Paul's Passing Thoughts

Romans 12:17-21, More on Forgiveness and Enemies

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

ppt-jpeg4I don’t know how many articles I have written for my ongoing attempt to slay the blank check forgiveness evangelical sacred cow, but I continue to chop away at him. Despite all of the blood, the stinkin’ thing still lives.

So, let’s keep trying, but first, where does this “offering grace” blank check forgiveness stuff come from? If you followed our Heidelberg Disputation series, you know. There are two kinds of Protestants: Calvinists, and functioning Calvinists. The former hold to predestination and the soteriology, the latter function according to the soteriology while denying the specific orthodoxy.

Blank check forgiveness comes from the Reformation doctrine of total depravity which results in moral equivalency and a single perspective on justice. Basically, due to the total depravity of man, and the idea that man saved or unsaved possesses no good or righteousness within (Luther’s Alien Righteousness), everybody deserves hell; including Christians regardless of their conversion; anything other than hell or lesser than hell is “grace,” and therefore, being wronged is only valuable for showing forth the same grace that we received. Few Protestants understand the doctrine of mortification and vivification. That’s “deep theology,” so instead, they teach and apply the applications of the doctrine that are too deep for them to understand. Blank check forgiveness is one of them.

Mortification and vivification is the perpetual revisiting of our spiritual baptism. In other words, the new birth doesn’t happen once, but is experienced numerous times throughout our Christian lives. Now, Baptists can moan and cry in denial like alley cats in heat, but that’s Protestant doctrine reflected in the Westminster Confession and London Baptist confessions as well. I will keep saying it; there is no religion more confused nor pathetic than Protestantism. At least even Muslims know what they believe for crying out loud.

But back to mortification and vivification which is the primary model for change in Protestant orthodoxy. The goal is to experience our baptism as much as possible via joy. That’s the vivification part that is totally out of our control—it is the resurrection part. But it begins with our part/role in the Christian life: “dying daily,” or mortification. This is how the whole taking up our cross and dying daily verses are interpreted. According to Luther and Calvin, God helps us out with the dying part by bringing tragedy into our lives. Look, if you are, for example, a rape victim that has been counseled by ACBC or CCEF, lightbulbs are starting to turn on right about now.

Enough of that for now, let’s go to Romans 12:

“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

This is one of the many love your enemies verses. I guess I will keep on saying it: why would Paul concede that we will have enemies in spite of our best efforts if we are to simply forgive everybody who offends us? This passage gives instructions for dealing with enemies. Furthermore, the Bible promises rewards for relating to our enemies in the biblically prescribed way; therefore, does blank check forgiveness deprive us of reward? I think it does. And moreover, there is NO forgiveness of enemies with God unless they repent. In the same way that God blesses His enemies who have not repented, we bless our enemies who have not repented, and this is what leads them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Now, I have some learning to do in regard to how this model works itself out, but that IS the model, NOT blank check forgiveness. It would appear that replacing revenge with blessings prevents bitterness and leads to repentance. It would also seem that the goodness unresponded to will lead to a greater judgment in the end by God.

So, all in all, do I think blank check forgiveness keeps people from repenting? Yes.

paul

TANC 2015: Paul Dohse Session 1 – Introduction to Biblicism

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

Session 1: Introduction to Biblicism

Who do we think we are? Why would Western culture be immune from populous deception? In fact, history, even recent history reveals the dangers of collective logic whether by tradition or some sort of neo-movement. Moreover, examples of bad fruit coming from collective logic can be taken from the best of what Western culture has to offer.

There is one constant that shapes culture; change occurs as a result of bad fruit. The collective pain threshold begins to surpass the threshold of life value. Society then becomes split into two types of people: those with new ideas and those willing to listen.

Tyranny has always been a foolish endeavor by virtue of God’s design of things. The reason is simple: the people always outnumber the rulers, and the rulers need people to have a government, and you can only kill so many people. This is why controlling the way people think is so important; this taps into the human resource without killing the donor.

From the cradle of society, caste was the norm. Unfortunately, the consensus had always been that bad fruit had nothing to do with the system, but only those running it. The American experiment was the first successful challenge to collectivism. The definition of the words and the understanding of them are a matter of life and death on a massive scale. For example, “individualism” does not exclude cooperation and organization for the common good, but rather, asks who will determine what the common good is and how one reaches that conclusion. The assumption that individualism leads to societal chaos has in fact produced chaos in incomprehensible proportions.

Once again, history is repeating itself in many ways, but the particular aspect that TANC focuses on is Protestantism. Once again, fruit demands reevaluation because of the threshold of pain. But this time of historical reevaluation is utterly unique because it is post American Revolution. For the first time in over 500 years, Protestantism faces a reevaluation without the force of state at its disposal.

Nevertheless, Protestantism has done its job well. It yet has no fear of replacement because those who have given up on it believe there is no alternative. Hence, its utter failure has produced no competitors. The Nones and the Dones are just that, none and done. Yet, lest Protestantism would break from protocol and show mercy to its detractors, the Nones and the Dones are declared damned to hell on their way out to the wilderness of hopelessness because being a member in good standing in the institutional church is synonymous with loving Christ and being a legitimate part of His body.

We at TANC reject such an arrogant notion with extreme prejudice, and believe we understand a legitimate alternative—a return to the assembly of Christ and its priesthood of believers. A return to individual gifts, not spiritual collectivism; fellowship, not membership; leadership, not dictatorship; organization, not institutionalization; not many masters, but only one; a body, not a corporation, and finally, freedom of conscience. Individual saints with one word, one Lord, and one body. It’s a body, not a spiritual caste system, and we have but one mediator—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Biblicism

The alternative to Protestant orthodoxy is Biblicism. What is it? Let’s begin with a definition from Wikipedia. This is by far the best definition of Biblicism that I have ever found, and unfortunately listed under an alternative name for Biblicism, “Biblical Literalism.” And, as rightfully noted by Wikipedia, often used as a pejorative. Don’t you know, any Biblicist that has read Matthew 5:30 has cut off his right hand or feels guilty that he hasn’t. Let’s examine the definition:

Alternatively, the term can refer to the historical-grammatical method, a hermeneutic technique that strives to uncover the meaning of the text by taking into account not just the grammatical words, but also the syntactical aspects, the cultural and historical background, and the literary genre. It emphasizes the referential aspect of the words in the text without denying the relevance of literary aspects, genre, or figures of speech within the text (e.g., parable, allegory, simile, or metaphor).

Let me add that Biblicism starts with literalism and the plain sense of the text first, and then utilizes the elements of the historical-grammatical methods as needed to make the rendering consistent with the rest of Scripture. As one person has said, “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.” Let me also add that Biblicists would normally be impressed with a method of interpretation known as Occam’s razor. Again, we are indebted to Wiki for a definition:

…a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

In context of the lay person, learning is a jigsaw puzzle. I want to use this example of a jigsaw puzzle that is a map of Xenia, Ohio. Let’s say the map, to the degree that it is fitted together, represents knowledge of Xenia. Until the puzzle is completely fitted together with all of the pieces, what do we do with the pieces that we can’t get to fit into the map presently? Answer: we lay those pieces aside for the time being. Dear layman, you don’t need the scholars. In fact, please remember that we live in the Information Age. Study to show yourself approved as a “workman.”

As a parenthesis regarding interpretation, let me offer all the proof you need to know that every verse of Scripture must be interpreted in context of justification or sanctification; Christians, throughout the New Testament, are referred to as “workman.” If justification is not a finished work, the fact that we are participants in it is unavoidable, either by direct participation or intentional non-participation. Intentional non-participation is doing something. If justification is not a finished work, invariably, religious formulas for work works and faith alone works emerge. The problem here is evident: if you can lose your salvation, what do you have to do, or not do, in order to keep it?

The Dirty Little Secret

What we are talking about here is deductive/inductive study of the Bible that begins with the presupposition that man is able to reason. Here is where we must stop and state a huge historical fact in this matter that is irrefutable. Historically, there have only been two schools of thought on Bible interpretation: the historical-grammatical method, and the historical-redemptive method.

But please, if you don’t take anything else away from this first session, please know the dirty little secret in all of this: these are ALSO two different ways of interpreting reality itself. Listen: the Protestant Reformers started first with their interpretation of reality, and then extrapolated that method onto the Bible as well.

If you have been following our TANC series on the first and foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, you know that Martin Luther laid the foundations in that document for the historical-redemptive method of interpreting reality and consequently the Bible as well. Luther believed that all of reality is a redemptive metaphysical narrative written by God. Look out the window right now. See that car driving down the street? The only reason that just happened is because God wrote it into the script of the metaphysical narrative, what many of the Reformed call the “divine drama.” Reality is nothing but a story written by God.

Hence, salvation is only an ability to perceive or “see” the story. The unregenerate are defined by those who think they have ANY measure of freewill. To have freewill is the ability to write your own reality. Luther’s assessment of freewill is therefore called “the glory story of man.” Either one confesses that God wrote the story of history and reality, or man is foolishly trying to write his own reality.

Luther received this idea primarily from Saint Augustine and Saint Gregory, established the Protestant Reformation with its premise, and John Calvin later articulated its supposed life application in the Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. It called for a repeat of our spiritual baptism throughout the Christian life by progressively seeing/perceiving two things: the depravity of man and the holiness of God. Plunging the depths of our sinfulness supposedly brings about humbleness and self-death resulting in a resurrection of joy regarding our original salvation. Therefore, the joy of our salvation is progressively increased throughout our Christian lives regardless of circumstance. In fact, tragedy only facilitates our ability to see our depravity and the judgement that we deserve. Tragedy is merely a part of God’s prewritten gospel narrative.

Consequently, Spirit baptism is not a onetime event, but is repeated throughout our Christian life. The Bible has one purpose and one purpose only: to aid the “believer” in continually revisiting salvation and the perpetual revisiting of Spirit baptism. This is an official Protestant doctrine called mortification and vivification. Several Protestant organizations use the chart below to illustrate this doctrine and the historical-redemptive use of the Bible:

gospel-grid

Therefore, God uses circumstances and the Bible to help us in the downward trajectory illustrated by this chart. A contrary perspective on reality is illustrated by another chart widely published by Protestant organizations:

shrinking-the-cross

What is behind the popularity of this worldview? Simply, an ability to live a carefree life without fear of unknown circumstances (with the only exception being your eternal destiny). We all know that investing in life can set us up for enhanced disappointments and suffering. This is a worldview that completely separates us from the responsibilities of life and its suffering. Don’t worry, be happy, it’s a just a divine video tape anyway, and what will be, will be. If one of your loved ones dies tragically, don’t sweat it, it’s just part of God’s divine drama prewritten before the foundation of the earth. Besides, God is using this to make the gospel bigger and you smaller. Listen, even Protestants who don’t get this function according to the same worldview: “It’s God’s will.” “I didn’t do it! God did it!” “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” All of these Protestant truisms fit the downward trajectory of the above cross chart.

As far as Biblicism, there is a huge pushback against it. A focal point of the pushback is a book written by Protestant turned Catholic Prof. Christian Smith titled, The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. I must credit the Christian Research Institute with the following review of the book which is endorsed by many evangelical heavyweights such as Rachel Held Evans, and will help us further define Biblicism:

Smith asserts that biblicism is the constellation of ten different assumptions or beliefs: (1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language. (2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity. (3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible. (4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text. (5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense. (6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions. (7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency. (8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians. (9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study. (10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

While some evangelicals may downplay or deny some of these points, Smith suggests as long as you hold to some of these points, you are still a biblicist (pp. 4–5).

Before we address these points for a clearer understanding of what Biblicism is, it shouldn’t surprise us that the only alternative in the book is the Christocentric hermeneutic which is the same thing as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. It sees the gospel or Jesus in every verse of the Bible as a result of interpreting reality itself through the suffering of the cross. It should be noted that this hermeneutic is crossing over into Catholicism as well.

(1) The words of the Bible are identical with God’s words written inerrantly in human language.

A Biblicist believes no such thing. God used fallible humans to write the Bible over 1600 years in many different languages. Because Christ warned that there would be serious consequences for tampering with God’s word, we can assume many have in fact tampered with it.

The key follows: the Bible is God’s statement on being including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The Bible is not without error in the transmission of these truths, but none of the truths are lost due to God’s oversight and assistance. Included is the way that the Bible was written, or its overall structure of checks and balances. As the “workman” studies to show himself approved, God’s principles become more and more apparent.

(2) The Bible represents the totality of God’s will for humanity.

This point is vague, but one assumes it speaks to the accusation that Biblicists believe the Bible speaks to every detail of life like how to fix our cars etc. While the notion is absurd, the Bible does tell us what kind of car-fixer we should be—not the details of a how-to-manual. The Bible is a manual for how we should love God and others, so while it does not give specific instructions on how to fix our wife’s Toyota, it does convey a principle of love that would prevent us from taking shortcuts on safety issues in order to save money. If it’s our wife’s car, we don’t repair the brake lines with duct tape, etc.

(3) The divine will for all issues relevant to Christian life is contained in the Bible.

This is true, and the reason for the contention is evident: the sole purpose of the Bible should be to show us how wicked we are, not instruction on loving God and others.

(4) Any reasonable person can correctly understand the plain meaning of the text.

True, with the exclusion of the straw man argument that the meaning in every text is always “plain.” The Bible states that individual study is required, and acknowledges that obtaining understanding can be difficult work.

(5) The way to understand the Bible is to look at the obvious, literal sense.

This is true as the primary organizing principle, but gain, the straw man is the assertion that Biblicists believe this is true of every verse.

(6) The Bible can be understood without reliance on creeds, confessions, or historic church traditions.

This is absolutely true because Biblicism rejects spiritual caste systems of all kinds. Teachers are a help, they are a gift to the church for purposes of equipping, NOT an office. But when it gets right down to it, in context of the apostle John addressing the Gnosticism that was wreaking havoc on the 1st century church, he stated, “You have no need for anyone to teach you.” Biblicism is predicated on collective individualism, not group-think overseen by an elite class of those who supposedly possess the “gnosis.”

(7) The Bible possesses internal harmony and consistency.

Absolutely. Again, the complexities of the Bible are used to argue against human reason as a valid epistemology for reasons of selling a redemptive interpretation of all reality.

(8) The Bible is universally applicable for all Christians.

Sure it is. Loving God and others pertains to principles that are universal.

(9) All matters of Christian belief and practice can be learned through inductive Bible study.

In regard to loving God and others, absolutely.

Note the continual distinction being made between love and law. There is a specific reason for that which we will see more of later.

(10) The Bible is a kind of handbook or textbook for Christian faith and practice.

The word “practice” factors in huge here. As previously noted, Protestantism defines salvation as an ability to see/perceive/experience APART from practice. Therefore, the Christocentric approach to interpretation of reality, and consequently the Bible as well, will reject any practice by man to be of any value to God. Therefore, the sole purpose of the Bible is to aid mankind is seeing that all righteousness is an alien righteousness completely outside of man.

So, this is an introduction to Biblicism. In the next session, we will look at the Biblicist gospel, its evaluation of law/gospel, the nature of God, the nature of man, evangelism, and the nature of sin. In the fourth session, we will examine Protestantism and the extreme contrast that it presents. I will conclude this first session with a few more principles of interpretation:

Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 – For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

Two basic interpretative principles can be drawn from these verses. First, some things we cannot know, but what we can know we are responsible for. Second, we have no need for interpretive mediators between us and God. There is only ONE mediator between God and man—Christ.

Podcast link: includes before and after discussion. 

The Nature of God

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

God-Is-LoveI believe incredibly exciting times await God’s people as they break free from the Protestant Orthodoxy Dark Ages. The key will be the realization that God wrote the Bible for the average individual. We have an example of this regarding the nature of God; a subject thought to be too deep for the average disciple.

Our only head is Christ who teaches all, and the idea of being taught assumes the ability to understand. God’s people need to simply let the words in the Bible say what they plainly say, and we are individually responsible for doing so. One must free their minds from the tyranny of orthodoxy and journey into the Bible with their own God-given mind, and they will be responsible to God alone for doing so.

What then does the Bible teach us about God’s nature? The Bible states that God is love:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Obtaining God’s Love

Protestant orthodoxy has a peculiar teaching known as the “vital union.” According to Reformed tradition, we maintain this vital union of “Christ in us and us in Christ” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves.” This is done by searching for sin in our lives so that we can return to the cross for forgiveness resulting in increased salvation. The following chart publicized by several Reformed organizations illustrates the process:

how-to-preach-the-gospel-to-yourself-2 (2)

In case you think this is a “biblical” process for best results in growing as a disciple expressed in the illustration by “Heart Changed,” think again as illustrated by another chart published by several Reformed organizations as well:

gospel-grid

In this chart, what is growing? Us, or our “salvation”? Many Reformed teachers in our day are fond of telling us how to “keep ourselves in the love of God” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” In fact, if we change, the following chart from the same camp shows the consequences:

ssp_temp_capture1

…our salvation gets smaller! In contrast, we obtain God’s love once, and for all time, by believing in His Son, and experience assurance of that love but walking according to our new being.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him…

But according to Protestant orthodoxy, if we make every effort to love God and others instead making every effort to find more and more sin in our lives, the gospel effect in our lives is diminished.

The Nature of God

How we obtain the love of God as prescribed by Protestant orthodoxy flows from its tenets regarding the nature of God. Primarily, God is defined as sovereign. Rather than sovereignty being an aspect of God’s nature, it is made to be the primary organizing principle—not love. This is an important distinction for those who take part in the exodus from Protestant darkness; will God’s nature be defined by a grammatical and exegetical interpretation of Scripture, or an interpretation based on orthodoxy?

Clearly, the Bible states that God is love. So, how does the Bible define love? Let’s see:

1Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The so-called Reformed gospel of sovereignty calls for the total inability of man to love God even after their definition of conversion. One well known Reformed theologian wrote a book titled One Way Love. This staple Protestant belief is defined in the doctrine of double imputation which calls for the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness to be imputed to our lives apart from anything we do other than preaching the gospel to ourselves. Much is made of living the Christian life by faith alone in order to maintain our “just standing.”

What it boils down to is God creating evil for His own glory. Whether you consider the teachings of Martin Luther or John Calvin, the founding fathers of Protestantism, this is an irrefutable fact. Luther taught that God created mankind with a passive will; in other words, a will that can only act if acted upon from an outside source. This testifies to God’s nature as defined by sovereignty. Hence, certain people are predetermined to suffer for eternity. In regard to this, John Calvin stated,

[God] arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.

~Institutes 3.23.6

I again ask how is it that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy, unless it so seemed meet to God?…The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree.

~Institutes 3.23.7

This is contrary to love which is the true nature of God, being “kind,” and “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Reformed even make it a point to say that God did no wrong by creating man in an evil state because the end cause is God’s glory. If God brings good out of something evil, in the final analysis it is good because the end is good. It is also said that God created evil to make good better. However, that still does not dispose of the kindness issue. Love CANNOT be unkind to ANYONE.

Furthermore, it does not seek its own way, and you can insert “its own glory” in that list as well. Moreover, love does not rejoice in evil for any outcome, and always rejoices in truth and not the temporary demise of truth for some kind of better outcome. That notion is absurd.

In the final analysis, one of God’s attributes is sovereignty, but sovereignty is not the organizing principle of his nature because his nature is love.

paul

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

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

Blog Radio LogoListen to audio or download audio file. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also note what James said about faith:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note the following text:

Hebrews 6:9 – Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With that, let’s go to the phones.

Galatians 2:20 in 16 Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 15, 2015
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