Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017.08.19 (and 26) Sanctification Saturday - Devoted to God, pp. ix-xiii, 1-14

In the last two Sanctification Saturdays, we've been reading Sinclair Ferguson's Devoted to God. If you're not a fast reader, take heart. In two 15 minute sessions, I've only made it to p14.

In the introduction, Ferguson explains that this is not so much a "how to" book as a "how God does it" book. He hopes that by pointing us at the Lord's ways and the Lord's means, he will enable us to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Chapter 1

What does holiness mean?
Ferguson reasons that since holiness is innate to God, it cannot be defined as separation so much as it must be defined as devotion. What looks like separation from our end is really what happens when something or someone becomes wholly devoted to God (p2-3).

Ultimately, the definition at which he arrives is that holiness, in us, is a "deeply personal, intense, loving devotion to [God]--a belonging to [God] that is irreversible, unconditional, without any reserve on our part" (p4)

Can I hope for holiness?
Here, Ferguson turns us to Peter, whom he holds out as a prime example of a difficult case for being made holy. After drawing a connection between Peter and our own frustrations and failures, he quotes 1Peter 1:1-7, focusing at first on vv1-2.

Here, he points out that as Peter writes to suffering Christians, he begins with the solution to all our problems:
(1) Whose we are: God's by His election and love
(2) Who we are: those who have been cleansed by Christ's blood
(3) What we are for: obedience to our Savior

Helpfully, Ferguson points out that holiness must be important, both because of the sheer volume of ink spilled upon it in the NT, and because the NT emphasizes that salvation is impossible without it.

The necessity of a new lifestyle
This is where Ferguson deals with the difference between justification (which is worked for us, entirely outside of us, by Christ) and sanctification (which is worked into us, within us, by Christ). Justification is never based upon anything we do--even that which is done in us and through us.

However, the two are completely inseparable, because both come through faith in Christ. It is impossible genuinely to believe in Christ, and not receive both justification and sanctification (let alone receive the former but not the latter).

Since each comes through union with Christ, separating justification and sanctification would be to divide Christ Himself (p10, quoting Calvin)

The dying thief
Ferguson takes up this case, because many point to him as someone who didn't have time to be sanctified, but Ferguson flips the issue by pointing out just how drastic a change is demonstrated by the thief.

The meaning of sanctification
This seems like it could be a bit of  rehash of the beginning of the chapter, but he opens it up a little bit: sanctification is being possessed by the Lord, to become increasingly like Him. This produces His beauty in us, and causes us both to wonder at this astonishing work that is being done in us, and to praise Him for His goodness to do this for us.

Peter's teaching
Finally, Ferguson makes much out of the boisterous style with which the letter begins, to point out that this indeed is the same Peter personality, but that the Lord has done a great work in Him, and He will also do the same work in us.

Next week, Lord-willing, we'll be picking up in the middle of p14

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