Paul's Passing Thoughts

Outraging the Spirit of Grace by Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves Everyday

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 26, 2015

There is no new thing under the sun—just different variations of the same thing. Sure, a company in Israel has developed a car that can run on water, that seems to be new, but they stole the idea from fish.

Likewise, man is heck-bent on either being owned to quiet his fears derived from presuppositions or being one of the elite owners of men. The argument most used for this cause is the biblical Old Covenant. Hence, there will always be various and sundry variations of a priestly class ruling over the great unwashed masses.

It goes something like this: the Old Covenant sacrifices were a shadow of Christ who offered himself once for the sins of man. Everybody agrees, but the devil is in the details; was Christ’s death a modification of the Old Covenant covering that still needs to be repeated albeit a different way? Did the Old Covenant sacrifices cover sins, or take them away? Did Christ present a variation of atonement (covering), or did He end atonement? Sure, Christ only died once as opposed to the repetition of the Old Covenant sacrifices, but must we continually return to the one time offering of Christ in order for our sins to be continually covered?

According to this construct, we remain the same except for a continual return to the sacrifice of Christ in remembrance for the forgiveness and covering of sin; after all, we still sin, right? Present sin must still be covered, no? So, instead of offering animal sacrifices, we continue to remain covered or atoned for by “remaining” faithful to the New Covenant.

How do we do that? It’s pretty clear: faithfulness to the local church through formal membership, obeying the New Covenant priests, tithing (and don’t forget “offerings” as well, and the building program, and…), baptism, sitting under elder preaching of the gospel, and especially the Lord’s Table which is one of the “grace imparting” ordinances of the church. We ALL still need grace, right?

But here is the money question: What is meant by “grace”? It can mean “help,” or it can refer to salvation. In this construct, trust me, it’s the latter.

Here is the second money question: is the New Covenant a covering of sin or a taking away of sin? “Paul, it’s only a covering because if our sins were taken away we wouldn’t sin anymore.” One of the most popular rhetorical questions in our day for someone who dares think that Christians no longer need “the gospel” (in a salvation sense) follows: “Did you sin today?” As one commented on PPT, “Well, I would hope we have forgiveness for present sin!” Hence, present sin would condemn us if we don’t continue to receive a covering for our sins. And, this covering can only be obtained in the institutional church through the “ordinances that impart grace.” You still need grace don’t you? “Are you saying that you don’t need grace?”

Therefore, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” “You need the gospel just as much today as you did when you were saved.” “The gospel is not the ABCs of the Christian life; it is the A-Z.” “The gospel is not a rung on the ladder, it’s the whole ladder.” “If you leave the gospel and move on to something else, you lose justification and sanctification both.”

What does the Bible really say about all of this?

Let’s start with the Old Covenant which was, in fact, a covering for sin, but spoke of an actual ending of sin (taking away) and saints made presently holy regardless of sin.

In Leviticus 16, we find the regulations for the Day of Atonement (covering). The sacrifice included one bull, one ram, and two goats. Only the High Priest, Aaron, could perform the part of the ceremony that involved entering the Holy of Holies or the “Holy Place.” This was the inner chamber of the tabernacle separated from the entry chamber by a veil where the Ark of the Covenant was located. The fact that only the High Priest could enter the inner chamber is very significant. There was only ONE priest that executed that function. While other ceremonies only required hand washing, this ceremony required the complete washing of the body.

Laxness in regard to any ceremony connected with the Holy Place directly or indirectly resulted in instant death. This is what happened to Aaron’s two sons. The Holy Place was VERY inaccessible. The terror of the Old Covenant was for the express purpose of drawing a contrast between the Old Covenant and New Covenant.

The one priest, the inaccessibility to the Holy Place, the washing of the whole body, and the two goats are what we want to focus on in order to meet the objective point of this post. We have covered the first three, let’s consider the two goats. One was sacrificed. In regard to the sacrifices for sins, Aaron had to wash his whole body and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat of the Ark in the Holy Place. In regard to the other goat, Aaron laid his hands on it and pronounced the sins of the people upon it, and then turned it loose into the wilderness. So there is a death resulting in a complete washing and the taking away of sin.

Now let’s go to Hebrews to find out how this all applies to the New Covenant. The Hebrew writer, probably Paul writing on behalf of the Apostles, is dealing with the same age-old problem of covering versus ending. That is the mere covering of sin versus the ending of sin. This also defines who the Christian is. If our sins are only covered we are only declared holy, but are not personally holy.  If our sins are taken away, we are personally holy and possess the righteousness of God. “But Paul, we still sin!” I will get to that.

Also, if our sins are not ended, continued atonement is needed as well resulting in a system that accesses that continued atonement. For the Hebrews, that was easy because Old Covenant Judaism was alive and well. In our day, that has been replaced with some sort of system that returns us to Christ’s sacrifice for sins. Or in other words, a return to the same gospel that originally saved us.

The glaring problem with this is the fact that Christ only entered the Holy Place once to offer one sacrifice for all time, and made the Holy Place accessible to all people. That’s the coup de grace for all of these types of systems; if what Christ did is only a covering, the Holy Place would not be open to all. Christ would still be the only one who could enter the Holy Place on our behalf like Aaron did for the Israelites:

Hebrews 10:19 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

We ourselves have access to the Holy Place without the representation of a High Priest walking on holy eggshells lest he is struck dead. There is only one way we can enter that Holy Place—if we are truly holy. If we are not truly holy, and our sins are only covered, only Jesus would have access to the Holy Place—not us. Notice also that we have full access with our bodies completely washed from sin—the sins carried into the wilderness by the other goat.

Curiously, most English translations interpret the Holy Place in Heb 10:19 as “holy places.” Plainly, in the context that is an anomaly, but it should be noted that the KJV (“holiest”) and the Complete Jewish Bible (“Holiest Place”) have it correct.

So, how is it possible for us to have access to the Holiest Place while we in fact still sin? One thing and one thing only: belief in Christ’s death and resurrection resulting in the new birth or the baptism of the Spirt of grace. Legally, we died with Christ and are no longer under the condemnation of the law (Roman 6,7), and Spiritually, our minds are renewed (Ibid) and we have the very seed of God within us (1Jn 3:9). Even though we still reside in a mortal body where sin can harass us, our mind is regenerated and we are enabled to use our bodies as holy sacrifices unto God (Rom 12:1).

Christ offered one sacrifice to set us free from sin’s slavery, and we are now free to offer holy sacrifices to God in sanctification. The flesh is weak, but not inherently sinful. In fact, since the Holy Spirit permanently indwells us, it is His temple:

1Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Unfortunately, sin still dwells in our mortality, but sin’s power comes from its ability to condemn. Christ died on the cross to end the law and its ability to condemn (Rom 10:4, 1Cor 15:56), but that’s only one side of the coin; on the other side is the reality that the Holy Spirit also raised us to new life with Christ. This means we are no longer under the slavery of the law and its condemnation (we were bought with a price from the slave master), and free to serve the Spirit of God (Rom 7:6).

Before we were saved, sin was able to use the law to provoke us to sin through desires of various kinds (Rom 7:5), this is when we were “living in the flesh” because sin was our master and had the upper hand (Rom 6:20). Now, that same sin wars against us and the Spirit who dwells within (Gal 5:16, 17, 1Pet 2:11). The “lust of the flesh” refers to when sin uses our body to bring about fruits for death; it does not mean the flesh is inherently evil. The flesh, like creation, is presently “weak.”

All in all, we must define present holiness the way the Bible defines it. But the denial of our personal holiness also denies the new birth and denies us access to the Holy Place. In that case, only Christ can enter in. Christ has not sat down at the right hand of the Father, but rather still offers the daily sacrifice (Heb 10:10-14). So, instead of our focus being…

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

…and faith working through love (Gal 5:6), keeping yourself saved through a perpetual need for atonement is the focus.

That denies the new birth and outrages the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29). A return to the same gospel that saved us suggests that we are still under law and did not die with Christ; and additionally, not free to serve in the new way of the Spirit via being resurrected with Christ—Christ must continue to stand in the Holy Place and continue to offer His blood daily. He has not sat down at the right hand of the Father.

This is how preaching the gospel to ourselves every day outrages the Spirt of grace.

paul

The Potter’s House: Biblical Covenants: An Overview and Relevance to the Gospel, Parts 1 &2

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

HF Potters House (2)

Revised Covenants

Part 1: The Fact that Clarifies: God Never Made a Covenant with Adam

    If there is an area where the laity is very confused, it is in regard to biblical covenants. This booklet seeks to clarify the issue.

    So, let’s get into the primary covenants.  There are six, NOT seven. They follow: Noahic, Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant.

    God never made a covenant with Adam. How do we know this? Because when God makes a covenant, He states it as such. God never calls any arrangement He made with Adam a “covenant.”

    In the Garden of Eden, God calls them “trees” not a covenant. How do we get “covenant” from “tree”? In the six actual covenants, God says, “I will make a covenant.” God’s work arrangement with Adam was never called a covenant. His relationship with Eve was never called a covenant. When God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness after the fall, He didn’t call that a covenant either. In all cases it’s pure assumption. However, when God says, “I will make a covenant,” that’s not an assumption.

    Curiously, Adam is said to have broken the covenant, but the issue is that he disobeyed and ate from the tree of good and evil which is a separate issue from these other considerations: his task of caring for the garden, being fruitful, etc. Clarifying what this covenant was exactly and how Adam broke it by eating from the tree is speculative at best. Whenever God makes a covenant, He calls it a covenant, He specifies who the covenant is to, and also specifies the terms.

    Granted, the tree of life ends up in the New Jerusalem, but what we primarily look for as Christians is the city built by God, not the tree. The tree of life is one of the results of the Abrahamic covenant, but it isn’t THE covenant or even a salvific covenant. The tree is never called a covenant. Those who posit the idea that God made a covenant with Adam must now split that covenant into two different covenants: the Edenic covenant of innocence, or the covenant of works prior to the fall and the Adamic Covenant of grace. This is what happens when you make something a covenant that isn’t a covenant; you have to come up with more covenants to explain the first covenant that wasn’t a covenant.  You search in vain for the covenants of innocence, works, or grace.

    Ultimately, Christians look for the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant, not some Adamic covenant. Let’s look at some Scripture:

2Peter 3:13 – But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We aren’t waiting for a tree, we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth.

Hebrews 11:10 – For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Abraham was looking for a city, not a tree.

    The definition of a salvific biblical covenant follows:  they are NEVER based on anything man does, nor are they predicated on an agreement between God and man. Covenants are predicated on one thing and one thing only: God’s promises. The six covenants are covenants of promise. They are NOT agreements between God and man, they are promises TO man.

Where Does Election Fit In?  

    Furthermore, ELECTION is the means by which God executes His promises. Why must God elect the means? Because He cannot break His promises. He elected Christ to make the promises possible, He elected angels to enforce the covenants of promise, and He elected Israel to execute the covenants on a human level aided by the Holy Spirit.

    God does not elect individuals, but rather the means of fulfilling His Promises. God is only limited by His character, but is not limited by any of His attributes. God cannot break a promise, and He cannot be unjust.  Individuals are not elected; only the means for fulfilling His promises are elected. Otherwise, the promises cannot be to anyone in particular; in other words, if individuals are elected, they themselves cannot know definitively that the promise is to them.

    Hence, the promises are to everyone who will believe. If that is predetermined, the promise is useless because it is only a promise to those who have been predestined which means the promises of God must be qualified with an “IF.”

“Yes, it’s a promise; you just don’t know whether it’s to you specifically or not.” The Bible states that the promises of God are to all who believe. If the promises are only to the elect, that should be easily stated and clarified. It is worth noting that God never calls the Gentiles His elect. Why? Because they were never His means of bringing salvation to the world—they are merely recipients.

John 4:22 – You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Any reference to Gentiles being elect is speaking to the salvation they obtain by inheriting the promises made to the Jews:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation (Jesus) for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham (Luke 1:68-73, also see Eph 2:12).

    This is much like the gospel, or “good news.” Why is, “Maybe you’re in, but maybe you’re not” “good news”? You really have no way of knowing whether it is necessarily good news for you or not. In the same way, you are presented with THE promise without any way of knowing whether the promise is really to you. The only way you can know for certain that the promise is to you is if the “IF” relies on your choice to believe the promise which is to EVERYONE who believes. Let’s look at an example of this:

Acts 3:36 – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

    See the words “the promise”? Whenever you see that in the New Testament it is referring to the Abrahamic Covenant. An example is the aforementioned 2Peter 3:13. Peter stated on Pentecost that the promise was to them, their children, and those far off which probably referred to the Jews not present that day. Yes, it could also refer to the Gentiles, but more than likely refers to the Jews who didn’t make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost that year. The promise is to all of them, but the promise must be obtained by faith. God calls all men to Himself, but they must come by faith, and that being faith in the Son of God.

    We will not stop here to examine all of the gospel implications of what Peter said, but a few things should be mentioned. Saving faith believes God’s promises. But past a mere mental assent, I think it also involves a desire to be a recipient of the promise. Salvation does not come by any kind of obedience to the law—it comes by believing God’s promises. Abraham, the father of our faith, was made righteous because he believed God’s promise concerning an heir and being made a great nation (Genesis 15:1-6). Saving faith believes what God says. Saving faith believes God’s promises. Why should anyone believe if they cannot be sure the promise is to them?

    Also note that the promise includes the gift of the Holy Spirit. That necessarily means the new birth. That’s part of the promise. This is where we must conclude that Peter is talking about more than just water baptism. Peter exhorted them with “many other words” that may have very well included more information about the new birth and baptism. The new birth means the old us dies with Christ and a new us is resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:1-14).

    Let me take opportunity here to put all of this lordship salvation chaos to rest. Telling people that they have to do something in order to follow Christ and be saved is beside the point. Frankly, I don’t endorse telling people that they have to do anything other than believe God’s promise in order to be saved. But if they have something in their life that they don’t want to give up that is clearly opposed to God’s life prescription, they are basically saying they don’t want the promise! The death of who you are and the resurrection of a new you is part of the promise. This is not complicated.

    Before we move on, we will pause here for a moment to revisit this whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam though God never said He made a covenant with Adam. A whole bunch of this is tied up in the granddaddy of all theologies, Covenant Theology, which shows up in the 16th century. It posits the idea that the one command given to Adam about the tree of good and evil was a covenant of works, also referred to as the covenant of life, or as mentioned earlier, a covenant of innocence.  Adam was promised life/blessings for obedience, and death/cursing for disobedience.

    We could spend hours plunging the depths of all of this while including Dispensationalism to boot, and all of the various views on this which are myriad, as if God is a god of confusion, but let me make it really, really easy for you. As the theories go, born out of this idea that God made a covenant with Adam, when Adam sinned, and thereby breaking the first covenant, God instituted the “Covenant of Grace.” And what is this Covenant of Grace? It is the promise of the seed in Genesis 3:15—that’s the Covenant of Grace according to the Protestant brain trust. So, let’s turn now to where that takes place:

Genesis 3:14 – And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (ASV).

    Do you see the glaring problem here? Who is God talking to? When you make a covenant with someone, wouldn’t it be with the person you are talking to? Note what takes place after verse 15; God then addresses Eve, and then afterward addresses Adam separately. If there is a Covenant of Grace, it was made with the serpent! Adam and Eve are right there, and according to the Covenant Theology federal headship of Adam, any covenant made at that point should be addressed to Adam, no?

    This whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam is at the root of almost every errant view of biblical covenants that there is, and is also the basis of the Reformed doctrine of double imputation. This is the belief that Christ fulfilled the covenant of works that Adam violated through perfect law-keeping when He was on earth as a man. Hence, paradise is restored due to Christ fulfilling this covenant, which is a law covenant.

    In addition, key to understanding the salvific covenants of promise is Ephesians 2:11,12.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

     Notice that being unregenerate is synonymous with being alienated from the “commonwealth of Israel” and the covenants (PLURAL) of “promise.” Any salvific covenant must be defined as a covenant of promise, and NOT agreement, and MUST be attached to Israel. Problem: Adam had nothing to do with Israel. And…even if God did make some kind of covenant with Adam, it depended on something Adam did and not a promise despite any action by Adam. In other words, it was supposedly an agreement that was dependent on the actions of two parties. In order for God to fulfil His promises to a certain party, they have to remain faithful to their part of the contract. When Adam supposedly violated the covenant, God replaced it with another one. This is all fraught with speculation.

    At best, it would have to be some kind of law covenant, and shockingly, the Reformed crowd actually concedes this and makes the primary covenant of promise a law covenant. This is clearly a plenary affront to Scripture.  Nevertheless, this is how the Reformed, and frankly many others, including dispensationalists, interpret Romans 5:18,19.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

    Supposedly, the one act of Christ is His “passive obedience,” and the overall obedience of Christ is His “active obedience.” Hence, Christ came to fulfil a law covenant. Regardless of what Protestant camp you dwell in, you hear this all the time; viz, Christ kept the law perfectly for us; viz, Christ’s resurrection was proof that God was satisfied with His perfect obedience; viz, Christ had to keep the law perfectly in His life first before He could be the acceptable sacrifice; viz, we have the righteousness of Christ. Whether Calvinist or Arminian—you hear these truisms constantly.

    Here is where I want to enter in a quotation from Present Truth magazine because it perfectly articulates John Calvin’s view on this from his commentary on Romans:

After a man hears the conditions of acceptance with God and eternal life, and is made sensible of his inability to meet those conditions, the Word of God comes to him in the gospel. He hears that Christ stood in his place and kept the law of God for him. By dying on the cross, Christ satisfied all the law’s demands. The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

We say again, only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

On the other hand, the law is dishonored by the man who presumes to bring to it his own life of obedience. The fact that he thinks the law will be satisfied with his “rotten stubble and straw” (Luther) shows what a low estimate he has of the holiness of God and what a high estimate he has of his own righteousness. Only in Jesus Christ is there an obedience with which the law is well pleased. Because faith brings only what Jesus has done, it is the highest honor that can be paid to the law (Rom. 3:31) [see The Truth About New Calvinism pp. 100, 101].

    So, what does church become? Or rather, what has church in fact become? It has become a ritual that we partake in for the purpose of Christ’s obedience fulfilling a law covenant. “Christians” verbalize these ideas all the time.  The Reformed call this “the obedience of faith.” Our faith alone in Christian living—Christ’s imputed obedience to fulfill the law covenant as long as we walk by faith alone. I had one person from the anti-Calvin, anti-Lordship salvation crowd tell me that Christians only obey one time—when they believe. After that, it’s all Christ’s obedience perpetually imputed to our account. I had another anti-Calvinist refer to en nomos to Christ. What’s that? It means in-lawed to Christ; the law is fulfilled for us in Christ. Calvinists call this the “vital union.” As long as we are walking by faith alone, Christ continues to satisfy the law for us.

    Listen, do you know why Calvinists and Arminians bicker back and forth in the SBC but will not separate? Do you know why an anti-Calvinist president of a major SBC seminary wrote me and stated that Calvinism isn’t a false gospel? The answer is simple; they all believe in the same law covenant. When it gets right down to it—they believe the same gospel. The tie that binds is this whole idea that God made a covenant of works with Adam. Note the two different charts below; one from the dispensationalist camp disdained by the Reformed, and the other one from the latter:

Dispensational Chart

Covenant Theology

    The Abrahamic covenant, the covenant that all of the other covenants of promise are based on, is based on promise and NOT law.  It doesn’t matter who keeps it—it’s NOT a law covenant. The apostle Paul spent all of his Christian life refuting this very idea.

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.

    If Christ had to keep the law for us, that makes the promise what? Right, “void.” Who keeps the law is not the point, law period is the point. Paul goes further to make his point with the ONE SEED argument. What’s that? If the law is part of the Abrahamic covenant, there are two life-giving entities and not just one being Christ. Verse 21, the law cannot give life. We are going to come back to this text when we get to the Mosaic covenant.

Part 2: Overview of the Covenants and Their Gospel Significance

    Let’s now do an overview of the covenants of promise starting with the Noahic  covenant.

Genesis 9:8 – Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

    This is pretty straight forward, but let me again point out that when God makes a covenant with someone, he tells them about it directly. In every case where God makes a covenant, He says, “I establish my covenant with you.” God never said to Adam, “I establish my covenant with you.” Moreover, in the text cited by Calvinists and Arminians alike to make a case for a “Covenant of Grace,” God is talking to Satan. In every other covenant of promise, God establishes the covenant with those he is talking to.

The Abrahamic Covenant  

    The foundational covenant of promise that the rest of the covenants of promise are based on is the Abrahamic covenant. To get the full breadth of this covenant, you really have to study Genesis from chapter 12 to pretty much the end of the book, but I would like to point primarily to chapter 15. In what is obviously some kind of ritual to establish a covenant, because verse 18 states such, God put Abraham in a deep sleep and executed the covenant Himself—He performed the ceremony with Abraham in a deep sleep. Why? Because the promise will be kept by God alone. It’s not some kind of mutual agreement commonly found in law covenants.

    This is the essence of law covenants: they are based on some kind of agreement. This is why the idea that the church is the bride of Christ is so popular; this makes the idea of a law covenant more feasible than a one direction covenant of promise.  Hence, “Christians” keep themselves “faithful to our covenant with Christ” by being “faithful members” in the local church by showing up every time the doors are open, tithing, serving, and being a “blessing to the pastors.” How often have we heard these things all of our Christian lives? When I was a member of the institutional church, every time I was able to spend some time with my family, we were packing everyone up and heading to church because “the doors were open.” Not being a “blessing” to the church equals being a bad wife to the bridegroom who is supposedly Christ.

    But when it gets right down to it, being a “faithful member” results in the “covering of Christ” that continues to fulfill the righteous demands of the law because the institutional church covenant is a law covenant. As long as we are faithful to the covenant; i.e., a member in “good standing,” Christ will continue to cover us with His perfect obedience in order to keep us righteous. Some pastures refer to this as, “keeping ourselves in the love of God.”

The Palestinian Covenant

   The Palestinian covenant (Deu 30:1-10), again, a covenant of promise, is a land promise to the nation of Israel. This is also included in the Abrahamic covenant. Dispensationalists contend with the Reformed that this is a promise God will keep while the Reformed argue that Israel broke their covenant with God, a marriage covenant, or law covenant, resulting in God divorcing Israel, and replacing them with the Gentile church.

    Therefore, this promise no longer stands because Israel was unfaithful to the law covenant. Nevertheless, on this wise, the Reformed are more consistent in regard to their partnership with Arminians in believing the same gospel based on the fulfillment of a law covenant. If Calvinists and Arminians appear to be like an old married couple constantly bickering back and forth—it’s because that’s what they are. They will never get divorced; it’s a marriage of institutional convenience.

The Mosiac Covenant

    Now we come to the Mosaic covenant and as mentioned beforehand we will go back to Galatians to shed some light on this covenant. After Paul’s argument that the Abrahamic covenant is according to promise and not law, does that mean the law is kaput?

Galatians 3:19 – 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came [Chrsit], we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor [guardian v.23] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [guardian v.23] (NKJV).

    What this is saying is that Christ ended the law for righteousness (Rom 10:4) when he died on the cross. Until then, until “faith came,” all the sins of the righteous were imputed to the law: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin… we were kept under guard” (also see Rom 7:6). All sin is transgression against the law (1Jn 3:4), so all sins that believers committed until Christ came were imprisoned in the law, and then Christ ended the law. Therefore, our sin is not merely covered by some law covenant, but actually ended. Where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom 5:13, “Apart from the law, sin lies dead” Rom 7:8).

    If Christ kept the law for us, this posits the idea that there is a law that can give life. “But Paul, Christ kept it for us.” So what? That’s still saying that the law gives life if kept perfectly, but there is no law that can give life (Gal 3:21).

    This is why the Mosaic law is not ended. It still functions as a covenant of death to those who do not believe, for those whom faith has not come yet, or faith in Christ has not come. All sin is transgression against the law, so if belief in Christ ends the law, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). But if the Mosaic law is ended, there is no law in which to judge anybody—everybody is going to heaven. In this way, the Mosaic law is an instrument of the gospel because all of the sins of unbelievers are imputed to it. If they would only believe in Christ—their sins are ended and there is no law to judge them. We implore unbelievers to escape the law by fleeing to the blood of Christ.

    The Bible also refers to the Mosaic covenant as an inheritance, or a will. When Christ died on the cross, believers received their 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.

    The New Covenant is a better covenant. Why? Because the Old Covenant only COVERED sin, the New Covenant ENDS sin. This is why the old is “becoming” obsolete and “passing away” (Heb 8:13). Also, let’s not forget the elect angels that enforced this covenant when God came down to make it on Mount Sinai. Undoubtedly, the forces of darkness were present that day, and when the God of Israel came down to meet with Israel to enact this covenant, we have this apocalyptic scene of the angels making a protective perimeter for the event. Angels are also at work daily in ministering to those who are God’s ambassadors, and will again be covenant enforcers in the last days (see the book of Revelation).  The angels are elected for this purpose.

    The Mosaic covenant is also a covenant of promise regarding blessings and cursings. This is a promise of blessing for obeying God’s law for purposes of love. Since the law cannot condemn us because it has been ended for righteousness, Christians can now be assured that their law-keeping is faith working through love (Gal 5:6). We can be assured that the law of condemnation is now the Spirit’s law that He uses to sanctify us (Jn 17:17).

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

And, we are blessed for obeying:

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.”

James 1:25 – But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Philippians 4: 8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

These are promises for sanctification; we can only believe to receive the promises of justification, but in order to receive reward in sanctification, we must act in love:

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

The Davidic Covenant

    We will spend little or no time on the Davidic covenant. It’s a promise that Christ will rule on David’s throne in the millennial kingdom. It’s founded on the Abrahamic covenant, and Peter eludes to it in his gospel presentation at Pentecost.  Again, all salvific covenants of promise are tied to Israel.

Lastly, the New Covenant.

    We have touched on the New Covenant to a point in discussing the Mosaic Covenant. The New Covenant which, here we go again, is a covenant to Israel specifically (Jere 31:31), was inaugurated by the death of Christ, but will not be fully consummated until the millennial kingdom. The inauguration of the New Covenant ended the law for righteousness, and ushered in the beginning of a better covenant. The Old is fading away, but we may assume that it will not be completely obsolete until the end of the millennial kingdom because that’s when the final judgment takes place. The law will be needed, unfortunately, to condemn those who appear at that judgment.

    How do we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at the present time? Read the covenant in Jeremiah 31:

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: 34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV).

    Are we in those days when Israel is completely given over to God and there is no need for teachers or the written law? Obviously not. Is all Israel saved according to Romans 11: 25-27? Obviously not. And by the way, this particular writing of the law on hearts does NOT refer to present-day Christians and does NOT abrogate the Old Testament law written on tablets of stone etc., ad nauseam.

This is how we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at this time. Besides, when Christ instructed us on the remembrance of the Lord’s Table, He said He would not drink of that cup again until he did so with us in the kingdom. I think this speaks to the full consummation of the New Covenant as well.

Conclusion

    Another thing we can associate with the covenants is the vanquishing of God’s enemies. Christ came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and performed a lot of healing of diseases. This is indicative of the millennial kingdom where there will be little disease if any. The Bible states that an infant will be 100 years old. In the new heaven and new earth, the last enemy to be defeated will be death. The new heaven and new earth is the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant when the city Abraham was looking for, heavenly Jerusalem, the real bride of Christ (Rev 21: 9ff), will descend from heaven and God will dwell among men.

    When Christ came and died on the cross, sin was defeated because the power of sin is the law (1Cor 15:56). That was the first enemy of God to be defeated. Why would Christ want to fulfil the law in our stead for righteousness? All that would do is empower sin that much more! “But Paul, what’s Matthew 5:17 talking about?” Answer: see Romans 8:3,4.

    The second enemy that will be defeated is disease in the millennial kingdom which is why healing was a major theme during Christ’s ministry.

    The last enemy to be defeated will be death at the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant (1Cor 15:24-28). That is also the Sabbath rest that yet remains for God’s people (Heb 4:9).

    In vogue in our day is the idea that Christians are still under condemnation and must live our Christian life by grace ALONE. We hear this constantly. Why? Because the protestant gospel is clearly grounded in a law covenant, not a “holy covenant” based on promise. Living by the same gospel that saved us, or living by faith alone, keeps us in the love of Christ resulting in Christ fulfilling an Adamic covenant that never existed.

It is a gospel based on a law covenant, and not promise.

Biblical Covenants: An Overview and Explanation

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

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If there is an area where the laity is completely ignorant and confused, it is on this wise. In discussing our lesson prior to tonight, Susan, and think about this, who has been a Christian for almost sixty years, and abundantly faithful to the institutional church, professes to be very foggy on the issue of covenants.

So, let’s get into the primary covenants.  There are six, NOT seven. Here they are: Noahic, Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant. God never made a covenant with Adam. How do we know this? Because when God makes a covenant, He states it as such. God never calls any arrangement He had with Adam a “covenant.” Let me ask you a question: “Why do you think God made a covenant with Adam?” Because a guy went to seminary, they told him that God made a covenant with Adam, and then he left seminary and told you that, and you believed it because he’s certified by Protestant philosopher kings.

In the Garden of Eden, God calls them “trees” not a covenant. How do we get “covenant” from “tree.” In the six actual covenants, guess what? God says, “I will make a covenant.” Why do you need to spend 50,000 dollars to understand that? What you need to do is pay 50,000 dollars to figure out how a tree is a covenant. Also, when God covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness, He didn’t call that a covenant either. In both cases, it’s pure assumption. However, when God says, “I will make a covenant,” that’s not an assumption.

Granted, the tree of life ends up in the New Jerusalem, but what we primarily look for as Christians is the city built by God, not the tree. The tree of life is one of the results of the Abrahamic covenant, but it isn’t THE covenant or even A salvific covenant. Those who posit the idea that God made a covenant with Adam must now split that covenant into two different covenants:  the Edenic Covenant of innocence, and the  Adamic Covenant of grace. See, this is what happens when you make something a covenant that isn’t a covenant, you have to come up with more covenants to cover for the first covenant that wasn’t a covenant.  You search in vain for the covenants of innocence and grace. Not there.

Ultimately, Christians look for the fulfilment of the Abrahamic Covenant, not some Adamic covenant. Let’s look at some Scripture:

2Peter 3:13 – But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We aren’t waiting for a tree, we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth.

Hebrews 11:10 – For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Abraham was looking for a city, not a tree.

Now, get a pen out, here is the definition of a covenant in regard to the biblical covenants specifically. They are NEVER based on anything man does, nor are they predicated on an agreement between God and man. Covenants are predicated on one thing and one thing only: God’s promises. The six covenants are covenants of promise. They are NOT agreements between God and man, they are promises TO man.

Furthermore, ELECTION is the means by which God executes His promises. Why must God elect the means? Because He cannot break His promises. He elected Christ to make the promises possible, He elected angels to enforce the covenants of promise, and He elected Israel to execute the covenants on a human level aided by the Holy Spirit.

God does not elect individuals, but rather the means of fulfilling His Promises. God is only limited by His character, but is not limited by any of His attributes. God cannot break a promise, and He cannot be unjust.  Individuals are not elected; only the means for fulfilling His promises are elected. Otherwise, the promises cannot be to anyone in particular; in other words, if individuals are elected, they themselves cannot know definitively that the promise is to them.

Hence, the promises are to everyone who will believe. If that is predetermined, the promise is useless because it is only a promise to those who have been predestined which means the promises of God must be qualified with an “IF”: “Yes, it’s a promise, you just don’t know whether it’s to you specifically or not.” Much like the gospel, or “good news.” Why is “Maybe you’re in, but maybe you’re not” “good news”? You really have no way of knowing whether it is necessarily good news for you or not. In the same way, you are presented with THE promise without any way of knowing whether the promise is really to you. The only way you can know for certain that the promise is to you is if the “IF” relies on your choice to believe the promise which is to EVERYONE who believes. Let’s look at an example of this:

Acts 3:36 – “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Stop right there. See the words “the promise”? Whenever you see that in the New Testament it is referring to the Abrahamic Covenant. An example is the aforementioned 2Peter 3:13. Peter stated on Pentecost that the promise was to them, their children, and those far off which probably referred to the Jews not present that day. Yes, it could also refer to the Gentiles, but more than likely refers to the Jews who didn’t make it to Jerusalem for Pentecost that year.  The promise is to all of them, but the promise must be obtained by faith. God calls all men to Himself, but they must come by faith, and that being faith in the Son of God.

Let’s pause here for a moment to revisit this whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam though God never said He made a covenant with Adam. A whole bunch of this is tied up in the granddaddy of all theologies, Covenant Theology which shows up in the 16th century. It posits the idea that the one command given to Adam about the tree of good and evil was a covenant of works, also referred to as the covenant of life, or as mentioned earlier, a covenant of innocence.  Adam was promised life/blessings for obedience, and death/cursing for disobedience.

Now look, we could spend the next two hours plunging the depths of all of this while including Dispensationalism to boot, and all of the various views on this which are myriad, as if God is a god of confusion, but let me make it really, really easy for you. As the theories go, born out of this idea that God made a covenant with Adam, when Adam sinned, and thereby breaking the first covenant, God instituted the “Covenant of Grace.” And what is this Covenant of Grace? It is the promise of the seed in Genesis 3:15—that’s the Covenant of Grace.  So, let’s turn now to where that takes place:

Genesis 3:14 – And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (ASV).

Do you see the glaring problem here? Who is God talking to? When you make a covenant with someone, wouldn’t it be with the person you are talking to? Note what takes place after verse 15, God then addresses Eve, and then afterward addresses Adam separately. If there is a Covenant of Grace, it was made with the serpent! Adam and Eve are right there, and according to the Covenant Theology federal headship of Adam, any covenant made at that point should be addressed to Adam, no?

This whole idea that God made a covenant with Adam is at the root of almost every errant view of biblical covenants that there is, and is also the basis of the Reformed doctrine of double imputation. This is the belief that Christ fulfilled the covenant of works that Adam violated through perfect law-keeping when He was on earth as a man. Hence, paradise is restored due to Christ fulfilling this covenant, which is a law covenant.

In addition, key to understanding  the salvific covenants of promise is Ephesians 2:11,12.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Notice that being unregenerate is synonymous with being alienated from the “commonwealth of Israel” and the covenants (PLURAL) of “promise.” Any, I repeat, any salvific covenant must be defined as a covenant of promise, and NOT agreement, and MUST be attached to Israel. Problem: Adam had nothing to do with Israel. Even if God did make some kind of covenant with Adam, it depended on something Adam did and not a promise despite any action by Adam.

At best, it would have to be some kind of law covenant, and shockingly, the Reformed crowd actually concedes this and makes the primary covenant of promise a law covenant. This is clearly a plenary affront to Scripture.  Nevertheless, this is how the Reformed, and frankly many others, including dispensationalists, interpret Romans 5:18,19.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Supposedly, the one act of Christ is His “passive obedience,” and the overall obedience of Christ is His “active obedience.” Hence, Christ came to fulfil a law covenant. Regardless of what Protestant camp you dwell in, you hear this all the time; viz, Christ kept the law perfectly for us; viz, Christ’s resurrection was proof that God was satisfied with His perfect obedience; viz, Christ had to keep the law perfectly in His life first before He could be the acceptable sacrifice; viz, we have the righteousness of Christ. Whether Calvinist or Arminian—you hear these truisms constantly.

Here is where I want to enter in a quotation from Present Truth magazine because it perfectly articulates John Calvin’s view on this from his commentary on Romans:

After a man hears the conditions of acceptance with God and eternal life, and is made sensible of his inability to meet those conditions, the Word of God comes to him in the gospel. He hears that Christ stood in his place and kept the law of God for him. By dying on the cross, Christ satisfied all the law’s demands. The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” [Luther]. The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

We say again, only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

On the other hand, the law is dishonored by the man who presumes to bring to it his own life of obedience. The fact that he thinks the law will be satisfied with his “rotten stubble and straw” [Luther] shows what a low estimate he has of the holiness of God and what a high estimate he has of his own righteousness. Only in Jesus Christ is there an obedience with which the law is well pleased. Because faith brings only what Jesus has done, it is the highest honor that can be paid to the law (Rom. 3:31) [see The Truth About New Calvinism pp. 100, 101].

So, what does church become? Or rather, what has church in fact become? It has become a ritual that we partake in for the purpose of Christ’s obedience fulfilling a law covenant. “Christians” verbalize these ideas all the time.  The Reformed call this “the obedience of faith.” Our faith alone in Christian living—Christ’s imputed obedience to fulfill the law covenant as long as we walk by faith alone. I had one person from the anti-Calvin, anti-Lordship salvation crowd tell me that Christians only obey one time—when they believe. After that, it’s all Christ’s obedience perpetually imputed to our account. I had another anti-Calvinist refer to en nomos to Christ. What’s that? It means in-lawed to Christ; the law is fulfilled for us in Christ. Calvinists call this the “vital union.” As long as we are walking by faith alone, Christ continues to satisfy the law for us.

Listen, do you know why Calvinists and Arminians bicker back in forth in the SBC but will not separate? Do you know why a non-Calvinist president of a major SBC seminary wrote me and stated that Calvinism isn’t a false gospel? The answer is simple: they all believe in the same law covenant. When it gets right down to it—they believe the same gospel.

The Abrahamic covenant, the covenant that all of the other covenants of promise are based on, are based on promise and NOT law.  It doesn’t matter who keeps it—it’s NOT a law covenant. The apostle Paul spent all of his Christian life refuting this very idea.

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.

Listen, if Christ had to keep the law for us, that makes the promise what? Right, “void.” Who keeps the law is not the point, law period is the point. Paul goes further to make his point with the ONE SEED argument. What’s that? If the law is part of the Abrahamic covenant, there are two life-giving entities and not just one being Christ. Verse 21, the law cannot give life. We are going to come back to this text when we get to the Mosaic covenant.

Let’s now do an overview of the covenants of promise starting with the Noahic  covenant.

Genesis 9:8 – Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

This is pretty straight forward, but let me point out that when God makes a covenant with someone, he tells them about it directly. In every case where God makes a covenant, He says, “I establish my covenant with you.” God never said to Adam, “I establish my covenant with you.” Moreover, in the text cited by Calvinists and Arminians alike to make a case for a “Covenant of Grace,” God is talking to Satan. In every other covenant of promise, God establishes the covenant with those he is talking to.

The foundational covenant of promise that the rest of the covenants of promise are based on is the Abrahamic covenant. To get the full breadth of this covenant, you really have to study Genesis from chapter 12 to pretty much the end of the book, but I would like to point primarily to chapter 15. In what is obviously some kind of ritual to establish a covenant, because verse 18 states such, God put Abraham in a deep sleep and executed the covenant Himself—He performed the ceremony with Abraham in a deep sleep. Why? Because the promise will be kept by God alone. It’s not some kind of mutual agreement commonly found in law covenants.

This is the essence of law covenants—they are based on some kind of agreement. This is why the idea that the church is the bride of Christ is so popular; this makes the idea of a law covenant more feasible than a one direction covenant of promise.  Hence, “Christians” keep themselves “faithful to our covenant with Christ” by being good little “faithful members” in the local church by showing up every time the doors are open, tithing, serving, and being a “blessing to the pastors.” How often have we heard this stuff all of our Christian lives? When I was a member of the institutional church, every time I was able to spend some time with my family, we were packing everyone up and heading to church because “the doors were open.” Not being a “blessing” to the church =’s being a bad wife to the bridegroom who is supposedly Christ.

But when it gets right down to it, being a “faithful member” results in the “covering of Christ” that continues to fulfill the righteous demands of the law because the institutional church covenant is a law covenant. As long as we are faithful to the covenant; i.e., a member in “good standing,” Christ will continue to cover us with His perfect obedience in order to keep us righteous, or as CJ Mahaney puts it: “keep us in the love of God.”

The Palestinian covenant (Deu 30:1-10), again, a covenant of promise, is a land promise to the nation of Israel. This is also included in the Abrahamic covenant. Dispensationalists contend with the Reformed that this is a promise God will keep while the Reformed argue that Israel broke their covenant with God, a marriage covenant, or law covenant, resulting in God divorcing Israel, and being replaced by the Gentile church. Therefore, this promise no longer stands because Israel was unfaithful to the law covenant.

Nevertheless, on this wise, the Reformed are more consistent in regard to their partnership with Arminians in believing the same gospel based on law. If Calvinists and Arminians appear to be like an old married couple constantly bickering back and forth—it’s because that’s what they are. They will never get divorced; it’s a marriage of institutional convenience.

Now we come to the Mosaic covenant and as mentioned beforehand we will go back to Galatians to shed some light on this covenant. After Paul’s argument that the Abrahamic covenant is according to promise and not law, does that mean the law is kaput?

Galatians 3:19 – 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came [Christ], we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor [guardian v.23] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [guardian v.23] (NKJV).

 What this is saying is that Christ ended the law for righteousness (Rom 10:4) when he died on the cross. Until then, until “faith came,” all the sins of the righteous were imputed to the law: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin… we were kept under guard” (also see Rom 7:6). All sin is transgression against the law (1Jn 3:4), so all sins that believers committed until Christ came were imprisoned in the law, and then Christ ended the law. Therefore, our sin is not merely covered by some law covenant, but actually ended. Where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom 5:13, “Apart from the law, sin lies dead” Rom 7:8).

By the way, if Christ kept the law for us, this posits the idea that there is a law that can give life. “But Paul, Christ kept it for us.”  So what? That’s still saying that the law gives life if kept perfectly, but there is no law that can give life.

This is why the Mosaic law is not ended. It still functions as a covenant of death to those who do not believe, for those whom faith has not come yet, or faith in Christ has not come. All sin is transgression against the law, so if belief in Christ ends the law, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). But if the Mosaic law is ended, there is no law in which to judge anybody—everybody is going to heaven. In this way, the Mosaic law is an instrument of the gospel because all of the sins of unbelievers are imputed to it. If they would only believe in Christ—their sins are ended and there is no law to judge them. We implore unbelievers to escape the law by fleeing to the blood of Christ.

The Bible also refers to the Mosaic covenant as an inheritance, or a will. When Christ died on the cross, believers received their 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.

The New Covenant is a better covenant. Why? Because the Old Covenant only COVERED sin, the New Covenant ENDS sin. This is why the old is “becoming” obsolete and “passing away” (Heb 8:13). Also, let’s not forget the elect angels that enforced this covenant when God came down to make it on Mount Sinai. Undoubtedly, the forces of darkness were preset that day, and when the God of Israel came down to meet with Israel to enact this covenant, we have this apocalyptic scene of the angels making a protective perimeter for the event. Angels are also at work daily in ministering to those who are God’s ambassadors, and will again be covenant enforcers in the last days (see the book of Revelation).  The angels are elected for this purpose.

The Mosaic covenant is also a covenant of promise regarding blessings and cursings. This is a promise of blessing for obeying God’s law for purposes of love. Since the law cannot condemn us because it has been ended for righteousness, Christians can now be assured that their law-keeping is faith working through love (Gal 5:6). We can be assured that the law of condemnation is now the Spirit’s law that He uses to sanctify us (Jn 17:17).

 Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

And, we are blessed for obeying:

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.”

James 1:25 – But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Philippians 4: 8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

These are promises for sanctification; we can only believe to receive the promises of justification, but in order to receive reward in sanctification, we must act in love:

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

I am going to spend little or no time on the Davidic covenant. It’s a promise that Christ will rule on David’s throne in the millennial kingdom. It’s founded on the Abrahamic covenant,  and Peter eludes to it in his gospel presentation at Pentecost.  Again, all salvific covenants of promise are tied to Israel.

Lastly, the New Covenant.

We have touched on the New Covenant to a point in discussing the Mosaic Covenant. The New Covenant which, here we go again, is a covenant to Israel specifically (Jere 31:31), was inaugurated by the death of Christ, but will not be fully consummated until the millennial kingdom.

The inauguration of the New Covenant ended the law for righteousness, and ushered in the beginning of a better covenant. The Old is fading away, but I assume that it will not be completely obsolete till the end of the millennial kingdom because that’s when the final judgment takes place. The law will be needed, unfortunately, to condemn those who appear at that judgment.

How do we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at the present time? Read the covenant in Jeremiah 31.

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: 34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV).

Are we in those days when Israel is completely given over to God and there is no need for teachers or the written law? Obviously not. Is all Israel saved according to Romans 11: 25-27? Obviously not. And by the way, this particular writing of the law on hearts does NOT refer to present-day Christians and does NOT abrogate the Old Testament law written on tablets of stone etc., ad nauseam.

This is how we know that the New Covenant is not fully consummated at this time. Besides, when Christ instructed us on the remembrance of the Lord’s Table, He said He would not drink of that cup again until he did so with us in the kingdom. I think this speaks to the full consummation of the New Covenant as well.

Another thing we can associate with the covenants is the vanquishing of God’s enemies. Christ came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and performed a lot of healing of diseases. This is indicative of the millennial kingdom where there will be little disease if any.  The Bible states that an infant will be 100 years old. In the new heaven and new earth, the last enemy to be defeated will be death. The new heaven and new earth is the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant when the city Abraham was looking for, heavenly Jerusalem, the real bride of Christ, will descend from heaven and God will dwell among men.

When Christ came and died on the cross, sin was defeated because the power of sin is the law (1Cor 15:56). That was the first enemy of God to be defeated. And by the way, why would Christ want to fulfil the law in our stead for righteousness? All that would do is empower sin that much more! “But Paul, what’s Matthew 5:17 talking about?” Answer: see Romans 8:3,4.

The second enemy that will be defeated is disease in the millennial kingdom which is why healing was such a major theme during Christ’s ministry.

The last enemy to be defeated will be death at the consummation of the Abrahamic covenant (1Cor 15:24-28). That is also the Sabbath rest that yet remains for God’s people (Heb 4:9).

That concludes our overview of biblical covenants.

Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” is Really Antinomian Puppy-Love

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 29, 2010

“He is clearly saying that when we love we are free from the Law; in fact, we don’t have to worry about….’commands.’ In other words, love is measured by some other standard than biblical imperatives, presumably, good feelings. Do you think that is unfair of me to say? Well then, look at how he wants you to determine if you are loving or not: ‘Do you feel free in your Christian life?'”

Before I comment on “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan (2008), let me set the table. There is a “let go and let God” theology sweeping through Christianity which is sometimes referred to as “Gospel Sanctification.” Hereafter, I will refer to it as “GS.” Let go and let God theology, for all practical purposes, is antinomianism because it either advocates an inability to uphold the Law by Christians or the view that Christians are not obligated to uphold it in God’s eyes. Either way, use of the Law in the life of a Christian is denied.

Basically, GS teaches that we are sanctified in the exact same way that we are justified, by faith and repentance alone. Therefore, if the Law (by this term “Law” I mean the Scriptures in general and imperatives in particular) can’t save us, neither can it be used or recognized in sanctification either. They use Galatians 3:2,3 as a proof text for this position.

Secondly, it teaches that Christ came to not only die for our sins, but to fulfill the law by obeying it perfectly with His life. In essence, it teaches that Christ obeyed the Law for us, and His perfect obedience and fulfillment of the Law is imputed to us in the same way righteousness is imputed to us in salvation by faith alone. Therefore, we are not obligated to the Law. This is sometimes referred to as “the imputed active obedience of Christ.”

Thirdly, It teaches that Christ not only fulfilled the Law, but replaced it with a new Law that only has one command: love God and others. Furthermore, in only being obligated by this one Law, our proper fulfillment of this one Law is judged by our intentions and conscience, not necessarily biblical imperatives. They use Matthew 22: 36-40 as a proof text for this position.

Fourthly, according to advocates, acts of true love will always be accompanied by a willing spirit and joy. Nothing should ever be done out of mere duty. The old Christian adage “obey God whether you feel like it or not” is considered to be anathema. Acts of true love are often described as a “mere natural flow.”

Fifthly, GS propagates the idea that Christians are still spiritually dead, and the only life in us is Christ working through the Holy Spirit. That’s why true love can always be expected to be a mere natural flow, because it is really Christ doing the work through us. They use Galatians 2:20 as a proof text for this position. This text is also used to advocate sanctification by faith alone.

Sixthly, sanctification is only accomplished through faith and deep introspection for purposes of repentance, which empties our soul of sin, and results in Christ living through us.

Seventh, the Bible’s sole purpose is to aid us in faith and repentance. As we see “pictures of Jesus” in the Bible, we learn more about who He is, and see Him more clearly. Our faith is then increased and we are changed from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18 is the proof text for that). The Bible also aids us in looking deep within our souls to see sin that we need to repent of. In addition, all of the vast imperatives we see in the Bible makes us more thankful for Christ, knowing that we could never uphold all of those commands and He has done it for us. Thank goodness they (commands) have all been abrogated by the love of Christ working through us, according to them, that is.

Eighth, since the primary goal is to know more of who Christ is (as opposed to learning what He has said for the purpose of applying it to our lives), which increases our faith and love for Him, we don’t necessarily limit that knowledge to Scripture. General revelation is seen as being almost as valuable, because the idea is to get to know Christ as a person, “not a cognitive concept that we apply to life” (Paul David Tripp). This is eerily similar to Postmodern thinking.

Obviously, I wouldn’t have gone through all of the trouble to explain the above if I didn’t think “Crazy Love” (hereafter “CL”) propagated Gospel Sanctification. Per the usual, advocates of GS partake in careful word-craft; it goes without saying that my before-stated description would be rejected out of hand by most Evangelicals. Though there are hints of GS in the first half of the book, the doctrine is not prevalent until page 101, thats when elements of the doctrine start becoming obvious.

Somewhat unique in CL is the heavy dose of “Jesus is my boyfriend” theology. Chan pours this on really thick, even by John Piper’s standard, who is also an advocate of GS. Piper, who likens true saving faith to a deep, romantic-like love for Christ, is quoted at least once in CL. Let’s face it, if we can’t love our Lord by obeying “everything I have commanded,” (as in most GS based books, the Lordship of Christ is conspicuously missing) then something else has to fill the gap; such as, a “sincere,” syrupy like romantic love similar to teenage puppy-love. In fact, according to Chan, regarding the account of his grandmother’s relationship with Christ: He was her “lover” (p. 100).

Throughout the book, Chan draws conclusions about how we should experience our relationship with Christ from horizontal relationships; namely, romantic ones. Hence, “Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.” This is indicative of the eighth element, which puts general revelation on the same par with specific revelation (The Bible). There is a very heavy dose of this in the beginning of the book as Chan emphasizes the study of creation in order to understand Christ as a “person.” Chan also uses the GS phrase “word pictures” to describe the Bible throughout CL. On pages 34 and 35, Chan categorizes general revelation and the Bible together as two ways of knowing God as set against what we can’t know about Him: “So far we have talked about things we can see with our own eyes, things we know about creation, and some of the attributes of God as revealed in the Bible. But many facets of God expand beyond our comprehension.”

Besides an overemphasis on general revelation as a matching bookend with specific revelation, there is only a hint of the GS doctrine in the first 100 pages. The first thing I began to notice was the dissing of practical application and obedience, which are both antithetical to GS doctrine. In regard to our supposed paramount goal of knowing Christ as a person rather than what he demands of us (number eight), Chan says the following on page 30: “If the ‘gravest question’ before us really is what God Himself is like, how do we learn to know Him?” Is the “gravest” question before Christians that of who God is? Or, is what God wants us to do of equal importance? I think we know the answer to that, and a balanced perspective by Chan is conspicuously missing throughout the book.

Then on page 101, Chan takes a hard left turn and launches into full-blown GS doctrine. After denying throughout the book (in nuanced fashion) that we are slaves obligated to obey Christ (because that doesn’t fit the gushy *Jesus as boyfriend* prism), and that God would use fear, guilt, or reward to motivate us, he says that Galatians 5:13-14 teaches the following: “When we love, we’re free! We don’t have to worry about a burdensome load of commands, because when we are loving, we can’t sin. Do you feel free in your Christian life?”

Just please stop and think about what he is saying. Words mean things. He is clearly saying that when we love we are free from the Law; in fact, we don’t have to worry about….”commands.” In other words, love is measured by some other standard than biblical imperatives, presumably, good feelings. Do you think that is unfair of me to say? Well then, look at how he wants you to determine if you are loving or not: “Do you feel free in your Christian life?” And: When we work for Christ out of obligation, it feels like work. But when we truly love Christ, our work is a manifestation of that love, and it feels like love” (page 110). Is that true? Does obedience to Christ always “feel (s) like love”?

The whole line of thought here clearly falls under element number three of GS doctrine. Furthermore, let’s be good Bereans and take a look at Galatians 5:13-14, the biblical text Chan cites to make his point:

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Paul is talking about our freedom from the Law in regard to being saved, and then using it as an excuse to live any way we want to: “Hey, I’m saved anyway, and the Law can’t get me into heaven, so why not live any way I want to?” Because it’s self-focused and the antithesis of love, that’s why. But Paul is not saying that love has no standard other than itself because it replaced the Law. That is a classic antinomian misrepresentation of that passage. In the same statement, Chan even comforts his readers by assuring them that they are not sinning by loving apart from biblical imperatives / guidelines: “….because when we are loving, we can’t sin” [that’s why we supposedly don’t need to worry about “burdensome commands”].

Chan reiterates his point by quoting the apostle in verse 6 of the same chapter: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” This doesn’t mean, as Chan implies, that love interprets itself because it comes from an undefined realization of who Christ is via a personal, nebulous, and supposedly intimate relationship. Do you think that is unfair as well? Here is what Chan says on page 104: “Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives. It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love….” The “cycle” that Chan describes here is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, but rather, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Or, “Peter, do you love me? …. [then] feed my sheep.” At the very least, Chan is propagating a love that always comes naturally through a cycle of prayer only. In the best case that can be surmised, he is clearly in serious error.

Also, Chan forgets to mention that the apostle Paul also said: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1Corinthians 7:19). About a year ago, I counseled a fellow who was having trouble with a church leadership that propagates the GS doctrine. He was utterly perplexed as to why they seemed to completely ignore clear biblical directives regarding his situation. The answer is simple: if their motive was love, they did not deem themselves as obligated to biblical imperatives. Throughout the rest of the book, Chan seems to make strong statements regarding the need to obey, but what he is talking about is obedience to the one single Law of love, not biblical imperatives. This is the type of double-speaking deception that I have come to expect from propagators of the GS doctrine.

Throughout the rest of the book after page 101, Chan draws a tight GS line that propagates spiritual growth by a narrow, passive concept of meditation and prayer only (p. 104, 148, 170, to cite a few), and acts of love always experienced as a mere natural flow accompanied by joy (p. 110, 120, 129, to name a few). It is fair to say that the second half of the book is saturated with GS doctrine in its usual nuanced form. But page 203 is worth mentioning before I close. Chan presents Galatians 3:3 as a Pauline contention against effort in the sanctification process which is also supposedly a false gospel. This is a typical GS stance. Concerning this passage, Chan says the following:

“I think each of us has a strong tendency to attempt to wrestle control from the Spirit and “do” this life on our own. Each of us tends to switch from living the gospel of grace to trusting in a system of works. That’s why Paul brings up this issue with the churches in Galatia.”

So, effort on our part (Christians) to “’do’ this life” is supposedly denying the gospel that originally saved us. This is the most basic element of GS which is the synthesizing of justification and sanctification. Obviously, if we can’t do anything to be saved, neither can we participate in sanctification either except for the same role we play in justification, faith and repentance only. However, Paul is not talking about sanctification in Galatians 3:3. He was talking about the Galatians possibly denying the gospel that saved them by faith alone, and doing so by returning to a salvation by works. Apparently, they were being tempted to consummate this decision by being circumcised, and therefore denying the true gospel by proclaiming a false one. This is absolutely clear by the way Paul summarizes his argument:

“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4).

Paul makes it clear that he was talking about justification (“ You who are trying to be justified by law”) and not sanctification. Besides, specifically, Paul is talking about their ultimate goal of being completely transformed (glorification) in 3:3, not sanctification, or their role in the growing process. Paul discuses that in the second part of the book, the first part deals with justification. This can be clearly seen by the fact that Paul uses the word “justification” at least ten times in the book while “sanctification” is not used once, even though it is a biblical word in the same way justification is (1 Corinthians 1:30 and 6:11; both are listed together with glorification).

It is no different than someone who is saved by the true gospel , but then leaves an orthodox community of believers for a community that professes a false gospel. Like Paul, we would “stand in doubt” of them. Besides, specifically, Paul is talking about their ultimate goal of being completely transformed (glorification) in 3:3, not sanctification, or their role in the growing process. I believe the Young’s Literal Translation demonstrates this well:

“so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? “

In the final analysis, CL adorns GS with some challenges that the church needs to hear, but Chan’s solution is a false doctrine. The first hundred passages were subtle enough to keep me in denial while eating red herrings and ignoring straw men used to diss the conventional hearing of God’s word and the proper application to life thereof. Which is very annoying.

paul

Beware of Goldsworthy Garbage: Christians Need to Stand in the Love of God’s Truth

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 18, 2010

I confess that I love God’s word with all of my heart. Before I became a Christian, it was apparent to me that the world didn’t know what truth is. I was probably a lot like Pontius Pilot who replied to Jesus in cynical disdain: “What is truth?” When I found the truth in 1982, I embraced it with all of my life. I loved to read God’s truth and was continually amazed by what God was teaching me.

But in regard to the spiritual sound-bites of our day, someone might well ask me: “Paul, you love God’s word, but do you love God?” My reply would be, and often is, what’s the difference? Besides, what does it mean to “love God” exactly? Our love of God must be based on true knowledge of Him. We must love God the way He wants to be loved. When loving God is not based on objective knowledge, it is really just backdoor anti-law philosophy. Invariably, it just leads to everyone doing what is right in their own eyes with spiritual sounding nomenclature.

So, isn’t it awesome being a Christian? We have a love for God’s truth, and we can learn more and more about God and His truth via what the Apostle Paul called the “sacred writings.” We also have the Holy Spirit to guide us and help in our understanding. But according to some: “Not so fast bubba.” Well, the particular person of the some I am going to write about probably wouldn’t call you “bubba” because he is a “scholarly theologian” by the name of  Graeme Goldsworthy. He is a proponent of a certain method of interpreting the Bible called *Biblical Theology.* Oou, sounds good doesn’t it? Who could argue with a title like that? You see, what many, many, Christians don’t know is the following: you have to know how to interpret the Bible. It isn’t enough that you can find it in your native tongue, you must also know how to interpret it. So, to the degree that Biblical Theology is not understood, the Christian world dwells in darkness (for those of you who advocate Biblical Theology, this sentence contains sarcasm). But let us not miss an important point (my first one), Biblical Theology is either critical to Bible interpretation or it’s not. But if it is, then its advocates must necessarily take themselves very seriously (and trust me, they do).

Biblical Theology is an incredibly complex concept to grasp. It deals with the belief that biblical truth is historically organic, but don’t worry, we ain’t even goin’ there. We are going to make this very simple. But we have already backed the Biblical Theology advocate into a corner by making him proclaim how serious the world must take the proclamation that Biblical Theology is critical to understanding the Scriptures. To answer no is to give permission to reject it out of hand. To say yes is to dwell precariously close to an abyss of arrogance, unless the theory is not found wanting. But the theory finds its roots in the eighteenth century. Christians have not had a proper understanding of Scripture until then? Now the abyss has no bottom! But before we continue with my argument regarding a major tenant of  BT that can be easily understood, let us consider one more pre-spanking. The theory is so complex (read the massive volumes on the subject written by Goldsworthy for yourself, not to mention Geerhardus Vos) that God’s people would certainly be in utter dependence on Pope-like scholars. In other words, like Catholics, why bother reading the word for ourselves?  So to summarize the pre-spanking:

1. Its claims are gargantuan and most likely not in the realm of reality.
2. It’s new.
3. It enslaves God’s people to biblical scholars.

But lets look at one of the easily understood tenets of BT, that of *presupposition.* I have chosen this one because it lends a great look at true biblical interpretation by antithesis. Goldsworthy and many other BT proponents argue that an objective approach to the Scriptures is a myth. They teach that everybody comes to the Scriptures with a presupposition (a pre-supposed idea concerning what the primary theme of Scripture is). So, (and don’t miss this) since everybody comes to the Scriptures with a presupposition (which is also a presuppositional theory), Goldsworthy is merely fulfilling his place in reformation history by presenting the correct presupposition. Wow, awesome. In other words, Goldsworthy clearly rejects the whole concept of exegesis. What’s that? It is the discipline that says all ideas about truth are taken from what the biblical text conveys, and thereby educating and correcting. In spite of Goldworthy and his many minions being the sultans of doublespeak, it all boils down to this: is exegesis true?

Actually, if it is true that exegesis both educates (fills voids of knowledge that teaches about God and His truth) and corrects, then exegesis is a merciless death blow to Biblical Theology. Why? Becomes Exegesis merely replies to the BT theory of presupposition this way: “I will correct your presuppositions if your heart is teachable.” Exegesis also argues to Biblical Theology: “You say that my nemesis, Eisegesis, has no nemesis, namely me, and that I don‘t exist” Who is Eisegesis? He is the antithesis of  Exegesis, he says that you must go to the biblical text with the right idea beforehand in order to correctly understand. Therefore, BT teaches that there is no such thing as exegesis, and that all Christians are helplessly enslaved to presuppositions. Therefore, the only cure is the right presupposition. But who is the judge of that? Well, but of course, Graeme Goldsworthy and Geerhardus Voss. So, this is the fourth and fifth points: Bt teaches that Christians are helplessly enslaved to presuppostions (eisegesis) and must be harnessed by the proper presupposition, and exegesis is a myth. In fact, Goldsworthy says the following on page 21 of “Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics”:

“Neutrality and complete objectivity are the presuppositional myths of the modern secular outlook, and they are also the assumptions, sometimes unexamined, of many Christian thinkers”

In other words, in reality, there are nothing but presuppositions, and one of them is the whole idea of neutrality and objectively, which is supposedly the wrong presupposition. Therefore, exegesis cannot exist because it obviously requires objectivity to enable the text to educate and correct.

So, what to do? Where does one find the right presupposition? Answer: history. What is known as *Historicism,*  teaches that truth must be found in the meta-narrative (grand story) of history. So therefore, the right presupposition to interpret truth must be found by determining the correct meta-narrative (primary theme of history). Geerhardus Voss, the father of BT, believed that the right meta-narrative was the redemptive history, or grand story of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must go to the Scriptures with that presupposition. This is actually no different than postmodernism, which also rejects objective truth for a historical meta-narrative. John MacArthur bemoans this fact (that postmoderns trade objective truth for a historical narrative; namely, a Christocentric historical meta-narrative) in his book, “The Truth War.” Specifically, see pages 12, 14,and 36. There is absolutely no difference, which is my sixth point; BT is nothing more than postmodern thought in evangelical clothing. Absolutely.

Lastly, there is no possible way that Christians can follow Christ in objective love based on knowledge through a single presupposition. Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” We are to make disciples by “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19,20). In reality, BT rejects God’s law for the nebulous.

Let me conclude by reviewing my  seven points concerning BT:

1. Its claims are gargantuan and most likely not in the realm of reality.
2. It’s new.
3. It enslaves God’s people to biblical scholars.
4. It teaches that Christians are enslaved to presuppositions.
5. It rejects exegesis and objective truth.
6. It is postmodern thought.
7. It is anti-law

paul

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