Forde, Gerhard O. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 13, “The Lutheran View of Sanctification” Loc. 3090-3373.
Forde begins this chapter with a very striking statement. “Sanctification, if it is to be spoken of as something other than justification, is perhaps best defined as the art of getting used to the unconditional justification wrought by the grace of God for Jesus’ sake” (Forde 2007, Loc. 3090). In effect, “It is the justified life” (Forde 2007, Loc. 3094). This is not a moral or ethical change so much as it is the lifestyle of a new creation in Christ (Forde 2007, Loc. 3103). The problem Forde sees with our typical attitudes about sanctification is that we take it as our work to guard our justification (Forde 2007, Loc. 3117). This leaves us working out our holiness rather than trusting God’s ability to do so. Forde prefers that we keep our consideration of sanctification, as is done in Scripture, very closely linked to justification (Forde 2007, Loc. 3139). It is possibly more like different facets of the same gem of salvation (Forde 2007, Loc. 3143).
Forde therefore sees the starting point for sanctification to be “justification by faith alone, without the deeds of the law” (Forde 2007, Loc. 3152). This overturns our preconceptions about how life works. The conditional promises of the sinful world are gone. They must be replaced by the unconditional salvation in Christ (Forde 2007, Loc. 3184). In Romans 6:1-11 the way sin is conquered is through death. We do not overcome through the work of life but by being joined to Christ’s death (Forde 2007, Loc. 3198). This is entirely passive.
Forde next addresses the difficulty that we remain at once both a saint and a sinner (Forde 2007, Loc. 3232). The unconditional grace of God shows us that we are sinners even as it makes us saints. Again, if our understanding is based on the old conditionality the whole of salvation collapses (Forde 2007, Loc. 3241). It must be all of grace. However, rather than depend on free grace to make us holy, we seek conditional activity, trying to repent enough, change our attitudes, or doing some other pious work (Forde 2007, Loc. 3265). Rather, we need to trust that God in his grace has accomplished salvation and will complete his work in us (Forde 2007, Loc. 3275).
Forde then asks if there is growth in holiness in the Christian life (Forde 2007, Loc. 3298). “There is a kind of growth and progress, it is to be hoped, but it is growth in grace - a growth in coming to be captivated more and more, if we can so speak, by the totality, the unconditionality, of the grace of God” (Forde 2007, Loc. 3302). Sanctification, then, is learning to live in God’s grace rather than our works. The result of this dependence on God’s grace is that we finally become the humans God made us to be (Forde 2007, Loc. 3336). Then we are able to do good spontaneously (Forde 2007, Loc. 3345). We can care for others genuinely (Forde 2007, Loc. 3349). We are free to carry out our vocation before God and man (Forde 2007, Loc. 3353). We are more ready to be truthful (Forde 2007, Loc. 3361). In short, we are ready to depend on God’s grace.