Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Thought for Good Friday: What Is The “It”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 14, 2017

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” ~ John 19:30

τετελεσται (teh-tel-es-tai) – verb; indicative mood, perfect tense, passive voice, 3rd person singular. It is derived from the Greek noun telos which is used to refer to something set out as a goal or an aim, or the conclusion of an act or state.

All Churchians most likely at some point in their life have heard the explanation that when Jesus uttered these words that He meant that he had finished what He had come to earth to accomplish. And what was it that Jesus accomplished? The orthodox interpretation of that would be that Jesus accomplished the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, it would be that Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience. Now having demonstrated perfect obedience to the Law, Jesus could fulfill his purpose as the perfect sacrifice for sin. His job was done.

It is true that Jesus did accomplish the forgiveness of sin with His death on the cross. But how exactly did this happen? Furthermore, Reformed orthodoxy would have us believe that Christians need to preach the gospel to themselves every day. They must daily return to the cross to continually have Jesus’ obedience imputed to their lives as a covering. This is accomplished by “faith alone” works through the “means of grace” administered by the local church. If Christians need an ongoing imputation of righteousness from Christ through His obeying the law for us in our stead, how exactly can one say that Jesus’ work is “finished”?

Lest I be accused of setting up a “straw man” argument, consider that after almost nine years of research here at TANC ministries, all of the problems with Protestant orthodoxy and the institutional church can be boiled down to one thing: a misunderstanding of the Law. Reformed orthodoxy keeps Christians “under law” (the Biblical definition of an unsaved person) by making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. Because Protestantism’s metaphysical assumption of man is “total depravity”, man cannot keep the law, so he must rely on Jesus to keep the law for him.

But the Bible says that righteousness is apart from the law (Romans 3:21, 28). If Jesus must keep the law for us, not only does that make Jesus’ work not “finished”, but it is also not a righteousness apart from the law. What could Jesus have possibly meant when He said, “It is finished”?

It is important to note the grammar of that phase, which is only one single word in Greek. First of all, it is in the “passive voice”. That means the subject is the recipient of the action. Jesus did not say I have finished something. Some subject “it” received the action of being finished, and Jesus’ death accomplished that.

Second, the word “tetelestai” is in the “perfect” tense. The perfect tense is a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself. Although this gives information about a prior action, the focus is likely to be on the present consequences of that action.  In fact, the King James rendering of this verb is incorrect.  The correct rendering of this phrase in the perfect tense would be, “It has been finished.”  Jesus declared that His death produced a resulting state of something that now exists that is different from an earlier state.

Third, “tetelestai” is in the singular third person. The subject is not Jesus and something He did. The focus is on some third party subject that was the recipient of some action being performed upon it. Therefore, the statement, “It is finished” could not be a reference to Jesus finishing His work of perfect obedience to the Law. Something else had the action of “finished” performed upon it.

The question then remains, when Jesus said, “It is finished”, what exactly then is the “it”?

For one thing, the Law was actually a living will or “testament”, a covenant made between God and Israel that was ratified with Moses by the sprinkling of blood (Hebrews 9:18-21). This covenant of the Law acted as a guardian until the promise made to Abraham and his “seed” was fulfilled. (Galatians 3:16, 22-24). The Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody, protecting them from the Law’s condemnation upon their death. All sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “atoning” or “covering” aspect of the Law.

The Law’s testament pointed to the coming “promise” to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed. There would come one who would “take away” sin once and for all. This was so clearly symbolized by the picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16. The high priest would lay his hands on the head of a goat, signifying the imputation of sin to the Law. The goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who would carry that goat into the wilderness and release it, signifying the taking away of sin as far as the east is from the west.

Jesus was the promised “seed” of Abraham. He was the “testator” of which the Law’s covenant spoke. Just as with any will, it could not be in force until after the death of the testator (Hebrews 9:16-17). It would seem reasonable then that the perfect tense of the verb “tetelestai” would put focus on the Law, its testament, and its role as guardian. The initiating of the Law was an event or circumstance of the past, but Jesus’ death now causes us to focus on its resulting change of state. The passive voice indicates that the Law is the recipient of this change of state. What is now changed?

  • The testament of the Law is finished. Jesus’ death now allowed its promises to be fulfilled; that is, sin would be ended because the Law was ended. All sin that was imputed to the Law would be taken away forever. The Law can no longer condemn.
  • The Law’s role as a guardian is finished. Since the “promise” had been fulfilled, believers are now the righteous offspring of the Father. There is no Law to condemn them, and where there is no law there is no sin. And since there is no sin there is no longer any need of a guardian. The covering aspect of the Law is ended.
  • The distinction between Jew and Gentile is finished. Now every born again child of God would be baptized into one Body. This is the mystery that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. He called it the New Man. Every person who is a member of the Body is given a gift to exercise to the edification of the Body and to demonstrate love to God and others. The Law is the means by which believers show love through obedience.

One could say that because of Jesus’ death to end the Law, there is now a new relationship to the Law.  There is a change of state; not only of the law but the state of the believer as well!

It was God’s plan to reconcile every man to Himself by putting to death the “old man” who is “under law” and replacing him with a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father. In this way sin is ended because the Law is ended for those who are born again. The Law is fulfilled in us, every believer, each time we show love to another.

On this “Good Friday”, take time to consider this: Sin sought to bring death by condemnation and alienate man from God. God defeated Sin by providing a way to make man part of His own family!

Andy

Dear Reformed Brother, Was Jesus Righteous Before He Kept the Law?
Wait, Believers Fulfill The Law?

Do You Believe a False Gospel?

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Ending the Law: Another Piece of the Puzzle

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 12, 2016

One of the benefits of no longer being part of the institutional church is that I get the privilege of leading my own family in Bible teaching. Each Sunday we spend about ten to fifteen minutes singing hymns while I pluck out the melody line on the piano. Then we spend about 20 to 30 minutes studying a passage of scripture. After that we take prayer requests, and I have one of the children volunteer to pray. I am constantly amazed by not only how much they remember what we learn from week to week, but I am amazed by their level of discernment. It brings joy to my heart when I can look at the faces of my children and see the understanding appear on their faces!

Currently we are working our way through the book of Colossians. Yesterday morning as we were going around the room reading verse by verse, one verse in particular jumped out at me.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” ~ Colossians 2:14

What is the “handwriting of ordinances?” Is that not the law? Here is truth once again. The law was blotted out. It was ended. Paul states plainly to the Colossians that they are no longer condemned because the law was blotted out!

But as I sat here this morning pondering this verse again something else even more spectacular occurred to me. Look closely at Colossians 2:14 again. Not only was the law blotted out, but what else did Jesus do to end the law? He took it out of the way. And HOW did He take it out of the way? He nailed it to His cross. Do you see that? Jesus ended the law by nailing it to the cross with Him!

Think of the ramifications of that. Prior to the coming of The Promise, the law was a guardian which took believers into protective custody. All sin was therefore imputed to the law. But when Jesus was nailed to the cross, not only did He end the law, He did so by nailing the law to the cross with Him along with all the sin which had been imputed to the law!

This is the picture of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” ~ Leviticus 16:21-22

lambJesus bore on the cross our iniquities and took sin out of the way by taking the law out of the way when the law was ended, when the law was nailed to the cross with Christ.

“…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

I thank God for this truth. It is simply one more piece of the puzzle. But as more and more pieces fall into place, the easier it becomes to find where the other pieces fit, and the whole pictures becomes more and more clear.

Andy

Man Does NOT Have a Sin Problem

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 20, 2016

Wait, Believers Fulfill the Law?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 14, 2016

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” ~ Matthew 5:17

So then the question is, how did Christ fulfill the law?

The entire protestant gospel is rooted in the idea that since man is unable to keep the law perfectly, then Jesus must keep the law for us. This makes perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness.  This is the protestant interpretation of “Jesus fulfills the law”, for the purpose of justification.

BUT…

The Bible says that righteousness is APART FROM THE LAW! If righteousness is by the law, then there would have been no need for Christ to die (Galatians 2:21, 3:21)

Also, how do you reconcile Matthew 5:17 with Romans 8:4?
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in US…”

Here is the true Biblical gospel:

Jesus didn’t die to keep the law perfectly on our behalf. He died to END THE LAW! He died so that all of our PAST sins could be TAKEN AWAY (not “covered”). Because of the New Birth, the believer becomes the righteous offspring of God the Father (not just “declared” righteous, but righteous as a state of being!) He is no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1) because the law was ended for him. He is no longer under its jurisdiction. And where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 5:13)

Therefore, the believer is now FREE to aggressively pursue obedience as an expression of LOVE to God and to others, without FEAR of condemnation!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” ~ 1 John 4:18

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” ~ Romans 13:8

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” ~ Romans 13:10

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ~ Galatians 5:14

“If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” ~ James 2:8

So how did Christ fulfill the law? He fulfills the law through US, believers!  NOT for the purpose of justification, for the believer is already righteous.  But by making it possible for us to be the righteous offspring of the Father, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us as we strive to obey for the purpose of showing LOVE!

Andy

 

 

 

Good News for Good Friday

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 25, 2016
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