containing Questions and Answers) -- By: Robert N. Wilkin
Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 07:2 (Autumn 1994)
Article: We Believe In: Sanctification Part 4: Man’s Role in Present Sanctification (With An Appendix Containing Questions and Answers)
Author: Robert N. Wilkin
JOTGES 7:2 (Autumn 94) p. 3
We Believe In:
Man’s Role in Present Sanctification
(With An Appendix Containing Questions and Answers)
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
This is the article of a study on present sanctification begun in the previous issue. In the last article we considered God’s role in present sanctification. In this one we will consider man’s role.
Present sanctification is also called progressive or experiential sanctification. Present sanctification concerns the goal of the Christian life: progressive increase in the believer’s experience of holiness.
Some extreme Calvinists actually believe that Christians have no personal role in their own sanctification. I remember a conversation I had years ago with a young man just about to enter the pastorate. We were talking about progressive sanctification. He told me that the growth of believers, and even the amount we sinned, was all determined by God. He was convinced that we could do nothing to effect our growth either positively or negatively!
Years later I debated an educator who was preparing men and women for ministry. The topic of our discussion was saving faith. He, too, was advocating the view that man has no role at all to play in his growth in holiness.
In the course of the debate I asked him, “If God is totally in charge of our present sanctification and we have absolutely nothing to do with it, why do we ever sin?” He had a clever, though in my estimate unpersuasive, explanation.
He told the story of his grandfather’s Model A Ford. It seems it had a bent frame. As long as you held onto the wheel, it would track straight ahead. If, however, you let go, even for a moment, the car would sharply
JOTGES 7:2 (Autumn 94) p. 4
and immediately veer off the road. So it is, he said, with the Christian life. God “lets go” of our lives from time to time to show us how much we need Him. He then soon retakes control of our lives so that we don’t sin very much!
These are not the views of a select few. These two individuals represent quite a number of pastors, theologians, and laypeople today. Not only have I personally met many others who hold this view, I often receive questions from people who have been approached by people promoting it.
The idea that present sanctification is solely a work of God, that man has absolutely no active role to play, is unbiblical and unhealthy. We don’t need to sin in order to see our need for the Lord...
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