Paul's Passing Thoughts

Protestantism: So Many Flavors, but It’s All Ice Cream

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 11, 2015

Protestantism has many different denominations and interpretations of the Bible, and let me explain why that’s the case. Protestantism was founded on the idea that the law of God has a single dimension. That’s the foundation, and that fleshes itself out in one way or the other across all denominational lines.

For purposes of keeping this simple, we will focus on how this applies according to what is in vogue presently: the law can only condemn; the law can only provoke us to sin; the law demands perfection or all bets are off; the standard for being justified is perfect law-keeping.

What to do about law? That fundamental question is what divides all sects of Protestantism. It is what drives all the bickering between Calvinists, Arminians, free grace (Zane Hodges), and the anti-lordship salvation crowd which is mostly made up of the free grace crowd

This is why Protestants can’t seem to get it together on Christian living. Trying to make a single dimension law work in the Christian life causes all kinds of confusion. Staying in the same vein of simplicity, let’s use Romans 8:2 in an attempt to understand the problem:

Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

That’s two different relationships to the same law. To the born again believer, the Spirit uses the law to sanctify the believer (John 17:17). To walk in the Spirit is to learn and obey the word of God which is life. This is a colaboring with the Spirit in the truest sense.

To the unbeliever, the law can only condemn, and sin within uses the law to provoke the unbeliever to sin. To the unbeliever, the law can only bring death. Hence, “the law of sin and death.”

In what way does the law set us free to “serve another”? When we believe its testimony, it sets us free from being condemned by it, and frees us to obey it as a way of loving God and others. This isn’t a difficult concept: if we listen to wisdom we live; if we reject wisdom we die, but it’s the same wisdom.

Again, for purposes of making a simple point in this post, I am not going into how this all fits together with the believer being truly righteous, and able to please God through obedience while falling short of perfection. You aren’t going to understand any of that till you get this basic point anyway.

The following prompted this post: I stumbled upon an anti-lordship salvation kind of guy named Jack Smack who believes Calvinists, Arminians, and proponents of lordship salvation are all going to hell. Again, this all boils down to differences in how you get the square peg of a single dimension law into the round hole of Christian living and the gospel. Note what he states in the video:

 Now what is Lordship salvation? It’s the idea that you have to live a certain way, you have to prove you are saved by your works.  You got to obey God; you got to repent of your sins, and it’s all of this jargon.  And there’s a lot, there’s a few other things they say:  the lot of them will tell you, you know, you can’t live any way you want to and all this, well, they’re trying to control you.  They’re trying to put you under the law.  They’re doing exactly what these Jews were doing.  It says, “why compest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”  Okay…

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Now look at this:  Lordship Salvation, they’re people trying to get you to sin – they want you to sin! They teach lawless, that lewd antinomianism, because if you get down to it, they’re trying to put you back under a law.  And all the law can do is cause you to sin.

18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

So actually, in all reality, ironically, a Lordship Salvationist claims like they don’t want people to keep on sinning, but the reality of what they teach, it’s going to make you go on sinning, according to that verse.  So yes, Lordship Salvation proponents are antinomian.  Regardless of whether or not they will admit this, the bible says they are.  Any time you try to put somebody under a law, you are making them into a bigger sinner PERIOD.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

So, it’s all I have.  Lordship Salvation makes you into a bigger sinner because you’re imposing laws on people that they just can’t obey on their own, and um…that’s exactly what these people are doing.  So I , you know, believe in, I teach Free Grace.  I teach that we’re justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Now you have to understand Free Grace, or you cannot serve God; and you cannot, you know, obey God.  You have to understand what’s been done on your behalf: Jesus Christ died for your sins. He was buried and rose again.  He gives eternal life as a free gift.  So, on the basis of that, we should want to serve God and to live right.  And that’s what I teach.  People that are teaching law, lordship, they’re the antinomians because the reality of what they teach leads to uh..transgression.

In the Bible, there are only two kinds of people: under law (lost), and under grace (saved). But what is missed in Protestantism is that being under grace doesn’t exclude being under law, it’s just not the law of sin and death. The law informs us as to what people need to do to be free from being condemned by the law, resulting in being free to use the law for loving God and others.  If we want to know what to do in order to not die for lack of wisdom, we go and ask Lady Wisdom, right?

When we are saved by believing the law’s testimony about Christ, we are set free from its condemnation in a one time, completed transformation from death to life. We are now free to serve the law unto life more abundantly. Freedom from the law of condemnation is a gift, but obedience to the law as a born again believer yields rewards in the present life and the life to come. Hence, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” But living to God doesn’t exclude the law; Matthew 4:4 couldn’t be clearer on that.

Nevertheless, notice how Smack states that the relationship of the law of sin and death remains the same for the believer. This keeps believers “under law,” which is the very definition of a lost person. He states that a demand for Christians to obey the law only causes them to sin more! Woe! But frankly, this take on law is the same problem with Protestantism in general across the board.

The obvious question becomes: how do I obey the law as a Christian in a way that won’t cause me to sin more or condemn me? Of course, this has caused much confusion among Protestants. The remedy is usually a confusing system of some sort that imputes the perfect obedience of Jesus to our life in the same way His righteousness was imputed to us by faith alone. These systems range from outright denial of the law in the Christians life to a “relaxing of the law.”

Here is what Christians need to come to grips with: the two uses of the law in Romans 8:2. That is the key.

paul

Predestination and Fatalism: “How Much?” is the Question that Only Leaves Two Choices

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 26, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published May 30, 2014

“This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.”

“What am I saying? A am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.”        

This is part 6 of our series on predestination. We are in the process of evaluating predestination from the viewpoint of love, promises, judgment, cause and effect, hope, commandments, obedience, fear, foreknowledge, freewill, choice, ability, total depravity, evangelism, the gospel, Bible doctrine, paradox, and salvation. In most cases, determinism creates a strained understanding of what some of these words mean to us in real life.

For instance, if God loves the world and man does not have the ability to choose, why does God choose some and not others? He is impartial, no? Why will God judge those who never had a chance to escape judgment? Would God really command us to do things that He knows we are not able to do? How is God’s love really defined? Paradox is a reality, but to what extent do we except paradox as a replacement for the common understanding of life concepts and the words that describe them? Are the simple concepts of commands, love, and choice really a paradox in spiritual matters but necessarily taken literally in the milieu of life? Does whosoever will really mean whosoever has been chosen? And if it does, why doesn’t God simply state that accordingly?

In part one, we established an important starting point: the doctrine of predestination has always been primarily framed and assimilated by Reformed theologians. That’s a problem because they had/have the gospel wrong. This is a matter of simple theological math; they were on the wrong side of the law and gospel. Therefore, the doctrine must be reexamined.

In part 2, we examined God’s will in regard to the lost and the relationship of evangelism and paradox. Evangelism is another word that becomes paradoxical in light of predestination. Obedience is a paradox, love is a paradox, judgment is a paradox, and evangelism as well because the legitimacy of the offer of salvation is called into question. Whosoever will becomes whosoever has been elected. If election is a paradox, all of the concepts connected to it are paradoxical as well.

In part 2, we established that God does not desire that any person perish. He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Which brings up another paradox: does God plead and exhort man to be saved while knowing that he is unable to respond? When God states, “come, let us reason together,” is he saying that while knowing that man is unable to reason?

At any rate, we concluded in part 2 that God does not desire the death of the wicked—He desires that all would be saved.

In part 3, we established that predestination was not unique with the Reformers. In fact, determinism is an ancient concept that has dominated human history. We also examined the historical bad fruit produced by its ideology, and biblical contradictions as well.

In part 4, we looked at the means by which God seeks man. Man is created with intuitive knowledge of God, man begins life in the book of life and must be blotted out if he/she perishes, and Christ died for all men, not just the elect. Though not in the study, the fact that all sins are imputed to the Old Covenant, and belief in Christ eradicates the Old Covenant and all of the sin imputed to it, it implies a readiness and desire of God to vanquish one’s sin. The imputation of all sin to a covenant is sort of the opposite of starting life in the Book of Life; God wants to keep you in the one book and get rid of the other one.

Moreover, God sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and the judgment to come while the works of God’s law are already written on the heart of every person. On the one hand, God has set up a gargantuan infrastructural reality to facilitate the salvation of man, but in all of this, who enters in is ultimately predetermined by Him. Why all the drama? Why all of the paradox? Why all of the confusion? Yet, another paradox that could be added is the Holy Spirit’s warning in regard to judgment along with all of God’s prophets; why offer this incentive to escape judgment to those who are unable to respond? This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.

In part 5, we begin to answer the question, “How much?” Let’s say that man is unable to choose God initially, but what about post new birth? Is man then able to make choices? Curiously, the Reformers say, “no.” We looked at the Reformed redemptive-historical hermeneutic that interprets all reality as a gospel metaphysical narrative. We simply put ourselves in the narrative by believing everything in life points to a truth about Christ and is predetermined. We called this plenary determinism. Also, while discussing this, we introduced the possibility that certain things are predetermined by God, while other things are not. We used the following chart to illustrate this:

Election Final Draft

Granted, we want some things to be predetermined by God. We want a happy ending. We want justice. We want the good guys to win. We want everyone to live happily ever after. In times of danger, we want our fears tempered by knowing that God is control. In the book of Revelation, for certain, the opening of the six seals will make it seem like the earth is in complete chaos and spinning out of control, but the fact will be that God is in control of every bit of that. Will that temper the fear of those who know that at the time? Sure it will.

But is everything predetermined? Does man have any role in reality at all? The main source for predestination doctrine has always been the Reformers, at least in Western culture, and they disavow choice in both the saved and unsaved state. Consequently, from an eschatological view, there is only one judgment in which both believers and unbelievers stand in to determine one’s eternal fate. Opposing eschatological views posit a separate judgment for believers and unbelievers, one for reward (believers), and one that condemns (unbelievers).

Obviously, the idea of reward strongly suggests that the reward is for something earned by making a right choice. In Reformed circles, rewards spoken of in the Bible are attributed to salvation (the reward[s] is salvation), but now we have yet another paradox because it is not really a reward that we get for something that we did! What am I saying? I am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.

However, the Reformers state that truth can be known, and that there is no paradox at all: Man and history were created to glorify God. Everything that happens is predetermined by God (cause), and everything that happens is for God’s glory, and in fact, does glorify Him (effect). Hence, man has no ability to choose in being the cause for anything that happens. Judgment reflects God’s glory alone in simply revealing what God has preordained via good or evil. If this is not true, then how much choice does man have? That must be determined. If true, then how much choice does man not have? This must be determined as well.

At the T4G 2008 conference, John MacArthur stated the following:

The sum is that man is evil and selfish, unwilling and unable because he is dead. He loves his sin. He loves the darkness. He thrives on selfish lust. He’s happy to make a god of his own, manufacturing and convinced himself that he is good enough to satisfy that god. He may see his sin in his sin, but he does not see his sin in his goodness, and he does not see his sin in his religion, and it is his sin in his goodness that is most despicable for there is the deception and it is his sin in his religion that is most blasphemous because there it is that he worships a false god…

The contemporary idea today is that there’s some residual good left in the sinner. As this progression came from Pelagianism to Semipelagianism and then came down to sort of contemporary Arminianism and maybe got defined a little more carefully by Wesley who was a sort of a messed up Calvinist because Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will. That system has literally taken over and been the dominant system in evangelical Christianity. It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond.

Notice how MacArthur combines ability with goodness. Ability is made to be a moral issue. Why does an ability to choose something, or make a wise choice, or desire to have something that is rooted in anthropology, have to be an issue of inherent goodness? If unregenerate man can make wise choices, or at least correct choices, and certainly he can, why couldn’t one of those wise choices be that of salvation? Yes, certainly the Bible teaches that man’s inclination is away from God, but once God seeks him out and confronts him, does he have the ability to be persuaded? Why is man able to choose to stop at a red light (cause) to prevent an accident (effect), but unable to choose God?

Throughout the same message, MacArthur asserts the following like points:

Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will.

Here, MacArthur makes an ability to choose equal with initiating the means of salvation and initially seeking God. Our previous lessons assert that man doesn’t initially seek God, but once God seeks him by various means, man has the ability to choose. Man has many abilities that are morally neutral, even in his weakness, why can’t the ability to choose be one of them when he/she is aided by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit? In Scripture, we have instances of men being nearly persuaded (Mark 12;34, Acts 26:25-32); what are we to surmise from this, that man has the ability to be partially persuaded, but not the ability to be fully persuaded? James suggested that some men can believe in God, but fall short of believing in a saving way (2:19). This means man has an ability to believe in God intellectually, but is unable to understand saving truth about God and make his own choice? Why would man then have the ability to believe in God at all?

According to MacArthur,

A new wave followed as people struggled to hang on to human freedom which said that Adam’s sin had “in some measure” affected and disabled all men, but sinners were left with just enough freedom of the will to make the first move of faith toward God. And then God’s grace kicked in. But sinners made the first move, and that’s what became known as semi-Pelagianism. Some would call it prevenient grace. There’s a component of grace in all human beings that gives them in the freedom of their own will the ability to initiate salvation. The idea is that depravity is real, but it is not total. Saving grace from God then becomes a divine response rather than the efficient cause of our salvation. This view is denounced, as you know, by several councils starting around 529.

How does an ability to choose equal the initiation of salvation? How does an ability to choose, or the freedom of the will to choose equal us making the first move? We by no means made the first move! Clearly, God made the first move by supplying the means of salvation, and the second move by calling all men unto salvation. After this, how does our abilty to choose constitute the “first move”? It’s not the first move, it’s a response to God’s love. And in regard to the point of our first lesson, throughout his message, MacArthur validates his points by citing St. Augustine; that is very problematic in and of itself. MacArthur then moves on in the same message to make the new birth synonymous with our ability to choose. If we have an ability to be persuaded, that is supposedly like giving birth to ourselves:

When the Bible speaks about the condition of the sinner, with what words does it speak? Well, when the Bible speaks of the sinner’s condition, it is usually in the language of death, sometimes darkness, sometimes blindness, hardness, slavery, incurable sickness, alienation, and the Bible is clear that this is a condition that affects the body, the mind, the emotion, the desire, the motive, the will, the behavior. And it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it… John 3, you are very familiar with it, Nicodemus, and no one is going to be able to see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again, Jesus said in verse 3, very interesting. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” He is not stupid. He’s a teacher in Israel. He’s speaking metaphorically. He’s picking up on Jesus’ born again metaphor and asking the question, how does that happen? How does it happen? You can’t do it on your own. You can’t birth yourself. That’s his point. He gets it. He understands that man has no capability to bring birth to himself. Jesus follows up by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit,”

First, MacArthur’s concession, perhaps unwittingly, that “it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it” is exactly what we are saying, and not by any means that man can choose God solo. God supplies the means of salvation and seeks after man with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. But in the end, man is able to neglect this great salvation, and to his own eternal detriment. Also, the new birth is part of the means of salvation totally out of man’s control; the new birth is a promise to those who believe, and obviously not man giving birth to himself.

When you start thinking about these things apart from Reformed orthodoxy, some observations become interesting. MacArthur used the following proof texts to make one of his points:

But let me just work you through John for a minute, John 1:12-13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believed in his name who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of men, but of God.” That is unmistakable. Unmistakable. Salvation being the work of God.

First, notice that man’s role is simply to receive, and then man is “given” the “right” to become the children of God. Then MacArthur bemoans the following:

It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond. And this is sort of like the right in a free country. You have to have this right. This wouldn’t be fair if God didn’t give the sinner the right to make his own decision so that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That’s essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move. And God then will respond when the sinner makes the first move.

This is exactly what the proof text that MacArthur stated says, that those who receive Christ do in fact have the “right” to become part of God’s kingdom. Also, in stating his Reformed logic in another way, he suggested that hearing the gospel message and receiving it was the same thing as preaching ourselves:

What can remedy that? We do not preach ourselves, verse 5, we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. We preach the gospel of Christ as lord and ourselves as slaves. And what happens? Verse 6, God who said light shall shine out of darkness, that’s taking you back to creation, God who created, who spoke light into existence is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Aside from the fact that having the ability to be persuaded is not preaching ourselves rather than Christ, note that MacArthur equates creation with the gospel which insinuates that the fall was built into creation itself. This is part and parcel with the supralapsarianism that we discussed in previous lessons.

But the thrust of this lesson centers on the “how much” when it comes to any role at all for man in salvation and the logical end of it, and in the final analysis how God’s love is defined. This is a sobering consideration. In both the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and T4G 2008, MacArthur presents the idea that John 3, regarding the new birth, is something that is done to the individual without any participation on the part of the believer. The clear message in both cases was that any decision or belief on the part of the believer was excluded also. It was very much like the following rendition of the same text:

When we consider the great teachings of Scripture, they are not there just to give us information and they are not to teach us what we can do in our own strength. In Musings 34 (http://www.godloveshimself.org/?p=2018) we looked at how believing that the doctrine of justification is true is not the same thing as being justified. The new birth was also mentioned at the end. In the passage above (John 3:3-5) Jesus speaks pointedly and with power in a way that reflects on the issue being mused on here. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he must know the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Jesus also did not tell Nicodemus that he must believe the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Instead of that, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must actually be born again in order to enter the kingdom. There is a huge difference between believing what is true and what is true actually happening to you.

If we take this as a picture or even as an example of the teachings of Scripture, we can view what it means to believe something with different eyes or with a different perspective. Neither Jesus or Paul declared that a person must believe the facts about justification in order to be justified, but simply that a person must be justified (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Musing 35; February 10, 2014).

So, if reality is a prewritten metaphysical narrative for the sole purpose of glorifying God in all that happens in the narrative, it only stands to reason that God is motivated by self-glorification and self-love as the highest purpose for all that he does:

Perhaps this concept that Edwards gives just above cannot be stated too strongly or emphasized too much since all true Christianity depends on the truth of it. If God is not centered upon Himself and He does not do all for His own glory, then God Himself is not holy and acts against the perfection of His own nature, wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not keep the same standard that He commands all others to do. If God does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself, then the both the great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are not a transcript of the character of God. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do what He requires of others in the first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all in His own name as He requires others to do so. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all for His own glory which He requires others to do (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Edwards on the God Centeredness of God; 11 December 7, 2013).

Add yet another paradox in regard to love. God didn’t send His Son to the cross because he loves mankind, he sent His Son to the cross because He loves Himself. The list of commonly understood words in a grammatical reality that have been redefined by the doctrine of determinism is now very lengthy. Why indeed did God even bother to write the Bible in a grammatical format? No wonder that Rick Holland, a former associate of John MacArthur has stated that good grammar makes bad theology. No kidding? Add yet another paradox: the idea that God is not a God of confusion. Of course, the Reformed would say that there is no confusion at all—ALL things are predetermined for God’s glory and completely out of our control—end of story.

Let’s pad this point a little more with some quotes from John Piper:

I would like to try to persuade you that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. Or to put it another way: the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself.

The reason this may sound strange is that we tend to be more familiar with our duties than with God’s designs. We know why we exist – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But why does God exist? What should he love with all his heart and soul and mind and strength? Whom should he worship? Or will we deny him that highest of pleasures? It matters a lot what God’s ultimate allegiance is to! (Desiring God .org: Is God for Us or for Himself?; October 23, 1984).

Actually, the Bible states that the chief end of man is to obey God, and that God takes more pleasure in obedience than sacrifice (Ecc 12:13,14 1Sam 15:22). I am not sure that the Bible ever states any “chief end” of God. Really? God’s life has a primary purpose that we can understand? And its narcissism?

Though there seems to be many Scriptures that bolster determinism, it requires the redefining of many commonly understood word meanings, and inevitably leads to an unavoidable illogical outcome. If the doctrine of predetermination in and of itself was the only paradox, that would be different, but the problem we see here is that it makes all of reality a paradox unless you accept the mythological Reformed metaphysical narrative.

Redefinitions

American Christians Are All Calvinists

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 20, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published April 11, 2013

“Calvin didn’t believe in election. The assumed absurdity of the statement testifies to the traditions of men that saturate the American church.”

There is no new thing under the sun. When Christ came and began His ministry with the proclamation of the kingdom gospel, Israel was steeped in the traditions of men. And Christ didn’t call it “legalism,” He called it antinomianism. Whether Arminian or Calvinist, both came from that same stock. They claim to be different, but both celebrate their parents as heroes of the faith: the Pilgrims. The unregenerate even get in on the act during the holiday season of Thanks Giving and Christmas.

But the Pilgrims were Puritans. And the Puritans were rabid Calvinists. They brought with them the first Bible to ever see American soil: the Geneva Bible which included Calvin’s play by play commentary. They came to start a theocracy modeled after Calvin’s Geneva, and succeeded. And what followed was the same heartless brutality they brought with them from Europe. The Pilgrims were merciless tyrants and were put out of business because they hung too many Quakers for disagreeing with them. Like Calvin and Luther, they were endowed with superstition and mysticism clothed in European orthodoxy.

The reverence of Puritans as spiritual giants and pioneers is grounded on pure myth. They were communistic, and lacked the rugged individualism that founded this nation. Regardless of the vast, unmolested resources they found when they arrived here, Indians had to teach them how to survive. The Puritans were not innovators, and invented little to overcome the environment they found themselves in. Their presuppositions concerning man and mystical approach to life did not serve them well. These same presuppositions run deep and wide in the American church.

But what about Calvinism versus Arminianism and the election issue? There is no disagreement there either. Calvin didn’t believe in election. The assumed absurdity of the statement testifies to the traditions of men that saturate the American church. Calvin believed that we are sanctified the same way we were saved, by faith and repentance alone. He also believed that this saving duo of faith and repentance were necessarily perpetual, and could only be received in the formal church institution. Luther believed this as well. You keep your salvation by being faithful to the local church, or “new covenant.” One must remain “faithful to the covenant” by seeking perpetual reconciliation in the church. So-called election is being elected to be in the covenant, but then you have to keep yourself in the covenant. You run the “race of faith” by “faith alone” in order to stay justified in sanctification.

God then sorts out who was able to do that at a single, last judgment. Hence, Augustine, a forefather of the Reformation, believed that eternal life wasn’t determined until the final judgment. I document these assertions in “False Reformation” and the mini-booklet “New Calvinism for Dummies” (tancpublishing.com).  However, this may be helpful as well: https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2012/10/31/mutable-justification-not-shocking-just-reformed/

The fact that Reformed theology rejects election can also be seen in Supersessionism. This is the belief that though the nation of Israel was elected, they lost their election because they didn’t stay faithful to the covenant. So, once elected doesn’t necessarily mean always elected. Though Revelation makes it clear that God will dwell with man ON EARTH for eternity, the American emphasis is eternity in heaven. Why? Because God tabernacling with man on earth =’s Israel. That’s why. The very purpose of election cannot be denied as stated by Paul in Romans 9—anything at all that we do is separated from justification. Therefore, Calvinists deny the purpose of election.

Arminians are no different because they come from the same stock. They also deny election, and seek comfort in church membership. I can’t even tell you how many Southern Baptists that I have visited who trust in their church membership for salvation. To suggest they be removed from the church roles because they have not attended in several years is tantamount to removing them from the book of life. This is a common mentality in Baptist churches and I have witnessed it first hand on many occasions. Also throw in the obvious overemphasis on salvation in Arminian Baptist churches because like their Calvinist counterparts, the same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.

Because of the traditions of men, we are all Calvinists. And we are so steeped in tradition that we don’t even know it. There is no new thing under the sun.

paul

Friends Until the Judgement: Calvinists and Arminians

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 4, 2015

The Potter’s House: Biblical Covenants: An Overview and Relevance to the Gospel, Parts 1 &2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 4, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

Revised Covenants

Part 1: The Fact that Clarifies: God Never Made a Covenant with Adam

    If there is an area where the laity is very confused, it is in regard to biblical covenants. This booklet seeks to clarify the issue.

    So, let’s get into the primary covenants.  There are six, NOT seven. They follow: Noahic, Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant.

    God never made a covenant with Adam. How do we know this? Because when God makes a covenant, He states it as such. God never calls any arrangement He made with Adam a “covenant.”

    In the Garden of Eden, God calls them “trees” not a covenant. How do we get “covenant” from “tree”? In the six actual covenants, God says, “I will make a covenant.” God’s work arrangement with Adam was never called a covenant. His relationship with Eve was never called a covenant. When God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness after the fall, He didn’t call that a covenant either. In all cases it’s pure assumption. However, when God says, “I will make a covenant,” that’s not an assumption.

    Curiously, Adam is said to have broken the covenant, but the issue is that he disobeyed and ate from the tree of good and evil which is a separate issue from these other considerations: his task of caring for the garden, being fruitful, etc. Clarifying what this covenant was exactly and how Adam broke it by eating from the tree is speculative at best. Whenever God makes a covenant, He calls it a covenant, He specifies who the covenant is to, and also specifies the terms.

    Granted, the tree of life ends up in the New Jerusalem, but what we primarily look for as Christians is the city built by God, not the tree. The tree of life is one of the results of the Abrahamic covenant, but it isn’t THE covenant or even a salvific covenant. The tree is never called a covenant. Those who posit the idea that God made a covenant with Adam must now split that covenant into two different covenants: the Edenic covenant of innocence, or the covenant of works prior to the fall and the Adamic Covenant of grace. This is what happens when you make something a covenant that isn’t a covenant; you have to come up with more covenants to explain the first covenant that wasn’t a covenant.  You search in vain for the covenants of innocence, works, or grace.

    Ultimately, Christians look for the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant, not some Adamic covenant. Let’s look at some Scripture:

2Peter 3:13 – But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We aren’t waiting for a tree, we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth.

Hebrews 11:10 – For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Abraham was looking for a city, not a tree.

    The definition of a salvific biblical covenant follows:  they are NEVER based on anything man does, nor are they predicated on an agreement between God and man. Covenants are predicated on one thing and one thing only: God’s promises. The six covenants are covenants of promise. They are NOT agreements between God and man, they are promises TO man.

Where Does Election Fit In?  

    Furthermore, ELECTION is the means by which God executes His promises. Why must God elect the means? Because He cannot break His promises. He elected Christ to make the promises possible, He elected angels to enforce the covenants of promise, and He elected Israel to execute the covenants on a human level aided by the Holy Spirit.

    God does not elect individuals, but rather the means of fulfilling His Promises. God is only limited by His character, but is not limited by any of His attributes. God cannot break a promise, and He cannot be unjust.  Individuals are not elected; only the means for fulfilling His promises are elected. Otherwise, the promises cannot be to anyone in particular; in other words, if individuals are elected, they themselves cannot know definitively that the promise is to them.

    Hence, the promises are to everyone who will believe. If that is predetermined, the promise is useless because it is only a promise to those who have been predestined which means the promises of God must be qualified with an “IF.”

“Yes, it’s a promise; you just don’t know whether it’s to you specifically or not.” The Bible states that the promises of God are to all who believe. If the promises are only to the elect, that should be easily stated and clarified. It is worth noting that God never calls the Gentiles His elect. Why? Because they were never His means of bringing salvation to the world—they are merely recipients.

John 4:22 – You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Any reference to Gentiles being elect is speaking to the salvation they obtain by inheriting the promises made to the Jews:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation (Jesus) for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham (Luke 1:68-73, also see Eph 2:12).

    This is much like the gospel, or “good news.” Why is, “Maybe you’re in, but maybe you’re not” “good news”? You really have no way of knowing whether it is necessarily good news for you or not. In the same way, you are presented with THE promise without any way of knowing whether the promise is really to you. The only way you can know for certain that the promise is to you is if the “IF” relies on your choice to believe the promise which is to EVERYONE who believes. Let’s look at an example of this:

Acts 3:36 – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

    See the words “the promise”? Whenever you see that in the New Testament it is referring to the Abrahamic Covenant. An example is the aforementioned 2Peter 3:13. Peter stated on Pentecost that the promise was to them, their children, and those far off which probably referred to the Jews not present that day. Yes, it could also refer to the Gentiles, but more than likely refers to the Jews who didn’t make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost that year. The promise is to all of them, but the promise must be obtained by faith. God calls all men to Himself, but they must come by faith, and that being faith in the Son of God.

    We will not stop here to examine all of the gospel implications of what Peter said, but a few things should be mentioned. Saving faith believes God’s promises. But past a mere mental assent, I think it also involves a desire to be a recipient of the promise. Salvation does not come by any kind of obedience to the law—it comes by believing God’s promises. Abraham, the father of our faith, was made righteous because he believed God’s promise concerning an heir and being made a great nation (Genesis 15:1-6). Saving faith believes what God says. Saving faith believes God’s promises. Why should anyone believe if they cannot be sure the promise is to them?

    Also note that the promise includes the gift of the Holy Spirit. That necessarily means the new birth. That’s part of the promise. This is where we must conclude that Peter is talking about more than just water baptism. Peter exhorted them with “many other words” that may have very well included more information about the new birth and baptism. The new birth means the old us dies with Christ and a new us is resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:1-14).

    Let me take opportunity here to put all of this lordship salvation chaos to rest. Telling people that they have to do something in order to follow Christ and be saved is beside the point. Frankly, I don’t endorse telling people that they have to do anything other than believe God’s promise in order to be saved. But if they have something in their life that they don’t want to give up that is clearly opposed to God’s life prescription, they are basically saying they don’t want the promise! The death of who you are and the resurrection of a new you is part of the promise. This is not complicated.

    Before we move on, we will pause here for a moment to revisit this whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam though God never said He made a covenant with Adam. A whole bunch of this is tied up in the granddaddy of all theologies, Covenant Theology, which shows up in the 16th century. It posits the idea that the one command given to Adam about the tree of good and evil was a covenant of works, also referred to as the covenant of life, or as mentioned earlier, a covenant of innocence.  Adam was promised life/blessings for obedience, and death/cursing for disobedience.

    We could spend hours plunging the depths of all of this while including Dispensationalism to boot, and all of the various views on this which are myriad, as if God is a god of confusion, but let me make it really, really easy for you. As the theories go, born out of this idea that God made a covenant with Adam, when Adam sinned, and thereby breaking the first covenant, God instituted the “Covenant of Grace.” And what is this Covenant of Grace? It is the promise of the seed in Genesis 3:15—that’s the Covenant of Grace according to the Protestant brain trust. So, let’s turn now to where that takes place:

Genesis 3:14 – And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (ASV).

    Do you see the glaring problem here? Who is God talking to? When you make a covenant with someone, wouldn’t it be with the person you are talking to? Note what takes place after verse 15; God then addresses Eve, and then afterward addresses Adam separately. If there is a Covenant of Grace, it was made with the serpent! Adam and Eve are right there, and according to the Covenant Theology federal headship of Adam, any covenant made at that point should be addressed to Adam, no?

    This whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam is at the root of almost every errant view of biblical covenants that there is, and is also the basis of the Reformed doctrine of double imputation. This is the belief that Christ fulfilled the covenant of works that Adam violated through perfect law-keeping when He was on earth as a man. Hence, paradise is restored due to Christ fulfilling this covenant, which is a law covenant.

    In addition, key to understanding the salvific covenants of promise is Ephesians 2:11,12.

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.

     Notice that being unregenerate is synonymous with being alienated from the “commonwealth of Israel” and the covenants (PLURAL) of “promise.” Any salvific covenant must be defined as a covenant of promise, and NOT agreement, and MUST be attached to Israel. Problem: Adam had nothing to do with Israel. And…even if God did make some kind of covenant with Adam, it depended on something Adam did and not a promise despite any action by Adam. In other words, it was supposedly an agreement that was dependent on the actions of two parties. In order for God to fulfil His promises to a certain party, they have to remain faithful to their part of the contract. When Adam supposedly violated the covenant, God replaced it with another one. This is all fraught with speculation.

    At best, it would have to be some kind of law covenant, and shockingly, the Reformed crowd actually concedes this and makes the primary covenant of promise a law covenant. This is clearly a plenary affront to Scripture.  Nevertheless, this is how the Reformed, and frankly many others, including dispensationalists, interpret Romans 5:18,19.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

    Supposedly, the one act of Christ is His “passive obedience,” and the overall obedience of Christ is His “active obedience.” Hence, Christ came to fulfil a law covenant. Regardless of what Protestant camp you dwell in, you hear this all the time; viz, Christ kept the law perfectly for us; viz, Christ’s resurrection was proof that God was satisfied with His perfect obedience; viz, Christ had to keep the law perfectly in His life first before He could be the acceptable sacrifice; viz, we have the righteousness of Christ. Whether Calvinist or Arminian—you hear these truisms constantly.

    Here is where I want to enter in a quotation from Present Truth magazine because it perfectly articulates John Calvin’s view on this from his commentary on Romans:

After a man hears the conditions of acceptance with God and eternal life, and is made sensible of his inability to meet those conditions, the Word of God comes to him in the gospel. He hears that Christ stood in his place and kept the law of God for him. By dying on the cross, Christ satisfied all the law’s demands. The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

We say again, only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

On the other hand, the law is dishonored by the man who presumes to bring to it his own life of obedience. The fact that he thinks the law will be satisfied with his “rotten stubble and straw” (Luther) shows what a low estimate he has of the holiness of God and what a high estimate he has of his own righteousness. Only in Jesus Christ is there an obedience with which the law is well pleased. Because faith brings only what Jesus has done, it is the highest honor that can be paid to the law (Rom. 3:31) [see The Truth About New Calvinism pp. 100, 101].

    So, what does church become? Or rather, what has church in fact become? It has become a ritual that we partake in for the purpose of Christ’s obedience fulfilling a law covenant. “Christians” verbalize these ideas all the time.  The Reformed call this “the obedience of faith.” Our faith alone in Christian living—Christ’s imputed obedience to fulfill the law covenant as long as we walk by faith alone. I had one person from the anti-Calvin, anti-Lordship salvation crowd tell me that Christians only obey one time—when they believe. After that, it’s all Christ’s obedience perpetually imputed to our account. I had another anti-Calvinist refer to en nomos to Christ. What’s that? It means in-lawed to Christ; the law is fulfilled for us in Christ. Calvinists call this the “vital union.” As long as we are walking by faith alone, Christ continues to satisfy the law for us.

    Listen, do you know why Calvinists and Arminians bicker back and forth in the SBC but will not separate? Do you know why an anti-Calvinist president of a major SBC seminary wrote me and stated that Calvinism isn’t a false gospel? The answer is simple; they all believe in the same law covenant. When it gets right down to it—they believe the same gospel. The tie that binds is this whole idea that God made a covenant of works with Adam. Note the two different charts below; one from the dispensationalist camp disdained by the Reformed, and the other one from the latter:

Dispensational Chart

Covenant Theology

    The Abrahamic covenant, the covenant that all of the other covenants of promise are based on, is based on promise and NOT law.  It doesn’t matter who keeps it—it’s NOT a law covenant. The apostle Paul spent all of his Christian life refuting this very idea.

Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 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.

    If Christ had to keep the law for us, that makes the promise what? Right, “void.” Who keeps the law is not the point, law period is the point. Paul goes further to make his point with the ONE SEED argument. What’s that? If the law is part of the Abrahamic covenant, there are two life-giving entities and not just one being Christ. Verse 21, the law cannot give life. We are going to come back to this text when we get to the Mosaic covenant.

Part 2: Overview of the Covenants and Their Gospel Significance

    Let’s now do an overview of the covenants of promise starting with the Noahic  covenant.

Genesis 9:8 – Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

    This is pretty straight forward, but let me again point out that when God makes a covenant with someone, he tells them about it directly. In every case where God makes a covenant, He says, “I establish my covenant with you.” God never said to Adam, “I establish my covenant with you.” Moreover, in the text cited by Calvinists and Arminians alike to make a case for a “Covenant of Grace,” God is talking to Satan. In every other covenant of promise, God establishes the covenant with those he is talking to.

The Abrahamic Covenant  

    The foundational covenant of promise that the rest of the covenants of promise are based on is the Abrahamic covenant. To get the full breadth of this covenant, you really have to study Genesis from chapter 12 to pretty much the end of the book, but I would like to point primarily to chapter 15. In what is obviously some kind of ritual to establish a covenant, because verse 18 states such, God put Abraham in a deep sleep and executed the covenant Himself—He performed the ceremony with Abraham in a deep sleep. Why? Because the promise will be kept by God alone. It’s not some kind of mutual agreement commonly found in law covenants.

    This is the essence of law covenants: they are based on some kind of agreement. This is why the idea that the church is the bride of Christ is so popular; this makes the idea of a law covenant more feasible than a one direction covenant of promise.  Hence, “Christians” keep themselves “faithful to our covenant with Christ” by being “faithful members” in the local church by showing up every time the doors are open, tithing, serving, and being a “blessing to the pastors.” How often have we heard these things all of our Christian lives? When I was a member of the institutional church, every time I was able to spend some time with my family, we were packing everyone up and heading to church because “the doors were open.” Not being a “blessing” to the church equals being a bad wife to the bridegroom who is supposedly Christ.

    But when it gets right down to it, being a “faithful member” results in the “covering of Christ” that continues to fulfill the righteous demands of the law because the institutional church covenant is a law covenant. As long as we are faithful to the covenant; i.e., a member in “good standing,” Christ will continue to cover us with His perfect obedience in order to keep us righteous. Some pastures refer to this as, “keeping ourselves in the love of God.”

The Palestinian Covenant

   The Palestinian covenant (Deu 30:1-10), again, a covenant of promise, is a land promise to the nation of Israel. This is also included in the Abrahamic covenant. Dispensationalists contend with the Reformed that this is a promise God will keep while the Reformed argue that Israel broke their covenant with God, a marriage covenant, or law covenant, resulting in God divorcing Israel, and replacing them with the Gentile church.

    Therefore, this promise no longer stands because Israel was unfaithful to the law covenant. Nevertheless, on this wise, the Reformed are more consistent in regard to their partnership with Arminians in believing the same gospel based on the fulfillment of a law covenant. If Calvinists and Arminians appear to be like an old married couple constantly bickering back and forth—it’s because that’s what they are. They will never get divorced; it’s a marriage of institutional convenience.

The Mosiac Covenant

    Now we come to the Mosaic covenant and as mentioned beforehand we will go back to Galatians to shed some light on this covenant. After Paul’s argument that the Abrahamic covenant is according to promise and not law, does that mean the law is kaput?

Galatians 3:19 – 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came [Chrsit], we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor [guardian v.23] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [guardian v.23] (NKJV).

    What this is saying is that Christ ended the law for righteousness (Rom 10:4) when he died on the cross. Until then, until “faith came,” all the sins of the righteous were imputed to the law: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin… we were kept under guard” (also see Rom 7:6). All sin is transgression against the law (1Jn 3:4), so all sins that believers committed until Christ came were imprisoned in the law, and then Christ ended the law. Therefore, our sin is not merely covered by some law covenant, but actually ended. Where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom 5:13, “Apart from the law, sin lies dead” Rom 7:8).

    If Christ kept the law for us, this posits the idea that there is a law that can give life. “But Paul, Christ kept it for us.” So what? That’s still saying that the law gives life if kept perfectly, but there is no law that can give life (Gal 3:21).

    This is why the Mosaic law is not ended. It still functions as a covenant of death to those who do not believe, for those whom faith has not come yet, or faith in Christ has not come. All sin is transgression against the law, so if belief in Christ ends the law, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). But if the Mosaic law is ended, there is no law in which to judge anybody—everybody is going to heaven. In this way, the Mosaic law is an instrument of the gospel because all of the sins of unbelievers are imputed to it. If they would only believe in Christ—their sins are ended and there is no law to judge them. We implore unbelievers to escape the law by fleeing to the blood of Christ.

    The Bible also refers to the Mosaic covenant as an inheritance, or a will. When Christ died on the cross, believers received their inheritance:

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.

    The New Covenant is a better covenant. Why? Because the Old Covenant only COVERED sin, the New Covenant ENDS sin. This is why the old is “becoming” obsolete and “passing away” (Heb 8:13). Also, let’s not forget the elect angels that enforced this covenant when God came down to make it on Mount Sinai. Undoubtedly, the forces of darkness were present that day, and when the God of Israel came down to meet with Israel to enact this covenant, we have this apocalyptic scene of the angels making a protective perimeter for the event. Angels are also at work daily in ministering to those who are God’s ambassadors, and will again be covenant enforcers in the last days (see the book of Revelation).  The angels are elected for this purpose.

    The Mosaic covenant is also a covenant of promise regarding blessings and cursings. This is a promise of blessing for obeying God’s law for purposes of love. Since the law cannot condemn us because it has been ended for righteousness, Christians can now be assured that their law-keeping is faith working through love (Gal 5:6). We can be assured that the law of condemnation is now the Spirit’s law that He uses to sanctify us (Jn 17:17).

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

And, we are blessed for obeying:

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

James 1:25 – But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Philippians 4: 8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

These are promises for sanctification; we can only believe to receive the promises of justification, but in order to receive reward in sanctification, we must act in love:

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

The Davidic Covenant

    We will spend little or no time on the Davidic covenant. It’s a promise that Christ will rule on David’s throne in the millennial kingdom. It’s founded on the Abrahamic covenant, and Peter eludes to it in his gospel presentation at Pentecost.  Again, all salvific covenants of promise are tied to Israel.

Lastly, the New Covenant.

    We have touched on the New Covenant to a point in discussing the Mosaic Covenant. The New Covenant which, here we go again, is a covenant to Israel specifically (Jere 31:31), was inaugurated by the death of Christ, but will not be fully consummated until the millennial kingdom. The inauguration of the New Covenant ended the law for righteousness, and ushered in the beginning of a better covenant. The Old is fading away, but we may assume that it will not be completely obsolete until the end of the millennial kingdom because that’s when the final judgment takes place. The law will be needed, unfortunately, to condemn those who appear at that judgment.

    How do we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at the present time? Read the covenant in Jeremiah 31:

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: 34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV).

    Are we in those days when Israel is completely given over to God and there is no need for teachers or the written law? Obviously not. Is all Israel saved according to Romans 11: 25-27? Obviously not. And by the way, this particular writing of the law on hearts does NOT refer to present-day Christians and does NOT abrogate the Old Testament law written on tablets of stone etc., ad nauseam.

This is how we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at this time. Besides, when Christ instructed us on the remembrance of the Lord’s Table, He said He would not drink of that cup again until he did so with us in the kingdom. I think this speaks to the full consummation of the New Covenant as well.

Conclusion

    Another thing we can associate with the covenants is the vanquishing of God’s enemies. Christ came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and performed a lot of healing of diseases. This is indicative of the millennial kingdom where there will be little disease if any. The Bible states that an infant will be 100 years old. In the new heaven and new earth, the last enemy to be defeated will be death. The new heaven and new earth is the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant when the city Abraham was looking for, heavenly Jerusalem, the real bride of Christ (Rev 21: 9ff), will descend from heaven and God will dwell among men.

    When Christ came and died on the cross, sin was defeated because the power of sin is the law (1Cor 15:56). That was the first enemy of God to be defeated. Why would Christ want to fulfil the law in our stead for righteousness? All that would do is empower sin that much more! “But Paul, what’s Matthew 5:17 talking about?” Answer: see Romans 8:3,4.

    The second enemy that will be defeated is disease in the millennial kingdom which is why healing was a major theme during Christ’s ministry.

    The last enemy to be defeated will be death at the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant (1Cor 15:24-28). That is also the Sabbath rest that yet remains for God’s people (Heb 4:9).

    In vogue in our day is the idea that Christians are still under condemnation and must live our Christian life by grace ALONE. We hear this constantly. Why? Because the protestant gospel is clearly grounded in a law covenant, not a “holy covenant” based on promise. Living by the same gospel that saved us, or living by faith alone, keeps us in the love of Christ resulting in Christ fulfilling an Adamic covenant that never existed.

It is a gospel based on a law covenant, and not promise.

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