04 (April 2015)

The Doctrine of Sanctification

The Doctrine of Sanctification
Julian Kennedy
31 March, 2015 2 min read

With Pink one comes to expect a thoroughly biblical and well researched treatment of a topic. This book proves no exception.

The doctrine of sanctification is like an onion. Unwrap one layer and you will discover another, never seeming to reach the centre. From the outset, the author links the subject with justification and poses many questions answered later in the book.

He states that sanctification stands directly after the glory of God as the ‘chief subordinate end of the covenant of grace’ (p.4). He defines ‘to sanctify’ as ‘to appoint, dedicate or set apart unto God, for a holy and special use’ (p.13).

Sanctification is absolutely necessary. Our wills must be brought into harmony with God. Our motivation to obey him and eschew evil must be faith and love; our ultimate aim must be his glory.

Sanctification is a work of God alone, issuing from regeneration and a clear conscience. It consists of legal and objective sanctification (a status we have in Christ) as well as a progressive, subjective element in the ongoing improvement of our character and conduct. The divine act of objective sanctification must be followed by progressive sanctification.

Pink is right when he says that ‘all the Reformation creeds will be searched in vain for any clear statement upon the perfect holiness which the church has in Christ, or of God’s making him to be, imputatively, sanctification unto his people’ (p.80). This is regrettable, as it is the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Towards the end of the book, we hear the end of the matter. The purpose of God in sending his own Son was to condemn sin in the flesh and fulfil the righteousness of the law in us (Romans 8:3-4). Sanctification is conformity to the law of God in heart (mind and will) and life.

Only a true delight in and love for God effectually influences us to keep his commandments. The law requires ‘not only outward works of piety, but holy thoughts and godly affections, from whence all good works must proceed, or else they are unacceptable to God’ (p.115). We should add that our good works are sanctified and made acceptable by Christ.

It is gratifying to read that Pink defines faith as being united to Christ and believing all that God has taught us. We praise God that, by his grace, both these aspects of faith which sanctify us will continue to be ours in our lifelong pilgrimage. An excellent treatment of the topic!

Julian Kennedy


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