The Summation of Romans

It is my contention that Romans is all about the righteousness of God and how we can attain it.

Man, by default, tries to attain it by works. If they mess with the Bible, they attempt to get it by doing works of the law. It doesn’t work; the meticulous history of Israel in the OT shows this.

Yet many continue to try it. It is by faith that we are made right with God. This is not some mental game, but an actual reality. Believers are crucified, buried, and raised up with Christ.

We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who leads us into righteousness. Anyone who claims to be righteous must do righteousness. Not only is this common sense, it’s also biblical.

In order to get to heaven we must do good as a way of life, according to Romans 2:7 and 13.

In our hasty effort to defend faith and grace, many have gone loopy when it comes to works and doing good. Take Scofield’s Notes on Romans 2 for instance, “In vv. 7 and 13 the cases are hypothetical.”

Scofield doesn’t think Paul means what he’s saying in Romans 2:7 and 13. That seems dangerous for Paul to mess with this like that. Seems to me Paul meant what he said.

The answer is not to run out and try to do good and keep the law. No, the answer is to come to Christ by faith, be made the righteousness of God, and fulfill the righteousness of the law by walking in the Spirit.

Romans explains to us the dilemma of righteousness–how a righteous God can declare unrighteous people to be righteous and also how people who are filled with unrighteousness can ultimately do what is right.

It’s the power of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a Gospel and what a book!

The Point of Romans 12-16

Romans 12 begins beautifully:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Since we are alive to Christ and dead to sin, since we have the Spirit and we are the sons of God, since we are currently mortifying, killing off, the deeds of the flesh, see yourself as a living sacrifice.

We are not living for our fleshly desires, no, we are living for our Savior Jesus Christ. We owe the flesh nothing. The Gospel doesn’t just remove sin, it replaces sin with righteousness and holiness.

Romans 12-16 is Paul’s practical advice for what to do with the power of the Gospel that has made you new. This is what salvation-life looks like. This is what the life of Christ in you does.

We know what the world does, it’s all around us, fashioning and shaping us. We need our minds retaught and renewed. Doing what God wants is not natural; therefore, we must be retaught.

Paul gives great advice including a signoff that mentions a number of people who are doing what God wants.

In the end, Paul wraps up Romans where he started—the purpose of his ministry—to make the Gospel known for the obedience of faith among all nations.

Faith always results in obedience. The only way to obey in true righteousness is to by faith die with Christ and be raised up to new life in the Spirit. It’s the message of Romans–the righteousness of God is all yours by faith.

David Wilkerson

David Wilkerson died yesterday. He wrote The Cross and the Switchblade and was a preacher for over 50 years. I don’t know much about him, but here are two things I do recall.

His one appearance on this blog was a tad critical, imagine that. I can’t go with him in some doctrinal areas, but the guy had impact.

The other thing I recalled was a sermon he preached about anguish. I thought it was very good, which inspired me to listen to other stuff he said, which led me to understand that I can’t go with him in all doctrinal areas.

How Wilkerson stands before matters none at all, but he has now stood before God to get his true reward.

The Point of Romans 9-11

These chapters have often been referred to as a parenthesis, some people can’t figure out why they are even included. This is mainly because of the idea that Romans is about grace, not righteousness. If it’s about grace, these chapters seem oddly placed.

If it’s about righteousness, they make total sense. Romans 9 explains Israel’s national struggle described in the individual in Romans 7. Israel wanted to do good, they just couldn’t. They couldn’t because they tried to do it themselves not by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 9:31-32 is the main point of this section—

“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone”

Israel sought God’s righteousness by works of the Law rather than by faith. Thus they never attained to the righteousness of the Law. Some Gentiles did because they sought it by faith.

These three chapters explain for us the failure of Israel, which should be a lesson for us so we don’t do the same stupid thing they did—revert from faith and back to fleshly works of supposed righteousness in exchange for the faithful works of true righteousness.

Israel was cut off, take heed lest ye be cut off by doing the same dumb mistake.

One would think a man would turn to faith early, but the problem with faith is that it’s humiliating! Israel refused to submit to the righteousness of God and instead went about to get their own.

We feel better seeing our tangible works of perceived righteousness than doing the humble work of obedient faith. Don’t fall like Israel.

Greener Grass

“We can come into the presence of God at all times and at all places.

“This is the greatest benefit of the gospel. Forgiveness of sins, a new heart, and eternal life are only a means to this magnificent end. Jesus Christ ushers us into the presence of God, and it’s in the presence of God that we find our soul’s deepest satisfaction. Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

“A speedboat, job promotion, or beautiful, loving spouse who likes long walks on the beach can’t bring fullness of joy. Eternal pleasures can’t be purchased with a platinum credit card. Full, overflowing, eternal joy and pleasure are found only in the presence of God, and in the gospel we have access to his joyful presence….

“If we’re not consistently spending time in the presence of God, we won’t be content.

–Stephen Altrogge

The Point of Romans 7 and 8

There is much debate over Romans 7. I won’t go into the points of debate; I’ll just tell you what it’s about! You can thank me later.

Chapter 7 begins with “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”

The main point of Romans 7 is a misunderstanding of how to go about doing this good that is required to get eternal life. Jews are traditionally predisposed to achieve it by the Law.

Jews are Paul’s main point here in Romans 7—his brothers who know the law. The law has dominion as long as you’re alive. BUT REMEMBER! Romans 6 says we’re dead because we’re identified with Christ’s crucifixion by faith!

So I’m no longer under the law’s sway. Romans 7 begins with an illustration of marriage—if a wife’s hubby dies she‘s free to marry another. Since we’re dead to the law, be married to Christ.

So now there’s a tug between the fleshly desire to achieve righteousness by following the external law of Moses and the internal law of God written in the heart that the mind wants to follow.

The law is good; we are not. The law tells us what good is, but we can’t find it in us to do it. We are wretched men indeed, thank God Christ delivers us! Now I can do the true intent of the law, not by the flesh’s power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Law gives me no power to do the law. The law is weak that way. BUT “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

By the Spirit I can fulfill the law. By the Spirit I can mortify the deeds of the flesh and live. Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God. In other words—by patient continuance in well doing we get eternal life!

This well doing is only possible by the Spirit of God, who is only received by faith in Jesus Christ. The flesh is dead, the Spirit is life. Live it!

Egypt and Israel

Any possible linkage in some headlines for today?

54% of Egyptians want to see the 32-year old peace treaty with Israel scrapped.

–62% of Egyptians believe laws in their country should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran.

In related news, 10-year old opera singer, Jackie Evancho, is using her money-making voice to sing to protect seals and calling for a boycott of Canadian food imports, eh.

The Point of Romans 6

In chapters 4 and 5 Paul explained that righteousness is only available by faith, not by works, not by a concerted effort to be a good little boy. Won’t work cuz you aint a good little boy.

“Well, sweet!” says our stinking, rotting, lazy flesh. “So you’re telling me I just say I believe and then I can keep being a sinner?”

Paul’s emphatic answer is, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Remember Romans 2:7—only those who patiently continue to do good receive eternal life. This is no hypothetical statement, this is true and binding.

The answer is to by faith be identified with Christ’s death and resurrection, we are raised up to newness of life. We are dead to sin and alive to God.

Since that’s the case, bind yourselves, not as servants of unrighteousness, but as servants of righteousness. “yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.”

The fruit of doing righteousness is holiness. Now, get this! Romans 6:22, we are “servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

Did you see it? Romans 2:7 says the only way to get eternal life is by doing good. The only way to do good is to identify with Christ in His death and resurrection by faith, which results in righteous service resulting in holiness, which results in eternal life!

Many think they can achieve righteousness by works, apart from faith in Christ. They are doomed to failure. An equal number go to the opposite extreme and think that since they said a prayer once they can continue in sin.

But Paul says, “Wait, what I said in Romans 2 is still true! You still have to do good to get eternal life! And the only way to do that is to be in Christ!” It answers every problem! God’s wisdom is incredible.

The Point of Romans 4-5

Point of Romans so far–We must have righteousness to enter heaven, but we are filled with unrighteousness and there is none righteous, no, not one. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ and what His blood accomplished that a man can be saved.

Faith in Christ results in us being justified—declared righteous. But this isn’t some newfangled thing, salvation in the blood of Christ was available under the lawDavid declares the happiness of a man whose sins are not imputed.

This salvation in Christ was available before the Law—Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Even though we are unrighteous we can be made righteous by faith.

Romans 5 contrasts our two federal representatives—Adam or Christ. By Adam’s one act of disobedience many were made sinners and death passed on all men.

By Christ’s one act of obedience (death on the cross) many were made righteous and received the justification of life.

You can’t work your way into a state of righteousness; you can only achieve the righteousness of God by faith. In other words, the only thing that works is faith.

The Point of Romans 1-3

In Harry Ironside’s commentary on Romans, he says, “The theme of the Epistle is the Righteousness of God.” If you don’t see that righteousness is the main theme of Romans, the book will remain obscure.

Romans 1 and 2 develop the idea that righteousness is a key factor in your arrival in heaven. The righteousness of God has been revealed from faith to faith, and the just (those who have been made right) live by faith (1:17).

God’s righteousness is a requirement for salvation and this righteousness is not hidden, it has been revealed. Notice he didn’t say it has just now been revealed! It’s been around since the beginning.

The problem is that the unrighteousness of men deserves the wrath of God (1:18), and all Man is filled with unrighteousness (1:29).

God is righteous and He judges righteous judgment (2:5). His righteous judgment says that people who persist in unrighteousness get tribulation, anguish, indignation and wrath (2:8-9). This is true for both Jews and Gentiles.

But it is equally true that any Jew or Gentile that does good receives glory, honor and immortality—eternal life (2:10). Sounds easy enough, until we hit Romans 3, “There is none righteous, no, not even one!”

The answer is not to flee to the law to try to do works of righteousness. Nope, the answer is to get the “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (3:22).

Faith in His blood is the answer for all sins and to attain the righteousness of God (3:25). Christ’s blood provides God the way to justify the unrighteous (3:26).

The Point of Romans–Part Two

In order to explain the obedience of faith that results in righteousness, Paul starts Romans with the basic assumption that only obedient people get to heaven and the disobedient and unrighteous get God’s wrath (chapters 1 and 2). Next he explains our predicament—we can’t obey because we are unrighteous (chapter 3).

Due to this little problem, Paul expounds on the obedience of Christ in dying and His resurrection for our justification (chapters 4 and 5). We are made right with God by faith.

The result of being made right with God is that we obey God by His Spirit(chapters 6-8). Paul then points to Israel’s example of how not to do it (chapters 9-11). Israel tried to get it by works of the law and not by faith.

(Those who think grace is the main point of Romans often wonder why chapters 9-11 exist. When righteousness and faith are in view it is obvious why they exist.)

Paul assumes we will take his advice and get righteousness by faith and the result is obedience to God which will manifest itself in following Paul’s commands for Christian living (chapters 12-16).

Paul concludes Romans by stating that the Scriptures have been made known and this knowledge results in the obedience of faith (16:26).

There is a notion that being saved by grace is strictly a New Testament idea and that salvation by grace means obedience is optional, at best. Many have used Romans to teach such falsehood.

This false teaching merely shows that few have ever actually read Romans apart from their assumptions and fewer still have been obedient to it.

The Point of Romans–Part One

In Max Lucado’s book, In the Grip of Grace, he says, “Romans is the grandest treatise on grace ever written.” Lucado merely echoes a long held belief that Romans is all about grace. Perhaps this lens has hindered our ability to see other points from Romans, maybe even the main one.

Although one cannot tell the importance of an issue by numbers (“love thy neighbor” is only mentioned once in the Old Testament yet is said to be the second greatest commandment), numbers can assist in determining main points.

“Grace” and other words with the “grace” root are mentioned 25 times in Romans.
Faith and belief with their derivatives are mentioned 63 times.
“Righteous” and “righteousness” are mentioned a combined 43 times (all counts based on the KJV, God’s one true holy word). (Yes, that was supposed to be funny.)

Paul has a definite point in Romans and the definite point is not a revelation of something new. Paul has over 60 Old Testament quotes in Romans.

Paul is correcting an error—how to achieve the righteousness of God—that Israel in the Old Testament completely botched and Paul is hoping to keep the New Testament Church from the same error.

To say that Paul is revealing salvation by grace as though this were something new is to show ignorance of the entire scope of the Bible’s teaching on salvation. Romans 11:1-5 makes it clear that God’s grace has always been reserving a remnant of faithful believers.

Grace is nothing new; Grace is as old as God Himself. Romans is not inventing grace, or explaining something new about grace. Paul’s point is to correct ages-old wrong thinking about faith, obedience, and righteousness.

“The obedience of faith” is Paul’s hope for the readers of Romans. Paul even says it is the point of his entire ministry–he received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all nations (1:5). Paul’s main point is the obedience of faith that leads to true righteousness.

Fear The Word

The OT repeatedly illustrates what NT doctrine means. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word, and the people of Egypt, heathen scum though they be, illustrate what God means by hearing His Word.

Plagues have hit Egypt already and more are coming. The latest is an incredible hailstorm that will kill any living thing left out. The people are warned that hail is coming, stay indoors!

He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.”

Hearing God’s word means doing God’s Word and the reason we do God’s Word is because God is His Word. God is great, deserving of fear, therefore, His Word is to be feared.

Fearing God’s Word is synonymous with faith. I do not listen to many pronouncements of my 11-year old daughter. No matter how adamant she is that there was an Alamo War, I do not believe her.

I act on very few things she says because I do not fear her, her knowledge, nor her abilities. I imagine that when I am 87 and can hardly hear or see, I will fear her word more and listen up. But now, nope.

Both my daughter and I need to fear God’s Word. He’s the one who knows everything; we are the ones who are to be humbly submissive to what He says.

God is not mocked. Professing to have faith and yet disregarding His Word do not go together. God does great things in those who fear His Word.

Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”

Sanctification and Brotherhood

To deny sanctification is to deny God according to 1 Thessalonians 4:7,8. Sanctification is directly tied in with who God is.

“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren

To be identified with Christ is to be sanctified. If we deny sanctification, if we endeavor to continue living like the world and not to come out and be separate, Christ will be ashamed to call you His brother.

To deny sanctification, to resist holiness, is to clearly demonstrate you have no true interest in Christ or being related to Him.

The Church, Christ’s Body, is to withdraw from “brothers” who walk disorderly. We are not even to eat with these false brothers.

To claim Christ as your brother, and yet persist in sin, is a denial of Jesus Christ, a mockery of the Church, and a devastating statement in regard to your conception of faith, grace, salvation, justice, holiness, and the very character of God.

And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” 

Antinomianism, Antichrist and Apostastate Churchiness

“For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”

When a person is saved their old man is crucified and they are raised up to newness of life. Old things pass away; all things become new.

These are facts and are done, but there is also a process of sanctification, an ongoing putting to death of the deeds of the flesh and an awakening to righteousness.

To deny this process, to deny that the believer will die to sin and live to righteousness, is a denial of Scripture, of the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, a denial of resurrection and a rejection of God.

A denial of ongoing sanctification is a denial of God. If we deny Him He will deny us. Continuing to live in sin is a denial of God–many “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.”

Yet, in our day of the burgeoning apostate church, it is almost considered a sin to tell people to do good works. “That’s legalism!” No, it’s called the work of the Spirit in the believer. It’s part of the package of salvation.

If you don’t want to do good works then you don’t want salvation and you have sufficiently denied your Savior.

Antinomianism and Antichrist

“The mystery of iniquity doth already work”

Based on my eschatological views, 2 Thessalonians is talking about the antichrist and his brief run at world government. When the antichrist comes he is going to overturn law and commonly held rules. He will attack God’s people and set himself as the authority for all things. It’s a bad time.

His oddball ideas will seem to make sense though. He doesn’t just drop new stuff on people, no, his system is gradually being shaped already,  the mystery of iniquity is already at work.

According to Revelation 17 he is going to work right along with the Apostate Church, who will buy into his lies. This means that we can expect to see the mystery of iniquity already at work in the Church at large.

What is this “mystery of iniquity?” Is it just bad guys doing bad stuff in church? Basically, yeah! But let’s define “iniquity” to help us know what to watch for.

“Iniquity” means literally “without law.” When antichrist comes he is going to overturn law, he will call evil good and good evil. He will disregard the notion of law, particularly God’s law.

See any evidence in the church that people are down on God’s Law? Any evidence we’re being taught that the Law was for “other people?” Any evidence that the Law is belittled and unimportant?

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

This Is Your Brain on God

Salvation is joining yourself with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. It results in death to the old man (you by physical birth) and newness of life (you by spiritual birth).

Your old self is dead, crucified, taken out-of-the-way. In its place comes a new resurrection life where all things are new.

One main reason why people do not come to faith is because they don’t want to die. They want to keep living after their flesh and its affections and lusts. The cares of the world and the desires of their flesh choke out spiritual life.

Thus, hell is filled with people who had a great time in the flesh on earth, many of whom went to church and “compensated” for their fleshly enjoyments with empty religious works.

Do we understand the depths of being a new creation in Christ? What all must be put to death? It’s like your local furniture store–Everything must go!

Even your brain has to die. All your fleshly conceptions of God, humanity, religion, righteousness, faith, etc must die. Unfortunately, much pastoral teaching is also fleshly, being taught by unsaved pastors.

Church History is filled with guys who were converted 10-20 years into their pastoral ministry. They repent and apologize profusely for the false teaching they taught for so many years.

Much of our fleshly brain that must die is filled with this false Christian teaching. If you want to know God’s wisdom, you must kill your brain. You must become ignorant to truly be wise.

“If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”

Man’s Wisdom is Foolishness

Is faith something we do or is it something that happens to you?

This is an important question, one Bible-readers have argued over for years. It’s really the sum and substance of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate.

If faith is something we do, it seems to make salvation up to us, something we can “achieve.” This puts God as a reactionary force waiting for us and humans as the agent of salvation.

If faith is something that happens to us, it seems to make salvation entirely up to God and damnation His fault rather than the sinner’s. It puts us as irrelevant and makes God an unfair monster.

Resolving this issue in your mind is important as it will shape much of your theology. Might I make a suggestion?

Don’t be either/or with this one. The reason there is a debate is because the Bible presents both sides.

Romans 9–God has mercy on whom He has mercy, what right does the pot have to question the potter? Romans 10–whoever believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth will be saved.

Take the Bible at face-value. One problem I see is that people use logic as their basis of understanding this issue above what Scripture says. Logic does not allow you to hold both sides at the same time. Faith, however, does! Embrace faith.

The Pride of Ignorance

Romans says that “knowledge puffs up” and this is true. Intelligent people enjoy sharing and proving their intelligence.

But there’s something else I’ve noticed–ignorance has a pride all its own.

“Oh, I don’t read books, I only read the Bible.”
“We don’t feel a need to sit under preaching, the Spirit leads us.”
“I just love people, knowledge puffs up.”

I’ve met many an ignorant Christian who used their ignorance to prove their superiority. It’s nigh on impossible to break through to these people, any time you use reason they balk, “That’s all just the wisdom of man, I listen only to God.”

Perhaps, however, what this really proves, is that pride will get us no matter who we are.

Red Sea Parts

We have the idea that when Moses parted the Red Sea he put his hands up, called out to God and immediately the Red Sea parted.

However, a little known fact, the Lord sent a mighty wind from the east that blew all night and brought about a parted Red Sea with dry land across it.

God doesn’t always pull off miracles all at once. Be patient; your sea may part too!

God Punishes Sin

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

If a society is lax in punishing criminals, criminals will be emboldened to come up with and do more evil. If sin goes unpunished, man’s heart will get busy discovering more sins.

People often rejoice that God does not punish sins the way He did in the OT with Israel. The NT makes it clear that God still does punish for sins, however, we’ve just managed to theologically remove those warnings.

Hebrews 12 says God chastens every son He loves. Galatians says God is not mocked, we reap what we sow. Corinthians says people died and were sick due to how they partook of Communion. If nothing else, Romans 13 says God punishes sin through his sword wielded by government.

God does punish sin, I don’t know exactly how each time, nor am I the judge as to what punishment is for another, but I know He does because He says He does.

If God did not punish sin, imagine the depths of evil that would take place on this earth! There is a restrainer holding back evil in our world. Be ever so glad this is true and be sure to include it in your theology.

How Marriage Destroys Christian Effectiveness

I imagine I will get busted for this post. I’m sure none of the verses I’m about to address mean what they say. I’m sure my point will be taken grossly out of context and only applied, if at all, at the exact wrong moment. But here goes.

Worshipping marriage is a problem. The Church is greatly distressed over divorce rates and single-parent homes, etc. “We must do all we can to strengthen our marriages!”

Must we? Seems to me we should do all we can to strengthen our faith. Here are some verses that show a danger in overestimating the importance of marriage to a dangerous degree:

Luke 14:16-20–Kingdom of heaven is like a man who makes a feast and invites people to attend, but they all make excuses why they can’t come including the last excuse–I’ve just gotten married, can’t make it.

–Luke 17:26,27–When the Son of Man returns it will be just like the days of Noah–everyone will be living it up and getting married.

–1 Corinthians 7:29–Let those who have wives be as though they had none.

Luke 14:26–If a man does not hate his wife he cannot be Christ’s disciple.

Now, again, I’m sure none of these verses mean what they say. But imagine, if you will, that they did mean what they said. What are the implications?

Do these verses factor in to your marriage relationship? Have you discussed these with the wife?

Peter, Paul and Wary

There exists an argument that Peter did not know grace like Paul did. Paul, allegedly, was the only apostle to “know grace.”

Evidence of this is often pointed out because Peter said there are hard things to understand in Paul (which I have already addressed) and also Galatians 2 is used as proof.

Galatians 2 shows Peter being afraid of the Jews, so he shirks on his responsibilities with the Gentiles when Jews come around. He reverts to a “law mentality” and forgoes the “liberty of grace.”

This is somewhat amusing to me as Paul then proceeds to rip apart Peter in front of everyone, which sounds very much like the modern notion of grace to me!

Paul knows that Peter is struggling, there is error and Paul is correcting it. But note that Paul is demonstrating quite clearly that his Gospel demands proper life obedience in actions.

Paul is worried that Peter’s actions undermine the Gospel to the extent he rebukes him before all. Modern notions of grace throw out things like rebuke, church discipline, etc. Paul didn’t.

Rather than use Galatians 2 as some sort of oddball proof that grace is the exclusive realm of Paul, let’s make sure we learn the lesson about grace from Galatians 2–shape up, people see the Gospel in your actions.

Law, Sin and Faith

We know what sin is by the law and sin is the opposite of doing the law–“sin is the transgression of the law.”

Sin can be defined as not keeping God’s law. But let’s tie this definition in with another definition of sin–“for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

Sin can be defined as not having faith. Thus, sin is defined as not keeping the law, which is the same thing as not having faith.

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Keeping the law and having faith work to the same end–doing what God says, doing righteousness. “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.”

 The law is not of faith, it is of works, and no flesh is justified by works of the law. We are justified by faith. We can’t keep the law by works, but we can have faith.

What the law could not do, faith does by the Spirit who fulfills in us the righteousness of the law.

Law and faith are opposite approaches to the same thing–righteousness. The Law has the End, but cannot provide the Means. But this doesn’t mean the law is evil, but rather we are! That’s why God requires faith, which produces in us what the law requires, but cannot fulfill.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”

Passing the Test

My quotations of heathen scum Eric Hoffer are done. Moving from one heathen scum to another, however:

“No work of pious men ever existed which, if it were examined before the strict judgment of God, did not prove damnable.”
–John Calvin

I tease, I tease, I love all you Calvinists out there. But seriously, look at this quote. Really? I don’t know precisely who Calvin thinks “pious men” are. Not sure if he is referring to self-righteous men or truly righteous men.

Calvinism stresses the inherent evilness of human nature. I agree that human nature is depraved. But Calvinism tends to go so far as to say that even regenerate men are still totally depraved.

I’ve heard many Christians lament the fact that all they do is filthy rags. I disagree. Christians can do things that please God, we can indeed prove what is His good and perfect will.

The psalmist, much to our alarm at times, continually tells God to examine him and reward him for his righteous deeds. Job seemed fine with declaring innocence before God. Paul claimed to be a fine example of following Christ!

It is possible to do good, it really is. Don’t let hyper-Calvinism destroy your sense of worth as a reborn, spiritually alive person. Get off the fleshly pity party of woes and have your mind be renewed day by day.

Put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light! It’s time to wake up to righteousness and sin not. God is most glorified in this.

Emotions, Christian Service and Obesity

One more Hoffer quote to throw at you:

“One of the marks of a truly vigorous society is the ability to dispense with passion as a midwife of action–the ability to pass directly from thought to action.”

Point being that we often look for an emotional impulse to do stuff. If we don’t feel like it, we don’t do it. We must be psyched up. We must have emotionally stirring music or impassioned appeals to our better natures before we begin moving.

To be dependent on emotion is to set yourself up to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine. Emotion plays a vital role in life, certainly not to be denied.

But I think emotion has the better place after action than before. How often do we have noble ideals, get jazzed up about them, flying high, then we go to sleep and wake up the next day carrying on as usual?

Feeling the right emotion often substitutes for action. We’re satisfied with intentions. This is especially an issue with religious fervor.

Altar calls have stirring music, emotions run high to “bring the Spirit,” worship leaders “get our hearts prepared,” and so many other examples that show that we are moved by emotion and little else.

Dependence on emotion will lead to inactive people. Which fits right in with a new study showing that people who attend Christian services most regularly are more likely to be obese.

Christians don’t do if they don’t feel like it. This shows a lack of conviction in our faith. A lack of true spiritual energy. A dependence on temporal things to achieve spiritual ends.

We’re missing something by playing to our fallen natures in an attempt to pull off only what the regenerated mind, body and soul can pull off.

Creativity and Division in the Church

“The compulsion to take ourselves seriously is in inverse proportion to our creative capacity. When the creative flow dries up all we have left is our importance.”

Some more Eric Hoffer for you.

I’m sure this point could be debated in a lively fashion, but I think Christians are the least creative group of people in the world. Christian music is largely a copy of whatever the world liked last year. Christian blogs are just like other blogs. Our books look like and read like the world’s books. There is little in the way of Christian creative distinctives.

At the same time, there is a lot in the way of Christians getting mad at each other and ripping each other’s throats out and stabbing each other in the back. Seems we take ourselves quite seriously.

Too bad a heathen scum philosopher has to point out this problem. Perhaps if we were all more busy creating things of eternal value, living in the liberty of Jesus Christ, pursuing Godly wisdom we wouldn’t have so much time  left over to be mad about every little issue.

But alas, we’re too serious and important. Wouldn’t want to do anything different to destroy our important reputation. It’s hard to be creative when you must fear retribution from being “not like us.”

Whining Troublemakers

“We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.”

Been rereading some Eric Hoffer who was a philosopher, made no pretensions of being a Christian, near as I can tell he leaned atheist. However, he does write some good insights on human nature.

This quote is a beauty! Trouble is always started by people who want everyone to know they’re suffering. Everyone must gather around and celebrate their woes.

This quote reminds me of church for some odd reason. Hmm, trying to put my finger on it.

Like a lamb before his shearers is silent, so are we to be in our tribulation. How frequently we get louder in tribulation, making sure everyone knows we’re struggling. Walking around with our sad faces so everyone knows we’re fasting.

Religion often misses worship of Christ and instead elevates human struggle. Israel murmured in the wilderness and were destroyed. Take your ails to the Great Physician, He’s the only one capable of a cure anyway.

The Blood of the New Covenant

One of the main reasons why the New Covenant is better than the old is because of the blood. The Old Covenant was based on the blood of bulls and goats which could never take away sin. The New Covenant is based on the blood of the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Seems many deny the promises of the New Covenant. That we will walk in His ways. We will have His Law written in our hearts. We will overcome sin. We will live a new life. We will.

“Well, maybe someday. Maybe Israel will in the Millennium, but certainly not us.” Why do we deny the reality of what the Bible says about the New Covenant? I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but here are some reasons:

1) We really aren’t interested in doing what God says.
2) We look too much at ourselves.
3) We allow our history to determine our future.
4) We are doctrinally inept.

We were redeemed with His blood, not with physical things. His blood has power to cleanse, power to forgive, power to create new life. A new life that makes us perfect to every good work to do His will.

Perhaps we would rather muddle in mediocre imperfection bothered by anxiety and cares of the world as long as we can keep doing our “stuff.” We undermine the power of the blood by elevating the power of our own will.

Playing around with Christianity, messing with the New Covenant, carries with it a sore warning of judgment. You’re not messing with words or theology, you’re messing with the blood of Jesus Christ.

“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”

Spurgeon and Living Sacrifice

“How do you mean to live?  With these precious things about you, do you intend to live like a beggar?  I mean, will you be sinful, low, groveling, worldly? 

“Oh, rise to your rank, and as you are so ennobled, walk as becomes saints!  Is Jesus Christ precious to you?  Then serve Him with your best, give Him your precious things, give Him your lives, give Him your substance, give Him all that you have. 

“Do not give the Redeemer your odds and ends, such as you can afford to give without knowing it.  Say, ‘He died to give me Himself.  I will give Him myself in return.’ . . . Go and live like those who are rich to all the intents of bliss, and let your cheerful, your godly, your self-denying example be a protest to the unbelieving sons of men that you know the preciousness of Christ.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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