Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Crisis vs. Process

My very dear friend, Pastor David Woods, posed the following topic for discussion in a comment to one of my earlier posts. I feel that it deserves to be elevated to a posting of its own. So, Dave, here it goes.

Is Sanctification an instantaneous experience? Or, is it a gradual progression?

Dave and I once had a pastor who was fond of saying "It is not either - or, it is both - and!" That answer used to drive us crazy! We would try to get a decision in a board meeting and we would get the "both - and" answer. Not exactly what we were looking for to say the least.

But, unfortunately, I think that is precisely my feeling about how Sanctification works in our lives. I believe that there is, or should be, a specific point in our Christian experience that we can point to that is marked by a conversion experience. That date and location ought to be inscribed somewhere on the fly leaf of our Bible. Likewise, the date and location where we once and for all settled the Lordship issue and the sin question in our life ought to be written under the inscription marking our conversion. And our lifes ought to be markedly different from that point forward.

Will we live a sinless life from that point forward? Probably not. But our lives should be coming ever increasingly more like Jesus. We should be being transformed daily and being made into the image of Christ. See Romans 12:2 and Romans 8:1-3. The great apostle Paul talks about his experience in terms of a race or a journey. That certainly has a "process" feel to it. But every race has a beginning and and end. And that certainly has a "crisis" feel to it.

Are you more like Jesus today than yesterday. Are you on the journey of becoming the man or woman that God has called you to be?

~Kevin

7 comments:

  1. You've made a great start with your blog, Kevin. I pray that it be a conduit of blessing for everyone who reads it, and also for you.

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  2. Instantaneous or maturing? That is one of the questions that has torn at the fabric of the righteous robe given us by Christ.

    Scripture speaks to both. We are told that we are no longer slaves to sin however we are also admonished to continue in what we have received in Christ.

    The need to understand the two aspects of Salvation; “justification and sanctification” embodies this question. Those who see these as an one time closed occurrence seem to struggle with the implications of “maturing” in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit Paul speaks of just hangs on the tree and the crisis of faith becomes a plan to endure instead of pruning to sweeten the fruit. However the pattern Scripture reveals to us appears to overtly and as a hint underlying many of its teachings to indicate the duel nature like two witnesses. This dual nature of birth and growth would seem to be the lesson behind such teachings as after converting one must become like a little child or seeds are put in a field and the maturity of the growth determines harvest outcome, both implying a starting leading to maturity. Even at the close of the Bible we are told that the righteous will continue and the unrighteous will continue increasingly, implying maturing.

    If we take Scripture seriously man is inflected with two types of sin. The root or “original” bestowed upon us as inheritance from 1st Adam, and the fruit “habitual” growing and cultivated by us from our inheritance. Mankind lives out in our dissipating condition the creative fruitful inclinations formed in us by Yahweh.
    Coming to Yahweh through Jesus; justification cuts at/out the root destroying the “life flow” so to speak, of sin. As the ways of nature show us even when the root of a tree is cut the fruit can still fall to the ground and reproduce itself. It would seem that this is what Jesus is speaking about in Matt.12:43-45 & Luke11:24-26 reflecting Lev.26:21 in the section of warning about turning away. Once the root is cut and dieing the tree is removed from its former place, the ground is made ready for the new tree. The fruit of the “Fallen” tree can be planted or the fruit of the “vine - dresser” the Father John 15 can be planted in the swept out house, to mix the teachings.

    The flow of Scripture uses this picture of seed, growth, and maturity of fruit and it would appear that the aspects of sanctification are embodied here. Restored to the Garden relationship with Yahweh and having His Spirit living in us as 1st Adam once did we are able to cooperate with our Creator receiving the inheritance of the 2nd Adam; life over death. However we as 1st Adam stand at the foot of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But at this point we have seen and tasted the mature fruit of that tree. This could get long , but the point is once we are freed from the slavery of 1st Adam we are free to turn and eat the tree of life and bear the fruit of that tree leading to entire sanctification. Without the root of evil’s cutting and the new planting from a new fruit the same old tree would grow, therefore both and.
    Pastor Art

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  3. I only wish that I could point to a specific point when I starteed my relationship with Jesus Christ. However, I can't. I know that I was about 6 or 7 years old when I did, at that point I didn't have a whole lot to "change" in my lifestyle. The date and location are wonderful things to know, but I don't think that they are absolutely necessary. The time when I settled the Lordship issue is more clear because I was older, but it is similar to my conversion experience in that I can't specify the date and location. I was about 14 almost sixteen. I finally decided to answer God's call to ministry for certain, I knew I had first recieved the call when I was about 10 years old at Promise Keepers. In summary of this. Knowing the specific dates is a great thing to remember and to record, that's not how it works all the time though, and I am evidence of that. I think that my ambitions about life have been markedly different and I have grown much since I have settled the Lordship issue. The "Crisis part of it I think comes when we first decide to let Christ mold our lives to be more like him. The Process part lasts a whole lifetime.

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  4. I meant to say 14 almost 15.

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  5. My conversion happened in many steps.
    First, I realized how far I had fallen from my Catholic, moral upbringing, that I had broken all but one of the commandments - and I prayed for forgivness. A day or two later I came to the realization that the Enlightenment I had been seeking was to be found in the Bible, and I started calling myself a Christian. Later someone asked me when I had gotten saved, and my first answer was that I was saved when Jesus died on the cross, No, they pressed, when had I been born again. My answer was, "if you mean when did I make a committment to make Jesus the Lord of my life, lets say Here and Now."
    A few months later, I actually went up front at an alter call, just to be sure I had accomplished all the steps necessary to actually become a Christian...but as far as growing, working out my salvation, falling and being picked up by a loving father who dusted me off and set me on my way again (and again and again), yep, it is an endless process.

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  6. Your approach is inspiring. I'm gald you approached it with the "both-and" answer. It's been a struggle for me to convey my thoughts on the nature of sanctification. I've always said that slavation is not something that just happens in one moment, it not getting a ticket to heaven and walking away, 'saved.' It has something to do with how we live our lives and it has something to do with now. It's not just believing in Jesus but it's following Him, engaging in His mission with Him at our lead. Both-and is a good answer.

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  7. Wes said.."I've always said that slavation is not something that just happens in one moment, it not getting a ticket to heaven and walking away, 'saved.'

    The problem Wes is that you are confusing sanctification with justification. Justification is an act done by God where He declares an individual "not guilty" so to speak and thus is freed from the penalty of sin. This is a free gift from God that is appropriated through faith in the atoning work of Christ and is not something that someone works to attain.
    Sanctification does have two aspects to it. One is God setting aside an individual as holy and the other is God continuing to transform us in to the image of Christ.

    I hope this clarifies things for you.

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