May 26, 2009

Addendum - Piper on Glorification

Under a subtitle "Why Is Sanctification Not Mentioned in the Chain?" Piper wrote (emphasis mine):

"First, where is "sanctification" in the chain of these verses? You recall what "sanctification" is. It was the theme of chapter six. Remember verse 22: "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." So sanctification is the gradual process of our becoming holy which leads to eternal life.

Why is it not mentioned in this unbreakable chain in Romans 8:29-30? Paul mentions five links in the chain: Those whom he (1) foreknew he predestined; and those whom he (2) predestined he called; and those whom he (3) called, he justified; and those whom he (4) justified, he (5) glorified. Why didn't he say, "And those whom he justified he sanctified, and those whom he sanctified he glorified"?

The reason this matters is that someone might say, "Well, since it's not in the chain, it's either not necessary for heaven like the others, or it is not the work of God the way the others are." Both of those inferences would be a deadly mistake. Sanctification is necessary for heaven. That is why Romans 6:22 says that the outcome of your sanctification is eternal life! (See Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9). And that makes it all the more important that it is indeed God's work in us, so that the necessity of it doesn't throw us back on ourselves. It throws us desperately on God.

For example, Paul says in Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." And Philippians 2:12b-13, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." And 1 Corinthians 15:10, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me."

So sanctification is both necessary and the work of God. So why is it not mentioned between justification and glorification. I think the reason is that in Paul's mind sanctification is included in glorification. So, in effect, he does make it part of the chain. Now why do I think this? What's the Biblical basis for it?

It comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18. Paul describes here how we are changed into the likeness of Christ — that is how we are sanctified. It happens by looking to Christ — the spiritual sight we talked about earlier (note the context!). He says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Now what is so relevant in this verse for us is the word "glory." Our gradual change into the image of Christ is, Paul says, a moving "from glory to glory." And he says this is from the Lord. This is essentially the work of the Lord. So being glorified in Paul's mind is not only the final transformation at the end of the age at the resurrection when we get out new bodies; it is also the process of moving morally and spiritually toward that goal.

So in Paul's mind, when he said in Romans 8:30, "the justified are glorified" he meant, God works to make sure that those whom he justified move from one degree of glory to the next (sanctification) (and regeneration too, SG) and finally reach perfection with new and glorious bodies like Christ's (Hebrews 12:23; Philippians 3:21). So your progressive sanctification — your becoming like Jesus — is as sure and as firmly planned and worked by God as is your election and predestination and calling and justification and final glory."

Piper is correct here. When, in other writings, however, he attempts to put regeneration before justification, sanctification, and glorification, he is contradicting what he says in places like this where he puts sanctification (and logically, therefore, regeneration) as part of glorification, or what follows calling and justification.

See here

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