How Does Sanctification Work? A New Book and An Open Letter – D. Powlison

Crossway has recently published and is currently promoting a short book on sanctification. The title is How Does Sanctification Work? and the author is noted teacher and counselor David Powlison (executive director of Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation). I have received the book for review and make it available to someone who is interested in the subject.

On its website the publisher provides this description of the book:

Many popular views try to reduce the process of Christian growth to a single template: Remember past grace. Rehearse your identity in Christ. Avail yourself of the means of grace. Discipline yourself. But Scripture portrays the dynamics of sanctification in a rich variety of ways. No single factor, truth, or protocol can capture why and how a person is changed into the image of Christ.

Weaving together personal stories, biblical exposition, and theological reflection, David Powlison shows the personal and particular ways that God meets you where you are to produce change. He highlights the variety of factors that work together, helping us to avoid sweeping generalizations and pat answers in the search for a key to sanctification. This book is a go-to resource for understanding the multifaceted, lifelong, personal journey of sanctification.

To give you a taste of the book and the way the author approaches the subject, I quote from his “Introduction”:

…To be sanctified is to have your faith simplified, clarified, and deepened. You need God. You know God. You love God. You see life, God, yourself, others more truly. And to grow as a saint is to grow in actually loving people. How other people are doing matters increasingly to you. You care. You help.

Becoming more holy does not mean that you become ethereal, ghostly, and detached from the storms of life. It means you are becoming a wiser human being. You are learning how to deal with your money, your sexuality, your job. You are becoming a better friend and family member. When you talk, your words communicate more good sense, more gravitas, more joy, more reality. You are learning to pray honestly, bringing who God really is to the reality of human need.

And to grow in holiness does not mean that you now talk in hushed tones and every third sentence quotes the Bible. It means you live in more clear-minded hope. You know the purpose of your life, roll up your sleeves, and get about doing what needs doing. You are honestly thankful for good things. You honestly face disappointment and pain, illness and dying [p.14].

As part of their promotion, last Friday (June 2) Crossway published an “open letter” from Powlison to those struggling with their progress in holiness. This is the way that letter opens:

Dear friend,

We all love it when life leaps into forward gear and we make all kinds of progress. Problems just seem to fall away. Perhaps in your life you’ve had a season like that, a season when your life seemed to shine and flourish. Maybe it was when you first became a believer or during some period when you were very well nurtured by good community and wise input.

Then there are those seasons where things go very slowly. You wonder, “Is this all there is? Why do I keep struggling with the same old things? I keep losing my temper, or feeling anxious, or being clumsy in relationships . . . ” What vision does God give us for what our lives are supposed to look like, especially when we’re dealing with the long, hard struggle part of being a Christian? Let me say two things.

If that resonates with you, then go on to read the rest of it (cf. link below) – it will encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Source: An Open Letter to Those Frustrated by Their Progress in Sanctification | Crossway Articles