Paul's Passing Thoughts

American Clergy Brilliance: “The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration”

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 11, 2015

green-logo3Originally posted May 6, 2013

“Look, think about this; even an adolescent Sunday school student can see it: if the righteousness of God is revealed apart from the law (Romans 3:21), why would Christ need to keep it for our justification? For crying out loud, what does ‘apart’ mean?”

My theses for this year’s TANC conference highlights the fact that the Reformers taught from a totally different reality than a normative reality that draws logical conclusions from the arrangement of verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives, conjunctions, etc. taken at face value. The Reformers created their own metaphysical premise for interpreting reality. The authentic Reformed gospel is predicated on a contra reality. This is one of four reasons that the authentic Reformed gospel experiences a social death periodically throughout church history, and then periodic resurgence movements like the one we are presently in via New Calvinism. There have been five of these resurgence movements sense Calvin’s theocracy in Geneva. They will be documented in volume two of The Truth About New Calvinism. As Christians read their Bibles, they are naturally drawn away from the authentic Reformed gospel because the human tendency is to interpret reality from the normative perspective. They become uncomfortable with the contradictions. However, as each resurgence dies a social death, Protestant traditions of men continue to be a significant part of what emerges from the ashes. A Reformed hybrid emerges that apes the anemic sanctification spawned by Reformed thought. This lays the ground work for the resurgences that follow. Protestantism, historically, oscillates between the weak sanctification of the hybrid and the despotic resurgence movements that temporarily replace the hybrid. Basically, the vicious cycle must be stopped if revival is going to be possible. God sanctifies with truth, not the traditions of men. Part and parcel is a dumbed-down Christianity saturated with the traditions of Reformed men—primarily dead ones. Men of old that are deemed geniuses are often mindless Kool-Aid drinking followers of John Calvin and his ugly stepchildren, the murdering despotic Puritans. Part of the Protestant tradition that carries on is the big “O,” ORTHODOXY. A synonym for “truth” in American churchianity, it is really the repackaging of truth interpreted by the Protestant elite for consumption by the unenlightened masses. The American church follows the tradition of Protestantism when the arrogant, elitist who’s who of evangelicalism come together and publish declarations, i.e., the confessions and creeds of traditional Reformed thought. A recent example of this is the third edition of The Gospel of Jesus Christ: An Evangelical Celebration  (1994, 1997, 1999) signed and/or endorsed by, for example, the following: John Ankerberg, Kay Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry Falwell, Bill Hybels, David Jeremiah, D. James Kennedy, Max Lucado, Woodrow Kroll, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, Erwin Lutzer, Bill McCartney, Luis Palau, Pat Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, Bruce Wilkinson, Ravi Zacharias, Jack Hayford, Steven Strang, John MacArthur Jr., RC Sproul, Charles Colson, Bill Bright, and JI Packer. Only problem is, the document denies the new birth and describes Christians as being under the law as opposed to being under grace. In other words, the authentic gospel of the Reformation. First, the document speaks from the perspective of the authentic Reformed gospel that only recognizes the possibility of a linear gospel, ie., the “golden chain of salvation.”  Because sanctification is the links of a chain that stretches from justification to glorification, the links must stay intact by the same gospel that saved us. Hence, grace cannot be inside of the believer because that makes him/her a participant in the completion of justification. Justification is only a finished work if we live among the sanctification links in the same way we were saved—by faith alone. The Reformers only recognized this reality, and judged all other gospels from the same reality. Grace is either infused within the believer, making him/her a participant in finishing justification, or grace remains completely outside of the believer. The alternative that sanctification is completely separate, a parallel gospel, is not considered to be a possible reality. Accordingly, note the following statement in said GEC document:

We deny that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ infused into us or by any righteousness that is thought to inhere within us.

The Reformers believed that ALL grace and righteousness must remain OUTSIDE of the believer or it by default made him/her a participant in the completion of justification. They got around the mass of prepositions throughout Scripture that clearly state that grace is within us by utilizing the emphasis hermeneutic (the redemptive historical hermeneutic). This hermeneutic is a Gnostic concept derived from Plato’s theory of forms. I will delve into this in detail during my second session at this year’s TANC conference. Granted, many of the signers probably didn’t, and still don’t understand what the Reformers believed, and I believe other signers such as RC Sproul deliberately play on that confusion. Secondly, the doctrine propagates the Reformed mainstay of Christ’s perfect obedience to the law being imputed to our sanctification so that “sanctification is not the ‘ground’ of our justification.” See the chain thing going on there? Our enablement in sanctification necessarily makes sanctification the GROUND of our justification because sanctification finishes justification. It’s a “chain.” Here is what the document states:

God’s justification of those who trust in him, according to the Gospel, is a decisive transition, here and now, from a state of condemnation and wrath because of their sins to one of acceptance and favor by virtue of Jesus’ flawless obedience culminating in his voluntary sin-bearing death.

And….

We affirm that Christ’s saving work included both his life and his death on our behalf (Gal. 3:13). We declare that faith in the perfect obedience of Christ by which he fulfilled all the demands of the Law of God on our behalf is essential to the Gospel. We deny that our salvation was achieved merely or exclusively by the death of Christ without reference to his life of perfect righteousness.

Look, think about this; even an adolescent Sunday school student can see it: if the righteousness of God is revealed apart from the law (Romans 3:21), why would Christ need to keep it for our justification? For crying out loud, what does ‘apart’ mean? Worse yet is the idea that this perfect obedience is imputed to our sanctification if we live our Christian lives by faith alone because sanctification is a progressive process that finishes justification. James refuted this idea in no certain terms, which is why the Reformers questioned its rightful place in the New Testament canon. Moreover, this idea keeps Christians “under the law,” which is the biblical designation for the unregenerate. I don’t know much about the theologian William R. Newell, but with that disclaimer, I will say that I agree with his opinion in regard to this issue:

The fatal result of this terrible error is to leave The Law as claimant over those in Christ: for, “Law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth” (7.1). Unless you are able to believe in your very heart that you died with Christ, that your old man was crucified with Him, and that you were buried, and that your history before God in Adam the first came to an utter end at Calvary, you will never get free from the claims of Law upon your conscience (William R. Newell: Verse by Verse Commentary on Romans).

Hence, the law remains a claimant over the believer at any point where he/she stops living their life by faith alone in the same gospel that saved them rather than belief in the new birth followed by the death of the old us that died with Christ and is no longer under the law. We must now fear that our obedience in sanctification is making the law the “ground” of our justification. Likewise, Calvin stated the following: Another principal part of our reconciliation with God was that man, who had lost himself by his disobedience, should by way of remedy oppose to it obedience, satisfy the justice of God, and pay the penalty of sin. Editor’s note: For our redemption, Christ kept the Law for us and died upon the Cross. By this, Christ obtained forgiveness of sins for us (Calvin on the Mediator: Chapel Library press, 2009). This is also known as “vicarious law-keeping.” A definition of vicarious is:

Adjective Experienced in the imagination through the feelings or actions of another person: “vicarious pleasure.” Acting or done for another: “a vicarious atonement”.

Christians need to stop following men in general, and Reformed men in particular.  God only sanctifies with truth, and Reformed doctrine does not save or sanctify accordingly. It calls for a salvation by law-keeping and who keeps it is not the issue. The law as a standard for justification is the issue. It also denies the different relationship of the law to believers as opposed to unbelievers: the law provokes the former to righteousness, and provokes the latter to sin. It skews the very biblical definition of the regenerate.

paul

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