A Summary of the Doctrine of Christian Living

Continuing my series through the basics of Christian theology includes some thoughts on Christian Living. I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide which reads:

Christian Living. Article #8. We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christian Living

The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt


Justification and sanctification go hand-in-hand giving evidence of each other. Our faith in Jesus Christ has made us righteous (Rom 8:1; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 3:9; 1 Peter 1:1-2) while that faith has caused sin to no longer be our master (Rom 6:1-14). Instead, our changed nature compels us to want to live in a Godly way (Rom 6:2-4; 8:29-30; Phil 1:6; 2:13; Titus 2:11-14).


Christians live out their faith first by showing love for other Christians and non-Christians. It was love that compelled God to send his son to die for sinners, and it should be love that compels us to have good relationships with Christians and non-Christians.


Living out our faith means that we love God and love others. We love God by focusing our minds and hearts toward him (Deut 6:5-9). As a result of this, we also love others (Matt 12:39; John 13:34; Eph 5:25; 1 John 4:8-10) and care for others (Rom 12:10, 16; 14:13; 15:7, 17; 1 Cor 13:12; Gal 5:13; Eph 4:2, 32; 5:19, 21; Col 3:13, 16; 1 Thess 5:11; Heb 10:24; 1 Peter 1:22; 3:8; 4:9; 5:5; cf. Acts 4:32, 34-35).

The poor, aliens, and disenfranchised have been part of the entire history of the Bible and will always be part of the church age (Deut 15:11). Christians are supposed to care for these people (Prov 14:21, 31; 22:9; 28:27; Matt 25:31-46; Luke 14:12-14).


This world is a fallen world (Gen 3:14-24) where Satan roams the earth (Job 1:6-8; 2:1-2; Luke 22:3; 1 Peter 5:8), has control over it (1 John 5:19), and is the ruler of it (John 12:31; 1 Cor 4:4; Matt 4:8-9).  Evidence of spiritual warfare between Satan and his minions against Israel and the church is clear throughout Scripture (Dan 10:12-14; Luke 10:18; Rev 12). Yet, with God’s Word (Eph 6:11-18), the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name (Matt 17:14-20; James 4:7-8), believers can combat Satan and his minions (Luke 10:17-20; John 12:28-32; Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15; 1 Peter 5:6-8; Rev 12:11).


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