Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Potter’s House: Sunday, 1/6/2013; Romans 5:1-5

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 7, 2013

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“In sanctification, our work and the Holy Spirit’s work are seamless”

 

There are a number of extremely important truths presented here in the fifth chapter of Romans. These are truths that are also particularly important in our day because of the kind of teachings that are in vogue. I would like to first point out that Paul does something here in the first verse that he does throughout his writings: both God the Father and Jesus Christ are strongly emphasized. The stated purpose of salvation in verse one is to reconcile humanity with God. Mankind is God’s enemy. Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and was resurrected by God’s power (Ephesians 1:20). He went there for the purpose of reconciling us to God. Salvation is Trinitarian, and an overemphasis on a member of the Trinity is often present with the root of most heresies. And let there be no doubt: an overemphasis on Christ in our day is in the same vein of cults that overemphasize the Father to the exclusion of Christ, and other movements that overemphasize the Spirit to the exclusion of the Father and Christ. Chapter five also reiterates the importance of recognizing that justification is a finished work, and the strong dichotomy between justification and our Christian life (sanctification).

What we are given freely by faith alone is experienced in greater measure in our sanctification—if we have proper understanding of gospel basics. The work of justification is finished. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all had a role until Christ was resurrected. Christ was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). He then sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). That work is finished, but the Trinity still works in our sanctification. We have all three of the Trinity members behind us in our Christian walk. BUT, reconciliation is a ministry that has given us “access” to the kingdom and now is one of our ministries to the world (2Corinthians 5:18-21). We must understand the actions of the Trinity in Justification and in sanctification as being different actions for different purposes. The confusion of these two works has been detrimental to innumerable Christians.

One of the great gifts of salvation is hope. Life without salvation has no hope. The unsaved are God’s enemies; they are under the constant threat of the revelation of God’s wrath; have little wisdom for making life work in a fulfilling way; and only have eternal judgment to look forward to in the end. Their life will not have a good ending, and they know it. A story with an assured bad ending is hopelessness. The unsaved live in an uncertain (from the mortal perspective) time frame that seeks to keep them as comfortable as possible until the tragic end. Without a doubt, most so-called mental illness is the result of hopelessness. This also hearkens back to the question of what we really want to draw from human wisdom in regard to life and godliness from people who have no hope.

In verse two, we have the hope of justification. It was obtained by faith alone, and rejoices in the grace of God and His glory. Our life story will have a glorious end. We are no longer “under the law”….for justification. But now, the law informs us in regard to something about our hope:

3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What does trouble in the life of an unbeliever avail? It is a disturbance in their effort to remain as comfortable as possible until they enter eternal judgment. Their only hope is a temporary hope that man can help them salvage as much of their uncertain comfort that may remain. Believers receive hope in the gospel of first importance, but now as the law informs our sanctification, we find that trouble in life aids us in a greater realization of the hope that lies ahead. We are saved in great power and hope (1Thessalonians 1:4, 5), but if we do not begin to rightly apply the law to our sanctification (which cannot effect our justification because there is no law in justification) our assurance will begin to wane, along with hope, and leading to shame.

Paul told Timothy that rightly dividing the law would result in a workman not being ashamed (2Timothy 1:15,16). In verses three and four, Paul documents the process of applying God’s wisdom to trouble in life in order to increase hope—leading to the absence of shame (guilt). Paul might have used the word “rejoice” to get their attention in regard to the Christian approach to trouble as opposed to that of the world. But at any rate, trouble in life lends opportunity for Christians to be more assured of their salvation. You cannot separate hope and assurance. When assurance lacks, the lack of hope follows. A saint that is 100% assured of heaven is immovable as well. What can this world possibly do to him or her?

Paul even explains the details of the process stated in verses 3-5. Endurance produces character. How so? Well, in the law, we find that “trouble,” “temptation,” and “trials” are all words that are used interchangeably. Why? Answer: we are often tempted to sin in a trial.

James 1:2—Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing….12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Perhaps we are in the trial because of sin to begin with. “Endurance” is equal to thinking the right way, praying the right way, and doing the right things in a trial. It is the proper application of biblical wisdom to life; so, not surprisingly, it builds what? Right, character.

Now, when we see the character, although we study the issue to find God’s wisdom (that’s what a disciple is, a “learner”) and successfully apply it to our lives, we know that we are actually seeing the “fruit of the Spirit.” In sanctification, our work and the Holy Spirit’s work are seamless. Sure, if we don’t work in sanctification, the Holy Spirit will still work, but more than likely it will be works that seek to confront our spiritual laziness. And, if we grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30), we will live an anemic life full of fear.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is “self-control.” If there is no temptation present, self-control is not needed. And who is doing the controlling? Self– control. We are doing the controlling. But whose fruit is it? Answer: the Holy Spirit’s. We must work. The Holy Spirit will work. But where the two works divide in the finished results is not ascertainable. However, the law is full of promises in this regard: if we do A, the Holy Spirit will do B. There are many different motivations in sanctification to obey Scripture. We are even warned that there is judgment in this life for doing wrong as a Christian (1Thessalonians 4:6, 7, 1Corinthians 11:30-32, 1John 5:16-18, 1Corinthians 5:4,5). But it is a judgment separate from justification. It is a judgment that renders unfortunate consequences in this life.

Paul is describing a sanctification process. Endurance leading to character and hope, resulting in a clear conscience, and manifesting the love of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. I believe this is a testimony of God’s love for us when this process is functioning the way God wants it to. But now one cries out:

See! See!, you are teaching that God’s love for us is increased via certain behaviors; i.e., KEEPING THE LAW! You are saying that we earn God’s love through works!

No I am not, and this idea can be sold to many Christians in our day because of doctrinal illiteracy. Churches must begin to strive for doctrinal education to be returned to the local churches. I have come to believe that seminaries do more harm to Christianity than good.

When we are saved, we are given all of God’s love and righteousness. We cannot earn any of it. It is by faith alone. That granting is initially experienced with much exhilaration, but in sanctification, the question becomes to what degree that we will EXPERIENCE the gift! As we have previously noted in this study series, salvation is separate from justification. Justification is a onetime legal declaration. Salvation is also finished in that its fullness has been credited to our account, in full, and once for all time. Note Ephesians 1:15-23:

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Salvation doesn’t grow. But our experience of it in sanctification certainly does. As far as the “victorious” Christina life—there has already been a victory—are we going to live the victory and show it to the world in order to glorify God? Will we live a life that causes people to come to us privately and ask about…. what? Our “hope,” right? That’s the word Peter used, right? (1Peter 3:15). Paul notes in our Romans text at hand that hope grows in our Christian life if we deal with life God’s way. BUT it requires our colaboring with the Spirit in sanctification.

This is the dreadful evil of our day: the Christian witness is sapped because of passive sanctification. Why is this? Clearly, it is because sanctification is seen as the “growing part” of our salvation that COMPLETES justification. Therefore, what we do in sanctification is seen as affecting our “just standing.” This is the paramount reason for crippled sanctification in our day.  It is the reason for lack of assurance; lack of hope; lack of evangelism, and lack of a powerful Christian witness in the world. As this ministry constantly harps, it is the difference between the linear gospel and the parallel gospel. Some illustrative charts that we use are following:

Gospel chart 2

Gospel chart

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true-cross-chart

In the remainder of the chapter, Paul writes about before and after: before salvation; and after salvation. Justification and sanctification are two different realities. Treating them as the same will devastate Christian living. Everywhere Susan and I go, Christians tiptoe around the issue of obedience in sanctification as if it is the Bubonic Plague. Again, this is due to fear that what we do in sanctification might in some way effect our “just standing.”   Not the Apostle Paul:

1Thessalonians 4:1— Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

And not Peter:

2Peter 1:3—His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

All of God’s divine power for life and godliness has been granted to us in full. We are now called to be partakers of the divine nature. We have it all, but we must become, what? Answer: “partakers.” We must ADD certain things to our faith as we learn them, and by doing that we “make our calling and election sure.” And we also prepare for ourselves a “rich entry” rather than a deathbed laden with regret, doubt, and a shred of hope.

This is such a critical truth: the difference between who we were and who we are now; and how that applies to our present sanctification. It is the focus of Romans five, and we will continue to delve into this deeper next week with the Apostle Paul’s help.

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The Potter’s House 12/30/2012: Law and Grace; Romans Chapter 4

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 2, 2013

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We now come to chapter four in our study of Romans. Thus far, Paul has emphasized that all men, whether Jew or Gentile, are saved by faith alone. This salvation is a revelation of God’s righteousness, and is imputed to us when we believe in Jesus Christ. We have learned that the gospel is the full counsel of God which of course includes the death burial, and resurrection of Christ. We have learned that Paul was very concerned with a spiritual caste system that would render the Gentiles as second-class citizens in the church. Though the church is uniquely Jewish, God shows no partiality in regard to race and gives the various gifts of salvation to all men freely.

What we have in the book of Romans is a radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification; or said another way, salvation and its imputed righteousness set against the Christian life as kingdom citizens living on earth as aliens and ambassadors. However, there is NO dichotomy between law and gospel. Why? Because both are the full counsel of God. In the Bible, “law,” “truth,” “gospel,” “Scriptures,” “holy writ,” “the law and the prophets,” and other terms are used interchangeably to speak of the closed canon of God’s full counsel for life and godliness. Christ as well as Paul made it absolutely clear: man lives by every word that proceeds from God and ALL Scripture is profitable to make the servant of God complete in every good work.

Now listen: though the life application of some Scripture changes with time and circumstances, it still remains that all Scripture informs us in regard to our walk with God in the way we pray, think, and act. We do not stone rebellious children in our day. Nay, when we have a rebellious teen in the church, we do not gather the congregation together and stone him/her to death. With that said, does the fact that God at one time instructed the Jews to do so inform us in regard to many applications for teen rebellion in our day? Absolutely. Oh my, the contemporary applications in our day are almost endless. Not only that, Old Testament ritual and symbolism offers a built-in protective hermeneutic for the Scriptures as a whole. What do I mean by that? Well, you can mess with words, but symbolism is very difficult to mess with. If it’s a lampstand, it’s hard to change that to a Honda Civic. Right?

Paul delves into a paramount truth for Christians in the book of Romans: The relationship of the law to the unsaved verses the saved. And here it is: the lost are UNDER the law, and the saved are UNDER grace, but informed by the law. Let me repeat that: the lost are UNDER the law, and the saved are UNDER grace, but informed by the law. And we can see this right in the same neighborhood of the text that we are in.

Romans 3:21—But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

That verse pretty much says it all. We are justified apart from the law, and as we will see, Paul means totally apart from the law. But we are informed by it. Paul states in Romans 3:28:

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Now note what he states after a few verses following in Romans 4:3,

For what does the Scripture say?

Paul strives to make the point in this letter that law is not even on the radar screen in regard to justification. And this is extremely important to know in our day for many teach that law is on the justification radar screen and therefore Christ must keep the law for us in order to maintain our justification. Not so, there is no law to keep in regard to justification—a righteousness APART from the law, the very righteousness of God has been imputed to our account in full. Paul even writes (and this is very radical) that Christians are sinless in regard to justification because there is no law in justification to judge us:

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?

Romans 7:6—But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive….(v.8) Apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Now, the law can judge our sin in our Christian life, but that can’t touch the fact that we are “washed.” Therefore, in sanctification, we only need to wash our feet to maintain a healthy family relationship with our Father God and Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. Turn with me and let’s look at this in John 13:1-11:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Clearly, “washing” refers to salvation, and differs from needing the lesser washing of the feet. The example is set against the unregenerate betrayer among them. Note that Jesus said that even though we needed to wash our feet, we are still “completely clean.” My, my, what a strong contrast to much of the teachings in our day; i.e., the idea of “deep repentance” that is the same repentance that saved us and keeps us saved—as long as we are in a Reformed church where such forgiveness is available.

Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, 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 (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles).

So, Paul in chapter four, in his endeavor to get this into the heads of Christians, approaches it from another angle: the life of Abraham, the father of faith. This is so powerful. Again, you can fiddle with words in translation, but rearranging the order of Abraham’s biography would be a difficult endeavor and the order of his life from the Old Testament account solidifies what Paul is teaching here about justification:

Romans 4:1-8—What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.

We had a fellowship last night and a brother pointed out a common problem among Christians; they often don’t know when something should be simply applied and not figured out. And this is one—faith declares us completely righteous and no sin will be counted against us. Justification is a gift. Righteousness is a gift. If the gift is righteousness and God says so, that is the end of the discussion. Unlike a gift, any kind of work in justification equals a wage that is due. Paul then deals with the issue of justification through circumcision (something we do):

9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

What Paul is saying is that God deliberately waited to have Abraham circumcised so that he would be the father of the uncircumcised as well as the circumcised. Also, to make the point that no ritual saves us whether circumcision or baptism, and followed by an attitude that we are justified accordingly by the ritual alone, and can hence live anyway we want to. As we have discussed previously in this study, an attitude of obedience is part and parcel with saving faith. Obedience and saving faith are two sides of the same coin. This is NOT so-called “lordship salvation,” but a statement regarding the fact that saving faith is not accompanied by a libertine attitude towards God’s full counsel, but rather a love for the truth. No obedience saves anybody, but saving faith is also endowed with a love for the truth with natural results following. However, as we will see later in this same book, the flesh is weak and faith alone does not carry the day in sanctification like it does in justification; so, many other factors come to bear in sanctification. This is where the sanctification by justification rave of our day is most unfortunate.

This is not the only place in Scripture where Paul uses the chronology of Abraham’s life to argue for righteousness completely separate from the law:

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.

This is the foolishness of any idea that the law is still a standard for our justification and the law must be maintained by Christ in our sanctification, or that Christ’s life was for the purpose of imputing his obedience to our sanctification. The promise of justification by faith alone was ratified before the law ever came through Moses—430 years before. Why would Christ have to maintain a perfect keeping of a law that had nothing to do with the promise whatsoever? Hence, look at the perfect fit we have in Romans 4:13-15:

13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Again, no law, no transgression. Transgression is not absent in justification because Christ maintains the law for us in sanctification—there is no transgression to be counted against our justification because there is no law in justification period. It’s based on promise—not law. Christ came to die in order to fulfill the promise that was given 430 years before the law. And this brings us to a previous point. As some know, because of the focus of the particular ministry I am in, I use the ESV translation of the Bible. The ESV is a contemporary translation by New Calvinists and is their Bible of choice. Now note how Romans 4:16 is translated in the ESV:

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—….

“Depends” is a very interesting choice of words here. Actually, there is no merit at all for the use of that word in Romans 4:16. The word, or even that idea doesn’t appear in any interlinear, expanded translation, or manuscript such as the Received text, Majority text, or Critical text. But it does have merit in regard to the Reformed view of justification; i.e., maintaining our just standing requires a continuance of faith alone in sanctification. Our justification “depends” on that. “Depends” also hints of an ongoing or continual dependence.

Paul then concludes with a definition of this saving faith:

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Herein we have a definition of saving faith: it has a stubborn trust in the promises of God regardless of life circumstances. It hopes in God regardless of the hopeless motif continually posited by the world. And, Abraham grew in faith as he gave glory to God. What’s that mean? We have a clue from Matthew 5:14-16;

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We are all saved and justified with an initial faith that varies according to the grace of God (Romans 12:3), but certainly, our faith in sanctification grows as we exercise it through obedience while giving glory to God. Obedience demonstrates trust. Applying God’s truth to our life demonstrates that we believe that He knows best and blessings will result. Peter said that we should be diligent to “add to our faith” (2Peter 1:5-11). Faith is a gift that justifies us once, and for all time with the very righteousness of God. But we participate in the growth of our faith through application of the full counsel of God. This is what the book of James is about (see James 1:25), and only one example among many in holy writ.

Of course, the life of Christ was very awesome for many reasons, but His life was not for the purpose of obeying the law perfectly so that His obedience to the law could be imputed to us in sanctification for the purpose of maintaining our just standing. The law is not the standard for maintaining justification; it is finished. Christ was the only Man ever born into the world under the law who could be the perfect sacrifice required by God. All others born under law are under its curse and provoked to sin by it. But note the last verse here in chapter four:

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Paul states that our justification came through Christ’s resurrection, not His life. The Reformed construct of Christ living for our sanctification and dying for our justification is simply nowhere to be found in Scripture, and if it is, as with a myriad of other textual examples, Paul fails to mention such a crucial fact in these last verses.

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The Potter’s House 12/16/2012: “False Reformation” Published; Romans Study Resumes Next Sunday

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 17, 2012

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I am sooooo glad “False Reformation” is now published. We will resume our study in Romans this Sunday. We will be breaking into chapter 3, and the major theme of this chapter is the law/gospel issue that is addressed in detail throughout False Reformation.

Much of the book was inspired by what I have learned in Romans which has shown me why Calvinism is fundamentally a blatant false gospel. Election/freewill isn’t even the issue at all—a gospel that teaches us to live out our sanctification in an antinomian way in order to keep our salvation is the issue. If you have to do anything to keep your salvation—it’s works—you have to do something to keep it. That includes “resting and feeding.” Even if your “resting” is supposedly not a work—it most certainly is if it’s a condition to keep your salvation.

I look forward to resuming Romans next week, starting in 3:1.

Click on this link for preview of False Reformation:   False Reformation PREVIEW

Available now on Amazon.

paul

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The Potter’s House: Sunday, November 25, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 26, 2012

Gospel Review from Chapter One of, False Reformation: Four Tenets of Luther and Calvin’s Egregious False Gospel

Something new has happened at the Potter’s House. We have a set schedule leading up to the 2013 TANC conference which includes the publishing of two, maybe three books. However, because contentions from our Reformed friends closely relate to our present study in the book of Romans, Susan and I have decided to write a book that addresses our contentions in a more specific way. Lord willing, what will hopefully be more of a booklet than a book will be ready for print in, or about ten days. The first chapter of the book will serve as an apt review of what we have covered in Romans thus far. So, the message this morning will be a reading of the first chapter: “What is the gospel?”

PPT visitors can follow the progress of the book on our blog. An updated pdf file will be posted periodically. The book will delve deeply into what Luther and Calvin specifically wrote about the gospel. It will also make the case that present-day New Calvinists have a factual understanding of what the Reformers believed about the gospel. These are men who understand enough to be dangerous, and have ruined Luther and Calvin’s masterful nuances.

All prayers are greatly appreciated. With that, let’s take another look at the gospel from chapter one.

Click here on this link: False Reformation: Four Tenets of Luther and Calvin’s Egregious False Gospel 

The Potter’s House: Sunday, November 18, 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 19, 2012

Divine Anthropology: The Law of Sin and the Law of Faith; Romans 2:12-29

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“This is the great antinomian evil of our day—practical application from the Bible for living life is replaced with gospel contemplationism and a habitual revisiting of the elementary principles of salvation while opining  about ‘pragmatism,’ ‘moralism,’ and ‘therapeutic deism.’”

We now begin a most critical portion of Romans. Nothing is more debated in Christianity than the relationship of the law to salvation; and in our day, confusion in regard to this subject reins. In this segment of Romans, Paul lays a foundation for the remainder of the letter for an understanding of the law’s relationship to salvation.

And while he is attending this great service to us via the word in all ages, he makes it clear to the Gentile Romans that this Holy dynamic is the same for the Jew as well as the Gentile—there is no difference. In regard to the law’s relationship to salvation, though the Jew was given oversight of God’s oracles, there is no advantage over the Gentile—there is no partiality. Paul begins this line of thought as follows:

Romans 2:12 – For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

This passage interprets and defines a lot of anthropology while refuting a vast body of bad theology. While unregenerate mankind is a sinner, he is also born with the “work[s] of the law” written on his/her heart. We are all created with a conscience as well that “bears witness” to that law and invokes conflicting thoughts within us that excuse or accuse. In the soul of every man, God’s court of law is continually in session. Man is directly responsible to God, and this reality throws much controversy into spiritual caste systems and the Reformed notion of total depravity. Man is capable of doing things that agree with his God-given conscience and the “work of the law.” This will not in any way earn salvation for him, but sadly, many are deceived otherwise. Living primarily by conscience will make eternal judgment more bearable, but of course, we long that every man would choose eternal life instead. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the works of unregenerate man have merit of some sort which again brings a litany of Reformed ideas into question. The following is an excerpt from the teachings of Wayne Jackson:

On the opposite side of the equation, there is the matter of degrees of punishment. If anything, the Bible is even more decisive on this issue.

Jesus informed the citizens of certain communities in Galilee that in the day of judgment, it would be “more tolerable” for certain people of the ancient world (e.g., Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom) than for them (Mt. 11:20-24; cf. 10:15). The word “tolerable” means “bearable, endurable.” In the Greek Testament the word represents a comparative format. The difference was in the opportunities each had enjoyed. Judgment was to be balanced against this factor.

Christ told about a certain master who took a trip. While he was away, his servants, who had been charged with various responsibilities, disobeyed him. When the Lord returned, and discovered that some had knowingly been disobedient, while others had disobeyed in ignorance, he punished them according to the level of their culpability (Lk. 12:47-48). There is perhaps no clearer passage than this, that teaches degrees of punishment.

During the course of his trial, Jesus informed Pilate: “He who delivered me unto you has the greater sin” (Jn. 19:11). Does not justice require a greater punishment for a greater sin?

A man who set aside the law of God under the Mosaic regime, was executed without mercy. The writer of the book of Hebrews declares that the one who tramples on the Son of God and who treats, as a common thing, the blood by which he was sanctified, will deserve a much “worse” punishment (Heb. 10:26-31). The principle is this: there is a greater level of responsibility for those who live under the better covenant, and there will be appropriate punishment meted out for those who, through apostasy, reject that which they previously embraced.

The apostle Peter wrote regarding those who had “escaped the defilements of the world” by virtue of their knowledge of the truth, i.e., obedience to the gospel (2 Pet. 2:20-22; cf. 1 Pet. 4:17). He warned that should they become entangled again in these defilements, and overcome, their “last state” (their apostate condition) would be “worse” than the first (the pre-conversion state). Ominously, he says it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back to their former lifestyle. This, most assuredly, teaches a greater level of punishment for apostate Christians than for those who never knew the truth.

James provides a word of caution appropriate to this topic. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (3:1 ESV). Is there any question about the implication of that warning?

“The main thought in vv. 1-12 is the greater responsibility of teachers and the extremely dangerous character of the instrument [the tongue] which they have to use? Greater responsibility brings greater judgment” (James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976, p. 141).

(Wayne Jackson: The Christian Courier; Are There Degrees of Blessedness and Punishment in Eternity? Online source: http://goo.gl/wM7Rq).

Again, we need to emphasize that the Bible is God’s full philosophical statement to man regarding truthful metaphysics, sound epistemology, God’s own ethics, and wise politics. Lost man will always be better off following the Bible, and we must remember that unrighteous activity by man in general continually provokes God’s anger (Psalm 7:11). Indeed, society at large would be much more peaceful, and would provoke God a lot less if they would yield to this simple principle:

Ecclesiastes 8:11-Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.

Many of the same principles of anthropology, and plain common sense if you will, need to be vigorously applied to the Christian life, and the anthropology of conscience is no exception. The Bible has much to say about how the Christian is to approach the conscience and utilize it in spiritual growth. To not do so greatly waters down the gospel. When the world sees that our wisdom is effective for real life, this gives our gospel validity. If Christians do not have wisdom for the earthly, it will be rightly assumed that we have no eternal wisdom as well. This is the great antinomian evil of our day—practical application from the Bible for living life is replaced with gospel contemplationism and a habitual revisiting of the elementary principles of salvation while opining  about “pragmatism,” “moralism,” and “therapeutic deism.” While some unbelievers will find hope in mystical ambiguity, many won’t. Salvation calls on man to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Salvation is a new “way.” The unregenerate will be little impressed if it is a way that has no more wisdom for life than their own though crystal balls will always appeal to the mindless element of any culture. Once again, we must remember that the gospel was problem centered from the very beginning. We should at least show the gospel as a different way. This is the way it has always been:

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it (Isaiah 35:8).

This line of thought by Paul also answers the question regarding those who have never heard the gospel. What law will they be judged by? Answer: the law written on their heart and argued by their conscience. This introduces an extraordinary biblical principle. All those who are under the law will be judged by the law, and thereby condemned—whether the written law of God (the Scriptures) or the law written on their hearts. This is also the same law that informs them that God’s glory is revealed in creation (Romans 1:19,20), and incites them to judge others concerning right and wrong (Romans 2:1). God has always held man responsible for passing His law/gospel onto to subsequent generations, and one of the primary goals of the gospel is to show a way of escape from being “under the law.” All are born “under the law,” and will be judged by it (with poor results because the standard is perfection) unless they escape it via the gospel. The only man ever born into the world who could withstand the judgment of the law was Jesus Christ. But once one is saved from the law, they live by the law and honor God with it.

Paul’s argument is somewhat complex. A brain twister so to speak. Those who have never heard the law of God will “perish without the law.” And those who have heard the law and have “sinned under the law” (EVERYONE except Christ) will be “judged by the law” with horrible results. Hence, those who have the law, or have heard the law, but do not hear it in order to obey it, have not chosen the NEW WAY and are therefore still UNDER THE LAW and will be judged by it. Those who are declared righteous have made a commitment to the new way that they will continually learn by the law that they now love. They are declared righteous because they no longer hear the law only, but obey it. Therefore, they won’t be judged by it. The other  WAY, is the way of being under the law and will result in being judged by it in the final day unless they repent of that way.

Said another way: we are not saved by keeping the law, but we are sanctified by keeping the law. Repentance, a change of mind about one of two “ways,” justifies us and removes us from being “under the law” which guarantees that we will “perish by the law.”

This is Paul’s point in his indictment of the Jews starting in verse 17:

Romans 2:17 – But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded[b] as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

As a repeated aside, the fact that this letter is to the Roman Gentiles, but Paul here addresses Jews, again reminds us that this is the gospel that Paul begins to preach to them by this letter in 1:15 (here it comes) and 1:16 (first sentence of the treatise). Again, this is the full orbed gospel of God’s truth which of course includes the death, burial, and resurrection.

And Paul’s point is clear: the Jews had a problem with thinking that because they were the vanguards of God’s law—hearing the law and honoring it was all that was necessary along with being circumcised. In other words: a ritual hearing of God’s word along with the ritual of circumcision. James, in his letter to the Jewish Christians, notes that this is self-deception. It is remaining on the road of judgment under the law as opposed to obeying the perfect law of liberty:

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 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.

And the message to the Romans is clear: they will condemn the Jew if they have committed to believing and obeying the law of liberty, starting with what Christ did to abolish the law for purposes of justification. Because of what Christ did, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, but yet, we are informed by the law for how we live and believe (Romans 3:21,22). Circumcision means nothing without a commitment to obey the law. That commitment frees us from the law by committing to love our savior by keeping His commandments. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Note carefully what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

I Corinthians 7:19 – Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.

So does this mean that the Jewish heritage has no significance in the gospel schema? Paul cautions against that approach in the following sentences of his gospel treatise while taking the opportunity to use that question to further explain and clarify the relationship of the law to salvation.