One-And-Done? Ongoing? Later?

If I were to ask five different Christians to give me a definition of sanctification, I just might get five different definitions!

Part of this comes from incorrect either-or thinking. However, Jesus seems to tell us that sanctification requires a both-and thinking.

In Christ’s prayer for His followers in John 17, He uses the word sanctified three times (see verses 17-19). Although He is using the same Greek word each time, He uses a different “flavor” of the word to make it really clear what He means.

First of all, the Greek word for sanctified means the process of being made into a saint. So sometimes I like to say the word this way: SAINT-ified.

Check out Christ’s prayer. First He says, “I sanctify Myself,” and then He says, “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Same Greek word, but each time is slightly tweaked.

Jesus uses a “flavor” of Greek which means sanctification is something that He has done completely and totally on His own once and for all. In other words, Christians are completely and totally sanctified at the very moment they surrender their life to Him.

But when He talks about His followers, the “flavor” of Greek means sanctification is something that is an ongoing process. In other words, we are being SAINT-ified.

So which is it? Sanctified once, or sanctified through an ongoing process?

It’s not either-or. It’s both-and!

Think about a married couple. From the moment the pastor says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” they are married. It is done; fully completed. There is nothing the bride or groom can do to become more married.

However, the groom can begin to look at the marriage through his bride’s eyes. Then he can serve her in a way that helps her feel more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within the marriage. Neither of them becomes more married, but they can get more enjoyment within the marriage.

The same thing for Christians. At the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we are saved from the penalty of our sins. We can’t be more saved. But through the process of SANIT-ificiation we can experience more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within our relationship with Jesus.

My paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:15-16—But just as He who called you has paid for your once-for-all saint-ification, so keep on being saint-ified in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What about you? Are you satisfied with just being saved, or are you striving for a joy-filled, more fulfilling, increasingly satisfied relationship with Jesus Christ? It can truly be a wonderful both-and relationship!

Does Either-Or Work?

Sometimes I read about this debate whether churches should be “attractional” or “missional.” The first approach says that church should attract people first, and then share the gospel with them. The second approach says that if churches simply focus on sharing the gospel they will then attract people.

Either-or. Either missional or attractional.

What about both-and?

Consider the life of Jesus. No one would ever argue that He wasn’t “on mission” all the time. In fact, numerous times He says, “I’m doing what My Father wants me to do,” or even, “It’s not time for me to do that yet.” Jesus was missional.

And yet… “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that He was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them! (Luke 15:1-2). People loved being around Jesus. Jesus was attractional.

Jesus exemplified both-and missional-attractional. I think He was able to perfectly balance this because of the work of the Holy Spirit. I can aim for the both-and of missional-attractional in my life … I can give it my best shot. But the only way I can truly achieve anything is by allowing the Holy Spirit to shape and direct my life, just as He did for Jesus. Henry & Melvin Blackaby, in their book Experiencing The Holy Spirit, wrote —

The world doesn’t need to see good people giving their best to God; they need to encounter God doing in and through us what only He can do! …Our best isn’t good enough when it comes to kingdom work; we need the Holy Spirit in our lives if we’re going to be of use to God.”

I need the Holy Spirit in my life if I’m going to be of use to God, and be of any benefit to people.

I need the Holy Spirit in my life if I’m going to balance both-and missional-attractional like Jesus.

Both-And Compassion In Action

At 10:30 this morning I picked up my cell phone to call Barney. I knew his daughter, Alysia, had gone in for a routine tonsillectomy early this morning and I wanted to check on her. Just as I was scrolling down to his number, my phone began to ring: it was Barney calling me.

“Hey, Barney, I was just getting ready to call you….”

“Pastor,” he interrupted, “we’re in trouble. Before they could do Alysia’s surgery, she stopped breathing and her heart stopped beating. It seems okay now, but my daughter almost died. They’re taking her to ICU right now. I don’t know what to do.”

I hurried over to Hurley Hospital and went right into the ICU. Alysia was doing better, but her blood pressure was still very low, and her heartbeat was racing. After spending some time talking with the nurses and praying with Alysia, I slipped out so her Mom, Maria, could stay with her, and I went back out to the waiting room to see Barney.

“Barney, I think she’s stablized now. It’s going to be okay. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes, Pastor, would you pray with these kids.” He motioned to four crying teenagers sitting together in the opposite corner of the waiting room. “Their friend, Christopher, just passed away. I’ve been talking to them, but I would really like you to pray with them.”

Pray with them?!? His daughter is laying in an ICU room, and he’s concerned about some teenagers — whom he has never met before — in the midst of their grief. Wow! I immediately thought of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Jim Collins writes about The Genius Of And, and Barney beautifully exhibited that. He was both concerned about Alysia and Christopher’s friends too. In my trials, how often do I become completely self-focused? Thanks, Barney, for a great example of Both-And compassion in action.

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