Gottes Werk der Heiligung

Ein lesenswerter Abschnitt, in dem Bavinck die Heiligung der Gläubigen als Gottes Werk anhand der NT-Briefe aufzeigt. Solche Zusammenstellungen sind in sich ein Grund, sich die vier Bände der Dogmatik anzuschaffen!

Since the redemption that God grants and works out in Christ is meant to accomplish complete deliverance from sin and all its consequences, it includes sanctification and glorification from the very beginning, along with Justification.

… Believers are people who by the grace of God have not only received the forgiveness of sins but by their baptism have also been brought into fellowship with Christ, who died and rose again (Rom. 6:3–11), have been transferred out of darkness into the light (Col. 1:13), and now constitute an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9).

They have received Christ not only as righteousness but also as ἁγιασμος (hagiasmos)—not holiness, as ἁγιοτης (hagiotēs) or ἁγιωσυνη (hagiōsynē), but sanctification—so that what is in view here is not the result but the progression of sanctification or consecration to God (cf. Rom. 6:22; 1 Thess. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 12:14).

They have been transferred into a state of holiness (1 Thess. 4:4, 7; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9) and were therefore washed and sanctified (1 Cor. 6:11), are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16), with whom they were marked with a seal for the day of redemption (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10), children of God not only by adoption but also by regeneration (John 1:12–13; 1 John 1:3), saints (Rom. 1:7; etc.) and sanctified (Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 2:11; 10:10, 14). Sanctification, accordingly, is in the first place a work of God (John 17:17; 1 Thess. 5:23; Phil. 1:6), more specifically of Christ and his Spirit (Rom. 8:4, 9–11; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:11; Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 2:11; 9:14; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12; 1 Pet. 1:2).

It is precisely for that reason, since God enables them both to will and to work, that believers must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12–13; 2 Pet. 1:10). They must keep their entire spirit, soul, and body blameless in sanctification until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4; Phil. 2:15; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23). Though they are in the flesh and continually have to battle against the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1; Gal. 5:17)—Paul himself in fact has not yet attained perfection (Phil. 3:12) and only expects it with the redemption of this “body of death” (Rom. 7:24; 8:23)—still they are called to purify themselves from all pollution of flesh and spirit, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 7:1), to crucify the flesh with all its passions and desires, to present their members as instruments of righteousness (Rom. 6:13; Gal. 5:24), not to sin but to overcome the world, to keep God’s commandments, to purify themselves, and to walk in the light (1 John 1:7; 2:1; 3:6, 9; 5:4; etc.). They sum up all these commandments in the practice of love (Rom. 12:10; 13:8–10; 1 Cor. 13; Eph. 1:4; 5:2; Col. 3:14; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:11ff.; 4:8; and so forth) and exclude all merely human precepts and self-willed religion (Matt. 15:9; Col. 2:18, 20–23; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:23; Heb. 13:9; Rev. 2:14–15).
Though in some circumstances marriage may be inadvisable and undesirable (1 Cor. 7:8; 20ff.), the prohibition to marry and the injunction to abstain from foods is a teaching of those who have departed from the faith (1 Tim. 4:3). For nothing is unclean of itself (Matt. 15:11; Rom. 14:14); every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:4–5); grace does not suspend nature (1 Cor. 7:20–23), and no one ever hates his own body but nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church (Eph. 5:29).
Christians are indeed called to follow a simple lifestyle (1 Tim. 2:9; Titus 2:3; 1 Pet. 3:3) and to flee the desires of the world (1 John 2:15–17). While physical training is of some value, the main thing is godliness (1 Tim. 4:7–8) in conjunction with righteousness and self-control (Titus 2:12).
With many compelling reasons believers are urged to live this holy kind of life. They are obligated to this because God has first loved them, has had compassion on them, and has shown his love to them in Christ (Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 8:9; 1 John 4:19). They owe it to God because with Christ they have died to sin and been raised to a new life (Rom. 6:3–13; Col. 3:1–2); because they are not under the law but under grace and belong to Christ so as to bear fruit for God (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; Gal. 2:19); because they do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit and are temples of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:5; 1 Cor. 6:15ff.); because they are children of light and must walk in the light (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 John 1:6; etc.). A complete summary of these compelling reasons is impossible because there are so many. Among them, however, the reward of future glory occupies a significant place as well. All the benefits that believers enjoy or will obtain are gifts of the grace of God (Rom. 6:23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 2:8; etc.), yet everyone is rewarded according to his works (Rom. 2:6–11; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5; Rev. 2:23; 20:12). Godliness holds promise for this life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8). The thought of future glory spurs them on to patience and perseverance (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 15:19; 2 Cor. 4:10, 17; Rev. 2:7, 10–11, 17; etc.). For God rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6, 26). He distributes a just penalty for all transgression and disobedience (2:2), but also rewards generosity (1 Tim. 6:19), confidence of faith (Heb. 10:35), self-denial (Heb. 11:26), and the labor of his servants (1 Cor. 3:8, 14; 9:18; Col. 3:24; 2 Tim. 4:8; etc.).
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4:232 + 234-235
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