"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « How are we doing? | Main | Kiss the Son »

    The Omission of "Sanctified" in the Golden Chain

    On the blog at desiring God, Dr. John Piper wrote of a reason for the omission of the word "sanctified" in the golden chain of redemption found in Romans 8:28-30. I agree with him completely but would like to add a second reason for the omission. Dr. Piper writes:

    Have you ever wondered why “sanctification” is missing from this golden chain in Romans 8:29-30?

    Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    Foreknown, predestined, called, justified, __________, glorified. Shouldn’t “sanctified" fill in that blank space? Romans 6:22 says that believers receive “sanctification and its end, eternal life.” And 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says that we are “saved, through sanctification by the Spirit.”

    The answer is, no, “sanctification” does not belong in space because it is included in “glorified.”

    In Paul’s mind the process called sanctification in this life—the process of transformation from one degree of holiness to the next—is the first stage of glorification. He says,

    We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

    The progressive change that happens in this life can be described in terms of holiness or glory—sanctification or glorification.

    The age to come will be a place of great physical glory. But mainly it will be a place of infinite moral and spiritual glory. The main beauty will be the beauty of holiness.

    Therefore be amazed and sobered that this life is not just a waiting period for that day. You are being changed now “from one degree of glory to the another.” You are being glorified. That is, you are being sanctified. That is, you are being made morally glorious for the age to come.

    Dr. Piper brings out a very important point. It is something we need to hear. I think a second reason for the omission of "sanctified" in the list is that all the other 5 are things God does exclusively (monergistically). God foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies. Though it is true to say that God sanctifies, we have a definite role to play in the process of sanctification. The whole point of the passage in the immediate and greater context is to provide assurance of salvation. If sanctification was included as a synergistic element in the chain, many would focus on this and allow themselves to be robbed of the future tense knowledge that they will be glorified in the presence of the Lord - because we would be the weak link in the chain (so to speak). I know my heart too well. If salvation depended on just how sanctified I am in my present day life, knowing my shortcomings all so well, the wonderful assurance I have (because God started the work and God will finish it) would be lost or at the very least blurred. I think this would be true for many of the saints I see struggle with a deep heart felt knowledge of assurance (as I pastor I see this all the time).

    The truth is that I am never as sanctified (set apart to God in everyday living) as I wish to be or ought to be. Even on my best days, this is true. But what gives me hope is that all 5 links are things God does. God forges each link in the chain. If I can see myself somewhere in the chain (I know I am justified through faith in Christ), then I can go forwards and backwards in the chain and know all of these other things are true of me also. God loses none of His people. No one falls through the cracks.. and seeing the end result of glorification gives me a CERTAIN knowledge that God will help me to win my battle with sanctification. Knowing the fallen nature of my heart, I think I would struggle so much more with assurance if "sanctified" was in the text. I would focus on my performance (and the lack of it) and not see the big picture. The big picture is seen just as in how Paul describes it here in Romans 8:28-30, namely that God does all 5 things for His elect people. So certain is he of my future glorification that He writes of it as a past tense event (even though in time I am not there yet - not by a long way). The Holy Spirit wants God's people to know, "these whom He justified, He also glorified." Wow - He does it.. even in me.. with all my failings and issues.. He did it! He glorified! and in time, He is working in me to will and to do of His good pleasure.

    I know sanctification is entirely necessary, but my struggle to achieve it each day is fortified and immensely helped by the text, written just as it is - "these whom He justified, He also glorified." I WILL win the battle. I will become more and more sanctified. The God who started the work in me will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ. God will see to it. Hallelujah. - JS

    Posted by John Samson on August 31, 2009 11:36 AM


    Wow, brilliant observation! Thanks for sharing!

    If someone had axed me the same question, I would have said, "Well technically, each step in the chain implies all that follow it. E.g., Paul could have said, "Those whom God forknew, He also glorified." That would be true, but Paul has more to say than that." But this response only says why Paul doesn't have to mention Sanctification, not why he doesn't. Indeed, explicitly mentioning sanctification might take the focus off of God's sovereign, irresistible work, as you pointed out.

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