Paul's Passing Thoughts

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.

“Slave”: Bad Company Corrupts Good Theology

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 6, 2011

For many years John MacArthur’s teachings from the Bible have had a tremendous impact on my life. I always received his teachings as well balanced between showing God’s greatness and sovereignty, imparting encouragement, and teaching practical application. He also did a great job of relating how the Christian walk is experienced in real life. Certainly, I have never deemed his teachings as “not vertical enough.” But trust me, his latest book, “Slave” is plenty vertical. In recent years, I have noticed a considerable decrease of practical application in MacArthur’s teachings, and “Slave” is no exception.

The back cover states the following by way of introduction: “A cover-up of biblical proportions. Centuries ago, English translators perpetrated a fraud in the New Testament, and it’s been purposely hidden and covered up ever since. Your own Bible is probably included in the cover-up!

In this book, John MacArthur unveils the essential and clarifying revelation that may be keeping you from a fulfilling-and correct-relationship with God. It’s powerful. It’s controversial. And with new eyes you’ll see the riches of your salvation in a radically new way.

What does it mean to be a Christian the way Jesus defined it? MacArthur says it all boils down to one word: SLAVE.”

In fact, the book is an awesome resource, probably THE resource, in showing the true significance, as stated in the Bible, regarding our slave / Lord relationship with Christ. MacArthur begins by giving a detailed historical account of how “bond slave” was re-translated as “[hired] servant” with much lighter implications for seeing our true relationship with the Savior. MacArthur then proceeds to to give an in-depth historical account of slavery during biblical times and how the prophets, the apostles, and Christ used that contemporary reality to illustrate truth about redemption and our relationship with the lord.

As an aside, if you have ever wrestled with the question of ecclesiastical authority verses the authority of Scripture, note pages 60-68. Good stuff, and it will put that question to bed.

A huuuuuuge portion of the book is about God’s sovereignty in justification and sanctification. Got any friends you want to convert to Calvinism? It is one of the most painstaking apologies for Calvinism that I have ever read.

So, after the excellent historical case and roughly 150 pages of monergism, MacArthur got into some practical application on page 183; slaves will be judged based on their performance at the judgment seat of Christ. A great motivation to partake in the “O” word. And then it happened; on page 186, he quotes none other than John Piper. As much as I love MacArthur, he just drives me nuts when he does that. Why? Well, a major theme throughout the book is the biblical concept of being set free from the slavery of sin and made free in slavery to Christ. Piper believes the exact opposite! Piper states the following in “Treating Delight as Duty is Controversial”:

“Yes, it becomes increasingly evident that the experience of joy in God is beyond what the sinful heart can do. It goes against our nature. We are enslaved to pleasure in other things (Romans 6:17).”

Notice Piper quotes Romans 6:17 to make his point about “our” nature and: “We” [are]. Romans 6:17 reads as follows:

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.”

Piper uses the Romans passage, which is clearly in the past tense, to teach that Christians are still enslaved to sin. He routinely gets a pass on this sort of thing. Furthermore, Mac quotes Piper twice in the book (page 207 also) for good measure in his endeavor to heap creditability on Piper who also contradicts another major theme in the book; specifically, that we must accept the whole person of Christ which is Lord and Savior. Piper believes the following:

“Could it be that today the most straightforward biblical command for conversion is not, ‘Believe in the Lord,’ but, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord’?” (Desiring God page 55).

MacArthur also wrote a glowing forward in Piper’s book, “Desiring God” despite the fact that the book contains outrageous statements by Piper:

“Unless a man be born again into a Christian Hedonist he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Desiring God page 55).

“The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an ‘extra’ that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith” (Desiring God page 69).

“Not everybody is saved from God’s wrath just because Christ died for sinners. There is a condition we must meet in order to be saved. I want to try to show that the condition…is nothing less than the creation of a Christian Hedonist” (Desiring God page 61).

Hence, creepy similarities to Piper’s theology appear in “Slave,” especially Pipers belief that true Christian obedience is always experienced as an unhesitating, natural response accompanied by joy. Throughout the book, MacArthur describes Christian obedience as “pure delight” and “joy-filled.” On page 208, he describes our experience as slaves to Christ as “not partially sweet and partially sour, but totally sweet.” This, despite what the apostle John clearly experienced as recorded in Revelation. But regardless of the fact that there is nothing sweeter than being a slave of Christ, to suggest that our experience is never mixed with bitterness (taste, not attitude) is just plain nonsense. A believer who has lost an unbelieving relative or close friend would be an example. Also, even though I realize the importance of joy in the Christian life, I make this observation in “Another Gospel” (page 78):

“Only problem is, among many, is the eleventh chapter of Hebrews contradicts everything in Piper’s statement above. Hebrews 11 is one of the more extensive statements on saving faith in Holy writ. The Hebrew writer defines the faith of at least twenty believers in regard to the decisions they made and obedience. Joy or pleasure, even pleasure in God, is not named once as being an attribute of their faith. The only semblance of feelings or emotions mentioned is that of strife and fear of God more than man. The truth of Hebrews 11, as well as many other Scriptures, makes a mockery of Piper’s theory of Christian hedonism.”