Paul's Passing Thoughts

Sigh. What Does It Mean That Jesus Came to Fulfill The Law?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 3, 2018

ppt-jpeg4I do not believe that Scripture contradicts itself. And by the way, the whole “paradox” thing is VERY dangerous territory. Paradox does not abrogate reason. When God beckons us to “reason together,” reason means…”reason.”

Protestantism and Catholicism share many things in common, but one of the primary aspects is the abrogation of individual one-on-one reasoning with God. Do you even know what “orthodoxy” is? The very concept denies the validity of one-on-one reasoning with a personal God. When the church constantly pontificates about a “personal” relationship with God, what it is really talking about is complete submission to the institutional church and complete surrender of personal conscience in exchange for orthodoxy.

Due to this tradition, Protestantism gets away with being predicated on the most simplistic theological error of the ages. And one of its deceptive modes of operation is to use mantras and truisms that represent the extreme opposite of what orthodoxy actually states, the use of terms that allow assumption on certain points until people are fully indoctrinated, and making others the supposed nemesis of the gospel who in fact better represent Protestantism itself.

The biggest laugher  is Protestantism’s demonizing of the dreaded “Pharisees” who were supposedly the sultans of “legalism” when Protestantism is an exact representation of the Pharisees. And by the way, as another example of Protestantism’s plenary redefining of reality, there is no such thing as “legalism” being gospel enemy number one. You will search the Scriptures in vain to find such a concept, as well as the word “legalism” being in the Bible to begin with.

Even when Protestants venture into personal Bible reading, they are dong so through the prism of orthodoxy which has redefined every scriptural word and term. The Bible is both very complex in order to substantiate its inerrancy, and simple to entice as many people as possibly into salvation. The depths of Scripture are for discipleship and long-term assurance, not the call of salvation. The offer of the gift is deliberately simple to be inclusive.

Hence, the Bible is NOT easy to understand and requires diligent study by everyone. It is like building structures. When you come upon something that you clearly understand, you set it aside as part of a foundation that further understanding is built upon. We may also use a picture puzzle for another example. As we fit the easier border pieces together, it leads to seeing where the more difficult inside pieces fit. In all of this, BIBLICAL definitions of all words and terms are critical. The definition of words determines your view of truth and reality as well. Those who define words define reality. So, trust me, it would behoove you to let God define the words.

In regard to some of the aforementioned points, what does Protestantism do? It constantly beats the drum of “justification by faith alone.” More recently, it is “justification by faith.” Curiously, “alone” and “apart from the law” are left out while allowing parishioners to assume “justification by faith alone apart from the law” is what is intended. Parishioners are allowed to assume that justification by faith is a onetime event that justifies the believer once and for all time. That’s NOT orthodoxy which propagates a progressive justification. This is not arguable; Protestant orthodoxy is clear on this point in all of its creeds and confessions. To one of the primary points of this post, few parishioners, if any, have read these documents for themselves.

According to Protestantism, justification is not by faith alone nor is it apart from the law. This is probably why the more recent buzz-term is “justification by faith.” According to Protestant orthodoxy, justification is defined by perfect law-keeping. Though the Bible merely states APART from the law…period, orthodoxy states that this means apart from any law-keeping by the so-called believer. One is justified by believing in Jesus’ perfect law-keeping. Shockingly, some renowned Protestant scholars have even stated that Jesus gained his personal righteousness through perfect law-keeping. Of course, this is outright blasphemy in broad daylight.

But, what does the gospel specifically state that we are to believe in?  We are to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ because that is the establishment of the new birth which baptizes us into God’s literal family. Protestantism, being a law-based justification while proclaiming to be the extreme antithesis of such, claims that God resurrected Christ as proof that he kept the law perfectly. Good luck finding that in the Bible; yet, it is a common assertion among Protestants.

In addition, according to Protestantism, Jesus’ perfect law-keeping continues to be a substitution for our law-keeping in sanctification lest we have a “righteousness of our own.” So, our sin was imputed to Christ, and he was a substitution for the punishment we deserved, but in addition, he kept the law perfectly so his perfect law-keeping can be imputed to our sanctification. This is the well-known Protestant doctrine of “double imputation” or in other words a DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION. Clearly, any righteous work that we would do can ONLY contribute to a justified status according to orthodoxy, so all of those works must be perfect. In more other words, justification of the so-called believer is not a finished issue, nor is the so-called believer MADE righteous, but he/she is ONLY “declared” righteous as long as said believer believes that they themselves can do no good work.

How does this doctrine supposedly pan-out in real life application and experience? It’s a Gnostic application which will not be addressed in this post, but I will give a thumbnail. Martin Luther did most of the heavy lifting on this subject using Augustinian Neo-Platonism which later became Gnosticism. It goes something like this: life experience, or how we experience life, is subjective. What does that mean? It means we experience life as if we are initiating all of our actions and actually doing the action. But, not so. When something we “do” is righteous, viz, nothing as all of our works are “filthy rags,” and we are presently saved because we believe exactly that, we are only experiencing the act as if we are doing it but it is really Jesus doing it “through us”…”by faith.”  Come now, let’s be honest, we hear this all of the time: “I didn’t do it, Jesus did it!” “It was the Holy Spirit, not me!” Or this one: “Sanctification is NOT done BY us, it is done TO us.”

While mainline Protestants ridicule Pentecostals and Charismatics for ecstatic experiences including speaking in tongues, it is merely a more objective version of the same idea regarding subjective reality; God is the only one that does good, and all righteousness is outside of the believer known as Martin Luther’s “alien righteousness.” In Pentecostalism et al, ecstatic experiences are supposedly a result of God acting overtly instead of subjectively as a way to substantiate that he is doing all righteousness through us. It is merely a more overt demonstration of the exact same idea.

But here is the huuuuuuuge problem with the whole enchilada; you cannot separate LOVE from righteousness. In essence, according to Protestant orthodoxy, the so-called believer does NO love, Jesus does ALL of the love through us while we are essentially loveless. Been to church lately? Does it seem a little loveless?  Well, it should, that’s orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, the true gospel of justification by new birth apart from the law changes our relationship to the law. I have written on this extensively, but suffice to say for this post that in this gospel the believer is MADE righteous and not merely declared righteous resulting in the abilty to actually perform acts of love. We are actually righteous as a state of being because we are literally reborn by the Spirit. We are not merely “declared righteous,” we are righteous. And by the way, in regard to the idea that “justification is a legal declaration,” how is a legal declaration “apart from the law”? Is orthodoxy really predicated on such an egregiously elementary error? YES.

The new birth changes the believer’s relationship to the law, and this truth has been so far removed from church that parishioners have extreme difficulty wrapping their minds around it. First, believers have been removed from any kind of judgment by the law that can eternally condemn. That aspect of the law is gone, or ended. In that respect, Jesus, as stated in several places in the Bible, came to END the law and REMOVE our sin.

The new birth is the standard for righteousness resulting in a love for the law and its instruction regarding love, while Protestantism makes perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. Hence, Jesus must keep it for us to maintain justification. True Christians fall short of loving and may be chastised accordingly, but do not need a substitution for love in sanctification because they are no longer under condemnation. Instead of salvation being an ongoing atonement for sin to prevent condemnation because we are still under law, we are “chastised as sons” when we fail to love.

And, the true imputation is the imputation of ALL sin to the law, and then Jesus came to end the law and subsequently end sin as well. Jesus ended the law of sin and death on the cross, and justified us with his resurrection unto the law of the Spirit of life. Therefore,  there is “NOW NO condemnation” for true believers, and consequently, no substitution for love is needed in our sanctification.

If you must say that Christians still sin, that’s fine, but we cannot receive any death wages from our failure to love. We may receive less life wages and deprive ourselves of “full reward,” but we are no longer under the condemnation of the law. The double imputation or double atonement of Protestantism necessarily equals UNDER LAW or such atonement would be unnecessary.

So, what was Jesus saying in Matthew 5 when he said that he came to “fulfill the law”? The fervent running to this verse upon hearing the above challenge has exasperated me to no end. Add to that: Jesus also stated that he didn’t come to abolish the law.

Every Protestant out there will interpret it this way: Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law of sin and death [actually, he did], but came to fulfill its “righteous demands” so that Jesus’ fulfillment thereof can be imputed to sanctification [NOT]. This clearly contradicts the plain sense of Scripture in many places and leads to abject confusion in understanding the rest of Scripture.

There are many, many, plausible alternatives to orthodox claims regarding this passage; we will discuss a few. Jesus’ introduction to Matthew 5 through 7, commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount, in context, is a point by point rebuttal of rabbinical tradition which, in fact, voided the law with its traditions (Mark 7:13, Matthew 15:6). Almost immediately following, Jesus launches into a contrast between the true spirit of the law and rabbinical tradition. Jesus is saying that he didn’t come to toe the business-as-usual rabbinical line and thereby void the law, but rather came to uphold its true meaning.

In regard to the fulfillment of Scripture, the word “fulfill” is used about 90 times in the New Testament, and in the vast majority of times refers to Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

By the way, at the very least, this is partly what Jesus was referring to while it is obvious that all Old Testament prophecies are not yet fulfilled. Another huge problem here is that Jesus states that he came to fulfill the “law” and “the prophets.” Primarily, some total fulfillment of the moral law is not the point nor some sort of other fulfilling due to the prophesy issue already stated. To say that “Jesus meant a total fulfillment of the moral law and a partial fulfillment of prophecy” is a really big stretch.

Besides, early in his ministry, God speaks from heaven and proclaims that he is “well pleased” with Christ at John’s baptism which negates the idea that Christ yet needed to obey the law perfectly to obtain salvific righteousness. Moreover, however you want to interpret it, Christ told John the baptist that all righteousness was fulfilled by his baptism. More than likely, this is a symbolic statement regarding righteousness by the baptism of the Spirit who happened to show up for this event as well.

New birth is justification; not perfect law-keeping. Regardless of who keeps it, the law of sin and death cannot give life (Galatians 3).





3 Responses

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  1. Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 3, 2018 at 3:33 PM

    The word fulfill can and does have several aspects to it. It can mean to provide that which is needed for something like fulfilling a need or desire. When Protestants use fulfill in terms of Matthew 5-7, they think of it in the context of following a set of instructions perfectly. But fulfill can also mean to finish or complete something. From a business or accounting standpoint, when a buyer wishes to purchase product from a vendor he issues a Purchase Order to the vendor. The vendor pulls the ordered items and ships them to the buyer along with an invoice which is a promise of payment to be remitted. When the buyer receives the ordered items and remits payment on the order then that order is said to be “fulfilled”. I believe it is in this context which Jesus uses the word “fulfill.”

    If the Law was a covenant (which it was) and the covenant spoke of a promise (and it did) and Jesus is that promise (and He is) and the beneficiaries of the promise could not realize the benefit of that promise until the death of the testator much like a will (and they didn’t), then Jesus death is the fulfillment of the Law in that the beneficiaries (that would be “Israel” or “children of Abraham” or believing Jews and Gentiles, or the one New Man) receive the “inheritance” promised to them in that covenant. That inheritance is eternal life via the New Birth bringing us into the family of God the Father, of which Jesus is the “firstborn among many brethren”

    When Jesus said He came not to destroy the Law, He was saying that He was not here to break the contract that God made with Abraham. In essence He WAS the fulfillment of the contract!


  2. Martin said, on January 3, 2018 at 4:18 PM

    “Protestantism and Catholicism share many things in common, but one of the primary aspects is the abrogation of individual one-on-one reasoning with God.”


    Jacob wrestled with God.
    His name was changed to Israel (He who wrestles one-on-one with God!)

    God Loves ” one-on-one reasoning with God” 😉

    We Wrestle Day & Night.

    Andy, Good Thoughts!


  3. Martin said, on January 10, 2018 at 3:48 PM

    Good Thoughts Andy & Martin & Paul!

    “Those who define words define reality. So, trust me, it would behoove you to let God define the words.”

    That’s why whenever I hear anyone say “The Good News begins with the bad news…” I put my finger down my throat so as to gag so as to induce vomiting… of the notion of the bad news.


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