The brouhaha over sanctification seems to be petering out, thanks be to God. What’s that you ask? Certain segments of Confessional Lutherans have been arguing in various places online about the third use of the Law and preaching sanctification. And many of them have a view of Lutheran preaching that generations and generations of Lutherans would never recognize.
It is a sign of my own lack of sanctification that I can barely address this without calling the other side names and getting way too upset. Ironic isn’t it? So instead of an impassioned, unbecoming and sinful rant, I appeal to Pr. Peters. He writes,
What I am concerned about is that the huff has created an atmosphere in which we feel it is safe only to preach justification and to leave all the rest unsaid and up to the Spirit. Such preaching would be clearly out of step with both our Lutheran forbearers and with the catholic and evangelical faith prior to the Reformation. We must preach the whole counsel of God and this includes the preaching of sanctification — not as the rehabilitation of the old man (for he has died in baptism) but as the birth of the new person created in Christ Jesus for good works that glorify God and show forth that faith is genuine. There is a certain synergism here but not one in which we can credit ourselves for the progress. We are teaching the old dog new tricks. We are becoming the people we have been declared to be in our baptism. We are reaching forth with the new desire of the hearts made new for the good that is both our purpose and the fruit of Christ at work in us. The same Jesus who justifies us sinners before God is the one who is at work in us so that we show forth His righteousness in our daily lives. There is progress here (not one which we may chart or one for which we can take credit) but the Christian through the means of grace grows in grace and this has positive effect in our life and conversation.
To quote Luther:
This life is not godliness, but growth in godliness;
not health, but healing;
not being, but becoming;
not rest, but exercise.
We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way;
the process is not yet finished, but it has begun;
this is not the goal, but it is road;
at present all does not gleam and glitter, but everything is being purified.