Chapter 8

This is an easy chapter to read and a simple chapter to understand.  Yet, it is not readily accepted as truth.  This is because the truth Marshall presents in this chapter goes against everything our sinful nature wants us to believe.

Marshall addresses 3 different issues in his 7th direction : Be sure to seek for holiness of heart and life only in its due order, where God has placed it, after union with Christ, justification and the gift of the Holy Ghost and, in that order, seek it earnestly by faith as o very necessary part of your salvation.

The first issue is the existence of an Ordo Salutis.  Below is the traditionally accepted Reformed summary, however, since it is a summary some things have been left out; effectual call, faith, repentance. 

1)  Election—God’s choosing to save some men

2)  General Call – God’s invitation to all men to repent

3)  Regeneration – God’s creating a New Heart

4)  Conversion—God’s changing the will

5)  Justification—God’s Judicious act declaring us right

6)  Adoption—God’s receiving someone as one of His children

7)  Sanctification—God’s transformation of a sinner into a saint

8)  Glorification— God’s final transformation

Marshall’s emphasis on the order of salvation is to emphasize that it is God’s grace that enables us to obey.  He writes, “I think enough has been said already to show in what order God brings us to the practice of the moral law. He makes us first to be in Christ by faith, as branches in the vine, that we may bring forth much fruit (John 15:4, 5). He first purges our consciences from dead works by justification, that we may serve the living God (Heb. 9:14). He makes us first to live in the Spirit, and then to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). This is the order prescribed in the gospel, which is the power of God to salvation.

The second issue is that holiness is a necessary part of our salvation. Though often overlooked, sanctification is listed as part of the Ordo Salutis.  The reason for this is that salvation is often considered to be simply deliverance from hell and access into heaven.  Contrary to this is Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

That Jesus saves His people is clear.  That Jesus His people FROM THEIR SINS is neglected.

Question 14 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is sin?”  The answer is, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  Since Jesus was born to save His people from their sin, then it necessary follows that His people would increase in the conformity of and obedience to the law of God.

Marshall writes, “It is a part of our salvation to deliver us from our sins, which is begun in this life by justification and sanctification, and perfected by glorification in the life to come. Can we rationally doubt whether it be any proper part of our salvation by Christ to be quickened, to live to God, when we were by nature dead in trespasses and sins, and to have the image of God in holiness and righteousness restored to us, which we lost by the Fall; and to be freed from a vile dishonorable slavery to Satan and our own lusts, and made the servants of God, and to be honored so highly as to walk by the Spirit, and bring forth the fruits of the Spirit? And what is all this but holiness in heart and life?

The third issue is how this holiness of heart and life is to be acquired.  Holiness is not found in efforts to be good, but in living in faith.

Marshall writes, “True gospel faith makes us come to Christ with a thirsty appetite, that we may drink of living water, even of His sanctifying Spirit (John 7: 37, 38), and cry out earnestly to save us, not only from hell, but from sin, saying, ‘Teach me to do Your will; Your Spirit is good’ (Ps. 143:10), ‘Turn me, and I shall be turned’ (Jer. 31:18); ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right Spirit within me’ (Ps. 51:10). This is the way by which the doctrine of salvation by grace necessitates us to holiness of life, by constraining us to seek for it by faith in Christ as a substantial part of that salvation which is freely given us through Christ.”

The common acrostic fits well here.  Faith is Forsaking All, I Trust Christ.  By faith, we forsake our sin.  We forsake our own goodness.  We forsake even the ability to change our desires.  Therefore, we trust that the God who orders our salvation, and 1) who chose us in Christ before the foundation of the World (Eph. 1:4), and 2) called us to repent and believe in Christ (Acts 2:38), and 3) who created a new spirit within us by regeneration (Titus 3:5), and 4) who changed our nature from enemy to friend (Col. 1:21), and 5) who justified us freely by grace (Romans 3:23-24), and 6) who adopted us into His family (Rom 8:12), surely this same God is worthy of trusting that He will change us from the inside out so that we can be confident that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)

Therefore, let us BY FAITH seek holiness.  Let us trust our Savior that he will change our desires so that we will grow in holiness of our heart and life.

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