Paul's Passing Thoughts

Love: Romans 12:9,10

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on October 12, 2014

Originally posted October 30, 2013

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We now continue our study in the book of Romans, Chapter 12, and verse 9:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Last week, we looked at some gifts that God has granted to those who call on His name. Christians have different gifts that function within the body of Christ. The apostle Paul used the human body and its anatomy to illustrate this point. If organs don’t function, the body is hindered (1Corinthians 12). Paul also stated that God assigns these gifts with different levels of ability.

Not only do we see this in the Parable of the Talents, but we also see in that same parable the danger of a mentality that likens the function of the body to works salvation (Matthew 25:14-30). Notice that immediately following the condemnation of the servant who hid his talents in the ground, giving back to God what had originally been given, verses 31-46 speak of what? Love. Take note: there is grave danger in seeing your function in the body of Christ as some kind of work possibly tied to salvation. It may point to a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. We are not under the law. Justification is a finished work accomplished by God only. Sanctification is the work of our love toward God and others.

I see the same kind of fear in contemporary Christians who think that functioning in the body of Christ can be works that are connected to justification if not done exactly right; ie., by faith alone. There isn’t a freedom to work diligently because of the fear that it can affect our original salvation. Tentative body parts—that’s a problem. If you have a tentative heart, they have to fix you up with all kinds of battery operated gizmos. And that’s what we have in today’s church: tentative body parts, parts that don’t know that they are parts, and others who want an excuse for not being a part; ie., it would be works salvation. This idea is either cause for undo fear or an excuse.

But most importantly, it’s not love. God has given us an array of gifts for the purpose of loving others; so, how important are those gifts? Your gifts—the gifts that came with your salvation. Chrsit died to give you those gifts. That makes them paramount, but this other immense privilege we have is to sanctify our works with love.

Yes, we have the privilege in this life to practice the one gift that is eternal: love. ALL the other gifts will pass away, only love will continue into eternity:

1Corithians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We have to practice our gifts in order to love. Love is the only thing that continues after this life. Undoubtedly, love will function differently in eternity, but let us remember that love is defined in many different ways. Christ never partook in anything loveless. Every thought of His life and every action was in love. Think about that for a while. I fear that we have a very narrow view of love in our day.

As Christians, we love ourselves naturally (we discussed that last week), and as Christians, we are called on to love ourselves. Why? Because the best way to love ourselves is to die to self for the sake of others. Seeking self never leads to spiritual wellbeing. He who seeks his life will lose it, he who loses his life will find it (Matthew 10:39). Love is in part a selfish act. That was Paul’s point made to husbands in Ephesians 5. The idea is that not loving your wife is a metaphysical anomaly because not loving your wife is a stupid way of trying to love yourself. It’s curing a headache by smashing one of your fingers with a framing hammer—you’re not even thinking about your headache now because your finger hurts a lot more.

Of course, the world lies and states that the way to love yourself is, “If it feels good, do it.” There is this thing that Paul identifies called the “desires of the flesh.” As we have seen in our study of Romans, the unregenerate are enslaved to those desires, but free to do good. No unregenerate person is perfectly evil. But the direction of their lives is the desires of the flesh. So of course, it is no surprise that “if it feels good, do it” is the motto of their lives. Some boldly name it and claim it, others unwittingly function that way.   Saved people are enslaved to righteousness, and free to do evil. Therefore, no saved person is perfectly righteous, but they seek spiritual wellbeing, and they know that is found in dying to self. It’s a matter of being selfish according to wisdom. Obviously, one who seeks to die to self has the goal of finding his/her own life in mind, right?

Argue for or against the intrinsic value of mankind all you want, God has wired us to value life, and that life includes our own self-awareness. To value life is to value yourself—this is inescapable, unless you’re not alive, then I agree that it is a dead issue.

So, the goal of love is to define love, and seek it as our primary motivation. The works of the flesh, or the old nature that was put to death (by the way, we only have ONE nature: the new one), cannot execute love, so we must put off its way of thinking and doing, and put on the ways of the Spirit which are always of love. The old nature is dead, but still has an influence on our mortality. This, I think is a mystery, but some like Dr. Jay E. Adams posit the idea that being habituated through the old ways of living is the key to understanding the Christian’s struggle with sin. That is at least part of it.

That brings us to verse 9. In this verse, Paul teaches us how to obtain genuine love. We are to cling to all that is good, and hate all that is evil. It is a matter of investment. Where your treasure is, your heart will be there also (Mathew 6:21). No doubt, without the inward change initiated by God, there would be no real change, but that doesn’t exclude the biblical fact that outward change also facilitates inward change. The maxim, “All change comes from the inside out” is patently false. Because we believe the truth of God’s word, we make choices to do things outwardly to strengthen the inner man. Falling into sin doesn’t strengthen the inner person, so we make a choice not to enter environments of temptation. The idea that practical outward obedience doesn’t strengthen us is a bad idea and usually rooted in mysticism.

So, the way to “genuine” love is to invest in good and shun evil in the way we think, and what we do. To only dwell on the bad elements of a person is first not true, and second, will certainly lead to hatred rather than love. Divorce is almost always the result of an untrue evaluation of one’s spouse. What you want to think about a person for whatever reason doesn’t make it true. We are to evaluate others and ourselves truthfully. Also, we can invest in others to strengthen them.

This coincides with some of the elements of love Paul pointed to in 1Corithians 13. Love doesn’t delight in evil. This is my primary beef with TV shows that make humor of things that God would disapprove of. That’s delighting in evil. That’s not love. You’re not loving God by laughing about something that is evil regardless of the context. Partaking in such will devalue your appreciation for the fact that God’s Son died to save us from such. Why do we laugh about things that nailed Christ to the cross?

We also need to take heed that we don’t delight when our enemies fall into sin. That’s delighting in evil. Republicans should not delight when a Democrat president gets caught up in some kind of scandal. Treating others the same way we would want to be treated applies to our enemies as well (Luke 6:21). How would you like to be treated by your enemy? If he stumbles upon your lost oxen in the wilderness, would you want him to return it? (Exodus 23:4,5).  It was pointed out last week that self-love is a morally neutral metaphysical fact. We are wired to value life in general, including our own. This is assumed in the stated biblical goal to love others in the same we already love ourselves (Mark 12:31, Leviticus 19:18).

Be sure of this: any teaching that posits self-hatred in the vein of the whole total-depravity motif will lead to the devaluing of life in general. This is not only logical, but has been the witness of history. The idea that we can totally dismiss the value of our own lives while valuing life in general is a misnomer. In regard to the caliber of Jonathan and David’s friendship, it is said that Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself (1Samuel 20:17). That standard seems to be the zenith for mortals. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s simply reality. Remember, Paul stated that no person has ever hated themselves (Ephesians 5:29). Often, self-destructive behavior comes from anger, enslavement to “desires,” or escape. People often follow their desires to the detriment of others without consideration of whether or not they would want to be treated that way.

I like some things about cable TV; specifically, those detective shows that document real-life cases. Those shows are a spectacular insight into human behavior. I have seen many of these shows that report the following motive for murder according to the confessions of the perpetrators: they simply wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. That’s a “desire.” A desire to kill someone for the experience is an evil desire. How would they like it if someone killed them just because they wanted to know what it felt like? This is an extreme example, but it is a primary principle of this discussion and covers the whole spectrum down to the finest details of living by priorities.

And what is the priority? Love is the priority.

Verse 10 builds on this point:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Let’s consider  two of the words in this verse, first, “outdo” (proēgeomai):

To lead the way for others, i.e. show deference, prefer.

To go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader.

~Strong’s Dictionary.

This is a good example of how some have the gift of leadership, but everybody is to lead, or set the right examples. We call this “duty,” a word completely out of vogue in our day. In this particular case, the practice of our gift in context of love, or duty is “honor” (timē):

A value, i.e. money paid, or (concretely and collectively) valuables; by analogy, esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself. Honor, precious, price, sum. A valuing by which the price is fixed. The price of a thing bought or sold. Honour which belongs or is shown to one of honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds. Deference, reverence.

~Strong’s Dictionary.

This is consistent with the rest of the New Testament: leading is setting the example, it has nothing to do with authority. If someone is practicing proper leadership, and you don’t follow them, you are not benefiting yourself (Hebrews 13:17). We are to be persuaded by the proper example.

Moreover, Paul is stating that we should aspire to be the best at showing the value of others. It is the same word used in 1Peter 3:7 for how husbands are to treat their wives—they are to be highly valued. This is also the same word used throughout the New Testament, nearly 40 times, to describe the high value of God’s people. Again, I can’t help to mention that this turns the whole total depravity gig upside down. Compare this to a Reformed funeral I attended just a few weeks ago. The deceased man’s own son stood up and “honored” him by proclaiming to the hundreds there that his father was a “wicked sinner.” Others testified that this was an honorable title because the former pastor was, “all about the grace of God and the gospel.” God help us. The way we love each other in the church today is to proudly proclaim ourselves sinners.

Is this not rejoicing in evil as well?

I will not relent in calling out this great evil in our day. We have indeed arrived there by the absence of tenacious and incessant complaint. Only the absence of a great outcry could result in a man honoring his dead father by calling him a “wicked sinner.”

Let me close with Matthew 24:11, 12 –

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

Certainly, a lot more could be taught here about love, but I want to close by making the point that love needs to be defined biblically. Christ, in speaking of the latter days, states that lawlessness will be increased by false teachers. The word “lawlessness” is anomia—it means to be contrary to the law of God in particular. The result of that will be the absence of love and a irreverence for life following.

And I believe we are in those days. Let us teach and practice a biblical love.

Romans Overview: Law

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 27, 2014

Romans 13:8-10; The Law in Sanctification and Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 11, 2014

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This series began on September 29th 2012, and we are on lesson # 50. The series has been heavily predicated on interpreting the Bible with the Bible, drawing conclusions from the literal grammatical sense, and prayer. This approach has paid off abundantly. More than anything, I hope it inspires Christians to know that they can study and understand the Scriptures for themselves. In fact, that is their calling.

Romans 13:8 should get waaaaay more press than it does. It should truly be one of the John 3:16s of the Bible. This is the love side of the law. Justification takes care of the judgment side of the law, sanctification takes care of the love side of the law. Woe unto us because many Christians in our day do not understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Those are supposedly words that are “50-cent theology terms.” God help us. Not only are those specific Bible words, but the two together define LOVE! Oh my! Where are we as Christians if we don’t understand love? But yet, it is impossible to understand love if you don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification. Does there seem to be a problem with the church today? By the grace of God it is not much worse!

Let’s begin by reading verses 8:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

In this life, there is one debt that will never be paid between believers: love. The ability to love each other was not free, God sacrificed His only Son to make love between us possible. Also note: Christ died in this realm, and it was no less grievous to the Father accordingly. Christ was not sacrificed in heaven, He was sacrificed on earth. Hence, this realm has spiritual value. Hence, this realm matters. God will dwell with us on earth. This life has value. It will be redeemed by God. Watch out for any man who deems this life as worthless—mark him and be wary of him.

Pivotal to understanding verse 8 is the antonymic James 2:10. Let’s read it now:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

Stop right there. This is where we plunge the depths of salvation. It encompasses a full understanding of law; i.e., accountability, justification, and sanctification. First, what is “law”? Certainly it includes the Ten Commandments, but when we speak of the law, we are really using a term that describes the full counsel of God encompassed in the Scriptures. We do not live by bread alone, but by EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). That is not only the Ten Commandments or the law of Moses, that is the whole Bible. Another point here is Matthew 5:17,18;

17  Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Here Christ unites the prophets and the law under “law.” In Luke 24:27, He unites the writings of Moses and the prophets with “all the Scriptures.” Also note that Christ didn’t come to fulfill the law during His earthly ministry as some teach, for nothing of the law will be lost “until all is accomplished.” Obviously, there is prophecy yet to be fulfilled and heaven and earth hasn’t passed away yet. We will yet discuss what Christ meant by “fulfilling” the law.

Back to James 2:10. If one breaks one element of the law of God, he is guilty of breaking all of it, and he is “accountable” to the whole law. In other words, he is under it. He is convicted as a “transgressor,” or a “lawbreaker.” James’ primary point is those who take a lax view of the law show themselves as still under the law. Christ agreed:

Matthew 5:19 – Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Christ came to die on the cross to release us from “accountability” to the law. But, He also came to die on the cross to fulfill the law through us. His death declared us righteous apart from the law and released us from the accountability to it in order to be justified. That’s justification. Believing in Christ’s death on the cross justifies us apart from the law. Christ is the end of the law for justification…

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

This verse could be well worded in this way: “For Christ is the end of the law for justification to everyone who believes. Be sure of this: interpreting all of Scripture in regard to …for justification and …for sanctification is a key method for understanding the Bible. Be also sure of this: many Christians in our day do not understand their Bibles because they don’t understand the difference between justification and sanctification. The institutional church has deliberately excluded this teaching so that congregants have to depend on men to understand their Bibles. You can quote me on that—it is a deliberate control ploy. Please quote me accordingly. I stand by the statement 200%.

This is justification. It was accomplished by the imputation of all of our law-breaking to Christ. He who knew no sin became sin for us, and bore the penalty for us on the cross so that we would become the righteousness of God (2Corithians 5:21). And by the way, when we believe in Christ, it’s the righteousness of God the Father that is imputed to us, not Christ’s righteousness. Of course, Christ is no less righteous, but to say that it is the righteousness of Christ that was imputed to us, something the Bible NEVER states, is to confound Trinitarian salvation—it is Christ’s death and the imputation of our sins to Him, and the Imputation of the Father’s righteousness to us—this is an important distinction because that is technically how the Bible states it.

This is justification, the epic act of love towards us by God. It is a debt of sin that has been paid in full by Christ. There is no way we can repay it. We come and drink of these living waters for free. It is free to us, but it required the sacrifice of God’s Son. Christ paid the debt of sin for us. We are no longer accountable to the law. The law has been ended by Christ…FOR JUSTIFCATION. Justification is apart from the law.

But the story now continues in regard to sanctification. Something else besides our sin died with Christ when our sins were imputed to Him: us. When we believe in Christ the old us and our accountability to the law dies. But something was also resurrected with Christ when He arose from the dead on the third day: us. The new us finds life and love in the law. Accountability to the law before salvation could only bring death, but now the law is our standard for love. We love God through obedience to the law as an outflow of our new nature, and we are indebted to each other in love. In the same way that breaking the law at one point violated all of the law, one act of love fulfills the whole law. That’s verse 8. I don’t understand it, but it is no less true: every time you love someone—you fulfil the whole law. By DISOBEYING the law at one point before salvation, you were guilty of breaking all of it. Justification saved us from that. By one act of obedience to the law in sanctification, you fulfill the whole law.

Fulfilling the law by loving God and others, that’s sanctification. Our attitude towards Scripture indicates whether we are under law or under grace. We are learners in regard to discovering new ways in the Bible to love God and others—that’s discipleship. Obedience to the law reflected on justification will hinder love—it is not the perfect law of liberty that James wrote of. The law is different in sanctification. We love the law because it teaches us to love God and others. It puts deeds of darkness to death and fulfills the law through us, hence:

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.

Before salvation, the law is the “law of sin and death” that condemns. After salvation, it is the “law of the Spirit of life” and the “perfect law of liberty.” It is a law that gives life—it is the Spirit’s law. It is a law that informs our love and can no longer condemn us. It is a law that judges our love in sanctification, but not for justification.

It reverses our life direction because it reverses our slavery. Before salvation, we were enslaved to sin while able to do good or enslaved to sin and free in regard to righteousness (Rom 6:20). With those under law, perfect righteousness is a demand; with those under grace, perfect righteousness is the goal because love is the goal. No person sins perfectly before salvation, and no person loves perfectly after salvation; change of overall direction and attitudes towards the law is the issue. A lax attitude towards the law is not indicative of the new birth. We now love the law that we are no longer accountable to for justification.

So, in justification: we are no longer accountable to the law; we have the righteousness of God imputed to us; our sins are imputed to Christ, and He paid the penalty for them, and we died with Him; we are quickened—made alive by the Holy Spirit, and regenerated with the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Eph 1:19, 20, Jn 3: 4-8). We are declared righteous by the Father, our sins are imputed to Christ, and we are born again by the Spirit. This is not only a positional righteousness, we are in fact righteous. Being yet in a mortal body harassed by sinful desires does not negate the fact that we are born of God:

1John 3:7 – Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

“Seed” in verse 9 is the following word:

g4690. σπέρμα sperma; from 4687; something sown, i. e. seed (including the male “sperm”); by implication, offspring; specially, a remnant (figuratively, as if kept over for planting):— issue, seed.

We are God’s offspring in the truest sense though in mortal bodies. This life in us cannot help but to bring about the different direction. The “flesh” no longer enslaves us because the former self died with Christ. In regard to justification, we no longer live, and therefore are not under the law:

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.

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.

As we learned earlier in the book of Romans, being under the law provokes us to sin against the law. The flesh, which was alive, provoked us to sin against the law leading up to the day when we would be judged by the law. This is what Paul is talking about in one of the most abused portions of Scripture in our day:

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

“See, see, we live by faith alone in the Christian life. We are still spiritually dead in our Christian life, and it is only Christ who lives in us.” That notion needs to be answered with Romans 7:1-6. Dying with Christ made us dead to the law, but alive to the law of the Spirit which is the same law that formally brought forth fruits of death. Let’s look at Galatians 2:20 in the larger context:

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness [earlier ESV “justification”] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

What do you notice in context regarding the underlined words? The context is clearly justification. Galatians 2:20 is just another way of stating Romans 7:1-6. Paul is saying that it is impossible to be justified by the law because when we died with Christ, we died to the law which made us alive to God and the law of the Spirit. The law was letters of death while we were under it. Hence, Paul concludes his thought in Gal 2:21 by saying that if we are still under the law, Christ died for nothing. We were made dead to the law and alive to God by faith alone in Christ. That’s what that verse is stating. Again, it’s another way of stating Romans 7:1-6.

In regard to justification, it is not us who live, but Christ. That doesn’t mean we are also dead to the law in sanctification.

When someone using Gal 2:20 to teach a sanctification by faith alone, you need to correct them with Rom 7:1-6. You should also inform them that they do not know the difference between justification and sanctification. We are justified by faith alone, but sanctification (discipleship) is not by faith alone. James wrote to the 12 tribes of Israel to refute that very idea.

Now, in sanctification, we love God by obeying the law, and the Holy Spirit is our Helper in doing so. This is sanctification, not justification:

John 14:12 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

Notice that Christ did not come to fulfill the law on His own. Notice that the exact works of Christ are not imputed to us for justification; in fact, He states that we will do greater works than He did! And know what the Spirit of truth uses to sanctify us:

John 17:16 – They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Learning and obeying truth is the only way to love God and His people. What we have today is a lot of discussion about loving each other without the knowledge to do so. Love among the doctrinally illiterate is an oxymoron. Replacing the hard work of discipleship in the church with love bombing is an epidemic. Undoubtedly, the main point of this message focuses on the paramount importance of the law in sanctification for effectively loving each other. Devaluing the law in sanctification is the very essence of antinomianism, and Christ said that the hearts of many will wax cold in the last days “because of anomia.” And we are in those days.

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The Potter’s House 5/19/2013: The Gospel Truth About Israel (Part 2); “All Israel Will be Saved”

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 21, 2013

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JUDGEMENTS (2)

The Potter’s House 5/19/2013: The Gospel Truth About Israel (Part 1); “All Israel Will be Saved”

“The idea that all of national Israel will be saved is absolutely huge in understanding prophecy and its connection to the gospel.”  

We are now very near to the end of our study on justification. Please pray for me as we will continue in the book of Romans and take a sharp right turn into the arena of Christian living. The apostle Paul is going to teach us how to obtain a powerful life to the glory of our Father. That starts in Romans 12.

The first eleven chapters in Romans are about justification. The gospel of first importance. How we are reconciled to God. How we tell others to be reconciled to God. And how those that we are trying to reconcile think. What man’s greatest need is, and what makes him tick. But there is another gospel as well: the good news of kingdom living. The perfect law of liberty that sets us free.

Paul finishes his treatise on justification with a major element thereof: the issue of national Israel. As we have seen, national Israel was elected by God, and there is a remnant within Israel that is also elected. We have seen clearly that God had a specific purpose in election—to completely eradicate man from any participation in his eternal security. If we were not born again with a heart enslaved to the desires of the Holy Spirit we would have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to live according to the law in our Christian life….for justification. And look, all of the Bible must be interpreting with this prism: [Bible verse]….for justification; or,[Bible verse]….for sanctification. The Bible is divided into those two subjects.  Beware of any man who applies justification verses to sanctification issues. Mark that man and flee from him. The law has NOTHING to say to us….for justification. It has plenty to say to us….for sanctification.
And know this, know this shocking revelation (ROM 11:25): If Paul’s prayer in Romans 10:1 is not answered in the affirmative, no one, but no one is saved:

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Listen, Romans 10-11 is a sermon manuscript in and of itself. It’s self-explanatory. Paul opens with that prayer in verse one, and closes with the following statement preceding his doxology in Romans 11:

26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (ISA 59: 20, 21).

In what way? In what way will Israel be saved? As we will see, there is yet another purpose in God’s election. Paul shortly revisits justification fundamentals in regard to national Israel’s rebellion which is, as we will see, used by God in His second great purpose of election. Paul’s sermon here is really about the two great purposes of God’s election.

And note: “ALL” Israel will be saved. Stop right there. Please do not believe the lie that eschatology cannot be understood definitively. Please do not believe that it is “secondary,” “nonessential” truth. We have bought into that because of the confusion surrounding the subject of Israel. If there is a time that ALL of national Israel will be saved, and obviously that is the case, this is a key interpretive element in understanding eschatology. AND justification. AND the gospel. 25% of the Bible being about eschatology is not an aside—it’s not a preface—it’s gospel.

The idea that all of national Israel will be save is absolutely huge in understanding prophecy and its connection to the gospel. First, let’s go back in time and establish that this was God’s original purpose for Israel:

Exodus 19:3 – while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God’s original covenant with Israel was contingent on His promise alone, or “the promise.” When God made this covenant with the father of our faith, God put Abram into a deep sleep and consummated the promise himself:

Genesis 15:1 – After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

And the plan always included the Gentiles being grafted in (blessed) “through” God’s covenant with Israel:

Genesis 12:1 – Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Genesis 17:1 – When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Genesis 22:15 – And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

In regard to the Mt. Sinai covenant, national Israel did break it for the most part except for the remnant chosen by God. But God used that rebellion, prophesied in the original covenant, to bless the Gentiles while adding another covenant to the original covenant:

Jeremiah 31:31 – “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name: 36 “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the Lord, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.” 37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.”

38 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

The New Covenant was never made between God and the Gentiles—it was made with Israel. Nor is the covenant fully consummated. We presently enjoy the blessings of the New Covenant by Jewish proxy. What God said He was going to accomplish in the New Covenant is clearly not fulfilled. Many need to simply get over it: the saving of national Israel is yet future. But when? And what relationship does that have to justification?

Obviously, those who want to make weak distinctions between justification and sanctification (resulting in passive sanctification) do not want to separate the two in prophetic interpretations. Popular in our day and indicative of Protestant tradition is the idea of one resurrection and one judgment. More than one resurrection and judgment opens up the door to distinctions between justification and sanctification as well as Jewish uniqueness. The latter is has always been the scourge of worldly sentiment dressed in religious garb. Moreover, the idea of one final judgment to determine who is truly justified and who isn’t is somewhat disconcerting to anyone who understands justification. The idea that our justification is a settled issue is far more desirable, and I contend, biblical. Notice the excerpt below from a video interview conducted with John Piper:

PIPER JUSTIFICATION

Notice “last day” is singular and we are only then going to be counted righteousness. Such an assertion gives us pause in light of Romans 8:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (PS 44:22).

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Election calls for us to be counted righteous before the earth was even created. It is a settled issue presently. During the 2009 Resolved Conference, Pastor Steve Lawson preached on the Great White Throne Judgment. Throughout the message, it was unclear where he stands on whether or not believers will stand in the same judgment with unbelievers to determine final justification. But throughout the message he seemed to insinuate that believers would not be present. I thought this odd knowing that he is an avowed Calvinist. That is, until he connected Matthew 25:31-46 with the final judgment. That is a judgment where the sheep are separated from the goats among all the nations gathered before Him. Is that the scene at the Great White Throne Judgment? And obviously, if it is, this is where our final justification would be confirmed.

Furthermore, in this particular judgment, not all of Israel is saved. This is the judgment that follows the return of Christ visibly with myriads of angels. The scene is extremely apocalyptic:

Luke 21:25 – “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Matthew 24:27 – For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

However, at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, and preceding the Great White Throne Judgment, there is no visible return of Christ. When the armies of all the other nations surround Israel, God merely rains fire down from heaven and consumes them:

Revelation 20:1 – Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Furthermore, prior to the Great White Throne Judgment, Satan is bound for 1000 years. This is certainly not the case prior to the Millennial Kingdom. During the tribulation period, Satan is free to wreak havoc on the earth. More than likely, the judgment Steve Lawson referred to is known as the judgment of the nations at the end of the tribulation period. Those who will be commended by Christ at that judgment are commended for helping people with needs that will not be present during the Millennial Kingdom:

Matthew 25:31 – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Until the day Satan is released, a mass of Scriptures describe the Millennial Kingdom as paradise on earth. Also note REV 20:4—there is also a judgment in which those slain for their faith during the tribulation period stand. These are multiple judgment thrones, and probably the same ones Christ referred to in a discussion with His disciples:

Matthew 19:27 – Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Christ’s “glorious throne” is the same one He refers to regarding the judgment of the nations. Apparently, at the end of the tribulation period, Christ will judge the nations and the apostles will judge the elect of Israel in regard to rewards and how they will rein with Christ for the next 1000 years. I think the Judgment Christ speaks of in Matthew 7:21-23 refers to the judgment of the nations during that time. In both cases, “lawlessness (anomia)” and false wonders/miracles are a major theme. In both cases, entering into the kingdom of heaven is a theme, but there is no such theme at the White Throne Judgment because it is a judgment connected in totality to the “second death.”  Besides, what follows would be an entering into the new heavens and new earth—not the kingdom of heaven on earth. This is a given because all who are not at this judgment have received their invitation to the wedding supper of the lamb (REV 19:9) which takes place when the Bride arrives from heaven (REV 21:9-14).

Moreover, during the Millennial Kingdom, all of the inhabitants of national Israel will be saved:

Revelation 20:7 – And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

I believe Paul’s reference to ALL of national Israel being saved is encompassed in the 20th chapter of Revelation. That begins when God sends His angels to enforce the Mt. Sinai covenant during the tribulation period. The angels put the covenant in place at Mt. Sinai (GAL 3:19). That’s why there are direct references to that covenant in Revelation. For example:

Revelation 6:9 – When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” [Alter of incense].

Revelation 8:3 – And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,[a] flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Revelation 11: 19 – Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

The final judgment to consider is the bema judgment (1COR 3:10-15, 2COR 5:10). This is a judgment for rewards and probably occurs shortly after the rapture since the twenty- four elders in REV 4:10 already have their crowns. This is also distinct from the White Throne Judgment because everyone at that judgment has died. That’s not the case with the rapture (1THES 4:13-5:4, 2THES 2:1-12, 1COR 15: 51-53, LK 14:12-14). The main distinction between the judgment of the nations and the rapture is that one is imminent while tribulation events are marked by time periods. So, from the signing of the treaty between Israel and the Antichrist (God strictly forbade the signing of covenants with other nations for protection at Mt. Sinai) to the visible apocalyptic return of Christ will be exactly seven years. It is not an imminent return, and unlike the rapture is not a meeting with Christ in the air.

At any rate, the idea that eschatology is too deep and mysterious to be definitively understood is just more Protestant boloney. It doesn’t make sense that a subject comprising 25% of the Bible has no objective outcome as if it’s God’s goal to keep us confounded. The following chart illustrates what we have discussed thus far:

Judgements 2 (2)

I contend that the issue here is the relationship of eschatology to the gospel. One resurrection and one judgment argues for progressive justification. “Final justification,”  while giving a node to once saved always saved actually calls for an ambiguous final judgment where the elect’s justification is “manifested” and confirmed. If God knows we are justified, and we know we are justified (1JN 5:13) why is such a confirmation hearing necessary? Many in Reformed circles, if not most, posit the idea that the prize we seek in the Christian race is salvation itself. We must keep ourselves “qualified” by faith alone in sanctification in order to not be “disqualified” from the race. Some even suggest “mutable justification” as opposed to immutable justification. A wink and a node is given to once saved always saved with “already not yet.”

How we are saved effects how things end. All of Israel will be saved because the New Covenant is dependent on what God does, and not anything Israel has done or will do. Likewise, the security of our own salvation does not depend on anything we do in sanctification. Seeing the biblically defined power of God in our lives certainly bolsters our assurance, but the work of justification is finished. We are all like that thief on the cross; all he could do was believe and ask for mercy, and with that Christ declared that he would be in paradise that same day. Likewise, in Romans 8:30, we are declared glorified already; it is finished, it is as good as done.

Potter H. 1

Excerpt from this Sunday’s Potter’s House Message

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 17, 2013
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