Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sanctification In This World

Matt. 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

LDS beleive that we are saved 100% by grace. Any good work or ordinance that is performed is not done by the believer alone. Man can do no good work of himself, but it is done by the empowerment of the Holy Ghost working in the believer. Christ's atonement just doesn't overcome the consequences of sin in the next life, but it has the power to change us "in this world" that our love can be made perfect. This is the process of sactification. And even though the work of the Spirit may not fully perfect us in this life, we are assured that after all we can do, or after all the works that God works through us, then is Christ's grace sufficent for us. For Christ will save is from our sins and not in our sins.

Ammon and the sons of Helaman talk about preaching the Gospel of Christ and they glory not in themselves, but they praise God and boast of their God who made them instruments (Alma 26:3) in his hands and allowed to witness His power in changing the hearts of their breathern.

Alma 26:11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Ammon and his brethern comment on the mercy of God which was extended to them despite their unworthiness. They went about trying to destroy the chruch or God, but God in His mercy sent an angel to reclaim them in stead of destroying them like they deserved. But they recieved that spirit and CHrist, and the Holy Ghost and God was able to sactify them, empower them to repentance, and do many mightly miracles through them by the power of Christ's atonement.

Alma 26:17-22 Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state? Behold, we went forth even in wrath, with mighty threatenings to destroy his church. Oh then, why did he not consign us to an awful destruction, yea, why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us, and doom us to eternal despair? Oh, my soul, almost as it were, fleeth at the thought. Behold, he did not exercise his justice upon us, but in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God;

Many mock the LDS church and our correct focus on faith in Christ, which empowers us to become new creatures, and empowers us to repentance, ordinances, and sactification in this world. And although we may not depart this Earth fully perfected in every way, we are promised that after all we have received God and allowed Him to work in us, never having rejected the workings of the Holy Ghost; Christ's grace will be sufficent; for Christ saves us from our sins and not in our sins.

Is it pride and arrogance to speak of allowing God to change our sin natures in this world? The Bible teaches that all men have will and we are made free to exercize it by the grace of Christ. Our will is what God purchased with the sacrifice of His son. God asks for us to give him what he has purchased and redeemed which is a broken heart and a contrite spirit or a willing heart and a willing mind.

That is the great sacrifice of Jeuss Christ who said in the Garden "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." This isnt arrogance unless it was arrogant for Christ who was the great exemplar of humility. Christ recogized his will which was separate from the Father and had his will swollowed up in the will of the Father. God does not force us. He stands at the door and knocks and if we "allow" him enter, then he will sup with us. Again there is no coersion with God. Christ says that he who receiveth Him who I will send receiveth Him. (Matt 10:40, John 13:20)When Christ gave the Holy Ghost, He commanded his disciples; "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22)(Acts 2:38)(Acts 8:17)

1 Cor. 2: 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

This process of sactification is described by CS Lewis in "Mere Christianity" who said, once Christ enters in, he will start tearing down walls and we will ask what God is doing. We had in our mind a nice little cottage on the Hill. But God has in mind a temple. This is the work of sanctification that Christ will do after we allow him to enter into our hearts. But the process of being made into a temple doesnt happen overnight and we could still reject the temple for the cottage we had origionally envisioned for ourselves.

Remember the Parable of the Sower:

Mark 4:16-17 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Here we see in this example that the seed or word (Christ) was initially received with gladness. But the word fell on stony ground and it didnt get root and nurishment (sanctification by the Holy Ghost), and was soon scorched in the heat of the day. God allowed someone who had already received to reject. This person fell from grace, they turned away, they failed to finish the course, keep the faith, and endure to the end.

Sanctification by the Holy Ghost of believers is the oil in the lamps of the 10 virgins and it is the usury God expects after giving us the talents of gold. All the virgins were believers, but not all were ready and waiting with extra oil for the bridegroom to receive Him.

This is not Cheap Grace! LDS are the ones who say the atonement was much more then spitting and the cricifixion. Most Christians have no concept of the kind of spiritual suffering that occured in the garden and on the cross. Paul boasted in his sufferings and went to his martyrdom with courage. But this kind of physical torture was nothing compared to what Christ took upon himself. Hear it from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself.

D&C 19:15-18 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

The LDS definition of grace is not "cheap" because it aknowledges the power of God to empower believers to change, to repentence, to receive ordinances, to become sanctified, and to become perfected now in this world. The LDS definition believes in a God of miracles who can work miracles through the lives of those who believe in Him. The LDS definition of grace is associated with the God of the Bible who promises us that He will save us from our sins. Others definition of grace says that God accepts us into his kingdom as we are now without any need for change in this world. That definition of grace ignores repentance, and sanctification. That definition of grace is associated with a counterfeit, inmaterial, unknowable God who claims the cross will save you in your sins but cannot change you in this world.

Again, the LDS concept has nothing to do with what we have or havn't done on our own. Man cannot do good on his own. The LDS concept of grace is more powerful. Our grace takes transformative effect "in this world". That is the difference. Other Christians are still waiting for grace to take effect in heaven. LDS are already enjoying the miraculous sanctifying fruits, powers, and glories of God's grace here and now.

Christs body on the cross redeems us or buys us, reconciles us with God, justifies us, and reverses all the effects of the FAll of Adam. But then we are brought back into the presense of God to be judged of our own works. And the outcome of that Final Judgement is what Christ's shed blood in the Garden is all about. God promises that our prior sins will not me mentioned to us if we have repented, and been sanctified already. We are commanded to remember both the Body and Blood of Christ.

But the Book of Mormon reveals while Jesus will be our advocate, we will also have an acusser. Who will accuse and comndemn us. We will. We will stand before God knowing that you have had all this time to repent and apply the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and be sanctified "in this world" but we have waited until it is everlastingly too late. And we will not feel comfortable to stay in the presence of God. So, with the bright recollection of all our own guilt, we will condemn ourselves and judge ourselves to dwell in a lesser kingdom. If we haven't already given up our sin nature by that time, we wont trust ourselves to live in Gods presence and not sin. therefore our confidence will not wax strong. Christ will be your advocate. But we will be our own comdemnation.

Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Yes, only those who are sanctified does Christ's offering apply. If a believer does not meet the requirements of sanctification then the "one offering" does not apply

In Alma 11: 34-37, the lawyer Zeezrom asked Amulek if Christ saved his people in their sins. Amulek said that no unlean thing can enter the kingdom of God. That the atonement of Christ applies to the sanctified. Or that, the power of the atonement is to be applied now "in this world" and in the Millenium before the final judgement. And that the power of the atonement has the power to sactify us "in this world" and is not something that will just happen later. Amulek teaches that we are saved from our sins and not in our sins.

The Book of Mormon warns not to say "Eat Drink and be Merry for tomarrow we die, and God will justify us in commiting a little sin" That attitude is not receiving and appyling the atonement of Christ "in this world"

The Book of Mormon warns not to "procrastinate the day of your repentance." We should receive and apply the grace and power of Christ here and now and become sanctified. Not just Christ's righteousness imputed to us, but transformed ourselves. Yes, Christ accepts us how we are (now), and his righteousness is imputed to us (now) so that we can receive the Holy ghost which we do not deserve (now), but that Holy Ghost will then change us (now). Paul says the same.

1 Cor. 6: 9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Everything that LDS do after we believe is part of our sanctification. The only reason is sounds like LDS believe that baptism is required is because if the Holy Ghost invites you to receive it then to reject the Holy Ghost is to reject Christ and you are like the seed who accepted Christ but dried up and didn't take root and was offended. So, if the Holy Ghsot isn't inviting you to receive certain perfecting works, then they are not required for your salvation. But they are required for mine because the Holy Ghost has invited me to receive them. But it sounds to outsiders that our leaders say it is required. But that is because they have the authority to tell us what to expect the Holy Ghost will be inviting us to receive. And while we will likely not be prefect by the end of this like, we will have 1000 years in the Millenium to finish the work of sanctification. And by then by God's grace, all things are possible, even the transformation of my sin nature. This is God's work. I believe God can do it. I have witnesses progress and changes already here and now.

Any good works I do are thanks to God. But as part of Gods grace, he has prepared sanctifying ordinances and other institutions for the prefecting of the Saints. According to the Bible there are a number of things God has commanded that we recieve in the process of sanctification.

Holy Ghost (Rom. 15:16)
Baptism (John 3:5)
Sacrament (1 Cor 11:24)
Prayer in Adversity (James 1:4)
Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Organization of the Church (Eph. 4:11-12)
Preisthood (Heb 5:8-9)
Everalasting Temple Covenant (Ezek 37:26-28)
Marriage (Eph 5:25-27)
Love of Christ (1 Jn. 4:17)

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