Wednesday, October 13, 2004

REPUBLISHED: Sanctification and Freedom and Dignity

I must admit
I published this post this morning, and I think it was totally incomprehensible. So here is another try!! :)

A fellow blogger asked the question, "Help me Understand the Reformed View of Sanctification" (here) . I posted a response.

The question is a good one. If God is sovereign, how do I agree with Him, and do I need to excercise means?

The Biblical (and I believe the reformed view) affirms the moral agency of man. It is totally debilitating to lead someone to believe that they do not have moral agency. What I mean by this is we do have the obligation to both align our hearts and minds with God and to take decisive action in our quest for the Kingdom.
We believe Philipians 2:13: it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

I stand in prayer full of thanksgiving that God has put by grace a sincere interest in Christ in my person. I have in me, by grace, the will and the means to know His will and to do His will.
This is an affirmation of man as a moral agent. My will and affections desire to see God's will made real in my life and the world around me. This strong yearning and desire is THE GRACEOF GOD.

An Analogy:
Though analogies often fail us, here is an attempt. Eugene Peterson says, "God wants you to do whatever you want". What he means by this is that God desires us to grow in our affection for His will to such an extent that if we do whatever we want, then we will be doing His will. We are called to learn of Him and love Him so that we have internalized a commitment to God's character and God's will.

Is this not what we want for our children?
My desire for my children is to have them have a longing and a desire to become morally beautiful people. I want them to be convinced in their heart that Jesus' ways are the beautiful ways. I want my children to love humility and forgiveness. Then, I want them to learn to "do what they really want". I want them to live as moral agents with integrity, and I want all this freedom to line up with the moral laws of the universe.
So too, God desires this heartfelt moral freedom for us. This is the key to understanding how sanctification works. God wants us to become strong moral agents filled with freedom and dignity. He also has put in our hearts the affection (the will) to have our works be His works. He is at work in us so that we will to do His good work. God promotes the freedom and dignity of human beings.

So I affirm that it is the Reformed view that affirms human responsibility.

Moral Agency, God-Centered Affections and Human Responsibility
How does this theology work itself out in daily counseling?
Lets say a person says, "I have not surrendered my will completely so I am not "filled with the Spirit". This person is making an excuse for his or her inability to do good. They are saying somehow they are not equipped to do good. They are blaming their lack of ability to align their will.
I, as a believer in Sovereign Grace, can answer this and return that person to responsibility.
I say, "that is not true". You confess Jesus as Lord and have a sincere interest in His Kingdom. Therefore, you do have the will in you and the knowledge of His will to do the right thing!!

Do you believe the Word is true?
Then you do have affection for His will. Your will is OK!

Do you know God's will in this situation?
So, you have everything pertaining to life and godliness that you need to come into a life that pleases God. We are responsible. The reformed view is based on the believer's union with God by grace. Therefore, it is a proper exercise of our faith to acknowledge that God has given us both the will and the knowledge of His will to do His work on earth.

How does this view of our union with Christ affect us in prayer.
It leads to WORSHIP!! We are thankful that He has changed both our knowledge of Him and the desire to Know Him. He has changed us on all levels and we thank Him. Also, such theology draws us to Him. One of the areas we lack is that we are filled with unbelief. We are not always aware of our empoweed state. So we seek to Know Him. We seek to have the Spirit lead us into the awareness of all we are in Christ. This leads the believer to deeper and deeper prayer and worship so that we can come into a more perfect knowledge of God and His purpose in our life. brad

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