Ferguson: Supporting the imperatives to holiness

Ferguson: Supporting the imperatives to holiness

At the 2007 Banner of Truth conference this Spring, Sinclair Ferguson made the following note after reading Titus 2:11-13 (“For the grace of God has appeared … training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions”). He says,

“The great gospel imperatives to holiness are ever rooted in indicatives of grace that are able to sustain the weight of those imperatives. The Apostles do not make the mistake that’s often made in Christian ministry. [For the Apostles] the indicatives are more powerful than the imperatives in gospel preaching. So often in our preaching our indicatives are not strong enough, great enough, holy enough, or gracious enough to sustain the power of the imperatives. And so our teaching on holiness becomes a whip or a rod to beat our people’s backs because we’ve looked at the New Testament and that’s all we ourselves have seen. We’ve seen our own failure and we’ve seen the imperatives to holiness and we’ve lost sight of the great indicatives of the gospel that sustain those imperatives. … Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament’s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry.”

Sinclair Ferguson, message from the 2007 Banner of Truth Conference, Our Holiness: The Father’s Purpose and the Son’s Purchase.

Along with Titus 2:11-13, Ferguson cited 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Romans 8:28-29 and 15:16. Ferguson preached from John 15:9 the next day where Jesus’ call for fruitful disciples is wrapped in His call for them to “Abide in my love.” Ferguson challenges preachers to root the commands to be holy in the grace of our electing Father, the work of His Son on the Cross and the ongoing work of the indwelling and filling Spirit towards our holiness. The challenge is not to avoid the commands, but make certain our indicatives are strong enough to support them. Preaching from the indicatives assumes the preacher is first living daily in the indicatives of God in his private study.

Sinclair Ferguson: No such ‘thing’ as grace

tsslogo.jpgNo such ‘thing’ as grace
by Sinclair Ferguson

“There is nothing between the person of the Lord Jesus and the person of the believer as that union and communion develops and grows. I think this is a very important thing for us to grasp. Let me put it the way I sometimes put it: The union with Christ we have is not that we somehow or another share His grace. Because – follow me carefully – there actually is no ‘thing’ as grace. That actually is a Medieval Roman Catholic teaching. There is a ‘thing’ called grace that can be separated from the person of Jesus Christ. It is something Jesus Christ won on the Cross and He can bestow it on you. And there are at least seven ways it can be bestowed on you and they all, as it happens, turn out to be in the hands of the church. And you can have this kind of grace, and this kind of grace, and this kind of grace … There is no such ‘thing’ as grace! Grace is not some appendage to His being. Nor is it some substance that flows from us: ‘Let me give you grace.’ All there is is the Lord Jesus Himself. And so when Jesus speaks about us abiding in Him and He abiding in us – however mysterious it may be, mystical in that sense – it is a personal union. Do not let us fail because of the abuse of expressions. Do not let us fail to understand that, at the end of the day, actually Christianity is Christ because there isn’t anything else. There is no atonement that somehow can be detached from who the Lord Jesus is. There is no grace that can be attached to you transferred from Him. All there is is Christ and your soul.”

Sinclair Ferguson on John 15 at the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference in Grantham, PA this Spring.

Index > 2007 Banner of Truth Ministers Conference


2007 Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference
Complete Index

The Shepherd’s Scrapbook was on location for the 2007 Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference on the campus of Messiah College in Grantham, PA (May 29-31). Here is a complete index to the addresses and photographs, tours, etc. from our conference coverage.

Day 1 (Tue.)
1. Photos from the first day.
2. Ben Short, “The Antidote to Discouragement” (Tues. 3:30 PM)
3. Sinclair Ferguson, “Our Holiness: The Father’s Purpose and the Son’s Purchase” (Tues. 7:00 PM)
4. Sinclair Ferguson’s walk through the bookstore (Tues. PM)

Day 2 (Wed.)
5. Derek Thomas, “Union with Christ: The Architectonic Principle of Holiness in Calvin’s Institutes” (Wed. 9:00 AM)
6. Sinclair Ferguson, “Our Holiness: Abiding in Christ’s Love” (Wed. 10:45 AM)
7. Derek Thomas, “Mortification and Vivification: The Shape of Holiness in Calvin’s Institutes” (Wed. 7:00 PM)
8. Warehouse tour of the Banner of Truth (Carlisle, PA)

Day 3 (Thur.)
9. Derek Thomas, “Meditation and the Future Life: The Goal of Holiness in Calvin’s Institutes” (Thurs. 10:45 AM)
10. Notes from the addresses by Jonathan Watson, Patrick Harrison and Mark Johnston.
11. Final Conference Reflections


Derek Thomas walked into a world of trouble for not dressing up for the conference. Though, he defended himself nicely. I have photographic proof to back up his case.