Sanctification, Part 5 (Final)

Sanctification, Part 5 (Final)

APPLICATION FOR THE CHURCH

While there is much speculation about the practical means whereby progressive sanctification can take place; as has been previously discussed, the primary agents are Scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It seems it should be a given that all discipleship programs should have the Word of God as the central component.  There are some mainline churches that have seemed to mitigate the gospel message in favor of something that is less that what the Bible articulates.  The majority of resources may be invested in periphery functions (at least as compared to the first century church) such as facilities, social programs and staffing.  Training congregants in Christian precepts has suffered in order to build a significant financial base to support these peripheral efforts.  Scripture and a spiritually intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit, nonetheless, are the primary tools to assist believers in the sanctification process.

The Scriptures

The local church must design methodologies that assist families in applying Scripture in the home.  Parents should be taught regarding the tools for proper biblical interpretation.  Rudimentary concepts such as how to choose a commentary that is faithful to the Word of God, how to design a family Bible study, and how to practice the spiritual disciplines in a life-giving way all could prove revolutionary to believers in modern society.

Proper interpretation of Scripture is essential as well.  Core curriculum in the local church that includes basic doctrines of the faith is necessary.  This requires churches to train leaders and teachers in the doctrines of Christianity so that they can replicate that knowledge in others.  Teachers in local church Bible classes should periodically review their core biblical philosophy with pastoral leaders in order to assure doctrinal fidelity.  As individuals are trained in the basics of faith, they are able to share that knowledge with their family, neighbors and co-workers.

The Holy Spirit

In addition to the Word of God, discipleship programs must teach individuals how to build connection with the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is the engine through which this happens.  Many congregants unfortunately, simply do not know how to pray. The expectation by church leadership, too often, is that believers will learn prayer on their own.  The results are often less than stellar.  An anemic prayer life produces an anemic Christian.  One of the first steps in practically discipling one in holiness is prayer.  The local church should insist on an effort that teaches one how to pray.  Classes, library resources, seminars, etc. would be appropriate to assist in building parishioner’s prayer lives.

Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13).  The book of Acts indicates that the New Testament church spent much of its time in prayer.  In order to assist individuals in building their prayer life, one option for the local church is to invest itself in extended periods of prayer.  Many believers have not experienced the joy of spending vast amounts of time in God’s house seeking Him through prayer.  As Anna the prophetess spent the majority of her life praying and fasting in the temple, modern day believers should be afforded the same opportunity in the local church.  Weekend prayer initiatives and all night prayers services would be a welcome addition in many churches.  Time spent in God’s presence will assist in the journey of progressive sanctification.

A second means of strengthening ones connection to the Holy Spirit would be through worship.  While the worship renewal movement has assisted churches in progressing in this area, there is much work to be done.  Worship, both in the home and corporately, provides a practical expression of one’s love for Christ and His redemptive and sanctifying work.  Worship also allows one to grow in spiritual intimacy with the Lord.  As this happens, the Lord will bring areas of moral failure to light so that it can be overcome by the individual and the grace of God.

CONCLUSION

This essay has sought to show how God ministers to the believer through sanctification.  The research has shown that there are both positional and progressive aspects of sanctification.  We are sanctified by the finished work of Christ, but we are also being sanctified by the ongoing work of the Spirit.  In addition, the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit leads one to grow in the grace of God being formed more and more into the image and likeness of Christ.  Also, the research indicated that faith in the finished work of Christ leads the believer to look forward to and long for ultimate glorification where the flesh is dead and spirit is alive to God. Finally, and examination was made of some basic practical points the local church could employ to help a believer in their sanctification journey.  The pattern throughout the Scriptures and in the research for this essay has shown that God’s role in maintaining the believer’s sanctification is through the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit and the trust God gives the believer in the finished work of Christ.

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