Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

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

Potters House logo 2

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.

Potter H. 1

The Formal Launching of the Potter’s House: Why?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 23, 2013

Potters House logo“Christian fathers have been sold a bill of goods. They have been told by the inept Christian academia of our day that they are not qualified to teach their families the word of God. Supposedly, the academiacs are the experts, but all they have done is regurgitated Reformed orthodoxy and tradition for hundreds of years.”

I became a Christian in Dallas, TX circa 1982. I was pursued by a young Christian zealot named Mark Cline. Mark was an individual whose life commanded respect from the saved and unsaved alike. Mark was a member of the Prestonwood Baptist mega-church located in Plano, TX during its infancy. I often visited with Mark and associated with the young singles group there. Mark died unexpectedly during minor surgery; an event that facilitated my full commitment to Christ. I now know why God took Mark home; the insidious scandals that where revealed at Prestonwood shortly after Marks death would have absolutely crushed him. The infamous womanizing founder of the church, Dr. Bill Weber, who Mark had infinite respect for actually conducted Mark’s funeral.

I moved on and eventually joined Richardson East Baptist Church where my calling to the ministry was formally recognized four years later. The pastors that participated are men of qualities hard to find in our day—that means a lot to me. But as one who grew up in the faith as a Southern Baptist, being Protestant has always been the greatest challenge in maintaining my faith. How can I still have complete faith in God and His Son after all that I have witnessed among Southern Baptists? It can only be chalked up to saving faith.

Recently, I have finally concluded what the problem is. It’s our foundation. Protestantism itself is the problem. First of all, it was founded on the false gospel of progression justification; that was Luther and Calvin’s gospel. Protestantism is a religion founded on a false gospel—it’s just that simple. Empowering the laity and starting home fellowships is not a radical alternative, it’s the only solution. “That’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater!” Absolutely, the baby is a Nephilim. That’s what Christians have to come to grips with in our day: the Western church was built on a faulty foundation. The only true road to revival is a rebuilding on the authority of God’s word. The anemic American church’s lust for control and indifference to spiritual abuse does not happen in a vacuum—it happens because of the pagan foundation it is built on.

Thank goodness for the New Calvinism movement. It is responsible for drawing attention to the real problem. Authentic tyrannical Reformation doctrine oscillates between the weakness/easy believeism that it created and New Calvinist resurgences claiming that the full dose of the disease is the cure for Calvinism Light. The president of Southern Seminary recently stated that Reformed theology in the form of New Calvinism is the “only alternative” for the present condition of the church. He failed to mention that Reformed theology is responsible for the present condition of the church to begin with.

In contrast, Susan and I have learned more about Christianity in the past six months than we have in the combined eighty years of our Christian lives. And I wonder if we haven’t had a bigger impact in the lives of others than we ever have as well. This is the result of merely studying the Bible for ourselves, and with the minds God gave us. But the statement by Al Mohler really incited me to make the Potter’s House an official church. Susan and I have filed the necessary papers with the state of Ohio. The Potter’s House will operate as a non-profit organization under TTANC L.L.C. (a non-profit LLC). Our Sunday evening Bible study will start at 7PM and will be streamed live weekly. All are invited to join us.

We endeavor to incite others to be the alternative to the formal church’s present-day tyranny and arrogance born of the Reformation. Christian fathers have been sold a bill of goods. They have been told by the inept Christian academia of our day that they are not qualified to teach their families the word of God. Supposedly, the academiacs are the experts, but all they have done is regurgitated Reformed orthodoxy and tradition for hundreds of years.

We hope to publish materials that will aid the laity in teaching their families the word of God. We hope this will be a major thrust of our ministry. Our present materials can be found at tancpublishing.com. We also have plans to start a Bible Institute as well.

Our new church website address is freebereans.blogspot.com. It is also the location of our live feed for the Sunday Bible studies.

Because only truth sanctifies,

Paul and Susan Dohse

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

Potters House logo

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

The Potter’s House: Elect Israel and Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 14, 2013

Potters House logo

“The future of Israel is far from being a ‘non-essential secondary issue.’ If you don’t understand Israel’s election, you don’t understand your own election.”

 “Works do not flow from justification—they flow from the new birth. They flow from the surviving spouse that is no longer under the marriage covenant of the law.  Two different things entirely are pursued in each: justification is pursued by faith alone; in sanctification, fruit is pursued for the purpose of pleasing God.”

The first eleven chapters of Romans are about justification and its contrast to sanctification. We have learned that the express purpose of election is to remove all works from justification:

Romans 9:11- though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Election is not something that we should take and mold into a doctrine of fatalistic determinism. Many times, such doctrines translate into “Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Or, “Who is God to find fault for who can resist His will?” I find agreement in statements that I have heard from other pastors: “God’s offer to the lost is a legitimate offer,” and “I don’t understand how God weaves His sovereignty together with our will.”

Election, as clearly stated in Romans 9:11, is for the purpose of completely removing any element of our works in justification. The purpose of election is not endless debate; the sole purpose is clearly stated. Nothing that we do in sanctification can affect what God chose to do before the world was created. We are free to pursue righteousness in sanctification freely and without fearful introspection. We have one motive; to please God. Paul said that we MAKE that our motive:

2 Corinthians 5:9 – So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

I also find it interesting that in context Paul is talking about this life and our afterlife, and in our afterlife, it will still be our goal to please the Lord. In eternity, we will still have goals. So, how important are GOALS in this life?

But all in all, I believe election creates a radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification. In fact, in one respect, those who teach that we can’t lose our salvation even if we deny the Lord are technically correct. But as we have learned in the book of Romans, there is a hitch called the new birth. Once born again, we are enslaved to righteousness:

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

We have also learned that to be set free from sin is synonymous with being set free from the law. Paul called this the law of sin (ROM 7:23). How can this be? How can we be free from the law and enslaved to its righteous requirements at the same time? That’s where the radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification must be true. For the believer there is no righteous requirement of the law in justification; we are justified by a righteousness that is apart from the law. In sanctification we are enslaved to the righteous requirement of the law. We don’t keep the law perfectly, but that doesn’t have any effect on our justification. If we don’t act like we are enslaved to the law by a willing spirit it brings our salvation into doubt. We may still be under law and not under grace. We cannot review the following too often in our day:

Lost = under law = will be judged by the law + provoked to sin by the law + and enslaved to sin.

Saved = under grace = will not be judged by the law + declared righteous apart from the law + provoked to righteousness by the law + enslaved to righteousness + able to please God by law-keeping.

We are now going to talk about the election of Israel as a nation and how that relates to this very subject of justification and sanctification, and the difference between the pursuits thereof. First of all, be sure of this: Israel was elected as a nation and all of God’s desires that Israel will be a holy nation before Him will be realized because God has determined it. Paul closes out his subject of justification, or the gospel if you will, with Israel as the context in Chapters 9-11. Chapter 12 begins instruction regarding life application in sanctification. Sanctification will not be successful without a proper understanding of justification. What’s wrong with the American church? Few Christians understand the difference between the two. They even understand less about how Israel fits into that understanding.

Just because national Israel was rebellious doesn’t mean that they weren’t elected, nor does it mean that election offers an opportunity to be saved, but then you have to do something to keep yourself in God’s family. Or, NOT do something to keep you in God’s family. If you have to not work in sanctification to keep your salvation, that’s working at not doing anything. In so-called “do’s and don’ts” the “don’ts” are works as much as the “do’s. “Living by a list” of such requires both. What we do in sanctification is a natural result of the new birth and totally separate from justification.

Listen, your attitude towards Israel reveals what you believe about justification. The future of Israel is far from being a “non-essential secondary issue.” If you don’t understand Israel’s election, you don’t understand your own election. Israel is the head and not the tail. They will always be prominent in God’s plan to reconcile himself to man. As Christ said to the woman at the well, “Salvation is of the Jews.” This is why Paul tells the Romans the following:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

Paul also stated the irrevocable position of Israel in redemption and what “belongs” to them (present tense):

Romans 9:1 – I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Anyone who is saved belongs to the commonwealth of Israel. Israel’s identity before God has not been diminished by the engrafting of the Gentiles:

Romans 11:28 – As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

So, national Israel is elected, and then there is a remnant within Israel that is elected, but the non-elect within Israel doesn’t mean Israel is not elected. This is because the general offspring of Abraham, (national Israel) are divided into children of the flesh and children of the promise:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

In the first case, if the promise came through Ishmael rather than Isaac, that’s a problem because Abraham and Sarah tried to help God in producing the offspring. Remember, Hagar gave birth to a nation via Ishmael (GEN 16:10). The offspring would come through the promised miracle, Isaac. Then when Isaac’s wife Rebekah became pregnant, the Lord told her that there were “two nations” in her womb (GEN 25:23). Look, there is only salvation through one nation, Israel, and not multiple nations. Muhammad didn’t come out of Israel. Buddha didn’t come out of Israel.  Sun Myung Moon didn’t come out of Israel. I find it curious that you never hear of a false Christ being rejected on that fact alone.

And in Israel, there is a single “seed” not “seeds.” This is the offspring from which Christ was born and was sustained by God’s work alone and many miracles. This offspring (singular) is also associated with “the promises” and “promise” as opposed to law. Hence, Paul states the following in Galatians:

Galatians 3:16 – Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Those who don’t pursue righteousness by the promise alone are under the law which is synonymous with being enslaved to the flesh….

Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.

Paul also refers to the fact that those under the law, and in slavery to the flesh, will also be judged by the law:

Galatians 3:10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

In Romans, Paul refers to being under the law as a marriage covenant in which the old us that was under the law has died, as is represented as a spouse under that covenant:

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.

You can also tie this back into Galatians 3:10 ff. in that the old spouse (the former us) died with Christ when He became a curse for us and bore our sins on the cross. We, and our sins, died with Christ:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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.

Below is a chart that organizes the preceding thoughts visually:

Elect Nation

Let me move on to the primary point I want to make with the following verses in Romans 9:

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”

Paul’s obvious point is that without God’s election, calling, and promise of the seed, neither Jew nor Gentile would be saved, but salvation is still of the Jews. There are many Israelites that will not be saved because they pursued righteousness by “a” law, and not by faith. Here is an important point: when Paul states that many pursue righteousness by the law, he is not speaking of a sincere effort to truly keep “the” law, it is always “a” law of their own picking and choosing; primarily, the traditions of men. In Galatians, I believe a doctrine was being taught that propagated the idea of salvation by circumcision along with a loose commitment to the rest of Scripture (GAL 4:2-6).

This brings us to the last point:

Romans 9:30 – What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Justification is pursued by faith alone, but once it is obtained, we are free to pursue fruit in sanctification. In fact, we are commanded many times to do just that in sanctification. This is a primary difference between justification and sanctification. Salvation can only be pursued by faith, but once saved we are to pursue fruit:

 Romans 14:19 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1 Corinthians 14:1- Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

1 Timothy 6:11- But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

1 Peter 3:11- let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Now, in our day we must consider that most churches teach us that we must pursue justification, and that fruits will flow from justification as we continually pursue a deeper and deeper knowledge of justification. See the below illustration:

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE

CLICK ON TO ENLARGE

So, a pursuit of fruits directly makes “the fruit the root.” Others call it “fruit stapling” because it doesn’t flow from the roots of justification. But election makes justification a finished work. Works do not flow from justification—they flow from the new birth. They flow from the surviving spouse that is no longer under the marriage covenant of the law.  Two different things entirely are pursued in each: justification is pursued by faith alone; in sanctification, fruit is pursued for the purpose of pleasing God.

The Holy Spirit is not an inept communicator; if He wanted us to primarily pursue justification in order to properly produce fruit, why wouldn’t He simply state that rather than stating in no uncertain terms that we are to pursue the fruits directly instead?

DSCN0283

The Potter’s House: 3/31/2013; Romans 9:6ff. The Assurance of God’s Election and the Hope of Whosoever Will, Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 7, 2013

Potters h. 2

Election has a purpose. However you want to debate the issue, all should agree on that:

Romans 9:11 – though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

God’s purpose of election is to remove all possibility of works from justification. This is clear. Therefore, election divides justification from sanctification completely. God goes to great extremes to make this as prevalent as He can. Though election is a difficult issue, verse 11 of this chapter could not be clearer on that point. Election makes salvation an issue of Him who calls rather than anything we do to contribute to justification.

But in sanctification (the Christian life), we are continually called to works. Therefore, those works must be seen as works that cannot affect our just standing. How could they if our calling was before the creation of the earth?

Romans 8:30 – And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:4 – even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Sanctification is an entirely different matter. The Scriptures must be interpreted with this dichotomy in mind. This is the only thing that explains the call to work aggressively in our Christian life while justification is by faith alone. If we were called, it is a settled issue:

John 6:35 – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

We must contend that eternal security and election go hand in hand apart from works to maintain our just standing. If we can lose our salvation, the next question must be: WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO KEEP IT? And if we have to do anything to keep it, we are a participant in justification. What of those who eventually deny the faith and walk away to no faith or a false faith? They were never saved to begin with:

1John 1:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

The historical events Paul cites in this chapter further explain the relationship of justification and law. This is important for the Gentiles to know because they are being integrated into a Jewish church, and movements within Judaism that propagated a works salvation by keeping the traditions of men were rampant. Remember, we find in our studies that these works systems are separate from truth and replace it with the ideas of men. This is probably because it makes law-keeping feasible. Ritual is always easier than love. True law-keeping is the direction and goal of sanctification, but justification is totally separate from law—this cannot be said enough.

As we begin to look at the history of covenants and their relationship to election, we will see that they work together toward the common goal of God dwelling with man on earth for eternity.

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.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

The plan from the very beginning was to include the Gentiles: “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” And, God used events to demonstrate that the guarantee of this covenant was based on His promises alone. The first issue becomes Abraham and Sarah’s age. This is by design because the promised seed will be by a miracle of God and not anything that is a contribution from man:

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.

This is a very fundamental and important element of faith. Not a lot of theology in this conversation. It’s not that the informational part of faith is not important, but as we see here, it is fundamentally believing and trusting God Himself. Saving faith that justifies believes God. Much of what a new believer in God believes is information that comes later. The information itself takes a back seat to the fact that it came from God and that is why it is obeyed and accepted. Faith that justifies believes God Himself, and then whatever information comes from God later as a matter of trust and love. We may not always like it, but our dedication to God will result in a pattern of obedience.

Let’s continue to the next point:

Genesis 15:7 – 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.”

All of the whatnots concerning this covenant ritual aside, God puts Abraham in a deep sleep and consummates the covenant Himself. The faithfulness of the covenant will depend on God, not Abraham. God will fulfill this promise despite the failures of men—it doesn’t depend on man’s faithfulness, but God’s faithfulness. But mark it right here in Scripture: All of these promises to Abraham will be fulfilled. God even predicts the captivity in Egypt so that it will not be seen as proof that God forgot His chosen people or cast them away. While in Egypt, the Jews were transformed from a clan to a nation which required an additional covenant at Mt. Sinai. As we discussed in prior lessons, that covenant is consummated by force as prophesied in the book of Revelation. That is also when the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant is realized as well though not fully. The complete realization will be when heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven and God tabernacles with man in the new heaven and new earth.

God combines the actions of men with His plan for finally dwelling with man in piece. This is a spectacular tapestry of God’s sovereignty and the actions of mankind woven together. In events, God is usually taking care of a lot of business, it is divine multitasking. While God’s nation is being incubated in Egypt along with the accumulation of possessions, the timing for using His nation to judge the Amorites will be right on schedule:

“And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (v.16).

And the fulfillment:

Joshua 12:1- Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward: 2 Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon and ruled from Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the middle of the valley as far as the river Jabbok, the boundary of the Ammonites, that is, half of Gilead, 3 and the Arabah to the Sea of Chinneroth eastward, and in the direction of Beth-jeshimoth, to the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, southward to the foot of the slopes of Pisgah;

The next events are indicative of what happens when we are involved in God’s plan for salvation. God uses the events as recorded in Scripture to teach us the importance of salvation resting in His promises. Also, we see the reality of sanctification. Because we are born again, we display extraordinary acts of faith and obedience. We are also still mortal and weakened by the flesh which results in our pattern of faith being interrupted by boneheaded thinking and behavior:

Genesis 16:1 – Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. 5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

Family drama is usually the result of bad ideas, and this was a bad idea. Notice the involvement of the angel in counseling Hagar. Remember that in our Mt. Sinai interlude study we learned that the angels are the administrators of God’s covenants, and I think that’s what we are seeing here. Angels are very much involved in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan. More than likely, the seven letters to the churches in Revelation were delivered by actual angels accordingly. Some interpret the word for angel there as the sole or most prominent pastor at that church. More likely is the idea that the letters were delivered by real angels. This might also indicate that each church has its own angel assigned by God. When Abraham turns 99 years old, God returned and stated the following:

Genesis 17:15 – And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.”

Abraham wanted God to establish the everlasting covenant through an heir of his own scheming; that wasn’t going to happen. Ishmael was technically an Israelite, but he serves to make Paul’s point in Romans nine: not all Israelites are of the promise just because they are Abraham’s offspring, and men do not contribute to the successful consummation of the promise in any way:

Romans 9:6 – But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Here is the specific reference in Genesis:

Genesis 18:9 – They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Paul’s very next example to further illustrate His point is the twins Esau and Jacob born to Isaac and Rebecca. Technically, Esau was the heir because he emerged first:

Romans 9:10 – And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Israel was elected and the promise is founded on God’s faithfulness and plan alone. But not all are righteous decedents. Israel is an elected nation and has elect within according to the promise. Israel is comprised of those under the law, enslaved to sin, and headed for a judgment where they will be judged by the law. Then there is a remnant that is under grace, enslaved to righteousness, and will not stand in a judgment to determine their just standing:

Galatians 4:21 – Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

[Isaiah 54:1] “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman [note what Paul is calling the “law” here. It is the historical account of the linage. A reminder from past studies that the Bible is “the law”].

Paul wanted the Gentiles at Rome to have a thorough understanding that they were children of the promise. Covenants of promise are completely apart from the law and works. Election guarantees that separation. That’s the positive side: free to aggressively obey God in sanctification without affecting the finished work of justification,  and knowing that we are secure because our salvation was of God only. That’s the positive side. Next week, we will look at Paul’s anticipated objection from some:

Romans 9:19 – You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

We will look at this deeper next week.

DSCN0283

%d bloggers like this: