Believer, You Are Being Graciously Sanctified
By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:
An HB reader writes to ask “in what senses are we under the covenant of works?” I reply
Christians are in no sense under the covenant of works for our standing with God or for our salvation. Our justification and our sanctification are by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide). It is not as some seem to be suggesting that our salvation is begun by grace but is ultimately completed by works. This is a false gospel that Paul himself repudiated in Galatians 3:1–6:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? (ESV)
If any part of our salvation (justification, sanctification, glorification) is by works, then it is not by grace (Rom 11:6). These are two inimical principles in salvation. The very idea of a “two-stage” salvation (by grace now, by works then) is a flat repudiation of Paul’s explicit teaching in Galatians 3. When he says “Spirit” in v. 3 he is saying “grace.” None of us was regenerated (brought to spiritual life) by works. We were regenerated by grace alone. In regeneration the Spirit also gave us faith and through faith justified us, adopted us, and united us to Christ. It cannot be that what the Spirit began (by unconditional sovereign grace) we are to complete by works. In the apostolic period Paul applied this principle to the existence of supernatural gifts. They were not by works but by grace. Our entire Christian life is not by works but by grace.