Summary: This is a clergy talk I prepared for a Men’s Walk to Emmaus but with slight modification a sermon I preached on Sanctifying Grace from a Wesleyan-Armenian perspective.
Seth Cook Rees tells of sending his little boy to the store for five items. In a little while, he hurried in, his face aglow with expectancy, and carrying four items instead of five! Rees said he gathered him in his arms and hugged him because of his perfect obedience. He had only one purpose—to obey his father. His mind had denied him a perfect accomplishment, but his heart had held a perfect purpose [--James F. Gregory, Samuel Young, and Roy S. Nicholson, Sr., Aldersgate Doctrinal Studies ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION: STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN HOLINESS, Teacher’s Guide (Marion, Indiana: The Wesleyan Press, 1964), 28.] Good morning! My name is David Reynolds, and the title of my talk is “Sanctifying Grace.”
Please remember there is only one grace—God’s grace, but we describe the way His grace works in us at different stages in our pilgrimage with Him in different terms. Prevenient Grace is God wooing us to Himself, His grace extended to us during His courtship with us. It begins at the instant of our conception and continues until the moment we surrender to the Holy Spirit by saying, “Yes, Lord, I accept the personal, father-child relationship you offer me in Jesus Christ.”
Sanctifying Grace is “the work of the Holy Spirit moving us on toward perfection in love and truth.” This stage of grace has several other names: Christian Perfection, Perfect Love, Heart Purity, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, Christian Holiness. Holiness and sanctification come from the same root and really mean the same although technically sanctification is “the process of making someone or something holy.” Sanctifying Grace is the work of the Holy Spirit molding us into the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ making us like Him. It is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us “holy as God is holy.”
Sanctifying Grace is the work of the Holy Spirit in rooting out sin—moving us from imputed righteousness (what Christ did for us) to imparted
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.”
In Justifying Grace, God “counts, credits, or reckons” us as righteous
because we have put our faith in His Righteous Son, but our hearts are not
actually made righteous. This is how it was with Abraham according to
believed God and it was credited (counted, reckoned) to him as
In Sanctifying Grace our hearts are cleansed from the control of
sin, and we are liberated from slavery to it. The imputed righteousness of
of Justifying Grace is God delivering us from the consequences and penalty of sin; the imparted righteousness of Sanctifying Grace is God delivering us from the control and power of sin so we are enabled to live in the victory of Romans 6:14, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” The Holy Spirit in Sanctifying Grace empowers us victoriously overcome sin.
Sanctifying grace is the process by which the Holy Spirit reveals to us the original righteousness. The moral image of God that was marred in us when our first parents fell into sin is restored, and by His Spirit we are empowered to live a holy life. God created the humanity upright and holy, but we lost that original righteousness as Ecclesiastes 7:29 accurately testifies:
“This only have I found:
God made human beings upright,
but they have gone in search of many schemes.”
Thanks be to God, Sanctifying Grace reveals and restores that original righteousness, as Paul affirms in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” In Sanctifying Grace the Holy Spirit restores our original righteousness by “conforming us into the likeness of Jesus.”
Through Sanctifying Grace the Holy Spirit empowers us to love as God loves. Another term for Sanctification is Perfect Love. Our Lord gives us the two greatest commandments in Mark 12:29-31, “‘The most important one,’
answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
In Sanctifying Grace the Holy Spirit not only empowers us to love our neighbor but our enemies as well. Matthew 5 ends with Jesus’ Commandment: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus never commands something that is not possible. He is not commanding us to be perfect in all things, only to be perfect in love. The context of this commandment includes Mt. 5:44-45, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the children of your Father in heaven . . . .” Sanctifying Grace empowers us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” It is impossible to pray for someone and continue to despise that person as an enemy, but only the Holy Spirit’s Sanctifying Grace can enable us to love in this same fashion that Jesus loves.