Repentance From Dead Works

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The problem with using works “done after you are in the family” to get assurance is that works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. But the light of the gospel exposes our “good works” as “dead works”. And “dead works” are sins.

John 3:19– “And 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 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Certainly God commands us all to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh. To doubt that you are justified or will be justified because of what you have done or not done is to take the focus away from Christ’s one-time-done death for elect sinners.

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    Brother Martin Luther, Master of Sacred Theology, will preside and Brother Leonhard Beier, Master of Arts and Philosophy, will defend the following theses before the Augustinians of this renowned city of Heidelberg in the customary place. In the month of May, 1518.

    Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, “Do not rely on your own insight” [Prov. 3:5], we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological theses, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ,

    The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.
    Much less can human works which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.
    Although the works of man always appear attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
    Although the works of God always seem unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really for good and God’s glory.
    The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.
    The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.
    By so much more are the works of man mortal sins when they are done without fear and in unadulterated, evil self-security. To say that works without Christ are dead, but not mortal, appears to constitute a perilous surrender of the fear of God. Indeed, it is very difficult to see how a work can be dead and at the same time not a harmful and mortal sin.
    Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.
    In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal
    Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Dr. T. David Gordon in his book “Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers” (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2009)
    “Some of the neo-Puritans have apparently determined that the purpose of Christian preaching is to persuade people that they do not, in fact, believe. The subtitle of each of their sermons could accurately be: “I Know You Think You Are a Christian, but You Are Not.” This brand of preaching constantly suggests that if a person does not always love attending church, always look forward to reading the Bible, or family worship, or prayer, then the person is probably not a believer…”

    The hearer falls into one of two categories: one category of listener assumes that the preacher is talking about someone else, and he rejoices (as did the Pharisee over the tax collector) to hear “the other guy” getting straightened out. Another category of listener eventually capitulates and says: “Okay, I’m not a believer; have it your way.” But since the sermon mentions Christ only in passing (if at all), the sermon says nothing about the adequacy of Christ as Redeemer, and therefore does nothing to build faith in Christ.

    “It is painful to hear every passage of Scripture twisted to do what only several of them actually do (i.e., warn the complacent that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven). And it is absolutely debilitating to be told again and again that one does not have faith when one knows perfectly well that one does have faith, albeit weak and imperfect…”

    “So no one profits from this kind of preaching; indeed, both categories of hearer are harmed by it. But I don’t expect it will end anytime soon. The self-righteous like it too much; for them, religion makes them feel good about themselves, because it allows them to view themselves as the good guys and others as the bad guys – they love to hear the preacher scold the bad guys each week. And sadly, the temperament of some ministers is simply officious. Scolding others is their life calling; they have the genetic disposition to be a Jewish mother.” (pp. 83-84)

  3. markmcculley Says:

    is your conscience ever satisfied with less than justice?

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus , “woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish but inside are full of extortion and self-indulgence.” Hypocrisy is a real sin, something to be ashamed of, something to repent for. It is shameful ….
    But there is something to be said for it. “Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.” The hypocrite, while she may be caught up in whatever sin she is caught up in, is able to recognize virtue and desires to be perceived as virtuous even while lacking virtue. We as hypocrites we cover our sins because we also recognize them as sins.
    We postmoderns hate hypocrisy, not because we have such an abiding commitment to the virtue of honesty, but for the same reason we judge so harshly those who judge. There are those who hide their vice by arguing that their vice is a virtue (greed, selfishness)
    For many, avoiding hypocrisy is the only means of atonement for sin. But do these people avoid hypocrisy?
    “Well, I may be selfish , but at least I’m honest about it.” This proud confession of sin is a diabolical perversion of true repentance. We “acknowledge our sin” in that we admit to doing what we did, but we dismiss sin because in admitting it we make it no longer a sin.
    Admitting is our way to make atonement for it

    • markmcculley Says:

      I hear this preacher soundbite—“it’s a precious and rare thing to find a sinner” It’s like preachers are saying that’s the end of the story, and thee is no more need to know about Christ and how Christ atoned or how Christ justifies

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

      you can be a sinner without being justified
      you can know you are a sinner without being justified
      God never will justify all sinners

      Jesus rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Jesus was never the mediator for many guilty sinners

      God’s election comes first before Christ’s atonement
      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.

      • markmcculley Says:

        Elect but still condemned at the present time? Some “high Calvinists” don’t have a category for lost elect people. They think that you were never lost, but that you only didn’t know you were already saved.

        Many pastors (who are not Calvinists at all) like to say to people who are still legalists— some of you didn’t know the motives and how reconciliation worked, but you were already reconciled.

        The elect have already been judged at the cross. E everybody else will be judged, since all will be judged. But not all who were judged at the cross have been “baptized into that death” yet by God’s legal imputation. Since this is so, we should NOT talk to people assuming that they are Christians even though they don’t know the gospel yet.

        To those who are still ignorant of the gospel, we don’t talk only about gratitude and freedom. Yes, we tell them that those for whom Christ died are thankful and free and pleasing to God. But we also tell them— if you don’t know the gospel and believe it yet, then you should be shut up to nothing but legal fear.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    It turns out that Conrad Murrell was a “preparationist” after all—He taught one trajectory for all–eliminate the Calvinism because it doesn’t put sinners in the dus

    Conrad Murrel –“God raised him from the dead, and exalted Him as Lord…This is the gospel set before lost men by the early church…If we attempt to evangelize with lectures on high theology, while viciously slapping at our Arminian brothers, we should not be surprised when we beget arrogant Calvinists rather than humble Christians..My heart must first be crushed, then enlarged with the awesome revelation that He died for me. Information on the scarcity of for whom else He died is not very impressive. I alone am responsible for His suffering. My sins caused him to die.

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