Paul's Passing Thoughts

TANC 2015 – Andy Young, Session 1: Challenging Presuppositions of the Believer’s Identity

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 9, 2015

So I had originally chosen a few other topics on which to speak.   And then several weeks ago Paul and I were chatting on Facebook, and I think it was following something he had just posted on the blog – I don’t remember the exact circumstances now – but I had been sitting there thinking about this, and the thought came to me, “Believers don’t really know who they are!” And I was overcome by the realization of this, how profound this was. Here we are, some 2000 years after, if you want to call it the “birth of Christianity”, some 500 years after the reformation.

What do we have?

  • Grand churches with their grand buildings and their programs
  • Christian schools
  • Christian universities
  • Seminaries turning out all these pastors
  • all these resources

And with all of this, people are sitting in churches Sunday after Sunday, and they still don’t even know who or what they are. They are not aware of the reality of their existence. And that is what it really boils down to is this philosophy of existence. Who are we? What are we? And I don’t want to delve into a fundamental discussion about what is man. That’s a really esoteric subject, and not that it’s not worthy of discussion or that it’s not relevant, but I’ve only got so much time here, and I want to focus on something more specific.

Specifically, what is a Christian? You remember that it was in Antioch of the province of Syria that the term “Christian” was first coined, but not in a good way. It was a pejorative. It was meant as an insult. In the Greek, the word literally translates, “Christ ones”. We can make it sound even more derogatory by saying “christers”. You’re one of those “christers”. One who goes around talking about Christ. It was meant to be an insult. In fact, every time you see the word “Christian” used in the NT, which isn’t often, it is generally used in a negative context.

Of course, the fact that is was meant as an insult is what caused the term to be adopted as badge of honor in later decades and centuries, in a sort of ironic fashion. And to this day the word “Christian” is very common and normal and doesn’t carry the stigma with it. People in churches gladly call themselves Christians. Now granted, in recent years there has been a growing intolerance of what passes for Christianity, but for many years that wasn’t the case. It was almost popular to be a “Christian”.

But we’ve seen, I’d say in the last 10 years or more, a growing animosity towards Christians once again, and that isn’t necessarily for the reasons that we think of immediately. You know the first thing that comes to mind is this conflict between government and religion and the whole separation of church and state issue. But more and more I see that being a secondary issue. What we really have is a growing hatred for those who call themselves “Christians” because of what they represent. And that is, on an institutional level, on a theological level, on a philosophical level, it has to do with this seeming indifference to abuse and suffering both inside and outside the institution. Christians are viewed as uncaring and insensitive. You have Hollywood actors referring to God as a sadistic monster. And I can’t necessarily blame them for that kind of assessment. You look at the way “Christians” behave, especially toward each other.

And if you don’t believe me, watch what happens when you try to ask a question in Sunday school that questions the orthodox position. Or you leave a church over doctrinal matters and see how many of those people who you thought were friends continue to have contact with you. Or you watch how downright vicious they get with you when you try to present a rational argument in a Facebook discussion. One has to ask themselves, if they treat a fellow brother like that, how do they treat a lost person? How do they treat someone they are trying to evangelize?

And you don’t think the world sees this? You don’t think the world looks at the behavior of Christians, and then we wonder why they don’t want to have anything to do with us. What did Jesus say?

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Does the world see us loving each other? How can they believe anything we have to say? Dear lost person, I want to share with you the gospel because I love you. Oh, like you love that other guy who calls himself a Christian? I see the way you treated him.

The blame for this rests squarely on Augustinian/Reformed/Protestant orthodoxy. Traditional orthodoxy has created a god in its own image that IS without a doubt a sadistic monster. And so as a result, you have followers of this god going around treating people the exact same way that they believe their god treats them. Why should we expect any different. And this is the reason then that the term “Christian” has become a pejorative once again. And it is for this reason why I no longer refer to myself as a “Christian”. I call myself a believer. Or follower of Christ. A disciple of Christ. I prefer believer.

So along those same lines then, this becomes the foundational premise for why those who call themselves “christians” don’t even know who they are. What is the primary defining term that traditional orthodoxy uses today and has used for centuries to determine our identity as believer? When you sit in that pew, or that stadium chair, or whatever kind of seats your church uses, and the pastor/elder/bishop/apostle or whatever he wants to call himself, stands in front of the plexiglass podium, and he’s standing up there, and he’s looking so hip with his goatee or soul patch, in his blue jeans and turtleneck and sports coat and brown suede shoes, and he starts to deliver his sermon, what is the one theme that is driven home to you over and over and over again? What does he want you to know about yourself? What are you?


This is the theme. This is what defines you. It’s in the songs we sing. Only a sinner saved by grace. Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me. I need thee every hour! And I could go on. We see it in the pithy little memes on Facebook. Here’s one I saw recently….I’m not a christian because I am strong and have it all together…Of course the question we should immediately ask ourselves is, why do Christians need a savior? But we never ask those questions, do we?   Here’s another one. I’m not that perfect Christian, I’m the one who knows I need Jesus. Of course there’s a subtle snarkiness to this one. It’s almost a kind of holier-than-thou attitude. It almost seems to contradict the very humility it’s supposed to be trying to convey. I’m so humble that I know I’m not perfect, but at the same time, I know something you don’t know. I know I need Jesus and you don’t. And of course at first glance, no one is going to argue with that. How can you say you don’t need Jesus? But what they don’t realize is that, wait a second, believers already have Jesus. We’re already saved. Why do I need a savior over and over? But you will see this theme over and over all over the place. Don’t forget, Christian, you’re a sinner!

Now of course what do they mean by that? Well they say, well I still sin. Right. They like to ask that question. Did you sin today? Then you’re a sinner. And of course they think they trick you when they ask you that question. They think they’re being clever if you come to them with some notion of righteousness. And of course their mistake there is equating righteousness with obeying the law.

But the fundamental flaw in this assumption about being a sinner is this. If you make this your assumption that because you sin you are therefore a sinner, what you are doing is allowing your identity to be defined by a practice or a behavior. (let me say that again.) You are allowing your identity to be defined by a practice or a behavior.

Now on a certain level this is not necessarily incorrect. This is something we do all the time in our everyday life. We tend to categorize ourselves and others by what we do. We do this in our jobs. I have my own business. I earn my living by cooking food. So since that is a behavior in which I engage, I can legitimately say, I am a cook. Or Paul writes for a blog, therefore Paul is a blogger. Or Cam Newton plays football for the Carolina Panthers, therefore Cam Newton is a football player. (I threw that one in there for Zach). Ok, all of these are examples of behaviors or activities that we use to categorize each other and to compare ourselves with others to help organize our world, and so all of these things are true. But do those things define us as individuals? In other words, aren’t we more than just cook, or blogger, or football player?

There is a tendency to divide people up in to groups and call them “communities”. And these so-called “communities” are defined by the behaviors and actions of those who would identify with them. And so what ultimately ends up happening is you have those who say they are part of this “community” as if everything they are, who they are, is defined solely by the behaviors that are common to those in this community. The LGBT crowd is a great example of this. How do they refer to themselves? They say the LGBT “community”. Well what does that mean? Their whole identity is wrapped up in a specific behavior. Now I’m not going to get into, is this a choice or are they born this way, that’s irrelevant to this point. Even if you assume you are born this way, it is still a behavior, and you are choosing a behavior to be the basis of your identity.

Why don’t we do this with other behaviors? Why don’t we have a pedophile community? Why don’t we talk about the serial killer community? Or the alchoholic community? And I’ll stop there because I don’t want to go too far and have the analogy fall apart, but I think you should begin to see the point I’m trying to make here. We don’t define ourselves by our behavior. And this has tremendous ramifications.

So how do we define ourselves? I think a great place to start is asking how does God define himself? Is God defined by His attributes? We say God is love, God is just, God is holy, God is immutable. But again, is this how God is defined, or are these all abstract concepts that man has assigned to God to help organize the world around him, and so we create these aspects of God so that we can try to understand Him? How did God define Himself? How does God identify Himself?

Moses asked this very question at the burning bush. You remember that he was to be the leader of Israel, and he was concerned that they would not follow him, and he asked God, who should I tell them sent me? How will they know You sent me? And so in Exodus 3:14 God answers Moses, and He says:

Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

God said, I exist! Do you realize what a profound declaration that is? God was not just being coy with Moses. In this simple three-word declaration in Hebrew, God was establishing the fundamental definition of self. I EXIST. Who am I? I am me. I am who I am. I exist! That is such a profound declaration. To declare your own existence is to acknowledge your right to self. But there is even more to this, as I was discussing this very point with Zach last week, as he pointed out, and I agree, that there is a corollary to this truth. That when God declared I EXIST, at the same time He declared, YOU EXIST. To recognize self also means to recognize the existence of other “selfs”. This is especially profound when we consider that God made man in His image. That God is “self” also means that man is self. So that man can also legitimately declare, I exist! I am! And because he can declare this, he must also recognize other “selfs”.

So if we truly understand this, we can see that man cannot be legitimately defined by actions or behaviors. He can only be defined as “self”. He is who he is. Who am I? I am me. You are you. That is who I am. That is the definition of my existence. You can categorize me anyway you want, but that is not who I am. And I’ll let you ponder all the ramifications of that.

But this is where we must start before we can even begin to discuss who we are as believers. What is means to be born again. Because first and foremost we are creatures made in God’s image whether we are born again or not. Everything I just said must be true of all mankind. We have to begin with the right assumption about man in general. Only then can we have a valid discussion and understanding about who we are as believers.

So that was a big long introduction. And now we’re finally ready to get into the meat of this whole topic. But that was some necessary ground work. So, as believers, who are we, really? If we are not defined as “sinners”, if we are not defined by behavior, who are we then?

Born again

I want to start off with this right here. This single statement by the apostle Paul is the single-most emphatic statement regarding the reality of the new birth.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

In fact the structure of this verse in the Greek is rather interesting. I’m not going to get into a deep study of the grammatical structure of this verse, but there are a couple things I want to point out for starters. Most obvious in this verse is this contrast Paul uses between old and new. And I’m going to speak in depth on this contrast in the next session. But what I want you to see here are the words that Paul uses to express this contrast.

First of all, the “old things”. Now Paul uses a word here that is rarely used for “old”. In the NT there is another Greek word for “old”.

“Old” – παλαιος (pal-ay-OS) – antique, not recent, worn out. Paleontology.

This is the word used most frequently. In other words, when you are reading through the NT and you see the word “old”, most of the time it’s going to be this word “palaeos”. What is worth noting here about this word is that there is an age aspect involved. So this is old with respect to age. I might say, my grandfather is “old”. Or my car is “old”. I’m talking about it being old in years or months or whatever. And like I said I’ll talk more about this in the next session.

But Paul uses a different word here. And this is the word:

αρχαια (ar-KAY-ah) – original, that which was from the beginning, the former.

This is old not with respect to age but with respect to comparison. Someone might talk about his old school or his old job, or his old girlfriend. Now the old girlfriend might not like being referred to as “old”, but in this context we mean former or previous. This is the idea behind the word “archaiah”. So when Paul talks about the old things, he’s talking about the former things or the previous things. Now this is going to be important to understand later on when we talk about this again in the next session, because there is a time aspect involved in that we are referring to something that was in the past, but we are not specifically referencing the age of something. OK? So keep this in mind, we are differentiating between previous things and the age of something.

So Paul contrasts these old things, or these former things, or these previous things, with new things. He says all things are become new.

“New” – καινος (kay-NOS) – new with respect to freshness as opposed to age. Different. A replacement.

“He got a new job”. “My son just transferred to a new school.” “He has a new girlfriend”. You see the meaning here? We’re not talking about the age of something. When I say he got a new job I don’t mean a job that didn’t exist before. Although that could be the case, but fundamentally I’m referring to it being different. Different from the one he had before. This word presents the perfect inverse comparison with “archaiah”. It’s a comparison not of age but to indicate a difference or a distinction between the two. He left his old job; he started his new job. He left his old school; he’s going to a new school (Not one that was just built). He broke up with his old girlfriend; he’s dating a new girlfriend (not one that was just…what? can we say born? Let’s hope not. But you get the idea.)

It’s a profound distinctiveness. There is nothing that remains of the former. You don’t keep any of it around for sentimental reasons. It’s not like you took that which is former and restored it. Or rehabilitated it. No, you completely eliminated the former, the previous, in exchange for a different one. You have something now that is different from what you used to have. And this is a description of the new birth.

Jesus taught this very thing. In the middle of the night, a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask him questions about His teaching. And he came at night because he didn’t want to be seen talking with Jesus. It would not have been good for him to be seen with Jesus. Because Nicodemus was genuinely interested in what Jesus had to say. And almost immediately Jesus responds to Nicodemus by teaching him about the new birth. He says In John 3:

John 3:3-7 “Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.’ ”

This expression that Jesus uses is two words in the Greek.

γενναω ανοθεν (gen-AH-oh AN-oh-then) – to be born on high, from above

Now Peter takes this expression that Jesus uses, born from above, and he takes that idea with the proper understanding uses a different word altogether. He takes the word “genAHoh”, and combines that with the prefix “ana”, which if it’s used alone it means “up”. But when you combine it as the prefix of another word it adds a meaning of repetition or intensity. So in 1 Peter 1:23, Peter uses the word

αναγενναω (an-a-gen-AH-oh) – to be born again, to be reborn.

1 Peter 1:23 “Being born again, (αναγενναω) not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

These are the only two passages in the NT where you will see the expression “born again”.  It is important for believers to realize they are born again. Why? How is this significant regarding a believer’s identity? Well here it is. Being born again is the basis for righteousness. Let’s run through this again. Why did Jesus die? Did Jesus die to shed his blood to be a covering for our sin? No, Jesus died to end the law. Specifically the law of sin and death. Jesus didn’t cover our sin, He took it away, as far as the east is from the west. What did John the Baptizer say when he saw Jesus coming? “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world!” This is the imagery of the scapegoat from Leviticus 16. You remember this? (See video below, mark 37:00, for summary of the scapegoat).

This is what Christ did for us. When he died he ended the law and took away all our sins. They aren’t covered, they are gone! Because what happens when we believe? When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the old man dies. That old man that was under law is dead. The law can’t touch him any more. He was crucified with Christ. And a new man is resurrected in his place. A new man is reborn. The old law of sin and death can’t touch him. And where there is no law there is no sin. Where there is no sin there is no condemnation. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. There is no condemnation for the new man. There is no condemnation for the one who is born again because there is no sin because there is no law to condemn him. I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but I want this to be clear. I want you to get this.

Now if that wasn’t exciting enough, consider this. You tell this to any of your protestant/reformed friends, you tell them that you are righteous – not just positionally righteous, or forensically righteous, or declared righteous, but that you ARE righteous. That’s your identity. Righteous. Righteous because you are born again. What’s the first they will say to you? “Well did you sin today?” And they are so smug when they say that. They say it like they just gotcha. Ah ha! See! And if you say, no I didn’t sin, then they will immediately pull out 1 John 1:8

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Of course this is a proof text taken out of context, but they won’t hear you on that because it doesn’t fit in with their reality. Remember what is their reality? What is man? For that matter what are believers? SINNERS. To them, that is our identity. But let me show you something else John said in that same letter. And I tell you, I’ve read this passage in 1 John many times, and I’ve struggled with it, but then I was preparing this lesson, and I had one of those lightbulb moments, and my jaw hit the floor! And the reality of what I read just thrilled me! And I’m like, of course! That’s it! Let me show you this. Look at 1 John 3:8. Let’s start with that first.

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Now the protestant/reformed crowd has a hard time with that verse because that would suggest that if believers still sin then we are still of the devil and not really saved. So they reinterpret it to better fit the orthodoxy. In fact the ESV translates that verse by saying “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning”. So the idea is that a believer sins, but he doesn’t make a practice of sinning. Which,if you think about it, is still an outright contradiction because according to them if it is our nature to sin then we can’t help it anyway, so calling it a practice means that somehow you can choose not to. So this is just one more example of the blatant hypocrisy in reformed doctrine. They play these word games with the text and try to get you to think they don’t really mean what they say.

But then we come to verse 9, and this is where the lightbulb went on. Remember we’re working with the conclusion where there is no law there is no sin. Did you sin today? You can state most emphatically, NO! Why?

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Do you realize what this says? The reality of this is incredible! John says plainly, the born again believer does not sin. Not only that, he CANNOT sin! Is this talking about ability? One would think so, but think about what this has to do with the law? Where there is no law there is no sin. The believer CANNOT sin because there IS no sin! This is yet another contrast between the old and the new. Verse 8 and 9. Verse 8 is the old. Before you were born again you committed sin because you were under law. The law condemned you. Therefore you were of the devil. But that was then. The old passed away (the previous, the former). It was replaced with the new (something different). You were reborn and the law was ended and sin was taken away. Therefore you CAN no longer sin because there IS no sin. But it doesn’t end there. John goes on later in the letter and says the same thing again.

1 John 5:1 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”

Again, talking about the new birth. Who is the one that begat? That would be God, the Father. We are born of God. Not only do we love the one who begat us, ok, not only do we love the Father, but we also love others, we love everyone else who is also born again. We’ll talk about this some more later on in another session as well. So we have the reality of the new birth once again. But then he continues. Look at verse 18 same chapter.

1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

Do you see how all of this so wonderfully fits together with the rest of what scripture teaches! How wonderfully consistent this is when we understand it in context. There is no conflict here. We don’t have to twist the words around to make it fit. It is logically consistent. This is the reason why believers are righteous. This is why we can say without a doubt, nope, I didn’t sin today. I am not condemned today. See and that’s really what they are talking about when it comes right down to it.   Sin has to do with condemnation and judgment. Their reality says that when you sin, you need another covering to keep you from being condemned. But you see, this is what they don’t get about it.

So, what is our identity as believers? Are we sinners? No, we are born again. We are righteous. We cannot sin because there is no sin. The law was ended and our sins were taken away. We are truly righteous by virtue of our new birth.   Do you see how important this is to understand? This reality alone is so liberating. Once believers come to the realization of who they are because of the new birth and what that actually means. This has got to be such an encouragement. To get out from underneath this burden of being constantly reminded that you’re a sinner, you’re a sinner, you’re a sinner, and to suddenly realize that no, I cannot sin. Not just I do not sin, but I cannot sin. How tremendously freeing that has to be for someone who’s been told otherwise all his life. So that is where I’m going to stop for this session. We’ll look at some more examples of the believer’s identity in the next session.

Session 1, Blog TalkRadio Podcast (more…)


Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 27, 2015

The Gospel 2

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The Heart/Flesh Debate

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on April 7, 2015

Originally published May 12, 2011

Heart/Flesh ebook

~ Penned and researched by Brian Jonson, West Chester, Ohio

Heart Versus Flesh

There are hundreds of passages that use the term “heart” to describe the seat of human emotion, intelligence, morality, volition and religious life in general. However, most often, “heart” is used in Scripture as an idiom for the mind.

There is also present in scripture the heart of the unredeemed and the heart of the redeemed.  Oftentimes the characteristics of the unredeemed heart are applied to the redeemed.  I believe this is a critical error.  The chart below shows the context of the unredeemed versus the redeemed and how the term “heart” is applied.  It is by no means exhaustive, but certainly is representative of all passages.  Notice, the application of the description of the unredeemed heart is never applied to the redeemed.

Characteristics of the Heart of the Saved and Lost



Ge 6:5 – Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Ge 6:6 – The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Ge 8:21 – The LORD smelled the soothing aroma ; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never * again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.

Ex 4:21- The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

De 5:29 – ‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always *, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

De 8:14 – then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

1Sa 7:3 – Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”

2Ch 12:14 – He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

2Ch 25:2 – He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.

2Ch 26:16 – But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !

Ps 78:8 – And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Jer 5:23 – ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.

Jer 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Eze 14:4 – “Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,

Eze 20:16 – because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their idols.

Mr 7:21 – “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,

Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Ac 8:21 – “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

Ro 1:21 – For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ro 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

Eph 4:18 – being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;


Ge 20:5 – “Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”

Ge 20:6 – Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore * I did not let you touch her.

2Ch 16:9 – “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”

Ps 7:10 – My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart.

Ps 66:18 – If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!

Ps 86:12 – I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.

Jer 24:7 – ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people , and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Jer 31:33 – “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people .

Jer 32:39 – and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always *, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

Eze 11:19 – “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Eze 36:26 – “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Mt 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 12:34 – “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good ? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Mt 15:18 – “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.

Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Ro 2:29 – But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Ro 6:17 –  – But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

Heb 10:22 – let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

1Pe 1:22 – Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1Jo 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Romans 7:25 – Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

As you look at the references above, you’ll easily see that the Bible never applies the ugly characteristics of an unregenerate heart to a redeemed person.  Why then, should we?  God has renewed the heart of a believer and it is unbiblical to accuse the Body of Christ of having hearts that are unregenerated.

Where then, is the battle?  The Bible teaches that the battle against sin is in the flesh, NOT the heart.  Notice, please:

Mt 26:41

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus is speaking to a redeemed person.  He shows them that the danger is in the flesh, not the heart (perhaps synonymous with spirit in this passage).

Ro 7:5

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

Paul teaches here that our sinful passions are from the flesh.

Ro 7:18

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

A critical passage!  We know the Bible teaches that our flesh was not redeemed at salvation and, in fact, awaits the glorification described so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15.  Therefore, we have a “redeemed heart” incarcerated in “unredeemed flesh.”  This is exactly why we struggle.  Notice:

Ro 7:14

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

Ro 7:25

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Ro 8:3

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

Ro 8:4

so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Ro 8:5

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Ro 8:6

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

Ro 8:7

because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

Ro 8:8

and those who are in the flesh cannot * please God.

Ro 8:9

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Ro 8:12

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh

Ro 8:13

for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The heart is not mentioned anywhere in this key teaching.  Romans 6 through 8 contain the key teaching on our struggle against sin.  And, it is clear; the struggle is centered on the flesh, not the heart.

Further evidence of this:

Ro 13:14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

1Co 3:1

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

How do we cleanse ourselves and appear holy before the Lord?

2Co 7:1

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Ga 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ga 5:16

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Ga 5:17

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Ga 5:19

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Ga 5:24

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Ga 6:8

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Indicative of What Ails the SBC: Johnny Hunt Denies the New Birth at Ohio Men’s Summit

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

“Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, ‘Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.’ This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was ‘under law,’ and where there is no law there is no sin.”

Not that I get paid for it, but I will inform any SBC pastor who cares to know why the SBC is a dying unregenerate cesspool. You can hide the fact by squeezing out the smaller churches and pointing to the emotional orgies at the megachurches, but the numbers do not lie. And listen, the praise and worship format that is presently redistributing the sheep will eventually get old—this ministry is already seeing sharp declines in megachurch attendance.

The present-day SBC Neo-Calvinist surge is the same movement that has come and gone exactly five times since the Protestant Reformation. My guess is that it will die again. Susan and I recently visited churches that were on the cutting edge of this movement back in the 80’s, and the deadness that we experienced was explained this way by our teenage son: “That place is just creepy.”  The energy once associated with the format is waning because there is no underlying substance and the novelty is passing. Yet, the format continues without the energy which projects an almost surreal creepiness experienced by those who visit. For the longtime members it’s a slow leak going unnoticed, for visitors it’s a blowout.

Aside: Was all of the recent Mark Driscoll drama just cover for the fact that the Mars Hill campuses were in decline? I wonder.

Another aside: The Catholic Church has bought the defunct Crystal Cathedral. It would seem that the Catholic Church is the only institution with the money to buy defunct Protestant campuses. Why does the Catholic Church have so much money? Answer: because it has always been upfront about its salvation by institution gospel. Will the Neo-Calvinist movement begin to be more out-of-the-closet about that approach in order to save the movement? It already is. People will pay big bucks to be saved by merely giving at the office (see, “Roman Catholic Church”).

Johnny Hunt would deny that he is a Neo-Calvinist and that is probably fair, but what I heard him say at last night’s Men’s Summit at Urbancrest Baptist church in Lebanon, OH is indicative of the problem. If there is confusion among Southern Baptists regarding the role of the Holy Spirt in Christian living, and there clearly is, that should explain everything, and it does.

Look, I don’t have the mp3 yet, but a slight paraphrase of a particular sentence spoken at the summit by Hunt goes like this: “The righteousness of Christ is the only thing that gets us into heaven.” Here we have a former president of the SBC, and a premier SBC pastor for something like thirty years, and that statement is just really bad theology if not an outright false gospel.

I keep saying it and will continue to do so: the Bible never states that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. Though you can take a leap from one logical point to another on a few verses, why the steroidal emphasis on Christ’s righteousness when the Bible clearly states that it is the righteousness of God the Father that we possess? Is this emphasis important? It is if the Bible emphasizes the righteousness of the Father, and it does. Why not emphasize what the Scriptures emphasize?

But the concern goes way beyond semantics. In his Friday sessions, Hunt peppered that concept with the often heard idea that we don’t possess a righteousness of our own. Come now, would any of us still be working if we had a dollar for every time we heard that in SBC circles? But what is it saying?

First, if we ONLY possess the righteousness of Christ, fire insurance is the only gift and not righteousness. Follow? When you receive a gift, you take possession of it…no? Is the idea that we possess no righteousness of “our own” a backdoor way of saying we have not been made righteous and possess no personal holiness? Yes, I think it is. And by the way, forget all of the fuss about election—that idea is Calvinism in a nutshell.

Secondly, while one properly concurs that our sins were imputed to Christ because the Bible states that specifically, is it correct to say that righteousness has been “imputed” to us? I contend that this is NOT correct, and in fact is a denial of the new birth. Why? Because righteousness is not imputed to us, we are MADE righteous through the new birth. The whole “our own” business is a red herring deliciously favored at the table of demons. We don’t tell people we have no life of our own because we were born of parents. That’s just plain silly. “I have no life of my own; it was imputed to me by my parents.” No, you are alive just like your parents because they gave birth to you. In the same way, we ARE righteous because we were given life by a righteous Father through the Holy Spirit.

Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, “Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.” This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was “under law,” and where there is no law there is no sin.

The idea that Christ died for our sin post salvation, at the very least denies the death part of the Spirit’s baptism and keeps the “believer” under law (see Romans 7:1ff). In not sparing any confusion in his lame presentation of the gospel, Hunt concurred that God chastises us for sins we commit as Christians which means God chastises us for sins Christ already died for. Hence, why wouldn’t God also chastise us for sins committed before we were Christians?

Therefore, Hunt, like most SBC pastors, flirts with John Calvin’s double imputation. This is the idea that Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life to fulfil the law so that His perfect righteousness can also be imputed to our sanctification. This is exactly why the “righteousness of Christ” is so strongly emphasized. The Bible is clear: this is a justification by the law that leads to antinomian living (see “a typical life in the SBC”). Why? Because we only have the righteousness of Christ and no righteousness of our own which is nearly a verbatim quote by Calvin from his Institutes of the Christian Religion (3.14.11).

This is an outright denial of the new birth and keeps the “Christian” under law. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, even if the law was kept by Christ in our stead, it is not another seed that can give life (Galatians 3:15-21). We are like Christ because He is our brother by birth, righteousness was not imputed to us—we are MADE righteous by the new birth. We are literally new creatures, and ALL things are new.

But, if we have no ownership of righteousness through the new birth, if only our standing is exchanged and not our lives, Christ’s righteousness must be perpetually imputed to our “Christian” lives because we are still under law and not under grace. This would require a return to the same gospel that saved us in order to receive perpetual forgiveness for sins committed under the law, and this is exactly what is behind the viral mantra of “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” running amuck in the SBC. Forbid that we would lose our gratitude for salvation and only limit its remembrance to the Lord’s Table for we still supposedly need that forgiveness.

And this is exactly what John Calvin believed; that new sins committed as saints removes us from grace and perpetual forgiveness must be sought which can only be found in the institutional church where we continually “revisit the gospel afresh.”  Yet, the who’s who of the SBC continually affirms that the issue with Calvinism in the SBC is a secondary issue unworthy of parting fellowship. It’s cluelessness on steroids. Calvin advocated the belief that necessarily goes hand in glove with progressive justification; and,  sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest. If we do any works on our sanctification Sabbath, it’s the eternal death penalty. As a result, Christ’s perfect obedience to the law must be imputed to us. This is where antinomianism and justification by law are the same thing; a perfect keeping of the law, which we of course can’t obtain so we must let Jesus obey for us lest we have a “righteousness of our own” becomes another seed other than Christ.

At the end of one session Hunt suggested that those who made a profession of faith follow up with the elders at Urbancrest concerning their “new relationship” with Christ. New relationship? Really? It’s not just a new relationship—it’s literal death and rebirth. We don’t just add Jesus to our still under the law lives for fire insurance or as Hunt put it, in essence, daily rescue. It’s not a daily rescue because we long for the one future rescue by Christ from this mortal body where sin still resides, but our inward man has been literally raised with Christ and free to love God and others through obedience to the same law that once condemned us.

It has been suggested to me that institutional religion and the new birth mix like oil and water: “Paul, if believers are truly born again and endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, why would they need an evangelical industrial complex?” Indeed, that may well be the money question. I have been at two institutional church gatherings this week, and in both cases pastors were held up as upper strata of spiritual caste. At Urbancrest, the emphasis was totally over the top and downright shameful. Other than handing out freebies to the pastors who attended, the senior pastor at Urbancrest talked of a program of sorts through which parishioners could show their pastor that, “I have your back.”

So, is the new birth a threat to religious institutions? Can Holy Spirit empowered ministries thrive in an institutional setting? We will not know until pastors stop denying the new birth. But nevertheless, this is a gut check for every SBC pastor and Hunt in particular. What would be the result of a poll in most churches where the following question is asked?

“Are you only positionally holy in Christ, or are you a holy person?” I fear most would answer, “I am only positionally holy because I still sin.” Yet, pastors who continually wax eloquent about Christians not having any righteousness of their own somehow expect decent behavior from their parishioners.

To his credit, Hunt did advocate obedience, but anyone who was listening closely would have found that confusing. Hunt also emphasized “finishing strong.” He even said that all of his accomplishments in ministry would be worthless if he didn’t finish well. Here is what pastors need to understand: finishing well may mean you end up pastoring a church of 25 people because you stood for the truth. It is high time that pastors draw a line in the sand and definitively define the new birth in no uncertain terms. Please tell your parishioners who they are—are they positionally holy, or are they personally holy?

Did they exchange one “standing before God” for another one, or did they exchange their old life for a new one through the baptism of the Holy Spirit?



Simple Theological Math: Protestantism’s Age-Old Gospel of Death and Misery

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on December 31, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published June 6, 2014

“When it gets right down to the nitty gritty there is NO difference between John MacArthur Jr. and Joseph Prince. The theological math equation is exactly the same.”

“And of course, there are many different takes on which sanctification by faith alone formula best keeps us justified by reoffering the perfect obedience of Christ upon the alter of the law.” 

“Instead of the death of Christ ending the law of condemnation and setting us free to obey the law in order to glorify God, please God, love Christ and others, and abstain from grieving the Spirit by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, we are told that we must instead continually reoffer the living sacrifice of Christ’s obedience instead… This takes the privilege and calling to love Christ with our obedience in sanctification and makes it part of justification. It circumvents the ability to love our Lord, and makes it works salvation.”      

A friend of this ministry sent me some books that have confirmed a suspicion I have had for some time: Protestants, regardless of the stripe, have always primarily functioned by the same core doctrine of “justification by faith.” I heard Joseph Prince use the term just the other day as I walked past a flat screen here at the Potter’s House.

What is “justification by faith” specifically? This is the core doctrine/gospel that has always driven all forms of Protestantism. Even though there are obviously various and sundry applications—the core ideology that drives its function is the same. When it gets right down to the nitty gritty there is NO difference between John MacArthur Jr. and Joseph Prince. The theological math equation is exactly the same.

The least common denominator is the fact that justification is not finished. As I was walking past the aforementioned monitor, Prince also stated in regard to justification by faith… “it is finished.” Yes, Protestants say that, but that’s not how we function—we function according to what the doctrine is really about; the doctrine is really about a justification that is not finished.

When justification is not finished, souls are skittish about what they do as disciples for fear that it will mess up their salvation, and there will be mass confusion in regard to the relationship between law and gospel. The Christian life will become complicated and in need of a priestly expert to give us our best shot at “standing in the judgment.” Protestant souls will be suspicious of obedience and their motives for doing so. Unhealthy introspection and paralyzing fear in sanctification has been the hallmark of Protestantism from the beginning.

“Yes,” they say, justification is a finished work in regard to our “positional justification,” but Jesus’ work is really not finished, He must keep working to KEEP us in that position where we are covered by His righteousness. So, positional justification and practical justification are both a work of Jesus, and we are justified by faith. This is because God has declared us righteous positionally, but that isn’t true unless we are really righteous practically which begs the question:

“How can we be considered truly righteous as people?”

‘The law must be kept perfectly.’

“But we can’t keep the law perfectly.”

‘Yes, that’s why we are saved by justification by faith.’

Therefore, according to the authentic gospel of justification by faith, there are two things we must believe in order to be saved: Christ’s passive obedience, and Christ’s active obedience. Stalwarts of the Protestant faith like Gresham Machen have stated that there is “no hope” without this belief also known as “double imputation.” Christ died for our positional justification, but He also came to live a perfect life of obedience for our positional justification. There are TWO justifications: positional and practical. One is finished, but Christ continues to be an “advocate” for us to keep us justified positionally:

“So, I must believe that Christ died for my justification and lived for my sanctification?”


“So, what we call sanctification is really a work by Christ that keeps us justified.”


“…until our resurrection?”

‘Right, we call that final justification.’

“So, there is positional justification, practical justification, and final justification?”


“So, why do they call practical justification sanctification?”

‘Because sanctification means to be set apart for holiness.’

“Oh, so sanctification describes what practical justification does—it describes the function of practical justification.”

‘That’s a good way to state it.’

“But I can’t keep the law perfectly.”

‘Right, that’s where justification by faith comes in.’

“So, justification by faith means I am justified by faith alone in what Jesus did on the cross for my positional justification, and faith alone in His perfect life of obedience for my practical justification, or what we call sanctification.”

‘You are correct.’

“So, positional justification is a finished work, but practical justification is not.”

‘Both are finished; Christ fulfilled the law by His perfect life so that it could be applied to our sanctification in order to keep us justified positionally. We are justified by Christ positionally and practically.’

This is a false gospel for several key reasons from a biblical perspective, and the reason that Protestantism, like Catholicism, has borne fruits of death over the centuries. It’s a matter of simple theological math. The Bible states explicitly that this very gospel will bear fruits of death for the following reason…


Clearly, the Protestant gospel focuses on one relationship to the law that never changes for the believer. That’s the first and primary element of the equation. Secondly, justification is a finished two-part work for Christ, but not us. The Reformers believed that the essence of all sin was a propensity on the part of man to believe that he/she can contribute to salvation in some way. Because the Protestant gospel demands a standard for justification that defines righteousness as a perfect keeping of the law, what people believe about practical righteousness becomes paramount. The bottom line becomes the following reality: we can’t keep the law perfectly, and if we can’t, we are not really righteous.

All and all, the issue at hand is what the Reformers believed about justification’s standard. Only recognizing ONE relationship to the law, they also made perfect law-keeping the standard for justification. This also necessitated the belief that because man falls short of perfection, even believers, that man remains fundamentally unchanged until the resurrection. Man remains under the same law that he/she was under before salvation, and that law demands perfection. And that is true, THAT one law does demand perfection, and in fact does nothing but condemn those who are under it. Therefore, justification by faith holds to the idea that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, and came to also fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the law of sin and death.

The fact that Protestantism keeps man under the law of sin and death is really the crux of the issue. Christ is one who has “satisfied the law” in our stead. But the law is not “satisfied” by His death only, it is also “satisfied” by His life. And if we are still under this one law, it cannot be satisfied by anything we do because we cannot keep it perfectly. Therefore, as ones still under it, we must be COVERED by the righteous obedience of Christ until final justification. Here are the elements of the equation:

One law + perfect covering – man’s contribution = final justification.

The following explanation from a Reformed publication could not explain it better:

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 (The Australian Forum Present Truth Journal: Law and Gospel; volume, 7 article 2, Part 2).

Contemporary Reformed theologian John Piper states it this way:

We are united to Christ in whom we are counted as perfectly righteous because of his righteousness, not ours. The demand for obedience in the Christian life is undiminished and absolute. If obedience does not emerge by faith, we have no warrant to believe we are united to Christ or justified (Matthew 6:15; John 5:28-29; Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13;James 2:17; 1 John 2:17; 3:14). But the only hope for making progress in this radical demand for holiness and love is the hope that our righteousness before God is on another solid footing besides our own imperfect obedience as Christians. We all sense intuitively-and we are encouraged in this intuition by the demands of God-that acceptance with God requires perfect righteousness conformity to the law (Matthew5:48; Galatians 3:10; James2:10). We also know that our measures of obedience, even on our best days, fall short of this standard (John Piper: Counted Righteous in Christ; Page 123, 2002).

Though Piper often uses nuance to shade the reality of the less ambiguous prior statement, “We all sense intuitively-and we are encouraged in this intuition by the demands of God-that acceptance with God requires perfect righteousness conformity to the law… We also know that our measures of obedience, even on our best days, fall short of this standard.”


This requires an ongoing work by us to live our Christian life via a formula that perpetually presents the righteous obedience of Christ upon the alter of the law. This keeps us justified. And of course, there are many different takes on which sanctification by faith alone formula best keeps us justified by reoffering the perfect obedience of Christ upon the alter of the law.

According to Romans 6:14, we are not under law, but under grace :

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The word for “over,” kyrieuō, means to “have authority or lordship over.”  However, Protestantism holds to the idea that Christians are still under the authority of this particular law which requires/required Christ to fulfill its demands. Remember what John Piper stated?

We all sense intuitively-and we are encouraged in this intuition by the demands of God-that acceptance with God requires perfect righteousness conformity to the law… We also know that our measures of obedience, even on our best days, fall short of this standard.

Clearly, Protestantism keeps us under the authority of this law. This requires a “covering” by Christ to protect us from its condemnation because we are unable to fulfill its righteous requirements. But yet, this does not subtract from the fact that we remain under its jurisdiction.

Law + fulfilment + covering = righteousness ≠ justification.

Another problem is that even if the law is fulfilled, its fulfillment cannot give life:

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

We see two things here: the law cannot give life even if it is fulfilled, “For if a law had been given that could give life,” and even if it was fulfilled, it is not the standard for justification; “then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” It doesn’t matter who fulfills it, whether it is fulfilled or not, it cannot give life and it is not the standard for justification—it can only condemn.

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.

The apostle Paul drives this point home by reminding us that our father of the faith was declared righteous 430 years before the law:

Galatians 3:17 – 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.

What is being missed is the two different relationships of the law: it is the law of sin and death to unbelievers, but it is the law of the Spirit of life to believers. Those UNDER GRACE are led by the law of the Spirit of life, and are not UNDER the law of sin and death. We are no longer under that law’s dominion or jurisdiction. Why would Christ need to fulfill a law that has no jurisdiction over us? Moreover, why does the righteousness of Christ need to cover us in the fulfilling of that law when those under it have died?

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

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

Did not John Piper, like all of the Reformed, state that the law is still binding on us? Not if we died with Christ, and we did:

Romans 6:5 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

A dead person who is no longer under the jurisdiction of law does not need to be “covered” with the righteous of Christ’s perfect obedience; we don’t need a covering, in fact, Christ’s death put an END to the law:

Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

We don’t need a righteous covering for a law that has been ended. Our sins are not “covered,” they are ENDED:

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

If the law has nothing to say to us, how can we be, as John Piper asserts, under its demands? Why would Christ have to fulfill the law for us when it has nothing to say to us in the first place? Christ didn’t end the law for us because He fulfilled it, he ended it by His death, and if he ended it by His death, why would He have to fulfill it?

Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:13 – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Protestant gospel keeps people under the law, and requires a continual living sacrifice on the part of Christ to fulfill the righteousness of the law of sin and death. But that law is ended, and we are set free to follow the Spirit by obedience to the law out of a pure motive of love:

Romans 7:6 – But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

We are now free to obey the law of the Spirit of life:

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.

Christ died to set us free from the law of sin and death so that we would be free to obey the law of the Spirit of life. It is really the same law, but this all speaks of two different relationships to the law; i.e., those who are under its condemnation, and those who are free to obey it in order to please God. In regard to these two different relationships…

Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?

Instead of the death of Christ ending the law of condemnation and setting us free to obey the law in order to glorify God, please God, love Christ and others, and abstain from grieving the Spirit by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, we are told that we must instead continually reoffer the living sacrifice of Christ’s obedience instead.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This takes the privilege and calling to love Christ with our obedience in sanctification and makes it part of justification. It circumvents the ability to love our Lord, and makes it works salvation.

But it gets worse as keeping people under the law has additional consequences.  It not only replaces our obedience in sanctification with the obedience of Christ in order to keep us justified by a perpetual reoffering of Christ’s living sacrifice instead of ours which Paul said was our reasonable service to God, it even takes the death of Christ and reoffers it continually in order to keep us justified as well. Think about it; if we are still under the law of condemnation and its demands, its righteousness requirement not only requires righteous actions, but sinlessness. Therefore, if the law of sin and death is not ended, Christ not only died for our sins under the law, but He must have also died for our sins committed as Christians because we are still under the law. This requires a reapplication of Christ’s death to present sins when we repent of them. Accordingly…

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

…forgiveness of sins is not a matter of a passing work or action, but comes from baptism which is of perpetual duration, until we arise from the dead (Luther’s Works: American ed.; Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press; St. Louis: Concordia, 1955, vol. 34, p. 163).

For the forgiveness of sins is a continuing divine work, until we die. Sin does not cease. Accordingly, Christ saves us perpetually (Ibid., p.190).

Daily we sin, daily we are continually justified, just as a doctor is forced to heal sickness day by day until it is cured (Ibid., p.191).

This is a perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us. In regard to that, the Hebrew writer stated the following:

Hebrews 6:1 – Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

In the final analysis, being yet under the law of sin and death can only bring forth fruits for death, and by and large, that is the testimony of Protestantism. Its original gospel keeps people under the law of sin and death, and under the slavery of sin. Those under the law of the Spirit of life have the seed of God in them because they are born of God, and are not under a law that can condemn them. A perfect fulfilling of the law of sin and death is not the standard of justification. Christians are under the law of liberty (James 1:25) that frees them from that law of sin and death to walk in the Spirit.

In the same way that one act of sin violates the whole law (James 2:10), one act of love fulfills the law of the Spirit of life (Galatians 5:14). It is obedience motivated by love, but weakened by the flesh. Nevertheless, we ARE righteous practically in sanctification accordingly.