I had the privilege of teaching a class that explored the doctrine of biblical sanctification recently. It will be difficult to summarize 30 lessons but allow me to give a few glimpses of the course. I feel blessed to be able to serve Portuguese-speaking students this way through your prayers and support.
A human being is sanctified when they know God as He is revealed in His Word and when they love Him intensely for all He has done for them and then, as a result, live a life of obedient service to Him. Growing in godliness is holistic. The Fall decimated every aspect of human life, and every aspect must be recovered through salvation and sanctification.
Sanctification centers around restoring the broken image of God. Man, like a car after a head-on collision, had the image of God terribly disfigured when the rebellion against the Creator occurred (Gen. 3:1-7). The Fall made the image of God in man a twisted wreck. This ugliness in man is seen everywhere in society, and it does not glorify God.
Man is re-shaped or re-formed, however, when He is adopted into God’s family through faith in Christ. God’s children enter into the life-long school of Christ (progressive sanctification) and grow to look like their Father. The wreck starts to regain its proper shape.
Growth in godliness can be grueling. Christ is the mold, and God will shape and mold His elect until each one looks like the perfect Son. God has many tools in his workshop to pound and mold and bend broken man back into proper shape. The highest goal of human life is to become more like Christ, and the Christian should expect that this awesome goal will include vigorous training (I Tim. 4:7). This highest endeavor deserves total dedication.
“The fall made the image of God in man a twisted wreck.”
God’s Word is the perfect didactic material to guide man as he is enrolled in this school of Christ (2 Tim. 3:15-17). The Bible is God’s complete human restoration manual. Salvation is free and all of grace, but a life-long pursuit of holiness includes a great battle to recover all that was lost in human nature and bring it back to wholeness as God originally intended. The blueprints for true human development are all found in the book written by the Architect of Mankind.
This “resurrection” or “reformation” of human life is possible because of the work of Christ. When a person is “in Christ” life is given, and the pattern to follow is clear. Teaching biblical sanctification was such a great privilege because Christ-likeness is the outworking of biblical study. God’s Word teaches that humans live to full potential and capacity by becoming more like Christ. Man glorifies God by becoming like Him. This “becoming” includes a total commitment to God at the level of the heart and a zealous obedience to Him and all that He commands. In other words, sanctification occurs when God’s people worship God fully.
Is there anything more important than restoring God’s original intent for Mankind? The restored image of God should be a serious goal for God’s people, and they should know how to move towards that objective. When the human heart honors God properly, other benefits are added. Love for God goes together with love for others. My class had one focus – to show students what God’s Word teaches about how to become a sanctified human being for the glory of God. What a blessed privilege! Please continue to pray with us as this year promises many exciting ministry opportunities in a needy land.
Rev. Doug Leaman