Archive for May 2011

There is No “New Creature” Inside Us

May 31, 2011

Neither is there a “new man” inside us. We don’t “become a new creature”. We pass over from being part of the old creation to being legally part of the new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 6:15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

When I think of the “new creation”, why do I think of justification, and not only about regeneration? Well, I ask, why do most Calvinists draw the line between two natures? Where does the Bible talk about the new creation being a new nature? Where does the Bible talk about union with Christ being a new nature? Why don’t you draw the line between the justified and the condemned?

I am not denying the new birth or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that the new birth is not “union with Christ” and that it does not result in something called “the new nature”. The “new man” has to do with a change in legal state, and not first of all with a change of substance or nature.

II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh”.

We should not judging the new creation by morality or immorality or by anything other than the gospel of justification. “If anyone is in Christ, there is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed; the new has come.”

“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “those who live” is also not about a change of substance or nature but about an imputed reality, legal life because of justification.

The “new man” is first of all about a legal change of identity, a legal before and after. It’s not gradual; it’s an either or—- this legal state or that legal state. The new is not continually caused by a “sacramental feeding on Christ” but by God’s imputation of what God did in Christ in His death and resurrection.

Christ is here by His Spirit, yes, but not in some different way because of water or bread and wine. And also, Christ is not here, not yet, and we believe and obey and hope, waiting for the day when Christ will be here. He has not not yet come down from heaven as He will someday, and heaven has no Christians in it yet, no matter what the “minister of the sacrament” might say.

John 3: 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

So how then are we in Christ? Only for those now in Christ legally has the old has passed. For some of the elect, God has already declared the legal verdict. One day, at the resurrection, there will be visible evidence of that verdict. God is justified in justifying the ungodly elect.

Some Folks Like Sacraments Better Than Memorials, Because Sacraments Can Kill You but Memorials Can’t

May 27, 2011

when we deny that each atom of the bread
contains God completely,
the priests explain that it makes no difference
what those sectarians think is happening

because history tells us, the tradition,
the story that works
(not for the sectarians ,we killed them)
that Christ is fully present in the bread

the chaplains defend the narrative
thank god this day for constantine
and all those who make it possible for us to worship
in liberty and peace

grateful to those in the military
the service men and women, the heroes,
the killers who stand between us
and the chaos of apocalypse and liberalism
thankful we do not have to face revelations

the soldiers are cheap, their lives also,
they kill for us so that we don’t have to
the priests cost more but they assure us

this is not nostalgia for the past,
the sacrament is liminal
here where now is and no there or no then

We have paid the priests to tell us about the one church
for all times and all places,.
to tell us that sectarians are atheists posing as protestants

Leithart (page 333): “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” Of course Leithart is not only describing what God has predestined; his concern is ethics. Mine two.

Either Leithart is right or we pacifists are right. According to Leithart, Adam’s problem was that he was a pacifist in regard to Satan. If Leithart is right, as we get to newer covenants (or, “newer administrations of the one covenant”, as the ideology likes to say it), then the newer the covenant, the more responsibility all of us have to kill for the sake of the covenant.

And thus Leithart contextualizes Jesus, so that His dying at the cross (rather than killing) is particular, specific, and unique, and not an example for anybody.

I remember the old days when theonomists mocked Ron Sider for his leading questions: is God a Marxist? Ron never said God was, but he kinda implied it. And so today, the theonomists ask the leading question: is turning the other cheek a rebuke of self defense or the defense of others?

How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and we know that Augustine was a Christian, and thus we know that Augustine’s version of Just war was also the politics of Jesus.

You Wouldn’t Kill for Jesus, but You would for the USA?

May 27, 2011

Romans 5 teaches that humans are born imputed with Adam’s guilt. Only a liberal would deny original sin. There are numerous other examples of corporate guilt in Scripture. For example, in Joshua 7, thirty-six Israelite killers die because of the sin of Achan, and then his family members are executed with him because of his sin. In II Samuel 2, seven of Saul’s sons are executed for their father’s sins.

What God in his sovereignty ordains gives no humans anywhere an excuse to hate other sinners. Even though so many soldiers have died because of the lies of Bush and Obama, this historical fact does not mean that their deaths are justified.

Deuteronomy 24:16 explicitly prohibits humans from killing one person in the place of another: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers.”

This means that we cannot read the face of providence (as the Westboro group does) and determine when and how justice was done. God will judge the secrets of our hearts (Romans 2:16, Hebrews 4:12), but we humans cannot and should not try to imitate that apocalypse.

Some liberals think that any notion of God being judgmental in the future only leads to violence now. But that liberal judgment defies Romans 12: 19—“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

In Luke 13: 4-5, the Lord Jesus responded to those attempting to interpret current events: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them; do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” That threat from Jesus is not an endorsement of redemptive violence and “peacemaking war”. It is not an excuse for us to kill anybody.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” (I Peter 2:24) Liberals will tell us
that this event was only humans killing another human and that God had nothing to do with it. But I Peter in context assumes that God does indeed require the blood poured out (the soul, the death of the life of) His Servant for the sins of some other people.

Isaiah 53: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; his soul (his blood poured out) makes an offering for sin…” Liberals will tell us that this is a “flat Bible approach” and much of the Bible is wrong and that we need a more “Jesus-centered” reading.

I Peter 3:18 reads, “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous.” There is no need for any of us to be killing, since there is now no other sacrifice for sins. Liberals will deny that Jesus was punished for the sins of His friends, but it is that very hope which serves as the reason for patience in the face of current tragedies.

I Peter 2:21—“leaving you an example, so that you would follow in his steps…when he suffered, he continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Non-Election is Not Conditioned on the Sinner

May 25, 2011

Ephesians 3:9-11. “To make all (even gentiles) see what is the fellowship/union of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places would be known by the called out elect the manifold wisdom of God according to the permanent purpose which He decreed in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ…”

It is wrong to say that non-election is conditioned on sin: both the elect and the non-elect are sinners–if sin were the cause/condition of non-elect, then all sinners would be non-elect. The reason for non-election is like the reason for election. God’s justice is no less sovereign than God’s grace.

The texts in Ephesians remind us that there is more to know about God than His sovereign justice: His glory is also revealed in His sovereign love and in His sovereign wrath. To know His name is to know Him as the one who has mercy on some and who hardens others.

I deny that non-election is conditioned on sin. God’s very first concern is to manifest His glory in discriminating between sinner and sinner, so that election in Christ from the beginning is an election of sinners. To be outside Christ from the beginning is to be non-elect sinner.

God does not wait for sinners to sin, and then decide to pass some of them by. In the very purpose to elect and to not elect for His glory, God is the Subject and sinners are His objects. God’s choice is the first thing.

Sin is not the first thing, and then God reacts. Neither is creation the first thing, and then God reacts. Sin is necessary if God is to choose between sinners. Only because of God’s choice to choose between sinners, does God ordain sin.

We often hear the phrase “election is not salvation” so that “election is UNTO salvation”. Or that “election is not the gospel” but that election is what causes people to believe the gospel. I want to criticize these often-stated contrasts.

Of course the word “salvation” can be used in different senses. But if the righteousness Christ earned is not for the elect until the elect believe, it makes no difference if you say that the righteousness was earned only for the elect or also for others besides the elect. In any case, it is not the righteousness which is the cause of believing.

The effect of denying election in the gospel is to make Christ’s work of obedience not be the ONLY cause of salvation. It makes the work of the Spirit in the sinner causing the sinner to believe becomes not a result but a condition of Christ’s work.

This false gospel will end up not glorying in the cross but putting the Spirit’s work in the sinner in the determinative place. This false gospel, in which Christ‘s work is not the cause, will also say that “election is not the gospel” but only that which makes sinners believe the gospel.

II Cor 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, in order that those who live will no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 35

p 352—”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith. It is union with Christ that leads to the efficacy of Christ’s work to those who belong to Him.”

ps: One common dodge of election is to deny that God knows about or cares about time. Instead of saying that God is both outside time and inside time, the typical procedure is to deny that God is concerned with order and sequence and time.

The Belly Problem: Philippians 3

May 23, 2011

Philippians 3:18-19 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame-who set their minds on earthly things.”

Notice first Paul’s weeping, his concern, his anguish, not only for those being persecuted, but also for those who are lost and are persecuting. I tell you weeping.

Yes, opposition to the gospel has been predestined. Yes, God has excluded some sinners from salvation before they ever did anything bad (Romans 9). But that does not mean that God works in the means of the death of the non-elect in an identical way as God works in the means of salvation.

Nor does it mean that those who believe the true gospel should be indifferent about those who are ignorant or unsubmitted to the gospel. We can’t say that “it makes no difference to me if you walk away…”

Love does not mean agreeing up front that ones we love are saved. But it does mean doing everything possible to live in a way that agrees with the gospel. And this means talking about the gospel. This means being willing to be questioned and tested. I tell you even weeping.

The reason I insist on talking about the gospel to the enemies of the cross is not only a macho thing to convince myself again that I believe the gospel or to persuade myself that I have courage. I must talk abut the gospel because the gospel is the only way that other people can be saved. Romans 1:16; I Cor 1:18. The doctrine of the gospel is itself the message with God’s power to save.

According to Phil 3:18-19, those who remain enemies of the cross will perish, will be destroyed. Only God can save anybody, and God has not promised to save anybody without teaching that person the gospel. The promise of God is not to “all your children”, but to your children, as many as God will call”. Acts 2:39.

God calls by the gospel. Not all who are externally called by the gospel are effectively called by God. But all who are effectually called by God are called by the gospel. (Romans 10:14-17).

The only way we can tell if our works are good fruit (instead of fruit unto death) is to make our calling and election sure. (II Peter 1) By what gospel were you called? Did the gospel you claim be called by talk about election?

Phil 3:18-19 is in contrast to 3:21. Their end is destruction; but our citizenship is already in heaven. Their end is destruction, but our end is transformation and immortality. When it says that they mind earthly things, this does not necessarily mean immoral things; it may only mean non-gospel things. It may mean somebody who thinks he used to be in this legalistic cult but is now focused on being a healthy and happy and productive member of the larger society. It may mean somebody who is in reaction to being in a group run by a guru and whose goal is to live on earth in open community.

Humanly speaking, these earthly things cause those in the “flesh” to remain ignorant or submissive to the gospel. The glutton is not the only person who worships his belly. The preacher or the editor who will not preach the gospel and expose the false gospel in order to “keep my ministry and still have influence” is also serving his belly. His flesh may not look like the flesh of the preacher who openly teaches freewill and losing your salvation. But it’s still flesh.

Of course there is a distinction between doctrine and life, between gospel and walk. But people who have gospel doctrine will walk by that gospel. This does not mean that they are less sinful than those who teach the wicked lies of universal atonement and salvation conditioned on the sinner. But it does mean that they will love those who love the gospel, and that they will not knowingly fellowship with those who remain enemies of the cross..

Phil 3:16 Let us walk by the same rule. Let’s not practice the ungodly practice of judging only by outward appearance or by our own standard of saved and lost. Without the imputed righteousness revealed in the gospel, the person who commits less sin is no better off than the person who commits more sin.

It is legalism to think that we are converted because other people are less moral than we think we are. It is legalism to think that we are converted because we think we are less legalistic than we think other people are.

II Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves by themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise.” Notice what the verse says: WE are NOT like THOSE people. THEY have an unrighteous standard of judgment.

We are not like them. We are not in the same class as them. We judge by the gospel. We judge ourselves and them by the gospel. Even so, in Philippians 3. Paul contrasts the citizens of heaven with the enemies of the cross.

Most commentators on Philippians 3:18-19 focus on the word “belly” and assume that it means greed, not only the desire for too much food but the lust for money and sinful pleasures. They do not connect “belly” to the desire to have one’s own righteousness from the law, even though that has been the topic of paragraphs just before. But the lust of the flesh is subtle.

The trouble with “taste not touch not” is when people think that their tasting not and touching not brings them some blessing which the righteousness of Christ could not bring. There is nothing wrong with tasting not and touching not. Simply because we do not agree with another person about what God’s law teaches is no excuse to call that person a legalist.

But a person is a legalist, even if he has a right interpretation about what God’s law teaches, if that person thinks that his obeying that law brings him a blessing which the righteousness of Christ did not cause.

The unlawful desires of the flesh are most subtle when it comes to legalism. The law of God should not be blamed for legalism, even though God has predestined the abuse of the law. When a person thinks that his not tasting and his not touching brings him blessing, that person is not only a legalist but also an antinomian, because that person is thinking that God is satisfied with something less than perfect obedience and satisfaction of the law.

The only way that God can be (and IS) pleased with the good works of a Christian is that the Christian knows that these good works are blessings from Christ’s righteousness, not a supplement to Christ’s righteousness. And this distinction is not only something that God knows, or only something that smart “Reformed theologians” know. Every Christian knows that Christ’s righteousness is the only reason for every love-gift from God.

The sin which deceives us all by nature is that WE DESIRE WHAT WE PRODUCE TO BE OUR SALVATION. We will give God’s “grace” the credit for helping us produce it. We have no problem saying that “particular election” is the reason we produced it. But, like Cain, we want to take what we produced and offer it to God as some small part of what God will accept it as righteousness.

We don’t mind of God has to produce some righteousness also to supplement it and “make up the difference”. But the one thing we want, the thing which the people who killed Jesus wanted, is the one thing Cain wanted, and that is to have God accept what we have produced and what we sincerely (even if ignorantly) offered to God.

Frequently people tell me: “you are not going to tell me that I am lost just because I do not believe in definite atonement.” And then they say: I know what I used to be, and I know that I am different now, that I am not what I used to be, not only morally but religiously. Now I have faith. Now I know it’s all Christ. Now I know it’s not works. Now I know it’s grace. And I just don’t even need to get into this question of who Jesus died for.

And then, in contradiction to that, they say: I know he died for me because I was a sinner.

And I ask: did Christ die for all sinners? And again they say: I don’t need to get into that. And I ask: how do you know that Christ died for you? Does the grace to believe come from the death of Christ or from some other place?

And they say: I don’t need to know where I got faith because I got it. And then I ask: faith in which Christ, the one whose death saves or the one who died for those who will be lost? And then they say: pharisee, cultist…and some other names.

The motive for that name calling is the same as Cain’s motive for murdering Abel. I John 3:12 explains: “why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.”

Those with a false gospel cannot understand why one person’s work is evil and another person’s work is not evil. They cannot understand that it is evil to condition blessing on works. Indeed, despite talk about election and regeneration and -in many cases- even about definite atonement, those with the false gospel still judge saved and lost by works instead of judging works by saved and lost.

Why? First, there is the ugly unheroic desire to “keep one’s ministry”, to compromise the gospel message in order to bring along a mixed congregation. Life is easier when one can first agree that all who believe in the deity of Christ are saved. Romans 16:18 “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” I know this kind of thing is a reality; I have been in many congregations where the clergyman constantly flatters people by telling them that they are not homosexuals, and not easy believers etc. like other people are.

Even the scolding kind of preachers can help their people to flatter themselves: “we must be all right because we sit here week after week and take this scolding like we need to.”

But I don’t think that the short-term pleasures of insincerity and compromise explain all the meaning of “belly” here. I don’t want to dismiss that of course. I know that when I was a lost Calvinist (for 20 years), I liked to flatter myself about not flattering myself. But I do think the “belly problem” goes deeper. The problem is that we as sinners in rebellion against God and God’s gospel like what we produce and want to offer it to God as some small reason that God blesses us.

We DESIRE that what we PRODUCE will be accepted by God. And God won’t have it. And true Christians won’t have it. And when they won’t have it, those who are lost but who profess to be Christians get mad like Cain did. Just before they rush off to have fellowship with those who will say that they are saved because of what they have produced, these lost religionists make a point of accusing those who won’t speak peace to them: YOU are the elder brother, YOU are the pharisee, YOU are the legalist!

The next phrase in Philippians 3:19 says: “whose glory is their shame”. The enemies of the cross glory in that of which we should be ashamed. We should be ashamed of all that we produce and rest only in what Christ produced before Christ sat down at the right hand on high. Instead, all of us before we are converted (if that happens) want to give God credit for helping us the creature to produce something which then obligates God the creator to save the creature who has produced it.

Paul learned both a shame and a glory which is not natural, which none of us are born with. Paul learned to glory in, to exult in, to boast in the cross, not in the flesh. He explains this in Galatians 6:14 and in Philippians 3:3 and in Romans 6.

Romans 6 is NOT saying: don’t worry about easy-believing true doctrine, because the bottom line is that Christians “reign” by now being able to produce a quality-righteousness. Romans 6:17 says: “you WERE SLAVES of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”

This does not mean: were liars and thieves and never ashamed of lying and stealing. Yes, there are some who may not be even ashamed of those things. But such things were always shameful to Nicodemus (who would not come to the light lest his good deeds be exposed as evil deeds, John 3:19). Such things were always shameful to Paul, who had been zealous according to the law.

Romans 6:21 “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?”

After one believes the gospel, one no longer remains an enemy of the cross, is no longer ashamed to say that Christ on the cross only died for the elect and that this death is the only difference between converted and lost. A lot of people claim to be converted who will not say that, who think that such a thing does not need to be said and should not be said. Why?

For many walk, and I tell you now even weeping, who are enemies of the cross, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame. I was such a person. I was proud of my Calvinism, proud of what I thought God had given me that God had not given other Christians. Even though I knew I could not produce the righteousness God required , I loved a false god who would save sinners without any righteousness and without any knowledge of His righteousness.

When God delivers us to the true gospel, we will no longer be pluralists about the old gospels. We will be ashamed of that in which we once gloried. We will not continue to try to praise the holy God of the Bible for saving us by means of a false gospel. We will not keep up the lie that we were still Arminians after we were converted. We will not keep up the lie that we were converted.

We will no longer glory in OUR shame. Not Their shame. Not Your shame. My shame.

I have taken many words. And the second word you must know now even if I didn’t say it. Paul said it back up in chapter 3. The word is dung. Before we were converted, we thought our dung didn’t stink. See how bad our situation was!. We were PROUD OF OUR DUNG. We did not glory in the lies we told, we did not glory in the things we stole, we did not glory in our disrespect to our parents. But we gloried in the idea that Jesus died for everybody but that only some people (like us) would be saved.

You are not going to tell me that a little thing like if Jesus died for everybody is such a big deal. That’s what we said when we were lost. Even when our own personal preference was to say that Jesus didn’t die for everybody, when we were lost we still didn’t think it was a big deal.

Look at what Paul called his former religion. And that is what we too will call the false gospels we used to believe. We will not remain so delicate and gentle with ourselves. The big lie will stop.

We will stop saying that our lost relatives are not lost. When we were lost, we were “free from righteousness”. We were servants of sin, working in vain in a religion which is at enmity with God and with which God is at enmity.

It is simply not enough to “move on” to that righteousness which Christ obtained. I must count the dung to be dung if I want to be found in Christ. When I find myself in Christ, I will no longer be able to stomach the old gospel of which I am now ashamed. I won’t be able to stomach it in other people either. That doesn’t mean that I hate those people. It means that when those people rely on the old false gospel I used to believe, that I will not agree that they are saved because they believe that old gospel. Rather I must say that them believing that old gospel is evidence that they are not yet converted. If I love them, I will tell them that. I now tell you weeping…

Did Christ’s Death Accomplish Something For Everybody?

May 19, 2011

Mark Driscoll and Bruce Ware and John Piper are fond of saying that they believe everything that “Jesus-loving Arminians” believe, and more! So they teach that the death of Jesus accomplished something for everybody, and then even more for the elect.

I have a simple question. What did Christ’s death really accomplish for those who perish? Did it make it so God could condemn them? No, they were already condemned. Did Christ’s death purchase the non-elect for Christ’s possession so Christ could be their Lord? No, Christ was and is already the Judge and Lord.

I have a simple answer to what is called the “both/and approach”. Christ’s death accomplished NOTHING for the non-elect. God never intended for Christ’s death to do anything for the non-elect.

But the Arminans who think they are Calvinists also still have a question. If no payment has been made for the sins of the non-elect, then how can God have genuinely desired the salvation of all the non-elect?

Here too I have a simple answer. God does not and has not ever desired the salvation of the non-elect. God has commanded us not to sin, and yet God has ordained that we shall sin. You can call this “two wills” if you want to, but it does not in any way show that God has desired the salvation of the non-elect.

Some of these same folks (Jonathan Edwards) who affirm what they call substitutionary atonement seem to think that a door has been opened for the elect that then allows God to do some other (more real) stuff for the elect.They seem to believe that any “imputation” by God is based on what God knows He will do (or has done) in the elect.

They say the “new creation” can’t be legal status. They call imputation “judicial role-play”.

I do not.

Hebrews 10:10 “We have been set apart through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.”
Hebrews 10:14 “By a single offering He has perfected for all TIME those who are being sanctified.”

God justifies and sanctifies the elect on the basis of Christ’s bloody death for the elect. This is parallel to the direct imputation of Adam’s sin. Romans 5:18 tell us that “ one trespass led to condemnation”. This does not mean “opened the door for the possibility of condemnation” .

Is Daniel Fuller’s Conditionality the Answer to Dispensationalism?

May 17, 2011

I quote Daniel Fuller (Unity of the Bible, 143): “NOT ONLY must we trust that His death on the cross enables God to forgive our sins, but to believe properly we must also continually believe in God’s promises as an indispensable component of genuine faith…”

While “unconditional” election supposedly is not part of the gospel but only that which secretly makes the gospel work, the gospel according to Daniel Fuller is not only the work of Christ outside of us but also the work of Christ in us.

But what happens if I do not “continually believe as much as I should”? We are told not to be “overscrupulous”. “Justifying faith need not be perfect or flawless, or superhuman faith.”

The Fuller/ Piper perspective focuses on commands of God “to those already in the family”, to those “already in the covenant” and explains that we don’t need to be exactly perfect.

But the gospel says that all saving faith is the fruit of the righteousness obtained for the elect AND that justification is not a future thing dependent on our future works or future faith or future works of faith. This is what we learned when we are taught the gospel: it is the very thing Fuller and Piper leave behind when they start saying the faith doesn’t need to be perfect.

Fuller explains that “Calvin’s exegesis of key passages in Romans and Galatians can be seen as positioning the law of Moses as a ‘law of works’ not based on faith at all.

I think Calvin got this one right! Gal 2:16-3:13 are not about a “misunderstanding” of works. Galatians puts works in antithesis to faith in a way that Daniel Fuller will not allow.

All I seem to read from some Reformed folks is that dispensationalists are wrong about law and grace. These Reformed guys have never once in their lives been accused of being “antinomian”.

What bothers them most is any talk of “eternal security” or “unconditionality”.

Of course election is unconditional, they formally consent in their confessions. BUT in the end everything DEPENDS on THE COVENANT which of course to many (but not all!) Reformed scholars is conditional, depending on God causing us us doing our part.

Instead of being dispensationalists, they have decided that the law is gospel after all. They started by talking about the “grace of law”.

Perhaps there is no blank page in their Bibles between the Old and New Testaments. But there seems to be a blank where Romans 6:14 reads “not under law but under grace”. The apostle Paul seems to be operating there with an old perspective in which one thing depends for its definition on not being another thing.

We Were Not The Ones Who Lynched and Murdered Jesus

May 14, 2011

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Many religious songs have those who sing them confess themselves as having murdered Christ on the cross (not in but outside of the temple). But I question this sentimentality. First, if we all all put Christ on the cross, then Christ’s died is connected in some way to all sinners. Even when it’s implicitly agreed that the intent is not to save all sinners, this “we killed Jesus” idea says that the death is because of all sinners. Instead of a gospel about the salvation of some sinners, the gospel is changed into a law which accuses all sinners.

I Timothy 4:10 “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

God (Christ the Redeemer) is the only true Savior in the world. No sinner anywhere can find any other Savior outside of the living God. They have no other Savior but Jesus to turn to. All sinners need this one Savior, but this one Savior only died to save some sinners.

Since there is only one God who is alive, there is only one Savior for humanity to embrace. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Tim 2:5).

Second, nobody but God the Trinity has the ultimate power to put Christ on the cross. If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is God also to make an apology? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

“lawless men” lynched Jesus using Roman power and law to do it. Even though God predestined it, that does not eliminate the accountability of the “lawless” sinners who did it. But it does not mean that all sinners killed Christ. But also, God gave Christ up to die for the sins of the elect alone. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die.

Christ purposed that He would die. The Trinity purposed that Christ would die. God is Christ. Christ is God. This does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, even if they were soldiers, or the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2.

Specific humans 2000 years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

We did not ourselves put Christ on the cross. We also are not the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins.

Although believers are commanded to count what God has already counted, we can never be the original counters.

The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam.

The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is not gospel. The false gospel turns a supposedly universal death into guilt for those who don’t meet the conditions which supposedly make that death effective.

If you Remember that Somebody Has Something Against You, Then You are not the Forgiver

May 12, 2011

Matthew 5:23–“If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go First be reconciled to your brother.”

Some liberals have a difficult time reading this command correctly, They cannot think of themselves as needing any forgiveness, so they “interpret it” as saying “go to the person who has hurt you and make peace. (Michael Hardin, The Jesus Driven Life, p96)

We are not the ones who reconcile ourselves to God (by not being like Calvinists or other Christians we know). God is the one who reconciles. God is the subject of Reconciliation, But this does not mean that we need to become Socinians who deny that God is also the object of His own Reconciliation.

Romans 5:17 speaks of “receiving the reconciliation”. Why do we “receive the reconciliation”? Why not just say, we were reconciled? In other words, why not just get changed, so we are not at enmity? Why do we receive something?

If there is never legal enmity in God, then there is no wrath, and if not, there is no propitiation, and no need for it. But the problem is not only in our own hearts, at the altar. God has a problem with us, and only God can solve that problem.

Romans 5:17 does not mean overcoming your enmity in order to overcome your enmity! It means to passively receive by imputation what Christ did.

Matthew 5:24 (sermon on the mount) commands “leave your gift there before the altar and first be reconciled to your brother.” So, even though sinners are the objects of reconciliation, though sinners receive it, this reconciliation is not only the overcoming of the hostility of the elect, but what God has done in Christ to overcome God’s own judicial hostility to elect sinners.

John Murray: “In the Scripture the actual terms used with reference to the reconciliation wrought by Christ are to the effect that we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10) and that God reconciles us to Himself (II Cor. 5:18, 19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:2-22). Never is it expressly stated that God is reconciled to us.

It has often been stated, therefore, that the cross of Christ, insofar as it contemplated reconciliation, did not terminate upon God to the removal of His alienation from us but simply and solely upon us to the removal of our alienation from Him. In other words, it is not that which God has against us that is dealt with in the reconciliation but only our enmity against Him. It is strange that this contention should be so persistent, that scholars should be content with what is, to say the least, so superficial an interpretation of the usage of Scripture in reference to the term in question.

It is not to be denied that the reconciliation is concerned with our enmity against God. Reconciliation, like all the other categories deals with sin and the liability proceeding from it. And sin is enmity against God. But, when the teaching of Scripture is properly analyzed, it will be seen that reconciliation involves much more than that which might appear at first sight to be the case.

When in Matthew 5:24 we read, “Be reconciled to thy brother,” we have an example of the use of the word “reconcile” that should caution us against a common inference. In this instance the person bringing his gift to the altar is reminded that his brother has something against him. It is this grievance on the part of the other that is the reason for interrupting his act of worship. It is the grievance of the other that the worshiper must take into account, and it is the removal of that grievance, of that alienation that the reconciliation which he is required to effect contemplates.

He is to do all that is necessary to remove the alienation of the other. It is plain, therefore, that what the reconciliation must effect is the change of (forensic, judicial) declaration on the part of the other, namely, the person called the brother. Thus we are pointed in a very different direction from that which we might have expected from the mere formula “be reconciled.”

And although it is the “against” of the brother that is in view as requiring a change, the exhortation is in terms of “be reconciled to thy brother” and not at all “Let thy brother be reconciled to thee.” By this analysis it can easily be seen that the formula “reconciled to God” can well mean that what the reconciliation has in view is God’s alienation from us and the removal of that alienation. Matthew 5:23, 24 shows how indefensible is an interpretation that rests its case upon what, at best, is mere appearance.

Romans 8:4

May 11, 2011

Romans 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

Smeaton, Apostles Doctrine of the Atonement, p178–“Romans 8:4–That the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled in us. That is so like another expression of the same apostle, that the two passages might fitly be compared for mutual elucidation (II Cor 5:21). This expression cannot be referred to any inward work of renovation; for no work or attainment of ours can with any propriety of language be designated a “fulfillment of the righteousness of the law”.

The words, “the righteousness of the law,” are descriptive of Christ’s obedience as the work of one for many (Romans 5:18). This result is delineated as the end contemplated by Christ’s incarnation and atonement, and intimates that as He was made a sin-offering, so are we regarded as full-fillers of the law…”

Moo, though he wavers in his two other commentaries on Romans, writes on 8:4 in NICNT, p482—“Some think that Christians, with the Spirit empowering within, fulfill the demand of the law by righteous living. However, while it is true that God’s act in Christ has as one of its intents that we produce fruit, we do not think that this is what Paul is saying here.

First, the passive verb “be fulfilled” points not to something that we are to do but to something that is done in and for us. Second, the always imperfect obedience of the law by Christians does not satisfy what is demanded by the logic of this text. The fulfilling of the “just decree of the law” must answer to that inability of the law with which Paul began this sentence. “What the law could not do” is to free people from “the law of sin and death”–to procure righteousness and life. And it could not do this because the “flesh” prevented people from obeying its precepts.

The removal of this barrier consists not in the actions of believers, for our obedience always falls short of that perfect obedience required by the law. As Calvin puts it, “the faithful, while they sojourn in this world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justification of the law becomes in them full or complete. This must be applied to forgiveness; for when the obedience of Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are counted just.”

If then the inability of the law is to be overcome without an arbitrary cancellation of the law, it can only happen through a perfect obedience of the law’s demands. See Romans 2:13 and our comments there.

In the last part of Romans 8:4, the participial clause modifying “us” is not instrumental—“the just decree of the law is fulfilled in us BY our walking not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”–but descriptive, characterizing those in whom the just decree of the law as ‘those WHO walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Paul does not separate the “fulfillment” of the law from the lifestyle of Christians. But this does not mean that Christian behavior is how the law is fulfilled….”

Steele and Thomas, Romans: an interpretative outline: “In order to free believers from the guilt or condemnation of sin, God sent His own Son into the world (in a nature like man’s sinful nature, but not itself sinful. See Heb. 2:14-18; 4:15). Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin, and thereby legally put sin away and thus freed His people from its guilt. As a result of Christ’s sacrificial work, the just requirement (demand) of the law has been fulfilled (fully met) in those who are joined to Him. This of course is because of the fact that what Christ did, He did as their substitute or representative, and it is therefore counted (imputed) to them as if they themselves did it. (8:4)

Charles Hodge: one’s interpretation of Romans 8 verse 4 is determined by the view taken of Romans 8:3. If that verse means that God, by sending His Son, destroyed sin in us, then, of course, this verse must mean, “He destroyed sin in order that we should fulfill the law” — that is, so that we should be holy (sanctification). But if Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute, then this verse must refer to justification and not sanctification.”