18 July 2009

Again: Sanctification by Gospel

With the somewhat different set of eyes with which I've been reading the New Testament this year, another passage that seems to affirm the sanctifying nature of justification (theologically, not exegetically, conceived) is 1 Cor 15:1-2.

'Now I would remind you brothers, of the gospel I gospeled to you, which you received, in which you have stood [perfect] and by which you are being saved [present passive] . . .'

Both the perfect 'you have stood' (translated 'you stand' in ESV) and the present 'are being saved' underscore the continuing relevance of the gospel. And what is the gospel referred to? Paul says in v. 3: 'Christ died for our sins.' The death of Christ itself fuels ongoing Christian progress. We functionally treat those two verbs as aorists (simple past tense: 'you stood . . . you were saved'), which is a mistake. The gospel is everyday food for believers.

An online resource that I find very helpful on this topic is the interview that the Christ the Center guys did with Richard Gaffin earlier this year (entitled "Sanctification and the Gospel," though the conversation is more wide-ranging than the particular focus of my blog post here). I find Gaffin to be one of the most steady, Bible-saturated, careful interpreters of Paul and the Gospel today.

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