Question and Answer

Wesleyan View of Sanctification

Question:

What do you know about the Wesleyan-Arminian position concerning entire sanctification?

Answer:

In their book God, Man and Salvation, Nazarene theologians W.T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor and Willard H. Taylor write of "the possibility of entire holiness", "a change subsequent to conversion," "a crucial experience of sanctification", and "enter[ing] decisively into a higher level of Christian experience." These authors assert that "Christians may be holy without being entirely holy."

In their view what the twelve disciples needed was "a consecration and yieldedness to God that would make them totally available to the deployment of the Father and completely subject to the control of the Holy Spirit ... A holiness ... which was real rather than fictitious, thorough rather than partial, and which cleansed the heart from the lie that is latent in the carnal mind."

Wesleyans teach that individuals should seek a crisis experience, subsequent to conversion, in which they become entirely sanctified and never sin again. The only way that they can maintain such an illusion is to redefine sin as some kind of lapse which is not fundamentally displeasing to God.

Over against this view the Westminster Standards teach that "Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness" (WSC 35).

"This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (WCF 13:2).

The truth is that the sincere Christian will struggle against sin all his life and will be entirely delivered only in death.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23).

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).


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