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Justification and Sanctification: What’s the Problem?

The relationship between justification and sanctification—between being pronounced righteous in a moment and being made righteous over a lifetime—is delicate, complex, and altogether vital to grasp.

“Sanctification is always properly built on justification,” says Bryan Chapell in a new roundtable discussion with Kevin DeYoung and Rick Phillips. Still, he explains, we can make two mistakes concerning what motivates our obedience—denying either a plurality of motivations on the one hand or a priority of motivations on the other.

“We’re never in danger of talking about grace too much,” DeYoung insists. “But we can talk about grace in a truncated, reductionistic way.” We must take great care, then, to deal faithfully with the Bible's multiplicity of motivations, resisting the tendency to flatten certain texts, while at the same time never becoming “suspicious of grace.”

Phillips cautions against rhetoric that suggests sanctification is a “tag on” to justification—little more than “being excited about justification.” Rather, he says, sanctification is a “twin grace with justification, each resulting from union with Christ.” Though not separable, each of these graces is a distinct aspect of Christianity’s gloriously good news.

Watch the full 10-minute video to hear these three pastors and TGC Council members discuss overcorrection, contextualizing warnings, and more.

Sanctification from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

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