Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy

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

Do You Believe a False Gospel?

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Simply Stated: Why is Calvinism a False Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on May 12, 2015

Originally published November 24, 2013

Simply stated, Calvinism is a false gospel because it denies that salvation is a onetime event in the life of the believer. In other words, when a person believes in Christ, all of their sins are not forgiven once and for all time. The sins we commit in our Christian life go against our just standing, so we must continually revisit the same gospel that saved us in order to maintain our just standing. This is a problem because we have to do something to keep our just standing. The Reformers taught that salvation as a onetime finished work is a false gospel.

In our present day which is experiencing a resurgence of the original Reformation gospel, we assume that the mantra, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” is just a popular opinion about the best way to grow spiritually in our Christian life. Not so. The revisiting every day of the same gospel that saved us is necessary to maintain our just standing before God. “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us” is another popular mantra that is deceptive; a re-visitation of gospel is a must for keeping ourselves saved according to the Reformation gospel.

This is why the Reformers redefined the biblical new birth. Instead of the new birth being a onetime event in the life of the believer, making us a new creature, they made the new birth a continual rebirth experience only needed to maintain our salvation. Another way this could be stated follows: a perpetual re-salvation experience. Contemporary Reformed theologians call this “mortification and vivification” in their systematic theology.

paul

Thanks to the Institutional Church the Discussion Continues: “What Does It Mean to be Saved?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 23, 2015

Note the above Tweet I posted today. So true. As Christians, we all need help and a hand up, but because we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and completely capable as new creatures, our attitude must be, “Gee thanks, now I will take it from here.” If all of your knowledge comes from others, you had better do an emergency evaluation of your present standing.

There are only two individuals that are part of the institutional academia of the church that I have any respect for: Dr. Jay Adams and his associate Donn Arms who I think might have his doctorate by now. Apart from those two, to the best of my remembrance at this time, the whole of Protestant academia makes me sick. For the most part, they are mindless cowardly tyrants ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of truth. Seminaries continually pump men into the institutional church who have no gift for teaching, but have spent money to certify themselves as faithful regurgitators of Protestant orthodoxy.

Mindless followers of orthodoxy (the traditions of medieval tyrants) who do so for some sort of personal gain embody the worst of what humanity has to offer. I do not believe in the saying that evil can only prevail when good men do nothing—there is no such thing as a good man who does nothing—that’s an oxymoron. There is only one thing worse than pure evil: those who watch it and do nothing. Voyeurism is not commendable for any reason.

So here we are, more than 500 years after Calvin’s post tenebras lux, Dr. Jay Adams sees the need to write a recent article on what it means to be saved. And this is by no means unusual; googling “What is the gospel?” will produce a myriad of recent articles that take on the subject. And since Calvin et al propagated a false gospel that has been driven into the psyche of Western culture for more than 500 years, we might suspect that Biblicists must continue to work on using biblically accurate ideas, terminology, and words accordingly, and Dr. J’s article, with all due respect, is no exception.

A little past the introduction, Adams states:

The biblical usage of the word translated “saved” is precisely the same as ours. A newspaper headline that reads “Child Saved From Drowning,” means he was rescued. To be saved is to be rescued—rescued from sin and its consequences. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (that’s what Romans 3:23 has to say about everyone, including you). When God saves someone He rescues him from the penalty of sin, which is eternal punishment in hell. He also gradually rescues him from the power of sin in this life. And, ultimately, He rescues him from the very presence of sin by taking him to heaven. That is what it means to be saved.

My only protest to this definition is the wording in reference to the days we are in. Salvation must be spoken of in hard past-tense terms. Does God “gradually” “save” us from the power of sin? No, there is NO gradual rescue from sin. We are NOT rescued from sin on the installment plan; we are COMPLETELY rescued from sin when we are saved. There is now “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ—condemnation does not gradually decrease, it’s completely gone.

Sin still has the power to bring about death in our lives, but it is our choice to be lazy disciples or diligent ones, but either way, the final culmination is not condemnation nor is condemnation present in the interim. The word “sin” must be defined in reference to both justification and sanctification when presenting the gospel.

The Bible is clearly saying that you must depend upon Jesus Christ. But, what does that mean? It means that you must entrust your entire life, here and hereafter, to Him. It means that you must depend wholly upon what He has done, to be saved.

I must also object to this kind of wording in our day. We live in days that require much more clarification. Familiar terms will not suffice. There is no, I repeat, no future commitment and future dependence on Christ for purposes of salvation. The only requirement is to believe in Christ and what the present consequences are. If a cow wants to become a duck, he need not be concerned with depending on water in the future—being a duck comes with desiring water by virtue of being a duck. Better stated, committing to being Christ’s brother in the future doesn’t save us.

Being a brother isn’t a commitment any more than a future commitment to being born again. The new birth is a one-time event that we have no control over in the future. You cannot make a future commitment to prevent unbirth or debirth via a commitment. The new birth is beyond the realm of any commitment we make. Therefore, future commitment is assumed in the same way we assume that ducks can always be found in a pond. No future commitment to water is necessary for becoming a duck, the former is part of being a duck. You are either a duck or you aren’t.

Believing in Christ is to follow Him in death and resurrection. It is saying goodbye to who you presently are, and becoming whatever Christ chooses to make of you. What we need is biblical language in the gospel that emphasizes the new birth as much as the cross.

Jesus Christ died on the cross, bearing the punishment that was due to all who throughout the ages will believe on Him. He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice. The wrath of God fell on Him instead of them. All who trust Him as Savior have their sins forgiven. This is the “good news” that the apostles proclaimed around the Mediterranean world and that you are now learning in this blog. If you depend upon the saving work of Christ on the cross you will be saved.

The other words aside with no relevant disagreement, I would like to focus on, “He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice,” and offer the following comment: “No! No! No! No! No! No! No!”

Christ did not have to be resurrected in order to prove that he was approved of God—that happened at His baptism and has little relevance to the gospel. Again, we see our penchant for overemphasizing the cross at the expense of the new birth. The resurrection by the Holy Spirit was a promise made to Abraham and Christ, not proof of His approval by God.

Christ died so that we can die with Him and escape the law’s condemnation; Christ was resurrected so that the Spirit can resurrect us as well to serving His law in love. Christ died and was resurrected so that our relationship to the law can be transformed from condemnation to love. That’s the gospel.

Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done. News has to do with something that has already happened; not with something yet to be done. You cannot be saved by depending upon your good works, on ceremonies like baptism, or church membership. Nothing you have done or ever could do will save you. You must look away from yourself and others and look in faith to Christ alone. It is depending on the Lord Jesus Christ alone that saves. You cannot be saved by some vague invitation to “come forward,” or to “let Jesus come into your heart.” There must be an understanding of the good news that Christ died on the cross for guilty, condemned sinners like you, and a willingness to depend on His death and resurrection to save you from your sin.

All of this is true, but again, in our day, the distinction between justification and sanctification must be made in order to not add to the prevailing progressive justification of our day. We MUST ALWAYS delineate between works salvation and new creature love lest we confound the two…

Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done

…is the exact same language used by the progressive justification crowd that is firmly in charge of the American church. With all due respect, the statement separates good deeds (love) from the results of the resurrection (new birth), and that’s an extremely unfortunate result.

Because of prevailing progressive justification in our day, the very things Adams lists are described as the “means of grace” that “impart grace” and “keep us in the love of Jesus.” They are faith alone works that we “depend” on to keep us saved.

“Depend” is a bad word to use in conjunction with the good news of being born again. I was born of my mother and father, but I do not depend on what they did to stay alive. What they did is a finished work. For some time, I depended on them for the necessities of growing up in life, and my birth made that possible, but again, is a finished work, not the progression of growing up which is not yet finished.

Salvation is a finished work and includes regeneration. It is dying with Christ and being quickened by the new birth. It’s two-fold: Christ accomplished the first part and the Holy Spirit accomplishes the second. If you are going to say that a Christian needs to continually “depend” on Christ for salvation, you are wrong, but excluding the Spirit in that dependence is even more wrong and compounds the confusion. It also adds to the Chrsitocentricity of progressive justification. If you are going to be wrong, at least be wrong more accurately and include the Spirit. Salvation is Trinitarian—not Christocentric.

Let’s exclude the “depend” wordage in the gospel and replace it with “believe.” If you would notice, “believe” is the word always used in conjunction with the gospel in the Bible and that is not an accident.

“Depend” implies an ongoing work that should always be qualified as the new Christian life and NOT the finished work of regeneration. And that dependence should always include the Holy Spirit. Be sure of this: neither justification nor sanctification is Christocentric.

The completion of our new life is not salvation, salvation is a finished work—the completion of our new life is redemption. That’s the salvation from the weakness of our mortal bodies—not the salvation of our souls.

paul

The Ten Pillars of Contrast: God’s Prescribed Home Fellowships Versus the Institutional Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 23, 2015

As I catch up on reader homework, church drama is truly overwhelming. I find the information sent to me astounding. I was tempted to write five posts and I do not have time to do so—not even close. So, here are ten pillars (see Revised Twelve Pillars) that I believe are at the crux of what we see in the mega-soap opera called “church.” Come out from among them and be separate—let the dead bury their own dead.

I. God’s Kingdom is NOT on Earth

This paves the way for dominion theology and the marriage of faith and force. It also causes misplaced priorities among God’s people.

II. Focus on Individual Sanctification NOT Collectivism

In case anybody hasn’t noticed, the institutional church has no answers for victorious Christian living. In fact, the concept is openly mocked. The focus is the success of the institution as a salvation vessel. Ministry success is measured by the growth of infrastructure, not individuals.

III. Priesthood of Believers

Vertical aspect: One authority being Christ and His word as the one mediator between God and man. Horizontal aspect: fellowship and gifts, NOT authority and spiritual caste.

IV. Salvation is Finished

Justification is complete when the believer passes from death to life via the new birth.

V. The Judgment

Christians will not stand with unbelievers in a final judgment to determine justification. All people who stand in the final judgment are already condemned. Christians will stand in a separate judgment to determine rewards.

VI. Meeting Financial Need, NOT Institutional Taxes

New Testament tithing is according to meeting needs. Tithing to an institution is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

VII. God’s Prescribed Model by Default

It is clear that the beginning of the “church” took place in homes; yet, the idea that this model was transitional or a contrary institutional model is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.

VIII. The Church Discipline Myth

The New Testament prescribes “self-discipline” and the “Lord’s discipline” but nowhere speaks of a discipline performed by the church. Fellowship is based on active fellowship and NOT authority. Eldership is a gift, NOT the authority of God by proxy. Elders are to use their gift of teaching to persuade God’s people for their own benefit and the building up of the body of Christ to God’s glory.

IX. Salvation is of the Jews

Gentiles did not replace Israel, but are made partakers of the commonwealth of Israel through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

X. Rejection of Gospel Centrality

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are tri-equals in Justification and sanctification. We baptize in the name of all three. IF there is a centrality, and we do not believe there is, it would the Holy Spirit and not Christ. He is the promise to mankind and Christ.

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