Archive for the ‘election’ category

Were You Born Justified and Then Later “Saved”?

June 12, 2017

There are preachers who teach the sovereignty of God who teach that God can justify (and has already justified) sinners who God has not taught the gospel. While these preachers assure us that these justified people will know and believe the gospel some day they also teach teach that God’s sovereign justice means that all the elect are justified before and without believing the gospel.

When these preachers teach that there are only two states, they are not talking about the difference between justification and condemnation. To them, the difference between “not being able to acceptably worship God” and “being saved” is NOT the difference between before and after justification. The eternal justification preachers teach that “saved” means “have learned the gospel”. They don’t think “saved” means “justified before God.”

Those who now think they are “saved” can talk about how other people “thought they were saved before they were saved until they were saved” But it turns out that some of these people think they were born justified before they knew the gospel. They think they were justified before they were “saved”. They think they were justified back when Jesus finished dying on the cross.

Phil 3:9–“and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that righteousness which comes through faith…

God has not yet forgiven any sinners who God has not yet taught the gospel.

II Corinthians 4: 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ

The truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

Palm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” The gospel gives all the honor and glory to God. In the gospel God is justified, and sinners who still don’t believe the gospel are still condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 . All of us have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

To pass over from condemnation to justification is to learn the gospel in which one’s confidence is not in what God’s sovereignty does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Christ only died for the elect. Christ only died for those who will believe the gospel. One of the blessings of the gospel is that God teaches the elect the gospel and causes them to believe the gospel. Those who were once slaves of sin “become obedient from the mind to the standard of doctrine to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

Before you were justified You may have already believed in God’s sovereignty and also been ashamed of immorality, without ever knowing God’s gospel about justification. The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality or their assent to God’s sovereignty. But as long as they have not come to the light of the gospel , they still love darkness and their evil deeds are still charged against them.. (John 3:19)

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also righteous.

Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God tells the truth, we were born in the wrong.

II Thessalonians 1: 6 It is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS

II Thessalonians 2: 10 They perish because they did not accept the love of THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned—THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRUTH but enjoyed unrighteousness.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are elect. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are already justified. The gospel does not tell the elect that all the elect are already justified. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. Before justification, God and us can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is so sovereign that God justifies elect sinners before teaching them the gospel, then we takes sides against what the Bible teaches about the difference between election, atonement, and justification. We should not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win. We need to learn to confess that the way God acts in history . God justifies God in history (by means of Christ’s death in history) God justifies his elect in history. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God placing the elect sinner into Christ’s death. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God imputing Christ’s death to the elect sinner. But believing the gospel is also not the “evidence and result” of having been born justified, All those who do not yet believe the gospel are not yet justified. And all those who are justified before God believe the gospel.

Romans 3:22 –“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood THROUGH FAITH. This was a demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just AND the justifier of the one WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS

Romans 4:13–“the promise did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith….

God is true. God is God. To be ignorant of the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to an idolater, to be one who still does not know the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Many who teach the sovereignty of God speak of “blessed inconsistency” instead of realizing that knowledge of how God justifies is wonderful knowledge of God!

Many who teach the sovereignty of God also engage in rationalizations and self-deceptions. They tell us, “well at least our being justified before we know the gospel shows us the sovereignty of God. We can’t be bothered to look back to any passing from death to life. Why bother with talking about before and faith in the gospel, or about “when in condemnation” or “before justification”. Since the Arminians confuse faith with Christ’s righteousness, we won’t make that mistake. We will exalt the sovereignty of God by teaching that justification is independent (before and without) God teaching us the gospel

But God is not a respecter of persons. God takes sides with Himself, against all those not yet imputed with Christ’s death. The only elect sinners that God has already justifies are those God has placed into the death of Christ.

Romans 8:10–”but if Christ is in you.., the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

II Peter 1:1, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Romans 4:24 Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was handed for our trespasses (past and future) and raised for our justification (past and future)

ROMANS 6:17 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 justified from sin, HAVE BECOME slaves of righteousness.

Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles,and they were also in Christ before me.” Christ being in us is not the same reality as us being in Christ, and the Apostle Paul does not say that these other elect were born again before him. Paul say they were “in Christ” before him. That’s not the new birth or election. That’s justification

God is not some neutral arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners.

Eternal justification preachers falsely reason from the fact that God’s imputation of Christ’s death is before faith to a conclusion that God’s justification is also before and without faith in the gospel. But the imputation of Adam’s sin and condemnation are two distinct matters, and condemnation is the result of God’s imputation of Adam’s sin.

God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is distinct from God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect (Romans 6 baptized–not water, not with the Spirit– into the death). Eternal justification folk have nothing to say about justification in the before and after of Romans 6 and Ephesians 2. T

They tend to assume that Galatians 2 (despite its context) is not talking about justification (freedom from guilt, positive legal standing in Christ) but about the new birth (learning the gospel).

God’s imputation of Christ’s death results in God’s effectual calling, faith and justification. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from God’s creating hearing by faith in God’s gospel.

Cunha, p 83—” To say that faith is merely an awareness of justification that has occurred prior to faith is to define faith in a way that is foreign to Scripture….

David Clarkson, Of Faith, p 75—Faith at first relies on Christ, not as one that has pardoned my sin, but as one through whom pardon is to be obtained. The persuasion that sin is pardoned is a consequence of faith. Faith is not the persuasion that my sin is pardoned.

James Haldane, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p 115–”When does the act of justification take place? In time or before time? Like every other purpose of God, justification was God’s purpose before the ages, and like the act of creation, justification is an act carried out in time. We may as well talk of eternal resurrection as talk of eternal justification,”

Romans 8: 12 We are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.

Believing a false gospel is flesh, and if you believe a false gospel, you are going to die. Being immoral is flesh, and if you believe and confess the true gospel, you believe and confess the forgiveness of your immorality (past and future)

You will notice that I have not talked about the nature of faith and assurance. I cannot talk about everything all at once. I don’t make distinctions between me “really believing” and other people “only having their heads stuffed with intellectual doctrines”.

My question is about the object of knowledge. What is the gospel? Does the gospel tell us that all the elect are already justified? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that being “saved” is not justification but the new birth? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that Christ’s righteousness is Christ keeping the law Adam and Moses were supposed to keep? No, the gospel is about Christ’s death as the basic difference between those who will be justified and those who will not be justified. All for whom Christ died will be justified.

Being Human Does Not Mean Being a Sinner

April 23, 2017

I Corinthians 15: 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead:
Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;
43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory;
sown in weakness, raised in power;
44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.

47 The first man was from the earth
and made of dust;
the second man is[n] from heaven.
48 Like the man made of dust,
so are those who are made of dust;
like the heavenly man,
so are those who are heavenly.
49 And just as we have borne
the image of the man made of dust,
we will also bear
the image of the heavenly man.

How did Adam sin in the first place without being a corrupt sinner?
I don’t know

But I do know that Jesus became also human and is still also human
without ever sinning or even being able to sin

“being able to sin ” does not define “being human”

to be “human” is to be “in the image of God”

Does this mean that God has always been “human” like?

Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 God the Father has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. 14 We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in God the Son.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
16 For everything was created by God the Son,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through the Son and for the Son
17 God the Son is before all things,
and by Him all things hold together.
18 God the Son is… the firstborn from the dead,
in order to come to have
first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased to have
all His fullness dwell in the Son
20 and through the Son to reconcile
everything to Himself
by making peace
through the blood of His cross—
whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Romans 6 is about Christ the public representative of the elect first being under condemnation, being under sin and death. Romans 6:7 “For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death NO LONGER has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died HE DIED TO SIN once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

Christ was never under grace and is still not under grace. Christ was under the law because of the imputed sins of the elect. Romans 6 is about Christ’s condemnation by the law and His death as satisfaction of that law. Christ after His resurrection is no longer “under law”. Christ’s elect, after their legal identification IN TIME with Christ’s death, are also no longer “under law”.

The death of the justified elect is the SAME legal death that Christ died. The “definitive resurrection” of the elect in Romans 6 is the result of being set apart with Christ (and His death) from being under law.

Christ was never under the power of sin in the sense of being unable not to sin. Christ was always unable to sin. The only way Christ was ever under the power of sin is by being under the guilt of sin. The guilt of the elect’s sin was legally transferred by God to Christ. Christ’s death to sin was death to the guilt of sin, and since the elect are IN TIME united with His death, the death of the elect is also a death to the guilt of sin. Romans 6:7: “For one who has died has been justified from sin.”

Christ’s Incarnation as Human Does Not Mean that His Death is for Everyone, by Tianqi Wu

March 3, 2017

Tianqi Wu — Being a human death does not mean that Christ’s death has saving value for all human beings. If Christ did not bear someone’s sins, then his death has no saving value for specific sinners.
Many people think it sounds pious to separate Christ’s death from the imputation of specific sins to Christ and say that Christ’s death has “intrinisic value” because of His “infinite deity” . But apart from God’s imputation of specific sins, Christ’s death is not a sin offering. No matter how much you seek to praise the dignity of the person of Christ, if his death is not a sin offering for someone, then Christ’s death is not the objective reality which saves any sinner from God’s wrath.

Some will agree that Christ’s death is not sufficient for angels because Christ did not take angelic nature but human nature. They do not say, Christ’s death has “infinite value” and therefore is sufficient for angels as well. Yet they assume that Christ’s death was also sufficient for non-elect humans. To them what matters most is Christ’s incarnation and all that matters is that Christ died a human death. To them, imputation is something the sinner is enabled to do.

But dying a human death, in itself, does not mean salvation for anybody at all. For a sinner to be justified, Christ had to die the death that is the punishment for their sins. For this to happen there must be a transfer of guilt of their sins to Christ. This transfer of guilt happened only if Christ is their representative, which relation happened only if their election in Christ was ordained by God’s counsel.

The sufficient but efficient distinction attempts to fudge this, by making Christ’s death have a less specific nature under the cover of “infinity”, and at the same time introducing conditions for using Christ’s death. Thus regeneration becomes the specific grace which enables the elect to make Christ’s death work for them. In this view, Christ’ ‘s death is not a propitiation for specific persons

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace-which is why you were born a Christian and an American

February 14, 2017

Douthat–“That’s not who we are.” So said President Obama, again and again throughout his administration, in speeches urging Americans to side with him against the various outrages perpetrated by Republicans. And now so say countless liberals, urging their fellow Americans to reject the exclusionary policies and America-first posturing of President Donald Trump. The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Mike Horton–Hebrews assumes a category of covenant members who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work through the means of grace. They are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant… Through their covenant membership they have shared in God’s common grace, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the curses of the new covenant. A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away. It is only covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect brothers and sisters share the new covenant in common with the elect.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology does not teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable”. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not… The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”

We did not choose to be born in America, so doesn’t that prove that it’s grace to be born in America?

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why you were born a Christian and this is why you need to become a Christian?

Was the election of Obama and Trump an accident OR was it OUR mistake?

If American cannot become some better, isn’t that saying that America is equivalent to what America always was?

We made some bad decisions, but that’s not who we are?

If America did something terrible even one time, does that mean that American could maybe do it again?

When we go to the meetings, we say, We are Americans, it’s been four years since we voted

But we were born here, and so we cannot say that we are not Americans anymore (we are not baptists anymore)

We can watch everybody else, but nobody but us can watch us

having a king was not God’s idea
your idea, God told them, but God is still king
and what will happen now with your king
is not God’s will but then again not against God’s will
call it a “hand over”

Since you did not choose your parents, and you did not choose where to be born
therefore it must be all grace, not a choice

so why do you hear so many sermons commanding you to “become what you are”?

Do this because of who you are now or because of who you will become—Those appeals makes sense.

But become what you are?

If we are x, we do not need to become x unless of course there is some kind of “as if fiction” happening.

Because you are justified, become thankful

If you are justified, you stay justified, unless you are in a covenant where Christ is not the mediator.

if you are justified, you don’t become condemned, unless you are in a covenant which is not governed by election and take as good news an atonement which is not governed by election.

Nobody has always been justified, but those who have been justified are not still being justified, unless they are in a covenant where law is grace and grace is law.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/four-views-on-eternal-security

Sam Storms: “The contention is that the blessings listed in Hebrews 6: 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. The contention is that to such persons the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Other views are faulted for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ”

Sam Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 ) apart from faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. …

Even if you do what you believe (because you believe), and “choose life”, there is no life in the law

January 23, 2017

There is no life in the law of Moses. There is no life in the law of Christ.
There is only life in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Many who preach sermons in churches could preach the very same sermon in synagogues, because they preach the law and not the gospel. They confuse the law with the gospel, because they think that doing the law brings life. Make your choice, these preachers tell us. Believe the law and then do the law, and if you don’t do the law that means you don’t believe the law.

Deuteronomy 30:11 Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is NOT TOO HARD FOR YOU, nor is it too far away. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT ?” 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and DO IT” 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to DO 15 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16 IF YOU OBEY the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and DOING his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live…. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

But this choice is not as simple as it sounds, which is why legal preachers also cut themselves (and those who listen to them) some slack. They assure us that we need not live by the letter of the law. They say we can choose life and gain life by doing what the law says but at the same without our relying on our believing and on our doing what the law says. We should remain humble and thank God for helping us do the law. We should not sit in judgment those who don’t do the law well, so that others will not judge us when we don’t do the law better.

These preachers have no good news for sinners like me. These preachers have no good news for people like me who are still very unbelieving.

When Jesus preached in a synagogue, Jesus preached about Himself, not about our doing the law. Of those who are guilty before the law , all those for whom Jesus died (the elect) will be freed from that guilt and given life.

Matthew 11: 8 those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces.

Luke 4: 16 Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives

Luke 4: 25 But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them—but to one widow outside of Israel. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed —only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.29 They got up, drove Jesus out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Jesus over the cliff.

These who come in soft clothes to the synagogues are not offended at the idea of a new perspective in which they become more inclusive and welcome others to do the law with them. But those in soft clothes in the synagogues get angry when anybody “narrows the covenant” to only those sinners whose hope is not in doing the law but in election by grace. Those in soft clothes in synagogues reject any notion that their own children and other family members will not be given enough grace to do enough of the law to receive life.

Deuteronomy 27: 26 Cursed is everyone who does not DO ALL the things written in the book of the law'”

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 DOING was evil. 20 They do not come to the light, lest their DOING be exposed.

“All who depend on DOING the law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10).

Those who pursue life by doing and obeying the law also accept the consequences of disobeying law. We are all born condemned, even before we do anything good or bad.
Whether we think we are pursuing life by doing or not, we are all born condemned, with no hope except in the gospel.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, 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?”

Faith in the doctrine of Christ’s death and resurrection can be referred to as obedience in the sense that when we believe in Christ we are doing what God command everybody to do. Thus is why the Scriptures sometimes speak of “obeying the gospel.” But doing the law is not faith in the gospel (Romans 3:28). Since whatever is not faith is sin (Romans 14:23 ) , some have concluded that “works of the law” does not refer to failure before the law in general, but rather to a specific kind of sin–the sin of trying to earn life from God by doing the law. But we are all born condemned because of Adam’s sin and also because of all our sins, not only because of the sin of trying to gain life by law. Even though there was never grace for the non-elect, the non-elect also are born condemned before they did anything good or bad, and before they ever attempted to gain life by doing the law. Romans 9:11 For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything GOOD OR BAD, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works. Law doing is not simply acts one does without faith. “Works” are “anything we do, whether good or bad.”

Romans 3:19 “The law speaks to those who are under the law, in order that every mouth be silenced, and in order that the whole world be held accountable to God. 20 For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by doing commanded by the law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

Jesus has redeemed His elect people from the curse of the law “by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13)

Galatians 3: 12 The law is NOT of faith, rather “The one who DOES them shall LIVE by them.” (Leviticus 18:5)

The logic of “if” is the logic of “or”.

Galatians 2:21 if righteousness and life came through doing the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Christ died for a purpose (all for whom Christ died will be saved) OR righteousness is through our doing the law. No synthesis possible. Christ did not come to help us to get around that antithesis

Galatians 3:18 For IF the inheritance comes by DOING the law, the inheritance does NOT come by promise

Galatians 3:21 For IF a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by doing the law.

Romans 3: 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded.

If our doing the law brings life, then trusting only in Christ’s death is excluded. Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection means “not doing the law”

This is why we cannot say that doing the law because we believe gives us life. We do not receive or keep life by doing the law.

John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.”

Acts 13: 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption 37 but Jesus who God raised up experienced no corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man Jesus forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39 by this Jesus each and every person who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

II Corinthians 3: 7 Now if the ministry of death, in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at the face of Moses because of the glory, a glory now set aside, 8 how much more will the ministry of the Holy Spirit come in glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10 Indeed, what ONCE HAD glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory. 11 if what was SET ASIDE came through glory, much more has the PERMANENT come in glory!

A “synagogue sermon” which scandalizes both exclusivists and inclusivists

December 12, 2016

John 1: 6 There was a man named John
who was sent from God.
7 John came as a witness
to testify about the light,
so that all would believe through him
8 John was not the light,
but John came to testify about the light.

I Corinthians 15: 13 But each in his own order:Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when Christ abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For Christ must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death

The age to come has now come, the age to come has not yet come. The day of recompense to come has not yet come, and this explains the discontinuity between the old covenants and the new covenant. Some of us focus on the unbelief of the disciples and John the Baptist, and others of us notice their lack of understanding of the meaning of Christ’s kingdom. The age to come which has now come with Christ is not the same as the ages of the old covenants but it is also not the same as another age to come after this age. That day will be a day of vengeance and recompense. As usual I want to notice what tends to get skipped or not commented on some famous texts

Isaiah 35—The wilderness and the dry land will be glad;
the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose.
2 The land will blossom abundantly
and will also rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
steady the shaking knees!
4 Say to the cowardly:
“Be strong; do not fear!
Here is your God; VENGEANCE IS COMING
GOD’S RETRIBUTION IS COMING; God will save you.”

5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy,
for water will gush in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the parched ground will become a pool of water,
and the thirsty land springs of water.
In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs,
there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus.
8 A road will be there and a way;
it will be called the Holy Way.
The unclean will not travel on it,
but it will be for the one who walks the path.
Even the fool will not go astray.
9 There will be no lion there,
and no vicious beast will go up on it;
they will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk on it,
10 and the redeemed of the Lord will return
and come to Zion with singing,
crowned with unending joy.
Joy and gladness will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee.

Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim LIBERTY to the captives
and FREEDOM to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s FAVOR,
and the DAY OF OUR GOD’S VENGEANCE

to comfort all who mourn,
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair.
And they will be called righteous trees,
planted by the Lord
to glorify Him.
6 But you will be called the Lord’s priests;
they will speak of you as SERVANTS of our God;
you will eat the wealth of the nations,
and you will boast in their riches.
7 Because your shame was double,
and they cried out, “Disgrace is their portion,”
therefore, they will possess double in their land,
and lasting joy will be theirs.
8 For I Yahweh
will faithfully GIVE THEM RECOMPENSE
10 I greatly rejoice in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth produces its growth,
and as a garden enables what is sown to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

When Jesus came to his own, his own received Him not. Instead they were SCANDALIZED by Jesus. They were OFFENDED by Jesus. The conservatives who liked the status quo thought Jesus was being too “political”. And those who wanted to overcome the Roman occupation thought that Jesus was being too “spiritual” (instead of political).

I often speak of “synagogue sermons” with contempt. By this I mean sermons which are not about Christ but about morality and charity, sermons which could be given to anybody, anywhere. My reference is to “sermons that think they are universal not sectarian” but which carefully exclude (or fail to attend to) anything which might possibly offend anybody. These are sermons that could be given in a mosque or a synagogue with the same (very little) effect. I hear these sermons in Christian churches, both liberal and conservative.

But there is one “synagogue sermon” which caused its hearers to be angry and to attempt violence against Jesus. Were they angry because they were atheists who did not believe in God? No. Were they angry because Jesus left off the part of the quotation from Isaiah which left out the part about the Day of Recompense? It’s not obvious that this was the case. Were they disappointed that the Age to Come they had expected had not yet come? Perhaps, but’s it’s not clear. Were they scandalized because Jesus talked about including Gentiles as well as Jews? I don’t think so. I think the main offense was that Jesus, like John the Baptist, talked about not all the Jews being included. Jesus was not “new perspective” nor was Jesus teaching a new gospel which was “more not less inclusive”.

Luke 4: 16 Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. As usual, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:

18 The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
20 Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down to teach. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus.21 He began by saying to them, “Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.”

22 They were all speaking well of Him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from His mouth….Jesus said to them, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 But I say to you, there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them—but to a widow in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet not one of them was healed —only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged.29 They got up, drove Jesus out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Jesus over the cliff.30 But Jesus passed right through the crowd and went on His way.

Even though John the Baptist may not have been confused about the exclusion of some Jews from the kingdom, even John was bewildered and doubting about the nature of the kingdom age which had come with Jesus. What the old covenants had taught about the age to come seemed like it was all done at one time, not in two ages, with still another age to come. John the Baptist had already scandalized many, both Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” 3 For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make His paths straight!
5 Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 7 When John saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to the place of his water baptism, John said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. 9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 10 Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

John the Baptist preached news about Christ as the one who had come to fulfill the law and the prophets. John pointed to Christ as the one who had come to bring the Day of Recompense. John the Baptist preached the law in order to point to Christ as the gospel.

Matthew 11: 2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, John sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Jesus, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see:5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed,the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.6 And if anyone is not OFFENDED BECAUSE OF ME, he is blessed.”

7 Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes? Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. 10 This is the one it is written about:
Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You;
he will prepare Your way before You.

Chaplains of the status quo teach us that it was all a big misunderstanding, that some people think that the kingdom is political but it is not. Chaplains of the status quo wear soft clothes and live in king’s palaces. But John, in preaching the law, was negative about the chaplains and the status quo. John was positive about a coming day of wrath and recompense. Even though John the Baptist was wrong about the timing, John was not wrong about God’s law being satisfied in the future. God’s wrath is satisfied not only in Christ’s death which was ordained by God but which was organized by the Jewish political status quo. God’s wrath was shown in that age by the Roman destruction of the temple and will be shown in the destruction of all the non-elect in the Day to come.

But all these events , John’s preaching and even the synagogue teaching of Jesus (Luke 4) all happened before Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. All that preaching had more repenting in the message than it did “believe and you shall be saved”. Without saying that any one person needs to hear law before gospel, it does seem that for a time what is being heard is law as a preparation for the gospel. Do all the law and you will be saved. But you can’t do all the law, so you won’t be saved. Now you are ready for the gospel. But in some stores. it seems like nobody ever gets to the gospel, because everybody is stuck in law-mode, both those who know they are doomed because they can’t do the law and also those who think they do enough of the law and thank God for giving them the sincerity and ability to do the law, and to “at least” be better than those who killed John the Baptist.

Matthew 14 Herod had arrested John, chained him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, 4 since John had been telling him, “It’s not lawful for you to have her!” 5 Though Herod wanted to kill John , Herod feared the crowd, since they regarded John as a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday celebration came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 So Herod promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 And prompted by her mother, she answered, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter!” 9 Although the king regretted it, Herod commanded that it be granted because of his oaths and his guests. 10 So Herod sent orders and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 John’s head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother.

God does not teach all the law and gospel to any one person at all time, no matter what ‘”soundbite” they have landed on. God did not teach all the law to Adam or to Moses or even in the Sermon on the Mount. And God did not teach all the gospel to Adam or to Abraham or to David or to the disciples and John the Baptist.

Hebrews 2: We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, 3 how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. 4 At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will. For God has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about.
7 You made him lower than the angels
for a short time;
You crowned him with glory and honor
8 and SUBJECTED EVERYTHING everything under his feet.
For in subjecting everything to Jesus, God left nothing that is not subject to Jesus. As it is, we do NOT YET see everything subjected to him. 9 But we do see Jesus

The age to come has not yet come.

Stanley Hauerwas—We say that the Psalm Sunday crowd got it wrong because they were wanting freedom in this world and in this age, and then we who either love the status quo or think nothing will change say that Jesus was offering only spiritual freedom, a kingdom after we die, and a death which is not really death. Instead of Passover and resurrection, we teach an inherent immortality that claims that all humans are eternal.

That way we can say the kingdom is in our hearts. Instead of obeying the King who was standing among the disciples and who is coming back to earth, we can say that the Sermon on the Mount is only for after we die, and now go out and buy our guns. All we need to do is be careful not to buy those guns as a church but as individuals.

Hauerwas—-“If Jesus is all about getting us to love one another, then why did almost everyone reject Jesus? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil that he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, Jesus refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Jesus refused these goods because God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence using the means of the devil.

Hauerwas—Jesus’s refusal to play the devil’s game does not mean that the kingdom Jesus proclaims is not political. Jesus refuses to use the violence of the world to achieve “peace.” But that does not mean Jess is any less political or that Jesus is not about the securing of peace. His arrest is often thought to represent the apolitical character of Jesus because Jesus commands Peter to put away the sword Peter had used to cut off the ear of the priest’s slave. Jesus rebukes Peter, but Jesus does so because that is not the “cup” the Father has given him. But the cup from which Jesus must drink is no less political for being nonviolent.

Hauerwas—The character of Jesus’s politics is manifest in his response to the high priest who questions Jesus about his teachings in John 18.19-24. That Jesus is questioned by the high priest may suggest that his mission was “religious” rather than political, but such an account cannot be sustained for no other reason than Jesus’s answer: “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in the synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

Hauerwas—They tell me that you are the King of Jews. Is that true?” Pilate’s question is meant to see if Jesus is “political.” Jesus responds by asking if Pilate came up with such a view on his own or did others tell him such was the case. “I am not a Jew, am I?” replies Pilate.. “If my kingdom were FROM this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. ” This is a response used often to deny that Jesus was political. But Pilate rightly saw that Jesus’ denial that his kingship was not of this world is not the denial that Jesus is king. Jesus denied that his kingdom was just another form of Rome.

John Howard Yoder— the Constantinian shift the meaning of the word “Christian” changes. Prior to Constantine it took exceptional courage to be a Christian. After Constantine it takes exceptional courage not to be counted as a Christian. … After the establishment, Christians knew that God was governing the world in Constantine, but they had to take it on faith that within the nominally Christian mass there was a community of true believers. No longer could being a Christian be identified with church membership, since many “Christians” in the church had not chosen to follow Christ. To be a Christian is transmuted to “inward-spirituality.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (2006)

Romans 1:17 God’s righteousness is not an offer, God’s gospel is power to salvation

November 6, 2016

Romans 1: The gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes… For in the gospel God’s righteousness is revealed

Modern universalists dismiss any need for sinners to believe the gospel so they tell us that “the faith of Christ” is what Christ did before Christ died. These universalists teach us that Christ’s incarnation and resurrection and indwelling are the righteousness revealed and have nothing to do with any satisfaction of God’s law for selected elect sinners. These “grace, no law” antinomians sound much like Agricola.

But, on the other hand, most professing Calvinists respond to this law-less universalism by teaching that God’s righteousness is only an OFFER which depends on God giving us faith to “access it”. just like the Arminians, these professing Reformed don’t teach that only the sins of the elect were imputed by God to Christ. Instead, like the Arminians, they teach that Christ’s death doesn’t work for you unless you believe in it. These “faith is the condition of union and union is the condition of justification folks” tend to define faith after conversion in terms of fidelity and good but imperfect works

Even though these professing Calvinists agree that your believing in the gospel is the result of Christ’s death, they also explain Christ’s death as something which makes it possible for anybody to be saved. Like the Arminians, these professing Calvinists deny that faith is a work, but have no problem saying that the Holy Spirit gives faith in a false gospel teaching that Christ died for every sinner.

Don’t believe in anything that depends on your believing in it. If you believe the true gospel, your believing is only a result of Christ’s death for those God has elected in Christ. There is no “tension” or “dialectic” here between God’s sovereignty and your need and duty to believe the gospel. The gospel you need to believe does not assure you in particular that you will believe or that your sins were imputed to Christ. The gospel you need to believe instead assures you that each and every sinner God elected and for whom Christ died will believe the gospel which has election as good news. The power of the gospel teaches us to not leave election out of the gospel. We learn to repent of any thought of assurance in the gospel for those who deny or remain ignorant of God’s election of sinners in Christ. God only imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, and Christ only died for those sins.

You don’t necessarily need to hear law before you hear gospel. Your own natural idea of what sin is does not come close to being the reality of what it means to be a sinner. The gospel itself can and does teach sinners about the sin of self-righteousness. When we learn what it takes to satisfy God’s law, then we learn that our own attempts to satisfy the law with our faith or our works is nothing but self-righteousness. Our own attempts to thank God for enabling us to believe God in order to enable God to save us are then revealed as the very worst kind of rebellion against God.

Psalm 98: The Lord has made His victory known;
He has revealed His righteousness
in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered His love
and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth
have seen our God’s victory.
4 Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.
5 Sing to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and melodious song.
6 With trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn
shout triumphantly
in the presence of the Lord, our King.
7 Let the sea and all that fills it,
the world and those who live in it, resound.
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the mountains shout together for joy
9 before the Lord,
for He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world righteously
and the peoples fairly.

Psalm 143: Do not bring Your servant into judgment,
for no one ALIVE is RIGHTEOUS in Your sight.
4 My spirit is weak within me;
my heart is overcome with dismay…
I am like parched land before You.
my spirit fails.
Don’t hide Your face from me,
or I will be like those
going down to DEATH
Because of Your name, Yahweh,
let me LIVE.
In Your RIGHTEOUSNESS deliver me from trouble