Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Heidelberg Disputation Series Part 12, Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law

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

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So, I was over at my mom’s house minding my own business watching a little Fox News when I noticed a little booklet on the table beside the easy chair. I picked it up and observed the title: Devotions and Prayers of Martin Luther. Of course, I thought that would be interesting. When I opened it, I observed that my dad bought it for mom in 1962. That would be when her three boys, of which I am one would have been 6, 4, and 2. That’s three boys, 6, 4, and 2 which means she would have been needing a lot of prayers during that time. So this gift makes perfect sense. Anyway, I just indiscriminately cracked the thing open roughly in the middle to see what was there. Here is the prayer that I read:

Almighty God, great that we and all Christians may receive the holy sacrament savingly by thy grace. Give us our daily bread that Christ may abide in us and we in him, and that we may worthily bear the name Christians which we have received from him. Amen.

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 12 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation – Theses 22 and 23: The Vital Union, Ritual, and Law.”

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 over your cellphone. 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.

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If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Paul @ Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat .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.

Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD with thesis 22. This is where we get into the true heart of the Protestant Reformation which concerned philosophy, or state of being.

Anything to do with justification or soteriology was grounded in philosophical or metaphysical presuppositions. I opened tonight with an example of that. Notice that Luther prayed that salvation would be imparted to believers through participation in the Lord’s Table. Whether Protestants know it or not, that’s why the Lord’s Table is such a solemn ceremony in the church—it’s imparting salvation. The solemn examination of self while droopy faced deacons or elders pass around the holy plastic thimbles filled with either grape juice or real wine depending on the outcome of the Baptist civil war in your neck of the woods is the mortification part of the ceremony, and one should expect a joyful demeanor following, ie., vivification.

The Lord’s Table is one of the big five that you do to run the Protestant race of faith alone on the way to the one big final “tribunal” where you find out if you lived by faith alone well enough to make it into heaven. The other four are church membership, sitting under elder preaching, prayer (primarily confession of “present sin”), and the baptism of the holy spirit through mortification and vilification. These all result in the vital union also mentioned in the same prayer: “that Christ may abide in us and we in him.” So, in regard to the initial baptism signified by water baptism which also initiates one into membership, this same baptism is lived out through self deprivation of some sort leading to resurrection experiences of one sort or another—usually incited by praise and worship music.

The Lord’s Table was never some solemn ceremony in the Christian assemblies, but rather an informal remembrance of Christ’s death during the fellowship meal. As Rome began to take over the home fellowships and assert authority over them, the paganization of Christian traditions took place; not least of which is this idea of perpetual union, or becoming one with some god through some sort of ritual. I would like you to observe the black chart on the slide show. Remember, this is not our chart, this is a visual illustration of the vital union, a formal Protestant doctrine.

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Notice that in this case, the union takes place through the “deep repentance” process noted on the left. Obviously, if the process on the left is not a onetime event, nether is the right side of the chart. Notice the title of the chart: fundamentally, Protestantism is a returning to the same gospel that saved you in order to relive the baptism of the Spirit over and over again. In other words, the “new birth” is not a onetime event that makes you part of God’s family. The goal of the so-called Christian life is new birth experiences in which the works of Christ are manifested in our realm or through us (double imputation). The Reformers draw from a number of different metaphysical theories to explain this like Idealism philosophy. That is the idea that reality only exists in the perception of the mind, and God is in control of the perceptions. But that is only one angle among many.

But let’s take that example as a way to explain how this all works. Protestantism is about justification by faith…ALONE throughout the whole course of our life. So, it begs the question: how does one live, which assumes human activity prompted by cranium activity, by faith alone? How does one work meditatively? Well, if the work you are doing is really nothing more than perception placed there by God, you aren’t really doing the work, right? You are only EXPERIENCING what Christ accomplished when He was living on earth. He lived out a perfect life for us (double imputation) which is now experienced through the vital union (“I’m in him, He’s in me”). This is also known as Christ for us, or Christ 100% for us. But you say, “But look at the top part of the chart! It says “heart changed.” Ok, let’s go to another Reformed illustration.

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What does the downward trajectory represent? Right, the left side of the other chart. What does the upward trajectory represent? Right, the right side of the chart. What does the cross represent? Right, the cross on the other chart. Now, what changes, you or the cross? Right, you don’t change, and in fact, if you fail to see how sinful you are the bottom trajectory goes up and the cross gets smaller. So, what is the authentic Protestant definition of “heart change”? Right, a mere perception or experience. I have at times likened this to standing in the rain. You experience the rain, you feel the rain, but you have no control over the rain. You are not doing the rain. Sanctification is being done to you, not by you. But you do something—you merely participate in the experience of salvation—it’s experiential only. This is how you supposedly live by faith alone.

This idea of being unified or becoming one with a god through some ritual is expressly pagan. Of course, what immediately comes to mind is the Aphrodite cults throughout history. This idea of union with a god through sexual intercourse with a temple prostitute even crept into the first century home assemblies:

1Corinthians 6:14 – And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sine a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

From the historian Herodotus we learn:

The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus (Herodotus, The Histories 1.199, tr A.D. Godley 1920).

What is our major concluding point here? That authentic Protestantism traded the biblical definition of the new birth, a onetime event that makes us a permanent part of God’s literal family, for the ongoing experience of so-called vital union, and that Protestantism’s way of obtaining that experience is just one among many not excluding the ritual of temple prostitution. It’s the same idea; temporary experiential union in contrast to a permanent new birth and onetime Spirit baptism.

Also, and more to the point regarding this area of the HD, is that these rituals necessarily take the place of knowledge because of the authentic Protestant worldview. More on that shortly, but let me now address a comment received this week on PPT.com because it’s a good example of the waters of confusion that Protestants swim in as a result of historical ignorance.

This honestly saddens me… I just finished reading Platt’s “Radical”, and I don’t feel that he deserves this. My understanding of his book is “if you truly love Jesus, it will change your life”. Platt is living out John 14:21 by obeying God’s commands to take care of the poor and needy, and living out Matthew 28:18-20 in bringing the gospel to all nations. This book (and Platt’s life) is designed to get the church on board with the mission of God, and is built on passages like 1 John 3:16-18. I’d much rather be like Platt, trying to get the church involved in the mission of God, instead of sitting in the pews screaming at anyone who doesn’t agree with what they think. Honestly, how can we call ourselves followers of a God (who IS love), and then unlovingly thrash another human being? Maybe we should read 1 John 4:21 before we start hating on a brother? Just a thought… lest we be condemned before God for not loving him.

More than likely, the individual who wrote this comment doesn’t understand how authentic Protestantism interprets the reality that Platt appears to be calling people to. More than likely, a more careful examination of the sentences in the book would paint a different picture. Platt is a Neo-Calvinist purist and would hold to almost everything in the HD, so let us consider thesis 24 in comparison to the reader’s comment:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.

Platt is therefore not “living out” anything nor is he calling others to do so. Platt isn’t really talking about good works in the book, but rather manifestations of Christ’s imputed righteousness. It is VERY unlikely that Platt does not hold to double imputation.

Again, this soteriology is necessarily the application of the Reformed world philosophy of choice integrated with Scripture.

Thesis 22: That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.

This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks, as the poet says: »The more water they drink, the more they thirst for it.«The same thought is expressed in Eccles. 1:8: »The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.« This holds true of all desires.

Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on, as Christ shows in John 4:13, where he says, »Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again.«

The remedy for curing desire does not lie in satisfying it, but in extinguishing it. In other words, he who wishes to become wise does not seek wisdom by progressing toward it but becomes a fool by retrogressing into seeking»folly«. Likewise he who wishes to have much power, honor, pleasure, satisfaction in all things must flee rather than seek power, honor, pleasure, and satisfaction in all things. This is the wisdom which is folly to the world.

Therefore, the Reformation called for the eradication of all knowledge as an evil lust that cannot be satisfied. Consequently, the Bible only has ONE use:

Thesis 23: The »law brings the wrath« of God (Rom. 4:15), kills, reviles, accuses, judges, and condemns everything that is not in Christ.

Thus Gal. 3:13 states, »Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law«; and:»For all who rely on works of the law are under the curse« (Gal. 3:10); and Rom. 4:15: »For the law brings wrath«; and Rom. 7:10: »The very commandment which promised life proved to be the death of me«; Rom. 2:12: »All who have sinned without the law will also perish without law.«Therefore he who boasts that he is wise and learned in the law boasts in his confusion, his damnation, the wrath of God, in death. As Rom. 2:23 puts it:»You who boast in the law.«

Hence, the Bible only aids us in self condemnation in regard to the downward trajectory on the cross chart and the process of vital union. The Bible is not to be used to gain any kind of knowledge, but is only a tool for self-condemnation, or “death at hand” in order to experience the vivification of what Reformed soteriology defines as the new birth. As seen in the summary of the 22nd thesis, any notion that objective conclusions can be drawn from that which is seen is utter wickedness according to this view.

That concludes tonight’s lesson, let’s go to the phones.

Counseling the Unsaved

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

“Salvation is not a mere mental assent to the death and resurrection of Christ; it is joining Christ in that death and resurrection through the Holy Spirt.”

We live in a day of Christian impotency in regard to living that glorifies God. The glory of megachurches and dynamic multimedia presentations cannot cover for the fact that Christians have no answers for life’s toughest problems. This shouldn’t surprise us because our spiritual forefathers didn’t believe mankind possesses the faculties that comprehend reality itself. Martin Luther considered reason to be man’s foremost deception.

Few Christians understand our Protestant roots, and therefore are confused about its present-day rotten fruits. The assumption is that we still don’t have something right while the source is assumed impeccable. For purposes of this post, the introduction can be boiled down to this: for 500 years, Protestantism has emphasized salvation and not Christian living because Protestantism views salvation as a process, not a finished work. Hence, the goal is to be able to “stand in the judgment” rather than a focus on Christian living, and frankly, Christian loving. For the most part, the laity doesn’t even understand how most Protestant pastors process reality itself.

Christian living is uncharted territory. Don’t be deceived by all the literature proffering a Christian living that is sanctification by justification. Christian living that is salvation in process is a fundamental principle of Protestant thought.

Regardless, the answer is to get busy and reverse the trend. Let’s not worry too much about what we don’t know in regard to Christian living which is not much, but let’s start somewhere and continue to learn. So, if an unsaved person unwittingly comes to us for help, how should that person be guided?

If that person wants to change, they have come to the right place because our wisdom should come from the One who created us. He who created us knows how to fix us. However, keep in mind that the vast majority of Protestant counselors don’t believe that people can be fixed whether they are Christians or not. The use of the word “change” among Protestant counselors is outright deception; Protestant ideology does not endorse people-change in the literal sense. “Change” is really “heart change” which is a mere capacity to SEE reality differently for the purpose of wellbeing, not well-doing that glorifies God. For an example of that, watch this clip very carefully and think about what this “Christian” bestselling author is really saying.

Hence, Protestants point to “saints” in perfect peace as the goal while their own lives and the world around them are burning down, but is that peace from God, or their Gnostic worldview?

So be encouraged; if someone comes to you—you don’t know much, but you at least believe people can change. Now to the subject at hand: how should we counsel an unsaved person?

A good start is to tell the unsaved person that God’s wisdom can change his/her life for the better. In fact, many secular organizations use many wise principles that help people change for the better, and these principles are common to all people because of how creation is wired. But we offer something more: forgiveness in Jesus Christ (Aside: “Christ” is a term for “Messiah”).

You see, a person can stop doing a sin, but unfortunately, they are still accountable for the sin. The fact that they stopped doing it will improve their present life, but they will still be condemned for the act committed. The Bible states this to be the fact because they are still “under law.” The law keeps a record of every violation against it and God will condemn according to those violations accordingly. It is not true that an unsaved person cannot change, they most certainly can, but they are still under condemnation.

Jesus Christ died to end the law. If they believe in Christ, they not only have temporary change for the better, they have forgiveness for every sin they ever committed. What about really, really bad sins? Is the really bad sin in the law? Then it’s taken away. Is it not in the law? Where there is no law there is no sin. What about future sin? Where there is no law there is no sin.

So, if they believe in Christ, they can sin unabated without condemnation? No, because Christ was also resurrected by the Holy Spirit. They are not only believing in Christ’s death, they are believing the old them that was under law also dies with Christ, and is also resurrected with Christ in the “new way of the Spirit.” Instead of temporary change, they can have real change: the old self dies and is resurrected into a new person; now that’s change! Salvation is not a mere mental assent to the death and resurrection of Christ; it is joining Christ in that death and resurrection through the Holy Spirt.

What is the “new way of the Spirit”? Simply stated, the law that formerly condemned the person they were is now the guide to love God and others. In addition, fear of death is not necessary because fear of death has to do with judgment under the law when it formerly condemned us. Sin also uses the condemnation of the law to enslave people because it cannot be used to please God by those who are under its condemnation.

Said another way; we are offering eternal life rather than a more comfortable condemnation. But also, life more abundant in the here and now.

What about future change for the glory of God? Well, you have now gained a brother or sister—that’s a journey that you will now take together. You are now two counselees sharing the mutual experience of God’s instruction and leading by the Holy Spirt who has sealed us until the day of redemption. We know Him because he will never leave us or forsake us. Neither of you know much, but you will learn it to together for the glory of God.

And salvation is not a process, growing in love is a process, and there is no fear in love. Salvation is a settled issue, and Protestantism is not salvation.

paul

The “Legalism” Myth and Why Antinomianism and Justification by the Law are the Same Thing

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 24, 2015

Good evening everyone welcome to False Reformation Blogtalk radio. This is your host Paul Dohse. This is a special live presentation for tomorrow night’s episode because I will be out of town attending a conference.

Therefore, tomorrow night’s weekly Friday episode will be prerecorded here tonight. If you would like to add to the show or ask a question call 347-855-8317.

Per the usual, I will say “This is your host Paul. You are live on Blogtalk what is your comment or question?” With that, just start talking—identifying yourself is optional. Also per the usual, we will be checking in with Susan to get her feedback on tonight’s show.

Now, on to our topic. Let’s summarize the commonly accepted narrative of our day. The Reformation’s justification by faith saved Western civilization and stands in stark contrast to its two primary nemeses: “legalism,” and “antinomianism,” with antinomianism being the lesser evil by far.

Legalism is attempting to be justified by the law, and antinomianism is the belief that there is no use for the law—it only condemns. In other words, Christians are not obligated to the law in any way, shape, or form. The word means literally, “anti-law.”

This is the theses for tonight’s show:

Point 1: There is no such thing as legalism.

Point 2: Antinomianism is really justification by the law—they are the same thing.

Point 3: The Reformation’s justification by faith is really justification by the law.

Point 4: Therefore, Protestantism is both justification by the law and antinomianism because the two are the same thing.

Point one, there is no such thing as “legalism.” Without a doubt, this is proffered as kingdom enemy #1. However, the term is found nowhere in the Bible, nor is the concept found anywhere in the Bible. What is it? What’s the technical definition according to Protestant orthodoxy?

So-called legalism is the idea that Christians can do a good work. Legalism is closely associated with the Reformed truism, the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. The primary criticisms of legalism are “it jumps directly from the command to obedience.” This is also known as “fruit stapling.”

Closely associated with the legalism myth is the anti-legalism truism, “all change comes from the inside out.” That’s yet another truism among Christians that is accepted as absolute gospel out of hand. But what does it mean? I’m not saying that there is no truth in the statement, but what do they mean by it?

Listen carefully; I want to interject a principle of deception. Readily accepted truisms that sound good and not subjected to scrutiny are stepping stones that take you to a place of other people’s choosing. They know where you are going, but you don’t. No person anywhere or at any time ended up in a mass grave apart from this concept. No person was ever duped out of their lifesavings apart from this concept. No person has ever wasted years gifted to them apart from this concept. This concept applies to every strata of life.

So, what is meant by this anti-legalism myth truism? It is the idea that all good works must be filtered through the inner person before they appear outwardly. This dissects the role of the believer, if the dreaded legalism is to be prevented, into two categories: active and passive. The active is understanding only, and the passive is the actual manifestation of the outward work.

This necessarily requires an understanding of what is meant by “heart change.” Heart change is your capacity to see only. It defines faith as something that only perceives outwardly. So, the ONLY active role of the Christian is to SEE reality in a kingdom of God way, or at least what they define that to be. This is known as, watch it—we here it all the time: “a Christian worldview.”

So let’s pause for a summation thus far: in order to prevent the dreaded legalism myth, we must know that the only active role of the Christian is to have a proper worldview, or a proper perception of reality. This is faith, and the growth of faith is heart change. Got it?

This results in works being separated from the Christian and manifested by Christ. This prevents “legalism” which is the supposed errant belief that Christians can perform a good work, and thus, watch it, here is another one, “possessing a righteousness of our own.”

Are you getting this so far? So, in less than 700 words so far, we have defined: legalism; fruit stapling; faith; heart change; and Christian worldview. The Christian’s active role is to see according to the right worldview, his passive role is to WATCH…here is another one…here it comes…”what Jesus has done, not anything we do.”

Let’s now add this: typically, those who are supposedly guilty of legalism will only believe that Christ died for our sins, while denying that Christ lived a perfect life to fulfil the Old Covenant law for us. This is the Protestant/Lutheran/Calvinist formal doctrine of double imputation. Christ died for our justification, and lived for our sanctification so that His perfect obedience to the law of Moses can now be applied to our life through faith alone in our sanctification, or Christian living if you will.

That’s the “indicative,” viz, all works are grounded in what Christ did, not anything we do. Therefore, when you see a command in the Bible, it must be seen in its quote…”gospel context” of double imputation. The imperative shows us what we cannot do, but rather what Jesus has done for us. Hence, “the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.” Supposedly, when Jesus commands us to be perfect, He is driving this point home that perfection is the standard and we cannot be perfect.

Side note: What Jesus is really doing is telling us to be who we are, viz, perfect. “But Paul, we sin!” Hold that thought, we will address that.

Another side note: Christ didn’t have to obey the law perfectly in order to prepare our works for us, the Holy Spirit did that before the foundation of the world:

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The works were prepared by God and sanctified by the Holy Spirt before the foundation of the world, and Abraham was justified 430 years before the law of Moses—Christ did not have to obey the law for us and clearly, we are the ones who “walk” in the pre-prepared works sanctified by the Holy Spirit before the world was ever created. The more you study election, the more you realize it’s just another angle on trying to get it into the heads of Christians that law and justification are mutually exclusive.

So, in the closing of our first point let us define so-called legalism: it is the belief that a Christian can do a good work. See, among myriads of examples, the Calvin Institutes book 3, chapter 14, sections 9-11 and Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. “Paul, the Heidelberg Disputation has 28 theses, which one?” Answer: All of them. Pick one.

Now let’s define antinomianism. That’s actually in the Bible. That’s actually a biblical word. What does it mean? “Antinomianism is the English transliteration of the Greek word, “anomia” which means “anti-law.” As we have discussed on this program before, “law” is a biblical word that really just refers to the full counsel of God. Antinomianism for all practical purposes is “anti-godly wisdom.” As we will see as we move along, the best meaning is “anti-love.”

In the biblical sense, antinomianism has no reference to justification. Because law and justification/righteousness/salvation are mutually exclusive, the bible would actually endorse an antinomian view of justification. The only biblical reference point antinomianism has regards sanctification, or the Christian life. Antinomianism is the absence of law in sanctification.

Curiously, the Reformers, both past and present, define antinomianism as the absence of law in justification. Remember, in Protestantism/Calvinism/Reformed soteriology, law is justification’s standard. This is a segue right into the definition of antinomianism according to the Reformed.

This is where the Reformed pound the pulpit against antinomianism and vehemently deny that they are antinomian. Some Reformed guy even wrote a book titled “Friends of the Law” expounding on the Reformed virtue of upholding the law of God. But of course, why wouldn’t they? They think law is the standard for justification! No law, no justification.

But here’s the dirty little secret: justification, which according to them is synonymous with perfect law-keeping, is justification by faith alone right? So, if the perfect demands of the law have to be maintained in order for there to be any justification, Christians cannot remain justified in sanctification unless the demands of the law continue to be met. Right?

That creates a problem: how can the perfect demands of the law continue to be met in sanctification, or in other words: the Christian life? The dirty little secret is that justification by faith alone (also known as simply “justification by faith”) also pertains to sanctification also.

Aside: Some in the Reformed camp, actually many, claim that antinomianism is a misnomer because mankind is helplessly enslaved to chronic self-justification. Someone who believes in throwing the law away so that grace may abound is a description of someone who is an anomaly. Elyse Fitzpatrick wrote an article advocating such a view that went viral. According to the view, man’s natural bent is to attempt to justify himself through law-keeping.

Aside to that aside: This teaching can be particularly cruel and confusing to many born again Christians because the new birth results in a desire to obey the law. Fitzpatrick et al are now charging that such a desire to please God is sin. Follow?

Well, how does one live by faith alone in their Christian life? That is the money question; that is the lynchpin in this study, and now moves us to the biblical definition of justification by law. This is a very biblical concept that saturates the Scriptures.

What is scriptural justification by law? What is the specific definition? Here it is: justification by law (JBL) makes law the standard for justification. The law’s perfect demands must be fulfilled at all times in order for anybody to be considered righteous. There is only one problem; obviously, no person can keep the law perfectly. So, what to do?

Answer: faithfulness to a ritual or authoritative tradition is added to the law as a qualified faith-act that fulfills the law for man. JBL is NEVER an attempt to keep the law perfectly because everyone knows that’s impossible; hence, faithfulness to a system that appeases the law is implemented. In the case of the JBL that drove the apostles nuts, it primarily came from the Jewish culture that was heavily influence by Philo.

Let me demonstrate from Scripture how this worked:

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.

Herein is the biblical definition of JBL: clearly, it is a ritual or tradition that replaced the necessity for being justified by keeping the whole law. It is a faith-based ritual that appeases the law. In this case what is it? Right, circumcision. Paul said “no,” if you want to be justified by the law you are obligated to keep the whole law because the law is not appeased by ritual. Circumcision, so they thought, was atonement for sin certified by the authority of leaders and their established traditions.

More than likely, circumcision was the ritual that got you in, and then you had to follow other traditions in order to keep the law satisfied:

Galatians 4:9 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Get it? The law is replaced and dumbed down with easy-to-keep rituals, customs, and traditions as a way of fulfilling the whole law and apparently atoning for sin according to whatever system you have signed up for. In some cases, it may be believed that these customs inaugurated by the authority of men actually abolish the law rather than fulfill it. But whatever it is matters not—the results are the same.

This brings us to the inevitable problem with such systems: the finer points of the law are disregarded because the ongoing demands of the law must be met to keep yourself saved. Besides, the law can’t be kept perfectly anyway, and focus on the accepted customs is what keeps you saved.

This is why JBL is antinomianism, because it voids the law by the traditions of men in sanctification in order to appease the law for justification. Let’s look at a prime example of this:

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

Why would one relax the law in their Christian living? Because in justification by law the law isn’t for sanctification it’s for justification. That’s almost too obvious when you state it that way. And in regard to where this passage comes from what is the Sermon on the Mount about? Right, sanctification. The cross or justification is nowhere in that sermon. It’s a message about Christian living. Also, the dominate theme of the message is a warning against replacing the law of God with tradition. How many times in that message do we read, “You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…”?

Let’s look at some other examples:

Romans 2:17 – But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

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! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

Side note: many in our day in-fact say that we are found justified in Christ by professing that we are what? Right, “sinners.” We hear it all the time!

Next, let’s look, as promised, at how antinomian justification by law leads to anti-love. This is because one biblical definition of love follows: love is an endeavor to learn God’s law and truthfully apply it to life:

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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

John 14: 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

There is no surprise then that the Bible links antinomianism with lovelessness. It is impossible to love God and others without obedience. If there is law in justification that must be continually appeased, we must fear the motives for our obedience in sanctification, we are still enslaved to the law and its demand for perfect law-keeping. But if there is no law in justification and justification is a finished work, we are free to aggressively love in sanctification without fear that our justification will be harmed. Motives for obedience are a non-issue because law-keeping does NOTHING for our justification—the two are mutually exclusive. The only motive left is love. This is why justification by law is antinomianism leading to lovelessness:

Matthew 24:11 – And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

The word for lawlessness in this verse is “anomia.” Love will grow cold because of anomia. Why? because love and obedience are mutually inclusive and there is only obedience in sanctification—not justification. Elsewhere we read:

Psalm 119:70 – their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.

Lastly, why is Protestant justification by faith really the justification by law resulting in loveless antinomianism that the Bible warns us about? Because law is the standard for justification, its demands must be continually met during the Christian’s life, and “faith alone” ritualism fulfills the law on behalf of the Christian.

In the 1st century it was circumcision, now it is a baptism into church membership where we can find a continuing cover for sin. If we are faithful to the local church and disavow any “righteousness of our own,” the righteousness of Christ will continue to satisfy the law in our stead. It’s really the same justification by law resulting in loveless antinomianism that has plagued God’s people from the very beginning. In fact, we even hear notable Calvinists like John Piper in our day claim the following:

If you are not being accused of antinomianism, you are probably not preaching the gospel.

Why are they right about that? Because it is antinomianism—it replaces our obedience, and frankly our love as well, with the obedience of Christ. Also, it is supposed that justification and law are mutually inclusive because Jesus keeps the law for us. However, the Bible continually states that we justified APART from the law and “apart” means “totally separate.”

Who keeps the law is not the issue; the law period is the issue.

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