Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Potter’s House: Elect Israel and Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 14, 2013

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“The future of Israel is far from being a ‘non-essential secondary issue.’ If you don’t understand Israel’s election, you don’t understand your own election.”

 “Works do not flow from justification—they flow from the new birth. They flow from the surviving spouse that is no longer under the marriage covenant of the law.  Two different things entirely are pursued in each: justification is pursued by faith alone; in sanctification, fruit is pursued for the purpose of pleasing God.”

The first eleven chapters of Romans are about justification and its contrast to sanctification. We have learned that the express purpose of election is to remove all works from justification:

Romans 9:11- though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Election is not something that we should take and mold into a doctrine of fatalistic determinism. Many times, such doctrines translate into “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Or, “Who is God to find fault for who can resist His will?” I find agreement in statements that I have heard from other pastors: “God’s offer to the lost is a legitimate offer,” and “I don’t understand how God weaves His sovereignty together with our will.”

Election, as clearly stated in Romans 9:11, is for the purpose of completely removing any element of our works in justification. The purpose of election is not endless debate; the sole purpose is clearly stated. Nothing that we do in sanctification can affect what God chose to do before the world was created. We are free to pursue righteousness in sanctification freely and without fearful introspection. We have one motive; to please God. Paul said that we MAKE that our motive:

2 Corinthians 5:9 – So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

I also find it interesting that in context Paul is talking about this life and our afterlife, and in our afterlife, it will still be our goal to please the Lord. In eternity, we will still have goals. So, how important are GOALS in this life?

But all in all, I believe election creates a radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification. In fact, in one respect, those who teach that we can’t lose our salvation even if we deny the Lord are technically correct. But as we have learned in the book of Romans, there is a hitch called the new birth. Once born again, we are enslaved to righteousness:

Romans 6:18 – and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We have also learned that to be set free from sin is synonymous with being set free from the law. Paul called this the law of sin (ROM 7:23). How can this be? How can we be free from the law and enslaved to its righteous requirements at the same time? That’s where the radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification must be true. For the believer there is no righteous requirement of the law in justification; we are justified by a righteousness that is apart from the law. In sanctification we are enslaved to the righteous requirement of the law. We don’t keep the law perfectly, but that doesn’t have any effect on our justification. If we don’t act like we are enslaved to the law by a willing spirit it brings our salvation into doubt. We may still be under law and not under grace. We cannot review the following too often in our day:

Lost = under law = will be judged by the law + provoked to sin by the law + and enslaved to sin.

Saved = under grace = will not be judged by the law + declared righteous apart from the law + provoked to righteousness by the law + enslaved to righteousness + able to please God by law-keeping.

We are now going to talk about the election of Israel as a nation and how that relates to this very subject of justification and sanctification, and the difference between the pursuits thereof. First of all, be sure of this: Israel was elected as a nation and all of God’s desires that Israel will be a holy nation before Him will be realized because God has determined it. Paul closes out his subject of justification, or the gospel if you will, with Israel as the context in Chapters 9-11. Chapter 12 begins instruction regarding life application in sanctification. Sanctification will not be successful without a proper understanding of justification. What’s wrong with the American church? Few Christians understand the difference between the two. They even understand less about how Israel fits into that understanding.

Just because national Israel was rebellious doesn’t mean that they weren’t elected, nor does it mean that election offers an opportunity to be saved, but then you have to do something to keep yourself in God’s family. Or, NOT do something to keep you in God’s family. If you have to not work in sanctification to keep your salvation, that’s working at not doing anything. In so-called “do’s and don’ts” the “don’ts” are works as much as the “do’s. “Living by a list” of such requires both. What we do in sanctification is a natural result of the new birth and totally separate from justification.

Listen, your attitude towards Israel reveals what you believe about justification. The future of Israel is far from being a “non-essential secondary issue.” If you don’t understand Israel’s election, you don’t understand your own election. Israel is the head and not the tail. They will always be prominent in God’s plan to reconcile himself to man. As Christ said to the woman at the well, “Salvation is of the Jews.” This is why Paul tells the Romans the following:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

Paul also stated the irrevocable position of Israel in redemption and what “belongs” to them (present tense):

Romans 9:1 – I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Anyone who is saved belongs to the commonwealth of Israel. Israel’s identity before God has not been diminished by the engrafting of the Gentiles:

Romans 11:28 – As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

So, national Israel is elected, and then there is a remnant within Israel that is elected, but the non-elect within Israel doesn’t mean Israel is not elected. This is because the general offspring of Abraham, (national Israel) are divided into children of the flesh and children of the promise:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

In the first case, if the promise came through Ishmael rather than Isaac, that’s a problem because Abraham and Sarah tried to help God in producing the offspring. Remember, Hagar gave birth to a nation via Ishmael (GEN 16:10). The offspring would come through the promised miracle, Isaac. Then when Isaac’s wife Rebekah became pregnant, the Lord told her that there were “two nations” in her womb (GEN 25:23). Look, there is only salvation through one nation, Israel, and not multiple nations. Muhammad didn’t come out of Israel. Buddha didn’t come out of Israel.  Sun Myung Moon didn’t come out of Israel. I find it curious that you never hear of a false Christ being rejected on that fact alone.

And in Israel, there is a single “seed” not “seeds.” This is the offspring from which Christ was born and was sustained by God’s work alone and many miracles. This offspring (singular) is also associated with “the promises” and “promise” as opposed to law. Hence, Paul states the following in Galatians:

Galatians 3:16 – Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Those who don’t pursue righteousness by the promise alone are under the law which is synonymous with being enslaved to the flesh….

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 that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Paul also refers to the fact that those under the law, and in slavery to the flesh, will also be judged by the law:

Galatians 3:10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

In Romans, Paul refers to being under the law as a marriage covenant in which the old us that was under the law has died, as is represented as a spouse under that covenant:

Romans 7:1- Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

You can also tie this back into Galatians 3:10 ff. in that the old spouse (the former us) died with Christ when He became a curse for us and bore our sins on the cross. We, and our sins, died with Christ:

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. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Below is a chart that organizes the preceding thoughts visually:

Elect Nation

Let me move on to the primary point I want to make with the following verses in Romans 9:

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”

Paul’s obvious point is that without God’s election, calling, and promise of the seed, neither Jew nor Gentile would be saved, but salvation is still of the Jews. There are many Israelites that will not be saved because they pursued righteousness by “a” law, and not by faith. Here is an important point: when Paul states that many pursue righteousness by the law, he is not speaking of a sincere effort to truly keep “the” law, it is always “a” law of their own picking and choosing; primarily, the traditions of men. In Galatians, I believe a doctrine was being taught that propagated the idea of salvation by circumcision along with a loose commitment to the rest of Scripture (GAL 4:2-6).

This brings us to the last point:

Romans 9:30 – What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Justification is pursued by faith alone, but once it is obtained, we are free to pursue fruit in sanctification. In fact, we are commanded many times to do just that in sanctification. This is a primary difference between justification and sanctification. Salvation can only be pursued by faith, but once saved we are to pursue fruit:

 Romans 14:19 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1 Corinthians 14:1- Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

1 Timothy 6:11- But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

1 Peter 3:11- let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Now, in our day we must consider that most churches teach us that we must pursue justification, and that fruits will flow from justification as we continually pursue a deeper and deeper knowledge of justification. See the below illustration:

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE

So, a pursuit of fruits directly makes “the fruit the root.” Others call it “fruit stapling” because it doesn’t flow from the roots of justification. But election makes justification a finished work. Works do not flow from justification—they flow from the new birth. They flow from the surviving spouse that is no longer under the marriage covenant of the law.  Two different things entirely are pursued in each: justification is pursued by faith alone; in sanctification, fruit is pursued for the purpose of pleasing God.

The Holy Spirit is not an inept communicator; if He wanted us to primarily pursue justification in order to properly produce fruit, why wouldn’t He simply state that rather than stating in no uncertain terms that we are to pursue the fruits directly instead?

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3 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on May 14, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like

  2. Abe said, on May 14, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    “Now, in our day we must consider that most churches teach us that we must pursue justification, and that fruits will flow from justification as we continually pursue a deeper and deeper knowledge of justification.”

    Wow. If this is true, then my entire “church experience” that covered years, is blown right out of the water.

    Do you know how many sermons in virtually every church, have the message, “true faith will automatically lead to good works”? Do you know how many books have been written with that main theme, or at least had that as a side theme?

    You have, with that one statment, 100% severed justification from sanctification. Justification being a permanent free gift. Sanctification being a strongly encouraged pursuit for the justified, but not an “automatic” product of the justification. To connect it as “automatic”, is works for salvation and therefore a false gospel.

    Well done.

    Like

    • paulspassingthoughts said, on May 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM

      Abe,

      Thanks, and right, no matter how passive an endeavor is to reconnect with justification to produce works, it’s works of the justification sort.

      Like


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