Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

A Thought for Good Friday: What Is The “It”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 14, 2017

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” ~ John 19:30

τετελεσται (teh-tel-es-tai) – verb; indicative mood, perfect tense, passive voice, 3rd person singular. It is derived from the Greek noun telos which is used to refer to something set out as a goal or an aim, or the conclusion of an act or state.

All Churchians most likely at some point in their life have heard the explanation that when Jesus uttered these words that He meant that he had finished what He had come to earth to accomplish. And what was it that Jesus accomplished? The orthodox interpretation of that would be that Jesus accomplished the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, it would be that Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience. Now having demonstrated perfect obedience to the Law, Jesus could fulfill his purpose as the perfect sacrifice for sin. His job was done.

It is true that Jesus did accomplish the forgiveness of sin with His death on the cross. But how exactly did this happen? Furthermore, Reformed orthodoxy would have us believe that Christians need to preach the gospel to themselves every day. They must daily return to the cross to continually have Jesus’ obedience imputed to their lives as a covering. This is accomplished by “faith alone” works through the “means of grace” administered by the local church. If Christians need an ongoing imputation of righteousness from Christ through His obeying the law for us in our stead, how exactly can one say that Jesus’ work is “finished”?

Lest I be accused of setting up a “straw man” argument, consider that after almost nine years of research here at TANC ministries, all of the problems with Protestant orthodoxy and the institutional church can be boiled down to one thing: a misunderstanding of the Law. Reformed orthodoxy keeps Christians “under law” (the Biblical definition of an unsaved person) by making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. Because Protestantism’s metaphysical assumption of man is “total depravity”, man cannot keep the law, so he must rely on Jesus to keep the law for him.

But the Bible says that righteousness is apart from the law (Romans 3:21, 28). If Jesus must keep the law for us, not only does that make Jesus’ work not “finished”, but it is also not a righteousness apart from the law. What could Jesus have possibly meant when He said, “It is finished”?

It is important to note the grammar of that phase, which is only one single word in Greek. First of all, it is in the “passive voice”. That means the subject is the recipient of the action. Jesus did not say I have finished something. Some subject “it” received the action of being finished, and Jesus’ death accomplished that.

Second, the word “tetelestai” is in the “perfect” tense. The perfect tense is a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself. Although this gives information about a prior action, the focus is likely to be on the present consequences of that action.  In fact, the King James rendering of this verb is incorrect.  The correct rendering of this phrase in the perfect tense would be, “It has been finished.”  Jesus declared that His death produced a resulting state of something that now exists that is different from an earlier state.

Third, “tetelestai” is in the singular third person. The subject is not Jesus and something He did. The focus is on some third party subject that was the recipient of some action being performed upon it. Therefore, the statement, “It is finished” could not be a reference to Jesus finishing His work of perfect obedience to the Law. Something else had the action of “finished” performed upon it.

The question then remains, when Jesus said, “It is finished”, what exactly then is the “it”?

For one thing, the Law was actually a living will or “testament”, a covenant made between God and Israel that was ratified with Moses by the sprinkling of blood (Hebrews 9:18-21). This covenant of the Law acted as a guardian until the promise made to Abraham and his “seed” was fulfilled. (Galatians 3:16, 22-24). The Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody, protecting them from the Law’s condemnation upon their death. All sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “atoning” or “covering” aspect of the Law.

The Law’s testament pointed to the coming “promise” to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed. There would come one who would “take away” sin once and for all. This was so clearly symbolized by the picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16. The high priest would lay his hands on the head of a goat, signifying the imputation of sin to the Law. The goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who would carry that goat into the wilderness and release it, signifying the taking away of sin as far as the east is from the west.

Jesus was the promised “seed” of Abraham. He was the “testator” of which the Law’s covenant spoke. Just as with any will, it could not be in force until after the death of the testator (Hebrews 9:16-17). It would seem reasonable then that the perfect tense of the verb “tetelestai” would put focus on the Law, its testament, and its role as guardian. The initiating of the Law was an event or circumstance of the past, but Jesus’ death now causes us to focus on its resulting change of state. The passive voice indicates that the Law is the recipient of this change of state. What is now changed?

  • The testament of the Law is finished. Jesus’ death now allowed its promises to be fulfilled; that is, sin would be ended because the Law was ended. All sin that was imputed to the Law would be taken away forever. The Law can no longer condemn.
  • The Law’s role as a guardian is finished. Since the “promise” had been fulfilled, believers are now the righteous offspring of the Father. There is no Law to condemn them, and where there is no law there is no sin. And since there is no sin there is no longer any need of a guardian. The covering aspect of the Law is ended.
  • The distinction between Jew and Gentile is finished. Now every born again child of God would be baptized into one Body. This is the mystery that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. He called it the New Man. Every person who is a member of the Body is given a gift to exercise to the edification of the Body and to demonstrate love to God and others. The Law is the means by which believers show love through obedience.

One could say that because of Jesus’ death to end the Law, there is now a new relationship to the Law.  There is a change of state; not only of the law but the state of the believer as well!

It was God’s plan to reconcile every man to Himself by putting to death the “old man” who is “under law” and replacing him with a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father. In this way sin is ended because the Law is ended for those who are born again. The Law is fulfilled in us, every believer, each time we show love to another.

On this “Good Friday”, take time to consider this: Sin sought to bring death by condemnation and alienate man from God. God defeated Sin by providing a way to make man part of His own family!

Andy

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