Mystical Antinomians Think That Christ Replaces us

Some of those who assume that everybody to whom they talk is a Christian tend to also speak of “sanctification” as a second blessing you can get by doing things the right way. For the mystical antinomians, doing things the right way means not doing anything at all.

Even though these preachers assume that everybody is a legalist, they also assume that all these legalists are Christians, and they command these folks to be more “gospel awake” and promise that “doing not doing” will result in better sanctification and more of everything, including more works and more joy. But as Jacques Ellul like to say, after all has been said, nothing has been done. The various competing theories of sanctification don’t seem to have caused any of us to be more sanctified.

But the “exchanged life” antinomians put pressure on us (and our faith) to have a crisis experience ( at some conference perhaps) to claim God’s supposed promise that God will live our lives for us. The idea of the “exchanged life” is that we “let go and let God”. But the threat is always that, if there is a problem, the fault is ours for not “letting go” enough. Instead of trusting in Christ’s death as our consecration (Hebrews 10:10-14), we are supposed to trust in Christ’s “vicarious life” or in the “power of His resurrection life in us”.

I won’t say Osiander (I just did), but the solution to this problem is not simply to point to Christ’s humanity and to the fact that Christ died for the purpose of God’s forgiving our failure to positively do what the law tells us to do. We also need to remember human agency. God’s sovereignty does not mean that God believes the gospel for us. God causes us to believe the gospel.

God’s sovereignty does not mean that God is doing what we do. God is not sinning when we sin, and God is not obeying when we obey. God causes us to obey. and that is different from saying that God obeys for us.

The Bible does not command us to “empty yourselves” so that Christ can be in you. The presence of the person of Christ is in us, but not because of something we did.

Nor does the Holy Spirit make Christ present in the “sacrament”. The Holy Spirit does not “take us up” to heaven. The Holy Spirit does not “unite us to” Christ.

The Bible does not command us to empty ourselves so that Christ will then do the believing and obeying in us and for us. The Holy Spirit does not replace us, nor does the Holy Spirit unite us to Christ so that Christ can replace us. Do we have to be “united to” the Holy Spirit before we can be “united to Christ”? If it takes the Holy Spirit to unite us to Christ, who does it take to unite us to the Holy Spirit?

Even though Christ alone replaced us in the one and only Propitiation, Christ is not now replacing us, and we should never confuse what we do or don’t do with what Christ is doing or not doing.

One “mystical antinomian” named John Crowder writes “God didn’t save you so you could do good. God saved you so you could be dead and then God could work through you. God does not want to you try to work. God is only pleased with what Christ does, God does not help you. God does things for you”. (Mystical Union, Sons of Thunder Publishing, 2010)

if soundbites like that make you think the grace of God is being exalted, then you need to begin to ask some more questions. It is not some present work which is our Propitiation, and there is no need to confuse our present working with God’s present working.

Hebrews 13: 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God…. 18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. … 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good so that YOU DO HIS WILL , working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am not going to say “hyper-grace”, because I don’t like the word “hyper” and I don’t think we can ever say too much about grace, but we do need to beware of the “mystical antinomians” who teach that the Holy Spirit takes over the agency from Christians so that Christians have no duty to obey the law of Christ. Those who teach the “exchanged life” fall into this category, people like Joseph Prince, Steve McVey, Malcolm Smith, Andrew Farley and Paul Ellis.

J I Packer warns us : “With regard to sanctification, there have been mystical antinomians who have affirmed that the indwelling Christ is the personal subject who obeys the law in our identity once we invoke his help in obedience situations, and there have been pneumatic antinomians who have affirmed that the Holy Spirit within us directly prompts us to discern and do the will of God, without our needing to look to the law to either prescribe or monitor our performance.”

Packer: “The common ground is that those who live in Christ are wholly separated from every aspect of the pedagogy of the law. The freedom with which Christ has set us free, and the entire source of our ongoing peace and assurance, are based upon our knowledge that what Christ, as we say, enables us to do he actually does in us for himself. So now we live, not by being forgiven our constant shortcomings, but by being out of the law’s bailiwick altogether; not by imitating Christ, the archetypal practitioner of holy obedience to God’s law, but by … our knowledge that Christ himself actually does in us all that his and our Father wants us to do.”

Romans 6: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin HAVE BECOME OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, lasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is lasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 7: 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, in order to belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order to bear fruit for God.

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26 Comments on “Mystical Antinomians Think That Christ Replaces us”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Tullian–Jesus Plus Nothing, p 95 Think of what Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12; “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” We’ve got work to do—but what exactly is it? Get better? Try harder? Pray more? Get more involved at church? Read the Bible longer? What precisely is Paul exhorting us to do? He goes on to explain: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (v. 13) God works his work in you, which is the work already accomplished by Christ.[ – See more at:

    not that what the Trinity F essay says about sanctification by works is remotely close to the truth—but to deny that God’s work in us is our work, or that our work is God working in us—the agencies must not be confused no matter how pious it might sound

  2. todd harvey Says:

    so you’re identifying Tullian’s quote as an example of mystical antinomianism, right?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    yes, it is an example of that, and you will find many of them in Steve Brown. But the answer to that antimomianism is not the legalism which finds life in commands, as taught by Daniel Fuller and Norman Shepherd. Todd, I would welcome your thoughts about the solution to antinomianism. My hope is in the law satisfaction of Christ’s death–all for whom He died will be justified.

  4. todd harvey Says:

    I think Tullian rephrased Paul in that specific sentence, so therefore that puts you in opposition to Paul, at least in that specific quote. (and that’s in your comment. The article above is very interesting, and I’ve definitely heard the pneumatic antinomianism teaching in charismatic circles.)

    You may be correct in that Steve Brown and Tullian in a number of other places teach in what you describe as an antinomian way, but I would caution you to avoid what I call “red queen antinomianism” – i.e. it means what I say it means – and stick instead to a stricter definition of denying the law as applying to Christians as a rule of conduct and a guide to life.

    While I donated two of Tullian’s recent books to my church (he’s criticized a lot here) I don’t know that I am an expert on everything he teaches. Maybe you have other quotes that are less defensible.

    But by and large the ones who attacked him and threw him out of the Gospel coalition were clearly engaging in an internet pile-on, and then those guys also were linked with the Sovereign Grace people and also Mark Driscoll, and look how they turned out.

    Frankly, I don’t even agree that antinomianism is a widespread problem in the church at all, at least in the southeast. There was a funny article at Liberate titled “Where are all those antinomian girls my pastor is always warning me about!” The closest thing to antinomianism I have heard in the past while is my daughter telling me about an RUF guy at a Frisbee party getting totally plastered on the keg they had and then hitting on her with alchohol-fueled courage. I hope that is not common.

    The examples I hear used are of a counseling situation (it could be this story originated with John Piper and is just being borrowed) where the husband refuses to listen to the pastor and says “God wants me to be happy” or something like that. I tend to doubt that this is an actual event, but is instead a kind of fiction, because, why would a husband bother to go have one last argument with the pastor, and especially say something as stupid as that. I think most guys in the heat of the moment, if they thought they’d be challenged, would never go near a pastor. So I question that story.

    I’ll wind this up to say that I really enjoy your blog, and I’m one of your apparently two readers. I hope it gets wider exposure. (and I really like the way you used a kind of “blank verse” style a few times over at Old Life – lots of space, very clear points.

  5. slightlybehindthecurve Says:

    I think following the article you wrote that Scotty Smith’s prayer this am is also an example of mystical antinomianism.
    Quote:Father, to whatever extent you have accomplished anything through me that’s been pleasing and honoring in your sight, I gladly affirm with Paul, it wasn’t me, but “the grace of God that was with me.” And looking ahead, my prayer remains the same. May your grace have even greater effect, in me and through me. Free me to love your glory over my reputation; your transforming kingdom over my tiny fiefdom; your story of reconciliation and redemption, over my default mode of personal peace and no interruptions.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (v. 13)

    Tullian—God works his work in you, which is the work already accomplished by Christ.

    mark—I have two problems with this. 1. The work of the Holy Spirit is not the same as the work accomplished by Christ’s one act of obedience, His death. The work of the Holy Spirit in us a result given because of the finished work of Christ. Christ died once. The Spirit continues to work in us. It’s not the same work.

    2. The Philippians verse does talk about us willing and working, but the Tullian construal of the verse implicitly denies our agency by EQUATING our work with not only the working of the Holy Spirit, but even with Christ’s already accomplished work.

    Maybe it’s more an example of badly expressed imputation theology than it is “mystical”. But Tullian will never be able to talk correctly about imputation until he is brave enough to talk about election and definite atonement.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    The duty to obey King Jesus is not determined by ability or lack of ability. The gospel teaches us that elect sinners who do NOT do their duties will nevertheless be “saved” from God’s wrath because of legal identity with Christ’s death for elect sinners.
    God is both just and the justifier of elect sinners. Elect sinners believe the gospel in which the sins of gospel believers are not imputed to those sinners.
    Pietists exempt non-Christians from the commands of the Sermon on the Mount on the basis of their inability. That exemption is not necessary in order to make the vital distinction between law and gospel. Christ’s law is not changed by human inability to keep it. And Christ’s law is not the gospel. Whatever ability we may claim, none of us is obeying the Sermon on the Mount. But this is no excuse.

    if we says the kingdom is only on the inside, in our hearts and in our new ability, we ignore the external commands of the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    sure god loves me, but it would mean nothing, IF I DID NOT LOVE SECOND

    sure god initiates, BUT I RECIPROCATE

    and that makes it a “mutual EXCHANGE”, because without me god can do nothing

    “accept your acceptance” you can, maybe, I did

    the group from Dallas Seminary which talks about “the exchanged life” (Miles Sanford) NOT the legalism of rewards for the “Christian life” (Zane Hodges) but rather “the new successful self” (Andrew Farley-Naked Gospel and Needham-Birthright)

    It’s just another kind of “happy talk”, more “positive thinking”.

    I AM ONE PEARL who now always counts myself dead.

    I AM ONE PEARL who is no longer divided in my desires.


  9. markmcculley Says:

    Christians sin, but they are never guilty. Guilt is not a feeling. The justified elect sin, but they are never under condemnation.

    Calvin—However eagerly the saints may in accordance with the Spirit strive toward God’s righteousness, the listless flesh always so burdens them that they do not proceed with due readiness. The law is to the flesh like a whip to an idle and balky ass, to arouse it to work. Even for a spiritual man not yet free of the weight of the flesh the law remains a constant sting that will not let him stand still. . . . But the accompanying promise of grace. . .sweetens what is bitter Calvin, Institutes, 2/7/12

    Calvin (comments on second half of Leviticus 26):
    “But if ye will not hearken unto me. Thus far a kind invitation has been set before the people in the shape of promises, in order that the observance of the Law might be rendered pleasant and agreeable; since, as we have already seen, our obedience is then only approved by God when we obey willingly. But, inasmuch as the sluggishness of our flesh has need of spurring, threatenings are also added to inspire terror, and at any rate to extort what ought to have been spontaneously performed. It may seem indeed that it may thus be inferred that threats are absurdly misplaced when applied to produce obedience to the Law, which ought to be voluntary; for he who is compelled by fear will never love God; and this is the main point in the Law. But what I have already shewn, will in some measure avail to solve this difficulty, viz., that the Law is deadly to transgressors, because it holds them tight under that condemnation from which they would wish to be released by vain presumptions; whilst threats are also useful to the children of God for a different purpose, both that they may be prepared to fear God heartily before they are regenerate, and also that, after their regeneration, their corrupt affections may be daily subdued. For although they sincerely desire to devote themselves altogether to God, still they have to contend continually with the remainders of their flesh. Thus, then, although the direct object of threats is to alarm the reprobate, still they likewise apply to believers, for the purpose of stimulating their sluggishness, inasmuch as they are not yet thoroughly regenerate, but still burdened with the remainders of sin

    Irons – “ Do we preach with authority that the believer is “not under the law”? Or do we hesitate, qualify, and hedge, so that the Spirit’s sharp two-edged sword becomes dulled by our theological system? The third use of the Law in the Reformed tradition can easily drift toward legalism. The Reformed tradition on the Law is not legalistic in the hard sense of asserting that we are justified by the Law. But I wonder if it sufficiently guards against the idea that we are sanctified by the Law.” Lee Irons—- God’s moral will, however, must not be equated with the Decalogue, nor can it be defanged into a list of bare non-covenantal commands – “the moral law not as covenant of works ”

  10. markmcculley Says:

    John Barclay—believers live perpetually from a reality outside of themselves, a status of divine favor enjoyed only in and from Christ. Their agency does not need to be re-attributed to the agency of grace, because their works are non-instrumental, and are performed in faith, that is, FROM THE SECURITY OF A SALVATION ALREADY GRANTED On the same grounds, gift-giving is stripped of the instrumental reciprocity that had been basic to its rationale since time immemorial. In this sense, the reformation offered a new theological definition of gift .

  11. markmcculley Says:

    As Robert Guelich says, the clause expresses an action “concomitant with the petition.” It is something we ourselves are doing. The request does not envision a scenario where the petitioner is unwilling to forgive.

    Leon Morris — “We should notice that it is debtors that are forgiven, not “debts.” Both, of course, are involved

    We ourselves must cultivate a spirit of forgiveness towards those who seem to have wronged us, before we venture to claim forgiveness for ourselves. God has more to forgive to each individual than any human being can have; and He is more ready to forgive: it is impossible for me to equal Him in this.

    This “spirit of forgiveness towards those who seem to have wronged us” serve as a testimony to us that something has changed in us.

    “is not penitently aware of his sins, but only vengefully aware of another man’s sins.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    David Bishop—We are not Antinomians. Just because the law of Moses has been put away does not mean there is no law at all now in effect. Christians are commanded in Romans 12 to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice which is our spiritual worship.

    I am sure that most if not all of you guys you have met an Antinomian once or twice. These are the folks who talk about Christians not being under the guide of any written law. They talk instead about the Spirit being their guide, operating from within them. They sound like Charismatics in this respect, Charismatics talk about not needing to read and study the written word, for they can hear the Spirit speak to them from the inside . No. Christians are indeed to conduct themselves in their behavior according to a written law. Scripture calls this written law, Christ’s law.

    Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:21 that “to those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God, but under the law of Christ) in order to win those outside the law.”

    To those Jews who followed the law of Moses he became as one who followed the law of Moses, though he was not himself under the law of Moses. The reason he did this was so that he might win some of those Jews. No good in offending people right off the bat before you’ve even had the opportunity to preach the gospel to them, right? On the other hand, to Gentiles he became as one who is outside the Mosaic law, though not being himself outside God’s law, but in matter of fact being under Christ’s law.

    We find explicitly stated here that Paul counted himself under Christ’s law. Christ’s law comes to us today in the written testimony of the apostles. His commandments are recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament. God’s law changes. Under the covenant with Moses it was a sin to not keep the Sabbath. Under the covenant with Abraham it was a sin to not circumcise all the males in your household. Under the covenant with Noah it was a sin to eat blood.

  13. markmcculley Says:

    The strength of Peterson’s work is his ability to engage various biblical texts without ever losing sight of their wider context. In fact, it is an appeal to context that leads him to disagree with J. C. Ryle’s interpretation of Hebrews 12:14 (a verse that says “without holiness, no one will see the Lord”) Peterson’s approach sees holiness as an expression of our “once-for-all” sanctification and Ryle sees holiness more as “proof” of our salvation. Peterson believes stressing the positional aspect will lead to the expression of the progressive aspect, whereas Ryle believes stressing the progressive aspect will lead to evidence of the positional.

    Or to look at it from the other side: wrongly emphasizing the progressive will lead to an obscurity of the positional and to doubts of salvation (according to Peterson), whereas wrongly emphasizing the positional will lead to apathy and lack of incentive to faithfully pursue a holy life (according to Ryle)

    I Peter 1: 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

    II Peter 3: 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God.

    Hebrews 10: 7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but God the Father does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, discipline yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

    Hebrews 12: 4 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. 15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one mea

    1 Timothy 2:15But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    I have heard NCT theologians say that if you switch to NCT and away from a flat Bible ethic, then “holiness is guaranteed”. But either we are holy or not, no matter what our hermerneutic is, and all of us are still sinners. The new covenant does not cast out all imperatives. The new covenant replaces the law of the Mosaic covenant with the law of Christ. The new covenant is not more inclusive and catholic but “sectarian” in the best kind of way. . Abraham had two sons, and one son must be cast out. We must put out flat Bible theology and give priority to Christ as our Creator, Lawgiver and Example

    I agree that sanctification is by grace and not by our performance. I just wish that those who teach it will begin to question the false gospel of those who make the future depend on our performance. I also wish that those who teach sanctification by grace would stop promising that people who agree with them will perform better. It’s like having your cake and eating it also. One, blessing is not based on performance. But two, you will perform better if you have the right motives.
    God does not accept anything we perform if it is motivated by our desire for assurance or blessing. And God does accept sacrifices and works if they are not motivated by mercenary motives. Good trees do have good fruit. Bad trees do not have any good fruit. But these truths do not promise that we who know the truth will “perform better than the legalists do”.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    I want to primarily, not exclusively, interact with a message given by Chad Bresson at the 2011 New Covenant Theology Think Tank, Rushville, NY titled The Incarnations of the
    Abstract: New Covenant and the Enfleshment of the Law. One advocate of this view has a website
    on the Internet called “Christ My Covenant.”

    My first problem with the Fourth Stream is the fact that it seems to
    violate an essential principle of NCT, namely, that we must interpret the OT with the NT. The foundation texts used to establish this new idea by the Fourth Stream is found in two texts in Isaiah.
    I the Lord have called the in righteousness
    and will hold thine hand,
    and will keep thee, and give thee for a
    covenant of the people, for a light of
    the Gentiles. Isa. 42:6 KJV

    Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee:
    and I will preserve thee, and give thee
    for a covenant of the people, to establish
    the earth, to cause to inherit the
    desolute heritages; Isa. 49:8.

    It is quite clear that these two Scripture texts in the Book of Isaiah
    use the phrase “give thee for a covenant;”
    however, no NT text either directly quotes or refers back to these
    two verses as a fulfi llment. No new covenant text says, or intimates, “As it is written in the Book of Isaiah,” and
    then in any way mentions Christ as covenant.

    The question is whether the two Isaiah passages are to be understood ontologically or metaphorically. The
    word ontological means a word or
    phrase is to be understood in a literal
    sense. The word metaphorical means the opposite. It means a word or phrase should be taken as a fi gure
    of speech. Christ “lay down his life for the sheep” is metaphorical; it does not mean Christ died for four legged animals. When it is said “Christ rode a donkey,” the phrase is ontological, he literally rode a four-legged animal.
    Isaiah 42:6 says two things were given, a “covenant” and a “light.”
    covenant of the people, a light for the Gentiles. No one would suggest that the word light in this text was to be understood in a literal sense. All agree the word light is used metaphorically.

    The Fourth Stream must prove, if they want to make the word covenant to be literal, that the phrase [give as a] “light” must be taken literally. Both words occur in the same verse and in
    the same structure. It is obvious that both covenant and light are used metaphorically. The foundation stones of the new view are suspect from a NCT hermeneutic point of view.

    Furthermore, the Apostle Paul does quote Isa.
    49:6 in Acts 13:47, For so hath the
    Lord commanded us, saying ‘I have
    set thee to be a light of the Gentiles,
    that thou shouldest be for salvation
    unto the ends of the earth.’ Obviously,
    Paul is asserting that he is a metaphorical,
    not literal, light, as he will herald the gospel to the nations as an apostle of Christ. Since the New Testament must interpret the Old Testament and Paul understands ‘a light of the Gentiles’
    in Isa 49:6 (two verses prior to the verse in question) metaphorically,
    we too should understand verses with similar phraseology metaphorically as the apostles did.

    The Fourth Stream is built on the
    insistence that the words give thee for a covenant must be taken in an ontological sense. They say it must mean that Christ is literally the actual covenant. We would say the phrase is
    used metaphorically in the same sense
    as “I am the door” or “I am the Bread
    of Life.” Our Lord often used the
    words I am followed by a descriptive
    word to teach his person and his work. In the Gospel of John he said, “I am the door,” “I am the water of life,” “I
    am the bread of life”, etc.” In Isaiah,
    Christ is set forth as the “covenant” and the “light”. The word covenant is used in the two Isaiah texts exactly in
    the same manner as door, bread, water, light etc. in the Gospel of John.

    For a defense of this view see: http.//
    Various Branches of, http://, http:’’ http:// For a critique see:
    “Picture-Fulfillment NCT: A Positive

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Witness Lee- This faith is not of ourselves but of Him who imparts Himself as the believing element into us that He may believe for us” (Recovery Version, Heb. 12:2, note 3). This means that for our justification by God, we believe in Jesus Christ through Him as our faith. Paul, therefore, speaks of “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22)… …We would emphasize the fact that to believe in Christ is actually to believe into Him (John 3:15-16, 18, 36). When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we believe into Him. By believing into Him, we enter into Him to be one with Him, to partake of Him, and to participate in all that He has accomplished for us… Faith in Christ brings us into an organic union with Christ, and it is in this union that we are justified by God.

    Bruce McCormack—“The image of vine and branches might easily be seen to connote an organic connectedness of Christ to the believer. The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). Where that occurs, the life communicated from the vine to the branches flows organically. (To be sure, it would be difficult to understand, on this view, why the Holy Spirit would be needed as the bond joining us to Christ…)

    “The difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically. It does not require a legal act of the will. But in the case of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. The ethical ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification. John 15:3–’You are already clean BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.’

    “The term ‘ingrafting’ is used in Romans 9-11 to speak of inclusion in the covenant of grace, which results in a share in all the gifts and privileges. That Paul would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal….

  17. markmcculley Says:

    God has not left it to a church to define “sin” by the vote of the congregation or the decision of its pastor pope.

    Antinomianism needs to be recognized in its varied forms. It does not always blatantly say, “Christ has died for our sins so that we can live as we please.”

    A Welsh lassie was given over to the stake by the consent of Cranmer and Ridley because she believed that she must obey God and be baptized by immersion. That was not legalism. Today there are Christians who will not defile their bodies with health destroying habits because they want to thankfully honor God in all their faculties. That is not legalism. It is a corruption of the message of grace when people think they have to live like the world and despise a disciplined, well-ordered life just to prove that they are not legalistic.

    This lack of Christian discipline is its own form of legalism — the legalism of thinking that such indifference to law makes a man pleasing to God.

    Evangelical subjectivism is one form of antinomianism because it tends to substitute the inward experience of “love” or “the Spirit-filled life” for the objective law of Christ.

    Without the law of Christ. love gets identified with owning a gun to kill to protect your family

    Those who are overconfident about being led by the Spirit are in danger of confusing the human spirit with God’s Spirit. Who is harder to convince with “It is written” than the enthusiast who is intoxicated with his experience “in the Spirit.” The objective Word means nothing when it contradicts his experience.

    He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matthew 9:12-13

    I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Luke 15:7 7

    And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:46-47

    The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. Acts 5:30-32

    And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:20-21

  18. markmcculley Says:

    David Bishop–“If grace makes me angry, if the law of Christ makes me angry, then I have not been converted. I don’t get upset at Christ’s commandments. I get upset with the sinner-exalting attempt to use Christ’s commands as a means to establish self righteousness. I get upset at the lie that people who attempt such wickedness are Christians. I don’t get angry at our Creator and Redeemer’s law. I delight in Christ’s word revealed, I see Christ’s holiness in His commands, and my sins against Christ’s law drive me again and again to Christ to thank Him for grace and to confess His glory in my salvation.”

  19. David Bishop Says:

    Amen, brother Mark. You have given me more to think about.

    These “let go and let God” guys claim that when they sin it’s because they forgot to let go and let God. To this I say first they have a very low view of God’s holiness, because I can’t get through five minutes without at least offending God with some thought, and I guarantee they do too (I know they do for a fact given the garbage I have heard about the thought life from Malcolm Smith).

    The second thing I say is a question. Who was operating in and through them in those moments when they will at least admit they have sinned? I ask, because they insist the gospel is the good news about the promise the Holy Spirit will live Jesus’ perfect life through you. Why the failure then? Did the Holy Spirit forget what His job was?

  20. markmcculley Says:

    you can exchange your suffering right now for glory
    turn off your monkey brain
    all you need to do us use your will to say
    “only use words if necessary”
    “only use thoughts if necessary”
    “don’t read books”
    “don’t ask questions about anything if you don’t already know the answers”
    “definitely don’t ask questions about stuff to which nobody knows the answers”
    skip the struggle
    don’t use words at all (me telling you doesn’t count as words)
    use your free (now that you are a Christian) will to allow the Holy Spirit to pray for you
    even the Holy Spirit does not use words
    so why should you use words?
    don’t groan
    Christians are not like other people and they don’t ever need to complain about anything

    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not really suffering, if only you had rested in Christ more and more from the beginning

    No questions should ever be asked because God is always already present with us in the sacrament even in this age

    The only reason the creation is subjected to futility is because of you and your desires and your thinking.

    If you did not desire anything and if you did not think about anything, you could let go right no and be blessed already and without waiting.

    God always wills to save everybody and God always wills peace right now for everybody and the sins you waste time concerning yourself with don’t matter if you are imputed with God’s faith for you and God’s love for you

    Whatever happens to our bodies is of absolutely no consequence, because the real you is never under the dirt and who know maybe you even get a new parallel body up in heaven as soon as you let go and allow God to do that for you

    There is no reason for any Christian to ever be weak not only because we are already in Christ but also because of the second amendment

    sure the Holy Spirit inspired the words of the Bible but you can memorize words with your intellect but what’s really special about the Holy Spirit is about how I know Jesus rose again in my heart and lives quietly in my heart without using words

    Robert Gundry: Jesus the Word according to John the Sectarian,

    1) Jesus is the Word to the world in spite of the world

    2) The Gospel of John is primarily for the elect, and all the elect will believe the gospel.(no anonymous or invisible Christians)

    3) The love of God is not universal. John’s vision of the Christian community flows from a view of Christ that is separatist toward the world. The Fourth Gospel is unalterably sectarian, not hybrid-friendly, not two cultures at once but rather commanding an alternative culture….

  21. markmcculley Says:

    Hopman, p 209, The Necessary Distinction”—“There is a history of speaking of union with Christ and of Christ as the actual subject who does the good works of the justified in such a way as to call into question whether the justified should be regarded as an ethical subject at all.”

    When we say that the gospel is about Christ, does that mean that God’s law is not about Christ?

    When we say that Christ received the wrath of God;s law against the sins of elect sinners, does that mean that Christ did not give God’s law against sin and that God has no wrath or judgment?

    Are you teaching that God’s law now has nothing to say to the nation-state, or are you teaching that the church has no right to tell the nation-state what God’s law says to the nation-state? Or neither?

  22. markmcculley Says:

    Ryle–introduction to book Holiness. I do not say that the expression, “Christ in us” is unscriptural. But I do say that I see great danger of giving extravagant and unscriptural importance to the idea contained in the expression; and I do fear that many use it now-adays without exactly knowing what they mean, and unwittingly, perhaps, dishonor the mighty work of the Holy Spirit. If any reader think that I am needlessly scrupulous about the point, I recommend to their notice a curious book by Samuel Rutherford (author of the well-known letters), called “The Spiritual Antichrist.” They will see there that two centuries ago the wildest heresies arose out of an extravagant teaching of this very doctrine of the “indwelling of Christ” in believers. They will find that Saltmarsh, and Dell, and Towne, and other false teachers, against whom good Samuel Rutherford contended, began with strange notions of “Christ in us,” and then proceeded to build on the doctrine antinomianism, and fanaticism of the worst description and vilest tendency. They maintained that the separate, personal life of the believer was so completely gone, that it was Christ living in him who repented, and believed, and acted! The root of this huge error was a forced and unscriptural interpretation of such texts as “I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20.) And the natural result of it was that many of the unhappy followers of this school came to the comfortable conclusion that believers were not responsible, whatever they might do!

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