Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Does it Mean to Persevere in Salvation?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 10, 2014

“The world cares little about those who merely love Jesus, but will readily cut you in half for living according to His doctrine.”

 “If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.”

I heard it again this morning: “They don’t know anything about doctrine, they just love Jesus.” Sigh. I have a confession to make. These types of Protestant truisms often verbalized from habit suck the wind out of my sails. What is it that is so discouraging about being a Baptist? Confusion. We think doctrine is really, really important, and of course our doctrine comes from the Bible, but “love” somehow trumps the nasty “D” word “doctrine.” A pity that it can’t be spelled with four letters. At least Muslims are not confused about their doctrine as displayed in their penchant for beheading people. A good Baptist wouldn’t dream of beheading anyone, we are just morally confused. At least Catholics know the Pope is the “Holy Father” and make no bones about it. Baptists hiss at such a notion, knowing it’s errant, but are completely ignorant about what is true.

American Christianity is in a biblical definition of words crisis. No religious follower can throw around words without really understanding the meanings like a Protestant. “Gospel,” “faith,” “salvation,” “grace,” “perseverance,” etc., are words we use often, but we really don’t know what they mean. No one can say “amen” while clueless like a Baptist. Dear Baptist pastor, don’t be encouraged when you hear “amen” from your congregants on Sunday morning; let’s be honest, they really have no clue what you are talking about. While claiming to be the sultans of salvation, most Baptists don’t even know its correct biblical definition.

“Nonsense! We know what that word means! It means we are saved from our sins by faith alone because of what Jesus did!”

Ok, so what do you do with Paul writing that we need to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? It’s not a contradiction; Paul is talking about salvation in regard to redemption, not justification. But, in order to know what that verse means, you need to know doctrine. So, let me rephrase the truism at hand:

“They don’t have a clue about anything the Bible says, they just love Jesus.”

Well, bless their little hearts, but Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus’ mandate to the church was to “make disciples” (learners), teaching them to observe “ALL that I have commanded.” If you don’t know your Bible, you can’t love Jesus. If you don’t know your Bible, you don’t know doctrine.

Doctrine, law, commandments, and “truth,” are biblically synonymous. The primary characteristic of a saved person is love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The saved person loves doctrine, law, the commandments, and truth (2Tim 4:2-4, Rom 8:1-8 Psalms 119). There is NO love for Jesus apart from His truth. “Why do you call me Lord and do not what I say?” A person who loves Jesus is a learner of doctrine. A person who loves Jesus is a student of doctrine. If you are not a student of doctrine, you are not a lover of Jesus, you are a liar.

How bad is it? I had three Baptist elders from a conservative Baptist church sit in my living room, and one proudly boasted, “I’m an elder, not a theologian.” God help us. This is beyond horrible. Till this day, I do not regret standing up and screaming at him, “THEN GET OUT OF THE MINISTRY!”

This brings us to the word “perseverance” in regard to “suffering.” Primarily, in the Bible, these two words regard the suffering we will endure for living according to truthful doctrine. The world wages a relentless onslaught against truth, and we are called on to persevere against that onslaught. The world cares little about those who merely love Jesus, but will readily cut you in half for living according to His doctrine. If you want to know what that can look like, see Hebrews chapter 11.

There is a salvation left for the Christian; it is a salvation from this mortal body, what Paul called the body of death in regard to its mortality. This mortality must put on immortality. We call that “redemption,” the other salvation (Rom 7:24, 25 [the word “wretched” refers to perseverance in the Greek]). Something that is redeemed has already been purchased, ie., we are already purchased and therefore justified. We still look forward to our redemption when Christ comes back to claim what He has already purchased on the cross. We are not our own, we “were bought with a price.” Christ purchased us from the world slave master.

Our present salvation (sanctification looking for the blessed hope of redemption) is for reward (Heb 6:10), justification is a gift. The Hebrew writer encouraged the Jewish believers to persevere in the truth, looking to Jesus the author (justification) and finisher (redemption) of our faith. They were told to persevere and put their suffering for the truth in perspective; they had not yet “resisted unto blood” like Jesus had. Look, I understand, in most cases, there are no doctrinally sound churches anywhere near where you live, but those of you who still attend such churches so your children will have friends—you might consider such. Jesus stood for truth unto death while you bemoan loosing “friends” over the truth. The Jews written to had already lost everything they owned, so the Hebrew writer encouraged them by noting that they still had their lives.

“Loving” Jesus apart from loving doctrine is just part of the worldly onslaught against the gospel, and is an excuse not to persevere for the sake of truth. “By much suffering we must enter into the kingdom,” and that suffering refers to “those who live godly in Christ WILL suffer persecution.” I know, I know, we are “only” talking about loss of reward here, but what about our real love for Jesus? Where is your passion to hear, “well done faithful servant” from the one who left the glories of heaven to purchase us from the world?

And remember, loving Jesus apart from doctrine is in fact a doctrine. Everyone lives by some doctrine—it might as well be one that leads to eternal life.

How deep is your real love?

paul

Susan Dohse: The First Gospel Wave and Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 28, 2014

Romans 12:2 B; Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 17, 2013

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Tonight and next week we will be looking at Romans 12:2 as we continue in our verse by verse study of Romans. For those interested in catching up to where we are at, all of the messages are available online, and in the first volume of “The Gospel: Clarification in Confusing Times.” Let’s begin by reading Romans 12:2;

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Next week, we will focus the “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God.” Tonight, we will focus on the last part of this verse, “what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As we reveal God’s will to ourselves and the world, it is the “good and acceptable and perfect.” I want to focus on the word, “perfect.” Following is the definition and a comprehensive list of references regarding the word’s use in the New Testament. I list the references for your own person study as we will only be borrowing from a few of them tonight.

g5046. τέλειος teleios; from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter ( as noun, with 3588) completeness: — of full age, man, perfect. AV (19)- perfect 17, man 1, of full age 1; brought to its end, finished wanting nothing necessary to completeness.

MATT 5:48 -You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

MATT 19:21 – Jesus said to him, ” If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

ROM 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 COR 2:6 – Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.

1COR 13:9 – For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

1 COR 14:20 – Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

EPH 4:13- until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

PHI 3:12 – Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

PHIL 3:15 – Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

COL 1:28 – Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

COL 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

HEB 5:12- For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

HEB 9:11 – But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

JS 1:4 – And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

JS 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

JS 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.

JS 3:2 – For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

1JN 4:18 -There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

I want to focus on Matthew 5:48, for many times in the Bible we are commanded to be holy as God is holy, and perfect as God is perfect. What’s up with that? And of course, the teaching that is in vogue today is the idea that Christ deliberately commands things that we are not able to do in order to humble us and continually drive us back to the cross for resalvation. Supposedly, as we revisit the gospel “afresh,” we experience the original joy of our salvation and keep ourselves saved by faith alone.

The word for “perfect” in the New Testament and its use is a very difficult study, but let me suggest a few observations.  By “perfect,” Christ probably didn’t mean perfect in the same way as we think of it. This can be seen in the definition itself and the references above. James, in one of the above references, using the same word, called the Bible the “perfect law of liberty.” The Bible isn’t perfect. There are several different versions, right? Yet, no truth is lost in these translations, and truth is always perfect and sanctifying (JN 17:17), but the versions themselves are not perfect in the way that we think of perfect. Perfection is found in the Scriptures, but not always exhibited in translation by men.

What I want to do in borrowing from one of the references above is look at the way our Lord uses the word “perfection” in context of Matthew 5:48:

Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Many coincide Christ’s commentary on the Pharisees with the idea of him demanding that we be perfect in the normal sense that we would think of it:

See, see, he is saying that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and the Pharisees were really, really good at keeping the law.

Not so, the Pharisees were horrible at keeping the law. They were the ones who relaxed the law and taught others to do the same. I devote a whole chapter in one of my books  to explain how Christ indicted the Pharisees for being lawless on the inside and outside both. Their thinking was lawless, and their behavior was lawless. Christ then gives examples of how the Pharisees replaced the law of God with their traditions in Matthew 5:21-47.

Ok, so evidently, Christ commanding us to do things we can’t do to make a point isn’t the point. So what is? At least in regard to the point I want to make which by the way only scratches the surface of this topic, the key is Matthew 5:17,

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Here we go again; this verse is also used to tout the aforementioned idea as well:

See, see, Christ came to fulfill the law because we can’t keep it. He fulfilled it in the life He lived on earth perfectly, and that is imputed to us in our Christian life as part of the atonement—if we live by faith alone.

Not so. Christ came to fulfill the law IN US, that’s what He is talking about. But in what way do we fulfill the law perfectly? Is that possible? Well, yes and no. Let’s begin by looking at the following text in your notes:

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.

That’s how Christ intends to fulfill the law, through us. But, the law takes on two different forms for two different people groups. We have learned in the book of Romans how the unregenerate are “under law” and the saved are “under grace.” The law has a different relationship to each group. In the text we just looked at, it is the “law of the Spirit of life” for those under grace and “the law of sin and death” for those who are under law.

Remember the two relationships? Those under law are enslaved to sin, free to do good, provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, free to sin, provoked to righteousness by the law, and will not be judged by the law.

The apostle Paul also taught us in the book of Romans that there is no law in justification, that we are justified apart from the law, but the law (the Bible) informs our sanctification (the Christian life).

Remember, this is only a basic principle that scratches the surface of much deeper issues, but we must now make another distinction between the relationship of the law to those under grace and those who are under law:

James 2:8 – If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:10 is often used by teachers to once again posit the idea that Christians cannot keep the law to any benefit or merit before God. If you break the law at one point, you are guilty of breaking all of it. This is John Calvin’s very theses in JCICR 3.14.9-11. Only problem is, there are two relationships to the law here; those who are under the law and are guilty of breaking all of it, and will be judged by it, and those who are under grace, and will be judged by the “law of liberty.” Remember that one? James uses that term first in 1:25.  And here is the way these two relationships are different:

In the same way that the whole law is violated by one infraction by those who are under it, the whole law is fulfilled by those who exhibit one act of love towards their neighbor on God’s behalf:

Galatians 5:14 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Matthew 22:34 – But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12 – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Christians are under grace and judged by the law of love, the royal law of liberty, and also known as the “law of Christ.” The apostle Paul further elaborates on this law in Romans 13:8-10:

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

This is also known as the “law of Christ”:

Galatians 6:1 – Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Paul also distinguishes between these laws in 1Corithians 9:19-23,

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

If you have been with us throughout Romans, you know what Paul is talking about here. He makes it a point that he is NOT under the law for obvious reasons. He is speaking of those under the law (the Jews) and those outside of the law, but under the law of their consciences. Those who have never been under Bible teaching will be judged according to every time they violated their consciences. Those who sit in church and do not confess Christ will be judged by both. Paul makes it a point to say that he is NOT under either law, but under the law of Christ. One who endeavors to love God and others as prescribed by the perfect law of liberty is perfect because they fulfill the whole law in doing so. And even though they don’t exhibit the full love of God, they manifest it in part and are therefore perfect. Note:

Matthew 19:16 – And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The Ruler could not obtain perfection by keeping the law because as one under it, a perfect keeping is required. In contrast, following Christ, that single act of love, makes one perfect because the law is fulfilled in love. When we love, we demonstrate God’s love and His perfection, though not in totality.

In the end, you will either be judged by the law of Moses or the law of Christ. By believing that Christ died for all of your sins under the law, whether of Bible or conscience, and that He rose again to give you life in the Spirit that lives by the law of Christ, you will escape the coming judgment, what the Bible calls the “second death.”

What would keep you from doing this? It is something that you do not want to give up in your life. For the rich young ruler, it was the love of riches that he wasn’t willing to give up to love others. Christ put his finger right on the problem: “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor.” Being rich isn’t the problem, not being willing to love  with your money according to the law of Christ is the problem. No, the ruler wanted to get into heaven on the cheap, by his own terms, just like the masses who want to live life according to their own desires rather than the law of Christ.

Let’s close by looking at these two judgments. The first are those who will be judged by the law of Christ:

1Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

The next judgment are those who will be judged by the law:

Revelation 20:11 – Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

That is the judgment we all want to escape by being perfected in love. I will close with the following:

1John 4:18 -There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

And remember, obedience to God’s word is love: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

Romans 12ff. Through the Eyes of a Disciple: The Four Models of Discipleship

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 14, 2013

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The Four Models of Discipleship

Introduction 

How can Christians change if we don’t even know whether we are changeable are not? On the one hand we are supposed to be evangelizing the world, but on the other hand, we don’t even know who we are. Are we changeable? Or unchangeable? Change really isn’t on the radar screen, it has been replaced with something deemed much more spiritual: “glorifying the Lord.” If we change it’s about us, not the Lord. Supposedly.

There is one thing for certain; believers have to live like unbelievers in many ways that make up the practical normality of life. Both have to drink water to live. Both have to eat in order to live. Both need shelter. Both need to know a language to communicate. Both benefit from not violating their consciences. Both benefit from the fact that we are creatures of habit. But where does the line cross over to the cursed, “pragmatism”? It would seem that there is no greater sin in our day than practicality.

But is practicality a good thing that Christians should excel in? Is it something that Christians should do better? Christians do not know how practicality fits into discipleship, and many believe it should have no part in discipleship.  While others would disagree with that notion, they unwittingly function that way. Confusion reigns in regard to fears that we would “live by lists” and “do’s and don’ts.” Is it a works issue or a wisdom issue?

Who are We?

But before we answer the practicality issue (works salvation versus wisdom), we will answer the creaturehood issue. What is the metaphysical makeup of a Christian? What is our being?

Basically, there are four sanctification paradigms that will determine how we live as Christians. This is a paramount consideration because we will function according to what we believe about who we are.

The first is the rejection of infused grace. It posits the idea that no righteousness exists within the believer. This is authentic Calvinism and the model that dominates New Calvinism. Christians do no works in sanctification, but only live by faith. This results in experiencing obedience, but the believer is not really the one performing the act. It would be like passively standing in the rain. You are really not doing anything, but you experience the rain as it falls on you. In this sanctification paradigm, obedience that is imputed to you will be experiences as a willful, joyful, “mere natural flow.” “Duty” is always the result of our “own efforts.”

Two more of the paradigms we will look at are founded in this first one because it origination with the Protestant Reformers. We tend to be what we call ourselves in American Christianity, “Protestants.” So what did the Reformers believe about the metaphysical makeup of a Christian?

The Reformers believed mankind has no righteousness of his own. In Lutheran theology, this is known as alien righteousness:

. . . neither renewal, sanctification, virtues nor good works are . . . our righteousness before God, nor are they to be constituted or set up as a part or cause of our righteousness, or otherwise under any pretext, title, or name whatever in the article of justification as necessary and belonging thereto; but the righteousness of faith consists alone in the forgiveness of sins out of pure grace, for the sake of Christ’s merit alone; which blessings are offered us in the promise of the Gospel, and are received, accepted, applied, and appropriated by faith alone. [1]

This is pretty clear: we have no righteousness of our own in sanctification (the Christian life), and righteousness must be “appropriated” by faith alone in the Christian life. In fact, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin believed that water baptism replaced Old Testament circumcision, and sanctification replaced the Sabbath. Hence, in the same way that people were sentenced to death for working on the Sabbath, Christians will suffer eternal death for doing good works in the Christian life. [2]

According to the Reformers, sin in the Christian life separates us from salvation, and we must continually seek to remain saved by pursuing the same forgiveness that originally saved us. If we had a righteousness of our own, we wouldn’t need to do that. Sin in the Christian life isn’t a matter of harmony in the family of God, but a salvific matter. Therefore, the works of Christ’s perfect obedience in all things, not just His death, are imputed to our Christian life by faith alone:

Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God. [3]

Concerning the righteousness of faith before God we believe, teach, and confess unanimously, in accordance with the comprehensive summary of our faith and confession presented above, that poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness [4] …. and appropriated by faith alone [1] ….[in the Christian life]…. neither renewal, sanctification, [“neither” other than justification] virtues nor good works are [present tense]. . . our righteousness before God, nor are they to be constituted or set up as a part or cause of our righteousness, or otherwise [justification also] under any pretext, title, or name whatever in the article of justification as necessary and belonging thereto.

To simplify this foundational paradigm of which most of the discipleship constructs of our day flow, the following chart should suffice (click on images to enlarge):

JCPJ 2

Alternative gospel chart: [17]

The Contemporary terms for this construct is “deep repentance” (a resalvation repentance) coined by Ellen White [5] [6] who was a student of Reformation theology, and “new obedience” [7] which is the EXPERIENCE of the obedience of Christ imputed to us by faith ALONE in the Christian life. The obedience is primarily experienced by perpetual,  joyful rebirths of the Spirit. [8] Most Christian living constructs in our day are a variance of this.

The second paradigm posits the idea that Christians remain spiritually dead, but the indwelling Holy Spirit is the only life source within us. As with the first model, we are only righteous positionally. Unlike the first model, righteousness is infused, but like the first, it doesn’t change who we are. In both cases, we “manifest” righteous behavior, but it’s not us doing it. This isn’t all that difficult to understand if you remember the standing in the rain example. You experience the rain, but you have nothing to do with its manifestation.

The third model will look like one of the first two, but implements the concept of “yielding.” When a person is lost, they are only in the world or sin realm. When they become saved, the Spirit realm is added to their sphere of being. At any given time, they “yield” to one or the other. But we aren’t DOING anything, we are merely yielding which leads to experiencing the Spirit realm or participating in the sin realm. In the sin realm, it is actually us doing the work, but we only EXPERIECE the Spirit realm. The famous evangelical JC Ryle contended against this in his day:

In the seventh and last place, is it wise to teach believers that they ought not to think so much of fighting and struggling against sin, but ought rather to “yield themselves to God” and be passive in the hands of Christ? Is this according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it. [9]

An example regarding the experience aspect is a quote from Paul David Tripp’s How People Change (2006), page 215:

When we think, desire, speak, or act in a right way, it isn’t time to pat ourselves on the back or cross it off our To Do List. Each time we do what is right, we are experiencing [underline added] what Christ has supplied for us. In Chapter 11, we introduced some of the fruit Christ produces. We will expand the discussion here.

Hence, supposedly, we only experience the works Christ has supplied, but it is not us doing them. As far as “in us” lingo, that usually has to do with terminology such as “heart” and “faith.” The Reformed definition of faith is that it only has reality in the object of it. Therefore, if we have “faith” in Christ, the reality of our faith only has substance in Christ who is outside of us (the first paradigm), or within our still spiritually dead bodies (the second paradigm). This is known as the “eye of faith” because faith can only see outward and only serves a purpose in regard to what it is seeing. [10] What it is seeing is experienced in the heart. The “heart,” especially in Neo-Calvinist doctrine, is where manifestations of faith are experienced. When we experience the works of Christ, the heart is where we experience such. [11]

So all in all, meditation on Christ enables us to experience the works of Christ imputed to our realm. This supposedly makes sanctification by faith alone feasible. That’s the crux: let go and let God in order to keep your salvation. This is critical to their gospel because sanctification finishes justification. The vast majority of Christians in America claim this doctrine outright or function like it albeit unwittingly.

The fourth model is the perspective we will be using as we move forward in our Study of Romans. We are not only righteous positionally, we are in fact righteous people because of the new birth. We are literally new creatures. [12] We are righteous, we are able, and we are helped by the full power of the Trinity in our Christian lives. [13] There are many texts we could look at, but let’s focus on Romans 15:13,14:

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

In verse 14, whether “you, yourselves” as a way to make it in addition to the Trinity’s work, or the word for “yourself,  (g0846. αὐτός autos), it is the idea of in addition to.  Therefore, no surprise that the KJV states it this way:

14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also [underline added] to admonish one another.

The word for “admonish” is expressed better in the Amplified Bible:

14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also.

Because of the new birth, we are full of goodness and able in and of ourselves. This is a critical distinction—we are responsible for implementing the spiritual gifts that have been given us. Not only that, it is a matter of wisdom to excel in regard to the natural order of things as created by God. This is not pragmatism, it’s wisdom.

Let’s look at a definition of sanctification, and its relationship to the practical.

Sanctification

The Bible has much to say about justification by faith alone, but where is this standalone subject of sanctification that is a different matter of Christian living altogether?  One place among many would be 1Thessalonians 4:3ff:

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Obviously, sanctification is all about KNOWing HOW to control our bodies. And even more obvious is the fact that justification has nothing to do with that at all. The discipleship goal of Christians is to know more about controlling their bodies today than they did yesterday? And does that effect how the world sees us, and God? We believe the answer to that question is a resounding, “yes!” (Matthew 5: 13-16).

Fusion and Dichotomy

Sanctification is a continued endeavor to learn more and more about how to control our bodies from the Scriptures. Unfortunately, anthropological concepts; i.e., what makes people tick, are deemed pragmatic and unspiritual. Rather than seeing these subjects as wisdom where Christians ought to be outdoing the world, they are rejected as “living by lists” and “living by do’s and don’ts.” I like what one pastor had to say about those truisms:

They are telling us the following: “Don’t live by do’s and Don’ts.”

A prime example is something that everyone is born with: a conscience. The only Psychiatrist in history that really had a track record of helping people was O. Hobart Mowrer. The main thrust of his therapy was an emphasis on keeping a clear conscience. He believed that most mental illness was caused by a guilty conscience. He cured people by insisting that they deal with unresolved issues of guilt. Mowrer, once the President of the APA along with a long list of distinguished awards and appointments, wrote The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion. The book rejected the medical model of Psychology and criticized Christianity for relegating the care of the “mentally ill” to Freudian Psychology. Mowrer was not a Christian.

Nevertheless, he is the one who most inspired the father of the contemporary biblical counseling movement, Dr. Jay E. Adams, who applied Mowrer’s practical approach to biblical counseling. Adams did this because he observed Mowrer’s astounding results while doing an internship with him in the summer of 1965. [14]

This only makes sense. The apostle Paul instructed Christians to “keep a clear conscience before God.” [15] The Bible has much to say about the subject of conscience. Christians should use the Bible to be wiser in all areas of human practicality and should excel at it far beyond those who live in the world; areas such as, planning, accountability, [16] etc. Unfortunately, these biblical subjects are dichotomized from the “spiritual” and deemed pragmatic.

At the same time, justification and sanctification are fused together in an effort to live out a Sabbatical sanctification; i.e., sanctification by faith alone. This is nothing new; James rejected the concept in his epistle to the 12 tribes of Israel that made up the apostolic church. It is also a Gnostic concept that sees the material as evil and only the spiritual as good. Therefore, since anthropology is part of the material realm, any practicality thereof cannot benefit the spiritual. Supposedly.

Another concept, along with conscience, is that of habituation. Through discipline, habit patterns can be formed that lead to change, ask anyone who has been in the military. People who enter the military come out as changed people. Because of our Protestant heritage and conditioning, these concepts seem grotesquely pragmatic.  But according to the Bible, we are to make use of them. The Bible speaks specifically of those who get out of the habit of going to church. The ESV has this translation correct:

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Sanctification is a many-faceted colaboring with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit’s power is unleashed through wisdom and obedience (James 1:25). We must know assuredly that justification is a finished work, and absolutely nothing that we do in sanctification can affect it for better or worse. This is what purifies our motives in our love for Christ in sanctification. “If you love me, keep my commandments” has absolutely nothing to do with our justification. It’s for love only, not a working for justification. We are thankful for our justification, but that thankfulness doesn’t save us or keep us saved. Only Christ saves—the new creature now loves Christ because that’s who he/she is. Christ’s love made it possible for us to love Him in sanctification, but nothing in sanctification keeps us saved. Sanctification looks not for a “final justification,” but readies itself for the Master’s return and longs to hear the words, “Well done faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23).

When I was a young boy, I often lived with my grandparents during the summer. My grandfather was a real-life John Wayne type. He worked as a construction foreman for a large company. And he was my hero. Before he left for work in the morning, I would sheepishly await for him to depart before beginning a flurry of tasks around their small farm. I would always have the tasks done well before his arrival home and waited at the end of the drive to hear his truck’s humming wheels come down State Route 125. I would then take him around the property and show him the finished tasks. His smile and compliments were my reward. These are tasks that I didn’t have to do; our love for each other was always something totally different from those tasks. I knew assuredly that he would love me whether I did those tasks or not because I was his grandson—his pride and joy. Some idea that the withholding of serving him in order to elevate the reality of his love for me would have been a ridiculous notion.

Justification and sanctification must be separate. Anthropology and the spiritual must be fused. Our bodies must be controlled and set apart for good works. This will lead to the showing forth of our good works and the glorification of the Father leading to salvation for others, not sheep redistribution.

Two Natures

I have come to believe that Christians do NOT have two natures. We have one nature, the new one, the old nature is dead. The old us and its bondage to sin died with Christ, and we have been raised with Christ to new creaturehood.  This is what baptism pictures.  I believe sin dwells in our mortality or what the Bible calls “the flesh.” The “sin nature” is gone, and spoken of in the past tense:

Ephesians 2:1 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—

Galatians 4:8 – Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

2Peter 1:3 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

The word “partaker” means:

g2844. κοινωνός koinōnos; from 2839; a sharer, i. e. associate:— companion,  fellowship, partaker, partner.

Our service to God is a mirror of our new creaturehood.  Our salvation is settled by faith alone, and is a finished work. We have received all of the blessings and power of heaven including the new birth. The declaration of our justification saved us, but we are not only righteous positionally, we have possession of personal righteousness. We are righteous:

1 John 3:4 – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Endnotes

1. Book of Concord: The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord; III. The Righteousness of Faith, ¶39.

2. John King: The Complete Bible Commentary Collection of John Calvin; Genesis, Ch.2 sec.3, Ch.17 sec.13. Ibid: The Harmony of the Law, Due. 5:12-15, sec. 15).

3. John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles. The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4.

4. Book of Concord: The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord; III. The Righteousness of Faith, ¶9.

5. Ellen White: Royalty and Ruin; p. 28.

6. Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch Press 2006,  p. 28.

7. The Book of Concord: Preface to the Emperor Charles V.; Article VI: Of New Obedience ¶1.

8. Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance.

9. JC Ryle: Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots; Introduction, theses 7.

10. The Australian Forum Reformed resurgence project 1970: Present Truth Magazine vol. 36—article 3

11. Paul M. Dohse: Pictures of Calvinism; TANC Publishing 2013, pp. 27-36 [The correlation between manifestations and such being experienced in the heart is explained. The heart is not the seat of a changed character, but only where we experience life].

12. 2Corinthians 5:17

13. John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

14. Jay E. Adams: Competent To Counsel; Zondervan 1970, Introduction.

15. Ro 2:14, 15, 9:1, Ac 23:1, 24:16, 2Co 1:12, 1Ti 1:5, 3:9, Heb 13:18, 1Pe 2:19, 3:16,  3:21.

16. 2Timothy 2:22

17.

True Cross Chart

Potter H. 1

Sanctification: Romans 12:1,2; Introduction

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 19, 2013

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What is the gospel? The “gospel” means “good news.” All of God’s word is “good news.” This became a term that was used interchangeably with, “truth,” “word,” “law,” etc. (Paul Dohse: The Gospel; Clarification in Confusing Times pp. 9-39 Online source: http://wp.me/Pmd7S-1Jn  lessons 1-4).

The gospel includes the gospel of first importance (1COR 15:3) which is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the full counsel of God (Acts 20:20, 27, 32) which includes justification and sanctification.

When Paul stated that he wanted to come to Rome in order to preach the gospel to them (ROM 1:15), he was speaking of the whole counsel of God, not the gospel of first importance that they had already received. Paul was hindered from coming there to do so, and was afraid that would reflect a bias on his part because the church at that time was predominately Jewish (ROM1:13-14). We see the same mindset also that likens to the apostle John that prefers face to face teaching rather than letters (2JN 12). That is why 2John is so short, John hoped to teach them face to face. Paul couldn’t wait any longer to teach the Romans the full counsel of God, so he begins to do so in Romans 1:16, that’s why his letter is so long!

Romans is an in-depth treatise concerning God’s plan for reconciling mankind to Himself. The first eleven chapters concern justification, or how God justifies mankind which makes reconciliation possible. This is mostly informative and wisdom based as opposed to sanctification which is mostly instructive and imperative based. And knowing the will of God for the Christian is very easy:

1Thessalonians 4:3 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

This is the clear definition of sanctification (a setting apart for holy purpose). We call it progressive sanctification. Definitive sanctification is the initial setting apart at justification. Context will determine which of these is being spoken of in any given Bible text. Progressive sanctification entails gaining wisdom on “how to” “control” our bodies in “holiness and honor.” Sanctification is a how to endeavor; get over it. It is about a bunch of do’s and don’ts—get over it. It is about living by lists—get over it. Sanctification is the science of controlling our bodies to God’s honor. Proverbs 18:4 and 20:5 state that the issues of life are deep waters—the gospel of first importance is simplistic, but the gospel of sanctification is far from it. Listen to how the book of Proverbs begins:

Proverbs 1:2 – To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, 3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom does not pertain to justification per se, Justification is the beginning of knowledge, but mark it, those who despise wisdom and understanding for sanctification are fools. Those who park on salvation are also fools—they despise wisdom and instruction. A prime example are those who request prayer “for patience.” Prayer is easy, “Lord, give me patience!” But what does Proverbs say about obtaining patience?

Proverbs 19:11 – A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (NIV).

It takes wisdom to obtain patience. Prayer alone will not bring you patience. Justification is free by faith alone; sanctification is not free; if you get any, you will work for it. As I said yesterday in a conversation, “People want to be happy, but they don’t want to do anything to get happiness. The Bible promises that we can be happy, but unlike justification, happiness in sanctification is not unconditional—there are conditions. Paul made it clear, especially in Chapters 9-11 that justification is completely unconditional, but that is not what we see in the first verse of Chapter one:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The word for “mercies” is literally (oiktirmos) “compassion.” A call to obedience is not burdensome, it is the compassion of God. Paul is making his appeal on behalf of God according to His compassion. It is the antithesis of depraved indifference. God is not the parent that lets a child grow up without wisdom and in the way that he/she would naturally go. Knowing this wisdom is a good start for patience. Like God, we should compel people to obey because it is the way of life, and not because we are inconvenienced by their wayward ways. I am not saying that it is never about us, because what is simply right and just does matter, but it should mostly be about caring for others. Our appeal should be by God’s mercy. Therefore, remember this: silence can qualify as depraved indifference. Our appeals should be with compassion, but no appeal at all is far from such—it is often depraved indifference.

The appeal to present our bodies as a living sacrifice harkens back to God’s acceptable sacrifices in the Old Testament. They had to be sacrifices without blemish. Our sacrifice is living, and the sacrifice is our service. Let’s reread Romans 12:1 without the added words that make it flow in the English translation:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

“Worship” (latreia) carries the idea of service to God according to the Levitical law. It also has the idea of service for hire. We serve God by continually presenting ourselves to Him as blameless. This harkens back to the definition of sanctification in 1Thessalonians 4:4. We are to control our bodies in holiness and honor. We are to be vessels fit for the Master’s use:

2Timothy 2:20 – Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

One way this is to be performed is to change the way we think as opposed to the way the world thinks. Agreeing with the world makes you like the world. This would be regarding, “life and godliness” (2Peter 1:3). There is the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. Hence, the “Christian” idea of “plundering the Egyptians” which came from Augustine is a really bad idea. What we believe makes us who we are:

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

Sanctification is God’s will. By transforming our mind according to God’s wisdom we become more like Him. By His word we discern sanctification and how to apply it to our lives. This is what leads to change: transforming our ways of thinking from the worldly to the truth. Only truth sanctifies (John 17:17). Christians are to serve the law with their minds (ROM 7:25). The word “heart” in the Bible is more often than not an idiom for the mind (ZECH 8:17, MATT 9:4, MATT 13:15, MK 7:21). We are to guard our minds with all vigilance because it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4;23). Paul brings this issue into clarity in 2Corinthinas 10:5;

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

To say that Christians play fast and loose with ideas is an understatement. They simply don’t understand that ideas make us who we are (PROV 23:7). Every thought is to be taken captive and brought into conformity to the word of Christ. An exchange Susan and I had last week is indicative of where Christians go astray on this issue:

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The Pauline approach to sanctification is an affront to contemporary Christianity.  That’s the dilemma we face. Protestantism, which includes Baptists et al, is dumbed down by ecclesiastical design. On  April 25, 1518, Martin Luther declared war on the priesthood of believers and sanctification via his declaration of Reformed theology in Heidelberg, Germany. The 95 Thesis was a moral treatise against Rome six months prior, but the Heidelberg Disputation was the very foundation of Reformed ideology. It called on theologians to interpret all of reality from a dual perspective: the glory story or the cross story.

True theology (the cross story) would look at man as worthless and empty with eyes of faith that can only see outward to the glory of God. This made all reality good as the sum equation of God’s goodness and man’s evil. So, tragedy only reflects man’s worthlessness and his deserved plight and the glorification of God following. The glory story was anything that recognized anything IN man at all. No goodness or grace is infused into man. True theology is a purely outward look, and only looks within to find reason for repentance that then glorifies God (“deep repentance”). Luther believed that man can experience the grace of God, but cannot participate in it. That would be works salvation. Man must empty himself to be saved and remain empty till the final judgment.

Hence, any notion that man could become good through salvation was deemed heretical, and a damning false gospel. In many ways, it was predicated on the Platonist idea that all matter is evil, and that would of course include man. The first sentence of the Calvin Institutes (CI 1.1.1) is based on Luther’s dual construct, and then the rest of the Institutes build a full metaphysical statement on the foundation of that first sentence. Pretty impressive. In that sentence, Calvin states that all wisdom is derived from a knowledge of us and knowledge of God. The two opposites define each other. Both Calvin and Luther were followers of Augustine who was the undisputed first and foremost integrationist in Western culture. Plato integrated Eastern mysticism with Western science, and Augustine integrated Platonism with the Bible. A cursory observation of world history makes this plain.

Therefore, the good Luther/Calvin cross theologian heartily agrees with, “study to show thyself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed.” But in the Protestant construct that redefines sanctification (and actually rejects it totally), what does “study” mean? What does “approved” mean? And what does “workman” mean? The Reformers did not believe anybody is approved. They believed work in sanctification (the Christian life) was equivalent to works salvation. Augustine, Luther, and Calvin believed baptism replaced circumcision, and sanctification replaced the Old Testament Sabbath Rest. Working on the Sabbath would bring death, and in the same way, working in sanctification also brings death (John King: The Complete Bible Commentary Collection of John Calvin; Genesis, Ch.2 sec.3, Ch.17 sec.13. Ibid: The Harmony of the Law, Due. 5:12-15, sec. 15). A good example how this demonstrates itself in the contemporary mindset follows. It was sent to me by a reader of the PPT blog:

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Of course, as we have discussed many times, statements like this make no distinction between sanctification and justification.

So, “study” is really a focus on what ANY Bible text says about mankind’s wretched, sinful existence as opposed to God’s holiness. When the equation is seen, a steady flow of Christ’s obedience is imputed to our account and we remain justified. These manifestations may, or may not be experienced, but if they are, it is in the realm of the subjective where even the experience cannot be somehow attributed to us. This selfless, daily bearing of the cross and dying to self will lead to joy, but we do not know if this joy is directly linked to a Christ manifestation. The gospel is objective and remains outside of us, but is experienced subjectively. Any inward focus leads to inward subjectivity and as John Piper stated it, “imperils the soul.” It is merely an application of Eastern Mysticism to make sanctification by justification possible.

This is why Luther despised reason and called it a prostitute that should have “dung” rubbed in her face to “make her ugly.” Reason is the glory story. Our ability to reason has to do with an inner ability apart from God. Our “study” is limited to seeing the cross more by a greater and greater realization of our God unlikeness. Our “work” is this study and contentment in the ruin that God has sovereignly placed us in. But of course, “Contentment with godliness is great gain.” That is knowing our own place in the caste system which is sovereignly determined by birth. Supposedly, working hard at being content in our own wretched station of life is not work—it’s faith. Problem is, Luther et al considered that to be saving faith as long as it is practiced in sanctification. You do the math. There is a standard for what isn’t work in sanctification and what is work in sanctification for the purpose of remaining justified.

That is why we argue that justification must be a finished work separate from our Christian life. The conclusion of Paul’s treatise on justification in chapters 1-11 should lead to a free and aggressive sanctification. Though the Scripture has much to say about the colaboring of the Holy Spirit with us in sanctification and the reality that He makes it possible, I think the following quote by RC Sproul during a moment of sanity sums up the point well:

Sanctification is cooperative. There are two partners involved in the work. I must work and God will work. If ever the extra-biblical maxim, “God helps those who help themselves,” had any truth, it is at this point. We are not called to sit back and let God do all the work. We are called to work, and to work hard. To work something out with fear and trembling is to work with devout and conscientious rigor. It is to work with care, with a profound concern with the end result” (RC Sproul: Pleasing God p. 227).

If I am not mistaken, this is the only citation from Christian academia in this whole series on Romans, but again, I think it is worth getting in for the way it is stated. Though Paul was no less dependent on the power of the Spirit than anyone who has ever lived, he at times was brutally practical:

2Corinthians 9:1 – Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

Much can be learned from this passage about sanctification—not least of all in regard to the issue and application of accountability. Sanctification is a many-faceted, aggressive endeavor. It is full of practical and wise life application, and the Holy Spirit is ever willing to aid us accordingly.

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