Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Grace” is NOT Salvation, and Why Justification is the Antithesis of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 2, 2015

11091157_1126552080703726_3445703121797935280_nIf every verse in the Bible is not about justification, but Protestants believe that, and they do, this will redefine the Bible from cover to cover, and it does. The result is a completely upside down gospel.

For example, the internet placard that inspired this post. How does it define “grace”? Obviously, it defines grace as Christians not getting the punishment they deserve from the “righteous demands of the law.” This “mercy” “guides” you to obedience. But what “obedience”? Well, let me quote the pastor of the person who posted the placard: “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”

“You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.” What does that mean in conjunction with “mercy” leading us to this “obedience.” And, do Christians still need “mercy”? According to Protestantism, “yes.” I understand that some Protestants understand this to mean that we are motivated by God’s mercy when we don’t get the punishment that we deserve, but that is a watered down version of the authentic Protestant gospel. And anyway, true Christians no longer need mercy because we are no longer under condemnation; there is “no condemnation” for Christians. But more on the significance of that later.

The crux of the placard and the idea that Christians still need grace is well defined by some comments that were posted in regard to the placard. It starts with the idea that “grace” is synonymous with biblical justification or salvation. And since we still need “mercy” from the law as Christians, we must know how to obtain this mercy leading to keeping the law by not keeping the law. The endeavor is twofold, and exemplified in the following aforementioned comments:

MERCY is when judgement is constrained, and hence is what is being illustrated in this story by the officer letting you off the hook. But GRACE is not that judgement was constrained, but that it was conferred! It’s the picture of the officer, though acknowledging that you were guilty of trespassing the speed limit, determines that he’ll let you go on the premise that he PAID the ticket for you!

And…

What if the police officer decided to jump in the car with you. So every time you drove he’s sitting next to you and just keeps saying don’t worry about speeding I have fulfilled that law. [Viz, I kept the law for you] I’ll whisper to your heart and let you know if you are heading towards the speed limit. I just want to sit and chat with you and get to know you so well that you never ever want to speed again. Because you are forgiven and I love you.

If you think these are armchair theologians, think again. What they are saying is a mirror image of how two heavyweight Protestant theologians stated it in the following video:

What’s the idea here? Since Christians still need mercy from the righteous demands of the law, they must continually receive it by returning to the same gospel that saved them. “Grace” is defined as justification/salvation, so obviously, we must continually return to the same gospel that saved us. To most professing Christians in our day, the idea that Christians still need grace and mercy is a no-brainer and is pontificated with the often-heard, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

What is that gospel? It is twofold as exhibited by the two comments. Christ died for our sins which takes care of the penalty of sin (first comment), and then He kept the law perfectly so that His righteousness (perfect obedience) can be imputed to our Christian life. Therefore, as Christians, we continually go back to the salvation well for forgiveness and a righteousness that is not our own. That’s how we keep the law by not keeping the law: Jesus keeps it/kept it for us. The same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.

Why is this an egregious false gospel? First, we are not under the law for justification. There is no law for Jesus to keep for us. Jesus didn’t come to keep the law for us, He came to end the law… for Justification (Romans 10:4). The fulfilling of the law by Christ does not refer to Him keeping the law perfectly so that His obedience can be imputed to our sanctification.

And “grace” is NOT justification or salvation. “Grace” defines why God saved man; it’s an act of love that expects nothing in return, and of course, we need this same kind of love in our Christian lives, but that doesn’t make our sanctification a progression or specific expression of justification. The love of God is not applied to justification in the exact same way it is applied to our Christian lives (sanctification). Grace, as the reason God justified us (His unmerited love) expects nothing in return because man is utterly unable to justify himself.

However, God also displays His love (“grace” also means “help”) in regard to the purpose for which he saved us: good works…that we actually do in order to please Him. God doesn’t love Himself through us—we are not mere conduits from which God loves Himself; we in fact love God or we do not belong to Him. God’s love towards man in justification has a different application in sanctification. In the former man is completely helpless, in the latter man needs help. Both expressions of love are “grace.”

This is demonstrated by Ephesians 2:8-10…

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Grace, or charis, is a Greek word that means “a joyful benevolence.” Actually, the word has a wide variance of applications including, “favor,” “love,” “help,” “dignity,” etc. To define “grace” as synonymous with salvation is inaccurate; grace is the reason God saves, but it is also the reason God does many other things as well. Grace is also the reason that God is our advocate, comforter, co-laborer, and helper in our Christian life. In regard to our Christian life (sanctification), these words are used interchangeably (Heb 13:6, Jn 14:16 Rom 8:26).

Note verse 8: grace is the reason God saved us (John 3:16), but salvation is “the gift.” It is not the result of “works” (v.9), but the result of grace. This is where we have a radical dichotomy between justification (gift) and sanctification (reward). The two are mutually exclusive, and “grace” does not bridge the two. Gift and reward are mutually exclusive. In fact, Hebrews 6:10 says that God would be “unjust” to forget our works in sanctification. Why? Because our works in sanctification is an earned reward that deserves to be recognized. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from that passage.

The word for “works” in verse 9 is ergon which according to Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates “stands in direct antithesis” to charis (grace) and the two words are “mutually exclusive” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMG Int. 1992, p.1469). Yet, verse 10 indicates that good “ergon” or works is the purpose of salvation. Salvation is caused by grace, but works is the purpose of salvation. This is why justification and sanctification are mutually exclusive and not bridged by grace. One result of grace is the gift of salvation while the result of the other is reward. Gift and reward cannot be intermingled.

The type and kind of works were predetermined, but we are responsible to “walk” in them with God’s help. In justification, God is a savior; in sanctification, God is a “helper.”

Notice how the professing Christians of our day are obsessed with SIN. Because we are still supposedly under law and need the same “grace” that saved us, our Christianity is obsessed with failure and our dire need for more and more mercy. Life is lived under the cloud of the law, and the focus is how often the holy policemen in the sky does not write a ticket of condemnation.

A pity, because we are not under law and are rather under grace which means we seek to obey God’s law in love. The focus isn’t failure so that we can supposedly glorify God by returning to the foot of the cross, the focus is love which “covers a multitude of sin” (1Pet 4:8). We would sin a lot less if our focus was love, not the expectation of failure under the heavy burden of the law. We are not under the law of sin and death, we are under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). We strive to obey that law in love as the primary focus of our life; we dwell on love, not sin.

Moreover, if we glory in more and more mercy that saves us from the law that we are supposedly still under, that will result in a relaxing (lyō) of the law in sanctification that Christ warned us about (Matt 5:19) because after all, we can’t keep it perfectly anyway.

As Christians, our sin is family sin against our Father and can bring chastisement, but it is not sin under the condemnation of the law that requires a return to the same “grace” that saved us. That’s a false gospel. That’s under law, NOT under grace.

So, you do in fact keep the law by keeping the law, because that’s love.

paul

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3, Doing the Christian Walk

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 14, 2015

Blog Radio LogoGood evening, everyone. Welcome to Blog Talk Radio False Reformation. This is your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to call in and add to the lesson tonight, the number is 347-855-8317. You will hear me say, “You are on the air. This is your host, Paul. What is your question or comment?” and just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional.

Per the usual, we’ll be checking in towards the end of the conclusion of our presentation and try to get a conversation going with Susan about the topic at hand to kind of round everything out.

This is our third part in the series, “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification.” In the first part we defined the enemy; in the second part we defined the Christian, and now we are getting into the actual nuts and bolts of Christian living. How, yes, how do we walk in the Spirit or according to the will and desires of the Spirit? These are also our desires because we are born of God.

Again, this series is designed to address the core basics of sanctification and we trust that folks will add to their understanding through independent Bible study. We must remember, for more than 500 years, Protestantism has focused on justification while making sanctification a subjective outflow of salvation. Christian living is therefore a vast untapped knowledge.

Taking the first two parts together, we understand that the Christian is not only declared righteous by God, we are in fact new creatures who are holy. Perfect sinlessness is not the issue, change of direction is the issue. We have examined why sin in the Christian life does not exempt the Christian from being truly righteous and why that is not “legal fiction.”

This is important: the only soteriological imputation spoken of in the Bible is our sins to Jesus. Righteousness is not imputed to the Christian nor does the Bible state that anywhere. Christians are MADE righteous by the new birth. There is no so-called “double imputation.”

Romans 6:4 – 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 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.

The righteousness of God is not merely imputed to us, the new birth has made us the righteousness of God because we are His literal offspring. This is important to know if we are to live a sanctified life as kingdom citizens.

In order to adequately tap into the vast riches of sanctification via the Scriptures, it is essential that justification and sanctification not be confused. Regardless of what English translations seem to say, “gift” and “reward” cannot be confused. Salvation is a gift, sanctification, or the Christian walk involves rewards. Anything spoken of in the Bible as a reward CANNOT refer to salvation.

This part is going to be a summary on some of the methods of change for Chrsitians. Let’s start with the basic ones and move on from there. First of all, we are disciples, or learners. Gaining wisdom in sanctification is critical.

It is also critical that Scripture is your authority. Therefore, for all practical purposes, that means independent study and not a total dependence on teachers who are a help, NOT an authority. The only authority is Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Also, the method of interpretation should be grammatical historical as illustrated by the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus prescribed a learning and applying in order to have a life built upon on a rock. The audience was the uneducated peasantry of that day. The Bible is to be interpreted according to its plain sense of the words and how they are arranged in sentences. Historical context and rules of grammar should be observed as well.

Never forget this: all rules for interpreting the Bible are found within the Bible itself. Also, always remember to interpret a passage in context of justification or sanctification.

Do you know who you are as a Christian other than a holy one? You are a disciple, or learner. One of your primary objectives is to continually gain wisdom for Christian living. That’s sanctification.

1Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 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;

In the first two studies, we looked at how sin uses desire to make its appeal. Sin’s goal is to sell you on obeying its desires. Unbelievers, as we just read, are marked by obeying their desires.

Romans 6:12 – 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 born again believers, we are going to have desires like those of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 Again, our members, or mortality is not inherently evil. When Paul wrote “the desires of the flesh” that refers to when the flesh is being used in service to sinful desires. We have firmly established that our members can also be used for holy purposes. We also looked at the fact that our bodies are the Holy of Holies where the Holy Spirit resides. When we were “under law” we were enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good, but as ones “under grace” we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

It’s a reversal of overall direction predicated mostly by a love for God’s truth versus indifference to God’s law. That’s the glaring difference between a lost person and a saved person; though the unregenerate might be moral and practically wise in many areas of life, there will be a marked indifference to God’s opinion about things. People under grace love the truth:

2Thessolonians 2:9 – The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Wisdom teaches that Christians must discern between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of sin. I assume sinful desires will usually have pleasure as their goal, while godly desires will often look beyond pleasure to some higher goal. This can get pretty complex and would be a vast field of study in and of itself. Greed, taking shortcuts in dealing with life, and many other considerations would come into play.

At any rate, we learn of an extremely important principle in Romans 6. We become slaves to whatever desires we obey.

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When someone comes to you with an addiction, they have become addicted because they have become enslaved to that desire by obeying it over and over again. Whether believer or unbeliever, we become enslaved to what we obey. When we don’t feel like doing something that perhaps is an obligation like going to work, and we obey that feeling, the feeling becomes stronger and stronger to the point where it dominates us.

People who are lazy are enslaved to a certain feeling. And feelings talk, right? In this case, the feeling is saying, “I don’t want to go to work.” A lazy person must stop obeying that feeling.

Then you have stuff like pornography. People can be what we call “attractive.” So, whether men or women, we want to avoid soft porn. If you begin by obeying a desire to view soft porn, it’s just going to escalate from there. This is why I stay away from the magazine racks at grocery stores. It’s saying no to soft porn. If you say no to soft porn and set boundaries, it will always be easy to say no—the desire is weak. Saying yes makes you a slave to whatever you need to be saying no to.

And porn is dangerous because it can intermingle with the reality of an innocent recognition that there is attractiveness among people. Some people are easy on the eyes, other people not so much. This is reality. But wisdom comes into play here as well. There is an inner beauty and outer beauty which is a subject worthy of a whole book in and of itself.

Another thing we learn from Scripture is the principle of life and death. This is an active principle in both the believer and unbeliever. People either choose life or death. What we obey in life either brings about death or life. When we obey a sinful desire, it brings about some sort of death which in many cases is an extremely subtle form of death. In the life of an unbeliever, the overall direction in various degrees is death leading to ultimate death. That’s why there are degrees of eternal punishment. The end of a believer’s life is going to be eternal life, but that can look pretty sad in many cases.

More on this later, but it is clear in Scripture that a believer wallowing in anemic sanctification can sin unto death. I don’t think Ananias and Sapphire were struck dead because of their onetime act of hypocrisy, I think it was the final straw in a long succession of choices leading to death.

This is where we might plug in another sanctification dynamic. In regard to justification, we should have no fear. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ. But, we are commanded to have fear in sanctification throughout the New Testament. Why? This life and death dynamic in regard to what we obey. This is heavily emphasized throughout the New Testament.

1Peter 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Before we build on this life and death construct, let’s look more at desires. It is important for Christians to know that they can put sinful desires to death in their lives. And sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. Among unbelievers who are under law, you name it: a desire to murder. What happens when someone obeys that desire? They become a what? Right, serial killer. What about a desire to have sex with animals? What about thrill-seeking which can take on all kinds of manifestations? See, believers don’t understand these dynamics. Sin manifests itself differently in different people through different desires. Unbelievers can only be freed from these desires by dying:

Romans 6:6 – 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.

Oh my, what a wonderful evangelism tool! Offering the good news to people that they can die with Christ and be resurrected with Him in Spirit baptism which will free them from sinful desires. Homosexuals do not have to be hounded by that desire the rest of their lives. They may also learn they are called to singleness. Because of lack of wisdom, I think some unbelievers reason that if they don’t desire the opposite sex, they must be homosexual. Also, be sure of this: not saying no to sexual desire might lead anywhere. Most homosexuality begins with unfettered sexual desires with the same sex as well as sexual fantasies of all sorts. In a passage we read, it speaks of drunken orgies that would have involved group sex fueled by alcohol, and undoubtedly, anything goes in those settings. Point being: obeying sexual desires of all sorts can lead to anything and the slavery thereof.

Those desires can be put to death.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sinful desires can be put to death. How? By disobeying the desire, and robbing the desire of provisions:

Romans 13:14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word for “provision” is pronoia; it means to give forethought in caring for something. We are to cut off anything that gives a thought to the desire. No, if you are a former homosexual, you don’t associate with homosexuals. No, if you are a former alcoholic, you don’t associate with people who drink. And no, you don’t keep alcohol in the house for any reason.

If you have repented of gluttony, you don’t keep excess amounts of food in the house, and if you are on a diet, you keep certain foods out of the house. Many more examples could be used—you get the picture. You don’t feed the desire because desire is what sin uses to make its appeal, and strong appeals make it harder to say no.

As we look at this further, INCENTIVE is so huge in all of this. Note 2Timothy 2:15.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Note the use of the word “worker.” The same Greek word is mostly translated “laborer” elsewhere. This couldn’t be talking about salvation. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to earn his salvation. This not only means that a Christian can be ashamed, but that their entry into heaven can be a foggy and fearful affair:

2Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If adding these things listed to our lives can result in a rich entry into heaven, I have to believe that a not-so-rich entry is also possible. Every indication here is that one can go to heaven shrouded in doubt. Peter could not be telling Christians to make every effort to finish their salvation—that’s not what is in view here. Paul described his own rich entry:

2Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Key to the rich entry is “fulfill your ministry.” As we read in one of the many passages cited here tonight, EVERY Christian has been granted gifts for the purpose of the ministry they are called to. Fulfill that ministry. At least for Paul, the ability to stare death in the face without even flinching is tied to the fact that he fulfilled his ministry, and I strongly suspect it is no different for us. And let’s face it, we know how much emphasis there is on individual gifts in the institutional church.

Not only that, the only ministry that is taken seriously is performed by those who purchased a degree from a seminary. In a home fellowship, the gifts of the individuals in that small group are right in front of you every week. Individual service is the focus—not all of the distractions of an institution bewitched by authority. Leaders of a home fellowship are focused on individual gifts—not all of the drama that goes along with an institution.

Wise sanctification is rewarded richly in this life and the life to come. You can have eternal life, and be miserable in this life. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Hey, you’re here, while you are it you might as well love life.

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (Psalms 34:12).

Is it fair to say that depressed people don’t love life? Is it fair to say that depression is a form of death? Remember when I told you that choosing death or making death choices can be very subtle? Well, many times a series of subtle death choices can culminate into depression and often people will have no idea where the depression came from. This is where we get into people thinking depression is a chemical imbalance etc. Now look, depression can be medical, so definitely go to the doctor, but also be sure to take a hard look at your life—do both.

Susan and I are involved with a young person right now that can’t tell the truth about anything. I don’t know a whole lot, but I know this: if that person doesn’t repent they aren’t going to love life and see good days. If for no other reason, please start a home fellowship for the sake of our young people. Why? Because the institutional church is not going to teach this stuff to our children. No, no, that would be making them Pharisees. So, what do we see coming out of the institutional church in regard to our youth? Death, and death more abundantly unto death. Weak sanctification delegates God’s people to death, period.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10: 28 – Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Luke 14:12 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

What is missing in Christianity is a whole new way of life defined in kingdom living. We are merely ambassadors here, and are to live as sojourners and aliens (1Peter 2:11). Neglected is a body of knowledge that encompasses kingdom living from how we think to citizenship.

Missing is this whole concept of incentive for kingdom living. Obviously, when salvation is emphasized, and sanctification is looked at as an endeavor to keep our salvation, life more abundant in the here and now is not going to be emphasized. Our individual calling is not emphasized, keeping our salvation is emphasized.

This is the great calling of the home fellowship movement: an emphasis on sanctification and kingdom living. I was going to have several other parts to this series until I started researching; then I realized that I would be doing nothing but this till the second coming and none of our other projects would ever get done. So this is it. Next week we move on to something else. But I do believe that the Scriptures hold the answers for life’s most difficult problems, and it is up to us to find those answers in the Scriptures.

However, I am doing another series that is a critical supplement to this study; the whole issue of the “race of faith.” Part one, What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation, Part 1: First Letter of John 1:7-10 is complete and posted on PPT. Yes, this whole idea of perseverance that fuses justification and sanctification together. Is salvation in part a reward? Is salvation the reward for persevering, or is salvation strictly a gift?

Protestantism clearly states that salvation is a gift, but also a reward for persevering. This fits perfectly with their progressive justification construct. We contend that even though the English translations seem to indicate salvation as reward, that in the overall consensus of Scripture, mixing gift and reward is absolutely impossible—the two MUST be kept separate. I believe that a Christian can throw in the towel, but that doesn’t mean he loses his salvation—it means he loses reward in this life and the life to come. The idea of losing eternal reward is difficult for me to grasp, but losing rewards presently—not so much. It’s hard to love life when you have no hope. An example of eternal reward follows:

Daniel 12:3 – And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

That sounds pretty cool, but then there is this:

1 Corinthians 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.

This is pretty clear, no? Saved people will suffer loss of reward. The “through fire” part is a little unsettling, and it should be, but nevertheless, gift and reward cannot be confused. ANY passage that speaks of gift apart from spiritual gifts for service MUST refer to justification/salvation. ANY passage that speaks of reward MUST be speaking to Christian living. And when you start reading your Bible that way, it makes sense. For instance, James 1:12.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

So, if life is about Life and death choices, wouldn’t it make sense that one of the eternal rewards is for someone who persevered well in the Christian life? Specifically, a crown of life? Note what else James writes in the very next verse and following:

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Look, we all make choices in life that brings forth some sort of death, but that doesn’t mean we lose our salvation. Yes, yes, I know how the Reformed get around the accusation of Christ plus perseverance; already not yet which means that perseverance is merely a manifestation of who God has already elected. Well lovely—that just overfloweth with hope.

So, your assurance is only as good as your response to the next trial. And by the way, I heard John MacArthur Jr. say that. In fact, it was said to me by a Reformed counselor during a hard time that I was going through; I had to persevere through the trial in order to show myself approved.

Ok, so that’s it, part three of our series and next week we move on to something else.

Addendum: (more…)

What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation: Introduction

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 3, 2015

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

~1Corinthians 9:24

One can focus on all of the white noise of denominationalism, but most either proclaim or unwittingly function according to the idea that salvation is a process instead of an instantaneous and complete transformation. In fact, any example to the contrary is nowhere to be found among religious institutions. The institutional church, or simply “Church,” is founded on the idea that salvation is a process; it has a beginning and an end.

If salvation is a process with a beginning and an end, the Christian life must be treated as a salvation process. Hence, you are saved by salvation, you continue to be saved by salvation, and there is a final salvation. Therefore, the Christian life isn’t so much about holy living, but salvation. Who will deny the salvation centrality of the church since the Reformation? “Make[ing] disciples” (Matt 28:19) is understood as learning more and more about salvation, not Christian living. After all, salvation is still in process. We hear it constantly: “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation.” Does salvation grow?

If a different direction is to be taken in order to please the Holy Spirit resulting in His unleashing of heavenly power, it must be started outside of the church because the church is not going to give up on a 500-year tradition. Said another way: the church is not going to admit it has been wrong for 500 years. If the case is made here, nothing can be done about it within the church.

The theses of this series is fairly basic: salvation is a gift, but there are rewards for Christian living. A gift is not a reward because a reward is earned. Because the focus of the church (this includes all stripes of Catholicism and Protestantism) has been salvation, and salvation is a process, the race of faith is the process. God began the process, and we are involved in the process which is a race ending in the reward of final salvation.

Be sure of this: ALL church denominations represent differing beliefs on the proper way to run the race and thereby receive the reward of salvation.  And granted, there are many Scripture texts that seem to say just that, but it is the contention of this series that those texts seem to say that due to the church’s narrow salvation-centered approach to the Bible. The aversion to a studied theology among the laity is therefore prevalent. It is a tradition and way of life. No person should become incredulous at the suggestion that theology is even disdained among the laity. Reason is nothing more than demonic musings, and blind faith pure as the wind-driven snow.

But what are the consequences? Is there danger in seeing salvation as a reward? Or is the danger in the freedom of once saved always saved (OSAS)? Is there some kind of guardrail that keeps Christians from wanton libertinism that is both gift and reward, or is the confusion due to the omittance of theological training among the church’s laity?

This series will approach these questions from the viewpoint of Scriptures that call for perseverance. These same texts are used by many to make the case for perseverance in salvation for the purpose of receiving the reward of final salvation.

One such biblical text is 1John 1:7-9. That is where we will start in part one.

Our God Pays His Servants

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 2, 2014

Justification/salvation is a finished work and is completely separate from sanctification/Christian living. There is only one connection between justification and sanctification; one precedes the other. Seeing the radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification is key to much needed revival among Christians. Fusion of the two in varying degrees is the spiritual cancer that presently plagues the Christian community in our day.

A good way to see the vast separation between justification and sanctification is the difference between gift and reward. A gift cannot be earned, but a reward is something that is earned. Something that is earned, or worked for, cannot be a gift. When your employer pays you, he/she doesn’t hand you a check while saying, “This is a gift from me to you.”

In the Bible, salvation is a gift, and kingdom living is rewarded. Calvinism tries to get around this dichotomy by using Covenant theology. Supposedly, Adam violated a covenant of works when he disobeyed God, and the Covenant of Grace is a gift to us by faith alone, but is a result of Christ fulfilling the Covenant of Works (the covenant violated by Adam) for us. This enables them to explain away the following:

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

If God overlooked the work we do in kingdom living, that would make Him unjust. You can compare this to an employer who doesn’t pay an employee what they have earned. A reward is something you earn.

Calvinists say verses like this must be interpreted redemptively and not grammatically. In the grammatical interpretation, “your” means “you.” It is work done by you and you have earned a reward accordingly. If God overlooks what YOU have earned, that would make Him unjust. But if this verse is interpreted redemptively, it becomes the work Christ has done for you rather than by you. It is Christ’s fulfillment of the Covenant of Works that is being referred to, and your reward is salvation accordingly.

So, our “reward” is really a “gift.” And the “gift” is a reward given to us because the work is done by someone else. Hence, one cannot be a grammarian and Calvinist both. In addition, any claim by Calvinists that they use exegesis is not in the realm of reality. Covenant theology is clearly eisegesis. You must go to the Bible with a prism that can explain the contradictions that arise when sentences are evaluated by the plain sense of the words.

paul

 

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