Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Thought for Good Friday: What Is The “It”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 14, 2017

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” ~ John 19:30

τετελεσται (teh-tel-es-tai) – verb; indicative mood, perfect tense, passive voice, 3rd person singular. It is derived from the Greek noun telos which is used to refer to something set out as a goal or an aim, or the conclusion of an act or state.

All Churchians most likely at some point in their life have heard the explanation that when Jesus uttered these words that He meant that he had finished what He had come to earth to accomplish. And what was it that Jesus accomplished? The orthodox interpretation of that would be that Jesus accomplished the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, it would be that Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience. Now having demonstrated perfect obedience to the Law, Jesus could fulfill his purpose as the perfect sacrifice for sin. His job was done.

It is true that Jesus did accomplish the forgiveness of sin with His death on the cross. But how exactly did this happen? Furthermore, Reformed orthodoxy would have us believe that Christians need to preach the gospel to themselves every day. They must daily return to the cross to continually have Jesus’ obedience imputed to their lives as a covering. This is accomplished by “faith alone” works through the “means of grace” administered by the local church. If Christians need an ongoing imputation of righteousness from Christ through His obeying the law for us in our stead, how exactly can one say that Jesus’ work is “finished”?

Lest I be accused of setting up a “straw man” argument, consider that after almost nine years of research here at TANC ministries, all of the problems with Protestant orthodoxy and the institutional church can be boiled down to one thing: a misunderstanding of the Law. Reformed orthodoxy keeps Christians “under law” (the Biblical definition of an unsaved person) by making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. Because Protestantism’s metaphysical assumption of man is “total depravity”, man cannot keep the law, so he must rely on Jesus to keep the law for him.

But the Bible says that righteousness is apart from the law (Romans 3:21, 28). If Jesus must keep the law for us, not only does that make Jesus’ work not “finished”, but it is also not a righteousness apart from the law. What could Jesus have possibly meant when He said, “It is finished”?

It is important to note the grammar of that phase, which is only one single word in Greek. First of all, it is in the “passive voice”. That means the subject is the recipient of the action. Jesus did not say I have finished something. Some subject “it” received the action of being finished, and Jesus’ death accomplished that.

Second, the word “tetelestai” is in the “perfect” tense. The perfect tense is a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself. Although this gives information about a prior action, the focus is likely to be on the present consequences of that action.  In fact, the King James rendering of this verb is incorrect.  The correct rendering of this phrase in the perfect tense would be, “It has been finished.”  Jesus declared that His death produced a resulting state of something that now exists that is different from an earlier state.

Third, “tetelestai” is in the singular third person. The subject is not Jesus and something He did. The focus is on some third party subject that was the recipient of some action being performed upon it. Therefore, the statement, “It is finished” could not be a reference to Jesus finishing His work of perfect obedience to the Law. Something else had the action of “finished” performed upon it.

The question then remains, when Jesus said, “It is finished”, what exactly then is the “it”?

For one thing, the Law was actually a living will or “testament”, a covenant made between God and Israel that was ratified with Moses by the sprinkling of blood (Hebrews 9:18-21). This covenant of the Law acted as a guardian until the promise made to Abraham and his “seed” was fulfilled. (Galatians 3:16, 22-24). The Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody, protecting them from the Law’s condemnation upon their death. All sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “atoning” or “covering” aspect of the Law.

The Law’s testament pointed to the coming “promise” to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed. There would come one who would “take away” sin once and for all. This was so clearly symbolized by the picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16. The high priest would lay his hands on the head of a goat, signifying the imputation of sin to the Law. The goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who would carry that goat into the wilderness and release it, signifying the taking away of sin as far as the east is from the west.

Jesus was the promised “seed” of Abraham. He was the “testator” of which the Law’s covenant spoke. Just as with any will, it could not be in force until after the death of the testator (Hebrews 9:16-17). It would seem reasonable then that the perfect tense of the verb “tetelestai” would put focus on the Law, its testament, and its role as guardian. The initiating of the Law was an event or circumstance of the past, but Jesus’ death now causes us to focus on its resulting change of state. The passive voice indicates that the Law is the recipient of this change of state. What is now changed?

  • The testament of the Law is finished. Jesus’ death now allowed its promises to be fulfilled; that is, sin would be ended because the Law was ended. All sin that was imputed to the Law would be taken away forever. The Law can no longer condemn.
  • The Law’s role as a guardian is finished. Since the “promise” had been fulfilled, believers are now the righteous offspring of the Father. There is no Law to condemn them, and where there is no law there is no sin. And since there is no sin there is no longer any need of a guardian. The covering aspect of the Law is ended.
  • The distinction between Jew and Gentile is finished. Now every born again child of God would be baptized into one Body. This is the mystery that Paul spoke of in Ephesians. He called it the New Man. Every person who is a member of the Body is given a gift to exercise to the edification of the Body and to demonstrate love to God and others. The Law is the means by which believers show love through obedience.

One could say that because of Jesus’ death to end the Law, there is now a new relationship to the Law.  There is a change of state; not only of the law but the state of the believer as well!

It was God’s plan to reconcile every man to Himself by putting to death the “old man” who is “under law” and replacing him with a new creature who is the literal offspring of the Father. In this way sin is ended because the Law is ended for those who are born again. The Law is fulfilled in us, every believer, each time we show love to another.

On this “Good Friday”, take time to consider this: Sin sought to bring death by condemnation and alienate man from God. God defeated Sin by providing a way to make man part of His own family!

Andy

Dear Reformed Brother, Was Jesus Righteous Before He Kept the Law?
Wait, Believers Fulfill The Law?

Do You Believe a False Gospel?

Advertisements

Ending the Law: Another Piece of the Puzzle

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 12, 2016

One of the benefits of no longer being part of the institutional church is that I get the privilege of leading my own family in Bible teaching. Each Sunday we spend about ten to fifteen minutes singing hymns while I pluck out the melody line on the piano. Then we spend about 20 to 30 minutes studying a passage of scripture. After that we take prayer requests, and I have one of the children volunteer to pray. I am constantly amazed by not only how much they remember what we learn from week to week, but I am amazed by their level of discernment. It brings joy to my heart when I can look at the faces of my children and see the understanding appear on their faces!

Currently we are working our way through the book of Colossians. Yesterday morning as we were going around the room reading verse by verse, one verse in particular jumped out at me.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” ~ Colossians 2:14

What is the “handwriting of ordinances?” Is that not the law? Here is truth once again. The law was blotted out. It was ended. Paul states plainly to the Colossians that they are no longer condemned because the law was blotted out!

But as I sat here this morning pondering this verse again something else even more spectacular occurred to me. Look closely at Colossians 2:14 again. Not only was the law blotted out, but what else did Jesus do to end the law? He took it out of the way. And HOW did He take it out of the way? He nailed it to His cross. Do you see that? Jesus ended the law by nailing it to the cross with Him!

Think of the ramifications of that. Prior to the coming of The Promise, the law was a guardian which took believers into protective custody. All sin was therefore imputed to the law. But when Jesus was nailed to the cross, not only did He end the law, He did so by nailing the law to the cross with Him along with all the sin which had been imputed to the law!

This is the picture of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16.

“And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” ~ Leviticus 16:21-22

lambJesus bore on the cross our iniquities and took sin out of the way by taking the law out of the way when the law was ended, when the law was nailed to the cross with Christ.

“…Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

I thank God for this truth. It is simply one more piece of the puzzle. But as more and more pieces fall into place, the easier it becomes to find where the other pieces fit, and the whole pictures becomes more and more clear.

Andy

Second Epistle of Andy to “Trevor”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 17, 2016

Some time ago I relayed the account of a Facebook interaction I had with an individual I called “Trevor”.  Trevor is a young man in his early twenties.  I’ve had the privilege of having long conversations with him regarding theology and Biblical matters in general.  Trevor goes to a local church and has made a profession of faith, so giving him the benefit of the doubt (since it is not my place to make a judgment otherwise) I regard him as a brother in Christ.

Last Friday, Trevor and I got into another discussion, this time about the Law and how it pertains to believers.  Since he was pressed for time and our conversation was growing increasingly in depth, Trevor asked if he could pose some specific questions via a Facebook message to which I could then compose a more in-depth reply.  What follows is my response to Trevor.  His questions are included in the body of the response in bold italics.  I hope that you find it edifying!

Read the entire post here

A Definitive Biblical Statement on Law and Gospel for Home Fellowships

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 5, 2016

Originally published April 24, 2015

TANC Ministries, 2015   

Whatever form of Protestantism you are talking about, and Calvinism in particular, its Achilles’ heel is the law. Protestantism cannot pass the true gospel test because of its position on law, and this is not hard to understand.

Andy Young, an associate of TANC ministries, said something in last year’s 2014 conference that is probably true for the most part: “The law is for sanctification.” Right, because the law is in no wise for justification. We are justified apart from the law (Romans 3:21) and “apart” means exactly that. The fact that the law will judge people in the end is a separate issue altogether.

The apostle Paul makes all of this easy to understand in Galatians chapter 3. But first, let’s use that same chapter to establish what we mean by the word “law.” The word is used interchangeably with many other words, including “gospel”, to refer to the Bible. So, Andy was merely saying that the Bible is for sanctification, or in other words, Christian living. Andy was talking in context of sanctification for the Bible has no stake in justification, and again, the fact that the Bible will judge people in the end is another issue. Yes, the Bible defines justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 4:21); yes, the Bible testifies to the truths regarding justification, but the law does not justify.

Note the following from 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.

Notice that Paul uses the word “law” and “Scripture” interchangeably. The law, “holy writ,” “the word,” “the gospel,” “the Scriptures,” “the law and the prophets,” etc. are all terms that refer to the Bible which is a full orbed statement by God regarding Himself, mankind, and reality. Statements like this: “We are not bound by the law, or else we’d have to live under every aspect of the law including not wearing blended fabrics and not eating shrimp and bacon” reveal a fundamental ignorance in regard to what the law is.

Protestantism falls on this one basic principle: law is the standard for righteousness. This makes the salvific work of Christ two-fold: He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and came to fulfill the law for us in order to make us righteous. That’s gross heresy. That’s an egregious false gospel. Hence, you have two kinds of Protestants: one camp that understands the position and professes it, and the other camp who also confesses it, but has not thought out the ramifications. This includes Baptists, Methodists, and many others. Baptists parted ways with the Reformers on baptism, but have never repented of making the law justification’s standard.

Yes, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and to not end it, but then we have the apostle Paul writing that Christ in fact did come to end the law, so does the Bible contradict itself? By no means.

Here is the problem: by design, Protestants don’t interpret the Bible in context of sanctification and justification, and again, that is by design. Why? Because Protestantism is founded on the idea that sanctification is merely the progression of justification. This also goes hand in glove with the idea that the law is justification’s standard. Hence, the law must continue to be fulfilled perfectly to keep the saints justified. This results in the confused theological train wreck we call Protestantism.

When the law must be continually fulfilled perfectly as a standard for justification, the law cannot be used for love because now you have fused love and justification together. This is why churches lack love; the maintaining of justification and love are confused. In the Bible, love is absolutely synonymous with obedience. Unfortunately, Protestantism makes obedience a justification issue. Obedience is not a justification issue—it’s a love issue. That’s why there is so much love-bombing in your churches; true love is stifled because it is confused with justification. The vacuum is then filled with empty words and programs. People are in bondage to the law in Jesus’ name and their pain is medicated by praise bands, personality cults, and the splendor of institutional temples.

The fulfillment of the law in Jesus’ name is a huge problem—there is no law in justification regardless of who keeps it. Who keeps it is not the issue, the law is the issue. Here is the theses of Paul’s argument in Galatians 3: Only God can give life through faith alone in the promise. What is the promise? It was a promise made to Abraham and Christ that Israel and the Gentiles would be blessed with eternal life, and that Christ would be resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to make that possible:

Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 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.

So in other words, if Christ came to also fulfill the law, the Promise is fulfilled by law, and not God’s promise made to Abraham. By the way, this term, “the promise” is a major biblical term referring to the gospel. In regard to justification, Christ came for one reason: to end the curse of 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.

If we still rely on the works of the law, we are under a curse; again, it doesn’t matter who keeps it. Paul spent most of his ministry trying to hammer this point home. Here, he makes it clear that the law was not part of the original promise, and once a covenant has been ratified, nothing can change it. If Christ fulfilled the law in our stead, that is clearly an addition to the original covenant of promise—that’s Paul’s specific point.

But now Protestants once again protest that the key is a perfect fulfillment of the law which only curses those who cannot keep it perfectly. Christ’s perfect obedience to the law is then imputed to us. In light of this chapter in Galatians, this position is fraught with problems. Clearly, it’s still an addition to the original covenant. Also key is who the promise is made to; ie., the descendants of Abraham which include the Gentiles, and Christ Himself. Paul emphasizes that there is only ONE seed (verse 16). Why?

“Seed” is key. The Greek word refers to offspring. Christ was part of Abraham’s lineage, and is only ONE seed—there is not more than one seed. Christ died to end the curse of the law by dying to pay the penalty of sin, and then waited (in a manner of speaking) in the grave for the promise that was also made to Him: “the promised Spirit.” The Spirit raised Christ from the grave:

Romans 8:11 – If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 1:19 – and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,…

The promised Spirit is major here. This is the new birth. This promise of the Spirit accomplished three universe-shaking objectives: it enabled mankind to follow Christ in literal death and resurrection, baptized Jews and Gentiles into one body, or family of God, cancelled judgement and condemnation, and set God’s children free to aggressively love.

The idea that Christ fulfilled the law in order to satisfy justification usurps the Spirit’s role in the promise. God elected the means of salvation, Christ died, and the Spirit baptizes. God initiated salvation, Christ paid the penalty for sin, and the Spirit regenerates. We are not justified by the law, we are justified by the new birth:

Romans 4:20 – No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (ESV 2001).

Galatians 3:1 – O thoughtless Galatians, who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth — before whose eyes Jesus Christ was described before among you crucified?

2 this only do I wish to learn from you — by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith? 3 so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? (YLT).

Notice the idea of completion reflected by the Greek and properly translated by the YLT. We don’t receive the Spirit and His work on the installment plan when we believe; the new birth is a complete work. Hence, the new birth, or the Spirit’s baptism is what makes us righteous or justified, not the law.

Again, God set forth the plan of salvation: Christ died to end the law, and the Spirit regenerates us and helps us in our progression of holiness. We are born of the Spirit and resurrected as holy babies born of God, and grow up in holiness (1Peter 2:2). The baptism of the Spirit is therefore twofold:

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.

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.

Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Why would Christ fulfil the law and then die to end it? Why would Christ’s perfect obedience to law be imputed to us when it is no longer valid? Why would Christ fulfil the law for those who die with Him and are no longer under that law? Why would Christ fulfil a law that has nothing to say to us? (Romans 3:19). When Paul states, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (verse 10), that means any works of the law period, not just what we perform, but any works of the law period. The covenant of promise WAS NOT RATIFIED BY THE LAW THAT CAME 430 YEARS LATER. What could possibly be more evident? If Jesus kept the law perfectly as part of the gospel, that still ratifies the original covenant of promise.

But all of this is not even Paul’s primary argument. His primary argument is that only the Spirit can give life. His argument is that only the resurrection of the new birth gives life. If the law has any part in justification, then the law can give life and there is more than one seed. Consequently, only God can give life and now there is a co-life-giver. That’s Paul’s argument exactly.

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.”

Life, justification, faith alone in the promise, and the new birth are all mutually inclusive while the law and justification are mutually exclusive—that’s exactly what the apostle Paul is saying.

Also, if law has anything to do with justification at all, we inherit eternal life by being born again into God’s family by the fulfillment of the law and NOT promise:

18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Someone may argue, “But Jesus keeps the law perfectly!” So what of it? It’s still inheritance by the law and not promise. Again, and again, the original covenant was not ratified by Jesus’ perfect law-keeping. Here is what we must come to grips with: Protestantism is predicated on a juvenile perception of law and gospel.

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.

20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

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.

As an aside while on the subject of covenants: this whole idea of Jesus fulfilling the law plugs into the ever popular Covenant theology. This is the idea that Christ came to obey the law perfectly in order to restore the original and supposed covenant of works with Adam. But the Covenant of Promise was not made with Adam, it was made with Abraham. Compounding this glaring error is the citation of Genesis 3:15 to make a connection between Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience to the law. But in that verse, it is the serpent that is being addressed and not Adam. Usually, when you make a covenant with someone, as with Abraham, it’s made with the person you are talking to. In essence, it claims that God made a covenant with the serpent.

Regardless of all of the splendor and glory affiliated with religious academia, it is found wanting in embarrassing proportions. The laity must stop listening to these people and start reading the Bible for themselves.

But with all of this said, “Why then the law?”(verse 19). However, which law is Paul referring to when he presents this anticipated question in verse 19? There are two laws: one known as, “the written code” (Colossians 2:14), “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), “the law of sin” (Romans 7:23), simply “the law” in many places, “the letter” (2Cor 3:6), “ministry of death” (2Cor 3:7), “ministry of condemnation” (2Cor 3:9), “the record of debt” (Col 2:14), and “the first covenant” (Hebrews 8;13).

The second is known as: “the law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2), “the law of my mind” (Romans 7:23), “the law of liberty” (James 1:25), “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), and because love fulfills the whole law (Romans 13:8-10), it can be rightly called “the law of love.”

In verse 19, Paul is referring to the first law. It only condemns and judges, but that’s not its only function by far.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

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. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

What’s this saying? First, it’s saying that the first law has no function for believers after Christ died on the cross to END the law. And Christ did come to end the law of sin and death. Christ didn’t come to merely cover sin with His own righteousness, He came to end sin by ending the law (Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8, 10:4, 1Tim 1:9, Gal 2:19).

Secondly, the first law covered believers until Christ died on the cross. The first law was an atonement for sin; all of the sins of Old Testament believers were imputed to that law, and then it was ended by Christ. The person who believes on Christ dies in baptism, and is no longer under the law that he/she sinned against (Romans 7:1ff). This would also include believers who were deceased at the time.

In regard to Old Testament believers that were dead during the time of Christ’s ministry on earth, Old Testament believers were captive under the law until Christ died to end the law. Therefore, they were in Sheol/Abraham’s bosom/Paradise/Hades. When Christ died, He went there and preached to the captives and took the thief on the cross with Him. When the Spirit resurrected Him, He also resurrected those in Sheol and set the captives free. They and their sins were held captive by the law until Christ died to end it. Remember, King David said, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). As a testimony, Christ sent many of them to walk around Jerusalem. Texts that help sum up all of these points are Ephesians 4:7-10 which also references Psalm 68:18, Luke 16:22, Matthew 27:51-53, and Colossians 2:13-15.

Thirdly, the first law still has a function in the scheme of things. The old covenant of the law is passing away, but is not ended for the unbelieving. “Under grace” did not end “under law” (Romans 6:14). The first law still holds sin captive because all sin is against the law (1John 3:4). Yes, for those who don’t repent, the law will judge them in the end. To the degree that they violate the law, they will be punished eternally.

But there is a sense in which the first law also serves a purpose of covering as it formally did for those under grace. When a person is saved and born again, they die and are no longer culpable to the law—the law is also ended for them at that time. Their sins are taken away and cast as far as the east is from the west. Again, Christ did not come to cover sin, he came to take sin away. The first law is grace in waiting. All sin is imputed to it, and it stands ready to be ended for each and every person who chooses to follow Christ in death and resurrection.

Now, what about the other law—the law of the Spirit of life? Let there be no doubt, there is a law that is under grace. It is the law of love. We have been released from the condemnation of the first law, and are now free to aggressively serve the law of Christ:

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.

In the same way that one sin formally violated the whole law (James 2:10), one act of love fulfills the law of Christ (Gal 5:14, Rom 13:10). Love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8). We are sanctified with the word of truth (John 17:17). The Christian life is faith WORKING through the obedience of love (Gal 5:6), and love is synonymous with obedience (John 14:15).

If a professing Christian is not truly bearing fruit for God as an expression of true love for truth, God, and others, he/she has a flawed view of the law’s relationship to the gospel.

What is sapping the power of Christianity in our day is misguided fear. When the ending of sin is confused with the idea of covering, excessive introspection ensues  for fear that we are not living by a convoluted Protestant system of faith-alone works so that the perfect obedience of Christ will continue to be imputed to our Christian life.

In contrast, there is no longer any condemnation for those in Christ and fear has to do with judgement (Rom 8:30, 1Jn 4:16-19). Those mature in love cast away fear. They are free from the condemnation of the law and free to serve Christ in aggressive love.

Who will deny that the overwhelming preoccupation of Protestants is sin and not love while any appearance of good works is held suspect? Where there is not freedom to love without fearful introspection, love will not thrive.

Clarification From Galatians 3: The Trinity is Not a Paradox, Christians Don’t Live by Faith Alone, and the Covenant of Promise Defined

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 21, 2015

ppt-jpeg4Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do…There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.”

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels. If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.”

Galatians chapter 3 corrects some significant misnomers that routinely plague those who have to listen to incessant Christian blathering coming from the same who are completely comfortable with contradictions. Faith has become a license for mindlessness, and paradox is now a legitimate hermeneutic.

Since the Bible says God is one person, and also three persons, and the Bible cannot contradict itself, gee whiz, that’s a paradox, and gee whiz, there must be other paradoxes in the Bible as well, and gee whiz, only our “leaders” (dictators) know what a paradox is or isn’t. So, another paradox is the idea that Christians do things by faith alone. We do stuff, but we are not really the ones doing it. “Christians” are very comfortable with this lingo: we didn’t do it, when clearly we did do it, but supposedly, Jesus really did it, lest we get credit for the deed even though Jesus does assign merit for good deeds, but to whom is unclear since we didn’t do it.

And of course, supposedly, people don’t buy into this nonsense because it’s nonsense, but are rather “totally depraved” and will accept the offer of salvation if it is really a promise made to them even though God tells us to tell them that the promise is to them though it may not be. And so it goes; we will pay someone 85,000 dollars a year with a hefty medical package to say things like, “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”1 Our job is to say “amen” in between sips of coffee served up from the large vat in the lobby. If the coffee has a little burn in the taste, we wonder, “Is this the day, or just another dry run?”

I am not going to get into the trinity debate, but rather, the point of this post is that the Bible isn’t making a statement about the trinity when it states that God is one. The biblical idea is a statement that makes it clear that there are no other mediators between God and man other than God Himself. Galatians chapter 3 makes this clear. Hence, Protestant popes love to keep the masses distracted with debates about paradoxes lest we figure out that God was drawing a contrast between Himself and them who will travel land, sea, and air to make someone three times the child of hell that they are. And of course, paid for by the Protestant peasantry enslaved to the material world and its knowledge. And of course, from that perspective, spiritual truth can be expected to appear as paradox. In fact, those who demand a logical exegesis of Scripture are deemed as lacking faith, and making Jesus a “precept rather than a person.” By the way, the idea of faith over logic/reason was a major clarion call of the Nazi party during its formative years and expressly Lutheran in origin.2

Galatians chapter 3 is a vivid clarification of the relationship between law and gospel—or better stated biblically, the relationship between law and promise which also excludes every kind of mediator other than God Himself. This is one of the major points of Galatians 3. Paul begins by stating the following in his epistle to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

The dictators of the Protestant super-cult focus on the words, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The case is therefore made that we must be perfected the same way we began. This is the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification in a nutshell. It begins with the idea that perfection, viz, justification, is a process. And next, we keep that process going by faith alone. And next, if we live by some sort of faith-alone formula, the same formula that originally saved us, the Holy Spirit will continue to keep us justified. In other words, we have to live by the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved which is backdoor works salvation.

What is Paul really saying? His rhetorical question focuses on the erroneous idea that “perfection” (justification) is based on a process. The crux is any kind of process period, but in this case, the process involves the law of Moses. Protestantism uses this text to make the exact case that Paul is arguing against. Except, they add the law to the process in the same way that the Judaizers did albeit in a less direct way. Take note: the very false gospel that Paul is arguing against in Galatians 3 is the same gospel propagated by Protestantism in our day, and the exact same gospel that the Judaizers propagated with Jesus added. In this letter, Paul argues that law cannot be part of the gospel because that would make the law a co-mediator/life-giver with God, and only God can give life. The Judaizers taught that the law does give life, and that “believers” have to continue to draw life and justification from the law.3

But we must now stop and define what Paul meant by “law” in context of keeping it for justification. Judaizer-like false gospels never promote a truthful and perfect keeping of the law in order to remain justified because they know that’s impossible. So, the traditions of men are added as a Cliff Notes keeping of the law that fulfills the “righteous demands of the law.”4 Men are mediators between God and mankind that determine the sub-law that satisfies the holy law, and supposedly, they are appointed by God. Luther and Calvin merely added Jesus to this idea. If we obey the “Christ-centered,” “gospel-centered,” orthodoxy of Protestant elders, Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law of Moses will be imputed to our account, and we will remain “perfect” or justified. Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do.

Let’s nail this down a little more before we progress further. It entails an understanding of what Paul meant by the receiving of the Spirit. That’s the new birth. That’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That changes the believers relationship to the law. Paul’s protest regards the fusion of the law of Moses with perfection which takes place upon the receiving of the Spirit. Paul is protesting a progression or process of perfection by law-keeping. The Judaizers propagated a fulfilling of the law for righteousness via adherence to their traditions5 whereas Protestants demand an adherence to their traditions which supposedly results in Jesus’ perfect law keeping being imputed to the “believer.”

Paul said, in essence, “No, if you want to be justified (perfected) by the law of Moses (the law of sin and death), you have to keep it perfectly. No, circumcision and the observance of days is not a substitution for fulfillment of the law. The law has no part in justification, one is justified (perfected) by the new birth that is received by faith alone. The justified are not justified by the law—law-keeping is what they do, but it is not the law of sin and death for purposes of law-keeping, it is the law of the Spirit of life for purposes of love. There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.” Hence…

Galatians 4:10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain…21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?…5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace…6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

In addition, the law being the standard for justification rather than the receiving of the Spirit always leads to a “relaxing of the law” (Matt 5:19). Why? Because some dumbing down of the law as a replacement for true law-keeping for love, or faith working through love, always leads to neglect of the law and true love accordingly. Hence…

Galatians 2:17 – 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…5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you…13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

The fulfillment of Moses’ law, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), cannot be fulfilled for justification, but said false gospel (Gal 1:6ff.) attempts to do so through mediation in addition to God. This always leads to a dumbing down of the law for purposes of justification. The traditions of men end up being a cloak for unrighteousness under the auspices of being friends of the law. Tradition fulfills the law as a standard for righteousness when the real standard for righteousness is the new birth resulting in the loving of God’s law for purposes of loving God and others, not justification. Justification is a finished work totally apart from the law of sin and death; the only work left is “faith working through love.”

Sure, we don’t do that perfectly, but in regard to justification, so what? The motives of those born of God are love because part and parcel with the new birth is a love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The law’s ability to condemn was ended by Christ (Rom 10:4) and where there is no law there is NO sin (Rom 4:15). If you now say: “So, the law is the Spirit’s law, and for those who are under law, He uses it to condemn them, but to those who have received Him, He uses it to lead them”; you rightly assess with an additional caveat…Moses’ law of sin and death, while being a ministry of death, still serves the same purpose for New Testament unbelievers as it did for Old Testament believers, that is, it holds sin captive until they believe in Christ, then their sins are ended along with the law that the old them was under, but one who is dead is no longer under the jurisdiction of law that can condemn6 (Romans 7:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit are now free to “serve another” (Rom 6:6). The “new life of the Spirit” enables us to fulfill the law in our acts of love (Rom 8:1-8). The apostle Paul develops these same ideas as we move along in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:7 –  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This is set against what the Judaizers were telling the Galatians. They were telling the Galatians that in order to be a true son of Abraham, you have to follow the recognition of days and circumcision; traditions that supposedly satisfied the law of Moses. Paul wrote this letter to set them straight. Paul wrote the letter to explain how one becomes a true son of Abraham, the man of faith. Note that the baptism of the Spirit is somewhat different from the new birth. As we will see in chapter 3 of this letter, the law of Moses had a particular purpose: to hold all sin captive. As the law increased, so did sin, but all sin is against the law (1Jn 3:4) and imputed to the law; the law of sin and death holds sin captive.

Old Testament believers were born again and ministered to by the Spirit, but their sins were still held captive by the law because the promise of the Spirit had not yet come. The promise of the Spirit would resurrect Christ from the grave who had already ended the law and its condemnation by dying on the cross, and baptize Jew and Gentile into one body.7 The promise of the Spirit was therefore to Abraham and Christ both (Gal 3:16). As King David had prophesied, God would not leave Christ in the grave to see corruption (Acts 2:27, 31, Ps 16:10).

Until then, Old Testament believers dwelt in a place called Hades which was divided into two parts with a gulf separating them (Luke 16:19-31). One side was occupied by those under law and its condemnation, and the other side was occupied by “the captives.” Why were they called “the captives”? Because Jesus had not yet ended the law’s condemnation, and the saints were yet held captive by the law. While Christ was in the grave, he went to Hades and proclaimed victory to the captives, and when the Spirit resurrected Him, according to the promise, He led the captives out of captivity because the law was ended (Eph 4:8, Ps 68:18, 1Pet 3:19). This is the gospel that God preached to Abraham face to face.

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.

Paul is telling the Gentile Galatians, as a Jew of the Jews, that they were part of the gospel from the beginning, and are given access to the commonwealth of elect Israel (Eph 2:12) in the same way that Abraham was saved, by faith alone completely apart from the law. Paul will go on to argue that if the law is justification’s standard, the law is an additional seed, or offspring. In other words, the law is a co-life-giver with God. This is the crux of “one God.” However, don’t misunderstand and think that the law cannot give life to anyone for it can, but not those who are under its condemnation. It is impossible as Paul stated in Romans 8 for anyone under the curse of the law to find life in the law. That’s what Paul is stating here in Gal 3:10-14. Believers “live” (are justified) by faith alone in the free gift of the promise completely apart from the law. Those under grace love God’s law (Ps 119) and it can, in fact, give life to those who are born again (Jn 17:17, 1Pet 2:2).8

Those under the law can only find condemnation in the law. They can only receive the free gift by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ.9 When they believe, the Spirit falls on them,10 puts them to death with Christ, and thereby ending the law that all of their sins are against and imputed to, and resurrects them to new life in Christ where they walk according to the Spirit and find life in obedience to the Spirit’s law… “If you love me, keep my commandments.”11 The believer does not question motives in obedience—they know they cannot be justified by the law. They know they are justified by the new birth apart from the law. Paul furthers the point this way:

Galatians 3:15  – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 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.

It simply boils down to this: justification is completely void of law (Rom 3:19, 21, 28). Salvation and new birth come by believing the promise of miraculous new birth:

Romans 9:9  – 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,

And…“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” What did he believe exactly? He believed that God would bring about miraculous new birth demonstrated in Sarah, make his descendants like the sand of the sea, bless the Gentiles through him as well, and that his offspring would live forever in a city built by God (Heb 11:8-12). The miraculous conceptions of Sarah, Rebekah, Elizabeth, and Mary are not mere fodder for mystery, but speak of miraculous new birth and God’s elected means for the promised free gift. It’s by new birth, not law. There is no law in justification; the law is a protector that holds our sin captive until faith comes. Faith only believes in the promise like Abraham—the law did not come until 430 years after God made a covenant with him; the free gift—the promise. The law in NO WAY “ratified” the original covenant which had no law, but was based on the promise to Abraham and the ONE seed, Christ.

Why then the law?

Galatians 3:19  – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

This brings us almost full circle. The law of Moses was put into place by angels on Mount Sinai in the apocalyptic event recorded in the Old Testament. Moses was the mediator, but he was the mediator for a ministry of death:

2Corinthians 3:7 – Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Note that Moses’ ministry of death has not completely ended, but is in the process of being abolished (Heb 8:13). Why? Because it still serves a purpose. It will be used to condemn those under it if they do not rid themselves of it. Meanwhile, all sin is imputed to it:

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. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Note that “a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” That’s because all sin is committed under the first covenant. If the first covenant is completely abolished, there is no sin for anyone. This is why unbelievers are “under law” (Rom 6:14). However, note that Christ has already ended the sin under that covenant for those who believe. The law, both that of the conscience written on every heart (Rom 2:14-16) and the Bible, is a “guardian” (protector) of which all sin is imputed and held captive, and also drives people towards a solution to its condemnation; that solution being the mediator of a better covenant. Again, this brings us full circle to the meaning of God being one, it refers to ONE MEDIATOR: “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Also, it refers to the idea that God is the only life-giver as well:

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. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Even though the law has no part of new birth or justification, viz, perfection, it is not contrary to the promise. Why? Because it takes all sin captive until faith comes, and its condemnation drives one to the mediator of the better covenant, the ONE mediator, Christ. Moses is not a mediator of a covenant that can give life, but yet he is not a mediator of a covenant that is contrary to the promise.

On the flip side, once a person receives the Spirit apart from the law (Gal 3:2), the law can in fact give life:

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Of course, the new birth guarantees eternal life and cancels the law’s ability to condemn, but the believer can “love life and see good days” in the present via love, or obedience to the law (1Pet 3:10). In other words, one must use the law of God “lawfully” (1Tim 1:8). Not in any regard for justification, but for love. The law cannot under any circumstance give life for justification, but as the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2), it enables us to serve God in the new way of the Spirit found in the Bible (Rom 7:6, 25).

Due to the weakness of the flesh, NOT the inherent evil of the flesh which is a Gnostic misnomer,12 the Christian can still be tempted to sin through “sinful desires.” The power of sin is broken because sin is empowered by its ability to condemn13 through the use of the law of sin and death:

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.

Before one is saved and under the condemnation of the law, the law that the unsaved have no love for provokes them to sin with strong desires lending assistance as well. The law, for them, actually makes sin come alive leading to death (Rom 7:7ff.). In the believer, sin is no longer empowered by the condemnation of the law, but sinful desires still exist. However, obeying sinful desires as opposed to the desires of the Spirit defined by Scripture can enslave a Christian to a particular sin (Rom 6:16). Providing provisions to sin can produce overwhelming desires that can control us (Rom 13:14). Wrong thinking or beliefs, in short, false doctrine, also contributes to God’s children leading confused and defeated lives.

What is the New Covenant?

The New Covenant is the second part of the covenant of promise. The Old Covenant was the first part, the New Covenant is the second part of the same covenant of promise.14 The promises (plural) are the other covenants that are the building blocks of the covenant of promise (Eph 2:12). The New Covenant was made to Israel and the father of that nation from which all other nations will be blessed. The Old Covenant proclaimed the New Covenant and held sin captive until Christ came to die. In this way, the Old Covenant was the family will executed upon Christ’s death. Old Testament believers were written into the will/inheritance:

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. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the New, but it is only the New Covenant that gives life. The Old is in no way contrary to the promise (Gal 3:21), but is a ministry of death that serves two purposes: it holds sin captive until faith comes, and will judge those who are under it. The angels are the enforcers of both covenants. They enforced the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, and will enforce the New Covenant as detailed in the book of Revelation towards completion of the one covenant of promise. The angels are also ministers to the overall covenant of promise throughout time. Hence, their emphasis in regard to the tabernacle etc.

The New Covenant was made to Israel specifically (Jeremiah 31) because they are God’s elect people/nation from which all nations will be blessed. The New Covenant fulfilled the Old Covenant will, and baptized the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel. Part of the New Covenant plan was to use the baptism of the Gentiles into the family of God and its commonwealth to make the Jews jealous:

Deuteronomy 32:21 – They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

However, the New Covenant, which promises Israel eternal peace and safety in their own land, will finally be consummated after the fullness of the Gentiles come in:

Romans 11:25 – Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 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.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.

The covenant of promise is a gospel that stands in contrast to all other gospels which make the law of sin and death the standard for righteousness and a co-life-giver with God. There is only one mediator of life. Christ did not come to fulfill the law of sin and death, the Old Covenant, which holds sin captive. He came to end that law for those who believe. Nor did Christ come to be a substitute for that law in the lives of believers for that law is for the unbelieving—not the saved.15 Instead, Christ came to set the captives free from that law in order to serve the righteousness of the law in loving service with no fear of condemnation. There is no fear in love because fear has to do with judgment (1Jn 4:16-19). However, there is a fear of present consequences for obeying sinful desires as we work out our other “salvation” so to speak: the saving of ourselves from potential death that still dwells in the mortal body, and from which we will be saved from in the future, also known as “redemption.”16 Justification and obedience in sanctification ending in redemption should not be confused.

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels.

If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.

_______________________________________________________________________

1Pastor Jon Young: Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, Xenia, OH.

3https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2015/01/04/the-potters-house-biblical-covenants-an-overview-and-relevance-to-the-gospel-parts-1-2/ Note citation about perpetually offering the obedience of Christ to God for the satisfying of the law.

4In the Protestant case, rituals that satisfy the law by imputing Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. One of these is church membership which is considered to be one of the “means of grace” found in the institutional church.

5This was an often cited indictment by Jesus against the Pharisees who were rank antinomians for that very reason.

6This is also the real point behind Galatians 2:20 which is a justification verse, not a sanctification verse.

7The book of Acts is the historical account of what Paul is writing about in Galatians 3.

8For the unbeliever the law is death, for the believer it is life.

9Note that Paul emphasizes Christ’s death in the receiving of the Spirit, not Christ’s law-keeping (Gal 3:1ff.).

10As seen all through the book of Acts per the order of salvation: 1. The hearing of the word 2. Faith 3. The baptism of the Spirit.

11Love also fulfills the law. Christ’s ONE act of love makes it possible for us to fulfill the Spirit’s law apart from the law of sin and death. The law is for love—not justification.

12Romans 12:1 along with many other texts makes it clear that the body can be used for holy purposes. In fact, it’s a biblical imperative. It is a weak vessel, but not inherently evil.

13Therefore, be leery of condemnation motifs in any sanctification context.

14The Old and New covenants should not be viewed in a dispensational sense at all, but rather merely two parts of the same covenant. This is a progression of one covenant, not economies.

15Note in 1Tim 1:8-11 and Rom 2:12-16 that the law of Moses is also the gospel. This is because the OT law is a PART of the covenant of promise NOT a dispensation or different plan.

16Phil 2:13, Rom 7:24,25, Lk 21:28. Phil 2:13 is not about justification; it’s about choosing life over death in sanctification with God’s help which is available and leaves us without excuse.

%d bloggers like this: