The full question:

Critically assess a chapter of the Westminster’s teaching, historical context, and impact and relevance. Evaluation of the historical context should form a major component of the essay, and include assessment of the minutes, correlation and contrast with at least four relevant 17th-century theological treatises, and other creeds and confessions as appropriate.

ABSTRACT

Chapter thirteen of the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) deals with sanctification. It summarises the teachings of Scripture and addresses a historical context that held many confusions in regard to the sanctification of a believer. These misinterpretations are just as relevant today as they were when the Assembly addressed them in the Confession. Progressive sanctification is real and perfectionism in this life is impossible. At the same time, there is hope of growth and maturity because of ‘the sanctifying Spirit of Christ’.

Introduction

The Westminster Assembly (1643-52) came after ‘almost 125 years of Protestant theology’ and so is considered by some to be ‘the theological climax of a very great theological era’.[1] It was held during the upheaval of the English Civil Wars, ‘a time of immense turbulence’.[2] In 1643 the ‘legal and ecclesiastical structures of the Church of England was torn down and an Assembly of Divines was called’.[3] It was a servant of Parliament predominantly consisting of ‘an English body’ which means ‘the English context must be grasped to understand it’.[4] They all had an outlook of ‘generic Calvinism’ and yet still held a ‘diversity of views’.[5] Their goal was not to reinvent the wheel, but rather ‘the conservation of the theological work of the past century…was to be the hallmark of the Assembly’.[6] There was some compromise, which is ‘inevitable in a group of 150 people’ but they did hold key distinctives in comparison to Rome, Lutheranism, Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Arminianism and Amyraldianism.[7] The focus of this paper is Chapter Thirteen ‘Of Sanctification’. Various concepts are refuted by their statements, particularly Antinomians, through their emphasis on the Christian life being ‘both forgiveness and renewal’.[8] Although there is much debate on various topics, salvation (Ch. 8-18) is one ‘of the least controversial…basically, this is one area where the divines agreed with one another and where Scripture spoke plainly’.[9] The three sections of this chapter will be assessed. What they taught, the historical context and the relevance for today will each be considered in turn. The topic of sanctification is vital in the Christian life as some consider it to be ‘the current which flows between the two poles of grace and glory’.[10]

13.1 Of Sanctification

Text: They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection,[11] by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them;[12] the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,[13] and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified,[14] and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces,[15] to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.[16] [17]

What is Taught

It begins by outlining what precedes sanctification: effectual calling and regeneration. Once this has occurred a ‘further’ sanctification continues. This implies that being called and regenerated are similar to sanctification. Due to the ‘new heart’ and ‘new spirit’ one is sanctified ‘really and personally’. Furthermore, the phrase ‘in them’ relates the concept of sanctification closely to effectual calling and regeneration. Williamson makes the observation that ‘sanctification simply continues the nurture and development of that new nature which is brought into being by regeneration and into operation by effectual calling’.[18] Hodge realises that a ‘new heart’ is a prerequisite for ‘progressive’ sanctification as ‘the moral character of all action is derived from the inward moral dispositions and affections which prompt them’.[19] Jesus points this out plainly when he teaches that it is from the heart comes ‘evil things’ (Mark 7:20-23). This concept of progressive sanctification is in comparison to initial sanctification. The regeneration of a ‘new creature’ and ‘dominion of sin’ being destroyed is the initial concept of sanctification. As Letham points out, from the citation in the Confession of Romans 6:6, 14, is that what has taken place is ‘an irreversible change’.[20] The progressive side of sanctification is the weakening of ‘the several lusts’ and the strengthening ‘in all saving graces’ which continues more and more. In summary, ‘the same work which is begun in regeneration is carried on in sanctification, until the new creature attains to the full stature of a perfect man in Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).[21] This means that sanctification is a work of grace. It is ‘through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection; by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them’. It is not through the work of any individual but entirely through the work of Christ (Rom. 6:5-6; 1 Cor. 6:11). His death and resurrection is the answer to a believer’s death to the old self and new life as Christ’s new spiritual body. Perkins speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection and its relation to sanctification by noting that, ‘herein stands the power, when we be made conformable to His death in regard of the death of sin, and know the virtue of His resurrection by our hole endeavor in new obedience’.[22] For, ‘the grace of God does not exclude our action, but, on the contrary, it calls us into action’.[23] Hence, the Westminster states, ‘the practice of true holiness’.[24] It also cites Colossians 1:11 and Ephesians 3:16-19 where the concept of being ‘strengthened’ for love and service is emphasised. This does not negate the entire work being God’s work, as ‘Christians sometimes summarise salvation as if one part of its progress is to be credited to God and one part to us’.[25] On the contrary, Paul’s opinion is that all of his hard work is completely by the grace of God (1 Cor 15:10). This truth is assuring because without this ‘no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb. 12:14).

Furthermore, this also speaks of the interconnectedness between God’s beginning work and continuing work. God’s salvation ‘is a package deal, which flowers into many different aspects, into eternity’.[26] This is all because of relationship with God by his ‘Spirit dwelling in them’. Hendry notes:

Sanctification is concerned with the manner in which the sinner, who by God’s free grace is made to belong to God, becomes the kind of person who is fit to belong to God, not because he doubts his belonging to God by grace and prefers to earn this distinction by his own efforts, but by the transforming power of the relationship itself.[27]

The Spirit ‘in them’ points to the expectation of receiving the Spirit ‘in connection with salvation, and not as a later blessing’.[28] For as the Westminster Larger Catechism (LC) notes, sanctification is ‘through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them’.[29] God chose people ‘to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit’ (2 Thess. 2:13). Though the Westminster does not only state the Spirit as doing this work, but also ‘his Word’, which is the means the Spirit uses. Just as Jesus ‘promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples’ he asked that they would be sanctified ‘in the truth; your word is truth’ (John 17:17).[30] Again, in Ephesians (5:26) there is the link between being sanctified and ‘the word’.[31] Dixhoorn sees that this combination of the Word and Spirit as, ‘with the truth of God’s Word the Holy Spirit will make us grow spiritually and will sanctify us by his truth’.[32] This combination is also used in reference to Christ governing a believer’s heart (WCF 8.8), God’s effectual call (WCF 10.1, 4; cf. LC 2, 43) and good works are commanded by the Word and made capable wholly by the Spirit of Christ (WCF 16.1, 3). Hodge sees this combination as referring to both an inward and outward element. Inwardly with the fellowship of the Spirit and outwardly are the truths of Scripture (John 17:17, 19; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2:2).[33] Due to other uses of this term by the Westminster Assembly it seems likely the Word refers to God’s revelation in the Scriptures which the Spirit uses (LC 2, 43, 67, 72, 155; SC 24, 89).

Historical Context

The minutes record there being debates on the content of the chapter and the Scriptural proofs[34], but none of the content of the debates are recorded. Although the minutes do include records of debates, ‘their coverage of debate is spotty’.[35] At this time Reformed theology had a ‘network of communication that had always existed between the Reformed communities of Britain and the continent’.[36] Along with catechisms and compendiums that summarised the faith. Other confessions of the time such as the Savoy Declaration of Faith (1658) and the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1646/1677/1689) are virtually identical to the Westminster Confession.[37] Even though there was some consensus in general, there was also some who the Assembly were particularly aware of in discussing the issue of sanctification.

The Assembly were careful to consider how to phrase this chapter of sanctification due to the ‘local doctrinal aberrations such as Antinomianism’ they had a ‘Puritan conscience, as well as Puritan theology’ which ‘reacted with vigour to any such notion’ that Antinomians upheld.[38] Antinomians believe that Christians ‘are sanctified only by the holiness of Christ being imputed to them, and that there is no inherent holiness infused into them, nor required of them’.[39] John Eaton, known as the father of English Antinomianism, considered the believer incapable of being seen as sinning by God.[40] The Confession counters this concept by emphasising how one is sanctified ‘really and personally’. Sanctification is personal, ‘wrought in the hearts of believers, and produced in their tempers and lives…they are the effects of the Holy Spirit imparted to us’.[41] Progressive sanctification is necessary for ‘without which no man shall see the Lord’.

Another conflicting belief that the Confession is addressing are the Romanists. They ‘confound justification with sanctification’ which leads to ‘various dangerous mistakes’.[42] One being a conflation of justification leading to not only a pardon but also ‘the infusion of holiness’.[43] The Confession is clear on the interrelated nature of being regenerated and sanctified but distinguishes between justification and sanctification by not mentioning the former in this chapter. The Larger Catechism helpfully outlines the exact difference. Justification ‘imputes righteousness’ but sanctification infuses grace which enables ‘the exercise thereof’. It finishes with:

The one does equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in thi life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection. (77)

All that are justified are likewise sanctified, their faith being always accompanied with true repentance and good works’.[44]

Impact and Relevance

Each concept stated within this first point of chapter thirteen is just as relevant as when it was written. Antinomianism and legalism are found in teaching today such as ‘Methodism and Keswick teaching’.[45] Prominent authors such as Rob Bell[46] and Tchividjian[47] each support antinomianism and a misunderstanding of sanctification and its requirement for a believer. The concept of ‘easy believism/free grace’ today is also challenged by this point in the Westminster because sanctification is not optional, it is a reality to the believer who is regenerated. The message of Scripture must be continuously upheld and the grace of God that expresses itself in the life of every believer ‘to the practice of true holiness’ must be taught today. This magnifies God’s grace and causes each individual to realise their great debt and overwhelming need for ‘his Word and Spirit dwelling in them’. It also provides great help in instructing how sanctification comes about as Dixhoorn neatly summarises:

By trusting in the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection; by diligent study, trust, and application of the Word of God; and by humbly asking the Spirit of God to help us fight sin and love what is good, by his grace and through his power.[48]

This is impactful and relevant to every generation.

13.2 Of Sanctification

Text: This sanctification is throughout in the whole man,[49] yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part,[50] whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh[51].[52]

What is Taught

The first section provided direction in defining sanctification and the next two sections ‘remind us of its existential dimensions. They tell us about the experience of sanctification’.[53] Point two does not add to the discussion as much as explain point one further. Sanctification extends to ‘the whole man’. This involves the ‘intellect, affections and will, soul and body’.[54]

The Scriptural reference (1 Thess. 5:23) points to the need for prayer. It is ‘because God’s sanctifying work is ‘imperfect in this life’. It is not defective, but it is incomplete’.[55] There will never be a time where sanctification is absolutely perfect on this earth. This sets sanctification on a different plane to justification as that occurs as a onetime act. A struggle will always be present as there remains ‘some remnants of corruption in every part’. This acknowledgement of the ‘remnants’ directly opposes a ‘neonomianism’ concept that a believer’s good works were acceptable ‘before the divine bar’.[56] Instead, good works, ‘which were the fruit of a person’s sanctified state, were nevertheless tainted because of the abiding remnants of corruption throughout the whole person’.[57] The Assembly is clear that ‘temptations will often foil believers; they will fall into various sins from time to time, while even their best works will be defiled (LC 78)’.[58] Jesus’ disciple John, ‘an intern by the Great Physician himself, said that if we deny the presence of sin in our lives we make God a liar (1 John 1:10)’ and the apostle Paul ‘freely told the Philippians that he was not perfect (Phil. 3:12)’ which ‘must be true of lesser men also’.[59]

There is a war that never ends between the spirt and the flesh (Gal. 5:17).[60] Christians have ‘crucified the flesh with its passions and desires’ (5:24). This point shows a pastoral and realistic understanding in the Assembly to warn of this war.[61] Here is a war with the consequences of life or death (Rom. 8:13). The struggle is real because the Spirit dwelling in a believer and provides some hope which the next point further elaborates.

Historical Context

This point directly contradicts the concept of perfectionism, which is represented by different parties[62], but some from the time teach that only a few can attain freedom from the ‘dominion of sin’, that one can be justified without ‘having the victory over the dominion of sin’ and it is achievable in this life to be free from ‘consciously sinning’.[63] The Council of Trent, on the other hand, presented the concept that a believer does not ‘actually’ sin, there merely remains concupiscence in a believer, which is not ‘truly and properly sin’.[64] This idea is contradicted by the Westminster and the Word of God (e.g. 1 John 1:8, 10). Instead there is a new power within a child of God that is in conflict with sin. The Irish Articles of Religion (1615) also state, ‘The regenerate cannot fulfil the law of God perfectly in this life’ (43).[65] Dickson points out those who claim to be free from any remnants of sin, ‘the Papists, Socinians, Quakers, and Anabaptists affirm and maintain a perfect inherent holiness in this life’. He concludes, ‘they are confuted’.[66] This whole concept of legalistic perfectionism presents an idea that there are two different categories of Christians. The ordinary who are not yet perfect and the sanctified who ‘have arrived at perfection’.[67] This can also be seen throughout the Bible as ‘the most eminent saints mentioned in Scripture were not free from sin…they were far from imagining that they had attained to sinless perfection’ (Job 9:20; Ps. 19:12; Phil 3:12).[68]

Another concept of perfectionism which has been addressed a little in the first point comes from the Antinomian camp. Essentially the Antinomians combined sanctification and justification without any distinctions. They believed there was no effort required to ‘grow’ in holiness because they are already imputed with Christ’s perfect holiness.[69] The Westminster is clear on the reality of a war that will continue inevitably in this life and that a Christian will ‘grow’, but this is made clearer in the next point.

Impact and Relevance

Once again, the impact today is similar to when it was written. There is a war and this battle is real. Simply by minimising this truth and upholding a ‘false promise of a victorious Christian life by letting go’, as the Keswick movement upholds, will only discourage and demotivate believers.[70] This view is prevalent at various conventions such as the Belgrave Heights Convention.[71] Change is important, and a Christian must be aware of the Spirit’s role in their life. It also guards some Christians thinking of themselves as better than other Christians. There is no room for first-rate and second-rate Christ followers. The Confession makes it evident that there is only one type of Christian and that is a struggling one, battling by the Spirit against the flesh. Finally, the hope of heaven is more prevalent when the realisation that in this life sinless perfection will not be reached.

13.3 Of Sanctification

In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail,[72] yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome;[73] and so the saints grow in grace,[74] perfecting holiness in the fear of God[75].[76]

What is Taught

Although point two is realistic about the impossibility of perfection in this life, point three is clear that ‘saints grow in grace’. Paul makes this clear in second Corinthians chapter three what he explains that ‘all believers, from whom the veil of hard-heartedness has been removed, are being progressively transformed into his likeness, that is, into the image of the Lord’ (3:18).[77] How is this possible? The Confession states, ‘through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ’. Even though it may appear at times as though ‘the remaining corruption’ prevails, it is only ‘for a time’. As Romans 8 points out that the Spirit and the flesh will be continually at war. Shaw expounds the cause of sanctification even further this way,

The impulsive or moving cause of sanctification is the free grace of God (Tit. 3:5). The meritorious cause is the blood and righteousness of Christ (Tit. 2:14). The efficient cause is the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Cor. 6:11). The instrumental cause is faith in Christ (Acts 15:19, 26:18). The external means are, the Word, read and preached, the sacraments, and prayer (John 17:17; 1 Pet. 2:2). Providences, especially afflictive dispensations, are also blessed for promoting the sanctification of believers (Rom. 8:28).[78]

This statement is more of a ‘springboard’ from the Confession rather than what it directly says, as Letham accuses quite a number of commentators,[79] but it summarises the cause and means the Bible addresses and demonstrates the truth of the Confession. How could a believer not ultimately ‘grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ when God has all of this at his disposal. Ultimately, one’s dependence must be ‘upon God’s grace mediated through the Spirit of holiness’, and such a dependence is only possible with the ‘reverential awe’ that God deserves (2 Cor. 7:1).[80] It is encouraging that there is ‘hope and promise of growth in grace’ and it all ‘points back to a decisive change that occurred in union with Christ’.[81]

Historical Context

The Savoy Declaration of Faith (1658) is identical to the Westminster on this point. On the other hand, the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1646) provides an addition to the ending where it says, ‘pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them’.[82] This addition to the concept of sanctification follows an influential work by William Ames (1576-1633), ‘The Marrow of Theology’[83], which ‘was highly influential on the Reformed confessional tradition’[84]. He noted that progressive sanctification is threefold. It speaks of cleansing from corruption, quickening of holiness and the third concept which the London Baptist Confession of Faith picks up on and the Westminster leaves out in this section[85] is the complete restoration of the image of God at glorification.

Impact and Relevance

The relevance of this point is that even though Christians struggle and the war remains, there is hope. Hence, Christians must exhort each other to live ‘in the fear of God’ and they must be dependent ‘on the Word and the Spirit dwelling in them’. It is only ‘through humble dependence on God’s power that the strongholds of sin are brought down, and holiness is brought to completion’.[86] This impacts every Christian who may feel as though the flesh has the upper hand for in the end ‘the regenerate part doth overcome’. Keep persisting, stand firm, never concede and ‘grow in grace’.

Conclusion

This is a wonderfully exhaustive, instructive and concise summary of sanctification as it is found in God’s Word. The clarity it provides in teaching progressive sanctification and the need to rely on the Holy Spirit is insightful. There is clarity presented opposing both antinomianism and neonomianism. A middle ground is taken between defeatism and perfectionism. The balance struck within this chapter is both pastoral and insightful. It reminds every Christian that they can be confident ‘that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).

  1. John H. Leith, Assembly at Westminster: Reformed Theology in the Making (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1973), 37–38.

  2. Robert Letham, The Westminster Assembly: Reading Its Theology in Historical Context (The Westminster Assembly and the Reformed Faith; Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub., 2009), 1.

  3. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 27.

  4. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 11.

  5. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 33.

  6. Leith, Assembly at Westminster, 37.

  7. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 117–119.

  8. Leith, Assembly at Westminster, 99.

  9. David W. Hall, Windows on Westminster: A Look at the Men, the Work, and the Enduring Results of the Westminster Assembly (1643-1648) (Norcross, GA: Great Commission Publications, 1993), 89–90. Hall makes this comment in comparison to other doctrines that were debated. From the minutes it is clear that there was some discussion on the chapter of sanctification and the scriptural support that was used. Chad Van Dixhoorn (ed.), The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly (1643-1653) (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), 4:284, 294–295, 428.

  10. George S. Hendry, The Westminster Confession for Today: A Contemporary Interpretation (London: SCM Press, 1960), 146.

  11. Acts 20:32; Rom. 6:5-6; 1 Cor. 6:11; Phil. 3:10

  12. John 17:17; Eph. 5:26; 2 Thes. 2:13

  13. Rom. 6:6, 14

  14. Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:24

  15. Eph. 3:16-19; Col. 1:11

  16. 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14

  17. Westminster Assembly, ‘Chapter 13: Of Sanctification | Reformed Theology at A Puritan’s Mind’, A Puritan’s Mind, 1646, http://www.apuritansmind.com/westminster-standards/chapter-13/, (accessed May 27, 2019).

  18. G. I. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes (Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1964), 114.

  19. A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith: A Handbook of Christian Doctrine Expounding the Westminster Confession (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1869), 197.

  20. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 279.

  21. Robert Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith (Scotland: Christian Focus Pub., 1973), 143.

  22. William Perkins, The Works of William Perkins (ed. J. Stephen Yuille; Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014), http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=949102, (accessed June 14, 2019), 1:490–491.

  23. Hendry, The Westminster Confession for Today, 144.

  24. Italics mine. This is true even though it is not the emphasis of this chapter. The emphasis here is the work of the Spirit and the next three chapters go into further detail on the call to action. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 278.

  25. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014), 178.

  26. Hall, Windows on Westminster, 93.

  27. Hendry, The Westminster Confession for Today, 143–144.

  28. Hall, Windows on Westminster, 98.

  29. Westminster Assembly, ‘Westminster Larger Catechism’, in Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, 1647, https://reformed.org/documents/wlc_w_proofs/, (accessed May 31, 2019), 75.

  30. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 178.

  31. Francis Foulkes, Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 10:163–164.

  32. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 179.

  33. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, 195–196.

  34. Van Dixhoorn, The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 4:284–285, 294–295, 428–429.

  35. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 2.

  36. Leith, Assembly at Westminster, 37.

  37. James N. Anderson, ‘Tabular Comparison of 1646 WCF, 1658 Savoy Declaration, the 1677/1689 LBCF, and the 1742 PCF’, in Analogical Thoughts, 2007, https://www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_sdfo_lbcf.html#WCF13, (accessed May 30, 2019).

  38. Leith, Assembly at Westminster, 42.

  39. Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 142.

  40. Dewey D. Wallace, Puritans and Predestination: Grace in English Protestant Theology, 1525-1695 (Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004), 115–117. Flavel also addresses Eaton’s views. John Flavel, ‘A Blow at the Root of Antinomianism’, in Monergism, 2011, https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/blowatroot.html, (accessed June 14, 2019), 2.

  41. Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 142.

  42. Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 142–143.

  43. Charles Hodge, ‘Justification Is a Forensic Act’, in Monergism, 2018, https://www.monergism.com/justification-forensic-act, (accessed May 31, 2019), 1.

  44. James Ussher, ‘The Irish Articles of Religion. A.D. 1615’, in Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics, 1615, https://reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=https://reformed.org/documents/irish_articles.html, (accessed May 27, 2019), 39. This is not clear as the previous question are all dealing with justification so it makes sense to mention it here, but it is still a point worth consideration. It is telling to compare Ussher’s work with the Westminster Confession as Letham notes, ‘It is widely recognised that James Ussher had a strong influence on the Westminster Assembly, especially through the Irish Articles of Religion (1615)’. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 63.

  45. Tom Hicks, ‘The Imperfection of Our Sanctification’, Founders Ministries, February 25, 2018, https://founders.org/2018/02/25/the-imperfections-of-our-sanctification/, (accessed May 30, 2019), 13.

  46. Rob Bell, Love Wins: At the Heart of Life’s Big Questions (London: Collins, 2012).

  47. Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013).

  48. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 181.

  49. 1 Thess. 5:23

  50. Rom. 7:18; Phil. 3:12; 1 John 1:10

  51. Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11

  52. Westminster Assembly, “Chapter 13.”

  53. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 181.

  54. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, 195. Dixhoorn describes it as ‘a matter of the heart, but it is also intellectual: God’s grace changes the way we think. It is physical: the Spirit changes the way in which we use our bodies, and the things we do. It is verbal: sanctified speech is controlled and purposeful, and it avoids dirty words and jokes’. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 182.

  55. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 182.

  56. J. V. Fesko, The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context and Theological Insights (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 265.

  57. Fesko, The Theology of the Westminster Standards, 265.

  58. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 279.

  59. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 182–183.

  60. As Hendry points out this distinction of flesh and spirit is not between the spiritual and the physical but rather ‘“flesh” stands for the governing principle in the life of sinful man as a whole’ and ‘Spirit refers, not to the spiritual element in man, but to the Spirit of God who is given to man and dwells in man as the principle of new life’. Hendry, The Westminster Confession for Today, 145.

  61. Hall, Windows on Westminster, 97.

  62. Hodge explains the difference between Pelagians who hold to Perfectionism being possible because ‘the law of God can demand no more than its subject is fully able to render. Hence from the very limits of moral obligation it follows that everyman is always perfectly able to do all that is required of him. Hence he can be perfect whenever he pleases’. Another category Hodge notes are the Arminian and Papist perfectionists. They believe ‘that God for Christ’s merits’ sake has graciously lowered the demands of the law, in the case of believers, from absolute perfection to faith and evangelical obedience. They hold that it is the privilege and duty of all men in this life to attain to a state of perfect love and sincere obedience to the gospel law, which they call gracious or Christian perfection’. Hodge, The Confession of Faith, 198. Regardless of the various theories of Perfectionism at the time, the Westminster is clearly pointing out their disagreeance.

  63. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes, 115.

  64. J. Waterworth, trans. by, The Canons and Decrees of the Sacred and Œcumenical Council of Trent: Celebrated Under the Sovereign Pontiffs, Paul III, Julius III and Pius IV. (London: C. Dolman, 1848), 24.

  65. Ussher, “The Irish Articles,” 43.

  66. David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2007), 79.

  67. Hicks, “The Imperfection of Our Sanctification,” 9.

  68. Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 144.

  69. Ernest F. Kevan, The Grace of Law: A Study in Puritan Theology (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1993), 23.

  70. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 279–280.

  71. Belgrave Heights Convention, ‘Our Ministry at Belgrave Heights Convention’, in Belgrave Heights Convention, 2019, http://www.bhc.org.au/about/doctrine-belief/our-ministry, (accessed June 14, 2019).

  72. Rom. 7:23

  73. Rom. 6:14; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 5:4

  74. 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Pet. 3:18

  75. 2 Cor. 7:1

  76. Westminster Assembly, Westminster Confession of Faith (Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publicaions, 1994), 62–63.

  77. James M. Scott, 2 Corinthians (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 82.

  78. Shaw, An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 144.

  79. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 5.

  80. Colin G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 8:137.

  81. Letham, The Westminster Assembly, 279.

  82. Anderson, “Tabular Comparison,” 13.

  83. William Ames, The Marrow of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1997).

  84. Hicks, “The Imperfection of Our Sanctification,” 4.

  85. It could be argued that it speaks of this concept in other places (e.g. 9.5).

  86. Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith, 184.

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