Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,
so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work
for his good pleasure.
The Christian life is a life grounded in the supernatural regeneration of the human heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians are justified (counted as entirely righteous in God’s judgment) through faith in Jesus Christ on the basis of Jesus’ death in our place, for our sins on the cross. Justification is a glorious, foundational, and necessary basis for living out the Christian life. Justification graciously confers to us the status of forgiven, acceptable, holy, and righteous.
However, the justified Christian is also called to a life of sanctification, that is, living a set apart and holy life–worthy of the glorious gospel that saved us. Whereas justification is a static condition, it does not change from day to day, it does not grow or diminish over time–our sanctification does grow. Whereas justification is entirely God’s work conferred upon us–we do not add to it or contribute to it in any way–we do contribute to our sanctification, it does involve our wills, our efforts, and our actions. We are to grow in holiness, increase in godliness, and become more and more pure in body and spirit as we walk out the Christian life. We cannot by any imaginable effort add anything to our justification. But the Bible does call us to make extraordinary efforts, to strive, to run with endurance, and to work out our sanctification in cooperation with Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
We believe that the Puritans have produced some of the best books and have set some of the best examples for us to emulate in their efforts in sanctification. They understood much about how to fight sin in our lives–and more importantly they understood that the goal of fighting sin was to grow in, delight in, and appreciate more deeply the wondrous beauty of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Therefore we highly commend the writings of many Puritans, and we even did a series as a church on one particularly notable book, John Owen’s, The Mortification of Sin. You can download those sessions here.
More information on Puritan resources.
A Puritan Theology
The Pilgrims Progress
The End for Which God Created the World
The Swans are Not Silent Biographic Series by John Piper, particularly The Hidden Smile of God, and The Roots of Endurance
(This list could go on and on!)