[toc]Q36: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:1, 2, 5), increase of grace (Prov. 4:18), and perseverance therein to the end (1 Jn. 5:13).
I. There are several benefits enjoyed by those who are justified, adopted, and sanctified. These can be divided into two kinds.
A. Those flowing from a sense of one’s justification, adoption, and sanctification.
B. Those flowing from being justified, adopted, and sanctified.
II. Benefits flowing from a sense of one’s justification, adoption, and sanctification.
A. Assurance of God’s love: its kinds, ability to be known, nature, fruits, and necessity.
1. Kinds are two: objective, whereby the special love of God to a saint is sure in itself (2 Tim. 2:19); subjective, whereby a child of God is assured that God loves him with a special love (Ga. 2:20).
2. Ability to be known: a believer may know he has relative grace (Rom. 5:1-5; 2 Tim. 1:12).
a. Spirit assures believers (Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 4:30).
b. Many saints have attained it (Job 19:25; 2 Tim. 4:8).
3. Nature: a work of the Spirit by which the saint becomes assured.
a. Spirit shines on the Word, and especially the promises upon the soul, and the saints firmly believe them (Heb. 6:11-12).
b. Spirit shines on the work of grace in the believer’s heart (e.g., love towards God) and the believer discerns it (1 Cor. 2:12).
c. Spirit bears witness with our spirit (Rom. 8:16).
4. Fruits: love toward God (Lk. 7:47; 1 Jn. 4:19); humility (2 Cor. 12:4; cf. v. 11); tenderness and motivation for sanctification (2 Cor. 7:1); lack of desire for the world (Ga. 6:14).
5. Necessity: not to be a Christian, but to the health of the Christian (2 Pet. 1:10).
a. Assurance may be lost by grieving Spirit (Ps. 51:8, 12; Eph. 4:29-30).
b. A young convert may not yet have assurance (1 Jn. 5:13).
B. Peace of conscience: its nature, excellence, appropriation, and maintenance. Peace is a tranquil state of the soul assured of its salvation in Christ; no fear and contentment. Conscience literally means “the self that knows with itself.” It is God’s voice in the soul and bears witness to the standards or authorities that one recognizes.
1. Nature: being justified the war with God is ended (Jn. 3:36; Rom. 5:1) and guilt removed (1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:3; Heb. 9:14).
2. Excellency: it is the sap reminding the saints of God’s love and favor (Ps. 73:24-26), even in the midst of trials (Jn. 16:33).
3. Appropriation: Christ’s obedience procured it (Isa. 53:5; Eph. 2:15); the saint obtains it by a believing application of Christ’s blood (Rom. 15:13); God speaks it upon the soul (Ps. 51:8; Isa. 57:19).
4. Maintenance: a must (Acts 24:16), by purposing in the heart to follow the Lord (Acts 11:23); watching against sin (1 Cor. 10:12); depending upon the Lord for direction (Prov. 3:5-6); walking in all known duties (Ga. 6:16).
C. Joy in the Holy Spirit: its subjects, objects, Author, and means. “Joy is peace dancing” (C.H. Spurgeon).
1. Subjects: saints alone have true spiritual joy (Rom. 14:17; Phil. 3:3); though not at all times (Ps. 51:8).
2. Objects: primarily God in Christ (Rom. 5:11; Phil. 3:3) for God is terrifying outside of Christ (Heb. 12:29); secondarily, the leading and corollary benefits (justification, adoption, and sanctification, etc. [Isa. 61:10]); hope (Rom. 5:2).
a. These objects are the desire of the saint (2 Sam. 23:5) and their reception brings joy as the saint derives joy from his sense of an interest in these objects (Jn. 20:28).
3. Author: Spirit shedding abroad God’s love in the heart (Rom. 5:5).
4. Means: externally, the Word (Ps. 119:162), and the sacraments which confirm and seal the Word of grace to the soul (Acts 8:39); internally, faith (Rom. 15:13; 1 Pet. 1:8).
III. Benefits flowing from being justified, adopted, and sanctified (Prov. 4:18).
A. Increase of grace: the fact, manner, and causes.
1. Fact: true grace does grow like a seed or leaven (Matt. 13:31, 33), or as a child does from a young man and into a father (1 Jn. 2:13; cf. Eph. 4:13); which is God’s design for His ordinances (Eph. 4:11-12).
2. Manner: inward, cleaving to Christ as Head (Eph. 4:15; 2 Thess. 1:9); outward, in good works and piety towards God (Eph. 2:10); humility (Job 42:5-6).
3. Causes: union with Christ (Jn. 15:4); communion with Christ (Jn. 6:57); ordinances (Ps. 92:13; Isa. 55:10-11; Acts 8:39); through the Spirit (Isa. 44:3-4); in afflictions (Jn. 15:2; Phil. 1:19).
B. Perseverance in grace: its definition, certainty, grounds, means, and objections to.
1. Definition: to persevere is to abide in a state into which one is brought (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
a. It is not to be understood of all who profess Christ, for one may fall from his profession (Isa. 29:13; Jer. 2:1-9; Matt. 7:21-23; 13:21; Tit. 1:16).
(1). Apostasy: a deliberate repudiation and abandonment of the faith that one has professed (Jn. 6:66; 1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 4:10; Judas).
b. It is to be understood of all real saints, for faith possessing Christians cannot finally fall away (Jn. 8:35; 1 Jn. 2:19), but they can temporarily.
(1). Peter temporarily fell away (Jn. 18:15-27; cf. 21:15-19).
(2). David took months before he repented of his sins of murder and adultery (2 Sam. 11:1–12:15a).
(3). Saints may suffer an eclipse of grace (Isa. 50:10; 59:7-10), decaying in its strength (Rev. 3:2), and love (Rev. 2:4); though they will never totally fall away (Ps. 37:24).
2. Certainty: the Lord’s promises (Pss. 89:31-34; 125:1; Jn. 10:28-29; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:5), the saints hope (Ps. 73:24; Rom. 5:2; 8:38-39; 2 Tim. 1:12); perseverance is Scripture’s discriminating mark between the wheat and the tares (Matt. 24:24; Lk. 8:13-15; 1 Jn. 2:19).
3. Grounds: immutability of God’s decree (Jer. 31:3; 2 Tim. 2:19); merit and intercession of Christ (Jn. 17:20-21; cf. 11:42; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1 Pet. 1:18-21); seal of the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30); mystical union (Ga. 2:20); everlasting covenant (Jer. 32:40).
4. Means: God has joined together the ends and the means (Lk. 21:19; Acts 27:22; cf. v. 31; Rev. 3:10); the ordinances (2 Pet. 1:10); providences (Jn. 15:2; Ja. 5:11); all duties and exercise of graces (1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Tim. 1:12-13; 1 Jn. 5:18).
a. “Eternal security means a believer may do whatever he wants and be saved.” Refuted: a true believer will want to do the Lord’s will, striving after holiness, living a life of repentance and faith (Rom. 2:7; Col. 1:22-23; 1 Pet. 1:1-2).
b. “Perseverance means that believers are saved by their own effort.” Refuted: salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8-9), and though the believer is to be “diligent” (2 Pet. 1:10), and is exhorted to “endure” (Matt. 10:22), “overcome” (Rev. 2:26), “work out” (Phil. 2:12), and “hold fast” (Heb. 3:6, 14), it is always by God’s grace that he is kept (1 Pet. 1:5) and is actuated (Phil. 1:6).
c. Scripture warns against falling away (e.g., Heb. 2:1; 3:12). The warnings are intended to induce men to cooperate willingly with God for the accomplishment of His purposes. They produce humility, watchfulness, and diligence. They show us our duty, not our ability; our weakness, not strength—fence posts used as God’s means.
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. These benefits (of sense) are a great treasure to the saint and will accordingly be guarded from their loss or decay due to sloth or lack of faith. Ordinances and duties must be attended for growth in grace.
2. True peace can only be maintained by holy tenderness (1 Jn. 3:3); false peace is not founded on truth (Jer. 6:14; 1 Jn. 3:20-21).
3. Christianity is not a melancholy experience, but joyous (Phil. 4:4; Rom. 5:1-5; Ja. 1:2-3).
4. Perseverance is certain, though so are the means unto that end. The Christian may fail in duty, but while this does not annul his adopted status it does break communion (1 Jn. 1:9).
B. Use, of testing.
1. If these benefits are lacking, enter into self-examination (2 Cor. 13:5), though God may hide His face without sin being the cause (Ps. 88).
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. Flee to the blood of Christ for a clean conscience, peace of soul, and joy inexpressible.
2. Saints. Be frequent in self-examination, and in praying for the witness of the Spirit. Keep your conscience tenderized by the Word, strive to maintain joy in the Lord, and attend unto ordinances and duties diligently to grow in grace. Persevere (Matt. 10:22), and beware lest Satan (1 Pet. 5:8), the world (1 Jn. 2:15-17), and your flesh cause you loss (2 Jn. 8). Be comforted in all providences (Rom. 8:28; Phil. 1:6).