However one understands the sovereignty of God, one must reckon with several factors of salvation and experience:
- God is the Creator
- We continue to sin
- Scripture speaks of sanctification as real and as distinct from just believing more
Some wonder, when will sanctification begin? Or, when will God take such and such a sin from me? When will he transform my affections? When will I grow?
Further, some vacillate between waiting upon God and making short-term Herculean efforts to hurl themselves into Heaven. I speak not here to respecting the times and seasons of the spirit, but to those mystified by failure and the ‘inaction’ of God in their lives.
Let me approach this from the standpoint of faith, on whether this failure to grow is simply a failure to believe enough. One can say this only if one equivocates.
For, if what is meant here is that without faith sanctification is impossible, than you will hear no argument from me. But I speak now to the believer, to one who is reasonably convinced of his calling.
So that if what is meant is that belief alone will ordinarily produce change, that the will has no role in moral growth, that merely faith in Christ will one day produce a change which it has never yet produced, I warn this Gnostic, this magician, this sola fideist that they have misunderstood faith (Mtt. 7:24; James 2:14). Will belief (and even a greater faith) be the foundation of change? Yes. But what is that faith?
God did not create you to take your life over for you, particularly in such a manner as to obviate every natural power and supernatural gift.
The Creator has saved you for his glory, but you give him glory in ordering your life to his will.
Does this mean that your will alone can accomplish these works. By no means. It is yet a grace that some part of you is moved now to do what is good and right and pleasing unto God. It is a grace that you recognize you are somehow, in some manner deficient. It is a grace to admit before God that you have not even the will to change.
But without acting on that grace, how are you to begin to earnestly desire more grace, more help? How are you to turn your will, your affections, your mind over to your maker and savior, that is if you are not faithful with what little has been given you?
Will such a surrender itself be grace, indeed, but you shall never know it but in or even after the acting.
Again, I hear someone murmur, you just don’t believe enough. Yet, perhaps acting as if my Savior will indeed meet me, correct me, strengthen me if I ask, perhaps this is real faith. And perhaps it is only through such action (and then through the balm of his loving mercy and the fellowship of his body) that such steps, fragile, foolish, full of error can be transformed into prayer for new grace, new wisdom and mercy, and a new and deeper conversion.
Does your faith believe there is more grace to be had? Or have you become convinced you have seen the limit of his goodness in this life. Woe to such Gnosticism, such pseudo faith (Eph. 3:20).
Have you set out to prove the good and pleasing will of our Father? Does your faith so believe? Or do you wait for God to zap you from without? Do you ultimately think that the whole human apparatus and structure of the church is for nothing?
How can you pray for transformation if you are unwilling to take the least step to be transformed? Is that asking as one ought?
Be warned, the Author and Finisher of our faith, he who is the beginning, the middle, and end, has said in his Word that we are to act. He has called us to a life of a particular pattern and has warned us that some will not inherit the Kingdom, that there is indeed a narrow way.
It will not be by strength of human will that such a kingdom is inherited, but it will not be inherited by those who have withheld their will, who have forgone the need to love God with their all their heart, their soul, and their mind.
Do you believe God enough to set yourself to some discipline he has placed before you, some change that needs to be made, some act of love which he calls you to?
Do not scorn him by treating him as a magician, a puppeteer, or by ignoring him. Take heart, for he is the lover of your soul, your friend and teacher. Take heart for he has purchased all good things for you in his suffering. And put to work that faith he has graciously made available to you.
Do what you can, so that you might find out indeed what you cannot do. There is no other was to ask as we ought. We cannot sufficiently humble ourselves through the intellect alone.
He made us to walk together with him, even as it is he who works in us to will and to do. If he has called you out of hiding, he calls upon you to stumble forth that he might strengthen and mature your walk. Not all things shall be healed in this life, but much can be. Not all shall be mended as we imagine, but all shall be well.
Let your Father heal you. Let him recreate a man. Faith is not made for the mind alone, but faith working in love is made to spill over and transform the whole person. Faith is made to attain to further grace.
If you do not act for him, you will yet act, and it will be only for yourself. Give, instead, God the glory even in your weakness, especially so!