Is sanctification monergistic or synergistic (cooperative)?

I believe in a monergistic view of justification (the forgiveness of sins) — that is, Christ is solely responsible for giving us faith to believe in Christ, and we contribute nothing to our spiritual regeneration.

I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him.  But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith“. (Martin Luther, Small Catechism)

Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe even more boldly and rejoice in Christ, who is victor over sin, death, and the world”. (Luther)

For me personally, the issue of justification is not an issue.  The issue is sanctification.  My question is whether sanctification is merely a question of semantics, or is there a big difference?  [ first a definition: ] Sanctification is the being made holy.  It denotes the inward spiritual transformation of the believer, whereby, one is made holy.  Justification is the source of sanctification.  Sanctification comes as a result when one becomes justified in Christ Jesus.

Evangelicals seem to focus on sanctification but it is also what trips us up.  Sanctification can also be somewhat of a tricky issue to define—is it monergistic or synergistic?  I’ve been searching but this is some of what I’ve found (Puritan Board; Monergism). Some see sanctification as a something we do in cooperation with God.  Some see it as something that God alone does for us. If we see it from a horizontal basis, then in this sense, you could say it’s synergistic, or cooperative; but on a vertical basis, it is monergistic.  It can be seen as being both; and this is why this can be a little confusing.  What is it–monergistic, synergistic, or simply cooperative?

Part 4: Religious and spiritual landscapes — urban vs rural

Have you noticed a decline in evangelism in your local church?

In most rural communities, the visible church is more stable and will likely remain (although many historic mainline churches are closing).  Naturally, change in rural communities do not happen as frequently; therefore, people will have the opportunity to integrate their spirituality and their religious life when they feel a need to do so (e.g., some may even decide to enter a church after a long absence after Baptism, Confirmation, wedding/funeral, or the odd Christmas worship service).

However, in the urban communities where the visible Church is less likely to be a permanent fixture.  Fast-paced change is common place (due to construction and new developments).  If an established or historic local church were to disappear from a major intersection in “City X”, the religious loss might not be very apparent; however, the spiritual void will eventually be felt by people whether we know it or not.

What does this mean for the visible Church in urban settings today?  The visible church triumphant must continue to remain and become a more visible part in our urban communities.

Are we, the Church, trying and working hard enough to make the visible Church more visible in our urban settings?  Hardly.

Tragically, many congregations of the historic mainline denominations are shrinking and disappearing from the religious landscape.  This will continue for the foreseeable future because they are failing to  help people make the connection between people’s spiritual lives with their real everyday lives.  There is a currently a huge void and lack of vision for evangelism in reaching out to people with Jesus’ Gospel message.

This means that our contemporary evangelical churches must continue to take responsibility and carry the load for evangelism and mission in urban communities.  Thankfully, many churches have not forgotten or lost their passion and vision for evangelism and outreach.  As Christ’s visible Church triumphant in North American society, we must remember and carry out Jesus’ Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.

Is your local church doing taking responsibility in carrying out Jesus’ Great Commission from Matthew 28?

[ see previous post: Part 3: Religious and spiritual landscapes — urban vs rural ]