ROBERT N. WILKIN
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
In some ways, in a series on sanctification, this should be the easiest article to write. After all, for many people today the word sanctification is practically synonymous with present sanctification. Many books and articles have been written on the subject from a variety of perspectives.1
However, there are many reasons why this is not an easy task after all.
The fact that a great deal has been written on the subject does not guarantee that not more than a recapitulation need be made. In fact, if one studies what has been written, he discovers that there is great diversity of opinion on the subject.
While it is not the purpose of this article to explore the various views of present sanctification in detail, a brief review may be helpful. In this review I will limit my remarks to the various views on the relationship between present sanctification (i.e., personal holiness) and assurance of salvation.
There are at least five different views of present sanctification. These have been detailed in a recent book appropriately titled, Five Views of Sanctification.2 The perspectives include Wesleyan, Reformed, Pentecostal, Keswick, and Augustinian-Dispensational.
The Wesleyan view, named after John Wesley, holds as two of its main tenets that present sanctification is not guaranteed and that if one fails to live righteously he can and will cease to be a Christian. Dieter writes:
Salvation is by grace. However, although the Reformation tradition frequently emphasizes justification and adoption, it often neglects regeneration and sanctification; a wholly imputed righteousness (objective salvation) comes to the fore, but imparted righteousness (subjective salvation) is neglected. Wesleyans would maintain that the biblical concept of salvation encompasses both and that both are found in the Pauline concept of being “in Christ,” which constitutes the basic definition of a Christian in the New Testament.3
The Reformed view of present sanctification seems to be the opposite of the Wesleyan view on the two points just cited. However, the differences are mainly cosmetic in my estimation. For, while Reformed theologians believe that present sanctification is guaranteed for the true Christian, they suggest that any professing Christian may fail to live righteously, and if he does so it merely proves that he was never a true believer in the first place.
Hoekema, for example, writes,
Sanctification is a supernatural work of God in which the believer is active. The more active we are in sanctification, the more sure we may be that the energizing power that enables us to be active is God’s power.4
The net effect of such teaching is no different than that of the Wesleyan view. One cannot be sure that he or she is eternally secure under either system.
Similarly, the Pentecostal view is essentially the same as the Wesleyan view in terms of the issues of sanctification and assurance. Pentecostals believe that present sanctification is not guaranteed and that failure in personal holiness results in loss of eternal life.5
The Keswick (pronounced Kez-ik) view, named after a town in England where annual conventions on personal holiness have been held since 1875, is one which I have found to be less united on the issues of sanctification and assurance than the previous views mentioned.6 However, if we can take the view of J. Robertson McQuilkin, the man chosen to present this position in Five Views of Sanctification as representative of most Keswick teachers, we can discover elements in common with—and contrary to—the previously mentioned views.
On the one hand, McQuilkin suggests that genuine believers may fail in significant ways, but that no genuine believer can lose his or her salvation.7 On the other hand, he also suggests that if one fails significantly, then he should question whether he has ever been saved at all, since major sin may well be an indication that one is unsaved.8 The problem here is that McQuilkin adopts the not uncommon view today that good works are an indispensable verification of one’s regeneration.9
Finally, the Augustinian-Dispensational view is also not as united as the first three views mentioned. Presently there is a move afoot to change dispensationalism. Something called Progressive Dispensationalism is emerging. Persons holding this position normally hold a view of sanctification and assurance identical to that of the Reformed view mentioned above.10
Classic dispensationalists, such as John F. Walvoord, who wrote on the Augustinian-Dispensational view in Five Views of Sanctification, hold a view of sanctification and assurance which Free Grace believers would find mostly unobjectionable. These dispensationalists believe that while good works can have a confirming value, works are not indispensable for one to have settled assurance.11 In addition, they believe that eternal life can never be lost.12
In light of this brief overview of the various views, I find that none of those five views is completely satisfying to me. While the last view is closest to what I believe to be correct, it is flawed in that it is often too closely aligned with the Reformed position. It sometimes leads to unguarded statements which are confusing on the issue of assurance and sanctification.13
In the remainder of this article, I will lay out what I believe to be the biblical teaching on this subject. Specifically we will consider the roles which God and man play in present sanctification. (Due to space restrictions the latter section will be concluded in the next issue of the journal.)
II. God’s Role in Present Sanctification
A. Continually Extending Grace
The sine qua non of a Free Grace view of present sanctification is grace. It is not merely in regeneration that we depend on grace. All of our Christian life is dependent on God continually extending grace to us.
According to 1 John 1:8, 10, no believer ever arrives at perfection in this life. As long as we are in unglorified bodies we sin. God has made provision for forgiveness by means of confession of our known sins. First John 1:9 is a crucial verse on present sanctification and grace:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The word we here refers to Christians (cf. 1 John 2:2, 12-14, 25; 5:9-13). As we acknowledge and turn from the sins of which we are aware, God forgives and cleanses us from those and even from the sins of which we are not aware (i.e., from all unrighteousness).
What about the believer who chooses to compromise with or even wallow in sin? Amazingly, God does not routinely take him home immediately, though of course this does sometimes happen (Lev 10:1-3; Acts 5:1-11). God in His grace often allows believers to defy Him for a time. Who among us cannot think of a day in which we wallowed in self-pity, anger, jealousy, covetousness, or some other sin? The fact that we are still around to read these words shows that God extended His grace and gave us more time to grow and to serve Him.
It is vital that we remember that grace is foundational to present sanctification. We must not give up and decide God can’t use us anymore simply because we recognize some sin in our lives.
Certainly Peter would have been tempted to feel that way after directly denying Christ three times in one terrible night. However, after His resurrection the Lord three times gave Peter a chance to affirm his love and each time He in turn affirmed His desire for Peter to serve Him (John 21:15-17). There were other major gaffes in Peter’s life (see, for example, Gal 2:11ff.). Yet in each case Peter confessed and turned from his sin and the Lord continued to use him.
On the other hand, it is equally important that we not think that we can sin with impunity. If we play with fire, we will get burned.14 The fact that God may, in His grace, not take us home when we fall into sin, does not mean that we escape scot-free. No indeed. Whenever we develop a closed attitude toward God and refuse to confess and forsake our sin, then God disciplines us (Heb 12:3-11). Escaping immediate death is not the same as escaping all negative consequences.
In addition, consequences in this life are not all that is at stake. There are eternal consequences for those believers who do not walk with the Lord. While the eternal destiny of all believers, faithful or faithless, is secure (Rom 8:38-39), the quality of that eternal existence is dependent on how we live now. Unfaithful believers will be rebuked at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Luke 19:11-26), will be ashamed of themselves at that time (1 John 2:28), and will miss out on the opportunity to rule with Christ in the Millennial and eternal kingdoms, as well as missing out on other privileges extended only to faithful believers (cf. 1 Cor 3:10-15; 9:24-27; 2 Cor 5:10; Gal 5:19-21; 2 Tim 2:12; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:26; 3:21).
Interestingly, some Free Grace proponents object to discussing works in relation to present sanctification. Miles Stanford writes: “While the [Grace Evangelical] Society stands for grace, and ‘free salvation through faith alone,’ that does not extend to the life of the Christian.”15
He goes on to say:
Grace Evangelical Society was formed “to promote the clear proclamation of God’s free salvation (justification) through faith alone in Christ alone.” But it is evident that that does not include [present] sanctification, since for them Paul “did not teach Christian living apart from works.” This is an eclipse of grace!16
The charge being made here is unfounded. While it is true that we teach that present sanctification involves works which believers are commanded to do, that does not mean that we deny the role of grace in the Christian life. Present sanctification requires on-going grace, but it is not accomplished by faith alone. Rather, it is realized through faith that is “working through love” (Gal 5:6).
Even a cursory scanning of the word work in a Bible concordance reveals that Paul clearly linked Christian living and works (e.g., 1 Cor 3:13-15; 9:1; 15:58; 2 Cor 9:6-8; Gal 6:4; Phil 2:12; Col 1:10; 2 Tim 2:21). The same is true for the teaching of our Lord and His other apostles (e.g., Matt 21:28; 26:10; Luke 13:14; John 14:15; 15:14; Heb 6:10; 13:21; Jms 1:25; 1 Pet 1:17; Rev 22:12).
Present sanctification would not take place unless God continually extended His grace to the believer. This He does. But the believer must be “giving all diligence” to the process of moral development (see 2 Pet 1:5-7).
B. Laying the Foundation: Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, and Sealing
Years ago when I taught a course on the doctrine of salvation I used the memory device R-I-B-S to help my students remember the four things which the Holy Spirit does to a person the very moment he or she believes in Christ. At the moment of faith the Holy Spirit regenerates, indwells, baptizes, and seals.
The Holy Spirit regenerates all who believe in Christ (John 3:3-18; 1 Pet 1:22-23). This is why believers are capable of living holy lives. We have constant inner enablement by the Holy Spirit.
God the Holy Spirit also indwells every believer (Rom 8:9). He never leaves us. Moment by moment He resides within us. He leads us to obey God (Gal 5:18), whether we recognize it or not.
In addition, the Holy Spirit baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). That is, He places us in the universal Church. This is a tremendous truth which should strongly motivate us to pursue personal holiness. While we may have been alone and felt like an outsider before salvation, once we trust Christ we are not alone and we are not outsiders. We are permanent members of the greatest society there is: the Body of Christ.
Finally, He seals every believer for eternity (Eph 1:13; 4:30). God’s seal can never be broken. Once we are saved, we are saved forever. This ministry of the Holy Spirit gives believers who reflect upon it a deep sense of gratitude springing from their security. Gratitude is a powerful motivation for us to pursue holiness.
The fact that every Christian is regenerate, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, baptized into the Body of Christ, and sealed forever means that present sanctification is both possible and natural for every believer.
C. Praying for Us
Many believers are unaware of the fact that the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus both pray for us regularly. Yet They do! “The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26). “It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:34).
What a comfort and encouragement this is. I remember talking with a veteran of nearly forty years of pastoral ministry who told me that he was absolutely convinced that the reason he was still in the ministry and walking in the light is because the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit had been praying for him.
D. Empowering Us
God empowers every believer to obey Him. No believer can legitimately claim that he is unable to live a godly life. Peter said, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). The words all things refer to the fact that we have all we need to live godly lives because of God’s power within us.
This does not, of course, guarantee that we will live godly lives. Rather, it guarantees that we can. Whether we do or not depends on the extent to which we give “all diligence” and “add [italics supplied] to [our] faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Pet 1:5-7).
E. Directing Us
Every film has a director. The director is the person who lets all the actors, cameramen, and stage hands know exactly what is expected of them on each shot.
Similarly, God has not left us without direction. He has given us clear direction as to what we should and should not do to please Him.
This does not mean, however, that God tells us precisely what clothes and car and house to buy, whom to marry, what job to take, etc. For example, on the vital issue of marriage, God’s instructions through the apostle Paul for a widow is that she is to marry “whom[ever] she wishes, only in the Lord.”
God directs us by means of written instructions. As Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [lit. “is God-breathed”] and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” A Christian who does not know the Bible is like an actor who doesn’t know his script.
God aids our understanding of His Word by giving men and women in the Body of Christ the gift of teaching (cf. 1 Cor 12:28-29). Sermons, Sunday School lessons, home Bible study messages, books, journal and newsletter articles, commentaries, and the like are all ways that God can help us understand and apply His Word better.
Much has been written on this subject.17 The bottom line is that God has shown us what He wants us to do and what He wants us to avoid doing. A major part of present sanctification is studying God’s Word so that we can make His direction an integral part of our daily thinking and experience.
It is a sad fact, but there are some who believe in the absolute freeness of the Gospel who do not believe that God chastens His children. I heard one radio preacher who proclaims the freeness of the Gospel actually say that God never gets angry with or causes bad things to happen to His children.
Interestingly, many in the Lordship Salvation camp also seem to have a low view of God’s discipline. Only rarely have I seen anything written or heard anything preached by Lordship Salvationists on God’s chastening believers. (And even then, they are always careful to point out that the person experiencing difficulties may not be a “true” believer at all. He may be a false professor who only thinks he is saved.)
This is not an emphasis of that theology, though one would think it surely would be. I believe this is the case because Lordship Salvationists feel that genuine believers, while not sinless, are holy and obedient. If they weren’t, they would not be true believers. Such people rarely, if ever, need chastening.
Personally, I am greatly comforted to know that God cares enough for me to confront and discipline me. I would not want to be set free from His constraining hand. I want to be all that I can be for Him and I know that chastening is a necessary element in my growth. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, alluding to Prov 3:11-12, writes:
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.
As the passage just cited illustrates, both the Old and New Testaments teach that God does indeed discipline believers when we go astray. He does this in various ways.
1. By convicting Us of Sin
One of the ways in which God chastens us when we sin is by causing us to feel guilty as He makes clear to us what we have done (cf. Eph 5:8-14).
David felt guilty for committing adultery and murder and said that until he acknowledged his sin, “Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me” (Ps 32:3-4). Peter wept bitterly after he denied the Lord three times (Matt 26:75). The Word of God is able to pierce us to our innermost secrets (Heb 4:12-13) and to reprove and correct us (2 Tim 3:16-17).18
God may use a human mediator to convict us of our sin. This is exactly what happened to King David. For one year he failed to confess his sins of adultery and murder. Then God sent Nathan the prophet to confront him. David broke down in confession and repentance upon being confronted by Nathan (2 Samuel 12).
If we fail to respond to one person, God may move the leaders of our church to confront us. If even then we do not confess and forsake our sin, the congregation as a whole may decide to put us under church discipline, cutting us off from the fellowship of the assembly until we confess and repent.19
2. By Sending Us Temporal Difficulties
A second way God chastens us is by bringing difficulties into our lives.
Paul told the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 11 that some of them were sick (v 30) due to God’s chastening (v 32) because they had abused the Lord’s Supper by becoming drunk and gluttonous at it (cf. vv 17-22).
Whenever the nation of Israel fell into idolatry and rebellion against the Lord, she experienced God’s hand of chastening. He chastened her with disease, defeat by her enemies, crop failure, plagues, destruction of livestock, famine, and deportation (cf. Lev 26:14-39). Similarly, God may chasten believers today in a wide variety of ways.
Of course, not all difficulties are a result of personal sin. Often we experience difficulties simply because God is allowing us to be tested (e.g., Job), because God is judging a whole group of people of which we are a part (e.g., Daniel), or because of God’s overall plan requires it, though we probably don’t know why (e.g., the man born blind, John 9:1ff.).
It is not necessarily easy to decide whether we are experiencing difficulties due to some sin in our life or some other reason. However, two extremes should be avoided: believing that no difficulty we experience could possibly be the result of sin in our lives and, oppositely, believing that every difficulty we face is God’s chastening of us due to some sin or sins we’ve committed. Both licentious and paranoid attitudes are unhealthy and are to be avoided.
How, then, do we decide? Sometimes it’s easy. If you rob a bank and then are arrested and sent to jail, it’s reasonable to conclude that God is chastening you for robbing the bank! If you fall into sexual sin and contract a sexually transmitted disease, the cause and effect is obvious.
In cases where we are unaware of any unconfessed sin in our life, the biblical approach is to continue to confess our sins as we become aware of them (1 John 1:9). As we “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) we can reasonably assume that difficulties we experience are not due to some sin in our life.
If, on the other hand, we know that we are walking away from the Lord, then we can reasonably assume, though we might not be absolutely certain, that illnesses and family and financial difficulties and the like are part of God’s chastening ministry in our lives. If we then confess and forsake our sin, possibly the difficulties will end swiftly. In any case, we won’t be giving the Lord fresh reasons to chasten us.
3. By Taking Us Home
A third way the Lord chastens believers is by taking them to heaven prematurely. When believers are walking in rebellion, God may take them home to move them instantly to personal holiness. At the moment of death present and future sanctification meet and coalesce.
I have been asked on a number of occasions by people in the Lordship Salvation camp why we don’t see more believers taken home prematurely if our view of present sanctification is correct. My response is that we do. Many times. How many thousands—or even millions—of believers died before they would have because of sin in their lives?
This does not mean that all believers who die young or who die before they reach a ripe old age (three score and ten?) were taken by God due to sin in their lives. God may take believers home for a host of reasons. He has a master plan which He has not chosen to reveal to us in detail. Again, two extremes should be avoided: thinking that no believers are ever taken home due to sin in their lives and thinking that all who die before age seventy were taken home because of the sin unto death.
The chastening of God is a powerful way in which He moves us toward personal holiness.
The opposite of chastening is rewarding. As all good parents and employers know, rewarding good behavior is also a powerful motivator.
God rewards obedience both here-and-now and eternally. In a temporal sense we might paraphrase a popular advertising slogan: “Things go better with obedience.”
The nation of Israel was greatly rewarded by God when she obeyed Him. He gave her good crops, plenty of food to eat, good health, and peace in the land.
While the NT does not guarantee that material prosperity and good health will accompany holiness (e.g., 2 Cor 11:22-33), emotional and spiritual good health surely do. The fruit of the Spirit is only for the person walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Only the obedient Christian experiences peace, joy, contentment, and the like.
Similarly, every believer will someday appear before the Lord Jesus at His Judgment Seat. There Christ will recompense us “according to what we have done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). Those who have lived holy lives will receive praise, treasure, and special privileges and honors which will last forever. Those who have squandered their spiritual lives in this life will receive rebuke and will miss out on the abundance of life they could have had. (Cf. Matt 6:19-21; Luke 19:11-27; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 9:24-27; 2 Cor 5:9-10; 1 John 2:28; Rev 2-3.)
H. Restricting Choices
It is easy to forget, if we do not stay in the Scriptures regularly, that God does not allow us to walk through life facing a haphazard and purely coincidental series of experiences. He restricts our choices. For example, He allows us to be tempted, but never beyond what we can handle (1 Cor 10:13).
Can’t all of us think back on situations where we’re now glad that a particular option was not open to us? If the option had been available to us, we might well have made a choice that would have led us away from God. However, God eliminated that choice and made it easier for us to follow Him.
Had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden of Eden, they may well have eaten the fruit of the tree of life. If they had, they would have physically lived forever (Gen 3:22), yet in a state of separation from God. Von Rad comments that God was being merciful in “the withholding of a good which for man would have been unbearable in his present condition.”20
While they were possibly very unhappy to be excluded from the Garden at the time, Adam and Eve surely ultimately had reason to be very glad the Lord restricted their choice.
God used a donkey to restrict Balaam’s choice and to spare his life (Num 22:22-33). While Balaam was very mad at the animal for a time, he was very grateful when he realized that she had saved his life.
God restrained David from his foolish decision to go into battle on the side of the Philistines against King Saul and the forces of Israel (1 Sam 29:1-11)!
God restricts our choices again and again. We may be deeply saddened when a given prayer is not answered the way we want. However, as one person has wisely said, “It’s a good thing we don’t always get what we pray for.” God makes it easier for us to grow in godliness by restricting our choices.
* * * * * * * * * * *
In the next issue we will conclude this article by considering man’s role in present sanctification.
1See, for example, J. Sidlow Baxter, A New Call to Holiness: A Restudy and Restatement of New Testament Teaching Concerning Christian Sanctification (London: Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1967) and Our High Calling (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967); G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Sanctification (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1952); Peter Toon, Justification and Sanctification (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1983); Jonathan H. Rainbow, “Double Grace: John Calvin’s View of the Relationship of Justification and Sanctification” Ex Auditu 5 (1989): 99-105; H. A. Ironside, Holiness: The False and the True (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, n.d.); Philip Mauro, Sanctification: Notes of an Address (New York: Gospel Publishing House, n.d.). See also footnote 2.
2Melvin E. Dieter, Anthony A. Hoekema, Stanley M. Horton, J. Robertson McQuilkin, and John F. Walvoord, Five Views on Sanctification (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1987).
3Ibid., p. 35.
4Ibid., p. 72.
5See, for example, the comments of Stanley M. Horton in Five Views on pp. 109-114.
6On the issue of assurance and present sanctification, most Keswick speakers would affirm that genuine believers cannot lose their salvation and that failure in the Christian life is possible. However, there is disagreement about whether a professing believer should question his salvation if he is “deliberately rejecting the known will of God” (a phrase used by McQuilkin in Five Views, p. 170). Some (e.g., McQuilkin, Five Views, p. 170) would say that such a person has “no legitimate biblical ground for assurance of salvation.” Others would affirm that the promises in God’s Word are all that is needed for full and complete assurance.
7Five Views, pp. 160-67ff.
8Ibid, p. 170.
9For a discussion of the supposed indispensability of good works for assurance, see, “Assurance and Works: An Evangelical Trainwreck,” by Zane Hodges, The Grace Evangelical Society News (March-April 1994): 1, 3, 4.
10See, for example, Darrell Bock, “A Review of The Gospel According to Jesus,” BibSac 146 (1989): 21-40, esp. pp. 30-32. “In this reviewer’s opinion there are three practical tests for determining the presence or absence of saving faith” (p. 31). He then goes on to list (1) sensitivity toward sin, (2) recognition of some fruit in one’s life, and (3) sensing that one “has a desire for and a sense of intimacy with God as his Father” as those three tests (pp. 31-32).
See also, Robert Pyne, “[A Review of] Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, by John F. MacArthur, Jr.,” BibSac, 150 (1993): 497-99. “MacArthur seems correct in arguing that assurance is not really complete without both elements [the promises of God and the observance of spiritual fruit in one’s life]” (p. 499).
11See Walvoord, Five Views, p. 210: “Once saved, regenerate persons no longer question their salvation but are prepared to confront the problem of experiential sanctification. From Scripture, regeneration in itself does not bring perfection of character or freedom from a sin nature.”
12Ibid. He writes: “The act of regeneration is irreversible and results in the eternal security of a believer in Christ.”
13For example, Walvoord writes: “The inner transformation [of regeneration] is visible in outward conduct. One’s character changes, and even those personality traits that reflect sinful thought patterns are changed. . . In the Old Testament there was no redemption from presumptuous sins (e.g., Exod. 21:14; Num. 15:30-31), and in the New Testament that type of deliberately chosen sin occurs consistently in lists that identify those who are unredeemed and under judgment (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8)” (Five Views, p. 180).
14See “Believers Who Play with Fire Get Burned (John 15:6),” by Bob Wilkin, The Grace Evangelical Society News (May-June 1994):2-3.
15Unpublished paper, “Dispensational Disintegration (Part 2),” August 1993, p. 1.
16Ibid., p. 6.
17See, for example, Ren Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969); Garry Friesen, Decision Making and the Will of God (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1980); Haddon Robinson, Decision-Making by the Book (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991); and Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976).
18Of course, it is unfortunately possible to feel guilty even when we have done nothing wrong. That is why it is vital whenever we feel guilty to evaluate our feeling in light of Scripture. If, for instance, I feel guilty for turning down a speaking engagement—even though I had good reason to do so—then I can reject the guilt as “false guilt” and go on with my life, knowing that like an ocean wave that feeling will pass.
19Unfortunately, church discipline is rarely practiced today.
20Gerhard von Rad. Genesis: A Commentary. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961, 1972).