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Calvinistic Sanctification

QUESTION: What are the basics of Calvinistic sanctification?


Calvinistic sanctification is a view of sanctification that emphasizes God's sovereignty in the process. Calvinistic sanctification teaches that believers have very little or even no influence in the process of sanctification. God will sanctify believers in His timing and in His manner. It is undeniably true that God is sovereign (Daniel 4:35). God is in control of the process of sanctification (Romans 8:29-30). At the same time, though, God's sovereignty over the process of sanctification does not mean believers have no input or influence on the process.

It is impossible for us finite human beings to fully comprehend an infinite God. Whenever we attempt to create a system that defines God, we will fail. God is indefinable, unexplainable, and incomprehensible. Calvinism is a system designed to explain the relationship of God's sovereignty with the free will of mankind. Calvinism strongly emphasizes God's sovereignty, sometimes to the extent that it teaches mankind has no free will whatsoever. Extreme Calvinism relegates mankind to nothing but robots doing exactly what God has pre-programmed us to do. The opposite of Calvinism, Arminianism, emphasizes mankind's free will, sometimes to the extent that God is not sovereign and/or is not in complete control. Extreme Arminianism relegates God to a being who does not know the future and is limited in what He can do. Neither extreme is biblical. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between. God is sovereign and mankind has a free will. How these two fact work together, again, is incomprehensible to our finite human minds. In the mind of God, though, they work together perfectly (Romans 11:33-36).

Calvinistic sanctification is an overemphasis of God's sovereignty over the process of sanctification. It relegates believers to passive participants in the Christian life. Calvinistic sanctification argues that God is the agent of spiritual growth whether believers cooperate in the process or not. Undeniably, yes, God is the agent and power of sanctification. That does not mean believers are uninvolved. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). The Bible also instructs us to sacrifice our lives, continually, to God's service (Romans 12:1-2). It is God who saves and sanctifies us, but we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to obey God (1 John 5:3). Without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5), but through Christ we can do anything (Philippians 4:13). That is the biblical balance in sanctification. We rely on God and recognize His sovereignty, but at the same time we put forth our best effort, through His strength, to conform our lives to Christ's image.

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We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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