Book Review: Sanctification

In Sanctification, Pastor John MacArthur reminds pastors of the need to care for the sanctification of those who are under their care. Sanctification, he argues, is an area that is often forgotten in the American church today. He focuses on the calling of pastors to be actual shepherds of their local flocks.

But MacArthur does not only focus on pastors. He calls on individual believers to also work on their sanctification stating that we should be striving to be more Christlike each day.

After making the initial case for sanctification, MacArthur spends the rest of the book discussing what true sanctification looks like in the life of the believer. First, sanctification looks like Christ. Christ was the ultimate embodiment of sanctification as shown in chapter four of the book titled, “Christ, the Embodiment of True Sanctification.”

But MacArthur does not hold punches either. He attacks the thought of many churches and Christians today that we are saved, following Jesus and that is it. He attacks the idea that we don’t really need to pursue total sanctification or that we cannot attain it (noting of course that total sanctification does not happen on this side of Heaven). He attacks the lawlessness of many new Christian movements and attacks the seeker-sensitive ideals that court the ways of the world just to put bodies in the pews. MacArthur makes a plea for the church today to return to a true biblical worldview.

The book finishes by taking a look at what grace really is and what grace really entails. It’s not just a “get out of Hell free card.” Grace means we get a chance to live our lives holy and acceptable and pleasing to God. It is a chance to strive to be like Christ. It is a chance to live set apart from the world.

Overall, Sanctification is a quick an easy read and a refreshing call to the church and believer’s today to live better lives for their king. I give the book four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Was Mary Sinless?

Virgin of the AnnunciationA lot of focus during the Christmas season gets put on Mary as well as Jesus since she was his mother. There is a lot of incorrect theology about Mary, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church. One of these doctrines is the idea of the Immaculate Conception.

The immaculate conception often is misunderstood to mean the supernatural conception of Christ in Mary’s womb. I also misunderstood this in the past. But that is not what this term refers to at all. In fact, the immaculate conception has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Instead, the immaculate conception deals with Mary. Specifically, it teaches that Mary was sinless and free from original sin.

There are two primary texts that Catholics use to make this claim. The first is Genesis 3:15.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15 English Standard Version

The main problem with using this text to define anything about Mary is that Mary is not found in this verse. The woman here is Eve, not Mary. Yes, Mary is part of Eve’s distant offspring through her descendants, but the only people mentioned in this verse specifically are Eve, Satan, Christ, and God the Father. So we can automatically throw this verse out with having anything to do with supposed sinlessness of Mary.

The other major text used by Catholics for the Immaculate Conception is Luke 1:28

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

Luke 1:28 (ESV)

In this verse they use the term favored one to claim that Mary was sinless. But how do they come to this conclusion?

First we must look at the underlying Greek for the term favored one and see whether or not it means sinless. The term is κεχαριτωμένη, which is pronounced kecharitomene. It is derived from the lemma χαριτόω (charitoo). But what do these words mean, and if they mean sinless, why are they translated as favored one?

The underlying Greek has a meaning of showing kindness, favor, giving grace, showing favor. So translators have gotten it right with favored one. But Catholics focus on one portion of this definition, giving grace. In fact, they argue that Mary was so full of grace that she did not receive original sin because she was “fully endowed with grace perfectly.”

But there is a problem with this viewpoint. First, being fully endowed with grace does not mean that you are sinless. All Christians are full of grace and favored and blessed. That is part of being the elect of God. Ephesians 1:6 uses the same word, charitoo, to describe all believers. Yet, all believers have original sin, and continuing sin that must be dealt with. Mary is no different.

The point is that there is no Scriptural basis for the Immaculate Conception. This is an invention and false doctrine of the Catholic Church. Mary was favored only in the sense that she was chosen to have the very special honor of giving birth to the Savior. She is not to be worshiped, not to be prayed to, she is a sinner saved by grace just like everyone else who is a part of the kingdom.