Highlights from Walter Marshall's "Gospel Mystery of Sanctification" (2)

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In our first highlight from Walter Marshall's "Gospel Mystery" we saw no antipathy to the ideas of the believer's duty or to the believer's aspiration to holiness or to the believer's endeavor to obey the moral law. Marshall says, to repeat, in his "first direction: "That we may acceptably perform the duties of holiness and righteousness required by the law, our first work is to learn the powerful and effectual means by which we may attain to so great an end."

Marshall importantly addresses the issue of how we must pursue holiness, that is, by "what powerful and effectual means" that we are to grow in godliness. But he does so without pitting the means against the end, as one often hears today, and without labeling the aspiration to spiritual growth as legalism or moralism.

In Marshall's "second direction," he goes on to say: "Several endowments and qualifications are necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of the law. Particularly we must have an inclination and propensity of our hearts thereunto; and therefore we must be well persuaded of our reconciliation with God, and of our future enjoyment of the everlasting heavenly happenings, and of sufficient strength both to will and perform all duties acceptably, until we come to the enjoyment of that happiness."

In other words, long before Edwards, this Puritan emphasized the importance of the desires and affections in the Christian life. If we want to grow in godliness "we must have an inclination and propensity of our hearts thereunto." He also asserts the necessity of Holy Spirit-supplied power for progress in holiness (see Ephesians 3:14-19) -"sufficient strength both to will and perform all duties acceptably."

In fact, the second direction may sound a little like Jonathan Edwards "Religious Affections" and John Piper "Future Grace" all rolled upon into one.

Posted February 29, 2012 @ 11:28 PM by Ligon Duncan

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