First the low down, then a few statements, and then a lot of questions.

About two weeks ago Jen Wilkin wrote a piece called “Failure Is Not a Virtue” in which she registered her concern over celebratory failurisum–“the idea that believers cannot obey the Law and will fail at every attempt.” I thought her post was right to expose one of the possible errors in talking about sanctification, especially when some in the Reformed community have suggested that trying to help people stop sinning is a waste of time akin to teaching frogs how to fly.

In response, Tullian Tchividjian accused Jen of “theological muddiness,” saying that while failure is not a virtue, acknowledging failure most definitely is. After that, Michael Kruger jumped in, arguing that Tullian’s response failed to distinguish between the second and third use of the law. Then Mark Jones, whose excellent book on Antinomianism I commended here and here, came down on the side of Jen and offered to fly to Florida to debate law and gospel with Tullian, his fellow PCA pastor. Carl Trueman seconded the idea, and Jared Oliphint weighed in with a fine piece on the relationship between law and gospel in Reformed theology.

It’s no surprise that I share the concerns raised by Jen, Michael, Mark, Jared, and others in this discussion. I’ve already written a book on the subject and dozens of blog posts, so I won’t repeat everything I’ve already said. What may be helpful, however, is to try to push this discussion to the next level. I think Mark Jones has the right idea. Whether it’s a public debate or not, we as fellow evangelicals, often fellow Reformed pastors, and sometimes fellow friends, should be willing to provide further clarity and answer some probing questions from both sides of this scuffle over sanctification. And we should do at least some of this publicly, because this has been a public discussion entered into willingly by “public figures” on all sides.

We all agree the differences are not mere semantics. We all agree the issues are of crucial importance for the church’s preaching, counseling, and overall health and vitality. So let’s move past boilerplate and try to get to the bottom of these critical disagreements.

What We All Agree On (I Think)

On a number of key points, I think we are all singing from the same hymnal.

1. We cannot justify ourselves by anything we do or try to accomplish. Self-salvation is anti-gospel and doesn’t work (Gal. 1:8). We are only made right with God through the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21), gifts which come to us by faith alone (Eph. 2:1-10).

2. Growth in godliness is impossible apart from the inner working of the Holy Spirit. God does not save us by grace and then tell us that the rest of the Christian life is up to us (Phil. 2:11-12). The gospel is for all of life. We need to be strengthened in the inner man (Eph. 3:16) and renewed in the thinking of our mind (Rom. 12:1-2).

3. The law of God is meant to convict sinners, including Christian sinners, of disobedience. God’s commands, as the perfect standard of the divine will, reveal to us our idolatries, imperfections, and failures (James 1:23). When we sin, we should not hide our failure from God, but confess our sins and seek forgiveness in Christ (1 John 1:8-9).

4. On this side of heaven we will always be simul iustus et peccator. There is no perfectionism for earth-bound creatures. We are all saints and sinners (Rom. 7:25-8:1). Even our best deeds and most grace-filled acts are accepted by God only because of the intercession and mercy of Christ.

5. The Bible is concerned about our obedience to the moral law of God. God wants us to be obedient and expects us to teach others to be obedient (Matt. 28:19-20). The purpose of exulting in grace is never so that sin may abound (Rom. 6:1-2).

Let’s establish these areas of agreement and celebrate them. This is a lot to agree on. These are precious truths, and in one sense we never move beyond them. There will never be a time when we should stop talking about grace, gospel, and justification. And yet, this doesn’t mean we can only talk about these things or that we can only talk about them in one way. The discussion is too important, the historical precedence for these disagreements too deep, and the dangers to the church too real. Let’s press ahead, not to forget what lies behind, but to appropriate the Reformed tradition as best we can and (more importantly) to stick with the Scriptures as closely as possible.

What We (Probably) Don’t Agree On

I can think of at least 15 crucial questions (with many related sub-questions) that need to be addressed in this sanctification discussion.

1. Can we exhort one another to work hard at growing in godliness? Is striving in the Christian life bound to become an exercise in self-rigtheousness? What place is there for moral exertion and calling others to make a gospel-driven effort to be holy?

2. Is there more than one motivation for holiness? Is preaching our acceptance in Christ and God’s free grace for sinners the only way to produce change in the Christian? Or are there many medicines for our motivation in godliness and many precious remedies against Satan’s devices?

3. Is it right that we try to please God as Christians? Is the language of “pleasing God” legalistic and to be avoided or does it capture a profound New Testament motivation for godliness?

4. Is God displeased with Christians when they sin? Is God ever angry with justified, adopted, born again Christians? Does he see our sin? What is God’s attitude toward sin in the believer?

5. Does God love all justified believers identically? Is it true that Christians can never do anything to make God love them more or less? How are we to understand our acceptance in Christ—static, dynamic, both?

6. Is sanctification by faith alone? We know that work has no place in justification, but what about in sanctification? Should we say that sanctification is monergistic or synergistic, or are these the wrong categories altogether? How are justification and sanctification different?

7. Can we be obedient to God in this life? Is everything we do no more than a filthy rag in God’s sight? Is there a place for imperfect, yet sincere, pleasing obedience in the Christian life?

8. Are good works necessary for salvation? Do people go to heaven without holiness? What are good works and how do they relate to justification and glorification?

9. Is growth in godliness a legitimate ground for being assured of our right standing before God? Does God want us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith? Should we look for evidences of grace in our life for confidence that we are saved, or is that tantamount to self-defeating, gospel-denying moralism?

10. Is it moralistic to seek to improve in holiness of conduct and character? Is sanctification about getting used to our justification, seeing our faults more and more, or learning to own up to our weakness? Does the pursuit of holiness involve trusting and trying?

11. What is the relationship between law and gospel? Should all of the Christian life and the whole of Christian theology be understood through this antithesis? And is it always antithesis, or can we say that law and gospel, in the final analysis, “sweetly comply”?

12. Does gospel preaching include exhortations and warnings as well as promises and assurances? Can gospel preaching be reduced to “acceptance” preaching, or is there are a place for other kinds of indicatives in our proclamation of the good news?

13. Is the good work in sanctification produced in us by God also done by us in the execution of our willing and acting? Is Christ the only active agent in our pursuit of godliness? How does God work in us and we work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

14. What is the place of union with Christ in the order of salvation? How does an understanding of the duplex gratia  (the twofold blessing of justification and sanctification) affect our approach to sanctification? How might the doctrine of union with Christ protect us from legalism and antinomianism?

15. Can we preach the law pointedly, not only for conviction of sin, but so that we might keep striving for greater obedience to God’s revealed will? We know that law establishes the perfect rule for righteousness and that God wants us to walk in obedience to his commands, but is the only way to produce this obedience by the preaching of justification? Is the only way to accomplish the imperatives by preaching the indicatives, or can we also insist on the imperatives without apology?

Maybe we agree on more of these points than I imagine. Maybe on some issues the disagreement is over matters of emphasis. Maybe my thinking needs its own tweaking. That’s all possible, likely even.

But it’s also possible—and in fact, everyone seems to agree on this point—that there are profound disagreements about what sanctification is and how it happens. I’d be happy to slowly work through each of these questions over the coming months. I’d be happy to look at questions from the “other side.” I’d be happy to see Mark and Tullian sit down (or stand up, as the case may be) for a friendly debate. I’d be happy for anyone willing to hash through these questions, ready to quote Bible verses and bring to bear the wisdom of our confessional tradition. I’d be happy for anyone or anything that produces clarity.

We all agree these issues really matter. So let’s see what’s really the matter.

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359 thoughts on “What We All Agree On, and What We (Probably) Don’t, In this Sanctification Debate”

  1. Bill says:

    You see these two are great definitions of legalism that I took from this puritan board topic http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/69429-Legalism Below I’m quoting from the puritan board the two definitions I liked the most and they fit Matt and Dcamp pretty good :

    “I think that is a sound definition but I would also add that, in addition to a Pelagian form of legalism there is a semi-“Pelagian form where God goes most of the way with grace and we fill in the blanks with our faithfulness to what is granted. ”

    “Any believer who tends to compare himself with others or measure his standing before God based on how carefully he follows either legitimate laws of God or the customs of church culture is a legalist at heart. The heart issue is usually most clearly seen in the desire to measure yourself based on whatever rules you follow. So you can actually be either right or wrong about an issue such as alcohol and still be a legalist, or not.”

  2. Bill says:

    I mean the fact that these guys have problems with practicing prostitutes or a man that commits adultery (the example of Randy that was given by you guys) being christian shows a heart issue similar to the ones the pharisees had when they saw Christ eating with prostitutes and tax collectors. God justifies the ungodly and no sin is big enough for God that he can not forgive. Look at David, he not only committed adultery but also murder, and he was forgiven, he was never asked to give up Bathsheba . He gets to keep her as his wife and goes to heaven, mentioned as a hero of the faith in the book of Hebrews. His sins were bigger than most unbelievers, yet he goes to heaven while the unbeliever is frying in hell. Take a look at Peter, he denies Christ three times. He was a coward,, sure he wept but while denying his master, but his tears did not change his behavior. And some say that was before Pentecost ? We all have a weakness, for Peter it is clear it was the fear of man. And this was both before and after Pentecost. Paul in Galatians teaches how Peter refused to eat with gentile believers because he was afraid of those galatians that made ccircumscision a requirement for salvation. And this led Barnabas and many of the jews astray Galatians 2:11-13. This is Peter filled with the holy spirit.

  3. Kenton says:

    A year later, and this discussion is still ongoing!

    I think there are a few basic assumptions that should be tested before trying to fit scriptures into our positions:

    1) Do human beings actually make decisions (that is, possess a will)? Does a decision have to be completely autonomous (without outside influence) for it to be a decision?

    2) Is it possible for humans to be inactive (that is, to not do works)?

    3) What does the Holy Spirit actually do in the Christian’s life? What is the grace of God in the life of the Christian?

    4) Are the works of God coterminous with the works of men, or does one stop where the other begins?

    I think these four questions lie at the heart of Philippians 2:12-13, which is perhaps the most important verse in this discussion. What does it mean that “God works in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure?” Who is the one who “wills and does”? On the one hand, Richard and Bill seem to say that it is God who wills and does (after all, “He does what every He pleases”), while d camp and Matt seem to say that it is the Christian who wills and does.

    First, we all seem to accept the premise that human beings are active beings, that they are always doing and therefore they are always doing works. Second, we mostly seem to accept that human beings are decisive beings, that they make decisions, even if those decision making faculties are twisted and bent toward sin.

    The question is, does the Christian remain so indelibly marred by sin that he can neither decide nor act in accordance with God’s pleasure? I don’t think the answer is as simple as yes or no. First, I think we’ve misunderstood the term “regeneration” to mean something that it does not. Yes, God promises a new heart and a new spirit, such that Paul can honestly say, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God”, but he also says that the flesh wars against the Spirit, for the body is dead because of sin. Furthermore, we all have, and to an extent still desire sin, so the heart is not so perfected that sin is not an issue. Yet without mistake Paul claims to himself desire the things of God, and to act accordingly.

    I think the emphasis of Phil 2:12-13 is that God works in us in a way that empowers us to desire, decide, and act according to his will. We see that God does not work in a way that prevents us from ever sinning (this is true whether you think God works for us or through us), but it would seem that God neither takes control of our actions nor leaves it up to us to make our wills line up with his. He shapes our desires in pursuing him, and he empowers us to decide and act according to what pleases him. In short, he places his motivating love in our hearts.

    What place does that leave for obedience and striving against sin? He empowers us in this as well. He gives the power to do what he lovingly commands, such that the good works of Christians are truly theirs, but they are ultimately God’s, from whom every good and perfect thought and action comes. We know that nothing that God does is imperfect, and everything that we do is, so by his working in our working, the acts of those who are sanctified in Christ are both perfect before him and pleasing to him. So it is not God working for us, but God working in us, to his glory. This is, after all, how Jesus could say, “My Father is working, and I am working”, and “My Father, He does the works.”

  4. Bill says:

    Kenton, those are really good questions. And believe it or not, once we understand what the Reformers taught that we are simul justus et peccator, i.e. simultaneously just and sinner. Luther coined that term, and he affirmed that a christian is 100% Saint and 100% Sinner at the same time. Unlike Matt, Luther taught that a christian is sinlessly perfect (Matt denied sinless perfection) and he is at the same time 100% sinner (not one iota different from an unbeliever), something that Matt also denies). if we do not come to grips with this, we will never understand that both of what 1 John teaches is true, it is true that anybody that says he is without sin is a liar 1 John 1:8-10 but it is also true that a christian does not sin, he is a Saint and sinless, and anybody that sins is of the devil 1 John 3:8-9 . So we are simultaneously just Saints and sinners, as Luther teaches. Based on this and what Luther teaches in the bondage of the will where he provides an answer to all of your questions I will proceed to answer them. Your 4 questions are easy question, but essential to answer them in order to see why we differ.

    1) Do human beings actually make decisions (that is, possess a will)? Does a decision have to be completely autonomous (without outside influence) for it to be a decision? Answer : Human beings make decisions. A human being is either a slave to sin (the unbeliever) or a slave to righteousness (the Christian). Luther’s compares them to two horses, the unbeliever is being ridden by Satan and the believer by God.

    2) Is it possible for humans to be inactive (that is, to not do works)? It is impossible. Humans are constantly in action, the unbeliever controlled by Satan and the believer by the holy spirit. All of the actions of the unbeliever are ruled by Satan and all the actions of the believer ruled by the holy spirit.

    3) What does the Holy Spirit actually do in the Christian’s life? What is the grace of God in the life of the Christian?
    Luther summarizes the work of the holy spirit perfectly in his small catechism, you see how Luther defines sanctification as believing in the forgiveness of sin. it has nothing to do with our good works but everything to do with our faith in Jesus Christ. Here it goes:

    “Of Sanctification.

    I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

    What does this mean?–Answer.

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

    4) Are the works of God coterminous with the works of men, or does one stop where the other begins?”
    The works of God are coterminous. The holy spirit works through us, and as a result all our works are polluted by sin. As a matter of fact all of the works of the christian are the same, no matter what he does, everything the christian does is driven by the holy spirit (100% sinless) but it is polluted by the sin in the old man (100% sinful). Whether a christian be attending the Lord’s Supper or be in a Strip Bar, it is no different in that the spirit convicts him of and points him to Christ for forgiveness. Only in some very grievous sins like when David killed Bathsheba’s husband and committed adultery a christian can lose the holy spirit, for example it was only when Nathan spoke to David that David realized he had sin. So David had lost the witness of the spirit, which is a dangerous thing because he was one step away from losing his salvation but God sent a message through Nathan that brought David to repentance and the holy spirit was reignited.

  5. Kenton says:

    Thanks Bill,

    I think I would agree, at least on the surface, with much of what you have said, but a number of things stick out to me.

    1) While I understand Luther’s characterization of the Christian as simul justus et peccator, I am not sure it has biblical warrant. I do not mean that sin doesn’t reside within the Christian, but that the Christian is never characterized in the present as a sinner, “not one iota different from the unbeliever.” I think that has to do with the fact that “sinner” is first an appraisal of a person by God based on his status as a member of estranged mankind, and then it is an appraisal of the person as one who sins. God’s Spirit first restores the Christian to the status of sonship as a member of Christ the Son, and then empowers the Christian’s will and action. This is sanctification, the abiding presence of the Spirit that certifies that we are God’s and enables us to live accordingly. So by status and by behavior, the Christian is no longer a sinner, though he still sins because he still possesses natural faculties tainted by sin. Absent the abiding Spirit, the Christian is no different than the unbeliever, but that will be true now and through eternity. There is no such thing as a regenerate heart distinct from the abiding Spirit.

    2) I am a bit confused by your statement that only “very grievous sins” such as murder and adultery put one at risk for losing the Spirit. I think I understand where you are getting that, but we should be careful not to equivocate the role of the Spirit under the Old Covenant and his role in the New Covenant. Status as a member of God’s house was precarious under the Old Covenant, not least in part due to the fact that every human was estranged from God’s family. David was at risk of being cut off from God for his one sin, which is why he pleads for God not to take away His Spirit. But the Christian has a surety based on the eternal sacrifice and abiding status that Jesus retains as God’s risen Son crucified for sins. Therefore when we sin, we are not at risk in the same way, for the promise stands of immediate forgiveness without need for sacrifice. The risk stands only for those who turn back from the faith, and who thereby show that their faith was never truly rooted in Christ.

  6. Kenton says:

    I apologize Bill, my response was cut off.

    3) I believe the analogy of slavery is far more apt than that of horses driven by other wills. The way in which slaves are compelled to act is starkly different. A slave is compelled by a stronger person to bring his own will and action in alignment with that of the stronger party. He may do so willingly or grudgingly, but his own will remains under his own personal control. That is why Paul says, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” and, “You once presented your members as slaves to impurity.” Sin is an involuntary master over the sinner, but the sinner does obey the sinful desires that compel him.

    What does this mean for the Christian and good works? The Holy Spirit abides in the Christian, liberating him from sin’s mastery, instructing him according to the goodness of God in the character of the Son of God, and empowering him to live as one whose desires are fully redeemed from sin. But, the Christian still freed to choose to yield his sinful body to the will of God. That is why Paul instructs, “so now present your members as slaves to righteousness.” The Spirit empowers us to choose, which is why Paul can say that God works in us [prompting and leading us] to will and to work, for his good pleasure. This is what glorifies God, not that he simply sidesteps our own will and action in doing the good himself, but that he transforms and empowers people who by themselves would desire and commit evil as sinners into a people who desire and work good as His sons.

    This in turns leaves open Paul’s many statements about the Christian being judged according to what he does in the body, whether good or evil, but also does not ignore the grace of God in forgiving sins and enabling the works which he will appraise. As James affirms, this is judgment with mercy, as sons of God and not sinners cut off from him.

  7. Bill says:

    Kenton, you see I will give you my comments on what you wrote. But you see before I do I immediately notice that you and I although we both affirm that the gospel transforms a person, we understand this transformation differently. I put the grace of justification foremost, and this means that anything that I speak about sanctification can not contradict the doctrine of justification of the ungodly. I will not allow that , otherwise I diminish Christ and exalt myself and without noticing I end up undermining the doctrine of justification. With that in mind let me get to each of your 4 points one by one.

    1) Although christians are called Saints and Christ is victorious over sin and in spite of our transformation when we become christians we still remain 100% sinners. The only difference with the unbeliver is that christians are 100% Saints and the unbeliever is not. But both are 100% sinners. I will quote you several scriptures instead of Luther to show you that Scripture affirms emphatically that Christians are sinners, 100 %. Starting by Romans 4:8 and Psalm 32:2 , Blessed is the man to whom God does not impute or does not count his sin against him. Right there scripture affirms that the Christian is not somebody that does not sin, but somebody that sins and God does not impute the sin to him. 1 john 1:8 , If we claim we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Ecclesiastes 7:20 there is not one man on earth that does not sin. It is pretty clear that believer and unbeliever are alike in that they have one thing in common, they both sin. Issaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Issaiah is speaking about the whole human race and he is including himself and the elect that have faith. He makes no distinction between the works of the believer and the unbeliever, both of them are like filthy rags. Matthew 6:12 , the Lord’s prayer, a christian prays to God forgive us our trespasses. It is clear from here that christians are sinners or trespassers that need constant, daily forgiveness. Luke 18:13 the tax collector crying out, God have mercy of me a sinner. And this is something that the tax collector was doing daily, it is not a one time thing that he did, he went justified, and then he was a sinner no longer. No, this is the christian life and daily need to cry out again and again, God have mercy on me a sinner. The 95 theses of Luther, number 1 and 2 indicate that the life of a christian is a life of repentance and this is not a one time thing, but it is required daily. So christians sin daily like the unbeliever sins daily, but the christian flees to Christ for salvation while the unbeliever tries to establish his own righteousness by doing good works. So both are sinners, fully sinners, 100% sinners.

    2) Well, what I mean is that if we stop availing ourselves of the means of grace (hearing the preached word, reading the writings of the Saints of the past, or reading Scripture) we are at risk of losing the witness of the Spirit. Same thing if we transgress the second table of the Law in a serious manner as David did, or in a willful manner by lying or deceiving or stealing or coveting or adultery or anger (which is murder in the heart). A Christian can tangle himself / herself up so much in sin that the Spirit is extinguished and the assurance of salvation severely weakened or completely lost. When the latter happened, one can safely say that unless the Lord restores him back this man is at risk of perishing in unbelief. It is impossible to confess Christ as our Savior while willfully disobeying God, those that think they can use the gospel as a license for sin will soon realize that they will lose the gospel altogether and they will be incapable of believing in their heart that Christ died for their sins.

    3) You see I don’t agree that christian freedom is about choice, as you wrote “The Spirit empowers us to choose” . I thin that the christian is a slave to righteousness. The unbeliever is a slave to sin, can do nothing but sin. The Christian can do nothing but obey God, we are talking here about the obedience of faith (not of works, only Christ was capable of obeying the law of works, a christian can not obey the law of works Romans 3:27). Christian liberty as Luther and Karl Barth correctly point out is not freedom of choice, but being free means we are slaves to the righteousness of faith, a christian believes the gospel, in God who justifies the ungodly Romans 4:5 . And he can’t choose otherwise. Christian Freedom is not choosing between two alternatives, but it is being slaves to righteousness, a christian can only choose Christ and by choosing Christ’s righteousness this righteousness is imputed to him. The unbeliever on the other hand can only choose evil and can not choose Christ. This was the whole argument of Luther in his book the bondage of the will. The christian is free and not in bondage, but being free means he has only one choice that he makes and that is Christ. Once you are freed from sin you can not choose sin any longer. Was Christ free ? Yes, he was but his freedom meant that he could only choose to obey the will of his father. Is God the Father free ? Yes, but he can not sin because it is against his nature, it’s not like God chooses between two paths, he always chooses the right path. As you can see when the bible talks about christian freedom or being set free, it refers to being set free from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus Christ, so a christian is a slave of righteousness, he can not sin in that he can only trust in Christ. This is the obedience of faith that I pointed out earlier, and is possible solely because of the holy spirit. But it is not the obedience of works, the christian is not empowered by the spirit to keep the law of works, as I pointed out before only Christ kept that law. The purpose of the law is not that the man (the christian included) will obey it, the purpose of the law was always knowledge of sin. The law entered the world so that sin would abound, it was never God’s purpose for man that he would be able by himself or empowered by the spirit to obey the law. No flesh shall be justified by the works of the law Paul teaches, and righteousness can not come by the law.

    Now with regard to your statement about the christian being judged by what he does in the body, I don’t think Paul refers solely to the christian but to the final judgment of all of mankind both believer and unbeliever. For the christian this judgment has already taken place in the body of Christ and his salvation is assured. At judgment day the christian will walk in clothed in the beautiful robe of righteousness of Isaiah 61:10 :,
    “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

    So a christian ought not to fear the judgment, for in that judgment he will wear nothing but Christ and Him crucified, there will be no boasting, and no good works that the christian brings to the judgment but the solely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:9

  8. Bill says:

    You see with regard to the judgment, the Christian has already been acquitted and need not fear the second death Revelation 20:6 The first resurrection has already happened for the Christian, who is right now reigning with Christ for 1000 years.. This is the understanding that the Reformers had of the first 6 verses of chapter 20 of the book of revelation. Now with regard to the second resurrection, and the judgment before the Great White Throne christians can approach this with confidence because their names are written in the book of life and because they have already been acquitted in the first resurrection when they came to faith. Even if Christians have to be given an account of their works at this final judgment, it is clear that they will face a friendly judge that has already announced to them that he will look upon them with favor and they have nothing to fear, but instead they will be rewarded for being good and faithful servants.

  9. Bill says:

    Actually 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 indicates that the Saints will be judging the world and the angels and not be judged. The Christian already has eternal life and has passed from death unto life on account of Christ taking upon himself all his sin and Christ imputing his righteousness to the christian. This good news is the gospel.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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