We’ve pontificated a lot about what it means to be a man – what Biblical manhood looks like, how it behaves in relation to its environment, and the ways in which it has been perverted and distorted over the years. But the problem with these sorts of posts is that in and of themselves, they do not actually solve any problems.
At the end of the day, millions of women and children need strong, godly men in their lives now more than ever. And men? It’s all very well and good to tell them to step up, to pick up the slack, and to stop acting like boys. But what men everywhere really need is Jesus. They need the gospel, and they need salvation.
Sadly, decades of altar calls and evangelism crusades have left us with a distorted picture of kneeling before an altar or praying with a camp counselor, reciting a certain combination of words while under the influence of powerful emotional and spiritual feelings. And this, such as it is, is not a bad thing, and praise God that many have come to Him in just this sort of way. But it’s not salvation. It’s not the gospel – at least, not the whole picture.
Some theologians like to take this act of grace that we call salvation and divide it up into three stages or phases: Justification, the once-and-for-all atonement for and absolution of my sins by the blood of Jesus Christ; Sanctification, the continuing work of grace in my life in which Jesus, despite my own halting weakness, continues to make me more and more like Him; and Glorification – the completion and culmination of the work of redemption, both final and unending, when I am at last freed of my flesh and my sin nature and am able to bask for all eternity in the light of Christ’s perfection.
Let me say that these distinctions, such as they are, are helpful in as much as they help us marvel at the work of Christ in redemption. Jesus comes to meet us where we are (Justification) but he does not leave us where we are (Sanctification) and day by day we are being made more like Him, being filled more and more with a longing to be with him and to worship him. And someday, because of His sacrifice, that desire will be fulfilled (Glorification) over and over again, forever and ever in an eternal feast of joy and a completion that becomes more and more complete.
But these distinctions have also more than once proven a stumbling block to those who would seek to justify their own human understanding of the nature of God and of his sovereignty, and who would presume attribute God’s power and ultimate authority to sanctification and glorification, but not to Justification, as though the latter were somehow less an act of sovereign grace than the rest. There are other errors too, but this is one of the most glaring.
This is all a lot of introduction to set up next week’s post, in which I want to talk about the sanctification of the believer specifically within the context of biblical manhood, and what it is for which men should be looking in this regard. But I wanted to begin by establishing the underlying thought process of sanctification as merely one part of the Whole known as the Gospel, lest in focusing on the former we should lose perspective of the latter.
Next week: Becoming a Worshipful Man.