Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 11, 2016

PPT HandleOriginally published January 2, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider verse 21 which immediately follows 2:20:

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

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

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

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

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

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

Romans 4:23—But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have also noted in our Romans study:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

paul

Galatians 2:20 – Does Christ Live Our Life For Us?

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on November 19, 2015

Originally posted June 10, 2014

pdf  Trifold: Gal 2.20 trifold

A passive approach to Christian living has not served the Western church well. Few will disagree that Protestantism is predicated on the idea that the Christian life should be lived out in the same way we were saved, by faith alone. By far, the most popular proof text for this is Galatians 2:20;

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

On its face, the verse does seem to say that we are dead and unable, and Christ is living out our lives for us and through us. The English Standard Version, a Neo-Reformed translation, adds to the idea by excluding the following words that are underlined:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (KJV).

The apostle Paul is saying that there is a sense in which we are dead, but also alive. How can we be both alive and dead? The crux of the problem in interpreting Galatians 2:20 is a Protestant propensity for confounding  justification and the Christian life. Galatians 2:20 is not addressing the Christian life, it is addressing justification. This should be evident because Paul addresses the subject of justification specifically in the immediate context several times (three times alone in Galatians 2:16, Galatians 2:17, 2:21, 3:8, 3:11, 3:24, 5:4). Note what Paul states in the verse immediately following verse 20:

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

The word for “justified” (dikaioō) and the word for “righteousness” (dikaiosynē)mean the same thing. Paul’s point is that Christ “died” in vain if justification is by the law. By “law,” Paul is not referring to an astute observation of the finer points of the law, but the traditions of men that propagate salvation by some ritual, and a dumbing down of the finer points of the law for maintaining salvation through additional rituals (Gal – 2:3, 2:12, 2:17, 2:19, 4:10,11, 4:21, 5:2, 5:3, 5:6, 5:11, note 5:2-5:5 as a summary of these ideas).

Paul is not saying that Christians are dead in the Christian life, and it is Christ alone living through us, he is saying that Christians are dead to the law for justification. Christians died with Christ, but are also resurrected with Christ. Hence, Galatians 2:20 begins with… “I have been crucified with Christ.” Christ died to end the law’s ability to condemn us (Rom 4:15, 5:13, 6:8, 8:1,10:4). We are no longer under its jurisdiction (Rom 7:1-6).

In regard to our justification only, we are, and remain dead while Christ lives, but this does not include the Christian life in which we are alive and new creatures. The usual rendering of Galatians 2:20 makes justification and the Christian life the same thing. Justification is a finished work, while we are continually separated from our old self by learning God’s law and obeying it. That’s commonly referred to as “sanctification.”

Gal 2:20 is ONLY talking about justification. Making Gal 2:20 about the Christian life is tantamount to rejecting half of the gospel pictured in baptism:

Romans 6:3 – Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

And frankly, it also keeps the believer under law instead of under grace (Rom 6:14). If we are not now able to keep the law as a way of loving Christ and others, the law of the Spirit of life has not set us free from the law of sin and death:

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

The law now becomes the Spirit’s instrument of changing us (Jn 17:17, Gal 5:7 Rom 6:6). Our death with Christ stripped the law’s ability to condemn us for we are no longer UNDER it, but what many miss is the fact that being under grace means that we are now able to obey the law in order to please God (Romans 8:1-8).

To be under grace is to be under the law of the Spirit of life. The aforementioned rendering of Galatians 2:20 makes the law of the Spirit of life and the law of sin and death the same thing, and rejects the freedom from the law of sin and death made possible by the new birth (regeneration, or quickening).

This is why Galatians 2:20 is rendered that way accordingly: the “Christian” is still under law (being yet dead), and Jesus must therefore keep the law of sin and death for the believer. This is what drives the idea that Galatians 2:20 applies to the Christian life, BUT the law of sin and death has been ENDED by our death with Christ. We are no longer under its jurisdiction (Rom 7:1-4)—Christ does not need to fulfill the law of sin and death for us, that law was ended by Christ (Rom 10:4). Said rendering turns the gospel completely upside down and rejects the new birth. If the law of the Spirit of life and the law of sin and death are the same, “Christians” are still under the law of sin and death.

Moreover, take note as well that Paul doesn’t say the Galatian error was trying to be sanctified by the law; the error is an attempt to be “justified” by the law (5:4). If Paul’s primary issue with the Galatians was an attempt to apply the law to sanctification in order to justify themselves, why wouldn’t he simply state it plainly?

The real issue in Galatians was a justification by ritual, and a ritualistic dumbing down of the law in order to maintain salvation. This is necessary when the law of sin and death is not properly understood as ended, and replaced with the law of the Spirit of life.

The real issue in Galatians is a justification by ritual, and a ritualistic dumbing down of the law in order to maintain salvation. This is necessary when the law of sin and death is not properly understood as ended, and combined  with the law of the Spirit of life.

In fact, the law of the Spirit of life is redefined as something done by Christ instead of the Spirit using the “perfect law  of liberty” to change us (James 1:25, Matthew 7:24-27).

Galatians 2:20 and the Gospel According to Phil Johnson, Parts 1 & 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 7, 2015

Listen to podcast or download audio file. 

PAUL DOHSE: Welcome, truth lovers, to BlogTalkRadio.com/False Reformation. This is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part eight of the Magnum Opus of the Reformation, Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. Greetings from the Potter’s House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call 855-8317. I failed to put the area code in there. That’s (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. And again that number, just dial direct from your Skype account is (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective. Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host. You are on the air. What’s your comment or question,” just start talking. If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also e-mail me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s paul@Tom-Tony-Alice-Nancy-Cat.com. I have my e-mail monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Tonight, we’re going to have another interlude, and I know these interludes drive people crazy. But it is very important to establish and have a sentence by sentence evaluation of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation because that is the first and founding document of the Protestant Reformation. It was written about six months after Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses which is thought to have launched the Protestant Reformation, and I guess that’s fair enough. But the Heidelberg Disputation is the first and foundational document of the Protestant Reformation. And it is, absolutely, amazing how to this day, literally everything that we see in contemporary, or at least the return to the contemporary authentic Protestantism, flows from that document. But in doing this series, to have a sentence by sentence evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation, though very important, it is getting the cart a little bit before the horse. Because in our day, Christians, by and large, really don’t understand the gospel. They really don’t understand the gospel. And this is by design. This is the essence of Protestantism, a dumbed-downed congregant. And we’re learning why that is in our study of the Heidelberg Disputation. But foundational to the doctrinal illiteracy of present-day Christians is this whole idea that we’re sanctified by the gospel. So throughout Protestant history, the emphasis has always been the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, or the gospel or first importance or going back, discontinually going back to the cross. And this gets a pass, by and large, because people are saying, “Oh, this is just a theory on how to be better sanctified or how to better grow in our faith by returning to the original gospel that saved us time and time again.” But as we are learning, and the contention of this ministry is that our contention is – our contention is that no, this just isn’t one of many techniques to better grow in the Lord according to the Bible supposedly. No. This is a gospel or a soteriology that calls for us to continually return back to the same gospel that saved us, so that we can live by faith alone as a way to keep ourselves saved. This is the dirty little secret of Protestantism.

So in essence, you have a work salvation by faith alone or in essence, a work salvation by doing nothing, kind of like Bachman-Turner Overdrive theology. I work hard at doing nothing all day as a way to keep myself saved. Or the way they put it, living by faith alone. And if you think about those words carefully, one might logically ask, “How do you live by faith alone?” Kind of like saying, “How do you live by thinking alone without doing anything?” So this is why we’re taking these interludes. It’s very important for us to establish what exactly the foundational document of Protestantism is all about. But, again, for contemporary or present practical purposes, we need to get it out there what the true gospel is, the true biblicist gospel in comparison to–I hate to say it, I hate to just put it out there–Protestantism.

Now as we’ve discussed before, the official coined term by this ministry, anyway, concerning the official doctrine of the authentic Protestant Reformation, not the watered down version and the truisms connected with it that most Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, et cetera, are used to, we’re talking about this return to the authentic Protestant Gospel in the body of the new Calvinist movement, which is all but completely taken over the institutional church.

In regard to gospel sanctification, the go-to verse is Galatians 2:20. This is the primary go-to verse. Now a lot of people claim that the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, the Keswick movement and all these movements, they are really big on Galatians 2:20 as well. And what’s in vogue is to think that the Higher Life movement and the Keswick movement, so on and so forth, are somehow different from authentic Reformed Protestantism and their gospel. And such is not the case. The applications are different, but the basic soteriology is the same. And what is that? Here it is. It’s a soteriology based on gospel contemplationism, and keeping yourself saved by going back to the cross. Or in essence, keeping yourself saved through contemplationism of some sort because to actually do something would be works salvation because this is key running the basic premise, running through all these doctrines is that justification is progressive.

And as we’re going to hear, and how we’re going to approach this topic in the show today, what we’re going to hear, Phil Johnson of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church out in California, he is actually going to call salvation a process. And this is the fundamental basic premise of all of these doctrines, all of these passive doctrines, all of these doctrines that would say, synergistic sanctification is work salvation. Why? Because it’s, and we’ve all said this, “The growing part of salvation.” Well, folks, salvation doesn’t grow. Salvation doesn’t grow, okay? And, again, we’re going to really hunker down on Galatians 2:20 because I stumbled upon a video that’s a sermon by Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church in California where he really articulates Galatians 2:20 in the Reformed view to a T. And, again, in this incredible video, he is also speaking for the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, even though he speaks out against them in this.  Again, the basic soteriology is the same, this whole idea that salvation is a process that starts at point A and gets to point B and that we have to keep the process going by doing nothing. So we’re going to look at this, and this ministry is just going to flat out make a lot of hay of this video, and we’re going to slice it, dice it, rework it, keep adding to it, taking away from it. And we begin that process in today’s program. And basically, we’re going to continue that process on Sunday morning as well. And as well, we’re going to post videos on Paul’s Passing Thoughts, the blog, for TANC ministries. And we’re going to, really, work this thing. We better get going because the sermon itself was 50 some minutes. I cut some parts out, and I’ll tell you why when we get into the video. (more…)

Revised: Evaluation of Grace to You Position on Galatians 2:20

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 25, 2015

The Heidelberg Disputation Series Part 9: The Truth About Galatians 2:20

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 25, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to audio or download audio file. 

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 9 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, The Truth About Galatians 2:20.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. 347-855-8317.

Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host; you are on the air, what’s your comment or question”—just start talking.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Galatians 2:20 is the go-to verse for all stripes of progressive justification. For those who seek to live an aggressive sanctification and life of fearless love, its constant twisting by proponents of progressive justification is an ongoing nuisance of biblical proportions. This episode attempts to end the argument once and for all.

What is the constant mantra that we here today in regard to Galatians 2:20? “See, it is not I who lives, I am still spiritually dead, and the life I appear to live is really Christ living through me.”

First, what is our specific beef with this notion? Ok, so folks have a passive view of sanctification (Christian living); so what? The so what follows: a passive approach to sanctification assumes that justification is an unfinished  process, and therefore, any actions by “saved” people must not circumvent the justification (salvation) process. That’s default works salvation because we are involved in keeping the salvation process going, albeit doing nothing with intentionality.

This is the crux of the Protestant gospel; justification by faith. We are justified by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us because not doing anything but believing is supposedly a faith alone work. But not doing anything with intentionality is doing something—that’s the problem. And as we will see, the biblical definition of faith is contrary to the Reformed definition of faith.

Let me walk you through our process tonight. We will begin by looking at the proper interpretive method that must be used in rightly dividing Galatians 2:20. Then we will look at the proper context, followed by the right definitions of the words used in the verse resulting in correct interpretive conclusions.

Let’s look at the proper interpretive method for rightly dividing Galatians 2:20. We call this hermeneutics. Whenever we read our Bibles, we must ask ourselves if the context is justification or sanctification. What is the difference?

Justification, unlike the Reformed definition, is a state of being brought about by the new birth. It is not merely a legal declaration that changes our status. The Bible uses the words “justification” and “righteousness” interchangeably.

Know the difference between the Biblicist remedy to prevent legal fiction, and the Reformed remedy to prevent legal fiction. The Reformed remedy states that the declaration is not legal fiction because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the “believer” and substitutes the believer’s righteousness with the righteousness of Christ. This is Martin Luther’s alien righteousness and the Reformed doctrine of Christ for us. Even though the saint remains a sinner, Martin Luther’s Simul iustus et peccator, or simultaneously saint and sinner, covers the believer with the righteousness of Christ. In Reformed thought, the standard of this righteousness is the law.

The Biblicist remedy doesn’t cover sin, it ends it. The standard for righteousness in being justified is the new birth, not the law. We are not only declared righteous, we are righteous because we are born again into the literal family of God. In essence, the Trinity became a family. That’s huge. For eternity the Trinity was only one between the three of them, but their remedy for sin was to make mankind one with them as a family. In the plan of salvation, in the election of the salvific plan, God became a Father, and the Messiah became a Son. This nomenclature denotes the plan of salvation specifically; God not only redeems man, He makes Him His literal family through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

Hence, righteousness is not a declaration made true by a double substitution, it is true because the new birth makes us righteous; it is a state of being, not a mere forensic declaration. The new birth is a onetime event that results in the Spirit living within us forever. Our hearts are truly redeemed, but we are still weak and therefore susceptible to breaking the law. Yet, we are righteous because God’s seed dwells within us, and the law’s ability to judge us has been cancelled. More on that later.

Therefore, Scripture verses must be interpreted by the context of justification or sanctification. Does the verse pertain to the new birth which is a onetime finished event, or the Christian life which is ongoing? What is the difference between the two?

Simply stated, one is a gift, and the other is a reward. Does the context speak of the gift, or what we do to earn our rewards? Does the context speak of the finished work of salvation, or our endeavor to live in fearless and aggressive love followed by its rewards and blessings?

Let’s define the difference by defining the lost versus the saved; the unrighteous versus the righteous. The two have a different master, a different reward, and a different law. The master correlates to the wages received according to their slavery.

We are all born under sin which is defined in the Bible as a master. In this sense, we are/were enslaved to sin. As slaves under the Sin master, though they can do good works, the only wage that can be received is death and condemnation. The law, or the Bible, condemns those who are “under law.”

In contrast, Christ purchased all men with His blood by paying the penalty for sin. He has effectively purchased all slaves from the other slave master. You were “bought with a price.” If you believe this, you are now a slave to the new Master through the new birth. You can only receive wages for life, and there is no condemnation. As Christians, our goal is not to stop doing sinful things; our goal is to gain things pertaining to life. Christians focus on sin way too much—our focus should be love. Peter said that “above all” focus on love because love covers a multitude of sins. The Bible is now our guide for loving God and others, and does not condemn us.

Moreover, salvation is not a mere assent to the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, it is a decision to follow Christ in death and resurrection through the baptism of the Holy Spirit that results in the new birth and the permanent receiving of the Holy Spirit. The old you literally dies and you are resurrected a new person.

Amazingly, lost people know this intuitively; the most common reason that the unregenerate don’t want to become saved is because they know it means giving up their present life, and being resurrected to the uncertainty of being a totally new person sold out to the kingdom. I believe that to be the focus of Christ’s exchange with Nicodemus in John 3.

And this is also the focal point of Galatians 2:20. Proponents of progressive justification use this verse to refute Biblicism which proffers a radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification. But in truth, Paul is attacking the Galatian error of progressive justification which substitutes the believer’s love in sanctification for a ritual that keeps justification moving forward. It’s the exact same error propagated by the Reformation.

The context is Paul’s rebuttal regarding how the Galatians were attempting to be justified. Justification is clearly the context. The fact that Paul is addressing the subject of justification in the body of text where Galatians 2:20 resides, is clearly evident (three times alone in Galatians 2:16, Galatians 2:17, 2:21, 3:8, 3:11, 3:24, 5:4). The Galatians were being led away into error via a justification which has law as its standard. It’s the same old song and dance with progressive justification; some sort of ritual or tradition fulfills the whole law which is not the standard of justification to begin with.

Since people cannot keep the law perfectly, the law is dumbed down into some sort of ritual or ceremony. Paul therefore warns them that if they want to be justified by the law, they are responsible for all of the law, not just the recognition of a few rituals:

Galatians 5:2 – Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Obviously, they believed that circumcision satisfied what many call today the “righteous demands of the law,” or a satisfaction “under the eyes of the law.” It is clear that a salvation by circumcision (ordinance) is in the mix here: 2:3, 2:12, 5:2, 5:3, 5:6, and 5:11. Perhaps circumcision saved you, and then the ongoing observance of other rituals maintained ones “just standing” (Gal 4:10, 11). At any rate, this results in the “relaxing of the law” for purposes of love in sanctification. Or in other words, antinomianism:

Galatians 2:15 – We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.

Galatians 5:7 – You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Of particular interest to further the point is Paul’s assertion as to what actually fulfills the law; LOVE, not ritual or tradition, especially since we are not justified by the law to begin with.

Now, as we move into the focal point of Galatians 2:20, it is important to define the words used in the verse.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (KJV [nevertheless I live excluded by ESV]).

Look, this verse is nothing more or less than run of the mill Pauline soteriology. It speaks of the Spirit’s baptism and the new birth. It is arguing against progressive justification by reiterating the new birth. “I am crucified with Christ” speaks of the old us that was crucified with Christ:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

In light of Romans 6 and 7, here is what I think this verse is saying:

The old I was crucified with Christ, but nevertheless the new I lives, not the old I, but the new I that is indwelt by Christ. The new I lives by faith in Christ who loved me and died for me.

In light of other Scripture, this is the only conceivable interpretation. And we must also consider the biblical definition of “by faith.” Galatians 5:6 makes the definition absolutely certain:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Also note what James said about faith:

James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

This is the EXACT same faith that is advocated by progressive justification soteriology in general, and Reformation soteriology in particular; a faith without works that invokes some kind of substitution for our works in sanctification. And they love to use Galatians 2:20 to promote it. Last week, we looked at this in-depth through the ministry of one of the more mainline evangelical churches; John MacArthur’s Grace to You ministries. We deconstructed a sermon on Galatians 2:20 by one of the ministry’s most prominent leaders, Phil Johnson, [also see Part 2 here].

In his Reformed run of the mill evaluation of the verse, he advocated the idea that it is a paradox; Paul was speaking of one man that is both dead and alive. Because of Christ, we are dead to the law because Christ fulfilled the law for us. We are alive when Christ’s fulfillment of the law is imputed to us in sanctification. Justification does not change the person in any way, shape, or form, but because of Christ, we are dead to the law for justification and alive to the law in sanctification because Christ fulfills the law in our place. There is no real exchange of masters because justification does not change us; the other Master, Christ, is a servant for us while we remain a slave sold under sin.

As John Piper once stated it, Christ is a school teacher that does our homework for us, and takes the test for us as well. He is also, for all practical purposes, a Master who purchased us with His blood, and then does our work for us. Again, it’s a matter of several single perspectives that unites what God separates. And in fact, the Reformed state constantly that Christians are still enslaved to sin.

This also unites gift and reward making salivation the reward for living by their definition of faith alone. This makes faith alone a work for purposes of earning our salvation. It is doing nothing with intentionality because love in sanctification is deemed works salvation. The servant is not free to love. The servant is not free to serve the other Master because he/she is still under the law that cannot be kept perfectly. But, it is love that fulfills the law, not law-keeping.

Note the following text:

Hebrews 6:9 – Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 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. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Note that God would be “unjust” in not rewarding their love and servitude. Why? Because sanctification is about the earning of reward while justification is a gift. Scripture must be interpreted according to the context of justification or sanctification accordingly.

Faith works in love. Faith works—this is not mere contemplationism or faith in Christocentric facts, it’s a working faith that we will be rewarded for. Let’s now define how faith works by, or through love. It’s the freedom to obey the law of the Spirit of life as opposed to the law of sin and death that the new man was under (Romans 6:14 and 8:2). This is what fulfills the law, not a dumbed down tradition. This is why Christ said that our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees; it must be a righteousness that works through love and fulfills the law accordingly. Not that the law is a standard for justification to begin with, but this is set against the idea that it is. The new birth frees the saint to aggressively love through obedience without any fear of condemnation.

Because the Pharisees sought to fulfill the law with their traditions, they relaxed the law and ignored its weightier tenets of mercy and love. As a result, they were rank antinomians on the inside and the outside (Matthew 23:28, Luke 11:39), and just another example of those who hold to progressive justification.

Moreover in closing, if justification does not change us through the baptism of the Spirit and Galatians 2:20 pertains to mere death and life experiences imputed to us by Christ as proponents of progressive justification assert, that leaves us with the raw reality of what the institutional church will look like. As ones still under the law of sin and death, the reading and teaching of God’s law will actually provoke people to sin:

Romans 7:7 – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

Sin is empowered by its ability to condemn through the law (1Cor 15:56). Sin is empowered and alive via condemnation. The person who is not reborn is under the law and its condemnation. Sin is still empowered by its ability to condemn through the law. This is why Christ came to end the law (Romans 10:4). Regardless of what kind of front the institutional church is able to erect, progressive justification keeps people under the law, under the Sin master, and the law itself will only provoke and promote sin.

In fact, in regard to youth groups, they will turn your children into antinomian rebels. This is irrefutable and a foregone conclusion regarding any doctrine that keeps people under the law. The law will only provoke them to sin because of its ability to condemn those who are still under it. In contrast consider the following:

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

See what is really going on in Galatians 2:20? Take the “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” and interpret it with, “you also have died to the law through the body of Christ.” Because the verse is strictly about how we are truly justified, it must be interpreted with the law in mind. And you can see that context in the venue of Galatians 2:20 with a capital C. Consider another interpretive paraphrase:

I am crucified with Christ and no longer under the law that enslaved me to sin, nevertheless I live according to the new way of the Spirit; yet not the I that was under the law, but the I with Christ living in me because I died to the law through His body: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith working through love according to the Spirit’s law of life.

This is a fair paraphrase unless you want to totally disregard Romans 6, 7, and 8, or worse yet, contradict those chapters. So why in the world is Galatians 2:20 worded this way? First, remember, it is ONE verse, and unlike any other verse about justification. Is this some sort of thumbnail statement that represents the corpus of Paul’s teachings on justification? I think that is very likely. Paul bemoans throughout his letter to the Galatians that he had invested all kinds of time in teaching them about law and gospel. It is very likely that this is a bumper sticker statement that represents the corpus of that teaching. If this verse says what purveyors of progressive justification say that it says, the rest of Pauline soteriology is clearly and completely upside down.

But be certain of this: this teaching of Galatians 2:20 is exactly why the institutional church looks like it does today. It is a return to Pharisee-like antinomianism traditions. It was in fact the Judaizers that were troubling the saints at Galatia.

With that, let’s go to the phones.

%d bloggers like this: