Sanctification: Part & Parcel of Salvation? (vs. Calvin #64)

Sanctification: Part & Parcel of Salvation? (vs. Calvin #64) March 9, 2023

This is an installment of a series of replies (see the Introduction and Master List), starting with #56, to portions of Book III of Institutes of the Christian Religion, by early Protestant leader John Calvin (1509-1564). I utilize the public domain translation of Henry Beveridge, dated 1846, from the 1559 edition in Latin; available online. Calvin’s words will be in blue. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

Related reading from yours truly:

Biblical Catholic Answers for John Calvin (2010 book: 388 pages)

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism (2012 book: 178 pages)

Biblical Catholic Salvation: “Faith Working Through Love” (2010 book: 187 pages; includes biblical critiques of all five points of “TULIP”)

John Calvin: Catholic Appraisal (Web Page)

Calvinism & General Protestantism: Catholic Critique (Web Page)


III, 16:1; 17:1; 18:4


We dream not of a faith which is devoid of good works, nor of a justification which can exist without them: the only difference is, that while we acknowledge that faith and works are necessarily connected, we, however, place justification in faith, not in works. . . .Christ, therefore, justifies no man without also sanctifying him. These blessings are conjoined by a perpetual and inseparable tie. Those whom he enlightens by his wisdom he redeems; whom he redeems he justifies; whom he justifies he sanctifies. But as the question relates only to justification and sanctification, to them let us confine ourselves. Though we distinguish between them, they are both inseparably comprehended in Christ. Would ye then obtain justification in Christ? You must previously possess Christ. But you cannot possess him without being made a partaker of his sanctification: for Christ cannot be divided. Since the Lord, therefore, does not grant us the enjoyment of these blessings without bestowing himself, he bestows both at once but never the one without the other. Thus it appears how true it is that we are justified not without, and yet not by works, since in the participation of Christ, by which we are justified, is contained not less sanctification than justification. (III, 16:1; my bolding and italics)

I think we have already put it out of the power of our calumniators to treat us as if we were the enemies of good works–justification being denied to works not in order that no good works may be done or that those which are done may be denied to be good; but only that we may not trust or glory in them, or ascribe salvation to them. (III, 17:1; my bolding and italics)

The Bible teaches us (fifty times!) that works play a key role in whether one is saved and allowed to enter heaven or not. What is most striking about the fifty passage is that faith alone is never mentioned as the cause for salvation. “Faith” by itself is mentioned but once: in Revelation 21:8, which includes the “faithless” among those who will be damned for eternity. Even there it is surrounded by many bad works that characterize the reprobate person. If Jesus had attended a good Protestant seminary and gotten up to speed on His soteriology, Matthew 25 would have read quite differently; something like the following:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to whether they had Faith Alone. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to whether they had Faith Alone.

Instead, we hear from our Lord Jesus all this useless talk about works, as if they had anything to do with salvation! Doesn’t Jesus know that works have no connection to salvation whatsoever, and that sanctification and justification are entirely separated in good, orthodox evangelical or Calvinist theology (He showed His ignorance again in talking about only works and not faith with the rich young ruler)?

Maybe our Lord Jesus attended a liberal synagogue. Why does Jesus keep talking about feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, inviting in strangers, clothing the naked, visiting prisoners, and being judged “according to their deeds”? What in the world do all these “works” have to do with salvation? Why doesn’t Jesus talk about Faith Alone??!! Something is seriously wrong here.

The Bible — contra Calvin — directly ties sanctification with justification and/or salvation:

Psalm 7:8, 10 . . . judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. . . . My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.

Matthew 19:16-17, 20-21, 23 And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” [17] And he said to him, “. . . If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” . . . [20] The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” [21] Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” . . . [23] And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [24] Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 15:8-9 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith.

The Greek word for “cleansed” used here is katharizo. It is used many times in the Gospels in reference to the cleansing of lepers (e.g., Mt 10:8; Lk 7:22).

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. [Phillips: “made holy by their faith in me”]

Romans 2:6-7 For he will render to every man according to his works: [7] to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; . . .

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

1 Corinthians 1:30 . . . our righteousness and sanctification and redemption;

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 . . . God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Hebrews 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Hebrews 13:12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

Revelation 20:13 . . . and all were judged by what they had done.

Let us not suppose, then, that the Holy Spirit, by this promise, commends the dignity of our works, as if they were deserving of such a reward. For Scripture leaves us nothing of which we may glory in the sight of God. (III, 18:4)

Romans 2:10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, . . .

Romans 5:2 . . . we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, . . . are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; . . .

2 Thessalonians 2:14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, [see many more such passages]

It’s either Holy Scripture or Calvin here. “Ya pays yer money and ya makes yer choice.” As for me, I will always choose inspired revelation over the false traditions of men that contradict it.

For related reading, see my multi-part debate with Brazilian Calvinist Francisco Tourinho:

Justification: A Catholic Perspective (vs. Francisco Tourinho) [6-22-22]

Reply to Francisco Tourinho on Justification: Round 2 (Pt. 1) [+ Part 2] [+ Part 3] [7-19-22]

Biblical Justification: vs. Francisco Tourinho (Round 3, Pt. 1) [10-20-22]


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Photo credit: Historical mixed media figure of John Calvin produced by artist/historian George S. Stuart and photographed by Peter d’Aprix: from the George S. Stuart Gallery of Historical Figures archive [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license]


Summary: John Calvin, typically of almost all Protestants, separates sanctification formally from justification & salvation. The Bible (I provide 14 passages) disagrees.

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