Why is Un-Circumcision Nothing?

Posted March 7, 2020 by markmcculley
Categories: covenants, death

Tags: , , , , ,

Galatians 6: 11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting.

14 AS FOR ME, I WILL NEVER GLORY ABOUT ANYTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The world has been crucified to me through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.,and I have been crucified to the world through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. 15 BECAUSE BOTH circumcision AND UNCIRCUMCISION mean nothing. What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION. 16 Let peace come to all those who follow this rule…..

This is the last part of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It’s the part that Paul himself wrote down, and not his secretary who had written the rest from Paul’s dictation. It’s the conclusion, the important application.

In this essay I only have two questions, and this time I think I have answers for the two questions.

1. How and Why can Paul say that “uncircumcision” is nothing? I can understand why he would say that “circumcision is nothing”. His entire point has been that the circumcision of the Sinai covenant (and I add, also of the Abrahamic covenant) is nothing by which a sinner can be justified.

a. Circumcision is one part of many parts, and you can’t take one part of a covenant but not take the other parts. Because all the parts of a covenant  (all the commands and all the sanctions) go together. So, if you want to be justified by adding one part, then you will need to add the other parts.

Galatians 5:3 Every man who gets himself circumcised is obligated to keep the entire law.

“The entire law” is not some generic summary of all the laws and all the covenants in the Bible. “The entire law” is all the commands of the Sinai law.

b. NOBODY can be justified by obeying the Sinai law. This is not because sinners are attempting to obey the Sinai law. This is not because sinners are misunderstanding what the Sinai law commands. The Sinai law does require circumcision. The Sinai law does require holy war and holy separation from Gentiles. BUT NOBODY WAS JUSTIFIED BY OBEYING THE SINAI LAW . NOBODY EVER COULD BE JUSTIFIED BY OBEYING THE SINAI LAW.

In theory, every Jew (and every Gentile in the Galatian congregation) knows this. They all know that nobody is justified by obeying the Sinai law.

Genesis 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus NEITHER circumcision NOR UNCIRCUMCISION accomplishes anything

c. So I  think I understand saying “circumcision is nothing”. The Sinai covenant is nothing. It won’t justify. It never justified. And that “nothing” becomes a big big something if you think that nothing could in anyway increase or decrease your justification.

Galatians 5: 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ. You have fallen from grace.

Now that faith has come, now that Christ has come, now that the new covenant has come, the Sinai covenant is still nothing, which means that circumcision is nothing.  But even during the temporary time of the Sinai covenant, the circumcised could stay in that covenant and still not be justified before God.

 Paul seems to be saying something more–no longer can you stay in the Sinai covenant, no longer can your circumcision have any historical-covenantal significance. Because Christ is both the fufillment and the end of the Sinai covenant, which means that “nothing circumcision” becomes a very big something when Judiasers tell Gentile converts that circumcision is something.

Paul has an intense and important argument with the troublers who have come to the Galatians congregation. NOW THAT YOU SAY THAT CIRCUMCISION IS A SOMETHING, I am going to agree that circumcision is a something, but not in the positive way you have been saying, but rather placing any gospel importance on circumcision makes it SOMETHING that leaves you not reconciled to God by Christ.  This is not merely a disagreement about ethics, because your behavior in saying that the Gentiles are unclean is not only evidence of unbelief in the cross of Jesus Christ but is itself unbelief in the cross of Christ.
Galatians 5: 2 I tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all.

Unless you agree with Paul that “circumcision is nothing”, then Christ will be of no advantage to you.

This gets me to my first question. Why then say also that “uncircumcision is nothing”? If we are saying that being circumcised means that you are not and will not be justified, doesn’t that mean that “uncircumcision” is a big deal, a something and not a nothing?

If “uncircumcision is nothing”, why spend six chapters writing about not being under the Sinai law and not being circumcised?

Now I will give you the answer. The answer is that you can know that justification is not by circumcision AND STILL NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. Yes, it’s important to know that justification is not by obeying the Sinai law. If you don’t know that, you miss the gospel. BUT (and this is an important but), I never thought anybody could be justified by keeping law, but I knew that but still without knowing the gospel of justification by means of Christ’s death.

I could give you some analogies. Yes, you need to know that Christ died only for the elect and that only the elect will be justified. If you deny that, you do not yet know the gospel. But also, you can agree with election and the extent of the atonement, AND STILL DO NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. So denying universal ineffective atonement is “nothing” if you still don’t know that Christ’s death is the entire basis of justification before God.

Yes, you need to know that we sinners don’t have “free-will” (power to the contrary against God). You need to know that we are born guilty and unable to believe the gospel. if you deny that, you do not know the gospel. But also, you can agree with condemnation inherited from Adam, AND STILL NOT KNOW THE GOSPEL. So denying “free will” is “nothing” if you still don’t know that Christ’s death (and not our regeneration by the sovereign God) is the entire basis of justification before God.

One more analogy, and then I will move on to my second question. Yes, you need to know that the Abraham covenant was temporary. God promised Abraham many children and land and that his seed would bless those Gentiles elected to justification before God. But God is no longer promising any child of Abraham that they will have many children or that these children will have land or be justified. And you need to know that the “Zionist” notions that Jewish people are “now God’s people” or “will be justified after they die” are false gospels. If you believe the “all in one covenant now” false gospel, you cannot believe the true gospel taught in the book of Galatians.

But all that being said, denying Zionism is not itself the gospel. Denying Zionism is “nothing” because Denying Zionism is not the gospel (even though you need to deny that there is still a covenant with Abraham in order to know and believe the gospel) .

When the disturbers of the Galatian congregation hang on to the Sinai covenant, that is bad for the gospel. When the Jewish Judiasers command circumcision for Gentiles, that is bad for the gospel. “If you do this, Christ will be of no profit to you.” But Paul at the end of the letter writes “BOTH circumcision AND UNCIRCUMCISION mean nothing. What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION.”   As he had already written, in chapter 5, “neither one but creation”. 

Second question.  Is “new creation” our regeneration by the Holy Spirit or is “us being the new creation” our new legal standing in Christ, the mediator of the new covenant?

Those who read my essays might  might predict that I would ask. “what is new creation”?   And you might also predict that my answer would be Christ Himself, who is in an important sense of the word “seed”  (the most important sense) of Abraham.  Christ and not the Holy Spirit is the seed of Abraham.  The Holy Spirit did not become incarnate. The Holy Spirit is not now also Jewish. The Holy Spirit is not also human.  And so I asked that predictable question because I already knew the answer I wanted to give. And after all , the final rule of Galatians (written in large letters by Paul) is that I BOAST IN NOTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

(The world has been crucified to me through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST  I have been crucified to the world through THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST)

We get it. We got it.   The Holy Spirit did not die on the cross.  The work of the Holy Spirit in us is not “the cross”. The cross happened outside of us, in a different time and space, not now and not here in our hearts. We do not boast at the work of the Holy Spirit inside our hearts.

Can we stop now? 

My first question was, why in Galatians 6:15 did Paul say “UNCIRCUMCISION means nothing”. Was Paul writing riddles and paradoxes? I refer you above for my answer.  When nothing becomes a something, then the people who made it a something are in big trouble, and that not’s nothing.  But don’t forget that it’s still a nothing.   And people who never brought up circumcision, who never made a nothing into a something, might still not know the gospel. 

My second question is, why in Galatians 6:15 did Paul say  “What matters INSTEAD is a new CREATION”?

“Instead of” what?  Instead of physical circumcision.  Romans 2: 5 For circumcision benefits you if you observe the law, but if you are a lawbreaker, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 

Somebody who likes to use the word “imputation” (like me) could say, God then counts their physical circumcision as “uncircumcision” 

Romans 2: 26 Therefore if an uncircumcised man keeps the law’s requirements, will his uncircumcision not be counted as circumcision? 

Not all the uses of the word “imputation” have to do with God counting Christ’s death as the death of the elect sinners. Some uses of the word “imputation” have us “counting God as righteous” (because God is righteous). And this Romans 2 text is a different kind of counting/ imputation.  This one has to do with God and us “declaring who is a Jew”.  Some of this same kind of thinking takes place in Romans 9-11  (see also Colossians 2)

Romans 2: 28.  For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something VISIBLE IN THE FLESH 29 On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one INWARDLY and circumcision is of the mind—by the Holy Spirit.

So how does this text relate to the two Galatians texts–circumcision/uncircumcision don’t matter—new creation matters.  Paul writes to the Galatians that “visible in the flesh circumcision” is a nothing.  It is such a nothing that if  you get it done to your flesh, that means justification by keeping Sinai law, and justification by Sinai law is impossible.  ( Some might call it “hypothetical”, but let’s count it and name it as “empty set”—never happened, not going to happen). 

So what does matter in Romans 2?  “If an uncircumcised man KEEP THE SINAI LAW’S REQUIREMENTS….” 

So is Galatians (or Romans 2 for that matter)  teaching us that becoming “new creation” means that the Holy Spirit causes us to keep the Sinai covenant laws?  Or Is Galatians teaching us that “new creation” means that the Holy Spirit will cause us to keep Christ’s commandments ? 

Galatians 5: 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything. What matters is FAITH WORKING LOVE.

Galatians 6: 2 Carry one another’s burdens. In this way YOU WILL FULFILL the law of Christ.

I Corinthians 7: 18 Was anyone already circumcised when he was called? He should NOT UNDO HIS CIRCUMCISION

I suppose that “undoing your circumcision” would be “uncircumcision”.  And I think there are medical procedures which actually do this. But then would come the question, what’s the difference between having your circumcision undone and simply never having been circumcised in the first place?  But the answer is ultimately still the same—UNCIRCUMCISION IS NOTHING. 

(One more analogy—the difference between somebody whose parents superstitiously got them watered “just in case” and somebody whose pagan parents never got them watered—and the answer is still the same, watered twice or watered once or watered never, water is not circumcision and water is nothing, so therefore if you allow yourself be watered to begin or to increase justification, then you cannot be justified, but that being said “water is nothing” because “not water” is not the gospel. )

I Corinthians 7: 18 Was anyone called while uncircumcised? He should NOT GET CIRCUMCISED. 19 Circumcision does not matter and uncircumcision does not matter. BUT KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS DOES MATTER.

Can we now return to my second question, and can we have an answer this time  (not going some place else like Corinthians or Colossians 2 or Romans 2)? 

When Galatians 6 says “new creation”, I can see how that relates to the Holy Spirit causing us to obey commands (inwardly from invisible motives of the heart) but what does that have to do with the rule about ” I BOAST IN NOTHING EXCEPT THE CROSS”?  Is that hyperbole, because the apostle Paul does write about many things, not only about Christ’s death. But does Paul glory in anything else? 

Philippians 3: 2 watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh.

Paul serves and obeys by the Holy Spirit. Paul does not boast in the Holy Spirit.

Paul does not put confidence in the flesh (circumcision or “being strong on the local church” or “going by my conscience” or “being reliable”).  But Paul does not boast in his not putting confidence in the flesh. Paul does not boast in his lack of self-righteousness.  Nor does Paul boast in his lack of “other sins”. 

Paul boasts in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus was raised from the dead, and Christ’s resurrection from Christ’s death is NOT REFORMATION IN CONTINUITY WITH THE PAST.  Christ’s resurrection from Christ’s death is the New Covenant and the end of the Sinai covenant (and the end of the Abrahamic covenant).  The seed of Abraham now risen from the dead brings blessing to the elect from the Gentiles (and from the Jews) .  Resurrection from death is NOT ” he didn’t ever really die”.  Resurrection from death in history is God reconciled by the death of Christ the seed of Abraham come in the flesh for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ.

What is “new creation” ?

Romans 6: 9  Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time.  But in light of the fact that Christ lives, He lives to God.

“New creation” is having been raised from the dead.   It’s not having been given a new nature.  It’s not only having been caused to believe and obey the gospel. Believing and obeying the gospel is a result of “new creation”.  Those God has elected and then legally placed into Christ are “new creation”. Instead of talking about a regeneration inside us, to glory in the cross is to glory in Christ’s resurrection from the death that frees those who God places into Christ’s death.  Those who are thus justified are free from still needing to be justified or assured of justification by keeping some of the laws of the Sinai or Abrahamic covenants. 

Galatians 2: 20 I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Sinai law, then Christ died for nothing.

NOTHING.  All or nothing.  Either justification (and life, immortality, freedom from guilt)  by our keeping covenant. Or justification  (and lasting life) by Christ’s death on the cross.  If Christ died for something, then keeping Sinai is nothing. If keeping Sinai is something, then Christ died for NOTHING. 

Saying that the Sinai covenant is something is ANTI-GOSPEL. 

Saying that the Sinai covenant is nothing, however, is not the gospel.

The gospel is Christ having died for the sins of the elect on the cross. 

Christ having once died is EVERYTHING. 

The disturbers of the Galatian congregation want to have the flesh of the Gentiles cut.  Paul responds–circumcision is nothing. But Paul also responds—I wish those who attempt to get you to do this nothing would “cut off their entire organ”.   Galatians 5: 11 IF CIRCUMCISION IS STILL PREACHED, THEN  THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS HAS BEEN ABOLISHED.  12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves dis-membered” 

There is an either or here., a big something from all this “nothing” .  The Sinai covenant has been abolished (not only “ceremonial” parts, but entirely). If the Sinai covenant has not been abolished, then we do not boast in the cross.   If circumcision has not been abolished, then we abolish boasting in the cross. 

So have I answered my second question yet? Am I saying that the Holy Spirit is nothing, keeping commandments is nothing, and that Christ’s death on the cross is everything?  Either we are identified with Christ’s death or we are identified with the Sinai covenant? 

Galatians 3: 2 Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Sinai law or by hearing with faith?  After beginning with the  Holy Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh (obeying the Sinai law)? 

We need to keep thinking about how receiving the Holy Spirit (from Christ) relates to hearing with faith the good news about Christ and His resurrection from death.   Abraham believed the gospel of resurrection. Abraham believed the gospel about his seed in the flesh.  But how does receiving the Holy Spirit have to do with not only Christ’s resurrection but also our believing this gospel? 

Galatians 3: 13  Christ  redeemed us elect Jews  from the curse of the Sinai law by becoming a curse for us.   14. THE PURPOSE WAST was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that Gentiles would receive the promised Holy Spirit.

God promised Abraham not only many children and land, but also promised Abraham that his seed would bring blessing to some Gentiles. And the blessing of Abraham for these Gentiles is not only justification through Christ’s death on the cross but also receiving the Holy Spirit so that they would believe the gospel about Christ’s death and resurrection. 

When we are describing “new creation”, we  are not talking about all Gentiles or about all Jews. 

Galatians 3: 27 For AS MANY OF YOU as HAVING BEEN baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.

This text does not say that the Holy Spirit baptized us into Christ. Nor does this text teach that baptism is water.  But in the “new creation”, there is no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. 

Those in the new creation are “all one in Christ Jesus.” 29 as many as belong to Christ, they are Abraham’s sons. 

Abrahams’s seed is not only the one person Christ.  Abraham’s seed is also, in another sense, the new creation, those who believe in the gospel.  Abraham believe in the gospel, and as many as believe the gospel are heirs according to one of the promises God made to Abraham. 

Genesis 22: 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide. 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16 and said…“BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE  this thing and have not withheld your only son 17 I will make your seed as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore…. All the nations will be blessed by your seed BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY COMMAND. ”

“The new creation” has to do with the promise God made to Abraham about blessing Gentiles.   Galatians 3: 19 The Sinai law was added … UNTIL the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.

“Them” and “you” gets a bit confusing in Galatians. 

Galatians 3: 13  Christ  redeemed us elect Jews  from the curse of the Sinai law by becoming a curse for us elect Jews.   14. THE PURPOSE WAS that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that Gentiles would receive the promised Holy Spirit

Galatians 4: 4 God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Sinai law, to redeem THEM under the Sinai law, in order that we Gentiles would receive adoption as SONS And because YOU are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into YOUR hearts.

Is the “you” only Jews or only Gentile or both?  Well, what is the “new creation”?  

I suppose you could call me a “dispensationalist” because of what I am answering about “new creation”, but you should not call me “Marcionite” because I am not at all denying that the God who abolished the Sinai law (separations from the Gentile part of creation) is the same God who gave the Jews the Sinai covenant to begin with. 

I stop while agreeing that there is a lot of “not yet answered” in my second answer, but here add on last texts from Galatians. 

Galatians 5: 17 The Holy Spirit desires what is against the flesh. 18 But if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the law.

I don’t want to go back to nothing is something and something is nothing, but  It is not being led by the Holy Spirit that causes us (or anybody) to not be under the Sinai law.    In which case, many would suggest that we translate “the law” instead of “the Sinai law”, because that will smooth over some questions we don’t want to (or can’t)  answer.  

But I would still stay that those who were never under Sinai law are not justified from being under the Sinai law.  Those who were never circumcised do not need to become “uncircumcised”.   It is not the gospel for antinomians to say “we know we are justified because we know that we are not under the sabbath and or any of the other Ten Commandments”.  Yes, it’s true, you never were under the Sinai or Abrahamic covenants. That does not mean that you are now in the new covenant.   

If you are led by the Holy Spirit, then you know and believe the gospel about the seed of Abraham and why He died on the cross for the sins of the elect. The Holy Spirit caused you to know this gospel.   Your believing this gospel did not place you into Christ’s death. But if you are indeed not under the condemnation of Adam with which you were born, then you are led by the Holy Spirit and you continue to believe the gospel. 

Galatians 5:  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control…. 24 Now AS MANY AS who belong to Christ Jesus live by the Holy Spirit.  We must also follow the  Holy Spirit.









Circumcision was a Sanction of the Abrahamic Covenant—-Why I Reject Abrahamic Ecclesiology

Posted March 6, 2020 by markmcculley
Categories: covenants

Tags: , , , ,

T David Gordon, Promise, Law, Faith–Covenant Historical Reasoning in Galatians (Hendrickson, 2019) 

I completely agree with Gordon’s thesis that the Sianai covenant is either ratified or revoked in its entirety. Galatians is about being free from all of  the Sinai
covenant, including Sabbath and circumcision. Gordon does much good detailed work to show the distinction between the Sinai covenant and the new covenant. But as Gordon explains the distinction between the Sinai covenant and the earlier Abrahamic covenant, he stops short of asking much about the distinction between the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant.

I begin with one quotation from a footnote on p 222—“In the most technical sense, Yahweh did later require circumcision (Genesis 17) but this is not a true condition, for two reasons. First, the promises made in Genesis 12 and 15 attached no such conditions. Second, had Yahweh not given Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, there would have no Son to circumcise.

Without beginning a discussion about the meaning of the word “conditions”, I want to look more at Gordon’s two reasons. First, both Genesis 12 and 15 describe imperatives, and include sanctions for disobedience.

Genesis 12 begins with a command.
Go out from your land,
your family
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you

Did Abram fail to keep this “condition”? No, Abraham did travel out to where the Canaanites are in the land. By means of holy war and holy separation, Abram’s children eventually  take all the land. The Jewish people themselves are involved. But of course it is God who gives the land to Abram’s children and God who takes the land away from the Gentiles. Abram worries about what the Gentiles might do to him. Abram lies to the Gentiles about one of his wives (Sarah) but God keeps Sarah from becoming mother to a Gentile. There are no sanctions for Abram, only for Pharoah, even though it was Abram who did not tell the truth.

So does this prove that the Sinai covenant has sanctions but that the Abrahamic covenant does not have conditions? No. The Abrahamic covenant is not only
about blessing Gentiles some time in the future. The Abrahamic covenant is about Abram having a big family. The Abrahamic covenant is instruction about Abram’s family not co-existing  with or intermarrying other families.

Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken prisoner, he assembled his 318 trained men, born in HIS HOUSEHOLD, and they went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 Abram and his slaves deployed against them by night, attacked them, and pursued them as far as Hobah to the north of Damascus. 16 Abram brought back all the goods and also his relative Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the other people….

This war is not a “condition” for the promise to Abram that Abram’s seed would bless Gentiles. It’s not even evident that what Abram did was commanded. But what Abram did there at that time was NOT YET “blessing Gentiles” (Then Abram takes some food when Melchizedek (king of Salem) gives Abram food, but Abram takes nothing from the king of Sodom. (The men who fought with Abram take stuff, but Abram only takes back what was his already before)

God uses means. God promised Abram that his seed would one day bless Gentiles. We must not be fatalistic enough to say that God would have kept that promise if Abram had not gone to war for those in his family. But then again, we must not read what did happen in history (providence)  into some conclusion that “God could not have done x if Abram had not done y.”    (Is does not mean Ought. Happened does not mean Ought.)

Gordon agrees–“in the technical sense, God did require circumcision”. But then Gordon argues that circumcision was not a condition for the promises. The problem for Gordon’s too neat distinction between Sinai and Abrahamic (which distinction is very important, and is very present in Galatians 3 and 4), is the sanctions right there in the words of God in Genesis 15.

Genesis 15: 8 Abram said, “Lord God, how can I know that I will possess the land? (Abram was not asking at that point, how will I know that my seed will
bless the Gentiles?)

9 God said to Abram, “Bring Me a three-year-old cow, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 So Abram brought all these to God, split them down the middle, and laid the pieces opposite each other, but Abram did not cut up the birds. 11 Birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

God did not do everything here. Abram brought the cow, goat, ram and the birds. Abram killed (sacrificed) the three animals.

Genesis 15: 12 As the sun was setting, a deep sleep fell on Abram, and suddenly great terror and darkness descended on Abram

Then what did Abram hear God say?  Genesis 15: 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your seed will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them. Your seed will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. 14 However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward your seed will go out
with many possessions….16 In the fourth generation your seed will return here

Again, there are no “conditions” here. God does not say that slavery in Egypt is a sanction of the Abrahamic covenant. And of course slavery in Egypt is not a sanction of the Sinai covenant (which comes after Egyptian slavery) This is “indicative”. This is “what is going to happen”. What happens in Egypt is not all of the promises. What happens in Israel is not “blessing the Gentiles”. But what will happen in Egypt is that Abram’s family becomes larger and Abram’s family STAYS SEPARATE from Gentiles.

Genesis 15: 17 When the sun had set and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals.

This is not the same as what happens at Mt Sinai—do not touch the mountain, and “Moses be the mediator between us and keep God away from us”. But the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch (and the divided animals) of Genesis 15 are not in any obvious way signs of a substitution sacrifice which will bless some Gentiles. The next thing God says is Genesis 15: 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I will give this LAND to YOUR SEED

When the seed of Abram leave Egypt, they will “go out with many possessions”. Perhaps Abram’s seed are stewards holding those possessions in trust for the future blessing of Gentiles. But at that exodus point in history, possessions and land (which all belong to God in the first place) get handed over by the Gentile socialists in Egypt to the Jewish collective, to the seed of Abram.

Reason one. Circumcision was not a condition. There were no conditions in the Abrahamic covenant.

I will attempt to return to Genesis (and Galatians) and not  stay long with Vos and Kline. Vos–If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats,
for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of THE COVENANT. If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

I agree with David Gordon. All the covenants are not one covenant. And the different covenants are not the same. When Vos writes “the covenant”, I agree with Gordon in asking “which covenant”. We must reason in a historically covenantal way.  We must be poly-covenantal.

But I do not agree that there is nothing but contrast between the Abrahamic and the Sinai covenant. And I do not agree that the
Abrahamic covenant is the same as the new covenant.

The Sinai covenant was only for Jews
The Sinai covenant was for all Jews.
Jews by birth belonged to the Sinai covenant.

But what Gordon does not say as clearly (if at all) is that the Abrahamic covenant was only for Jews. Circumcision was for all Jews.
The Abrahamic covenant was for all the circumcised. Jews by birth belonged to the Abrahamic covenant.

In the Reformed world today, if you hear about election at all, what you hear will be about “the covenant”. You will hear that 1. Jews
were elected to be in “the covenant” and 2. that this election is not only a blessing for the Jews, because the elect Jews will be (or are
supposed to be) a blessing for the gentiles, all nations, all people.

But this kind of talk about election and covenant leaves so much out (about both election and covenants) that this kind of talk about “the covenant” has nothing to do with God having elected for whom Christ would die, nor does it have anything to with God having chosen which sinners will be justified before God.

The Sinai covenant includes both elect and non-elect.
The Abrahamic covenant includes both elect and non-elect.

But only the elect come into the new covenant and are justified.

This is why we need to make a historical covenantal distinction not only between the Sinai covenant and the Abrahamic covenant. We need a distinction between the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant. The Abrahamic covenant has as one of its promised blessings that the seed of Abram will bless
Gentiles.  But Christ the seed of Abraham does not bless all people in all nations. There is no such thing as “common grace” or “natural grace” or “creation grace”.

When God saved Noah and the few, God did so by destroying the many. When Christ the seed of Abram justifies Gentiles, Christ does not justify all Gentiles. Christ justifies only as many as believe the gospel. The blessing of Abraham is Christ giving the Holy Spirit to cause some Gentiles to believe the gospel (and also the blessing of Abraham is Christ giving the Holy Spirit to cause some from Abram’s Jewish race to believe the gospel).

The blessing of Abram is NOT that the seed of Abram dies for each and every sinner, both Jew and Gentile. The blessing of Abram is NOT that some are elect in order that others then become elect. The blessing of Abram is NOT that Jews are elect in order that Gentiles become elect. The blessing of Abram is that Christ (the seed of Abram) died (shed his own blood, not the blood of others, Jew or Gentile) for the sins of the elect (some Jew and some Gentile)

There is so much good to be found in Gordon’s good book on Galatians.  I hope to write several essays with things I have learned in reading. In this essay, I have not yet even arrived at the second reason given by Gordon that footnote on 222.  But I want to pause for Gordon’s excellent comments on
“sovereignty” and “grace” on p 177.

David Gordon—“Even defenders of the so-called Lutheran Paul are too generous to Sinai when they write “this law is a divine gift to Israel, a token of favor”….Yes, sovereign Yahweh elected Israel to covenant with Him. But I would not refer to a curse-threatening covenant as a gift or as an indication of God’s favor. They did not regard it as a gift when they expressed their preference to return to Egypt.

David Gordon, p 295—“Oh how I love your law. It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97 . Only in this psalm (113, 163, 165) does anyone in the entire Bible talk about loving the law. Considering how central was Torah to Israel, I regard it as surprising that there is only one chapter where anyone expresses any love for Torah. The Wisdom always had sanctions attached to it, and those sanctions were a frightening burden. 

But David Gordon does seem to see the Abrahamic covenant as nothing but gift and favor. His reason one say, there were no conditions. His
reason two says, if God has not given Isaac to Abraham and Sarah, there would been no circumcision

Gordon’s argument overlooks the fact that Abram had two wives, and two sons. Abram’s son Ishmael is born in Genesis 16: 3 So Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar, her Egyptian slave, and gave her to her husband Abram as a WIFE for Abram.. This happened after Abram had lived in the land of Canaan 10 years.

Genesis 16: 15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s SON …16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore ISHMAEL TO HIM. .

Genesis 17: 8 And to you and your future seed I will give the land where you are residing—all the land of Canaan—as a lasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Note that “I will be your sovereign (I will be your God) and “I will be gracious to each and every one of you” are NOT THE SAME THING.

Genesis 17: 9 God also said to Abraham, “As for you, you and your seed after you are to keep My covenant.

Genesis 17 does not say that Abraham “keeping the covenant” is a “condition”. First, the covenant does not depend on any one human sinner. If one human sinner refuses circumcision, then that one human sinner could be cut off from the Abrahamic covenant but the Abrahamic covenant itself would continue. Second, if God had not caused Isaac to have been born, then God could have still caused Ishmael to have been born. Third, even if no sons had been born, Abraham HIMSELF (and his slaves) are COMMANDED TO BE CIRCUMCISED.

David Gordon, 138 —“It is not essential to my discussion to address whether there were several covenants with Abraham.”

Gordon, in making a distinction between the Sinai and the Abrahamic but not making a distinction between the Abrahamic and the new covenant, is depending in part on silence in his argument about the first two of the three promises to Abraham.  I will point out another more significant silence. Genesis 17 does not say that circumcision is a condition of the Sinai covenant, BECAUSE the Sinai covenant had not yet been “cut into history”. And so it seems to me
that CIRCUMCISION IS A SANCTION IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT,  even when Gordon says “added after chapter 12 and 15”.

Genesis 17: 10 This is My covenant, which you are to keep, between Me and you and your seed after you: Every one of your males must be

Genesis 17: 18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael were acceptable to You!”

Genesis 17: 11 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will certainly bless Ishmael. I will make Ishmael fruitful and will multiply Ishmael greatly. Ishmael will father 12 tribal leaders, and I will make Ishmael into a great nation.

Here are some questions. Does Ishmael have part in the Sinai covenant? No.
So does Ishmael have part in the Abrahamic covenant?
What is Ishmael’s part in the Abrahamic covenant?
Is Ishmael a Gentile nation who will be blessed by the seed of Abraham?
Is Ishmael part of the seed of Abraham (who will bless Gentiles)?

How would we know?

Genesis 17: 23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the slaves born in his house or purchased with his money—every male among the
members of Abraham’s HOUSEHOLD… 24 Abraham was 99 years old when the flesh of Abraham’s foreskin was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael
was 13 years old when the flesh of Ishmael’s foreskin was circumcised. 26 On the same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised

Genesis 17: 13 My covenant will be marked in your flesh as a lasting covenant. 14 If any male is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that man will be cut off from his people. That man has broken My covenant.”

When God says “my covenant”, which covenant is that? If it’s not the Sinai covenant, which covenant is it? Has the man broken himself off “the covenant” or broken “the covenant” so as to terminate the covenant” itself?

Adam’s sin did not terminate the consequences of God’s covenant with Adam. Disobedience to the Sinai covenant did not terminate either the Sinai
or the Abrahamic covenants. So in that sense, neither covenant is conditional on the sinner, but what happens to a specific sinner is conditional . Is there nothing a person in these covenants (after being circumcised) can do which would prevent their being PUNISHMENT BY THE COVENANT THEY ARE IN?

I would hope that this last question would cause us always to make a distinction between justification (or condemnation) before God and still being a church member or still “staying in the covenant”. I would hope that we would say that the new covenant is not like the Sinai covenant or the Abrahamic covenant, even though the new covenant is (indirectly?) a blessing to elect Gentiles by means of the seed of Abraham (as also the Sinai covenant was a result of the covenant promising Abraham seed.)

Meredith Kline–“How Abraham’s obedience related to the securing of the kingdom blessings in their old covenant form is a special question within the broad topic of the role of human works … Abraham’s faithful performance of his covenantal duty is clearly declared to sustain a causal relationship to the blessing of Isaac and Israel. It had a MERITORIOUS character that procured a reward enjoyed by others…Because of Abraham’s obedience redemptive history would take the shape of an Abrahamite kingdom of God from which salvation’s blessings would rise up and flow out to the NATIONS. God was pleased to constitute
Abraham’s exemplary works as the MERITORIOUS ground for granting to Israel after the flesh the distinctive role of being …the matrix from which Christ should come…

Mike Horton—To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do NOT HAVE FAITH are under the covenant curse. How can anybody fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong?

Mike Horton—Faith is not the only way into membership in the covenant. If faith were the only way into membership then why all the warnings to members of THE COVENANT COMMUNITY to exercise and persevere in obedience to the end?

The Sinai covenant did not threaten Gentiles. I mostly agree with David Gordon about that (despite the holy wars and the holy divorces of Gentile wives –never really wives, the fathers of their children said.)

But what can or must be said about how the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant compare and contrast? The new covenant only threatens those outside the new covenant. The Abrahamic covenant threatened those in the Abrahamic covenant..

Genesis 22: 14 And Abraham named that place The Lord Will Provide. 15 Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16 and said…“BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE  this thing and have not withheld your only son 17 I will make your seed as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore…. All the nations will be blessed by your seed BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED MY COMMAND. ”

David Gordon, p 138 –Though Paul in Galatians 3:16 refers to the “promises”, the only specific reference Paul makes to Genesis here is the pledge to bless the nations through the seed in Genesis 22:18.

Galatians 3: 19 The Sinai law was added … UNTIL the Seed to whom the promise was made would come

Did God make the promise to those who believe in Christ?
Did God make the promise to Christ?
God God make the promise about Christ to the biological children of Abraham?

Exodus 4: 19 Now in Midian the Lord told Moses, “Return to Egypt, for those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. …. 22 Then you will say to Pharaoh: This is what Yahweh says: Israel is My firstborn son. 23 Let My son go in order that my son worship Me, but you refused to let him go. Now I will kill YOUR firstborn son!”

Exodus 4: 24 On the trip to Egypt it happened that the Lord confronted Moses and sought to put Moses to death. 25 So his wife Zipporah took a flint, cut off her son’s foreskin, and threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet.Then his wife said, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So the Lord let Moses alone.

The Abrahamic covenant points to justification through faith in the seed of Abraham. But he Abrahamic covenant is NOT new covenant ecclesiology.

The same people (troublers) in Galatians who wanted to have a Jewish ecclesiology (circumcising children and those who had not been circumcised as children) were also people tempted to “want to be justified by works of law”.  (assured by obeying Sinai)

Even though Paul teaches in Galatians 2:16 that Jews know that justification is not by works, Paul also warns that “Christ will be of no advantage” for those “who want to be justified by works”. Paul is not saying (and probably doesn’t know) if these people are a majority or a minority, but Paul is not ruling out the idea that some of the Jewish “Judiasers” are not only wrong about the covenants but also wrong about the gospel.

The problem is not only that some Gentiles are being persuaded or manipulated into becoming circumcised. The problem is some who were born circumcised
who are insisting on an Abrahamic ecclesiology and an Abrahamic definition of covenant (conflating the new covenant with the Abrahamic covenant)

Galatians 4: 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ;. You have fallen from grace.

The righteousness of God does not only mean that those who trust in Christ’s death alone are justified. The righteousness of God also
means that those who DO NOT TRUST Christ’s death alone will not be justified. Therefore the problem in Galatians is not only an ethical problem for people we know who are already justified (because they were born Jews, or because they were born Christians). There is an ethical problem (living in hypocrisy instead of in line with the gospel) but that ethical problem cannot be “segregated” (distinguished) from a doctrinal problem about the gospel.

All Jews were born not only in the Sinai covenant but also in the Abrahamic covenant. Even though Romans 9 and Galatians teach that Abraham had more than one son, and even though these two texts define children of Abraham as those who believe the gospel, if we include that definition of
Abraham’s children but also include (without antithesis) the children of the children (who did not yet believe the gospel), we bring confusion not only to the new covenant but also to the gospel. (Was it important for the prophet Jonah to teach those in the Ninevah that his children and family back in Israel were “elect and in the covenant”? )

Election to justification does NOT MEAN “born justified”
Even God’s elect to justification are born condemned in Adam.
Even God’s elect to justification are not born in the new covenant.

Certainly David Gordon should in no way be held accountable for my conclusions against “Abrahamic ecclesiology”.  Let me end now with a quotation from Gordon which gives us his thesis (not my thesis in response to his thesis) 

David Gordon, p 296—NT Wright’s “the covenant” is virtually identical with what the Reformed tradition ordinarily calls “the covenant of grace” and is no better than that common convention. Such a definition uses a biblical term unbiblically. . In the Bible, a berith or a diatheke is always a historical treaty of some kind, enacted in space and time with particular parties.”

Let’s Not compete to be Worst Sinner—More Sin does not get us More Grace.

Posted February 12, 2020 by markmcculley
Categories: arminians, atonement, death, election

Tags: , ,

The attempt to bribe Ukraine was not “inappropriate”.The call was perfect. I have the absolute right and power to pardon myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?


I Timothy 1 :13 I was formerly a cruel persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus would  demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would BELIEVE IN HIM FOR LASTING LIFE 

I John 1:7 The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and RIGHTEOUS to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We could have a contest about who’s the chief sinner, or we could be “subjective” and say “well everybody should feel like they are the chief sinner and the lowest in the dust”, but then that would turn the gospel into something about us.

It’s not a sin to confess our sins.
God does not forgive sins because we confess our sins.
It’s not a sin for us to confess the gospel.
God does not forgive sins because we confess the gospel. Doing good works is not sin.
God does not forgive sins because sinners refuse to do anything for their neighbors.

Many Republicans are telling me that we are all sinners and argue there is no need to save ourselves (or God) from Donald Trump (because Trump is only another sinner, like the rest of us). And then they explain that it’s perfectly appropriate to kill people or vote against socialism for the poor, as long as we keep that a “separate issue” from the gospel. They will not be trying to keep their country “Christian”, but they will be working to keep their country the way it used to be.

One Trump supporter deplored what he called “theological perfectionism”— “piety and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. We are supporting Trump not because he is the best Christian, but because he is the leader best suited to defend Christians.
This Trump supporter also thinks that making a distinction between universal sufficient atonement and specific sins imputed to Christ is “theological perfectionism”

Jerry Falwell—A poor person never gave anyone a job. A poor person never gave anybody charity, not of any real volume. It’s just common sense to me. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country.”

“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their wealth, but she
from her poverty….” Mark 12:43-44


Unlike that other sinner over there,
at least I know I am a sinner
Because I am a sinner in my own eyes
this proves that Jesus died for me
because at least I am sorry
even if I don’t plan to do any better
because if you agree that you are a sinner
one time for real in your heart believe you are a sinner,
then that’s enough.

My preacher says if he can find a sinner
hearing his preaching can save me.

Then these same preachers say it would be “perfectionism” to “make an issue” about if Adam’s guilt is imputed to infants or to even discuss if Christ really died under guilt for sins. (Meanwhile, either in their preaching or in their books, they deny that either Christ or the elect were really under wrath in history, but they are proclaiming not discussing or explaining.)

Though only ungodly sinners are justified
or need to be justified by God,
this does not mean that God justifies all ungodly sinners

You can know you are a sinner without being justified
God never will justify all sinners.
It makes no sense to compete with other sinners about
“but I really know I am a sinner but you don’t. ”

Christ rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Christ was never the mediator for many guilty sinners. God never imputed the sins of non-elect sinners to Christ. These sinners are not only condemned for their wrong gospel. They were condemned already through Adam’s guilt at their birth.

God’s election of the elect came first before Christ’s atoning death.
Atonement to satisfy justice is a result of God’s love for the elect.
God’s love for the elect is not a result of Atonement for the elect.
This means that election is not the same thing as the atonement.
This means that election is not the same thing as justification.

Antinomian clergy to would be pacifists—-“God doesn’t care what you do. God loves and comforts you no matter what you do.

Does hating law (like Trump and the antinomian preachers do) eliminate the possibility of your being a hypocrite? For many antinomians, avoiding hypocrisy is their main gospel solution for sin. “Well, I may be profane and cruel , but at least I’m honest about it.”

Antinomian preachers say that only the gospel teaches what sin is.
Antinomian preachers think self-righteousness is the only sin.

But when “we don’t preach any law” preachers say that it’s not preaching unless it’s only gospel, they are confusing law with gospel

I have had some experience with people who accuse me of being self-righteousness if I say anything about any other sin than self-righteousness. But of course they don’t think they are self-righteous when they accuse me of being self-righteous.

Self-righteousness is not our only sin. Sin against the gospel is not the only sin. Adam’s first sin was not against the gospel because (before sin) there was no gospel. Adam sinned against the law. The law is not of faith. The law is–do not sin.

Romans 4: 7 How joyful are those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered!
8 How joyful the sinner
the Lord will never charge with sin! (Psalm 32)

The only hope for those born under the reign of sin is the reign of grace, by means of Christ’s death for imputed sins.

Psalm 103: For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 our days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, gone and forgotten

Sin is a problem that God’s grace “overcomes”. In no way is our sin or honestly about sin an addition to the truth and power of grace. This is something Tullian (and Forde) never learned. Talking about your sin is not that much different from talking about yourself (or your grandfather).

Romans 3: 5 But if our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, what are we to say? Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath on sinners? 6 Absolutely not!
Romans 3: 7 But if by my lie God’s truth is amplified to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? 8 Some slander us and claim that we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!

Romans 5: 20 where sin increased grace increased even more 21 As sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in lasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6: 7 a person who has died is justified from sin’s guilt which is the power of sin. 9 we know that Christ, HAVING BEEN raised from the dead, will not die again. Death NO LONGER rules over Him. 10 Christ died to sin once for all time.

Adam sinned as a substitute for sinners. In the reign of death, the guilt of Adam is imputed by God to all sinners. But there is a reign of righteousness, because Jesus Christ actually died INSTEAD OF elect sinners, as their substitute.

Some antinomians take the language of “we died with Christ” to mean that the elect were baptized into Christ PRIOR TO the accomplishment of Christ’s death, so that when Christ died, the elect died with Him. In this false gospel, the elect are not legally placed by God into a FINISHED death, but were already legally in Christ as He was dying on the cross.

Some antinomians take the error even further, and claim that Christ Himself never died and that Christ Himself was never under guilt and sin before God. And then they say the same about Christ’s elect.

This error changes the nature of Christ’s death on the cross from a substitutionary sacrifice, made by the holy Lamb apart from the
sinners, to a corporate non-event that includes the elect. As these false teachers deny that anybody is ever ultimately condemned for
Adam’s guilt (but only for their own unbelief) , they also deny that Christ Himself ever became condemned or ever became justified.

Romans 4:24 God raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 Jesus was handed over to guilt and Jesus was raised because of justification.

Grace does not reign because of our sin. Grace does not reign because of our lack of self-righteousness. Grace does not reign because of Christ’s law keeping. Grace reigns because of Christ’s death, not because of our death.

The elect who are justified are not justified because they were always justified. Christ was justified because of Christ’s death
because of guilt imputed. The justification of the elect is not the same thing as the justification of Christ.

The elect were not always imputed righteous. Christ was not always imputed righteous. Christ’s death brought in the righteousness that justifies (even Abraham). Christ was raised from the dead because Christ was justified by death. Christ was raised from the dead because all His elect will become justified.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made the One who did not know sin to become guilty for us, in order that we would become the righteousness of God in Him

It is a very bad over-reaction against those who say that Christ was made corrupt to deny redemptive history and to falsely claim that Christ was never MADE anything.

The second person of the Trinity is not a person in abstraction from the human nature that this person would in future take on.
The Logos is not a mediator between the two natures of Christ the person.
The lifting up of Christ the person to death is the revelation and exaltation of Christ the person.
The immutability of Christ cannot mean that Christ does not die and rise from the dead in history

I Corinthians 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam BECAME a living being”. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Christ before and after incarnation is God
God the Son always has the Father
Christ’s death is not God’s apology to sinners
Christ’s death is God’s satisfaction to God for the sins of the sinners who God loves

I John 4: 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

God is not our love.
God is not our idea of “eternity”.
God the Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the elect.
God the Son is the man who obtained righteousness by death

Romans 5: 17 Because by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man Adam, how much more will those who receive the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ

Romans 6 teaches that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justifies have all the grace any other elect person has.

While unbelievers trust in God to help them to sin less, those who have been delivered to the gospel will remember even in the age to come that there are only two kind of sinners,—guilty sinners and justified sinners .

Revelation 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

We justify God because God has revealed God. And God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God’s words reveal God to be Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect.

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “sovereignty always wins”. One. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God. Two, it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. Let that cause us to fear God and to confess the gospel and our sins before God.

My Prayer for Hope and Wisdom in a New Decade

Posted January 2, 2020 by markmcculley
Categories: faith

Tags: , ,

For the new year, I am praying for myself, for more faith in the truth

James 1:4 Endurance must do its complete work, in order that you become mature 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously and without criticizing, and wisdom will be given to them . 6 But ask in faith without doubting. Because the doubter is like the sea, driven up and down by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 To be indecisive is to be unstable

Lord willing, I am turning 65 this year, in May. I have even less friends this year than I had last year. The only way I could go back to any “church” I know about is to be dishonest. These “churches” are way more welcoming when we agree to disagree—we don’t say anymore what we think, they don’t want to hear it–“church” works better when we don’t think about what we don’t think about…

It is difficult to get a person to understand something when their entire way of life depends on them not understanding it. I am not only talking about professionals who make an easy living off of religion. I am talking about people who want to keep going to the same church.

That church down in White Settlement, Texas, the one that kills people who come into their space to kill them, that church is not so different from other churches. We don’t kill for Jesus, but the people we do kill are not human but evil. We are heroes not evil. We are just “human”, so if you don’t vote or support the military, then maybe it’s you who is not saved. When you kill, that’s for one kingdom and not for the other kingdom, and everybody has different roles. Everybody has at least two masters.

Why not fake being normal and going back to some church? I don’t want to. Any church I know would accuse me now for not going to some church. In or out of “church”, we believe whatever we think we need to believe.

If they need the metaphors to not be metaphors, they can and do believe this without more questions. If they don’t like “legal metaphors”, they make for themselves a distinction between the legal and the personal.
I accuse them of talking about “covenant” because they don’t want to talk about election or about Christ’s death being limited to only the elect.

“Do you have to talk about that?”

When they accuse me of being “abstract”, I accuse them of rejecting the objective penal meaning of Christ’s death and of not caring much about the truth of who Christ the person is. They have a more or less personal relationship with some people in their church.

Romans 4: 19 Abraham considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old). Abraham also thought about Sarah’s dead womb. Without weakening in the faith. 20 Abraham did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise. God caused Abraham to be stronger in his faith. Abraham gave glory to God, 21 because Abraham was fully convinced that what Abraham had promised Abraham was also able to perform.

God did not credit Abraham’s faith as the righteousness. God credited to Abraham the righteousness of Christ’s death. Abraham’s faith was not in his faith. Abraham’s faith was in the righteousness that did not yet exist. Abraham’s faith was in the righteousness not yet obtained by Christ’s death. Abraham believed that Christ would die. Abraham did not believe that Christ had already died. But God then and there imputed Christ’s death to Abraham. Back then at that time, God justified Abraham.

The justification of Abraham meant that Abraham had immunity from condemnation before God.
Before that, Abraham was condemned before God.
Before God justified Abraham, God imputed sins to Abraham.
After God justified Abraham, God no longer imputed sins to Abraham.

You can dismiss “justification before God” as a tattoo that cannot be removed, or as a “get out of punishment pass”. But Abraham had lasting security before God. Abraham could lose friends and family, but Abraham could not lose God.

Romans 4:17 Abraham believed in God, who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist

Humans being in the image of God does not mean that humans will always live somewhere.
Humans being in the image of God does not mean that death is another form of life.
Satan was lying when Satan said we would not die.
God being God does not mean that everything has already happened.
God being God does not mean that God does not cause us to believe and hope for the future.

James 2: 21 After Abraham was justified by God before God, Abraham offered Isaac his son on the altar. 22 Abraham’s faith was not perfect but also Abraham’s faith was not fake. Abraham was called God’s friend.

So I ask God for myself faith and hope for this new year

James 3: 33 Who really is wise and has understanding? Who has wisdom’s gentleness? 14 Do not brag about believing the truth, Do not deny the truth. Do not fake the truth….16 Anywhere selfish ambition exists, there is disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom given from above is pure and peace-loving, gentle, full of mercy and free from hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace

Job had too many friends
Satan accused God
Satan accused Job
Satan says that none of us will die

Job was a sinner
Job was not fake.
Job accused his friends.
Job accused God.

James 5: 11 we count as blessed those who have been patient. You have heard of Job’s patience and have seen the outcome of that patience. The Lord is very merciful. 12 Now above all, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,”.
Do not be fakes. 13 Are you suffering? Pray. Are you cheerful? Sing praises…19 if anybody strays from THE TRUTH and someone turns them back to the TRUTH, 20 they will save their life from death

John 7: So the family of Jesus said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, in order that others also see what you are doing. 4 Because no one works in secret if they seeks to be known openly. Show yourself to the world.”

Some think we will show the world what the gospel is without words, simply by what we do and by not being sinners like other people are. Matthew 5:16 let your light shine before others, in order that they give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Only by the light of the gospel can others see in what we do that our faith is NOT in what we do to prove our faith to other people.

John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, they will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
John 7:17 is not teaching us that learning is not important. That would be ironic indeed–learning that learning is not important. Nor is John 7:17 teaching that learning depends on us doing God’s will, or on “wanting to” do God’s will. There is no such thing as doing God’s will before we know what God’s will is. But there is such a thing as “dead works” in which our doing is sin against God. Any doing done in order to get God to bless us is doing that God hates.

We can’t do stuff in order to trigger our believing, because we need to repent of our doing. Not only do we need to repent of doing what God never commanded us to do, but also we need to repent of any doing which displaces faith in what Christ has already done by His death and resurrection.
We can’t just do stuff, because some doing is evil in God’s sight. Some do what is true, some do what is not true.

John 3:19 This is the judgment–the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light BECAUSE their works were evil. 20 They hate the light and doe not come to the light, because their good works would be exposed as sin. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light…

Romans 6:20—when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. The fruit you were getting at that time now shames you as self–righteousness The end of that doing is death


Not only God’s Purpose, Immanuel with Us Lifted Up to Death Once for the Sins of the Elect

Posted December 11, 2019 by markmcculley
Categories: death, election, resurrection

Tags: , ,

God the Son became incarnate in order to die under law and wrath for the sins of the elect imputed to Him. By His death Jesus Christ obtained the righteousness revealed in the gospel. Christ was raised from the dead because Christ’s death has obtained reconciliation (righteousness) for all those whose sins had been imputed to Christ by God. When God imputes that righteousness to the elect, they believe the gospel and are justified before God. You don’t have to use the same words (imputation, righteousness, reconciliation) to define the gospel, but you do have to believe the same gospel or you are not yet justified.

Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of God’s nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, the Son sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

If Jesus Christ made purification for all the sins of all sinners, and if not all sinners are justified, then the death of Jesus Christ was neither just nor effective nor necessary. Though God cannot die, the person Jesus Christ who is both God and human did die. This is not only a “plan”. The gospel good news is something that happened in history.

Hebrews 2: 10 it was entirely appropriate that God…should make the source of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For the One who sanctifies and those who sanctified all have one Father.

God’s sovereignty does NOT mean that God justifies some sinners without any gospel. God does not give “salvation” without Christ having once died to obtain that salvation. God does not impute Christ’s death to those for whom Christ died until God also teaches them not only to know the meaning of the gospel but causes them to obey this gospel by believing this gospel and repenting of other false gospels (which are not gospel). Being justified is not something caused by water. Sinners are either justified and sanctified before God, or they are not justified and sanctified before God. There is no intermediate state of “justified but needing to be more justified” (or sanctified) .

Hebrews 5: 7 The Son offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and the Son was heard because of His reverence. 8 Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. 9 After the Son was perfected, the Son became the source of lasting salvation for all who obey Him

God only justifies those who obey the gospel. The claim that God justifies without the gospel is a false gospel.

Acts 17: You worship in ignorance, so I proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, because God is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is God served by humans, as though God needed anything, since God Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and God made from one human every group of humans to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 in order that they would seek God, perhaps to grasp for God and to find God, though God is not far from each one of us; 28 for in God we live and move and exist… we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of humans

Those who teach (or leave implied) that Jesus Christ died for all humans are teaching a false gospel. Those who find assurance in water or church or temple membership find comfort in a false gospel.

Isaiah saw and worshiped God the Son, the person who always was but who in time, became also human, GOD WITH US, Immanuel.

Isaiah 6: Then I said:
Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have SEEN the King,
the Lord of Hosts.

Isaiah 7:14 The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

Isaiah 9: 6 For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Lasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 50: 6 I gave My back to those who beat Me,
and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard.
I did not hide My face from scorn and spitting.

Isaiah 53: He was despised and rejected by humans…
He was someone people turned away from
He was despised, and we did not value Him.
We regarded Him as stricken and struck down by God

If we are mistaken to believe in imputation and substitution happening in history, then Christ’s death was NOT an accomplishment. If no sins were actually imputed by God to Christ, then Christ’s death was merely an injustice brought about by humans. If the elect were never SEEN BY GOD in their sins, and if Christ was never legally imputed with sins, there is no good NEWS.

Luke 9: 29 As Jesus was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men were talking with Jesus—Moses and Elijah. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of His DEPARTURE (his death), which Jesus was about to ACCOMPLISH in Jerusalem

John 3: 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man MUST be lifted up, 15 in order that as many as who believe in Him will have lasting life.

John 8:26 the One who sent Me is true, and what I have heard from Him—these things I tell the world.” 27 They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the Son of Man…”

John 12: 34 Then the crowd replied to Jesus, “We have heard from the scripture that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up”….37 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him. 38 This was to FULFILL THE WORD of Isaiah the prophet
Lord, who has believed our message?
39 They were unable to believe, because Isaiah said:
40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
in order that they would not see with their eyes
or understand with their hearts, and be converted,
41 Isaiah said these things because Isaiah saw His glory and spoke about Him.

John 14:9 The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

God the Son is not only God, because God the Son ALSO was and is WITH GOD. God the Son was and is with God the Father and with God the Holy Spirit. This same person is NOW WITH US. Even though God the Son is now absent from us in His humanity (yes this is strange). God the Son up in heaven now is and always from now on will be in our humanity.

God the Son was under law and wrath, because God the Son died in strict substitution for all the sins of all the elect, and all those elect will be given the reconciliation accomplished by the death of God the Son. God the Son is no longer under law and wrath. God the Father was never under law and wrath .

Romans 6: 9-10,”We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives to God.

The gospel good news is not only Christ’s death but also Christ’s resurrection because Christ obtained justification that will be given to all the elect for whom Christ died.

Jonah 2:6 — “The earth with its prison bars was around me olam, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.” (Olam means “indefinite duration. )

Matthew 12: 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

Psalm 71: 20 God, who is like You?
You caused me many troubles
but You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.

Revelation 1: 18 I am the First and the Last and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.

God did NOT create us with human minds that are separate from human bodies. God did NOT create us with “immortal immaterial consciousness” . God did NOT create us with “disembodied free wills that exist forever”. Genesis 2:7 teaches that God gives breath to dust to create “living souls” (persons). God warns us that persons not justified before God are “souls that sin and shall die”. The gospel teaches us to fear the God who can and will destroy souls to whom Christ’s death will never be imputed.

I Corinthians 15: 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins. 18 Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ would also PERISHED….. But Christ HAS BEEN RAISED from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep

Resurrection is the only solution and our only hope. The traditional idea of a death that is only “separation” but not perishing is nothing but Satan’s lie republished (you shall not die)

Acts 2: 29 David is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, David knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing this in advance, David spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ. Jesus was not left in Hades. 32 God has resurrected this Jesus from death and the grave.

The Gospel of Election and Justification in the Book of Acts

Posted November 14, 2019 by markmcculley
Categories: arminians, atonement, election, PCA, Reformed clergy

Tags: , ,

Many men who want to be paid as “Reformed” clergy don’t want to ever preach about the doctrines of election and non-election.

“Of course we know that the apostles were not Arminians, but from the book of Acts we can’t tell if yet if they are “Reformed”, so we can present the gospel without any reference to the doctrine of election.  For example, we know for sure that the thief on the cross who lived in Israel had never heard about election. So what Jesus Himself taught about election in some times or places is not necessarily model for us.” (Jesus didn’t have a famlly or a pension plan. )

Acts 16: 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

Reformed clergy– and we have no idea what word they spoke to them, and how “seeker-friendly” it might have been, but we know for sure that they didn’t talk about the new birth, which is an act of God not of man, and a secret thing. And we also know for sure that they didn’t talk about how “Christt’s finished atonement” is received by imputation, because imputation is not an experience but secret and invisible and the atonement was in the past and not in our hearts.   

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, HANDED OVER according to the DEFINITE  and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Acts 4: 27 Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your PLAN HAD PREDESTINED to take place.

Acts 13: 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying in the word of the Lord, and as many as HAD BEEN APPOINTED BY GOD to lasting life believed.

Matthew 11: 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 18 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Acts 17: 30 God now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because God has set a day when God  is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man God has appointed. God has provided proof of this to everyone by raising this Man from the dead.”

John 8:  24 You will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He who I told you I was, you will die in your sins.

John 8: 32 Only the truth will set you free.” 33 “We are in the covenant family of  Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been slaves to anyone. How can You say, ” become free’?

John 8:46  I tell the truth, but you don’t believe me. 47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. You don’t listen, because you are not from God.”

John 10: 5 The sheep  will never follow a stranger; instead th sheep  will run away from a straner, because the sheep don’t recognize the voice of strangers.

John 10: 15 I lay down My life for the sheep

John 10: 26 Some of  you don’t believe because some of you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice,

The Reformed clergy who won’t preach election disagree with Jesus about what Jesus says about electiion.   These clergy believe that, even if you reverse what Jesus tught and believe that “people are not sheep because they don’t believe”, this still has nothing to do one way or the other with the gospel you need to believe.

These clergy deny that anybody who believes the gospel needs to agree with Jesus about election . First of all, they teach that you can completely disagree with Jesus and say instead that “you become a sheep because you believe”. Second, the clergy  insist that those outside the covennant (and most of those inside, except the people in the Sproul video class)  you should only pay attention to what is taught in the book of Acts.  Christ dying only for the elect is not in Acts, they claim, therefore election should not be taught.  Jesus being raised after death is enough, except if you want to become a Reformed clergy person (then you need to sign if not study what the Confessions teach).

The idea is that, whatever gospel may be taught by Jesus in the gospels, or by the apostles in the epistles, the lost should only pay attention to the gospel found in Acts. Without speculating about their greedy  motives for this dogma about “only in Acts”, we have to ask where the Bible teaches “the gospel for the lost is found only in one place” and “the gospel for the found is found in other places”.

Though Reformed clergy never boast in election or glory in teaching the truth about Christ having died only for the elect so that all the elecct will be justified, Reformed clergy do boast in NOT BEING DISPENSATIONALIST ( with one gospel for some people, and another gospel for another time and place and people) Even so, these same clergy despise  the doctrine of unconditional election so much that they teach that 1. the doctrine of unconditional election is not to be found in the book of Acts and that 2. anything about election in other parts of the Bible does not need to be taught, either to those outside the covenant faamily or to those inside the covenant family.  Indeed, one device in their campaign of silence against election is the idea of “the covenant” which makes no distinction between elect and non-elect.

In Assured by God ( 2006, p 45), Philip Ryken informs us that “election is a family secret”. Ryken writes: “To ask if you are among the elect is to really ask if you are in Christ. If you want to know whether God has chosen you, all you need to know is it you are in Christ.”

This sounds simple but it’s not true.  Which Christ? Is the Christ of the people who deny election the same Christ as the Christ of the people who rejoice in the good news of election? And perhaps more to the point, is the Christ of people who “don’t know about election” the same Christ as the Christ of the people who do know about election?

Is election to be kept a secret from those not in the covenant family or election also so not necessary to the gospel that it can be kept secret (and/or denied) when clergy preach to the “covenant family”?

I certainly agree that nobody can know if they are elect before they believe the gospel. But this is NOT the same thing as saying that nobody CAN OR SHOULD  know about election before they believe the gospel. The Bible teaches election as inherently part of  the gospel, and as something to be proclaimed to all who read the Bible and who hear the gospel. (Romans 9:11 Though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad-in
order that God’s purpose of ELECTION woul continue, not because of works but because of His call.

The Christ who died only for the elect is not the same Christ as the counterfeit Christ who died for everybody. Those who believe that Christ died for everybody do not believe in what the Bible says about election and therefore do not believe in the gospel.

It does not matter if we say that these people (most evangelicals) don’t know about election or if we say that they know about election and reject it in favor of their preference for a “Jesus” who died for everybody. Most Reformed clergy have “don’t ask don’t tell rule” by which they never talk about election even to professing Christians for fear or rejection (of the clergy?, or of the true Christ?)

In either case, be it ignorance or rejection. most professing Christians do NOT believe that all for whom Jesus died will be justified. Even most people who do not profess to be Christians are sure that Jesus died for them. In most places in the United States, even most of the non-professing Christians (emocrats or Republicans) think they know that God loves everybody,

We shall not find proof of our election in ourselves. But neither can we find proof of our election in our believing a false gospel which teaches a false Christ who died for those who will perish. Ryken writes: “Since election is in Christ, it is often best understood after one becomes a Christian…While you are outside of God’s family, you may not hear about predestination at all; once you are in the family, however, it makes the most perfect sense in the world.”

The DISHONSTY of this claim by Ryken is that he knows that most who claim to be now in God’s family STILL do not believe in election. Ryken knows that most of these people have not even heard about election, and all the soundbites about “they re Calvinists when they pray” do not change this reality. Many of Ryken’s fellow evangelicals say that God knew ahead of time who to “elect” because God saw ahead of time who would “accept Jesus by faith”. Now it could be said that this shows that they do believe in a kind of election, but becoming elect by accepting Jesus is not what the Bible teaches.

Ryken claims that the kind of election which he describes  makes good sense to people after they become Christians. How then does he explain that most “Christians” still don’t know the family secret? If there were indeed an election-free gospel which one could accept and thus get oneself united to Christ, why would it be important for these Christians to learn later the “family secret”?

Ryken does not question the salvation of those who don’t learn the “family secret”. Nor does he question the salvation of those who deny the “family secret”. Nor does he pause to doubt the assurance of those who think the “secret” is that God knew ahead of time who would believe.

Too many Arminians belong to “the covenant family” which pays the salary of Reformed clergy for them to ever doubt that these folks have believed the gospel. Whatever their “gospel”, Reformed clergy agrees with their congregations that their Arminian  faith in their Arminian  gospel has effectively united them to Christ so that they are now “in Christ”.

Why talk about Romans 8 or John 10 when you can quote Donald Gray Barnhouse? “Imagine a cross like the cross on which Jesus died, only so large that it has a door in it and a sign over it: whosoever may come….On the other side of the door, a happy surprise waits the one who enters. From the inside, anyone glancing back can see the words on this side of the door: chosen…”

Reformed clergy who never talk about election cannot and should not be surprised that so many don’t ever look back and read the word “chosen”? Why do so many still understand that “chosen” to mean “because you chose first and God saw you would choose”? Why do so many clergy insist that “election is not something to be preached” if it’s such a “happy and wimsome surprise”?

The problem here is not “how much” or “how little” is being taught by Arminians. The problem is that Arminians are teaching the OPPOSITE of the truth. Does the holy God of truth justfy sinners from their sins for God’s glory by using the opposite of the truth? We need antithesis. Which of the five false doctrines believed by Arminians is part of the gospel? If none of them is the gospel, why would we think that those who are teaching those five false doctrines are teaching the gospel?

What is the gospel? Is the idea that “Christ finished the atonement” the gospel? Is it still the gospel if clergy teach that this “finished atonement” is only imputed to some of the sinners for whom it was finished?

Is it still the gospel if other clergy teach that this “finished atonement” is already imputed to sinners who still don’t know the “secrets” about election or regeneration or justification?

Is ‘finished the atonement” still the gospel if clergy teach that since “finished means already imputed”, that no elect person ever was condemned or needed to become imputed with Christ’s death”?

Is “finished the atonement” still the gospel if clergy teach that “the atonement was always already finished” ? Some clergy now are even teaching the error that God elected those who were always already justified.

The Guilt Issue Between God and You

Posted November 5, 2019 by markmcculley
Categories: atonement, election

Tags: , , , ,

What follows is not an attempt to be scholarly or technical. I am trying to write plainly, to people who either are right now condemned before God or justified before God. I don’t have a system that finds three or four realms of meaning for “justification” in the Bible. God is your creator. God is my creator. God is not off somewhere in some timelesss space, where God forgets our guilt. God is not “out there” in some “never now and never then” time, where God never knew we were born guilty. If we do not yet believe the gospel, guilt before God is an objective issue (the thing itself) between us and God. If we do not yet believe the gospel, we can know right now that God is our enemy. It’s not only that we are enemies of God.

Even though you did not sin when Adaam sinned, the guilt of Adam’s first sin is imputed by God to you when you are born. All of us are born guilty and condemned. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law.

Romans 1 The gospel is about God the Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, who was a descendant of David according to his humanity and who has been declared to be just by resurrection from the dead

Romans 1: 16 The gospel is God’s power for salvation to AS MANY AS WHO BELIEVE

The prophet Habakkuk wrote—-Those justifed will live by faith.

I write to warn you. 2 Corinthians 2:15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life.

You may protest and say that “the only gospel you want to hear” is that which assures you and tells you that you were already justified before God without knowing the gospel. You may want a different “not so scary” gospel. But I plainly warn you that you were born guilty before God and already condemned by God. You don’t need to hear the gospel in order to be condemned. But you do need to hear and believe the gospel in order to be justified. And if you hear the gospel but don’t believe the gospel, this leaves you at the same place as not hearing the gospel—-“an aroma of death leading to death”.

John 3: 17 God did not send His Son into the world because all the elect were already justified. The Son did not come into the world in order to cause God to love the elect. God sent His Son because God loved the elect and the death of the Son was necessary for the justification of all the elect.
18 Anyone who believes in the Son is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned.

There is no exception here. There is NO QUALIFICATION that says “those who will believe are already not condemned”

John 3:36 The one who believes in the Son already has lasting life, but the one who does not believe in the Son will not see life. The wrath of God remains on the one who does not believe in the Son.

There is again NO QUALIFICATION that says “the wrath of God is never on those who in the future will believe in the Son.” To the contrary, as long as you do not know or believe the gospel, the wrath of God remainss on you. Believing the gospel is not the righteousness which takes away the wrath of God. Christ’s death imputed to you is the ONLY THING which will take away the wrath of God. But if you do not yet believe the gospel, this is evidence that you remain in condemnation before God. Speculating that you might be elect is no solution for you. There is no justification for those who do not yet believe the gospel.

Romans 2:12 All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law

Romans 3:6 Is God unrighteous to judge the world? Absolutely not.

Romans 3:19 Every mouth will be shut. The whole world is subject to God’s judgment.

All of us are born guilty and condemned. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law.

There is a foolish philosphy that speculates that because God is morally unchanging in character and nature, that this means that God cannot act in time. This vanity sugggest that God creating in time would be “God changing”. This sophistry claims that God has no past and that God has no future. But the Bible gospel teaches that God the Son became incarnate (added a human nature, and died as the mediator “man”). The death and resurrection of God the Son is now done. That part of God’s history is finished, even though God the Son now remains both God and man.

The same God who has a past has a future. As Christ already died for all God’s elect, even so Christ will come back to give immortality to all God has elected and will have justified,

Hebrews 9: 26 Christ has appeared one time for the REMOVAL OF SIN by the sacrifice of Himself. 28 so also Christ , having been offered ONCE to BEAR THE SINS of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him

The sins of the elect were not already removed before Christ died. Christ was imputed with sins, Christ bore sins, Christ died for sins. Christ is no longer imputed with sins, Christ is no longer dead, and God will impute Christ’s death to all those for whom Christ died. It was not only us who “had an issue with God”. God still has an issue with all sinners who are not yet justified. Those who do not yet believe the gospel give evidence that GOD STILL HAS AN ISSUE WITH THEM. if God did not still “have an issue” with you, then you would be already be believing the gospel. If God had already imputed Christ’s death to you, then you would already believe the gospel.

The issue God has with those God still condemens is the ISSUE OF GUILT. Christ’s death for imputed sins is the ONLY THING that removed guilt. Until God imputes Christ’s Death to you, you are guilty before God. It is not your “experience” or faith in the gospel which removes guilt. But you can know for sure that you are still condemned before God as long as you do not yet believe the gospel.

Romans 6: 9-10 Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death NO LONGER rules over Christ 10 Christ DIED TO SIN once for all time

Romans 6: 17 Thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to.

God has not yet imputed Christ’s death to those who are still slaves of sin, who still have not yet obeyed the gospel.

Romans 3:22 God’s righteousness THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ, come to all who BELIEVE the gospel. 23 Because all have sinned

Those who are justified before God are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that was obtained by Christ Jesus.

Romnas 3:26 God presented Christ as a propitiation through FAITH IN His blood, to demonstrate God’s righteousness, in order that God would be BOTH righteous and declare justified the one WHO HAS FAITH IN Jesus.

God has an unchanging righteous character and nature. Before Abraham believed the gospel, God had a “guilt issue” with Abraham. God did not change but when God imputed Christ’s death to Abraham, then Abraham believed the gospel and God justified Abraham.

God has an unchanging righteous character and nature. Before Christ died, God the Trinity had a “guilt issue” with Christ. When Christ “died to sin”, Christ became the righteousness of God. When Christ “died to sin”, Christ became the propitation that “takes away guilt”. After Christ “died to sin”, Christ became the reconciliation. This “reconciliation” is NOT what God does inside the hearts of sinners, to make them friends of God. The “reconcilition” Christ obtained by His death is that which “takes away God’s wrath to the guilty”. When Abraham “received this reconciliation”, God imputed the reconciliation by death to Abraham and God justified Abraham, who had been born guilty, ungodly and condemned.

All of us are born guilty and condemned. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law. If you do not yet believe the gospel, this is all the evidence you need to know that God is still your enemy. If God is still your enemy, you have not yet “received the reconciliation” and this is why you still do not believe the gospel.

Romans 3:28 a sinner is justified THROUGH FAITH apart from works

Romans 4 Abraham was not justified before Abraham believed God, God did not count Abraham’s faith as righteousness or justification. Abraham believed God when God credited Christ’s death to ungodly Abraham. God counted Christ’s death as Abrahaam’s righteousness when Abraham believed God. Abraham was born ungodly.

Those God has already elected are also born guilty before God and condemned by God. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law (or any part of the law). Justification is God’s verdict only when and where God has imputed Christ’s death. God’s character and nature do not change, and God does not justify those God has not yet placed into Christ’s death. God does not bypass the law or the death demanded by God’s law. Only Christ’s death is the reconciliation that takes away “the guilt issue”.

Romans 4: 2 To the one who obeys law or works, reward is not considered a gift but as something owed. 5 But to the ungodly who do NOT WORK BUT BELIEVE on Him God declares the ungodly to be justified

Romans 4: 16 God gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not yet exist

Romans 4: 24 Christ’s death will be credited to as many as who believe in God who raised Jesus the Lord from the dead. 25 God the Son was handed over because of our sins and God the Son was raised up from the dead because of our certain justification.

God did not ask your permission for you to be born. God did not ask your permission to impute Adam’s sin to you.

Even though you did not sin when Adam sinned, the guilt of Adam’s first sin is imputed by God to you when you are born. All of us are born guilty and condemned. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law.

Christ died because of some of those to whom Adam’s sin was imputed. Christ did not die for all to whom Adam’s sin was imputed. But Christ did die because of all the sins of those God has elected in Christ.
All the sinners born elect in Christ were born guilty in Adam, and Christ was raisied up from the dead because all of these elect will certainly and legally be justified, when Christ’s death is imputed by God to them and when they believe the gospel.

The faith God commands in the gospel is not faith that you are elect or justified. The faith that God commands in the gospel is not you giving God permission to elect you or to justify you.
Faith in the gospel is obedience and submission to the God who has already elected those who will be justified.

Romans 9: 11 God’s PURPOSE according to election WILL STAND— 12 not from works but from the One who calls

Faith in the gospel is obedience and submission to the God who will not justify by your works.
Faith in the gospel is obedience and submission to the God who only justifies by means of “the righteousness through faith”.

Romans 9:30 There is the righteousness that COMES THROUGH FAITH

Romaans 10: 3 Many disregard the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness. They have not themselves SUBMITTED TO God’s righteousness. 4 Because only Christ is the removal of guilt and wrath before the law for righteousness to AS MANY AS WHO BELIEVE.

If YOU do not yet belive the gospel, this shows that God is still your enemy. If YOU do not yet believe the gospel, this is plain evidence that you still do not believe that God ever had a “guilt issue” with you that is only removed for the elect by Christ’s death. You may think your faith removes the “guilt issue”. You may believe that God is so far out of time and space that God has no “guilt issues”. But whatever you believe, if you are not yet submitted through faith to God’s righteousness, then you are still condemned in your guilt.

Romans 5: When these ungodly sinners have been declared righteous THROUGH FAITH , they will not only have peace in their own minds but they will have peace with God through the death of the Lord Jesus. The death of the Lord Jesus was required by God in order for God to have peace with those imputed with Christ’s death. The death of the Lord Jesus happened in history because the God who already loved the elect in Christ handed over Christ to death in order to satisfy God’s requirement for death because of sin.

Even though Satan had said that sinners won’t die, Christ died for elect sinners in order that those elect sinners would not permanently die but instead would certainly and legally be justified because of
Christ’s death.

This is not simply an issue in your head, only having to do with what you think about yourself or about who you think “God” is or is not. This is not a mere “effect of preaching”.
This is an issue about God’s requiring the death of God the Son as the only just and effective satisfaction for the sin of Adam or for any other sin.

Even though you did not sin when Adam sinned, the guilt of Adam’s first sin is imputed by God to you when you are born. All of us are born guilty and condemned. None of us can be justified by our keeping the law.

Romans 5:9 There are some elect sinners who have now been declared righteous by Christ’s death and they will be saved through Christ from wrath. 10 While they were God’s enemies (not only enemies of God), they were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.

Having now been reconciled, those who are now justified will be saved by Christ’s resurrection 11 Those who have now received God’s reconciliation have been legally given by God Christ’s death.

Christ’s past death is NOT “what Adam could have done”. Christ’s past death is NOT “what was always done” (and therefore by implicatio never done)

Romans 5:12 Sin entered the world through one man Adam. Guilt entered the world through one man’s guilt. Corruption to all came because of the guilt of the one human. Corruption to all came because the guilt of the one man was imputed to all humans.

Death entered the world through one man’s guilt. Before sin came through death, death came through the guilt of Adam. Dying, you shall die. Mortal humans began to die because of Adam’s sin imputed. All became sinners because Adam sinned. All became guilty because Adam was guilty and Adam’s gullt was imputed by God to all humans.

Death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Even though you did not sin when Adam sinned, the guilt of Adam’s first sin is imputed by God to you when you are born. All of us are born guilty and condemned. Have you believed the gospel yet? Do you know what the good news is? Is the good news “who God is” but “not what Christ did new in history”?


God condemns all who are born with Adam’s guilt. That’s who God is. The only good news is for those who believe the good news. The good news is “Christ died to sin”. If you choose to believe that “this can only be good news if Christ died for sins for everybody imputed with Adam’s sin”, then there is no good news for you. If you decide to believe that “God does not change and God has no guilt issues”, then there is no good news for you, because there is only one God and the only God there is declares guilty all whose not yet imputed with Christ’s death to sin.

Hebrews 10: 5 You prepared a body for Me.

Hebrews 10: 10 Those who are now sanctified have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all time

Hebrews 10: 17 I will never again remember their sins 18 Now where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no more offering for sin.

Does God still count your guilt against you? You were born guilty, and if you do not yet believe the gospel, that is basic evidence that Christ’s death offering for the guilt of the elect has not yet been imputed to you. There is no good news for those who have not yet believed the news about Christ’s death TO TAKE AWAY GUILT AND WRATH.

Hebrews 10: 28 If anyone disregarded the law of Moses, they died without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, and regarded as common (universal) the blood of the covenant by which Christ was sanctified?

There is nothing “hypothetical” about this warning (or the others in Hebrews). The logic of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin” is not that Christ died for every sinner, and that every sinner had a “chance” or an “opportunity” to be saved, if they accepted “the offer”. NO. The logic rather is that now and always there has been only sacrifice that really IN HISTORY TAKES AWAY GUILT AND GOD’S WRATH. Only the death sacrifice of the one who is both God and man takes way the guilt issue. The same God who condemns as guilty all those who are born is the only God who gives Christ’s death to take away the sins of the elect. The same God who condemns as guilty all those who are born is the only God who imputes Christ’s death to the elect and justifies them.

For any sinner, there is only one sacrifice that take away sins, and it’s Christ’s propitiatory death. This does not at all mean that Christ has died for every sinner. It means that everyone born guilty needs Christ’s death. But only the guilt of the elect the Father has given the Son was imputed by God to the Son, and the Son was only made a propitiation for that guilt. Christ’s death is not enough for every sinner, because it was never intended for every sinner. I don’t ask if you are a “believer”. If you deny this gospel about propitiation for guilt imputed, then you deny the God revealed in the Bible.

Even though nobody died with Christ when Christ died, the righteousness of Christ’s death is imputed by God to all for whom Christ died at some point in their history, after they are born condemned and guilty before God. This imputation of Christ’s death results in them believing the gospel and being justified by God before God.

Romans 5:14 death reigns over those who did not sin the sin of Adam but who are nevertheless imputed with Adam’s sin.

Romans 5:21 As sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through Christ’s death, resulting in lasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord

Grace reigns over those whose death cannot themslevvess satisfy God for their sins but who are nevertheless imputed with Christ’s death. When God imputes to the ungodly Christ’s death, these sinners are given life to believe the gospel and are justified. This is the reign of grace, which results in lasting life