There has been a quite a vigorous debate in Reformed denominations over the last number of years regarding the nature of sanctification and the role of our own efforts in that process. Some have insisted that sanctification is really only about coming to grips with our justification. Others have given the impression that if we preach sermons about Christian obedience (what some call “do” sermons) then we are merely preaching moralism and not preaching Christ.
However, I think many of these trends miss the radical call of discipleship that Christ so plainly offers. For this reason, I was grateful to Mark Dever who recently gave the Harold O.J. Brown Lectures here at RTS Charlotte on the subject of Christian discipleship. In his first lecture, he put his finger right on the problem:
Too many people have been confused, thinking that the grace of God is best relied upon by our own inactivity and passivity. They think that imperative verbs are there only to show us what we can’t do and what Christ has done for us. Well if you preach a sermon like that every Sunday you are serving your people very poorly, and you’re not at all accurately representing what the Bible says. It’s a subtle but deadly error to discipleship.
Those who make the mistake that Dever describes think that they are bolstering and uplifting the grace of God. However, they forget the fact that God’s grace does more than break the guilt of sin, it also breaks the power of sin. Thus, God’s grace is honored not only by Christ’s obedience, but it also honored by our obedience.
You can listen to all of his lectures here.