Major Biblical metaphors and verses that underline the truth of progressive sanctification:
a ) Change or transformation (II Cor.3:18).
b) Renewal (Rom.12:2)
c) Growth of humans and plants (II Peter 3:18; Heb.5:11-14).
d) Increasing (more and more) (Phil.1:9; I Thess.4:1, 10)
e) Victory in the battle or race (overcoming, resist, fight, exercise, run)
f) Backsliding is the opposite of going forward!
We are told in Scripture to “grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord” (II Peter 3:18). Grace in Scripture not only means God’s irresistible power in salvation but also its fruit which is spiritual beauty, hence Christ was full of grace and truth (John 1:14).Does this metamorphosis in II Corinthians 3:18 not mean change for the better and an enlargement of character? Listen to John Gill, “But grow in grace,…. In the gifts of grace, which, under a divine blessing, may be increased by using them: gifts neglected decrease, but stirred up and used, are improved and increase. And though men are to be thankful for their gifts, and be contented with them, yet they may lawfully desire more, and in the use of means seek an increase of them, which may be a means of preserving themselves, and others, from the error of the wicked. Moreover, by “grace” may be meant internal grace. The work of grace is gradual; it is like a grain of mustard seed, or like seed cast into the earth, which springs up, it is not known how, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; saints are first babes, and from children they grow to young men, and from young men to fathers. There is such a thing as growth in grace, in this sense; every grace, as to its act and exercise, is capable of growing and increasing; faith may grow exceedingly, hope abound, love increase, and patience have its perfect work, and saints may grow more humble, holy, and self-denying: this is indeed God’s work, to cause them to grow, and it is owing to his grace; yet saint, should show a concern for this, and make use of means which God owns and blesses for this purpose, such as prayer, attending on the word, and looking over the promises of God, for an increase of faith;” The fact we are born again and can mature (Hebrews 5:12-14) must of necessity mean we GROW! Here’s Puritan Thomas Boston on the topic,” “Having nourishment ministered, they increase with the increase of God,” Col. 2:19.
“The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon,” Psalm 92:12.
Grace is of a growing nature; in the way to Zion, they go from strength to strength. Though the holy man is at first a little child in grace—yet at length he becomes a young man; then a father, 1 John 2:13. Though he does but creep in the way to heaven sometimes—yet afterwards he walks, he runs, he mounts up with wings as eagles, Isaiah 40:31. If a branch grafted into a stock never grows, it is a plain evidence of its not having knit with the stock.” Amen.
We are not speaking about our being set apart and being justified and sanctified in Christ, which is our standing both now and forever! We are talking about what we ARE! Look at Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Does growth, in relation to plants or animals not mean a getting bigger and more mature? Was Peter when writing his epistle the same man who denied Christ thrice? I think not, for he knew his future and was prepared to die for his Lord. Was the son of thunder who would bring down fire from heaven in the gospel, the same John , the apostle of love, who wrote his epistles? Again I think not!
Dear believing friend we are made a new man in Christ and this new man can be and is renewed daily (Romans 12:2, Col.3:10, Eph.4:23). Why would Paul pray the following if it were not God’s will, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 5:23). Holiness can be and will be perfected in us, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1). We are saved from the dominion of sin, we shall be saved from the presence of sin, meantime we are being saved from and have to work out salvation from the power of sin. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure( Phil.2:12-13). Yes our old man is untouched, yes the blessed Spirit in us changeth not, but WE, the new man created in Christ Jesus, are meant to, and will, grow! By his unchanging omnipotent irresistible grace!
This is creedal. Belgic Confession Article 24
This message underlines the truth: LRF sermon Oct 26th 2014