The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

by Walter Marshal

 Chapter 3

 Last chapter we saw that there were 4 endowments or qualifications that were necessary for us to grow in holiness and righteousness.  The first endowment and of highest importance is that we love Christ.  Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”  Love is an absolute necessity to Christian growth.  So how do we learn to love Christ more?  There are 3 other endowments which enable us to love Christ.  The second endowment is that we are convinced and assured of our reconciliation with God.  Third, that we are convinced and assured of our eternal bliss with Jesus.  And fourth, that we are convinced and assured that He will give us the strength to love Him and obey him joyfully.

 In this chapter, Marshall addresses the question of how Christ gives us the strength to love and obey.   Marshall’s answer is our union with Christ.

 Direction #3, The way to get these endowments to enable for practice, is, to receive them from Christ’s fullness, by union and fellowship with Him.

 James Hervey makes this assertion.  These endowments, so necessary to the obedience of love, are continues in the fullness of Christ, and are enjoyed only by union and fellowship with Him.

 As Marshall begins this chapter, by stating that this union with Christ is so great and so mysterious that no man could have conceived of it, and therefore, had God not revealed it to us by supernatural revelation, we would have no notion of it.  The mystery of sanctification lies in how it is that Christ empowers us.  The power for sanctification comes from Christ is two way.

 #1 First, the great mystery of sanctification is that our frame and disposition (=power) are enabled for obedience and love by receiving it out of Christ’s fullness.

 As I read this, my mind immediately jumped to Ephesians 2:10.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 Notice first of all that we are created in Christ Jesus.  It is because of who Christ is and what He has done that we are enabled to obey.  Secondly, we see that God prepared good works beforehand that we should walk in them.  The question out of both of these points is how has God thereby enabled us?

 Towards the end of the chapter, Marshall gives 6 reasons why it is our union and fellowship with Christ that enables us.  It is point 3 that I want to summarize in relation to how we are framed and disposed to holiness.  He writes, “The end [goal] of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection was, to prepare and form a holy nature and frame for us in himself, to be communicated to us by union and fellowship with Him, and not to enable us to produce in ourselves the fie first original of such a holy nature by our own endeavors.”

By His incarnation, there was now a second Adam.  And this Second Adam had a frame and disposition to holiness far more excellent than the first ever was because man really was joined to God by a close, inseparable union of the divine and human natures in one person, Jesus.  The dual nature of Christ assures us not only of the impossibility of sin corrupting this second Adam, but also of this Second Adam living the perfectly righteous life.  Therefore, those who are in union with Christ are endowed with the same frame and disposition.  This is the force of the argument from 1 Corinthians 15:45 & 49.

 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  49  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

 By His Death, Christ freed himself from the guilt and power of sin that was imputed to Him.  Thus, by freeing himself, he also prepared a freedom for us.  The Old Man as Paul calls the remnant of our sinfulness, was crucified together with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed.  And this old man is destroyed, not by the force of our wills, or by any harm we inflict upon ourselves, but by our “partaking of that freedom from it, and death unto it, that is already wrought out for us by the death of Christ: as is signified in our baptism.

 Rom 7:4  “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ. . .”

 Marshall concludes, “Christ died, not that we might be able to form a holy nature in ourselves, but that we might receive one ready prepared and formed in Christ for us, by union and fellowship with him.”

 By His Resurrection Christ took a Spiritual life and that by being united to Christ we share in that same spiritual life.

 Rom 6:4-5,  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For, if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

 #2 Second, the mystery of sanctification is the way in which we receive from Christ a holy frame of heart from Him.  It is by our being In Christ, and have Christ Himself in us; and that not merely by His universal preference as He is God, but by such a close union, as that we are one spirit and one flesh with Him.

 One of the key word pictures in the book of Revelation that describes our relationship to Christ is marriage.  In marriage a man and a woman are joined together and the two become one.  This is a picture of what happens with Christ and His people.

 Ephesians 5:31-32, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

 There are many places in the New Testament that allude to such a relationship.  In fact, Marshall lists 7 examples of the type of union we have with Christ.

 We receive from Christ a new holy frame and nature, whereby we are enabled for a holy practice, by union and fellowship with him; in like manner:

 1) As Christ lived our nature by the Father – John 6:57

2) As we receive original sin and death propagated to us from the first Adam – Romans 5:12-17

3) As the natural body receives sense, motion, and nourishment from the head – Colossians 2:19

4) As the branch receives its sap, juice and fructifying virtue from the vine – John 15:4-5

5) As the wife brings forth fruit by virtue of her conjugal union with her husband—Romans 7:4

6) As stones become a holy temple by being built upon the foundation and joined with the chief cornerstone – 1Peter 2:4-6

7) As we receive the nourishing virtue of bread by eating it and of wine, by drinking it – John 6:51-57

 Marshall concludes this chapter, His incarnation, death, and resurrection, were the cause of all holiness that ever was, or shall be given to man, from the fall of Adam to the end of the world; and that by the mighty power of His Spirit, whereby saints that ever were, or shall be, are joined together, to be members of that one mystical body whereof He is the head.


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