Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Trusting Jesus” In 2017 For Your Daily Re-Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 2, 2017

The institutional church has very little to offer people in the way of hope and assurance. Its orthodoxy takes away a believer’s means of showing love to God and others – obedience to the law. By making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, its single perspective on law keeps believers “under law” and in a constant state of fear due to condemnation. But the Bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear.

We have before us today yet one more example of the orthodoxy of authentic Protestantism to consider. This example happens to come from my former church, Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, OH. One of the current members snapped this image of a power point slide presented during this past Sunday’s sermon.

calvary-fodder-hebrew-12-application

This slide comes at the “application” part at the end of a sermon which used Hebrews 12:1-2 as a text.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Here are the four points of application for consideration:

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Before I even get into addressing the points of application, a brief exegesis and word study of the passage is required.

It is important to understand that the chapter divisions in our Bibles are not there in the original texts. They were added much later as a means to aid in finding certain passages. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the chapter divisions have a tendency to break up the context. Chapter 12 of Hebrews is the concluding application of chapter 11, sometimes known as the “Hall of Faith”. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in verse 1 is a reference to all the saints mentioned in chapter 11, some by name, some collectively.

I want to quickly call your attention to the verbs in verse 1. I have marked them in bold.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This is a very poorly translated verse in both the King James and all modern English translations. While there are five verb forms in this verse, only one verb is part of the main clause and shows the action. It is the word “run”. In the Greek the word is τρεχω (trek-oh). We get our English word “trek” from this, referring to a course or trip or voyage in which we may engage.

While this verb is in the present tense, it is also in the subjunctive mood, which normally indicates a hypothetical possibility. But in this case, since we are not dealing with a conditional statement, this implies a command. It is used as a means of exhorting others to join in on a particular course of action. With this in mind, there is only one main clause in verse 1:

“wherefore, …let us engage in our course of life”

This is the reasonable conclusion the writer of Hebrews draws from the testimony of all the saints mentioned in chapter 11.

The other four verb forms are actually used as participles. A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective or adverb. In English, participles most often end in “ing”. A participle can either describe how an action is performed or it further describes the state of a noun or subject. Knowing then that the other verbs in verse 1 are participles, the verse would better read this way (notice the participles are emphasized in bold).

“Wherefore, we, having this vast cloud of witnesses encompassing us, and having put off every impediment – the sin nemesis – let us then through endurance engage in our course of life lying before us.”

Some things should be obvious in this verse. Foremost is the implication that WE are the ones running our race of life. The command is to US to engage the undertaking of our lives, and we are exhorted to do it with endurance. But also, the grammatical structure gives us the “why”. It is because:

  1. We have a group of spectators “watching” us. These are the faithful saints who have gone on before us who have given us an example of how WE are then expected to conduct our lives.
  1. We have the ABILITY to run this race of life with certainty because we have already laid off everything that would hinder us. It is not something we need to do continuously. The aorist (past) tense of the verb indicates it is something that we have already done. Because of our new birth the law is ended, the old man is dead, and sin no longer has any power over us. Sin can no longer restrict us from running as fast as we want to.

Verse 2 gives us further instruction as to “how” or “what” we should do as we run our life race. It begins with the phrase “looking unto Jesus”, but that does not indicate that we “trust Jesus” to run the race for us or even to help us run. The word in the Greek is αφοραω (ah-for-AH-oh). It literally means to perceive from a distance, but the implication means to consider attentively.

Another expression that needs to be examined is “the author and finisher of our faith”. First off, the word “our” is not found in the Greek text, neither is it implied. “Author” is the Greek word αρχηγον (arch-AY-gon), and it means “chief leader”. Jesus is not the “author” of faith as if He was the originator of it. Consider the context of the passage. In the great cloud of witnesses just mentioned in chapter 11, among all of those in that great “hall of faith”, Jesus is the Chief Leader of faith. This means that Jesus is included among all of the saints listed in chapter 11. The author of Hebrews is exhorting us to consider Jesus’ own example of faith.

Furthermore, a close look at the grammar of verse 2 reveals that the verse is not saying that our faith originates and ends with Jesus. Instead, these are two separate aspects of who Jesus is with regard to faith itself. The word translated “finisher” is the word τελειωτης (tel-ee-oh-TACE). It comes from the word “teleos” which means “maturity” or “completeness”. Jesus is the one who made “faith” complete.

If you consider that the audience of Hebrews is Jews, this aspect of Jesus completing faith takes on considerable significance. Remember that God made the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The apostle Paul also wrote in Galatians about the law being a guardian until “faith” came. With this in mind it is fairly easy to see that Jesus was the promised “seed” and the “faith” that came to end the law. I believe this is the reference the writer of Hebrews is making when he says that Jesus is the “completer” of faith, because Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham, the “faith” that came to end the law and make the new birth possible.

So in verse two, as we run our life race, we are to give attentive consideration to the Chief Faith Leader; the Faith Completer; Jesus! Not only is “faith” completed because Jesus is that promised seed, but we are to consider His example of faith. The rest of the verse cites Jesus’ own example of faith.

“…giving attentive consideration to the Chief Leader and Completer of faith – Jesus – who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So now that we understand the correct grammatical-historical context of the passage, let us once again consider the points of application suggested to us by the pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Please notice that the passage in Hebrews has nothing to do whatsoever about trust or trusting Jesus. This should be blatantly obvious. How does one make the leap from a context having to do with great examples of faith for us to emulate to one of “trusting Jesus”? If one uses a redemptive-historical hermeneutic, it’s fairly easy. Every verse has to be taken in its proper “gospel context”.

Authentic Protestantism is a false gospel of progressive justification. Believers are merely declared righteous while remaining totally depraved and in a constant need of re-salvation and forgiveness for “present sin”.  So then:

  • A believer then must continually “trust Jesus” for daily salvation instead of looking to himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to do good works through him rather than trying to do any good works himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to be his righteousness for him since the believer is only declared righteous.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by recognizing his own sinfulness, depravity, and need for constant forgiveness rather than dwell on how other people have wronged him.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by continuing to live by “faith alone” and persevering in the off chance that maybe he is one of the elect who endures to final justification.

Of course, if at any time you fail to somehow keep “trusting Jesus,” your very salvation may be at stake.

Sure sounds like an encouraging New Year’s message to me. Good luck with that.

~ Andy

Haven’t Found It Yet

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 16, 2016

Dear Reformed Brother, Was Jesus Righteous Before He Kept the Law?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 29, 2016

Time and time again, this ministry has demonstrated that the reformed standard for justification is perfect law-keeping rather than the new birth. Here is a summary of the salient premises (what reformed theology must assume to be true to arrive at their conclusion). It goes something like this:

  • Man is totally depraved.
  • Because man is totally depraved, no one can keep the law perfectly.
  • Because no one can keep the law perfectly, we need someone to keep the law on our behalf.
  • Jesus is the only one who ever kept the law perfectly.
  • Because Jesus kept the law perfectly, we must depend on Jesus to keep the law for us.
  • God “declares” us righteous because Jesus’ obedience is imputed to us.
  • When God looks at us He doesn’t “see” our sin, He only sees Christ (covering/atonement)

There might be a few more details one could add in there, but the conclusion is this:
The standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping.

The list of problems with this line of reasoning is extensive, not the least of which is the fact that the Bible says righteousness is apart from the law. But when we keep thinking about the ramifications of the above assumptions, the conclusions are obvious. In this construct, a believer is only declared righteous as long as he keeps living by “faith alone”. So if at any time he ceases to live by “faith alone” he puts his justification at risk. This means he is never really “righteous” until he gets to the end of his life. And even then, his righteousness depends on the degree to which he lived by “faith alone”. In other words, no believer can ever really “know” if he is really righteous until all the facts come in. There would have to be sufficient “proof” that reveals that his justification is authentic.

But I want to camp on a notion that I doubt very few have ever stopped to consider. If the basis of righteousness is perfect law-keeping, then how is Jesus righteous? Would not He too be required to live a perfect life? Of course the protestant response to this is a resounding, yes. They openly declare that it was by His perfect law-keeping that Jesus was righteous. That is one of the assumptions listed above. But now consider this.   How could a claim be made for Jesus’ righteousness until He had demonstrated perfect law-keeping His entire life? It is impossible to claim that Jesus was righteous before he ever demonstrated one good work. Ironically, the same standard that the reformed use for believers MUST also apply to the One who makes justification possible according to their theology. And this just will not work because it makes Jesus’ own righteousness suspect (which the reformed conveniently do not allow for). You cannot reason something after-the-fact!

The Reformed gospel makes Jesus’ righteousness a function of works and not intrinsic to His nature. Jesus was not really righteous UNTIL He had demonstrated perfect law-keeping. Furthermore, such a conclusion of His righteousness could not have been realized UNTIL the end of His life.

Jesus is righteous by virtue of the fact that He is God’s Son. He has His own righteous nature because He was born of God, God’s offspring. He was not righteous because of His perfect law-keeping. It was intrinsic to who He is.

I can go to the NFL’s web store and order a jersey of my favorite football player, maybe Peyton Manning. When I receive that jersey in the mail I can now say I have Peyton Manning’s jersey, or I have the jersey of Peyton Manning. Does that mean that I have Peyton Manning’s ACTUAL jersey that he ACTUALLY wore when he played in games? Of course not. But it is still a jersey. It is similar (identical, like in kind) to Peyton Manning’s in every way with one exception; this one belongs to me.

Our righteousness is this way.  Does this mean that we have the ACTUAL righteousness that Christ had? Only in the sense that it is IDENTICAL to it, the exception being is that the righteousness we have actually belongs to us! Why is that? Because it was given to us the moment we were born again. It is not a covering. It is intrinsic to the nature of our being as a child of God.

Whether reformed/protestants want to admit it or not, the fact remains that their construct of righteousness is works-based justification. It might not be “us” doing the works, but works are works no matter who does them. Not only is it works-based, it is progressive, meaning it must be performed throughout one’s life. This is why there is NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever between Catholicism and Protestantism. They both believe in a works-based progressive justification. Protestants have simply taken the “work” away from us and given it to Christ. And in the process, they have made Christ’s own righteousness predicated on works.

Andy

Addendum:rc_sproul final

If you still have any doubts about the logical conclusions to which one must come when law is the standard for righteousness, consider what R.C. Sproul is on record stating.  Just about the entire authentic protestant/reformed camp threw Tullian Tchividjian under the bus because his preaching wasn’t “nuanced” enough for thier taste.  Frankly I am incredulous that they haven’t done the same with Sproul considering this quote.  Talk about lacking nuance!

Haven’t Found It Yet

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 30, 2016

Dear Reformed Brother, Was Jesus Righteous Before He Kept the Law?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 1, 2016

Time and time again, this ministry has demonstrated that the reformed standard for justification is perfect law-keeping rather than the new birth. Here is a summary of the salient premises (what reformed theology must assume to be true to arrive at their conclusion). It goes something like this:

  • Man is totally depraved.
  • Because man is totally depraved, no one can keep the law perfectly.
  • Because no one can keep the law perfectly, we need someone to keep the law on our behalf.
  • Jesus is the only one who ever kept the law perfectly.
  • Because Jesus kept the law perfectly, we must depend on Jesus to keep the law for us.
  • God “declares” us righteous because Jesus’ obedience is imputed to us.
  • When God looks at us He doesn’t “see” our sin, He only sees Christ (covering/atonement)

There might be a few more details one could add in there, but the conclusion is this:
The standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping.

The list of problems with this line of reasoning is extensive, not the least of which is the fact that the Bible says righteousness is apart from the law. But when we keep thinking about the ramifications of the above assumptions, the conclusions are obvious. In this construct, a believer is only declared righteous as long as he keeps living by “faith alone”. So if at any time he ceases to live by “faith alone” he puts his justification at risk. This means he is never really “righteous” until he gets to the end of his life. And even then, his righteousness depends on the degree to which he lived by “faith alone”. In other words, no believer can ever really “know” if he is really righteous until all the facts come in. There would have to be sufficient “proof” that reveals that his justification is authentic.

But I want to camp on a notion that I doubt very few have ever stopped to consider. If the basis of righteousness is perfect law-keeping, then how is Jesus righteous? Would not He too be required to live a perfect life? Of course the protestant response to this is a resounding, yes. They openly declare that it was by His perfect law-keeping that Jesus was righteous. That is one of the assumptions listed above. But now consider this.   How could a claim be made for Jesus’ righteousness until He had demonstrated perfect law-keeping His entire life? It is impossible to claim that Jesus was righteous before he ever demonstrated one good work. Ironically, the same standard that the reformed use for believers MUST also apply to the One who makes RC Sproul Double Imputationjustification possible according to their theology. And this just will not work because it makes Jesus’ own righteousness suspect (which the reformed conveniently do not allow for). You cannot reason something after-the-fact!

The Reformed gospel makes Jesus’ righteousness a function of works and not intrinsic to His nature. Jesus was not really righteous UNTIL He had demonstrated perfect law-keeping. Furthermore, such a conclusion of His righteousness could not have been realized UNTIL the end of His life.

Jesus is righteous by virtue of the fact that He is God’s Son. He has His own righteous nature because He was born of God, God’s offspring. He was not righteous because of His perfect law-keeping. It was intrinsic to who He is.

I can go to the NFL’s web store and order a jersey of my favorite football player, maybe Peyton Manning. When I receive that jersey in the mail I can now say I have Peyton Manning’s jersey, or I have the jersey of Peyton Manning. Does that mean that I have Peyton Manning’s ACTUAL jersey that he ACTUALLY wore when he played in games? Of course not. But it is still a jersey. It is similar (identical, like in kind) to Peyton Manning’s in every way with one exception; this one belongs to me.

Our righteousness is this way.  Does this mean that we have the ACTUAL righteousness that Christ had? Only in the sense that it is IDENTICAL to it, the exception being is that the righteousness we have actually belongs to us! Why is that? Because it was given to us the moment we were born again. It is not a covering. It is intrinsic to the nature of our being as a child of God.

Whether reformed/protestants want to admit it or not, the fact remains that their construct of righteousness is works-based justification. It might not be “us” doing the works, but works are works no matter who does them. Not only is it works-based, it is progressive, meaning it must be performed throughout one’s life. This is why there is NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever between Catholicism and Protestantism. They both believe in a works-based progressive justification. Protestants have simply taken the “work” away from us and given it to Christ. And in the process, they have made Christ’s own righteousness predicated on works.

Andy

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