Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Bible really say about all of this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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