Paul's Passing Thoughts

Second Epistle of Andy to “Trevor”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 17, 2016

Some time ago I relayed the account of a Facebook interaction I had with an individual I called “Trevor”.  Trevor is a young man in his early twenties.  I’ve had the privilege of having long conversations with him regarding theology and Biblical matters in general.  Trevor goes to a local church and has made a profession of faith, so giving him the benefit of the doubt (since it is not my place to make a judgment otherwise) I regard him as a brother in Christ.

Last Friday, Trevor and I got into another discussion, this time about the Law and how it pertains to believers.  Since he was pressed for time and our conversation was growing increasingly in depth, Trevor asked if he could pose some specific questions via a Facebook message to which I could then compose a more in-depth reply.  What follows is my response to Trevor.  His questions are included in the body of the response in bold italics.  I hope that you find it edifying!

Read the entire post here

What is Love?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 11, 2016

“Love (agape) suffereth long, and is kind; love (agape) envieth not; love (agape) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love (agape) never faileth:”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This passage of scripture is one of the most well-know sections of the Bible. It is most often referred to as the great love chapter, and often the chapter is used in the context of marriage. And while it certainly has application to married couples, the apostle Paul had a much larger context in mind when he began his treatise.

The context actually begins in chapter 12 and extends through chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. Paul was addressing a specific problem in the assemblies in Corinth and the province of Achaia. The issue was with regard to spiritual gifts among believers, and there were those who regarded certain gifts as more important or of higher esteem than others. More specifically, the Corinthians viewed tongues as the most important gift, and so if you didn’t speak in tongues, then you were considered a lower-class of believer. As a result, everyone wanted to speak in tongues. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 he said you earnestly covet the best gifts (or what they thought were the best). But Paul rebuked them by showing them that this was not loving behavior. This is what prompts the apostle to launch into his in-depth dissertation on the definition and characteristics of love. Let’s consider each one of these characteristics in detail.

“Suffereth long”
μακροθυμει (mak-roth-oo-my) – To be long-spirited. Forbearing or patient. Love hangs in there for the long run.

“Is kind”
χρηστευνεται (chray-styoo-neh-tie) – Derived from the word χρηομαι (chray-oh-my), having to do with the hand in a sense where one is furnishing that which is needed. “Lending a hand”. To show oneself useful. Acting useful. Benevolent. Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.

“Envieth not”
ου ζηλοι (oo dzay-loy) – “oo” being the negative particle meaning “no” or “not”. “Dzay-loy” is derived from the word which means “heat”. To be boiling with heat. Zeal in an unfavorable sense. “Hot headed”; petulant. Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.

“Vaunteth not itself”
ου περπερευεται (per-per-you-eh-tie) – The prefix “peri” has the meaning of going beyond or further. The double use of “per” in this word gives emphasis of going farther beyond what is necessary, which is what a braggart does. Giving oneself more honor than one should; elevating oneself. Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.

“Is not puffed up”
ου φυσιουται (foo-see-oo-tie) – From the root word φυω (foo-oh) meaning to swell up or grow. To inflate or puff up. Used figuratively, to become proud. Love is not proud.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly”
ουκ ασχημονει (ah-schay-mo-nie) – A compound word with the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without” and a derivative of two closely related words; εχω (ech-oh) which means to possess some ability, and σχημα (schay-ma) which is some figure, form, or pattern. Literally, it means not being able to possess its form. If someone is behaving in a manner that is considered indecent, he is not behaving the way one would expect him to. Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.

“Seeketh not her own”
ου ζητει τα εαυτης (“oo dzay-tie ta heh-ow-tays) – Literally, “not seek of herself”. The key word in this expression is ζητει (dzay-tie), and it has the idea of plotting or making a plan. But it is also used as a “Hebraism” (a Jewish idiom or figure of speech) to indicate worship to God. Either meaning has application. Love does not plan for its own self-interest. Love does not worship itself.

“Is not easily provoked”
ου παροξυνεται (par-ox-oo-na-tie) – A compound word from the prefix παρα (para), meaning along or beside, and οξυς (ox-zoos) meaning keen or sharp or swift. Literally, to sharpen beside. To make “on edge”. If someone is “on edge” they are irritated or frustrated. Love does not become frustrated quickly. Think about how this is related to the first quality of “suffering long”.

“Thinketh no evil”
ου λογιζεται το κακον (oo log-idz-eh-tie to ka-kon). The key word in this expression is λογιζεται (log-id-zeh-tie), and it means to take an inventory. Love does not take an inventory of evil. Or as Paul Dohse says, “don’t keep a sin list.”

Rejoiceth not in iniquity
ου χαιρει επι τη αδικια (oo chai-rie epi tay ah-di-kee-ah) – The word αδικια (ah-di-kee-ah) is a compound word from the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word δικη (dee-kay) meaning right or just. So this expression literally means “not cheerful about unjustness.” Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.

“Rejoiceth in the truth”
συγχαιρει δε τη αληθεια (soon-chai-rie deh tay a-lay-thie-ah) – The word for truth is interesting. It is a compound word from a negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word “lathano” which means “to lie hidden” or “to be ignorant”. Truth in this sense is literally that which is no longer hidden, or something revealed. Truth is the opposite of ignorance. But notice now that the word “rejoice” translated here has the prefix “soon” before it. The prefix “soon” means “together”. In this one statement, we are to understand that two things are joyful; love AND truth. Each are dependent upon the other. Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

Paul sums up his dissertation on love with four concluding statements.

“Beareth all things”
παντα στεγει (pan-ta steh-geh-ee) – Literally, “to roof over”, that is, “to cover with silence”. In other words, to keep quiet about something. Think about how this relates to “suffering long” and “not taking an inventory of evil”. Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.

“Believeth all things”
παντα πιστευει (pan-ta pis-tyoo-eh-ee) – To have faith in someone or something. To have faith in someone means that you assume the best about them. Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.

“Hopeth all things”
παντα ελπιζει (pan-ta el-pid-zie) – To anticipate with joyful expectation. The Greek word for “hope” does not describe a wishful sort of thinking. It is a looking forward to with absolute certainty, like a child anticipates Christmas morning. He knows it’s going to happen. Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.

“Endureth all things”
παντα υπομενει (pan-ta hoo-poh-meh-nie) – A compound word from the prefix “hupo”, meaning “under” and the word “meno”, meaning “to stay or remain”. Literally, “to remain under”. The implications here are both one of submission but also one of support. Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting

Something you should notice about chapter 13 is that there is a distinct change in the literary style. To this point, Paul’s style has been logical and conversational. But Paul’s Hebrew cultural influence becomes apparent in chapter 13 as he switches to a very poetic style. One of the most defining characteristics of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. This can be seen in Psalms, where the writer expresses a thought and then restates that same though another way in the next line. The thoughts can either be comparative or contrasting. Paul uses a more complex form of parallelism called inverse parallelism, and you can see it here in 1 Corinthians 13:7. The relationship between these four aspects of love looks like this:inverse parallel 1
If you go back and consider the commentary we just discussed on each expression, you should notice how closely the inner two characteristics are related and how closely the outer two are related. Another way to see this inverse parallelism is like this:

inverse parallel 2
Paul uses parallelism as a poetic way to express his thoughts by restating the same idea in a different way in order to make his point understood. If you look closely at the definitions you will see that the ideas of “bearing” and “enduring” are very much the same thought. Love does not bring up past wrongs (all-bearing/enduring); it remains supporting even when it has been wronged (all-enduring/supporting). It endures those wrongs. Likewise, the ideas of “believing” and “hoping” are also very much the same thought. Love does not automatically think the worst (all-believing), but it anticipates the best with certainty (all-hoping/expecting).

In fact, if you go back and consider the first 8 characteristics of love in verses 4 through 6, they are also arranged in a much larger and even more complex inverse parallelism construct, where one is related to eight, two is related to seven, three is related to six, and four is related to five. Here is a summary of all the characteristics of love just discussed. To help you better see the parallelism just described, I have grouped them accordingly.

Love hangs in there for the long run.
        Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.
                Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.
                        Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.
                        Love is not proud.
                Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.
        Love does not plan for its own self-interest; it does not worship itself
Love does not become frustrated quickly.

 

Love does not take an inventory of evil.
        Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.
        Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

 

Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.
        Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.
        Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.
Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting.

 

Love will never let another down!

Paul’s final statement on love in verse 8 has no parallel line of though with it, but rather it becomes the opening statement to a series of contrasts which we won’t discuss here. Nevertheless, it is still a characteristic of love worth considering.

“Never faileth”
ουδεποτε εκπιπτει (oo-deh-poh-teh ek-pip-tie) – The word for “faileth” is a compound word from the prefix “ek”, meaning “out of” and the word “pipto”, meaning “to fall”, literally or figuratively. In this sense, it does not describe something that comes to an end, but rather something that no longer measures up to a perceived standard of excellence. Love will never let another down.

Think about how these characteristics apply to the use of spiritual gifts among believers. The purpose of gifts is for the mutual edification of the Body of Christ so that each of us may be properly equipped to tell others the good news of the Kingdom. If we are distracted being envious or jealous over each others’ gift or preoccupied over petty disputes or offences toward each other, then we have disqualified ourselves from serving our Father in the mandate He has given us as ambassadors.

Furthermore, think about how love is the antithesis of control. Love does not change behavior by controlling another. It persuades. If we are preoccupied trying to control others, we are not loving them. I am reminded again of the second greatest commandment; love thy neighbor as thyself. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t say love your neighbor MORE than yourself? No man hates himself. In fact, we are pretty good at loving ourselves. God’s word says to love others JUST AS MUCH AS you love yourself! This means, treat another the same way you want to be treated. That is the definition of love.

Andy

Protestant and Catholic Progressive Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 8, 2016

project-2016-logo-4Both Protestantism and Catholicism hold to progressive justification. This is the idea that salvation is a process, and not a onetime completed event that redirects the believer to focus on representing God’s characteristics in life. Salvation is a gift, life is a reward. Protestantism and Catholicism both make salvation the reward for persevering in church orthodoxy.

With Protestantism and Catholicism, salvation cannot be finished, nor an individual matter between people and God, or the church would have no cause to be supported as an institutional industrial complex. In order for their massive institutions to be supported financially, they must claim God’s authority in overseeing the salvation of humanity.

Protestants claim that the Reformation was necessary because of the issue of “infused grace.” Luther and Calvin believed that all righteousness remains outside of the “believer.” The new birth, as defined by Protestantism, is a mere ability to perceive “truth” while doing no good work. Mortal sin (unforgivable) results if one thinks any person can do a good work. Venial sin (forgivable) results if it is believed that any person, whether saved or unsaved, can do no good work. Venial sin can be forgiven by the “means of grace” found only in the church.

Catholicism believes that the new birth enables the individual to cooperate with the church in finishing salvation. The individual is infused with God’s righteousness and can do good works. Mortal sin is sin committed by those outside of the church. Venial sin can be forgiven through the means of grace found in the church whether Protestant or Catholic. However, in Catholicism, the person actually grows in righteousness. In the end, Purgatory finishes the process, and in fact, makes the person perfect enough to obtain eternal life and enter into heaven. Only members of the Catholic church qualify to enter Purgatory.

Church doctrine is therefore the essence of sin because sin is a master that seeks to control humanity through condemnation (Genesis 4:7). If “believers” still need salvation, they are not free to love without fear of condemnation.

In truth, salvation is finished, and yes, we do “move on to something else” where sin is the exception and not the rule. We are not under law and its demands, but rather under grace and free to fulfill the law through love. The motive of the true believer is love—not law-keeping in regard to orthodoxy.

Church Versus Home Fellowship

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

Clarification From Galatians 3: The Trinity is Not a Paradox, Christians Don’t Live by Faith Alone, and the Covenant of Promise Defined

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 21, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do…There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.”

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels. If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.”

Galatians chapter 3 corrects some significant misnomers that routinely plague those who have to listen to incessant Christian blathering coming from the same who are completely comfortable with contradictions. Faith has become a license for mindlessness, and paradox is now a legitimate hermeneutic.

Since the Bible says God is one person, and also three persons, and the Bible cannot contradict itself, gee whiz, that’s a paradox, and gee whiz, there must be other paradoxes in the Bible as well, and gee whiz, only our “leaders” (dictators) know what a paradox is or isn’t. So, another paradox is the idea that Christians do things by faith alone. We do stuff, but we are not really the ones doing it. “Christians” are very comfortable with this lingo: we didn’t do it, when clearly we did do it, but supposedly, Jesus really did it, lest we get credit for the deed even though Jesus does assign merit for good deeds, but to whom is unclear since we didn’t do it.

And of course, supposedly, people don’t buy into this nonsense because it’s nonsense, but are rather “totally depraved” and will accept the offer of salvation if it is really a promise made to them even though God tells us to tell them that the promise is to them though it may not be. And so it goes; we will pay someone 85,000 dollars a year with a hefty medical package to say things like, “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”1 Our job is to say “amen” in between sips of coffee served up from the large vat in the lobby. If the coffee has a little burn in the taste, we wonder, “Is this the day, or just another dry run?”

I am not going to get into the trinity debate, but rather, the point of this post is that the Bible isn’t making a statement about the trinity when it states that God is one. The biblical idea is a statement that makes it clear that there are no other mediators between God and man other than God Himself. Galatians chapter 3 makes this clear. Hence, Protestant popes love to keep the masses distracted with debates about paradoxes lest we figure out that God was drawing a contrast between Himself and them who will travel land, sea, and air to make someone three times the child of hell that they are. And of course, paid for by the Protestant peasantry enslaved to the material world and its knowledge. And of course, from that perspective, spiritual truth can be expected to appear as paradox. In fact, those who demand a logical exegesis of Scripture are deemed as lacking faith, and making Jesus a “precept rather than a person.” By the way, the idea of faith over logic/reason was a major clarion call of the Nazi party during its formative years and expressly Lutheran in origin.2

Galatians chapter 3 is a vivid clarification of the relationship between law and gospel—or better stated biblically, the relationship between law and promise which also excludes every kind of mediator other than God Himself. This is one of the major points of Galatians 3. Paul begins by stating the following in his epistle to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

The dictators of the Protestant super-cult focus on the words, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The case is therefore made that we must be perfected the same way we began. This is the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification in a nutshell. It begins with the idea that perfection, viz, justification, is a process. And next, we keep that process going by faith alone. And next, if we live by some sort of faith-alone formula, the same formula that originally saved us, the Holy Spirit will continue to keep us justified. In other words, we have to live by the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved which is backdoor works salvation.

What is Paul really saying? His rhetorical question focuses on the erroneous idea that “perfection” (justification) is based on a process. The crux is any kind of process period, but in this case, the process involves the law of Moses. Protestantism uses this text to make the exact case that Paul is arguing against. Except, they add the law to the process in the same way that the Judaizers did albeit in a less direct way. Take note: the very false gospel that Paul is arguing against in Galatians 3 is the same gospel propagated by Protestantism in our day, and the exact same gospel that the Judaizers propagated with Jesus added. In this letter, Paul argues that law cannot be part of the gospel because that would make the law a co-mediator/life-giver with God, and only God can give life. The Judaizers taught that the law does give life, and that “believers” have to continue to draw life and justification from the law.3

But we must now stop and define what Paul meant by “law” in context of keeping it for justification. Judaizer-like false gospels never promote a truthful and perfect keeping of the law in order to remain justified because they know that’s impossible. So, the traditions of men are added as a Cliff Notes keeping of the law that fulfills the “righteous demands of the law.”4 Men are mediators between God and mankind that determine the sub-law that satisfies the holy law, and supposedly, they are appointed by God. Luther and Calvin merely added Jesus to this idea. If we obey the “Christ-centered,” “gospel-centered,” orthodoxy of Protestant elders, Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law of Moses will be imputed to our account, and we will remain “perfect” or justified. Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do.

Let’s nail this down a little more before we progress further. It entails an understanding of what Paul meant by the receiving of the Spirit. That’s the new birth. That’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That changes the believers relationship to the law. Paul’s protest regards the fusion of the law of Moses with perfection which takes place upon the receiving of the Spirit. Paul is protesting a progression or process of perfection by law-keeping. The Judaizers propagated a fulfilling of the law for righteousness via adherence to their traditions5 whereas Protestants demand an adherence to their traditions which supposedly results in Jesus’ perfect law keeping being imputed to the “believer.”

Paul said, in essence, “No, if you want to be justified (perfected) by the law of Moses (the law of sin and death), you have to keep it perfectly. No, circumcision and the observance of days is not a substitution for fulfillment of the law. The law has no part in justification, one is justified (perfected) by the new birth that is received by faith alone. The justified are not justified by the law—law-keeping is what they do, but it is not the law of sin and death for purposes of law-keeping, it is the law of the Spirit of life for purposes of love. There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.” Hence…

Galatians 4:10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain…21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?…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…6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

In addition, the law being the standard for justification rather than the receiving of the Spirit always leads to a “relaxing of the law” (Matt 5:19). Why? Because some dumbing down of the law as a replacement for true law-keeping for love, or faith working through love, always leads to neglect of the law and true love accordingly. Hence…

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…5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you…13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

The fulfillment of Moses’ law, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), cannot be fulfilled for justification, but said false gospel (Gal 1:6ff.) attempts to do so through mediation in addition to God. This always leads to a dumbing down of the law for purposes of justification. The traditions of men end up being a cloak for unrighteousness under the auspices of being friends of the law. Tradition fulfills the law as a standard for righteousness when the real standard for righteousness is the new birth resulting in the loving of God’s law for purposes of loving God and others, not justification. Justification is a finished work totally apart from the law of sin and death; the only work left is “faith working through love.”

Sure, we don’t do that perfectly, but in regard to justification, so what? The motives of those born of God are love because part and parcel with the new birth is a love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The law’s ability to condemn was ended by Christ (Rom 10:4) and where there is no law there is NO sin (Rom 4:15). If you now say: “So, the law is the Spirit’s law, and for those who are under law, He uses it to condemn them, but to those who have received Him, He uses it to lead them”; you rightly assess with an additional caveat…Moses’ law of sin and death, while being a ministry of death, still serves the same purpose for New Testament unbelievers as it did for Old Testament believers, that is, it holds sin captive until they believe in Christ, then their sins are ended along with the law that the old them was under, but one who is dead is no longer under the jurisdiction of law that can condemn6 (Romans 7:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit are now free to “serve another” (Rom 6:6). The “new life of the Spirit” enables us to fulfill the law in our acts of love (Rom 8:1-8). The apostle Paul develops these same ideas as we move along in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:7 –  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This is set against what the Judaizers were telling the Galatians. They were telling the Galatians that in order to be a true son of Abraham, you have to follow the recognition of days and circumcision; traditions that supposedly satisfied the law of Moses. Paul wrote this letter to set them straight. Paul wrote the letter to explain how one becomes a true son of Abraham, the man of faith. Note that the baptism of the Spirit is somewhat different from the new birth. As we will see in chapter 3 of this letter, the law of Moses had a particular purpose: to hold all sin captive. As the law increased, so did sin, but all sin is against the law (1Jn 3:4) and imputed to the law; the law of sin and death holds sin captive.

Old Testament believers were born again and ministered to by the Spirit, but their sins were still held captive by the law because the promise of the Spirit had not yet come. The promise of the Spirit would resurrect Christ from the grave who had already ended the law and its condemnation by dying on the cross, and baptize Jew and Gentile into one body.7 The promise of the Spirit was therefore to Abraham and Christ both (Gal 3:16). As King David had prophesied, God would not leave Christ in the grave to see corruption (Acts 2:27, 31, Ps 16:10).

Until then, Old Testament believers dwelt in a place called Hades which was divided into two parts with a gulf separating them (Luke 16:19-31). One side was occupied by those under law and its condemnation, and the other side was occupied by “the captives.” Why were they called “the captives”? Because Jesus had not yet ended the law’s condemnation, and the saints were yet held captive by the law. While Christ was in the grave, he went to Hades and proclaimed victory to the captives, and when the Spirit resurrected Him, according to the promise, He led the captives out of captivity because the law was ended (Eph 4:8, Ps 68:18, 1Pet 3:19). This is the gospel that God preached to Abraham face to face.

Galatians 3:10  – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Paul is telling the Gentile Galatians, as a Jew of the Jews, that they were part of the gospel from the beginning, and are given access to the commonwealth of elect Israel (Eph 2:12) in the same way that Abraham was saved, by faith alone completely apart from the law. Paul will go on to argue that if the law is justification’s standard, the law is an additional seed, or offspring. In other words, the law is a co-life-giver with God. This is the crux of “one God.” However, don’t misunderstand and think that the law cannot give life to anyone for it can, but not those who are under its condemnation. It is impossible as Paul stated in Romans 8 for anyone under the curse of the law to find life in the law. That’s what Paul is stating here in Gal 3:10-14. Believers “live” (are justified) by faith alone in the free gift of the promise completely apart from the law. Those under grace love God’s law (Ps 119) and it can, in fact, give life to those who are born again (Jn 17:17, 1Pet 2:2).8

Those under the law can only find condemnation in the law. They can only receive the free gift by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ.9 When they believe, the Spirit falls on them,10 puts them to death with Christ, and thereby ending the law that all of their sins are against and imputed to, and resurrects them to new life in Christ where they walk according to the Spirit and find life in obedience to the Spirit’s law… “If you love me, keep my commandments.”11 The believer does not question motives in obedience—they know they cannot be justified by the law. They know they are justified by the new birth apart from the law. Paul furthers the point this way:

Galatians 3:15  – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

It simply boils down to this: justification is completely void of law (Rom 3:19, 21, 28). Salvation and new birth come by believing the promise of miraculous new birth:

Romans 9:9  – For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,

And…“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” What did he believe exactly? He believed that God would bring about miraculous new birth demonstrated in Sarah, make his descendants like the sand of the sea, bless the Gentiles through him as well, and that his offspring would live forever in a city built by God (Heb 11:8-12). The miraculous conceptions of Sarah, Rebekah, Elizabeth, and Mary are not mere fodder for mystery, but speak of miraculous new birth and God’s elected means for the promised free gift. It’s by new birth, not law. There is no law in justification; the law is a protector that holds our sin captive until faith comes. Faith only believes in the promise like Abraham—the law did not come until 430 years after God made a covenant with him; the free gift—the promise. The law in NO WAY “ratified” the original covenant which had no law, but was based on the promise to Abraham and the ONE seed, Christ.

Why then the law?

Galatians 3:19  – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

This brings us almost full circle. The law of Moses was put into place by angels on Mount Sinai in the apocalyptic event recorded in the Old Testament. Moses was the mediator, but he was the mediator for a ministry of death:

2Corinthians 3:7 – Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Note that Moses’ ministry of death has not completely ended, but is in the process of being abolished (Heb 8:13). Why? Because it still serves a purpose. It will be used to condemn those under it if they do not rid themselves of it. Meanwhile, all sin is imputed to it:

Hebrews 9:15  – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Note that “a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” That’s because all sin is committed under the first covenant. If the first covenant is completely abolished, there is no sin for anyone. This is why unbelievers are “under law” (Rom 6:14). However, note that Christ has already ended the sin under that covenant for those who believe. The law, both that of the conscience written on every heart (Rom 2:14-16) and the Bible, is a “guardian” (protector) of which all sin is imputed and held captive, and also drives people towards a solution to its condemnation; that solution being the mediator of a better covenant. Again, this brings us full circle to the meaning of God being one, it refers to ONE MEDIATOR: “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Also, it refers to the idea that God is the only life-giver as well:

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Even though the law has no part of new birth or justification, viz, perfection, it is not contrary to the promise. Why? Because it takes all sin captive until faith comes, and its condemnation drives one to the mediator of the better covenant, the ONE mediator, Christ. Moses is not a mediator of a covenant that can give life, but yet he is not a mediator of a covenant that is contrary to the promise.

On the flip side, once a person receives the Spirit apart from the law (Gal 3:2), the law can in fact give life:

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.

Of course, the new birth guarantees eternal life and cancels the law’s ability to condemn, but the believer can “love life and see good days” in the present via love, or obedience to the law (1Pet 3:10). In other words, one must use the law of God “lawfully” (1Tim 1:8). Not in any regard for justification, but for love. The law cannot under any circumstance give life for justification, but as the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2), it enables us to serve God in the new way of the Spirit found in the Bible (Rom 7:6, 25).

Due to the weakness of the flesh, NOT the inherent evil of the flesh which is a Gnostic misnomer,12 the Christian can still be tempted to sin through “sinful desires.” The power of sin is broken because sin is empowered by its ability to condemn13 through the use of the law of sin and death:

1Corinthians 15:56  – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Before one is saved and under the condemnation of the law, the law that the unsaved have no love for provokes them to sin with strong desires lending assistance as well. The law, for them, actually makes sin come alive leading to death (Rom 7:7ff.). In the believer, sin is no longer empowered by the condemnation of the law, but sinful desires still exist. However, obeying sinful desires as opposed to the desires of the Spirit defined by Scripture can enslave a Christian to a particular sin (Rom 6:16). Providing provisions to sin can produce overwhelming desires that can control us (Rom 13:14). Wrong thinking or beliefs, in short, false doctrine, also contributes to God’s children leading confused and defeated lives.

What is the New Covenant?

The New Covenant is the second part of the covenant of promise. The Old Covenant was the first part, the New Covenant is the second part of the same covenant of promise.14 The promises (plural) are the other covenants that are the building blocks of the covenant of promise (Eph 2:12). The New Covenant was made to Israel and the father of that nation from which all other nations will be blessed. The Old Covenant proclaimed the New Covenant and held sin captive until Christ came to die. In this way, the Old Covenant was the family will executed upon Christ’s death. Old Testament believers were written into the will/inheritance:

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the New, but it is only the New Covenant that gives life. The Old is in no way contrary to the promise (Gal 3:21), but is a ministry of death that serves two purposes: it holds sin captive until faith comes, and will judge those who are under it. The angels are the enforcers of both covenants. They enforced the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, and will enforce the New Covenant as detailed in the book of Revelation towards completion of the one covenant of promise. The angels are also ministers to the overall covenant of promise throughout time. Hence, their emphasis in regard to the tabernacle etc.

The New Covenant was made to Israel specifically (Jeremiah 31) because they are God’s elect people/nation from which all nations will be blessed. The New Covenant fulfilled the Old Covenant will, and baptized the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel. Part of the New Covenant plan was to use the baptism of the Gentiles into the family of God and its commonwealth to make the Jews jealous:

Deuteronomy 32:21 – They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

However, the New Covenant, which promises Israel eternal peace and safety in their own land, will finally be consummated after the fullness of the Gentiles come in:

Romans 11:25 – Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.

The covenant of promise is a gospel that stands in contrast to all other gospels which make the law of sin and death the standard for righteousness and a co-life-giver with God. There is only one mediator of life. Christ did not come to fulfill the law of sin and death, the Old Covenant, which holds sin captive. He came to end that law for those who believe. Nor did Christ come to be a substitute for that law in the lives of believers for that law is for the unbelieving—not the saved.15 Instead, Christ came to set the captives free from that law in order to serve the righteousness of the law in loving service with no fear of condemnation. There is no fear in love because fear has to do with judgment (1Jn 4:16-19). However, there is a fear of present consequences for obeying sinful desires as we work out our other “salvation” so to speak: the saving of ourselves from potential death that still dwells in the mortal body, and from which we will be saved from in the future, also known as “redemption.”16 Justification and obedience in sanctification ending in redemption should not be confused.

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels.

If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.

_______________________________________________________________________

1Pastor Jon Young: Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, Xenia, OH.

3https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2015/01/04/the-potters-house-biblical-covenants-an-overview-and-relevance-to-the-gospel-parts-1-2/ Note citation about perpetually offering the obedience of Christ to God for the satisfying of the law.

4In the Protestant case, rituals that satisfy the law by imputing Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. One of these is church membership which is considered to be one of the “means of grace” found in the institutional church.

5This was an often cited indictment by Jesus against the Pharisees who were rank antinomians for that very reason.

6This is also the real point behind Galatians 2:20 which is a justification verse, not a sanctification verse.

7The book of Acts is the historical account of what Paul is writing about in Galatians 3.

8For the unbeliever the law is death, for the believer it is life.

9Note that Paul emphasizes Christ’s death in the receiving of the Spirit, not Christ’s law-keeping (Gal 3:1ff.).

10As seen all through the book of Acts per the order of salvation: 1. The hearing of the word 2. Faith 3. The baptism of the Spirit.

11Love also fulfills the law. Christ’s ONE act of love makes it possible for us to fulfill the Spirit’s law apart from the law of sin and death. The law is for love—not justification.

12Romans 12:1 along with many other texts makes it clear that the body can be used for holy purposes. In fact, it’s a biblical imperative. It is a weak vessel, but not inherently evil.

13Therefore, be leery of condemnation motifs in any sanctification context.

14The Old and New covenants should not be viewed in a dispensational sense at all, but rather merely two parts of the same covenant. This is a progression of one covenant, not economies.

15Note in 1Tim 1:8-11 and Rom 2:12-16 that the law of Moses is also the gospel. This is because the OT law is a PART of the covenant of promise NOT a dispensation or different plan.

16Phil 2:13, Rom 7:24,25, Lk 21:28. Phil 2:13 is not about justification; it’s about choosing life over death in sanctification with God’s help which is available and leaves us without excuse.

%d bloggers like this: