3 Distinctions in the Dispensational View of Sanctification

Loosely defined, sanctification is the work of both God and a believer toward becoming more Christ-like. The variations within evangelical theology and its view of sanctification vary greatly.

As a system of theology, dispensationalism views sanctification in similar ways to many other evangelical theologies with the exception of three distinctions. Those three distinctions are

  1. The security of a believer.
  2. The work of the Spirit.
  3. The unique role of progressive sanctification.

This blog post will define sanctification broadly from both a mainline and dispensational viewpoint and discuss at length the three distinctions of the dispensational view of sanctification.

3 Distinctions in the Dispensational View of Sanctification

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According to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, sanctification is “being made holy, or purified” by A.H. Strong as the “continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened.” Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology tells us that word sanctify comes from similar Hebrew and Greek words that mean “a person or thing is thereby said to be set apart, or classified, usually as pertaining unto God.” Encompassing all of these definitions is that “Sanctification refers to growth in spiritual maturity, founded upon the enablement provided to all believers by the Holy Spirit and energized by the filling of the Spirit.”[ref]Nathan Holsteen, “The Reformed View of Sanctification,” unpublished class notes for ST105 (Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall Semester, 2013), 18.[/ref]

With the definition of sanctification provided it is important to examine dispensationalism and how it might provide a different view of what sanctification is and how it occurs in the life of a believer.

Three Distinctions in the Dispensational View of Sanctification

1) Security under Christ


A Beginner’s Biblical View of Dispensationalism

When I first began attending Dallas Theological Seminary I often heard the word “dispensationalism” but did not know what the word meant. However, I have began to learn about dispensationalism and how it assists Bible students in correctly observing and interpreting the Bible. Even though I am not an expert in biblical studies or theologies, I would like to share with you what I believe to be a beginner’s biblical view of dispensationalsim.

A Beginner's Biblical View of Dispensationalism

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A Brief Biblical Basis for Dispensationalism

The word “dispensation” comes from the usage of the word, oikonomia, which is commonly used in the New Testament. But what is a dispensation? Stanley Toussaint describes a dispensation as “a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.”[ref]The Scofield Reference Bible, ed. C.I. Scofield (New York: Oxford U., 1945), 5 quoted in Stanley Toussaint, “A Biblical Defense of Dispensationalism” in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald Campbell and John Walvoord (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), 90.[/ref] These periods of times include seven distinct dispensations.