Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Comprehensive Essay on the True Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 3, 2017

Man Does NOT Have a “Sin Problem”
That is a scandalous statement and one that contradicts everything you have probably heard in church your whole life.  It would seem to be a logical conclusion that the Bible teaches that man’s problem is sin, but let us reconsider two primary assumptions:

  1. Does man indeed have a problem?
  2. Is that problem sin?

The Bible teaches that there are only two kinds of people in this world; those who are “under law” and those who are “under grace”.  To be “under law” means to be subject to the Law’s condemnation, which is death, and ultimately the Lake of Fire.  Every person ever born into this word is “under law” and is therefore condemned because at some point in his life he has broken the Law in one way or another.

Even if a person has no knowledge of God’s Law from scripture, the Bible tells us that every man has the Law of God written on his heart, which is the conscience (Romans 2:14-15).  The conscience is what gives man knowledge of right and wrong.  One day, every person “under law” will be judged by God according to the Law, whether that be God’s law as recorded in scripture or by his own conscience.  So clearly, man does indeed have a problem.

 

What about Sin?
The Bible describes Sin as an entity which seeks to wield control over others. (Genesis 4:7)  Sin’s desire for control is manifest in man’s subsequent desire to wield control over others.  Ironically, Sin obtains its power of control over others through the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).   Sin uses the Law to control others by provoking man through desires to break the Law.  Once there is a law that governs some behavior, Sin uses that same law to provoke a desire to rebel against what that law requires (Romans 7:7-8).

Without the Law, Sin has no power.  Therefore, where there is no Law, there is no Sin.  Any person who is “under law” is not only provoked by Sin to break the Law, but he is condemned if he does.

So the problem then is not with Sin, rather it is the reality that any man “under law” is under condemnation.  The solution then is that man needs a way to get out from under the Law’s condemnation.  Man needs a new relationship to the Law.

 

Man’s New Relationship to the Law
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, their response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…”  Belief means faith.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  A person is born again (literally “born from above”) when he hears about Jesus and believes what he hears.  Hearing implies a cognitive process of allowing oneself to be persuaded by a reasonable argument.  So we understand then that “faith” is more than just an assenting to the facts, but it has to do with being thoroughly convinced in your mind that something is true.  Furthermore, having been persuaded, there comes a point where one must make a conscious choice as to whether or not one wishes to accept the reality of the gift freely offered to him and the ramifications that come along with that decision.

God made it possible for man to get out from under the Law’s condemnation through the New Birth.  When a person believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “old man” who was “under law” dies.  Laws have no jurisdiction over dead people.  Dead people cannot be condemned.

When the “old man” dies, a new creature is reborn in his place.  This new creature is born of God.  He is the literal offspring of the Father.  This new creature is not born “under law”.  The Law has no jurisdiction over him.  This means the Law CANNOT condemn him.  And since there is no Law to condemn this born again new creature, there is no Sin.  The one who is born of God CANNOT sin!

“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.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Notice, the apostle John does not say the believer “won’t sin” or “chooses not to sin”.  He says he CANNOT sin.  He is not ABLE to sin.  Why is the one who is born again not able sin?  Because sin has to do with Law.  You cannot condemn one of sin when there is no Law under which to accuse him.  Think about it; if there was no 55 mph speed limit on the highway, and you were driving 56, would a patrol officer be able to write you a citation for speeding?  Of course not.  Why not?  What law could he use of which to accuse you?  There would be none.  So it is with the one who is born again.  The believer is no longer “under law,” therefore there is no Law that can be used to condemn.  The believer has a new relationship to the Law.

Since the Law can no longer condemn, the Law’s original intent can now be realized: to show love to God and to others!

This is why believers strive to obey.  It is not a means to merit some right standing with God The believer is already righteous because he is God’s offspring.  The believer obeys because he wants to show love to God and love to others.  Love is the fulfillment of the Law.  In fact, the Bible teaches that those who love God have a natural love for the Law as well.

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” ~ Psalms 119:97

“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalms 119:113

“I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalms 119:163

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” ~ Psalms 119:165

Even if there was no speed limit on the highway, would you still drive as fast as you possibly wanted?  Hopefully not, because you would recognize the inherent danger, not only to yourself by driving recklessly, but also to the other drivers on the road.  You would drive in such a way as to preserve your own life and the lives of others.  You would be functioning according to the Law of Love.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” ~ Romans 8:2

This new relationship to the Law through the New Birth is offered as a free gift to any who believe on Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.

 

How does Jesus’ death on the cross forgive sin?
In Old Testament times, when God codified the Law for Israel with Moses, the Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody.  During this time, believers were preserved from condemnation upon their death because sin was imputed to the Law.  This was the “covering” aspect of the Law, and the ceremonial observation of the “Day of Atonement” was a recognition of Israel being under the Law’s protective custody. (Galatians 3:22-24)

This protective custody was in effect up until the time of Jesus’ death on the cross.  Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham.  When Jesus died, He ended the need for the Law’s protective custody.  When the Law ended, all sins that had been imputed to the Law were taken away with it.

The picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16:21-22 describes what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplishes.  The priest would lay his hands upon a live goat, a symbol of sins being imputed to the Law.  That goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who take that goat into the wilderness and release it.   Jesus is that “strong man” who took away the sins imputed to the “scapegoat” of the Law.

“…Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

In essence, Jesus is both the “Lamb” and the “strong man”.  He is the Testator of the Old Covenant, the One of whom the Law speaks, the One to whom sin is imputed.  The death of the Testator brings an end (fulfillment) to that covenant, thereby taking with Him all sins which had been imputed to Him. (Hebrews 9:15-17)

Since the Promise of Christ has come, there is no longer a need for a guardian.  The “covering” aspect of the Law is no longer needed. (Galatians 3:25-26)  This is true for every person who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation.  The New Birth puts the old man to death.  All those past sins are forgiven.  They were taken away when the Law was ended for him upon his New Birth.  There is no ongoing need of forgiveness for “present” or “future” sins because the believer CANNOT sin.  There is no Law to condemn him, therefore there is no sin.

 

Why do Christians still “sin”?
Man is and always will be a free-will agent.  His behaviors are governed by choices that are the logical conclusions of assumptions.  Man was created by God to be a rational, thinking, creature.  It is how man is made is God’s image.  In this way, man is good.  To say that man is “good” means to be good existentially, or that which is intrinsic to the nature of his existence.  It means man has the capacity to act in accordance to the purpose for which he was created; to think, to reason, to live, to BE.

Because a man may make a choice to do evil does not mean that he IS evil.  Conversely, that man may make a choice to good is not what MAKES him good.  Man’s ability to even make a choice is what makes him “good”.  He is functioning according to how God designed him to be.   Do not misunderstand – “goodness” should not be conflated with “righteousness”.

It is not man’s choosing to do evil deeds (or lack of good deeds) which condemns him, no more than it is a believer’s choosing to do good deeds (or lack of evil deeds) which saves him.  Unregenerate man is condemned because he is “under law”.  A believer is saved because he is born again and NOT “under law”.  Therefore, because one who is born again is not “under law”, there is no such thing as “sin” for the believer.

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that a believer can still choose to not obey the Law.  At the same time, this does not give a believer license to ignore the Law.  While failure to obey the Law no longer condemns the believer, it is still a failure to show love.  One who is the offspring of the Heavenly Father ought to behave in a manner that is consistent with his righteous state of being.

The Bible says the flesh is “weak”.  Weakness does not mean evil.  The apostle Paul said that the treasure of our righteous new creature-hood is contained in “clay pots”.  So even though a believer is righteous, Sin still seeks to control him through the weakness of his flesh.  And because man is a moral agent capable of free-will decisions, a believer can still choose to give in to fleshly desires provoked by Sin.  But it is important to understand the distinction; such an action does not condemn!  It is a failure to show love.

Perfection is not the issue here.  This is why it is so important to understand that righteousness has nothing to do with law-keeping.  There is a reason Paul and the other apostles bent over backwards to make this case throughout the New Testament.  Righteousness is apart from the Law. (Romans 3:21, 28)  Believers are righteous because they have been born again and are no longer “under law”.  Whether or not a believer obeys the law “perfectly” is irrelevant to his righteous state of being because there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)

This reality is incredibly freeing, because now a believer can aggressively pursue love without fear!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” ~ 1 John 4:18

A believer no longer has to worry about what laws he has kept or hasn’t kept because the threat of condemnation has been removed.  That possibility is no longer hanging over his head like some impending doom.  Now he is free to focus on just loving God and loving others, and the way he shows love is by striving to obey the Law.

“‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” ~ Romans 13:8

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ~ Galatians 5:14

 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15

A false gospel has only one perspective on the Law, which leads to a misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose.

 

A Misunderstanding of the Law
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders had come to believe that keeping the statutes in the Torah was what made a person righteous.  But because they made the assumption that man was metaphysically evil, this assumption meant that man was disqualified from being able to understand the Law’s requirements.  This is turn meant that if man could not understand the Law then man could not keep the Law.

The Jewish leaders believed it was necessary for some mediator to dictate to man the requirements necessary for righteousness.  To accomplish this, they crafted their own interpretation of the Torah for man to follow.  Since man could not understand the Law, he could only obtain righteousness by following the interpretations of the Jewish leaders.  This interpretation is what was known as their “traditions” or orthodoxy.

There are a number of problems with this, not the least of which is that the Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law.  As already mentioned, the apostles went to great lengths to make this point clear.  For the Jewish religious leaders to hold this perspective, it was indicative of their egregious misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose.  The Law was never intended to be for the purpose of obtaining a righteous standing with God.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” ~ Galatians 2:21

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” ~ Galatians 3:21

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” ~ Romans 3:20

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” ~ Galatians 2:16

The Law is the means by which man shows love to God and others, but making the Law the standard for righteousness actually circumvents love.  How does this happen?

The Jewish religious leaders replaced the Law with their orthodoxy.  The people were taught that since they could not keep the Law, it was pointless to even try.  By replacing the Law with orthodoxy, the Jewish leaders effectively took away man’s only means of showing love to God and others.  Rather than striving to show love to God through obedience, they became preoccupied with adhering to Jewish orthodoxy.  Their lives were no longer characterized by love but fear.

When the standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping, fear is always the result.  Fear is the result of condemnation.  Condemnation comes from being “under law”.  Any system that makes Law the standard for righteousness keeps man “under law”.  The Jewish system of perfect law-keeping by adherence to orthodoxy kept the people “under law” and took away their means of showing love.

This is exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing.

“… Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition [orthodoxy].” ~ Matthew 15:6

“And he said unto them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition [orthodoxy].’” ~ Mark 7:9

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition [orthodoxy], which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” ~ Mark 7:13

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” ~ Matthew 24:12

The word translated “iniquity” in Matthew 24:12 is the Greek word ανομια (anomia).  It literally means “no law”.  This is the Biblical definition of antinomianism.  It means to take away the law.  Jesus said Himself that taking away the Law would result in love growing cold.  And why wouldn’t it?  If you take away the Law, you take away the only means man has to show love to God and others.

Jesus spoke these words as a prophesy, but the end result of this logical progression of thought is always the same: taking away the Law results in a lack of love and lives characterized by fear.  Be sure to understand the distinction.  The Jewish religious leaders misunderstood the Law’s purpose.  They thought it was for the purpose of meriting righteousness.  But righteousness is apart from the Law.  Righteousness comes through the New Birth.  The Law is used as a means to show love to God and others.

What was true of first century Judaism is also true of every religion that ever existed or still exists today: it makes some form of law-keeping as the standard for righteousness.  Every religion begins with the same root assumption: that man is metaphysically evil, making him disqualified from being able to understand truth.  Since he cannot understand truth he must have truth interpreted for him.  Religious orthodoxy is nothing more than truth repackaged for mass consumption.  It is therefore adherence to this interpretation of truth that brings righteousness.

Protestantism is no different!  But Protestantism’s version of orthodoxy is obfuscated under the pretense of “faith alone”.  On the one hand, it will acknowledge that righteousness is apart from the Law; that man does not merit righteousness by keeping the Law.  Then on the other hand, it will insist that Jesus keeps the law for us.  In other words, since man cannot keep the Law, Jesus must do it instead.

How is it proposed that man is able to benefit from this so-called perfect law-keeping of Jesus?  By living by “faith alone”.   You see, if at any time you find that you are performing a work of obedience to the Law “in your own efforts”, you are attempting to rely on your own strength to merit salvation instead of “resting” in Christ to do the work for you.  (Notice that the assumed motivation is to merit salvation instead of showing love.)

It should be blatantly obvious that regardless WHO is keeping the law, even if it is Jesus keeping the Law in our stead, it is still a righteousness that is based on perfect law-keeping.  This is NOT a righteousness apart from the Law.   Moreover, to rely on Jesus doing the works of the Law for us so that His righteousness can be imputed to us is nothing more than works-based salvation.

For over 500 years, Protestantism has been perpetrating a fraud and a contradiction of epic proportions!  Like every other religion that has come down the pike since the beginning of time, Protestantism is based on a faulty assumption that results in a willful misunderstanding of the Law.  It is a religion of antinomianism that circumvents a believer’s ability to show love through obedience.  It makes obedience nothing more than a subjective experience that Christ supposedly performs through the believer.  It defies the believer’s natural inclination to love God’s Law.  It defines righteousness as perfect law-keeping.  This unwittingly puts the believer right back “under law”, the Biblical definition of an unsaved person.  Protestantism views believers no differently than the unregenerate.

Most importantly, the false gospel of Protestantism robs the believer of assurance.  The Christian life becomes one of constant introspection of whether one is living by “faith alone” or not.  Protestantism’s single perspective on the Law means the believer is in constant fear that he might come under condemnation.  He is not free to love others.  He is not free to love his Heavenly Father.  He can never know for sure if he really is saved.

Dear Christian brother, know this.  The Bible says that we CAN know for sure that we are saved.  When we understand that our righteousness comes by virtue of the fact that we are the literal offspring of the Father, everything becomes so simple.  It does not matter if we fail.  Perfection is not the point.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!  Believers are no longer “under law”.  Where there is no law there is no sin.  This is a wonderful reality!

This is the Gospel news that believers need to bring to a world that needs to be reconciled to God.

The world is full of unsaved people who do very good deeds.  Whether he realizes it or not, every time man shows love to another, he is fulfilling the Law.  It does not matter if the person is saved or not.  Unsaved man has the ability to show love to others just as much as one who is saved.  But it is not that expression of love that saves.  It is not a fulfilling of the Law that saves.  For even though an unsaved man might obey the Law of Love, he is still condemned because he is still “under law”.  That is the whole point.

Man does not have a “sin problem”.  He has a relationship to the Law problem.  This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”  The exhortation to you, dear brother in Christ, is this: Go out this day and show forth your love to God and others.  You are God’s righteous child.  Pursue obedience and fulfill the Law of Love!

~ Andy

What God Does in Protestant Progressive Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 31, 2017

Originally published May 31, 2015

There was a meme in my Facebook news feed that caught my eye this morning.  I felt compelled to make some corrections to it.  If you still don’t believe that Protestantism teaches progressive justification, think again.

Andy

what God does - corrected

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 8, 2017

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

paul

The New Man is Possible Because the Law Was Ended

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 25, 2017

Originally published April 25, 2016

The list of Biblical terms that Protestantism has hijacked is lengthy. I am not talking about made-up words that don’t even appear in scripture (and that list itself is lengthy). I mean words that actually appear in scripture, the definitions of which have been twisted to fit the orthodoxy. As we like to say here at Paul’s Passing Thoughts, words do mean things.

“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

Protestantism acknowledges this “new creature”, calling it the “new man”, while at the same time professing that the “old man” never really dies but is still present within man. This is the result of a faulty premise of total depravity (including total depravity of the believer) which in turn results in an incorrect interpretation of the struggle Paul describes in Romans 7.

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” ~ Romans 7:15-24

Protestantism claims that flesh is “evil”. But the Bible teaches instead that flesh is weak. It describes sin as an entity who seeks to control and master others. It tries to accomplish this by using the law to provoke the flesh to transgress.

Much as Protestantism has unwittingly altered the meaning of the New Birth, it has done the same with the idea of the “new man”. In classic dualistic philosophical fashion, Protestant Gnostic orthodoxy claims that the born again believer actually has “two natures”, the old man and the new man who constantly battle each other for control over the believer. In Protestant orthodoxy, man is nothing more than a spiritual schizophrenic. However, the new birth is a literal death and rebirth. The old man dies (“old things are passed away”, literally, “the old has come and gone”). He is crucified with Christ. This is why the law can no longer condemn him- the law cannot condemn a dead man. In his place is a new creature who is the literal offspring of God!

This same teaching is made clear in Paul’s letter to the believers at Ephesus.

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” ~ Ephesians 2:11-22

I want to point out once again how Paul makes reference to the law being ended.

Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances…so making peace; … having slain the enmity thereby”

The word translated “enmity” is a word that has to do with hostility. What was the cause of hostility between God and man? Verse 15 tells us plainly; the law! Man was condemned by the law which was ended when Christ was crucified and raised again. The new birth reconciles God and man, putting an end to the hostility.

Not only is the hostility between God and man ended, but Paul makes mention of hostility between two other groups- the hostility between Jews (the “Circumcision”) and the Gentiles (the “Uncircumcision”). Paul also uses two other expressions to describe these two groups- those who were “far off” (Gentiles) and those who were “nigh” or “near” (the Jews).   This hostility existed again primarily because of the law and the relationship to the law. For the nation of Israel, the law was a guardian, imprisoning sin until the Promise came which would end the law. (Galatians 3:21-29)

But a wonderful thing is revealed in this Ephesians passage. When Christ died, He ended the law, He ended the hostility between God and man, and He ended the hostility between Jew and Gentile. Why? Because the New Birth brings about the death of the old man, and in his place is a new creature that is NEITHER Jew NOR Gentile. Furthermore, each born again believer is made a part of one spiritual body.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in himself of twain one new man… that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Notice that Paul refers to this one spiritual body as the “New Man”! According to the Bible, the New Man is not the individual believer, but it is the one spiritual body made up of both Jews and Gentiles, of which Christ is the Head, and of which all believers are members together. To further emphasize this idea of “oneness”, Paul uses a metaphor of a building. Christ is the cornerstone, the very first stone set by which all other stones of the building are laid. The teachings of the apostles are the foundation, and each believer is a lively stone set in this building as a spiritual house and a royal priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 2:5). This one New Man is a holy temple wherein God’s Spirit now dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

This teaching of the New Man being the Body of Christ is consistent throughout the New Testament. It is the reason believers are given spiritual gifts, for the purpose of maturing the saints to do the work of the ministry, to edify (or build up) the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). It is the reason why believers are to assemble together for fellowship, for the purpose of mutual edification so that we can perform works pleasing to God and show love to others (Hebrews 10:24). All of this is possible because Christ ended the law on the cross.

Andy

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:26-28

My Reply to Linda: Yes, I Am a Christian, But Not Sure You Are

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 19, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Originally published December 15, 2015

I no longer have patience for the evangelical regurgitation of orthodox talking points. Protestants don’t own their own faith that they have seen in the Bible with their own study.  What they think they see and understand is what Protestant academics have told them, including the idea that only they have authority to tell them what to believe. So, what is wrong with church? Church is wrong with church because it is predicated on a false gospel. That’s right, the Protestant Reformation was a false reformation founded on a false gospel. And this is why Dr. James White and others have refused to debate me publicly; the Protestant gospel as stated in its orthodoxy is the biblical definition of a lost person…under law as opposed to under grace.

Martin Luther and John Calvin et al proffered a gospel that is under law, but that is supposedly OK because Jesus keeps/kept the law for us, and that obedience is imputed to our Christian status. This is a perpetual covering of sin, or sometimes referred to as “atonement,” but not an ENDING of sin that requires no further justification. Hence, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day” to “keep ourselves in the love of God” (CJ Mahaney) etc.  White and others know that this is a simple matter of theological math, and do not intend to address it until enough people catch on. The only case they can make presently is for a historical-redemptive interpretation of Scripture that interprets every verse as a justification verse. Sanctification is defined as progressive justification via Protestant talking points.

One day in my personal Facebook account I noticed the following comment to me by a “Linda”:

“Are you a Christian Paul? And secondly do you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? That would be my two questions for you. Romans says, ‘There is none righteous, no not one.’ That includes you and me. This doesn’t mean that we never do a kind act or good deed. It means that we don’t and can’t do enough of them to be declared ‘RIGHTEOUS’ by God. We could never do enough good deeds and kind acts to get us into heaven. Therefore we need the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us in order to go to heaven. God imputes this kind of righteousness to those who believe and accept HIS son Jesus and his shed blood as atonement for their sins and their UNrighteousness. We are part of God’s family by adoption. Nothing can make us righteous enough to go to heaven. The righteousness that is applied to our never dying soul can only come from Christ. The ‘part and parcel’ of our own being is puny compared with what God demands. In one place in scripture our puny ‘part and parcel’ is described as ‘filthy rags.’ So our own human effort at righteousness is from our flesh. Our flesh is not saved from sin and unrighteousness. Only our soul is. We are not capable of learning and loving enough to be declared righteous enough for heaven. We could learn and love enough to help another person with a kind act or good deed. But that does not fit our soul for heaven. I don’t understand your third question……’Christ imputing sin’ ????”

Her comment was in reply to previous comments I had made in regard to a post. She was replying to a comment I made regarding her initial comment.

“I am a never dying soul whom Christ died and rose for, approved of by God because I have HIS righteousness. Just by learning and loving we are different. Better means ‘improved in some way.’ Not hard questions for me.”

Here is my reply.

“Linda, where does the Bible say you have the righteousness of Christ? That’s the first question. The second: Are we only approved of God because we ONLY have the righteousness of Christ and none of our own? What about the new birth? If we are literally born of God and now part of His lineage, would that not make us righteous? Do you mean to say that we have a righteousness LIKE Christ’s because we are a member of the same family, or ONLY His righteousness and none that is part and parcel with our own being? Are we truly righteous, or only declared righteous? Third question: was Christ’s role in salvation an imputation of sin AND righteousness, or just sin? On the one hand, you seem to state that we only have the righteousness of Christ, but on the other, you say we learn and love. How exactly do we learn and love if we ourselves are not righteous people? So, I am not trying to be a jerk here, I am simply resolute that Christians should have a clear definition of who they are. Yes, I know exactly what the Reformers believed about our identity, but I would like to see your clarification.”

This is the extreme Protestant cognitive dissonance resulting in the train wreck we call “church” that I no longer have patience for. People who are serious about following Christ need to take their true gospel and leave the institutional church for home fellowship networks. The institutional church is part and parcel with the authority that demands a denial of the obvious. Authority has replaced truth. Nevertheless, I do believe evangelicals will have to eventually address their under law gospel.

I will make this as simple as possible as I am weary of addressing it. Much, much, thanks to Andy Young who is helping to carry the water on this as well. Linda’s response is pretty much the Protestant gospel talking points that we hear often, and pregnant with cognitive dissonance. All in all, her answers to my questions are, “NO.” Please start by noting that. This is where we discuss another disservice the Reformers performed: adding chapters and verses to the Bible. This circumvents the need to read all of Scripture in context. You can form a theological argument by using John Immel’s pet peeve: Scripture stacking. Basically, Linda is using the same verses to argue for the same Protestant talking points that she has received from Protestant academics. As a result, if one examines her statements, the blatant contradictions are stunning.

Where to start? ALL of our works are filthy rags (Isiah 64:6), yet, we can do some stuff that is good? So, “all” doesn’t really mean “all”? Per the usual, Protestants profess a double false gospel because they don’t rightly understand the gospel taught by the father of the Reformation, Martin Luther. In fact, Luther taught that EVERY deed of man is evil, even those that appear good because man’s “good” deeds always have a flawed motive. Calvin taught the same. Hence, if one believes that we can do a good deed, that is “mortal sin” and cannot be forgiven by the church. But, if one believes that every work we do, even works that appear good, are actually evil, all of our sin can be forgiven by revisiting the same gospel that saved us, and that revisitation is only valid under the auspices and oversight of the clergy. This is Luther, this is Calvin, this is the Protestant gospel. I have documented this backwards and forwards as those who follow TANC Ministries know.

Now, for the Protestant part of this that Linda got right, and in fact a mainstay of Protestantism, but still a false gospel. Luther and Calvin orthodoxy already condemns her to hell, but they would agree with her making the law the standard for justification. Biblically, there is NO law in justification. The Bible testifies about justification, but law and justification are mutually exclusive. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, there is no law in justification. What determines justification is the new birth. The law is strictly for love in the Christian life. Again, the law informs us about justification, and here is the information: law is not the standard for justification, the new birth is. The apostle Paul wrote the epistle of Galatians to make this very point. Again, I predict that folks are going to start catching on to this in the future and the who’s who of evangelicalism are going to have to make a defense; good luck to them as that attempt will be interesting. The Protestant under-law-gospel, also stated by Linda, has Christ fulfilling God’s “demands” in our stead when God’s only demand regarding justification is that we be born again.

In order to make the law the standard for justification, the Reformers resorted to Saint Augustine’s Neo-Platonism, which later became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the first century church. We see this in Linda’s talking points about “the flesh.” ALL of our works come from where? Right, the flesh which, like the Reformers, she deems as inherently evil. That’s Gnosticism. The Bible teaches that our bodies, or members, are “weak” not inherently evil. When the Bible speaks of the “desires of the flesh” and the “deeds of the flesh,” that speaks of when our members are used for sinful purposes. Obviously, if Linda would stop long enough to read her own Bible with her own understanding given to her by God, she would see that our body, or “flesh,” can also be used for holy purposes (Romans 12:1 among many other passages). And, what is more obvious than the fact that our bodies are declared to be the temple of God? Actually, a word study reveals that the Holy of Holies is being referred to.

This brings us to Linda’s Protestant confusion in regard to the difference between salvation and redemption. The former is the saving of the soul, the latter is the saving of the mortal body which can be used for evil or good depending on which desires we are obeying. Christians, through the new birth, have the ability to obey the desires of the Spirit stated in the Bible and the ability to say “no” to evil desires that remain part of the body’s weakness and mortality. Because Christ ended the law through the new birth, sin has been stripped of its ability to enslave and condemn. If Christ obeys the law for us, we are still under it and enslaved to sin. The old us that died with Christ violated the whole law with every sin; the new us that was raised with Christ fulfills the whole law with one act of love. Christ didn’t come to obey the law for us—He came to END the law. Christ didn’t come to cover our sin—He came to END our sin.

A book could be written here, but time won’t allow it; nevertheless, let’s address Linda’s confusion, typical among Protestants, in regard to gift and reward. We cannot birth ourselves, but we can obtain the baptism of the Spirit by faith alone in “the promise” (see Galatians chapter 3). Once the gift is received, it is ours to utilize by loving God and others. Exercising the gift is not taking credit for the gift. The Bible states that God would be unjust to forget our good works and service to the saints (Hebrews 6:10). “Unjust”? Yes, because as those literally born of Him (1 John chapter 3), and literally a part of His literal family, our reward is due us as siblings working for the Father. As a slave to the former master, we could only earn death wages—now we can earn true reward. Read the Parable of the Talents and see what the outcome is for those who fear and want to give God back only what was given and nothing more. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the new birth.

As a policy, I don’t judge the salvation of others. I believe that there are Protestants who are confused enough about Protestantism to be saved. So, yes Linda, I am saved, but I find your assurance that you are saved indicative of your confusion. Protestant orthodoxy CLEARLY states that the motor of sanctification moving justification forward is doubt of salvation because being under condemnation is part and parcel with being under law…the standard for justification according to Protestantism. In Calvin’s words, if “Christians” are not still under condemnation, what further need is there for Christ and His righteousness?

So Linda, I am saved, but I recommend that you start thinking for yourself. All of the Protestant academics you trust will not stand in your stead at the judgment. You will be standing there alone.

And you better have more than a covering with sin underneath it, you better be a literal child of God before Him.

paul

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