Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Grace” is NOT Salvation, and Why Justification is the Antithesis of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 2, 2015

11091157_1126552080703726_3445703121797935280_nIf every verse in the Bible is not about justification, but Protestants believe that, and they do, this will redefine the Bible from cover to cover, and it does. The result is a completely upside down gospel.

For example, the internet placard that inspired this post. How does it define “grace”? Obviously, it defines grace as Christians not getting the punishment they deserve from the “righteous demands of the law.” This “mercy” “guides” you to obedience. But what “obedience”? Well, let me quote the pastor of the person who posted the placard: “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”

“You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.” What does that mean in conjunction with “mercy” leading us to this “obedience.” And, do Christians still need “mercy”? According to Protestantism, “yes.” I understand that some Protestants understand this to mean that we are motivated by God’s mercy when we don’t get the punishment that we deserve, but that is a watered down version of the authentic Protestant gospel. And anyway, true Christians no longer need mercy because we are no longer under condemnation; there is “no condemnation” for Christians. But more on the significance of that later.

The crux of the placard and the idea that Christians still need grace is well defined by some comments that were posted in regard to the placard. It starts with the idea that “grace” is synonymous with biblical justification or salvation. And since we still need “mercy” from the law as Christians, we must know how to obtain this mercy leading to keeping the law by not keeping the law. The endeavor is twofold, and exemplified in the following aforementioned comments:

MERCY is when judgement is constrained, and hence is what is being illustrated in this story by the officer letting you off the hook. But GRACE is not that judgement was constrained, but that it was conferred! It’s the picture of the officer, though acknowledging that you were guilty of trespassing the speed limit, determines that he’ll let you go on the premise that he PAID the ticket for you!

And…

What if the police officer decided to jump in the car with you. So every time you drove he’s sitting next to you and just keeps saying don’t worry about speeding I have fulfilled that law. [Viz, I kept the law for you] I’ll whisper to your heart and let you know if you are heading towards the speed limit. I just want to sit and chat with you and get to know you so well that you never ever want to speed again. Because you are forgiven and I love you.

If you think these are armchair theologians, think again. What they are saying is a mirror image of how two heavyweight Protestant theologians stated it in the following video:

What’s the idea here? Since Christians still need mercy from the righteous demands of the law, they must continually receive it by returning to the same gospel that saved them. “Grace” is defined as justification/salvation, so obviously, we must continually return to the same gospel that saved us. To most professing Christians in our day, the idea that Christians still need grace and mercy is a no-brainer and is pontificated with the often-heard, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

What is that gospel? It is twofold as exhibited by the two comments. Christ died for our sins which takes care of the penalty of sin (first comment), and then He kept the law perfectly so that His righteousness (perfect obedience) can be imputed to our Christian life. Therefore, as Christians, we continually go back to the salvation well for forgiveness and a righteousness that is not our own. That’s how we keep the law by not keeping the law: Jesus keeps it/kept it for us. The same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.

Why is this an egregious false gospel? First, we are not under the law for justification. There is no law for Jesus to keep for us. Jesus didn’t come to keep the law for us, He came to end the law… for Justification (Romans 10:4). The fulfilling of the law by Christ does not refer to Him keeping the law perfectly so that His obedience can be imputed to our sanctification.

And “grace” is NOT justification or salvation. “Grace” defines why God saved man; it’s an act of love that expects nothing in return, and of course, we need this same kind of love in our Christian lives, but that doesn’t make our sanctification a progression or specific expression of justification. The love of God is not applied to justification in the exact same way it is applied to our Christian lives (sanctification). Grace, as the reason God justified us (His unmerited love) expects nothing in return because man is utterly unable to justify himself.

However, God also displays His love (“grace” also means “help”) in regard to the purpose for which he saved us: good works…that we actually do in order to please Him. God doesn’t love Himself through us—we are not mere conduits from which God loves Himself; we in fact love God or we do not belong to Him. God’s love towards man in justification has a different application in sanctification. In the former man is completely helpless, in the latter man needs help. Both expressions of love are “grace.”

This is demonstrated by Ephesians 2:8-10…

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Grace, or charis, is a Greek word that means “a joyful benevolence.” Actually, the word has a wide variance of applications including, “favor,” “love,” “help,” “dignity,” etc. To define “grace” as synonymous with salvation is inaccurate; grace is the reason God saves, but it is also the reason God does many other things as well. Grace is also the reason that God is our advocate, comforter, co-laborer, and helper in our Christian life. In regard to our Christian life (sanctification), these words are used interchangeably (Heb 13:6, Jn 14:16 Rom 8:26).

Note verse 8: grace is the reason God saved us (John 3:16), but salvation is “the gift.” It is not the result of “works” (v.9), but the result of grace. This is where we have a radical dichotomy between justification (gift) and sanctification (reward). The two are mutually exclusive, and “grace” does not bridge the two. Gift and reward are mutually exclusive. In fact, Hebrews 6:10 says that God would be “unjust” to forget our works in sanctification. Why? Because our works in sanctification is an earned reward that deserves to be recognized. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from that passage.

The word for “works” in verse 9 is ergon which according to Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates “stands in direct antithesis” to charis (grace) and the two words are “mutually exclusive” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMG Int. 1992, p.1469). Yet, verse 10 indicates that good “ergon” or works is the purpose of salvation. Salvation is caused by grace, but works is the purpose of salvation. This is why justification and sanctification are mutually exclusive and not bridged by grace. One result of grace is the gift of salvation while the result of the other is reward. Gift and reward cannot be intermingled.

The type and kind of works were predetermined, but we are responsible to “walk” in them with God’s help. In justification, God is a savior; in sanctification, God is a “helper.”

Notice how the professing Christians of our day are obsessed with SIN. Because we are still supposedly under law and need the same “grace” that saved us, our Christianity is obsessed with failure and our dire need for more and more mercy. Life is lived under the cloud of the law, and the focus is how often the holy policemen in the sky does not write a ticket of condemnation.

A pity, because we are not under law and are rather under grace which means we seek to obey God’s law in love. The focus isn’t failure so that we can supposedly glorify God by returning to the foot of the cross, the focus is love which “covers a multitude of sin” (1Pet 4:8). We would sin a lot less if our focus was love, not the expectation of failure under the heavy burden of the law. We are not under the law of sin and death, we are under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). We strive to obey that law in love as the primary focus of our life; we dwell on love, not sin.

Moreover, if we glory in more and more mercy that saves us from the law that we are supposedly still under, that will result in a relaxing (lyō) of the law in sanctification that Christ warned us about (Matt 5:19) because after all, we can’t keep it perfectly anyway.

As Christians, our sin is family sin against our Father and can bring chastisement, but it is not sin under the condemnation of the law that requires a return to the same “grace” that saved us. That’s a false gospel. That’s under law, NOT under grace.

So, you do in fact keep the law by keeping the law, because that’s love.

paul

Jesus and Paul: The Dynamics of True Salvation: John 8:34-36

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 20, 2014

PPT HandleWords mean things. Christians should be careful that they know what words mean in the biblical sense. Protestants misunderstand the biblical definitions of many key words; really, almost all of them. This is because orthodoxy has redefined all of them. The more we see the proper definitions of key biblical words, the more we see a beautiful continuity in the truth that gives us life, and life more abundantly.

John 8:34-36 is part of what Jesus said in a debate with the religious leaders of that day, and is not only the crux of salvation, but Pauline soteriology to a “T.” Let’s look at it:

John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (ESV).

Verse 34 is a theme that Jesus focuses on in the surrounding text. Nothing that we do can make us righteous, but what we do shows who we are. Why? Because we are new creatures; we are born from above. Jesus emphasizes fruits, but the apostle Paul articulates the doctrine in his letters. What Jesus states here, and what Paul states in his epistles, is exactly the same.

The key words we must understand are: sin; son; Son; slave, and free. The word “practice” in the ESV is a good translation because it denotes the idea of a life pattern. Perfection is not in mind here. The Principle is described by Paul in Romans:

Romans 6:20 – For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The new birth is a reversal of slavery and freedom leading to a different life direction. Though an unbeliever is free to righteousness, ultimately, he/she is indifferent to the freedom of God’s truth. Certainly, an unbeliever can do righteous works because the works of God’s law are written upon the heart (Rom 2:14).

I will also agree with the ESV differentiating between “son” in verse 35 and “Son” in verse 36 via capitalization. The son in verse 35 is not the same Son in verse 36. Verse 35 speaks of the sonship of a son to the master of the house. The slave (bond servant) is not part of the family and has an uncertain length of occupancy while the son of the master will always be the master’s son.

“Slave” has three meanings here: slave to a master; slave to a law, and a slave to death. Let’s look at the first one: it is a slave to a particular master; sin. Throughout the whole Bible, sin is defined as a master.

Romans 6:17 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

Genesis 4:5 – So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Sin is an entity that desires to rule over humanity, and primarily utilizes desire to do so.

James 1:14 – But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Romans 6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The contrary master is righteousness, and this is to whom the son is enslaved. The Son has set the household slave free to be enslaved to righteousness as the son of the master.

Romans 6:18 – and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

This is also slavery to a law. Sin has its own law (Scripture). This is a law appointed to the Sin slave master by God. Only this law can define sin. No sin has been committed that is not imputed to this law and recorded as a violation against it. Sin designs its desires to refute the law. Sin uses the law of God to provoke people to sin through contrary desires.

Romans 7:5 – For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

Romans 7:8 – But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.

The Son came to die on the cross to make slaves into sons. He did this by ending the law and its condemnation. Sin can no longer condemn us.

1Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Son came to end the law, that is, the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2), so that sin can no longer condemn us through the law.

Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 5:13 – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

Romans 7:8 – …For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Therefore, those who sin are under the law (“everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin”), but Christ came to end the law, so a son cannot sin against the law. He is now under grace and NOT under law:

Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

God lent His law to sin as a covenant that would imprison all sins committed therein. It’s like a will written to all unbelievers. All sins are imputed to it until faith comes, and the inheritance is eternal life.

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.

This is where a slave becomes a son, in order to be set free from the master who has owned him since birth (Rom 7:14). Like Christ, a death must occur to free the son from the old covenant that imprisons sin, death, and condemnation.

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

The son is now free without fear of condemnation to obey the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant law of sin and death by paying the wages of sin—death, and was raised from the dead in order to conquer death as well. There is no law to condemn us, and no wage of sin to be paid. We have been bought with this price from the Sin master, and now belong to Master Righteousness.

1Corintians 6:20 – for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Being sons, purchased by the Son, and under grace, we are now free to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life by obeying Christ the righteous one:

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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