Many relate to my personal testimony; despite my best efforts, I have been for the most part at odds with church. Julia Duin noted in her book Quitting Church that she has always sensed that something is fundamentally wrong with the Evangelical church.
I wonder if that mysterious fundamental reason has come to light. Note this statement by Al Mohler, arguably the most influential Evangelical of our day:
Niebuhr’s fifth model is where he seems to be pointing us, that is, to Christ the transformer of culture. These are the conversionists, and they are far more hopeful than the dualists. They understand the distinction between Christ and the culture, but they also understand that it is the mission of the church to transform the culture with the claims of Christ. We continually hear this kind of language: “Let’s go out and redeem the culture. Let’s go out and conquer the culture in the name of Christ. Let’s transform every dimension of the culture, whether the media and the arts, or business and finance, and let’s subdue them to the claims of Christ. Let’s have a more Christian military and a more Christian realm of arts.” This leads to a very progressive impulse, one which looks to a better world and a better condition if we will only do this. It promises transformation, hopes for cultural redemption, and leads to Christian activism. (Preaching the Cross: chapter 3, subheading; Niebuhr’s Treatment of Christ and Cutler, Niebuhr’s fifth model).
What a minute. Is this not the exact same vision as Islam? Moreover, do Muslims understand this better than most Christians? When Christian missionaries travel abroad, are they perceived this way whether they know it or not? When we hear of Christian missionaries being murdered or detained for “conspiracy to overthrow the state,” we immediately assume that’s a crock. Well, maybe not when you consider what the Crusades were all about coupled with this contemporary dominion mentality among leading Evangelicals.
Furthermore, Al Mohler is far from being the only one propagating these ideas. This same idea is the theses of Paul David Tripp’s book, Broken-Down House. Many examples could be given, but I will not belabor the point past the following notation by blogger Joel Taylor:
While filming a promo in Dubai (UAE) for the new student missions conference, CROSS, John Piper (standing in front of the Burj Khalifa tower) makes this statement:
“And that tower and this city are coming down!”
Was that a wise thing to say while standing on United Arab Emirates soil? I wonder how the Arab people would understand his remark if they saw this?
It probably wouldn’t surprise them. The American church was founded on the Reformation, and many of its European stalwarts had their own standing armies. And ok, we have much spiritual tyranny and a divine right of kings mentality in the church today; ya think? If they muse about bringing down the Burj Khalifa tower what do you think they will do to you if you ask too many questions?
So this explains everything. It’s really not about the gospel. It’s not about making disciples, it’s about globalism. Making “disciples” is not the primary goal, it’s only a small part of a much larger vision. The whole idea that people can only find salvation in the “local church” is the ploy that funds the global vision while Christians believe it’s about the gospel. We are encouraged to bring people to church to get them saved for that very reason. It also brings to mind all of the hoopla about “lone rangers” who are not “under the authority” of a local church.
Do I think this clarifies the mission of home fellowships? Absolutely; do you want to make disciples? Or do you want to fund world dominion? Christ’s mandate to the assemblies was to make as many disciples as possible before Christ returns. Why? Because He is not calling on Christians to renovate the earth—He is going to come back and blow up the whole thing and start over.
This is a short post, but one that opens up a very wide avenue of considerations. “There is no perfect church”: that’s not the issue; the issue is the fundamental mandate. That’s not merely a question of perfection, but the difference between eternal investment or a complete waste of time and money.
We are inserting another interlude into our Romans series, the very important subject of atonement.
A clear definition of the word atonement, or at-onement, is critical to the discussion. The word primarily means to be reconciled as “onement” would imply. Unfortunately, atonement is often defined as “a covering” which is not the primary meaning of the word. “Covering” is not consistent with the idea of things separated becoming one. Mankind is at enmity with God and needs to be reconciled to Him.
It could be argued that covering is the result of reconciliation, but really, the result is an EXCHANGE. The exchange can be best summarized as an exchange of death for life. According to John J. Parsons, author of Hebrew 4 Christians .com, the English translation for the Jewish Day of Atonement is Yom Kippur which can mean “ransom,” “substitute,” or “redeem.” In Parson’s estimation, the overarching idea is an exchange of one life for another.
The idea of a covering for sin in the way you would cover something over to hide it is prevalent in the Old Testament. The word for covering something over appears in the Old Testament roughly 160 times, and about half of those pertain to a covering of sin. These are variations of kipur, kapar, kasa, and are usually translated in English as “cover” or “atonement.” The word atonement has a late etymology (16th century) and has religious implications. This shouldn’t surprise us because the Old Testament pointed to the eradication of sin on the cross while the Old Covenant covered, or held sin captive until Christ exchanged His life for ours:
Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.
In the New Testament, the word atonement doesn’t appear. The KJV translates katallage as atonement, but elsewhere in Romans 5:10,11, 11:15, 1Cor 5:18, 7:11, 2Cor 5:19,20, the only other places the word appears, it is translated “reconciliation” or to be reconciled.
The word for “cover” in the New Testament (kalypto) appears four times; once for the admonishment to not use our freedom as a covering for sin (1Pet 2:16); twice in regard to love covering sin among Christians (1Pet 4:8, James 5:20), and one Old Testament reference to Psalm 32:1,2 in Romans 4:7. But the real test is in the Old Testament narratives which exemplify EXCHANGE. The first is the account of Abraham and Isaac:
Genesis 22:1 – After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.
The angel of the Lord waited long enough to establish the fact that Isaac was as good as dead before stopping Abraham. The ram was then sacrificed in place of Isaac—this is an exchange of death for life. We learn from Hebrews that Abraham assumed God was going to raise Isaac from the dead, so Abraham may have understood far more about the coming Messiah than we would imagine (Heb 11:1-19).
The next example may be sanctified speculation, but I would like to enter it into the lesson:
Hebrews 11: 4 – By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
Hebrews 12:24 – and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Genesis 4:1 – Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” 2 And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. 3 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4 and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
God set a mark on Cain to preserve his life. This is the death of a righteous one that results in the preservation of one undeserving of life. Again, this may be speculative, but I offer it up for your consideration. Less speculative is the sacrifices demanded under the Old Testament law, particularly the Day of Atonement:
Leviticus 16:6 – “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel [scapegoat/goat of departure]. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.
Leviticus 16:29 – “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Aaron did as the Lord commanded Moses.
Leviticus 14:49 – To purify the house he is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop. 50 He shall kill one of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. 51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. 53 Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.”
In addition, these sacrifices, especially the Day of Atonement, signified the taking away of sin rather than a mere covering:
Leviticus 16:21 – And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
John 1:29 – The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
When we believe in Christ, we are persuaded that He laid down His life for ours. We are persuaded that He bore all of our sins and paid the penalty of death for them. He also was resurrected as well. His death and resurrection resulted in three exchanges that mark the true gospel. These are three exchanges that exhibit true atonement.
1. An exchange of the old us for the new us. When we believed on Christ, the old us literally died with Christ, and the new us was resurrected with Him. This is the meaning of baptism; it pictures that transaction:
Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
The denial of a literal spiritual death and resurrection resulting in a new person is NOT tantamount to the true gospel.
2. There must be a transaction of law. There must be a transfer of jurisdiction in regard to law. There must be an exchange of “under law” for “under grace.” It is an exchange of the law of sin and death that condemns for the law of liberty/law of the Spirit:
Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written…
Romans 3:21 – 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
We are justified apart from the law, but there is a law that bears witness to us. Unless we have a different relationship to the law than condemnation, there is no true gospel. A gospel that posits the idea that Christians are still under a law that can condemn us is a false one.
3. There must be a transaction of slavery. No unbeliever sins perfectly, and no believer obeys perfectly. Unbelievers are enslaved to unrighteousness and free to do good—believers are enslaved to righteousness and free to sin (Romans 6:20-23). Christ purchased us with His blood for service to His kingdom, and we were purchased from the slavery of the world (1Cor 7:23). Redemption is our resurrection when Christ takes full possession of us into His presence (Luke 21:28).
A true gospel must speak of these three transactions; you cannot have one without the other.
Find the word, “legalism” in the Bible; not there. Find the concept; not there. Why? Because there is no such thing. Wrong application/interpretation of any kind is against the word of God. That’s only called one thing and one thing only: antinomianism. If that is too boring for you, Christ did call it one other thing: the traditions of men. Christ was very concerned with the traditions and teachings of men. Why? Because it produces ideas things like, “legalism.”
Legalism is a concept that supports the idea that Christians can unwittingly obey in a way that “builds fruits back into the instrument of justification” (John Piper). In other words, the idea is based on salvation of the justification sort being progressive instead of a finished work. Hence, how we obey in our Christian life becomes very tricky business. It also posits the following idea: thinking that we can please God through obedience is the root of all evil—it is the very fiber of our vile being to justify ourselves by law-keeping. However, such an attempt is impossible for a real Christian because they know that justification is a finished work that cannot be affected by anything we do.
So, as the theory goes, since it is impossible to obey the law, we look for “loopholes.” If we would just let go and let God, we wouldn’t sin as much because we know we can’t keep the law perfectly anyway. Notice that perfection in law-keeping is still the standard. What does that tell you? Right, the Christian is still, “under law” and that is a huge problem. “Under grace” does not mean that Jesus’ perfect obedience is imputed to us—it means that we now obey the “law of liberty” and are very able to do so. The legalism concept circumvents the law transaction that must be part of a true gospel. The law’s ability to condemn was ended by Christ; we now obey the law from the motive of love.
The Bible does address those under grace who have an unbiblically trained conscience that passes judgment on more mature Christians who have the liberty to partake in certain things. More mature Christians are not to persuade those who are convicted that the issue is sin, nor are they to practice the issue in front of the “weaker brother.” There is no “loophole” issue except in the legalism concept that is the traditions of men and that is what primarily concerned Christ.
No doubt, with the latest scandal concerning Bill Gothard, we must once again suffer a flurry of this nonsense, and worse yet, people are bringing these articles to my attention for the express purpose of annoying me.
I know not if Gothard is a Christian, but the Bible if VERY clear why people fall into this kind of sin; they obey sinful passions. Under law is synonymous with being enslaved to sinful passions, provoked by the law, and ultimately judged by the law, albeit free to do good (Romans 6:20). Under grace is synonymous with being enslaved to righteousness, provoked to do good by the law, and released from the condemnation of the law, albeit free to do evil. No unbeliever sins perfectly, and no believer obeys perfectly. It’s a direction dictated by an exchange of slavery and two different relationships to the law.
Hence, people love to annoy me with the following:
This is surely part of what Paul meant when he said, “The letter (the Law, the old covenant) kills, but the Spirit gives life.” The Law kills because it focuses (or it tends to be applied so as to focus) on external behaviors: how high is high, how good is good, how shiny is shiny.
But the Spirit, which changes us from the inside out, gives life.
No, this is “surely” NOT what Paul was talking about. The law is only death to those born “under the law” who we pray will be transformed and brought under the “law of liberty,” or the “law of the Spirit.” The law is the “law of sin and death” to unbelievers, not believers. The only man born into the world that was not under the curse of the law was Christ because He is able to be judged by it without condemnation. Yet, He bore its curse on the cross so that He could put an end to the law of sin and death for believers. This frees them to zealously pursue the law of liberty in order to please God without fear. Same law; different relationship.
Furthermore, the Spirit does NOT change us from the “inside out.” That’s a bunch of stinking boloney. Christians are called on to change behavior and thinking both. It’s not from the inside out only—IT’S BOTH. Sometimes obedience brings internal blessings (Phil 4:9), and sometimes a change of thinking results in different behavior—it’s both, not either/or.
“Beware of any verbiage that implies that healing comes forth by ignoring the blood that cries out from the ground. This verbiage comes from the heart of the tyrant himself, or those who carry water for him.”
“Yes, we live in a day when the American church separates justice from love, and accepts the bribe of fellowship in exchange for justice. In the same way that we offer prayer in place of supplying need, we offer condolences in place of justice. And we side with the many in our silence.”
Here in Dayton, Ohio one roams the inner-city streets at their own risk. It’s a risk that you accept if you want to go there for some reason. Likewise, people still want to go to the institutional American church for some reason, and do so at their own risk. But there is one difference: if you get mugged downtown, you might get justice, it’s a consolation prize.
Per the usual, something in my life provokes a post like this, and this post is no different. I don’t get into conspiratorial topics in my writings for two reasons: it’s hard enough getting Christians to believe the obvious and we should at least start there, and why talk about UFOs when identifiable fiendish opulence is dancing in the aisles and on the altars?
Nevertheless, if you do the research that I do, one thing becomes apparent: the New Calvinist movement that is crossing denominational lines and taking over the American church is not about the gospel, it’s about power, money, and politics. Frankly, the global aspirations of Al Mohler and many other Southern Baptist leaders are not unapparent, especially if you are well versed in Plato’s Republic. Yesterday, I was searching through information sent to me by others that a friend requested, and found myself in dark contemplation.
I keep a picture of the Jonestown aftermath in my office, the one where two adult women are embracing a toddler as they died the foretold “painless” death by spiked Kool-Aid. It’s an apt reminder for my sluggish heart that gravitates towards thinking well of those who look good and speak well. Yes, it was a protest because the US was going to take away their right to live in a socialist utopia because Jim Jones murdered a US Senator. While searching for the information, I also stumbled upon a clip about Chinese public executions that are commonplace in that culture. The story was good news that the “Peoples Supreme Court” is going to start reviewing the executions and the present rate of about ten executions a day may slow down.
Don’t you know, it’s always about the “people.” Jim Jones’ “People’s Temple” and the Chinese “People’s Supreme Court,” and by the way, your local Reformed elder “wuvs you.” Bad results are always beside the point because people are stubborn and constantly want to think for themselves. If everyone would just obey for a change, all would see that elitists know what they are talking about in regard to the “collective good.” You see, all of the slaughter is for you, you are wuved. And John Calvin wuved you. He wuved you soooo much that he wrote a weally big letter to the king of France called the Calvin Institutes calling for the execution of all who disagreed with him, because like all Platonists, he knows about the “collective good.” Yes, no wonder John Piper went to Geneva and announced his world vision for Calvin’s “Post Tenebras Lux.” Piper calls it a “wonder.” Yes indeed. You are wuved.
And in the midst of all this, I received an email from someone of my past who still wuvs me soooo much. He is concerned because I am, yawn, and here we go again, “bitter.” And why am I bitter? Well, that’s just too rich, but let me do a little prerequisite. In regard to the elitists that want to rule the world, premise is out and authority is in. Little brats that ask mommy why are the best picture: “Why?” ‘Because I said so.’” In this picture, you’re the brat and John Calvin is the mommy. It’s about the collective good; it’s about things you can’t comprehend.
The person who contacted me summarily dismissed seven years of research and informed me of my reality. He understands none of it, but this he does understand: we can’t understand, and my “glory story” is not in touch with Luther’s “cross story.” Now listen up, this is the tie that binds the American church with every murdering tyrant that ever breathed air on the earth:
“I am truly very sorry for the difficult things that have happened in your life. This is why it is difficult to offer correction. We will always be disappointed with people in the end, but thank God, if we keep our focus on Him, he is a faithful anchor of peace for our souls. What happens to us is not nearly as important as how we respond to it. I fear your response is not healing, but rather further hurtful to you and others around you. Again, I speak in gentleness, but if you place me in a position to have to speak uncomfortable truths to you, please do not assume I am answering you in a hateful tone.”
Yes, we will always be “disappointed” with the Calvinesque of the world. Calvin probably did not have to slaughter nearly as many as he did for our sake. Luther could have hated the Jews a little less, and Zwingli could have drowned fewer Anabaptists. The execution mode mocked their audacity to refute Luther and Calvin’s position on water baptism. And we are “disappointed” with Reformed elders in this country who merely improvise in their persecutions, but we must remember that it is all for us.
Beware of any verbiage that accuses Christ of not being concerned with justice in the here and now. Beware of any verbiage that implies that Christ does not hold us accountable for justice. Beware of any verbiage that implies that healing comes forth by ignoring the blood that cries out from the ground. This verbiage comes from the heart of the tyrant himself, or those who carry water for him.
And the words of a heartless tyrant ALWAYS come dressed in the garb of “love,” and in the political realm, it is always the “people’s” guillotine. The one built for them, and for their sake, adorned with the finest and sharpest blade available—only the finest for the people.
You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,
“You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit.
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.
“‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Yes, we live in a day when the American church separates justice from love, and accepts the bribe of fellowship in exchange for justice. In the same way that we offer prayer in place of supplying need, we offer condolences in place of justice. And we side with the many in our silence.
As I looked for the data, and perused the many pictures of beautiful Chinese damsels who had half their heads blown off with an AK-47 for some trivial offence, I wondered why God ever allowed sin to come into the world. I plunged into a dark pit of doubt and darkness. I found myself in utter despair and began to attempt to climb my way out with my thoughts. I prayed to the God I doubted to save me with reason. As I clawed desperately for hope, I reasoned that perhaps I do not even understand the basic premises of metaphysics that I assume. As I looked at those pictures, I knew that at times trust can be a bitch. And then the thought came…
For whatever reason God allowed sin to come into the world, He gave His only Son to heal it. And when He was on earth, His devotion to the Father never wavered. The Father listened as His Son cried out to Him in the passion. Christ Himself wept over Jerusalem. These thoughts brought light into my mind and the dark spirit fled—my prayers were answered. God despises sin more than I ever have or will, and has given more than anyone because of it. In allowing sin into the world, His solution was a burden that only God Himself could bear. So, I still do not know why, but the only way of hope is clear.
But this I do know: God cares just as much about what happens to us as our response. The silent lamb will return as a roaring Lion who will shake the earth. It is our duty to do all we can for justice in the here and now to obtain justice for the wronged. We are to be like Christ in the here and now. Be sure of this: justice, either now or future is a down payment for healing. Let those who separate justice from love be accursed. The repentance of our persecutors is the most efficacious to the healing process, and this is also being denied victims wholesale in the American church. The victims are offended, no one is held accountable, and justice is withheld, but the gospel has much to say about repentance and justice, and it is said to EVERYONE including those who think they speak for God.
It all comes from the same anti-Christ logic. It is the collective good over the one in 99. Today’s Reformed “shepherd” doesn’t understand that one life has already been given for the collective good, and their ignorance is predicated on the fact that they do not know Christ or anything of His justice. This is their kinship with the worst of any murdering mystic depot, and the very reason that they adore John Calvin.
To those who have joined hands with TANC, find a good picture of the Chinese damsels and put it in your wallet or purse with the pictures of your loved ones. It is a reminder that we must never stop fighting against tyranny in the church. It is a reminder that we must cry out in the wilderness if we have to. Tyranny in the church is the same logic that pulls the trigger on an AK-47.
Here is what most do not understand: Al Mohler and Kim Jong Un have the exact same presuppositions in regard to mankind.
2014 “Shepherds” Conference: Speaker Jerry Wragg Leads Conference in Either Deliberate Deception or Confusion
Laptops are wonderful. I have been running PPT while doing some major remolding on my mother’s house. I have been watching the comments on a couple of recent posts that have stirred a lot of discussion in regard to law and gospel. If it takes a while for your comment to be moderated, I am probably soldering a water pipe. I have little time right now to jump into the fray, but what a delight to see the laity emboldened to engage this topic. The posts are in relationship to TANC’s latest realization regarding the Reformed view of atonement. I am astounded in regard to the simplicity of the crux: did Christ merely cover our sins, or did He END sin?
Obviously, according to Calvin, Christ died to merely cover sin. We have established firmly that total depravity also pertains to the saints in Reformed thought. Reformed soteriology changes the experience, not the person. This is the official Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. Also obvious is the idea that covering goes hand in hand with the idea that Christians are not changed in their personal righteousness. If our sins are ended, a completely different soteriology is demanded. This Sunday, I will be further supplementing our Romans series with another look at atonement, and be sure of this, John 1:29 will be mentioned:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
What of this? Did Christ take our sin away, or did He merely cover it? Is our “just standing” merely a realm change with the same relationship to the law, or does salvation change our relationship to the law? I am awaiting a transcript of David Platt’s view of atonement that I will implement in clarifying this position.
This now brings me to the subject at hand. A brother who I have not talked to for some time sent me a tidbit of information about the 2014 “Shepherds” Conference held annually at John MacArthur’s church. Yes, the quotation marks are of the scare variety. Before I get into the tidbit, he reminds me of a longstanding reality in the institutional church. Brothers and sisters who can think for themselves are always going to be deemed a threat in the institutional church. I don’t know of his present church status, but what a joy to see the Home Fellowship movement setting brothers like him free to practice their gifts.
He reminds me very much of Andy Young who is now free to bless people with his gift of teaching, but like Andy, the gift doesn’t match the recognition and opportunity that takes place in the brick and mortar church. Seminaries are where you go to get your Reformed pedigree and certificate that confirms that you will toe the Reformed line. You pay money to get your certificate, then you can get a job as a philosopher king—that’s how the system works. Conferences reinforce the system, and the laity unwittingly pays for it. It is a sanctified caste system like no other.
Now for the tidbit. He informed me that one of the speakers, a Jerry Wragg, delivered a message at the conference entitled, “The New Antinomianism: Evaluating the Implications of Cross-centered Sanctification.” Ok, we understand that there is a bunch of confusion at The Masters’ Seminary, but is this just more confusion, or outright deception? For the most part, Christians intuitively believe that sanctification is synergistic while justification is monergistic. Even if you believe you have a choice, obviously, God alone made a way to be saved. Let me suggest that if our sins are only covered, soteriology becomes very deep and we need the philosopher kings; if our sins are ENDED—not so much.
At any rate, the herd of heretics in these last days are well aware of the intuition, and therefore merely emphasize justification resulting in the out-of-sight-out-of-mind result of “justification by faith alone” which is really sanctification by faith alone as well. James sternly warned the church against this heresy. But every now and then, this herd of supposed stalwarts of the faith that the apostles predicted would be absent in the last days to begin with, sense that the totally depraved zombie sheep are catching on and it is time for a little doublespeak.
I read the title of the message to Susan, and as she looked at me dumbfounded, I asked, “So, do you think this is confusion, or deception?” Her reply: “deception.” Perhaps, but as I have stated before, I believe many of this year’s speakers at TSC 2014 are the premier heretics of our day who are leading untold thousands to hell, in fact, I doubt hell ever looked better while MacArthur is just plain confused. An example is the maintaining of his dispensational eschatology along with his Reformed soteriology. Antinomianism usually walks hand in hand with one judgment and covering, while the former is consistent with multiple judgments for different purposes and the ending of sin resulting in new creaturehood that is personal and not realm related. It is a righteousness that is personal, not merely an imputed experience.
So, will a review of this message, when it is posted, reveal a sound interpretation of sanctification; ie., Mac-like confusion, or has this speaker been called on to calm the herd with Reformed doublespeak?
Let me close with why the title of his message is spot-on. Antinomianism, an actual biblical word as opposed to Phil Johnson’s favorite unbiblical concept of “legalism,” is both good and bad. Anti-law in justification is good while anti-law in sanctification suggests that we are still “under law” and need a continued “covering.” If our sin is still judged by the law, we need perpetual justification. And if we need a perpetual, “covering” by the blood, that obviously suggests a perpetual return to the cross; ie., “cross-centered” sanctification.
Well, humans are created to work and think both. That’s why space aliens have skinny little bodies and big heads; they create reality in a realm by thinking about stuff, you know, like Phil Johnson’s gospel contemplationism. But reality is tricky when you are created to work: how do we work to please God without it going towards our justification? See, that makes things really tricky; that’s why you need them, and that’s why they have conferences…
…if they didn’t continually remind you of that, they would have to get a real job. And besides, you pay for the reminder.
Friday, June 20, 9am -9pm.
Saturday, June 21, 9am-3pm.
Saturday, June 21, Round Table discussion and Q/A ; 5pm-
Sunday, June 22, 2pm-6pm
Location: Xenia, Ohio Community Center
Session one: “Knowing the Puritans by Their Fruit”
Session Two: “Cliffs Notes for the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion”
Session Three: “The New Testament Church Model Defined”
To be announced. General subject is WWII era Nazism and its relationship to Reformed ideology.
To be announced. General subject is Reformed influence on the home and home schooling.
To be announced. General subject is soteriolgy.
To be announced. General subject is God’s sovereign will and man’s free will.
Lessons 1-18: ttanc.com
I am pleased that the exodus gang is no longer bewildered by the discussion of law and gospel; obviously, this post has generated 106 comments and counting. The laity has begun dialoging full throttle on this issue, and that is really, really bad news for the New Calvinists—pun intended.
However, I would like to shortly address a hefty question by one of the participants. This question will be addressed in more detail at a later date along with the subject of atonement which we find to be another serious Achilles’ heel for Calvinism—new and old. Here is the question:
Ok, not to throw a monkey wrench into the mix but I would love to hear from folks here what they think this passage is telling us in context of the entire book:
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Especially verse 15!!!
Ok, I have to go meet someone shortly in regard to the facility we will be renting for TANC 2014, but I am compelled to address this question with at least a short volley.
When we get past Calvinist propaganda about the Jewish leadership of that day, and also have a working understanding of justification and sanctification, this passage is fairly easy to understand. The subject is Jewish religious academia as set against the Gentiles Paul is writing to. The Jews are the ones who have the law. The unsaved Gentiles will parish without the law and will be judged by the law written on their hearts. ALL people born into the world have the works of God written on their hearts. Unsaved people who know nothing of the Bible will be judged by that law.
However, the Jews will be judged by both. And, and this is a big AND, the Jewish rendition of the law, especially among the Pharisees, was antinomian in nature. They were experts at relaxing the law. While priding themselves at, “We have the law” and looking up their noses at the Gentiles, the Gentiles were better at following the law written on their own hearts than the Jews were at obeying the law God entrusted them with. The Jews believed, like Calvinists, that the law was the standard for justification/righteousness; therefore, they dumbed it down with their tradition because obviously it can’t be kept perfectly (primarily salvation by circumcision).
But, and this is a big, BUT, what they missed is that when the law is separated from righteousness, the saved person zealously pursues the “law of liberty” in love. So, and this is a big, SO…
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
The Pharisees were only hearers of the law and not doers, just like the Calvinist prognosticators of gospel contemplationism in our day. A believer will be justified apart from the law because his/her life zealously pursues its truth out of love.
Moreover, the unsaved will be judged by law because they are still under it. The saved will not be judged by the law, their works will be evaluated to determine rewards. The Jews will be judged by both laws; those without the law will be judged for violating their consciences that administer the law written on their hearts.
Gotta go. Sorry for the typos.
“In a manner of speaking, Moses’ law was useless until Christ died. It was a will that promised an inheritance, but without the death of its testator, there is no inheritance; namely, eternal life. So why would Christ have to fulfill the law through obedience? His death alone resulted in the inheritance. Obedience to a will does not fulfil it, only death fulfills it. A will is a promise fulfilled by death only.”
The reason Calvinism is a false gospel is simple and glaring; Calvin was on the wrong side of the law. In fact, Calvin constructed the exact soteriology that the apostle Paul continually railed against. Simply stated, Paul sought to separate law from justification while Calvin sought to fuse law with justification.
Calvin condoned this by making Christ’s perfect obedience to the law part of the “atonement.” This is another caveat we will be discussing: Calvin also misused the word “atonement” and seems to have had a fundamental misunderstanding about what it is. As good Protestants we think of atonement as being central to the cross, and indeed it is VERY important, but not central. I will explain this further along—how Calvin’s understanding of atonement makes the L in TULIP an oxymoron.
Calvin made perfect law-keeping justification’s standard; Paul said, NO! law has nothing to do with being justified whatsoever! Calvin said Christ fulfilled the law for us, and His perfect obedience was imputed to us along with His personal righteousness. Hence, we are righteous positionally, and also righteous factually. Therefore, the “atonement” is a “covering”—no matter what the Christian does, when the father of wrath looks at us, He only sees Christ’s “doing and dying” and not anything we do. This is part and parcel with Martin Luther’s alien righteousness construct as well. It seems logical until you start reading the Bible. But this makes the concept of “covering” very important to the Reformation.
Also, this construct leads to various and sundry formulas for sanctification in which we conduct ourselves in a way that continually reapplies the “doing and dying” of Christ to our lives as opposed to “anything that we do”…and a lot of confusion following. And unfortunately, the elder’s soft whispering in our ear that says, “just trust us” as well. That’s not a good idea.
Let us now examine Galatians 3:15-25 to make these points:
15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case (NIV).
Really, the crux of Christianity is the covenant God made with Abraham. EVERYTHING goes back to that. God’s complete plan for the ages is bound up in “The Promise.” That is another name, really the formal one, for the Abrahamic Covenant: “The Promise.” One must understand that Reformed theology and Calvinism in particular, is a complete deconstruction of biblical truth and the gospel. Reformed theology holds to the idea that The Promise was conditional. The idea, especially among renowned Southern Baptists, that common ground can be found with Calvinism is the epitome of biblical illiteracy, and this is just one point among many: Paul makes it clear in verse 15 that The Promise cannot be changed or annulled. Furthermore, it does not depend on anything that man does as demonstrated by the fact that God put Abraham in a deep sleep during the ceremony that consummated this covenant.
16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ (NIV).
Verse 16 is very helpful in understanding something basic about all biblical covenants, here referred to by Paul as “promises.” In the Bible, “promise” is an idiom for “covenant.” The two words are used interchangeably. All of the “promises,” plural, are built upon the one “promise,” singular. All of the covenants build one big historical picture, much of it future, but all based on the one Promise. It is interesting to note that Paul identifies the formally unregenerate Gentiles of his day as alienated from the Promises (plural) of Israel (Eph 2:12).
Verse 16 also makes a distinction in Abraham’s national descendants and spiritual descendants. Abraham is the father of Israel, but not all descendants of Israel are of the “seed of the woman” which is Abraham’s spiritual seed. But be sure of this: that does not negate the promises to national Israel (see Jer 31:31ff.) and those who are of “faith” within national Israel. The point of verse 16 is that belief in Christ denotes the only seed that can give life by “faith” alone apart from anything else. That’s why Paul continues in this way:
17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise (Ibid).
The Promise is by faith alone and is the only seed that can give life. The law, which came 430 years later, does not CHANGE anything in regard to The Promise. ALL life is in faith alone, or the seed of faith. One must simply believe. Faith gives life completely separate from the law. Let us expedite the point with verse 21:
… For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law (Id).
You may argue that law can further define righteousness after the fact, but it cannot give life. The law is completely separate from justification/righteousness. The fulfillment of the law by anybody, including Christ, does not impart life—only faith imparts life. A keeping of the law for “atonement” changes the promise:
18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise (Id).
If Christ had to keep the law perfectly, or if you will, fulfill it, the inheritance no longer depends on The Promise, but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through The Promise. So, why the law? Paul will tell us:
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one (Id).
Moses was the mediator of the covenant of the law given at Mt. Sinai, and the angels enforced its inauguration. This was the unimaginable apocalyptic scene that guaranteed lack of interference from the forces of darkness. In the book of Revelation, we have a description of how angels will be used of God to once again enforce this covenant. Even though the law was added, this was not the addition of another seed of faith; ie., Moses, but there is only one seed that signifies The Promise and the only seed that can give life. Moses’ covenant cannot give life.
So why the law? Now we can talk about, “atonement,” well, sort of. The law was a covering of sorts by way of a will. Under the Old Covenant, if you believed God, you were in the will and guaranteed the inheritance. Remember what Paul said in verse 18?
For if the inheritance depends on the law…
The Old Testament law was a will that protected believers until Christ came and died for our sins. In that sense, they were “covered” until Christ came. Christ is the mediator of a “better” covenant because Moses’ covenant only protected believers from the consequences of sin until Christ came. Moses was the mediator of the will, but Christ is the testator:
22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe [Note what we have discussed in prior essays: “Scripture” and “law” are synonyms].
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
Hebrews 9:15 – For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
16 – In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Id).
In a manner of speaking, Moses’ law was useless until Christ died. It was a will that promised an inheritance, but without the death of its testator, there is no inheritance; namely, eternal life. So why would Christ have to fulfill the law through obedience? His death alone resulted in the inheritance. Obedience to a will does not fulfil it, only death fulfills it. A will is a promise fulfilled by death only.
Moreover, in regard to justification, it would seem that the point of the Old Testament law was the temporary imputation of sin, and not the need for a righteous fulfillment. The law imputes NO righteousness, but in regard to justification was a “covenant of death” (2Cor 2:12, 3:6,7). More than likely, the idea is a will of death because it required a death, and can only bring death to those who attempt to be justified by it. Therefore, Christ was the “end of the law for righteousness.” If the definition of “sin” is lawlessness (and it is, see 1John), Christ didn’t merely cover sin—He ended it.
This brings us to “atonement” and the whole “covering” idea. First of all, it is likely that Christ was not crucified on the Day of Atonement because that day has exclusive Jewish cogitations for the future. It’s Jewish eschatology. It is the day when the sins of Israel are cleansed and they are restored as a nation:
Secondly, atonement doesn’t allude primarily to “covering,” but rather an exchange:
Therefore, the idea of a “limited atonement” makes no sense at all. First of all, the limitation would only pertain to Israel. Secondly, in regard to Calvin’s overall soteriology, “covering” is only a plausible rendering of atonement; covering versus exchange must be weighed in the balance. In Calvinism, a covering over of our wickedness by the righteousness of Christ is feasible, but what about an exchange of death for life, and sin for righteousness? In the end, what is the passing from death to life? (1Jn 3:14). If we are only covered and not changed, that must be interpreted as mere realm transformation that is only experienced, or the allegory of choice that fits a preferred presupposition.
It’s ironic, even camps that reject the Calvinist label buy into the Calvinist idea of atonement. More buy into the idea that Christ had to keep the law for us. Even more buy into the idea that we are merely covered and not changed: “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” “When God looks at us, He only sees Christ.” We have all said these things.
This is a fundamental misinterpretation of the law’s relationship to grace. And that must change; we mustn’t be on the wrong side of the law.
Predominate in Christian circles is the idea that Christ’s death on the cross “covers” the sins that we commit as Christians. This not only sounds logical, but is something I have bought into most of my Christian life. One of my favorite Christian songs, formally, states the following:
I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
In a lesson taught by counseling guru Martha Peace, she states the following:
The Bible teaches us that when God saves someone, he cleanses them from their sin – past sin, present sin, and future sin as the Lord Jesus Christ “bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24).
Let’s think about this for a moment. If Christ died for our future sins, does this not necessitate the reapplication of His death to sins committed by Christians? Whether your answer is “yes,” or “no,” that is the assertion and logical conclusion of the soteriology that dominates the American church in our day: Calvinism. Furthermore, it is the soteriology that dominates the present-day Christian counseling culture.
The result is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on Christianity since a counseling session between Eve and the serpent. Christians en masse go to “Christian” counseling centers for personal change, but most often, they are being counseled by those who believe most Christians are not ready for the hard truth of the Reformation gospel: people don’t change; people can’t change; they can only glorify the works of Christ in the gospel while experiencing joy in the midst of circumstances no matter what they are. It’s reversed self-esteem: feeling good about ourselves because we are doing good is sin, but feeling good because we are totally depraved is God’s glory. We see a hint of this in the aforementioned lesson by counseling queen Martha Peace:
This aspect of Sanctification begins at the moment God saves you and “progresses” throughout the rest of your life. It is a life-long process of being transformed into more of Christ’s image.
Notice that we don’t really change, but are “transformed” into an “image” of “Christ.” Do we change personally as new creatures in Christ, or are we merely transformed into an “image”? Though Peace’s lesson is peppered throughout with lingo suggesting a colaboring with God in sanctification, her deception, whether deliberate or witless, is revealed in her citations of the Reformed Mystic Walter Marshall:
True holiness understands that we are by nature totally powerless and unable to live a holy and righteous life that God requires.
Notice that “true holiness” is NOT something we DO, but something that we “understand.” In a myriad of Reformed contemporary writings, sanctification is framed as an “experience” and a “knowing.” The DOING aspect is continually fustigated in clever ways that suggest well-doing in sanctification necessarily equals an attempt to earn our justification. And this, my friends, is the crux of the soteriological issue. If Christ’s death must be applied to Christian sins, the logical conclusion is that justification is not a finished work and further atonement is needed for future sins. This makes the “means” of holiness in sanctification critical. And what are those means? Peace continues:
True holiness understands that God will not help you live a holy life unless you use the means God has given you to pursue this holy life – salvation and sanctification that will give Him all the glory.
Notice that “salvation” is the “means.” Hence, the same salvation that justified you also sanctifies you. Does that sound familiar? And that’s Calvin as well. I wish not to belabor the point as I cite the Calvin Institutes extensively to establish this fact, especially in It’s Not About Election and The Reformation Myth. If you wish, you can read 3.14.11 in the Calvin Institutes for a primer. It is basically preaching the gospel to yourself daily in order to keep future sins “covered” by Christ’s death on the cross.
So, what makes this sanctification covering biblically illogical? Primarily, a proper understanding of biblical law and gospel. Again, I have written extensively on this and do not wish to belabor the point, but will summarize it.
Christ died for sins committed “under the law.” “Where there is no law, there is no sin.” Unbelievers are “under the law” and “enslaved to sin.” Believers are “under grace” and “enslaved to righteousness.” Along with the contrary slaveries, there is also a freedom to do the contrary. No unbeliever sins perfectly, and no believer obeys perfectly. Even though Christians sin because they are free to succumb to the desires of the flesh, Christ is the “end of the law,” and therefore there is “no condemnation.”
Furthermore, the old self that was under the law was crucified with Christ and no longer lives; so, see Romans 7, the new us is no longer married to the old us that was under the law. But unbelievers are still under the law, and will be judged by that written law and the law of conscience—that will not go well.
Believers are righteous even as they are righteous—they have God’s seed abiding within them (see1John). Regardless of being clothed in humanity, believers are truly righteous beings who are able to please God by their obedience. Our sin resides in the old nature that no longer enslaves us, but all in all, our new direction is indicative of our righteousness while we are not judged by a perfect keeping of the law for we are under grace.
Therefore, with proper biblical guidance, we are able to change in order to please God. We do not merely contemplate God’s grace and watch for a “transformation” of an “image.” Rather than depending on a finished work for a glory manifestation, we “move on to maturity” by learning how to “control our own bodies in holiness.” Contrary to Peace’s Reformed idea that the finished work of justification must continue to cover future sins by “revisiting the gospel afresh (Michael Horton via Calvin),” we apply God’s truth to our lives, and when we see the results, it makes us more and more sure of our “calling and election” because it indicates that we are no longer enslaved to sin and its desires. On the flip side, disobedience can cause a believer to doubt his/her salvation because they continually violate their consciences. Also remember that unbelievers are not concerned with assurance issues.
In contrast, Peace asserts in the same lesson, as Jerry Bridges and many others, that assurance comes from the belief that we can do nothing to please God in sanctification:
True holiness is produced in someone who is assured that they are forgiven and reconciled to God.
In other words, effort in sanctification supposedly shows that we are not resting in the continued salvific work of Christ. This is Calvin’s Sabbath rest salvation that I discuss in detail in chapter 4 of It’s Not About Election. In chapter 5, I discuss why this doctrine robs Christians of assurance. Biblical assurance comes from knowing that justification is a finished work that ended sin and its condemnation, not the idea that our sin is merely covered via “returning to the gospel afresh.” The ending of sin is good news, not a perpetual cover-up.
“But Paul, what about sins that we commit in our Christian life?” Well, we hate it, and therefore long to be saved from these mortal bodies of death, but we are not enslaved by it, nor can it condemn us. Assurance comes from the fact that justification and sanctification are totally separate; one is a finished work that ended condemnation, and the other increases our joy by an increased ability to please God by what we DO in kingdom living. We love God—He doesn’t love Himself by transforming us into an image of Himself IF we continue to live by faith alone. James condemned that doctrine in his letter to the 12 tribes of the dispersion. Neither should we feel good about our supposed total depravity. Total depravity is not the source of joyful assurance.
This, and many other reasons is why contemporary biblical counseling will not help Christians, but will rather destroy them.
I won’t go completely postal on my fellow Christians because I too once believed that it would be just wonderful if Jerry Falwell was President of the United States. And as a Christian, I have never been interested in Mike Huckabee being President because the world is a dangerous place and the last thing we need is some cornball from Mayberry RFD as leader of the free world.
Let us remember that Jesus could have run for President of the world, and would have won hands down, and could have summoned Michael the archangel to pay the world a little visit if people didn’t like it, but He didn’t. This should cause us to take part in a lost art, especially among Christians, known as “pondering.”
Christians, in our culture, speak out on a lot of things because they are free to do so. America is an open society to everyone. This is not to be confused with democracies that are democratically run by the elitists only. That’s a democratic caste system. In a truly open society, people are free to speak openly whether informed or uninformed. Unfortunately, Christians have cornered the market on uninformed free speech. Worse yet, it’s speech predicated on misinformation concerning what we are supposed to be experts at: the Bible.
As director of the TANC research institute, three years has taught me this: Christians don’t even understand the gospel, much less complicated world affairs. Yet, within Christianity, there is endless debate about various and sundry issues complimented by Scripture stacking along with an absurd claim of societal moral authority. Look, when people in our society have problems, they go to a psychologist or tune into Dr. Phil, and if they go to a pastor for anything more than instruction on what color of car to buy (we wouldn’t want a color symbolic of something we were unaware of), he is going to send you to a psychologist anyway.
This is why being a Christian in America right now is very exciting to me because it’s an adventure, and adventures are always fun when you partake with other people and you experience that adventure together. What is the adventure? We Christians don’t know anything; it’s an adventure of learning. I know, I know, listening to what others want us to know and pulling the rest from where the sun doesn’t shine is much easier, but the results are most unfortunate.
For instance, our research indicates that the VAST majority of Christians do not know the difference between grammatical interpretation versus redemptive interpretation of the Scriptures. These are the only two approaches to interpreting the Bible in Evangelical circles, and yield antithetical results in regard to truth and reality itself. But yet, Christians who do not even know how their own pastors interpret reality are shamelessly weighing in on what they perceive as the exclusive property of Christians: morality.
Why? Because our world is divided between Christians and non-Christians, the former being the only authority on morality. It’s ok to argue about morality in-camp—that’s our way of better defining our “expertise” to the world, and the absurdity of it all is evident. The challenge for Christians is to do life better than the world, but we think we hold that position by default; not so, that is a position earned through wisdom.
Hence, most American Christians think the separation of church and state is to protect the church from the state. State bad; Christianity good. Therefore, if the state is influenced by Christianity, that’s good! This has led to the recent phenomenon of Putinanity, a new form of Christianity:
“Gee-wiz, look, even Vladimir Putin of Russia is reaching out to the Eastern Orthodox Church in his country. I wish our politicians had that much sense!”
And Christians breathe a little easier in regard to Russia accordingly; they think this is like Putin agreeing to do lunch with Joni Eareckson Tada every Monday at noon. What Christians don’t understand is that the separation of church and state was designed to keep the state and the church separate from each other for the protection and freedom of mankind in general.
Church historian John Immel has a superb article on Putinanity that every Christian should read before they weigh in on Facebook. No, Russia is not seizing the international moral high ground from the US because Putin is getting in bed with the church, in fact, as Immel points out in the article, this should send cold chills up and down our spines. Immel lays out the historical background leading up to this contemporary happening that is not an anomaly by any stretch of the informed imagination.
And this is a by-point worth mentioning: Christians do not ask why any event takes place as if events take place in a vacuum. It’s ALWAYS the what, not the why. Example: endless articles concerning confusion over what pastor John Piper does. Some have even suggested that he does these things to get attention. No, if you really understand Piper by following the philosophical paper trail, you know that there is a why for everything he does, and the why may be closer to Putinanity than you think.
Neither is it far from the reality that mass death is always preceded by a promise of paradise. In the same way that a US delegation returned state side and proclaimed Cuba a socialist paradise, Jim Jones promised the same thing until the day 900 of his followers drank from the community Kool-Aid vat. Those who flew from the US to join Jones’ community in Guyana and lived to tell about it, state that they knew they were in big trouble the second they drove through the front gates. Jones was strongly endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown as Jones was part of the San Francisco socialist political machine. In regard to the recent Cuban adoring US delegation, they were called on the carpet by Marco Rubio.
If Christians knew their Bibles better, they would know that God ordained governments to serve mankind for the good of mankind. Government is a servant, not the enforcer of every Christian moralist idea that comes down the pike. The framers of the American Constitution never cited Romans 13 once, but were in agreement with it. Know also that God writes the works of His law on the heart of EVERY person born into the world, and their consciences either accuse or excuse based on that law ( Rom 2:12-15). If Christians aren’t careful, the world can often understand that law better than we do, and that is all too often the case.
This brings me to Arizona bill 1062, and another unfortunate example. Christians weigh in like this: Christian photographers good; homosexuals bad. Government enforcing the right for Christian photographers to refuse to do a homosexual marriage—good, and Putin says, “amen my brothers.” In many countries around the world, homosexuality is a capital offence as well as adultery, and for that matter, my granddaughter would have been put to death in Calvin’s Geneva for throwing a snowball at a pastor’s wife, especially since the offence took place in the sanctuary to boot.
Let me just narrow this issue down to my own family. I am close to family members who are homosexual. We get along great regardless of the fact that they know where I stand. How do they know? They tried to convince me that the Bible condoned it, and that was a conversation initiated by them. I stated my case in no uncertain terms. We get along great because the sensibilities of both parties are respected as a matter of conscience. This is very similar to how Christians who disagree should relate in regard to Romans 14. Sure, the Bible is specific revelation, and conscience is more general, but the latter is why we can live at peace with all men as much as it depends on us.
In fact, NFL players coming out of the closet, which is totally unnecessary, are in one sense demanding the approval of others for their own selfish reasons. Government shouldn’t enforce their supposed right to violate the sensibilities of others by forcing an employer to hire them anymore than Christians should want the Government in people’s bedrooms. So where do you draw the line? Conscience. Most people agree that pedophilia should be against the law, and so it is.
Admittedly, these are VERY difficult questions, but they should be considered by Christians via pondering and not pandering to the dictates of pastors frothing at the mouth while beating their pulpits on Sunday morning. That’s just plain ignorance.
All in all, this post is designed to provoke thought, but there is one place that I can drive a stake: contemporary Christianity is the product of the mindless following of tradition. I believe Bible wisdom is a wide-open frontier in this country. Granted, it is an old frontier, but mostly unchartered by Western bobbleheaded Christians.
Until that changes, we should keep our arrogant despotic mouths shut. Ignorance will not save people from the judgment to come. God does not entrust eternal matters to stupidity.
Look, if you are going to bow down to the narcissistic pastorate in these last days, you should know how to do it correctly. For the cortically subilluminated herd, here is how you should approach a pastor:
And here is how you should approach a pastor’s wife:
13 minute video:
…and then consider the following sermon preached by a conservative Evangelical Baptist:
Hi. Good morning. Let me just add my welcome to those of you who are coming back here for the first time. For those who are coming back, welcome back. For those of you who are leaving, goodbye. No. We’ll be praying for you as you kind of move in new transitions in life.
We are in a transition here at Shawnee Hills. I mean, it’s fairly obvious because I’m up here. And if you’ve been coming the last several weeks/months, we’ve had a lot of other people who have come here and challenged us. And I don’t know about you, but we’ve heard some really great messages over the last several months. And I’ve really appreciated the people who have come from the outside to kind of challenge us and encourage us in this kind of time of transition. But I’m coming to you as one of us. I am a member of this group. And so when I was asked to share this morning, it’s like okay, what can I say to my brothers and sisters in this local body that would be an encouragement to them and how can I do that in a kind of a one-shot type of deal? Which is always sort of difficult ’cause I really like teaching Sunday school because if I’m working through a book, I know exactly what I’m supposed to do. It kind of goes in line. But if I have to pick something one shot, I mean, here I am.
So that’s what I’m gonna try to do this morning, is we’re gonna talk about the concept of worldly wisdom versus godly wisdom. You know, we got this report from the pulpit committee. They have sixty resumes. Wow. Now I’m glad I’m not on the pulpit committee because, you know, I have trouble – when I go to like Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory and there’s so many good things on the menus, like I don’t know how to choose. How many of you have this kind of same issue here? Okay. So I’m glad it’s you guys and not me that’s doing that.
But this morning as we kind of talk about this issue of godly wisdom, worldly wisdom, in the end the pulpit committee is gonna go through these resumes. They’re going to sort people out. They’re gonna do that, and then they’re gonna present someone to us. Ultimately, we make the decision. Ultimately, we call a pastor. It’s not the pulpit committee that calls the pastor. And so as we kind of go into this decision-making process about thinking who will be the next senior pastor of Shawnee Hills, it kind of gives us a chance to reflect on how are we going to choose somebody. And not just as we think about issues of choosing a pastor, how do we choose anything? What is the decision-making process? What is the kind of standard or goal that we sort of use to know whether we’re making wise decisions or not? And so this is really what I kind of wanna address today.
And I also want you to know that in a sense, even though when we’re looking at James chapter 3 in quite a bit of detail this morning, in essence I’m preaching him as well to you. I’m gonna sing that hymn at the end of the service and hopefully, the words of the message, and we’re kind of going through this concept of earthly versus – or worldly versus godly wisdom will kind of resonate when we sing the hymn at the end. Hopefully, you can see the connections between the two.
All right. Now if you think about going to a restaurant, making a big decision, or making a decision off the menu, going to a restaurant I hope is not a big decision for you, but oftentimes we tend to choose things that make us comfortable. If you’ve been to, you know, if we go out to eat, oftentimes depending on where we go, I can predict what Therese is gonna order off the menu. Because there’s certain things she likes, she feels comfortable with, and so she’s gonna choose those things. And so if we go to Los Mariachis, it’s gonna be the Mariachi chicken. It’s like that’s just the way it’s going to be even though there’s a lot of good things on the menu.
So we tend to choose things or we tend to kind of go with things that we’re comfortable with. Now that’s okay when you’re dealing with the Mariachi chicken, I guess, at Los Mariachis. But in a time of transition, it really gives us a chance to kind of think about what are the standards that we’re going to use to choose a pastor or anything else. And a couple of weeks ago, we were kind of given the results of a survey that we took to kind of see what we were looking for in a pastor. And, I don’t know, it’s always good to kind of quantify, I guess, what the attitude of the group is, and it’s good to see whether your intuitions of things kind of match everybody else’s, but I don’t know that there was anything particularly really surprising here. When I looked at this, this is what I thought. We would pretty much pick as – it was good to have that quantified for me, but it kind of begs the question. If that’s what we are saying that we want, is it maybe something that we’re comfortable with? And if we’re comfortable with that, may it also cause us to sometimes miss certain other things that we should be looking for?
And so what I want to do today is look at what are God’s standards for how we should be making decisions of any type, whether it’s a pastor or anything else. And to use the pastor issue just as kind of an example, if you think about what a pastor is for a congregation, oftentimes the pastor is our representative. He embodies what we think we should be as believers. So on our list we wanted someone who preaches well, and we wanted someone who has been to seminary and can discern the Word. And we wanted somebody who is married because we think that’s a good thing, or most of us thought that was a pretty good thing. And so the pastor sort of becomes the embodiment of who we think he should be. He embodies our values. So pastors are representatives.
But pastors are also shepherd. It’s another kind of way of looking at this. And when we think about a pastor as a shepherd, he is to be who Christ wants him to be, and he is help mold us into what Christ wants us to be. And so when we need chastening, the pastor needs to chasten us. And when we need encouraging, he needs to encourage us. And hopefully, those two things are the same. Our values, pastor as our representative, God’s values, pastor as our shepherd. If those things are together, that’s great. Now I’m not suggesting to us that in our case that those are necessarily far apart. But they can have a tendency because our values versus God values, they can have a tendency to separate. And I think many a person has been pushed from the ministry because they could not be all things to all people, because they had to try to embrace everyone’s different image of who they were supposed to be. So as we kind of get into this – we’re in this time of transition, I think it’s a good time for us to kind of examine how do we go about making decisions. And so that’s what I’d like to do here today. Because if you don’t, the result can be a lot of division and a lot of quarreling and a lot of fighting. And churches end up splitting over issues like this. And I’m not suggesting that this is gonna happen to us at all, but I think it’s a good time for us to kind of step back and look at the whole issue.
So we’re gonna deal with this issue of wisdom here today. And normally when we think about wisdom, where do we normally start? The book of Proverbs, don’t we? So turn up to Proverbs chapter 9 because that’s usually where people wanna go when we think about wisdom. And Proverbs is a good place, because in Proverbs there’s the contrast between Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. And as the first several chapters of Proverbs go, the writer keeps contrasting these two views for us. But note, we have this kind of encapsulating statement in Proverbs 9:10. And many of you can quote it, or at least you can quote the first part of the verse. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And knowledge – I lost it. “And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
So when we think about this idea of wisdom, wisdom starts with what? It starts with reverence. It starts with awe. It’s the fear of the Lord. Now if you think – and then look at what the writer says here. “And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In essence, knowledge is preceded by what? Wisdom. Normally, when we – and this is kind of counterintuitive for most of us. Most of us, when we think about wisdom, wisdom is knowledgeable people taking what they know and applying it well. But know what the author of Proverbs is telling us, that wisdom is really – precedes knowledge. Because if you have wisdom, if you have the fear of the Lord, it is going to guide even what you think is worth knowing. It guides the process of what you choose to learn. If I think that learning to be a triathlete is a good thing, it’s gonna drive my understanding. It’s gonna drive me to look at certain types of magazines and certain television shows and things like that. So my standard of what is good precedes even my understanding of what is good knowledge.
And that really is counterintuitive to us because most of the time we think that wisdom is knowledge applied. Well, what I really wanna suggest that what wisdom really is is knowledge well applied. Well, what does that mean? It means that whenever we approach this idea of wisdom, wisdom must have a target. Wisdom must have a goal. You’re choosing to learn something so that you can progress toward a certain goal or vision of that which is good. So we send people to school, for example, to become more knowledgeable. But what we choose to teach them, or we could teach them anything. But we choose to teach them certain subjects. Why do we teach them those subjects? Because we think that those are the types of subjects that will allow them to get along well in the world. So we have a vision of what is good that drives what we even choose to learn or teach people.
So when we think about this idea of wisdom, we have to start with this idea of wisdom as a vision of the good and not simply that wisdom comes out of knowing something. In fact, if you think about it, we know lots of intelligent people, I mean, very bright people who don’t start with this fear knowledge of the Lord. And what do they do with their intelligence and knowledge? They oftentimes will use it as a tool to sort of continue in their unbelief. They defend their bad ideas or their irreverent ideas or their idea that God doesn’t exist by using their intelligence or knowledge. They have a vision that starts and it guides how they look at knowledge and information.
So when we begin to think about this idea of wisdom, we first have to start with a fear, reverence, awe of God. Now the passage in James, it’s kind of interesting. When you look at the Old Testament, if you particularly look at Proverbs, we’re contrasting Lady Wisdom, Lady Folly. If you look at, let’s say, Ecclesiastes, in Ecclesiastes, the author of Ecclesiastes kind of goes through and talks about all the things that he’s done and all the things that he’s pursued. And in the end he comes to the conclusion that everything was vanity, or everything was folly. And so he then says, “Everything that I try to pursue was not very good. I should have remembered my Creator in the days when I was young.” And he says, “I should have had a different vision for life.”
James on the other hand is gonna be a little bit more nuanced for us. What James is telling us is that there are two types of wisdom. James has kind of laid out that who’s wise among you. And then he talks about the idea that there’s worldly wisdom, and he’s talking about that there is Godly wisdom. Now remember, wisdom is a vision of what is right or what is good. So what James is really telling us is that there are two visions of what is right or what is good. And we choose to pursue one of those visions. You can pursue a vision of worldly good. And the world defines good in a certain way. Or you can choose to pursue godly wisdom or the godly standard of the good. But what we’ll see is you cannot pursue both. So James kind of lays out for us that there really are two types of visions of the good, two competing ideas of virtue, and says that you need to choose between one of them. And he kind of lays out the differences for us. We’ll come back and look at this here in a minute.
But the kind of thing, the interesting thing to note here for me, I think, is that when we begin to think about this idea of virtue and good, we need to kind of understand that there’s a difference between moral ideas and ethical ideas. Normally, we understand those as sort of synonymous. In fact, we use them synonymously, and that’s technically not right. You act morally as an individual, okay? When you act and you do an action, whether it’s a good or bad action, that is an exercise in your morality. But generally, when you do that, you will do it from some sort of ethical standard, which is corporate. So if you are a good member of Shawnee Hills Baptist Church, how do you know you’re a good member? Because there’s sort of a corporate sort of understanding of what it means to be good here. And you live within that corporate idea of goodness. And if you act that way, we kind of applaud you and pat you on the back and say, “Yes, you’re a good Christian. Way to go.” And if you’re kind of outside of that, we sort of have our little ways of letting you know, “No, you’re not quite in there, right? Okay. And hopefully, if you still wanna be part of us, you kind of mold your attitudes back to get within the good.” Makes sense?
Now the same thing operates if you think about the larger society. There is a concept of what it means to be a good American. And if you’re a good American, you hold to certain ideas and you hold to certain values, and we’ll let you know that you’re a good American if in fact you live according to those values and act to the virtues and you pursue life that way. And most of us, because we live within that environment, we sort of tend to respond to that because we are communal beings. And so if we begin to understand that these ideas of ethics are really waters that we swim in, and because they’re waters that we swim in, they do affect us. And so when we go out there and we are in the bigger ethics of the culture, there’s certain attitudes and values that are pressing on us that say you are a good American if you do this. And the tendency could be that we could bring those attitudes, values, concepts of the good and bring them into here where they may not quite align with what God wants us to be and think and act and do. So we begin to kind of – think about James telling us, “Look, there are two types of virtue; there are two types of wisdom; and you need to choose the right one,” he’s really kind of saying choose as a group, as a community, you need to kind of choose the right ethical vision from which to follow.
Now I want you to think about the vision of the good that is out there for a minute. What does our society, what does our world try to tell us? If you think about it, there are competing messages that we get. For example, fairness is more important than justice in our society. And fairness is, “I need to get mine. It needs to be me.” Justice related more toward what’s good for the community. We are much more – we seem as a society, we’re much more interested in things like consuming goods, which is I consume them as compared to creating goods, which would be for the benefit of everyone. We seem to be much more interested in things like fame. Fame is pretty important to us rather than really truly accomplishing something. I mean, why in the world is Ryan Seacrest so famous? What has he done? I mean, he’s got the best job in the world. He gets to be on TV for the simple reason that he’s famous. What have you done? I don’t know but I’m famous. Okay, we’ll put you on. What a great gig to have. Glamour and beauty seem to be more important than character. Image is more important than holiness. There was a tagline for Sprite once: Image is everything.
Just as kind of an example, think about how people get their news now. Most people tend to get their news from sources that agree with their own opinion. We’ve sort of substituted opinion for true knowledge. And what that ends up doing in the end, again, all these, me versus the group, me versus the group, me versus the group, in the end, this becomes very divisive. It tends to pull apart at us. In the end we start treating other people as competitors. It divides us. We see people as the enemy. In many ways we turn – objectify people. Oh, he’s just an idiot for believing that. And what doesn’t happen is we don’t have unity. We tend to end up with division.
Now this is sort of exactly what James predicts. So if you kind of turn to James chapter 3, the passage that we read this morning, note that James really does kind of lay out certain characteristics of what happens if you follow this worldly vision. What are the results of this? And he notes that the first one is bitter jealousy. What he means here is that we seek our own benefit. We’re not willing to share with others. James as he uses this term, he uses it in a sort of a religious context. It kind of leads to a type of religious zeal or zealotry. And if you can think about the history of religion throughout the centuries, there’s been an awful lot of times where religion has been used, whether we’re talking Christianity or other religions, have been used to sort of promote a particular agenda, an us versus them kind of mentality. And he notes that this is one of the characteristics of worldly wisdom.
We are prone to selfish ambitions. We seek to promote our own ends. And we tend to do that at the exclusion of other people. So we start to use people if we can. In fact, I will try to pursue certain ways of gaining power so that I can pursue my agenda over your agenda. And that might need acquiring wealth because wealth gives me power. It might mean gaining position because position could give me power. It might mean cultivating beauty because beauty and sex appeal may give me power over people. But there’s lots of ways that we can go to cultivate power. And all of those kind of come out of this idea of selfish ambition because this is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to seek our own end.
Arrogance. Note that James tells us that worldly wisdom leads to a type of arrogance. What it means is that you believe in yourself. You believe in your own vision. James is kind of laying out it’s your sovereignty. It’s your desire for autonomy that comes out, and it makes you arrogant. Now suddenly, your vision of the world becomes the vision for the world. And everyone has this sort of get in line with what you think is the right thing to do.
Self-deception. Notice that sometimes we become unwilling and unable to learn from others. We become unteachable at a certain level. Part of that is because of this arrogance that is cultivated. But part of it is that we are now are unwilling to see things at the way they really are.
In the end all of this leads to division. As worldly wisdom continues to grow and as worldly wisdom sort of becomes the wisdom for a group of people, the end result will always be, as James says, division. It will lead to quarreling. It will lead to fighting. It will lead to everyone – well, it leads to, as Jesus said, a house divided, which will not stand because everyone is now doing, as the author of Judges says, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. So in the end, worldly wisdom James kind of points out has this divisive, this corrosive, this kind of effect that pulls people apart because now everyone wants to pursue their own end.
Now obviously, when we present this characteristic of worldly wisdom, it doesn’t look too attractive, does it? It’s like, no, I don’t want to be that. In fact, I’m not that anyway. I am more godly in this regard because you can lay out this way, worldly, godly, okay, these people don’t look very nice. And you don’t really wanna be around people like this, which begs the question, might we be people like this? We certainly don’t want to think that we are.
Now James, you have to understand James is probably the first book of the New Testament that was written. And James is sort of – if anything else about James, he’s really a good psychologist. James understands the human heart. He understands what our – in our sin nature what our natural inclinations, what our natural affections tend to lead us. And he’s sort of warning us that be careful of this. Because if you do this, this is what’s going to happen. And so he’s kind of letting us know that there is this type of wisdom that can be corrosive if you let it take hold of you.
Now it’s kind of interesting that James writes this and then several decades later, we find this whole issue coming to fruition in another church. And another writer of a New Testament book, the Apostle Paul, finds that he has to address it. And he has to address it in the book of 1 Corinthians, because the Church in Corinth is actually exhibiting the very things that James warned of in his book. So when we get to 1 Corinthians, we have a church that is highly divided. And if you kind of read through the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, we have the issue of all kinds of things. One of the things that comes out is they’re divided over pastors, or who were their pastors and who they are pledging allegiance to in an essence. Some say well, I follow Apollos and I follow Paul and I follow Cephas or Peter. And there’s this other group, probably the holier than thou group, well, we follow Christ. So there’s all these kinds of factions in the Church. And Paul is now kind of writing to go through this, ’cause there’s lots of quarreling that’s going on here.
Now if you go through the book, you’ll see that there are issues of division, whose teachings are they gonna follow. There’s lack of community around the Lord’s Table because there’s division there. There’s strife in the Church because people are suing one another. There are people who are priding themselves on their liberty in Christ. So there’s moral laxity going on in the Church. There are issues of people pursuing their own ends. Paul has to address the issue of women taking leadership positions. He has to address the issue of people striving for certain spiritual gifts because those gifts are considered of higher status in the church and therefore will give people more power over what’s going on there. So there’s all kinds of divisions, strife, and things, all things that if you notice were things that James talked about in James chapter 3. So this is the church as really into it. They have embraced a sense of kind of worldly wisdom. And Paul, like James, is gonna have to note this kind of stuff because they’re all kind of pursuing the ends that James had said.
Now let me just kind of point out something about Corinth to you. ‘Cause normally, I think sometimes when we think of Corinth, the equivalent that we have of Corinth is Las Vegas. What happens in Corinth stays in Corinth. And that would be kind of a wrong view of Corinth, I think. Corinth was not some sort of Roman or Greek cultural backwater. Corinth was not some place that you went to sort of blow off hedonistic steam. If you think about Athens and Rome as the cultural and political centers, and our equivalent would be let’s say New York and Washington, Corinth would be like Chicago. Corinth had a striving big commercial center. It was a center for the arts. It was a center for culture and intellectual pursuits. Certainly, there was that hedonistic element that went on in Corinth. But if we think about Corinth only in terms of it was like Las Vegas, we’re gonna sort of miss sort of what it meant to be a Corinthian. ‘Cause what it meant to be Corinthian was that you are sort of a cosmopolitan person. A good Corinthian was someone who understood the arts and understood intellectual pursuits. And it’s kinda like, you know, we’re good New Yorkers because these are all kinds of values of living in the city. If you were a good Corinthian, you kind of embraced this intellectual and cultural and artistic and commercial kind of sense of what it meant to be living in the city.
So now when Paul addresses them and he says to them, he turned to 1 Corinthians chapter 3, know what he says to them. He says, brothers – and note, throughout the book he addresses them as believers. He addresses them as their brothers, as his brothers. He acknowledges they’re saved. But he says to them, note, “Brothers, I wish I could speak to you as spiritual men, but I can’t because you are men of flesh; you are babes in Christ.” Now it kind of begs the question then, what does he mean when he says that they are men of flesh? If you have NIV, it probably says worldly or something like that. What does he mean by this idea of worldly? Well, let’s kind of see if we can find out. What does it mean in fact to be worldly? And depending on the translation you have, you may have something like carnal, which I think is in the King James, kind of a Latin word for meat or flesh. If you have the ESV, I think it says something like men of flesh. The NASB says fleshly. I mean, that’s obvious. We are people of flesh and bone, right? But that’s not what he’s getting at. He’s getting at, okay, I’d like to address you as spiritual people, people who have a spiritual vision of the good. But I can’t because your vision of the good is worldly. Your affections are placed in the world, whereas I’d really like to talk to you as if your affections were placed on godly concerns, so that James’ division between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom.
All right. So he says to them, “Look, I’d like to talk to you this way, but I can’t because you seem to be worldly.” So what does it mean to be worldly? Normally, when we think about the term “worldly,” it’s kind of this idea of moral decadence. He’s just a worldly guy. But that’s really not what Paul is kind of addressing here, particularly if you can understand this idea of being a good cosmopolitan person as being a good Corinthian. To be worldly is to be practical or shrewd. It’s to have an understanding of human affairs. It’s here’s a vision of what is good in the world, and I know that as I make certain decisions, it brings me closer to that vision. I do things that will bring me close to the vision of the good. So for example, a wise decision is one that helps me achieve a certain end. And unwise decision is one that’s not gonna get me there. It’s actually gonna pull me away from it.
So as Paul is addressing them, he says, “Look, your concerns are worldly. You have a worldly vision. And so when you make decisions, what do you do? You make decisions that will help you to pursue this kind of worldly end.” And know what’s been happening in this church. There’s strife, there’s division, there’s quarrelling, all because they are pursuing an agenda of achieving their own ends. Now in this respect, for example, I would consider my father as a wise person. Now my father is not a believer, and he’s not particularly well educated. But when he gives me advice, he understands this is what you really need to do if you wanna accomplish these goals or these ends. And so he’s pretty good at stuff like that. But it’s not a vision of the good that would be considered necessarily a godly vision. But he’s wise in a worldly sense.
So to be ethical in this regard is to be devoted to in pursuing worldly ends. And so when he says to them, “Look, you guys are worldly because you are pursuing worldly ends,” that’s really what’s going on. Now what that really means, because worldly ends almost always focus on me, note that oftentimes in the Scripture, we get these very black and white contrasting statements. I mean, think about in 1 John where you get some of the best ones. If you love the world, you can’t love God. The love of the Father cannot be in you. You cannot serve two masters. You’ll either love the one or hate the other. We see lots of statements like this in the Scripture. Now why do we see these statements? Because what got is telling us in his Word is that there are very different competing visions of the good. And you need to choose which one you’re going to pursue because they are sort of at ends with each other. Now what we’re gonna see is that sometimes we try to do the really dysfunctional thing of trying to combine the two together, which becomes really weird.
So if we cannot follow this as an idea, one of the things that I think is really interesting is the paradox of worldly wisdom. Now if you think about being worldly, sometimes we, for example, when we travel overseas, that helps us to become worldly because you get a bigger vision of the world. You kind of get out from your little provincial, parochial kind of understanding of the world and then you see things in a bigger way. Hopefully, we send you to school so that you get a broader understanding of the world, so that you can become more sophisticated in that regard. The opposite of being worldly is to be, I don’t know, a hick, a bumpkin, a rube, a yokel, a hillbilly, a hoosier, no, not a hoosier. Sorry, dear. But all those other things. So we when we send you – we don’t wanna be those things, right? So we kind of want you to expand your vision of the world.
The odd thing, the irony, I think, of worldly wisdom is the more you pursue it, actually, the more provincial you become. Worldly wisdom is associated only with this world; whereas godly wisdom broadens out from this world to the spiritual. Worldly wisdom only thinks about a particular time; whereas godly wisdom will always think about things in terms of eternity. So the lie of worldly wisdom, the deception of worldly wisdom is, “Oh yes, I’m more sophisticated. I’m more suave. I’m more cosmopolitan,” but in the end it’s really not. What it really causes you is to become even more provincial because you become focused more and more solely on self.
Now why does this happen to us? What is the heart of this worldly wisdom? Turn back to James chapter 3. ‘Cause James says the reason that it leads to arrogance and jealousy and strife and division and all these things is that there are three characteristics of worldly wisdom. The first one is that it is earthly. And when we think of earthly, all James is really saying here is our heart, our affections are tied to things of this world. We’re not seeing beyond this world. We’re seeing only what we can see in this world.
Which leads to the second one, worldly wisdom is sensual or natural. Depending on your translation, the word will be a little bit different there. And I used the word “sensual” here to kind of underscore the idea that it’s tied to the senses. Normally, when we think of sensual, we think of sexual pleasure or something like that; that’s not what James means. All he’s saying is that it’s sort of tied to the senses or to pursuing certain ends. Most of the time it would be things like pursuing pleasure as a good and avoiding pain. Those seem kind of good. I like pleasure. I like to avoid pain. That seems to be kind of natural to us. Hence, it’s natural. Those kind of end up being the goals. You can put them up there.
And the last one is that it is demonic. And what he means by demonic is that the source of worldly wisdom is the exact same thing that cause Satan to rebel. Satan wanted autonomy. Satan wanted sovereignty over God. Because worldly wisdom is self-oriented, the source of worldly wisdom is autonomy and sovereignty. It’s the exact same thing. And so James says the source of worldly wisdom is always in the end going to be demonic in this regard.
Now this is abnormal. This is an abnormal condition for us. God did not create us to be sovereign, independent beings. He did not create us to declare our independence of him, and He always wanted us to be dependent on him. So this condition of autonomy is one that, if we acknowledge that we’re abnormal, then we have to acknowledge why we’re abnormal. And that would bring us back to God. Well, the world doesn’t wanna do that. So what will the world do? The world is gonna try and take this abnormal, self-focused vision of what’s good and try to normalize it, try to make it sound like this is the only really true vision of how things should be.
So what happens? We have things like, oh I don’t know. Autonomy starts to become things like independence and self-sufficiency. Those sound sort of virtuous kind of ideas. Selfishness becomes ambition and goal-orientation. If we wanna quote from that classic 1987 movie, Wall Street, “Greed is good. Greed clarifies. Greed is,” to continue in the speech where Gordon Gekko is making it in the movie, he says, “Greed has always marked the upward surge of mankind. And that greed will save even this dysfunctional corporation known as the United States of America.” Gekko kind of presents this idea of greed as such a virtuous vision that as I practice it individually. And if we all practice it corporately, what will it lead to? Kind of a good outcome for all of us. So the world really does have kind of a vested interest in normalizing this. And so we get books on the virtues of selfishness. We have books saying that selfishness is a genetic thing. And we have little baby girls that say, “You can’t have any of my dolls.”
All right. Now James contrasts this for us. James contrasts worldly wisdom with godly wisdom. And I want you to note that James does not give us sort of the core of godly wisdom like he did with worldly wisdom. He doesn’t tell us, you know, we said with worldly wisdom, “Look, it’s natural. It’s earthly.” He doesn’t do that with godly wisdom. Because he assumes that we understand that the source of godly wisdom is God, that it’s the character of God. Look at James 1:5 from that. If anyone lacks wisdom, what should he do? He should ask of who? God, not your professors, hopefully, they know, but not of knowledgeable people. But the source of real wisdom is going to be God. So he kind of assumes that we know that ’cause he kind of laid that out early in the book. He says, “If you pursue godly wisdom, this is what happens.”
Now I want you to, as we go through this list, if you’re an astute observer, one of the things that you’re going to note is that the list looks an awful lot like the beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5. And what is Christ laying out in the beatitudes? The characteristics of citizens of the Kingdom. If you’re gonna be a good citizen of the Kingdom, this is how you will act. Here are the moral actions within an ethical vision of community. This is how you’re supposed to respond. So what are they? The first one is they were pure, that we are single-minded. We keep ourselves unstained from the world, but we also work to do the will of God toward others.
Look at James 1:27 for a minute. This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. Personal piety, while it’s a good thing, if religion is simply defined by personal piety, me keeping my nose clean, that is not godly. It comes from a worldly vision. Because godly wisdom says, “Yes, I will keep myself from sin, but I also work for the benefit of other people.” And we sometimes deceive ourselves when we think personal piety is what being holy is all about. It’s only half of the equation. If it’s only half, it’s not the whole thing. It becomes worldly.
Second one is it is peaceable. It seeks to reconcile others to Christ and to other people. Godly wisdom seeks shalom. It seeks restoration. It seeks to be a peacemaker. And blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God. So there is that part of the vision. They are gentle. Godly wisdom respects the feelings of others. It is not imposing. It does not force people to believe things. It is not bullying in this regard. And sometimes even in our desire, in our zeal, our religious zeal to get people to live a certain way, we can be forcible, we can be bullying in how we go about this. And while we think the goal is good, we are using a worldly way of understanding to try to bring that about, because godly wisdom is gentle in this regard.
It is reasonable, which means that you’re teachable. You’re not arrogant. You’re willing to submit to the teaching and leading of other people. But it also means that as you try to teach others, you try to show them the reasonableness, why position is good for them, good for others, why it fits into the whole community of faith.
It’s merciful and leads to good fruit. This is the only kind of double one in the group, which I think is kind of interesting. It is compassionate. Godly wisdom is compassionate to those people who are in need of practical help. It deals with needs rather than the source of the problem. Now, for example, we sometimes think, “Oh, well. Look at the situation he’s in. If only he had done this…” That would be a statement that comes out of worldly wisdom because we’re saying, “Look, he is experiencing the natural consequences of what he has done. And therefore, we should just kind of let him in that.” Or if you’d only done this … again, that would be a worldly wisdom type of statement. Godly wisdom understands that you know what, people make mistakes. And sometimes people are affected by the mistakes of others that they didn’t even have to make, and we deal with the consequences of need. Why? Because God was merciful to us. If God dealt with us, well, if the natural effect of your sin is you’re going to hell, we’ll all be in hell. So this idea of merciful and good fruit kind of goes together.
It is unwavering. It is not, as James said, double-minded. To be unwavering means that you have a single-minded vision of what the good is, and it’s this godly one. And you don’t keep flipping back and forth between godly and worldly. Because if you keep flipping back and forth, you are double-minded which means that you will be unstable in all of your ways. So James kind of points out we need to have this kind of unwavering view, and it’s not hypocritical, which means it’s not self-seeking. Sometimes, you know, doing the right thing leads to a good outcome. And so I do it for my benefit. It leads to a good outcome for me. That’s why I’m doing it. True godly wisdom is really motivated by love for others and not love for self.
Now the end of all of this, James says, is that it will lead to peace and righteousness. Now I’m sort of running out of time, so I gotta hurry up here. But I wanna kind of point out the parable of the prodigal son here for a minute. Because there’s one way of reading this parable that really can be a parable of sort of two wisdoms. And we can have a look at godly wisdom and worldly wisdom being kind of played out in the parable of the prodigal son. Because remember we said that wisdom, godly wisdom, is the spiritual, mental, and emotional ability to relate rightly to God, rightly to others, and rightly to the culture. If I have a godly vision of things, I am actually in a position to step back and critique the culture and understand whether the culture is moving toward a right goal or not. And we can do that corporately as a body.
Now think about the parable of the prodigal son here for a minute. If you think about the parable of the prodigal son, both of the sons in the beginning of the parable are acting in a worldly fashion. They both have the exact same motivation. The younger son, who’s normally the focus of the parable, says to his father, “Basically, you’re dead to me. I am so self-focused that in my eyes you are dead, and so you might as well just give me the inheritance now because I don’t even consider that you’re alive to me anymore.” And as the story goes, the father does that. And the younger son goes off and does what with it. He lives decadently. He lives riotously. He splurges. And most of the time we think he has lived a worldly life. And he’s now getting the results of his worldliness because he finds himself lying in a pigsty eating pig pods and wishing he was back with his father because his father is rich. And so he comes to his senses and what does he do? He goes back home. And in humility he says to his father, “I’m not even worthy to be considered your son. Just make me a servant.” But the father kind of welcomes him and brings him back into the household. Okay, we know that part of the story.
Let’s consider for a minute the older son, because the older son is also acting from a sense of worldly wisdom. Now granted, he is much more conservative in his lifestyle. He is the good son. He does everything that a good Jewish boy is expected to do. He listens to his father. He works for his father. He does everything that everybody in this little Jewish community would say you are a good kid. And in fact, everybody in the community probably is patting him on his back, “You’re the good son.” And especially as the tales of the riotous living of his brother get back to the village and say, “Look, he’s such a bad kid. You are a good kid.” In the end, what does he begin to think about himself? I’m in fact the good kid. I’m a good person. But why is he doing all of this? His hard issue really comes back when his brother returns. ‘Cause when his brother returns, father welcomes him to the house, has a party for him, the oldest son finds out what’s going on, he won’t even go into the house. The oldest son, he’s angry. He’s angry. He’s jealous. He’s self-justifying. The father comes out to him and he says to him, “All these years, I have worked. I’ve done everything that you’ve told me to do. I have been the good son. Ask anybody in town.” I’m pretty sure that the other people in the village just don’t understand the father. “Your son called you dead. You’re nuts for bringing him back into your house.” And they’re probably telling the good older son, “You know what? You’re right to be angry with your brother. He’s an idiot. You’ve done everything that you’re supposed to do.” And by the standards of the community, by the standards of the world, he has been the good son. And he becomes justified in his own mind. Yes, in fact, I am the good son. Why? Because I’ve done everything that the world tells me to do. So we have to understand that there’s a type of righteousness in the older son. The world gives us a type of righteousness. There’s a way of living in the world that seems right, seems virtuous, but it can be a normalizing of the sin nature. And the Bible talks about this. There is a type of righteousness, but in the end it is nothing but filthy rags. But we can still be convinced it’s righteous.
So the question for us as a congregation, I think, in this time of transition that we have is do we share God’s values? Do we share God’s heart? Do we want to see His will done at Shawnee Hills Baptist as it is in heaven? And we need to somehow avoid becoming like the Corinthians where the values and attitudes and ideas of what’s virtuous in the world somehow work their way into our vision of what’s right and good and virtuous here in this congregation. ‘Cause at the point that we do that, we will become spiritually very schizophrenic. We will become pretty dysfunctional at that point. And so I think it really kind of behooves us to kind of look at these two visions of virtue, of right wisdom, and act in accordance.
Let’s pray. Father, you have said in your Word that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. And we really do desire to avoid this kind of schizophrenic response since it’s our natural tendency. We saw it in our brothers and sisters at the Church of Corinth. And so we don’t want it to produce a type of Christianity that will make us lukewarm, because we know what your response to lukewarm Christianity is. And so we ask Father that as we come before you and as we search our own hearts and go through the process of calling a new pastor, that we would do so with your heart and your mind and that you would bless this endeavor. We ask in thy Son’s name. Amen.
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]
Do you think when you hear on the one hand, “We didn’t do that, the Holy Spirit did it,” and on the other hand, “You didn’t build that” –that there is a difference? Well, you’re wrong.
“It’s not about injustice, It’s about Jesus.”
~ Producer of “Unearthed”
Justice: One Reason People Don’t Go to Church: Romans 13:1-7
1. Romans 13:1-7
A. What does this have to do with people not going to church?
2. “Unearthed” video clip.
A. Seems to be EVERYTHING Christians would agree on as well as all moral people.
a. “You can’t legislate morality; you have to change people’s hearts.”
b. It calls men to stand up and be moral, and therefore circumventing the demand for porn.
c. Tim Keller
- A man’s “sense of justice.”
- The men are victims too; they are slaves.
- The gospel is the key. (the collective soul will be explained).
d. Mark Driscoll
- It hurts EVRYBODY, not just the man enslaved to porn.
† Voice of reason; man is an island is a misnomer hurtful to society.
†† The collective good.
e. It’s the “portal”; soft porn ultimately leads to sex trafficking.”
f. You can’t keep picking the fruit (ie, stop the behavior), you have to cut off the root.
g. If we do this, it is hard telling what society will “look like” versus BE like.
h. We want move beyond the problem and make a film about the solution.
- Title: The Hearts of Men.
- Christ moves beyond symptoms and deal with the HEARTS of men.
† Interpretive question: what is the “heart.”
- Primarily pray for the victimizers as well as the victims.
- Give Money
3. What is really going on here?
A. Their definition of the gospel is the societal collective Psyche.
B. Their definition of the heart is the soul of man.
4. The construct defined.
A. Image #1
a. The collective psyche is the root.
b. All things progressing toward restoration is the fruit.
c. Image #2—the tree in the video.
d. Church historian and author John Immel
- Image #1
- The root is IDEAS.
- The fruit is what society “looks like” as a result of the ideas.
B. The soul.
a. Like a tree, the “heart” has a root and fruit.
b. This is the Heart Theology of Neo-Calvinism.
- Pastor rant: “I am sick of the “root and fruit gospel”
- What is it? Image #3
- Man is totally depraved/incompetent, therefore, his root ideas must be supplied for the collective good of society.
- Moreover, his ideas should be compelled by force for the betterment of society.
- What man thinks is what society is.
† This is the collective soul making the collective psyche resuting in the ideal society.
- This is Plato: man’s soul is a mirror image of society; society is a tree of fruit and root, and man’s soul is a tree of fruit and root.
- Image #4
- Compare to Image #1
- Image #5
c. The video NEVER states that man changes; it states, like communism, that society is the manifestation of man’s thinking, and that man does not know what to think, and must be compelled to think the right things through being educated by the enlightened, and for the betterment of society, by force if necessary.
d. Man is too incompetent to be a problem, bad ideas are the problem. The Neo-Calvinist therefore deems him as someone who should be prayed for, and at times agrees with the state that he/she should be executed if they refuse to repent of their own ideas—for the collective good of society. It’s nothing personal, it just so happens that your body is the bearer of bad ideas that are hurtful to society. No man is a bad person per se, ideas are the problem.
5. Justice: the story of two realities.
A. The justice of Romans 13:1-7 versus the justice of Plato’s Republic.
a. Government is a gift to man by God and is His servant for the good of man.
b. God exhorts man to have a sense of justice and to follow Him, and man is capable of doing so, and has a free will to do so.
c. However, when injustice takes place via the choices of men, God warns Christians and the unregenerate alike (throughout the New Testament) that the government is His servant to enforce justice and punish injustice. Hence, God is pleased with the natural flow of justice, but warns that He will enforce justice sooner or later; presently by government, or in the future via His White Throne Judgment.
d. Man is without excuse because he is created with a conscience—Paul exhorts Christians to live by their consciences.
B. Plato’s Republic insists that ALL justice comes from the root because man is incapable of knowing good and reality. Therefore, it does NO good to enforce behavior, what man believes is what must be enforced, and this root will result in societies fruit.
History tells us that Plato’s construct does not work. And because it has become the premise of the church’s Heart Theology, church doesn’t work. Hence, people stop going to church for the same reason that people do not move from America to Russia.
“It’s not about injustice, It’s about Jesus.”
~ Producer of “Unearthed”
Originally posted on Paul's Passing Thoughts:
I will be writing a review on EF’s new book after I get done with Mr. Holland’s opus. The title is: Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. I have read one review, and other than what I mentioned above, there is even more good news for Bob and Jane: not only will they be able to dazzle their violent teen, but guess what? Their teen is really not any worse than well behaved teens! In fact, well behaved teens are worse because they are just little Pharisees! Wow! Hope is on the way for Bob and Jane.
David is at times at odds with major beliefs here at PPT and TANC, but this post brings some important thoughts to the table.
Originally posted on Nerdy stuff from David Brainerd's brain:
“Our attitude towards the law in sanctification shows what we believe about the law in justification, and that’s the difference between a true gospel and a false gospel.”
Calvinists are in danger of hell because of their view of the law. This can be primarily seen in their view of double imputation (will define shortly). This has everything to do with the gospel. Simply stated, Calvinism believes the law is the standard of justification. In contrast, the biblical gospel states that the law has been completely removed from justification. This is why it is ever-so critical that justification and sanctification are separate. If we are justified apart from the law, we can aggressively practice the law to glorify God in sanctification.
Calvin’s view of double imputation clearly shows that the Reformers believed that law is the standard for justification. Because of this, they expanded Christ’s role in the atonement to include His perfect obedience while He was on earth and lived His life among mankind (out of this comes the idea that Christ had to prove Himself to be a worthy sacrifice as opposed to being worthy by virtue of who He is). He died for our sins, but He also obeyed, or “fulfilled” the law in our stead. There are many, many, many problems with this view biblically, but primarily, it keeps believers, “under the law” and NOT “under grace.” These are the ONLY two categories in the Bible that distinguishes the lost from the saved. Calvinism categorizes “believers” as lost people. Incredibly, Calvin’s view of double imputation raises its hand and counts itself with the unbelievers.
The biblical double imputation follows: God the Father’s righteousness is imputed to us, and our sins are imputed to Christ. Therefore, His death took the old us and our sins to the grave. The Holy Spirit raised Christ from the grave, and also regenerates or quickens all of those who believe the gospel.
Calvin’s double imputation recognizes that Christ paid the penalty for our sins, but insists that the law had to be perfectly obeyed for us, or we cannot be truly righteous because we fall short of perfect law keeping. This perfect law keeping must then be perpetually applied to our sanctification by faith alone. It keeps Christians under the law for justification (Rom 6:14). Supposedly, this is ok because Christ kept the law for us.
Though the Bible continually states that the law has been voided in regard to our justification, Calvinism insists the following: It’s voided because Christ fulfilled it. This is why Calvinists are constantly referring to the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us, but the Bible doesn’t say that—it states that the righteousness of God the Father was imputed to us. Christ’s death put an end to the law, not His perfect obedience. The imputation of Christ’s obedience to sanctification to keep us justified is a “relaxing” of the law, and Christ sternly warned against that. Our attitude towards the law in sanctification shows what we believe about the law in justification, and that’s the difference between a true gospel and a false gospel.
What does the Bible say about the law in regard to our justification? Let’s see:
Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
I am not sure what is clearer. The law speaks only to those under it in regard to justification. The law informs the believer in sanctification (“although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” also see Gal 3:21), but we are no longer under it for justification: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law” We are justified by God the Father THROUGH faith in Christ:
Romans 3:25 – whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Here, we see that Christ’s role in the atonement was His bearing of our sin, not any keeping of the law. And God the Father is the “justifier,” not Christ. To replace the Father as “justifier” with Christ because Christ supposedly fulfilled the law is a false gospel. Why?
Romans 3:27 – Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
No fulfilling of the law for justification was needed. We are justified by the “law of faith.” Think about it, has Christ ever needed faith? Only we need faith, not Christ. Christ didn’t fulfil any law for our justification, that law, in justification, is replaced with the law of faith because there is NO law in justification. Hence…
Romans 3:28 – For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
And that includes works of the law by anyone—it doesn’t matter who is doing the work—it’s irrelevant—we are justified by the “law of faith”—there is NO other law in justification. Why would Christ have to fulfil a law of faith? Did He lack faith? I think not.
Let’s add to our thinking with the following:
Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 4:24 – but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Note: the summation of Christ’s role in the atonement is here stated: He died for our sins, and was raised from the dead by God through the Holy Spirit. If a perfect obedience to the law is part of that, why would Paul exclude it here?
The Calvinist view of double imputation removes God the Father as the justifier and makes works of the law the basis of justification rather than the law of faith.
It’s a false gospel.