Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Calvinist’s Greatest Fear: The Spiritual Peasantry Will Understand Law and Grace

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 11, 2016

PPT HandleOriginally published January 2, 2013

“The two are completely separate; the law is left behind in the former and loved in the latter.” 

Susan and I perceive constantly that most Christians don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Said another way, they don’t understand the difference between law and grace. This is by design. Instead of outlawing the Bible like the Popes, the Reformers merely posited the Bible as a catechism that aped their orthodoxy derived from counsels and creeds. I won’t mention names, but prominent evangelical leaders have shared with me personally that they know the general populous of American Christians are theologically illiterate. And again, this is by design. And, most Christians in our day openly admit it, and in some cases are proud of it. The remainder admits they believe that the pastorate is an intermediary between them and what God wants us to understand.

There are a number of problems with this, but primarily, God thinks it’s a bad idea. The Bible is clearly written to Christians in general. And His word cannot be properly understood unless it is read in the context of justification/sanctification. Whatever your opinion of the American church, it is a product of parishioner illiteracy in regard to doctrine; that is certain and indisputable.

Though it takes a lot of study to see some things in simple form, the simple fact of Calvinism (and we are all Calvinists if we are Protestant) is that it makes “under” a verb and not what it is: a preposition. They could get away with this in medieval times because most people didn’t know the difference. In our day, we know the difference, but assume the pastorate has a set of metaphysical eyes given to them by God before the foundation of the world that we don’t have—so our eyes don’t even blink when their interpretations contradict the plain sense of Scripture.

As we have seen in our previous observations from the book of Romans, Christians are UNDER grace and were previously UNDER law. All people born into the world are born into it UNDER the law, and will be judged by it at the end of their lives if they don’t escape it. Christ was the only man ever born under the law that could live by it without sin and was therefore the only man ever born who could die for our sins. We escape the condemnation of the law by believing in what He did to make a way of escape for us. Calling on Christ to save us acknowledges that we all fall short of God’s glory and are therefore in danger of eternal separation from Him.

We are “under” grace, NOT “under” law:

Romans 6:14—For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The word for “under” here is hupo which is a primary preposition. Calvinism teaches that we are still under the law. This is the main reason that it is a false gospel. Now, they would vehemently deny this in the following way with red faces and veins popping out of their necks:

NONSENSE! We emphatically state constantly that no man is justified by the law unless he can keep it perfectly and we all know that no man can keep the law perfectly. We constantly cite James 2:10 which states that if we break the law at one point—we are guilty of breaking the whole law. HOW DARE YOU SLANDER US IN THIS WAY!!!

This argues the point by making “under” a verb (something we do or don’t do) rather than a position. Therefore, they are not arguing jurisdiction, they are arguing practice in regard to how we are justified. Position is the issue, not what we do; i.e., keeping the law or not keeping the law, or doing this/that in this way or the other way etc. Calvinists believe our position stays the same; therefore, what we do becomes critical. In fact, what we don’t do keeps us saved; e.g., “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”

There are four versions of “Christians” still being “under” the law, or under its jurisdiction. First, antinomianism which teaches that we are still under the law, but God cancelled our obligation to keep it because it promotes grace. Secondly, that we are still under the law, but the Holy Spirit helps us keep it so that we will pass the final judgment. Thirdly, that we are still under the law, but if we perform certain rituals within the church, by authority of the church, our sins are continually forgiven (perpetual pardon in the face of the law). Fourthly, we are still under the law, but Jesus keeps it for us while we continually contemplate His saving works in the Scriptures. This is the Reformed view. And of course—it’s no less a false gospel than the former three.

This is verified by their interpretation of Galatians 2:20—this exposes their heresy:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We supposedly remain spiritually dead, which as they know is clearly synonymous with being under the law in Scripture. So, Galatians 2:20 is interpreted as being applicable to our Christian life. We don’t live in our Christian life, we are still spiritually dead, but the living Christ within us keeps the law for us so that the “ground of our justification will be Christ in the final judgment.” Calvinists believe that we are not under the law in regard to the idea that we don’t keep it in our Christian life to be justified, Christ keeps it for us. Hence, “under” is a verb issue rather than a position issue. What we do becomes critical, not where we are positionally. Therefore, Calvinism makes our Christian life (sanctification) by faith alone as a way to maintain our just standing for the final judgment. Only problem is, we are still fulfilling a requirement of the law in cooperation with Christ—this is the problem of salvation being a verb issue rather than a preposition issue. If the law no longer has jurisdiction over us FOR JUSTIFICATION, who keeps it or doesn’t keep it is irrelevant FOR JUSTIFICATION.

Then what is Paul talking about in Galatians 2:20? He is talking about justification; not sanctification, this should be evident. Consider the context:

Galatians 2:16—yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 2:17—But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!

Galatians 3:11—Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Consider verse 21 which immediately follows 2:20:

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Why do Calvinists apply Galatians 2:20 to sanctification? Because what we do is the issue, not our position, so Christ must obey the law for us. To the contrary, we are justified because the old self that lived in the flesh died with Christ. And when it did, we also died to the law. So, in regard to justification, we can only be justified if the life we lived in the flesh is dead and no longer under the law. Being alive in the flesh equals: being under the law. Now, obviously, our mortal bodies are still alive in one sense in that we are walking around, but in reality the old self is dead and the power of sin and the law are broken. In that sense, we are dead, and justified via the fact that Christ was resurrected for our justification (Romans 4:25). Notice that Paul states that he is dead in regard to his life “in the flesh.” This doesn’t mean that we are also spiritually dead in sanctification. The context of Galatians 2:20 is justification. Hopefully, Romans 6:5-14 will clarify this for you:

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.

As we have noted before in our Romans study, being under the law comes part and parcel with being lost and under the power of sin which is provoked by the law. The flesh under the law is like throwing gasoline on a fire (Romans 7:8-11). But notice in Romans 6:5-14 that there is both death and life. This passage in Romans also adds “death” to being under the law and the bondage of sin. Galatians 2:20 only speaks of our death to the law and sin (“Apart from the law, sin lies dead”), not the life we have in sanctification. Romans 5-14 speaks to both because the context includes both sanctification and justification:

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.

We have been brought from death to life. The life we live in the flesh has had the power and dominion of sin under the law broken because we died with Christ. We are dead and Christ lives for our justification:

Romans 4:23—But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 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.

In regard to justification and this life we live in the flesh, we are dead, and more importantly, also dead to the law as well, and only Christ is alive, but that doesn’t pertain to sanctification as well. In sanctification, we are alive, and UNDER GRACE. In justification, the old self is dead and no longer under the law. Calvinists believe we remain under the law in sanctification, and being under the law is synonymous with still being spiritually dead. Therefore, we remain dead in sanctification and under the judgment of the law, so the law must be fulfilled for us.

Being under grace is synonymous with being born again, new creatures, informed by the law, not under it (see Galatians 2:19), and lovers of the truth. Obedience to the law is now our means of loving the Lord and showing the world that we love Him. The law is the full counsel of God in regard to family harmony and kingdom living. It informs us on how to be separate from the world. In a word: sanctification. The law in regard to judging our justification has NO jurisdiction over us. We are no longer under it.

The very fact that Calvinists propagate a total depravity of the saints in which bondage to sin is not broken clearly illustrates that the law is still a standard for our justification; we are still under its jurisdiction for our just standing. A cursory perusal of Reformed writings can produce a motherload of citations to establish this fact, but one from Reformed icon G. C. Berkouwer should suffice:

Bavinck too, wrote in connection with the regenerating work of the Spirit: “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration” (Faith and Sanctification p. 87).

Clearly, this can only mean one thing: the one that is “no whit different” must also remain under the law. His position hasn’t changed, so lest one attempt to be justified by the law, what is done in sanctification becomes paramount in eternal issues as opposed to it being a Divine family matter. The Reformed camp uses the book of Galatians to argue for this when the book actually addresses their specific error. They use the book of Galatians, as mentioned, particularly 2:20, to argue a supposed Pauline position that the Galatians were doing things in their sanctification that was affecting the status of their just standing. Again, the Reformed crowd makes what we do in sanctification the issue, not our position which biblically proposes that nothing done in sanctification can affect justification. The Reformed use of Galatians to argue this propagates a fusion of justification and sanctification which makes the law the standard for justification from salvation to glorification.

However, the book of Galatians is the antithesis of such as it shows a clear dichotomy between justification/sanctification and the application of the law in each. In justification: NO application. In sanctification: obedience. In regard to no law in justification, but the law informing our sanctification, consider Galatians 2:19:

For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

We have also noted in our Romans study:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

We are justified apart from the law, but we would not know anything about these issues if not informed by the “Law and the prophets.” Furthermore, after belaboring the point about their being no law in justification, in both Romans and Galatians Paul makes his point by asking “What saith the Scriptures?” (Romans 4:3 and Galatians 4:30). And the absolute classic point on this is Galatians 4:21:

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?

There is no law in justification, but the law informs our obedience in Sanctification. Scriptural examples are myriad, but consider Galatians 5:2-7:

2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Verses 2 through 6 are about justification by faith alone apart from the law. Verse 7 concerns sanctification—running and obeying which we are free to do aggressively without fear of it affecting our justification. The two are completely separate; the law is left behind in the former and loved in the latter. I once heard a Reformed pastor fuming from the pulpit over a statement that he heard at a conference: “He said that the law leads us to Christ, and then Christ leads us back to Moses. THAT’S BLASPHEME!!!”

No it isn’t. When the law was increased through Moses, it had a dual purpose: to increase sin in order to show those under the law their need for salvation, and as can be ascertained by many other texts, for the saved to better glorify God:

Romans 5:20—The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,

Galatians 3:19—Why then the law? It was because of transgressions….

paul

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