Sunday, March 22, 2009

Question: What is a carnal Christian?

(for more of the following, go to
Answer: Can a true Christian be carnal? In answering this question, let’s first define the term carnal. The word carnal is translated from the Greek word sarkikos, which literally means "fleshly." This descriptive word is seen in the context of Christians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. In this passage the Apostle Paul is addressing the readers as "brethren," a term Paul uses almost exclusively to refer to other Christians, and then goes on to describe them as "carnal."

Therefore, we can conclude that Christians can be carnal. The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless (1 John 1:8). Every time we sin, we are acting carnally.The key thing to understand is that while a Christian can be, for a time, carnal, a true Christian will not remain carnal for a lifetime.

Some have abused the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner, with no evidence of being “born again” or a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Such a concept is completely unbiblical. James 2 makes it abundantly clear that genuine faith will always result in works. Ephesians 2:8-10 declares that, while we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, salvation will result in works.

Can a Christian, in a time of failure and/or rebellion, appear to be carnal? Yes. Will a true Christian remain carnal? No.Since eternal security is a fact of Scripture, even the carnal Christian is still saved. Salvation cannot be lost, because salvation is a gift of God that He won't take away (see John 10:28; Romans 8:37-39; 1 John 5:13). Even in 1 Corinthians 3:15, the carnal Christian is assured of salvation: "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."

The question often is not whether a person has lost his salvation, but whether a person was truly saved in the first place (1 John 2:19).For Christians who become carnal in their behavior, God lovingly disciplines them (Hebrews 12:5-11), so they can be restored to close fellowship with Him and be trained to obey Him.

God’s desire in saving us is that we would progressively grow closer to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2), becoming increasingly spiritual and decreasingly carnal, a process known as sanctification. Until we are delivered from our sinful flesh, there will be outbreaks of carnality. For a genuine believer in Christ, though, these outbreaks of carnality will be the exception, not the rule.Recommended Resource: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.

Slight changes: Strictly speaking, Christ is our salvation, not faith.

The slight changes in the following include the fact that Christ alone saved us---not faith alone. The faith is simply the wonderful sign he gives us to tell us we have been saved. Faith is not our salvation, Christ is. But faith is the gift he gives us to know that we have been given the gift of salvation--the assurance that we will be with him forever someday. The Gospel is indeed the comfort of true Christians. "He who believes in me has everlasting life." (John 6:47) "He who hears my word and believes in He who sent me has eternal life and shall not be condemned. He has passed from live to death. (John 5:23)

Affirmations of Belief

The gospel is God's promise to save His people based on the substitutionary death and imputed righteousness of his sinless only Son, Jesus. Jesus tells us we can know we are those who have been chosen to live forever with him if we believe (have faith) that he alone has won everlasting life (salvation) for us. These gifts of faith and salvation are given totally apart from the sinner’s works and efforts.

He who believes in me has everlasting life. John 6:47

The sinner’s sure sign that he or she has receiving everlasting li fe is the faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross and rose bodily from the dead. (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14 ; 5:24 ; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).

No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or20considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Demanding more of Calvinism, appreciating Grace Evangelical Society

One of the concerns I have about Calvinism is the "P" in TULIP which stands for "perserverance." My concern is that many Calvinists, after affirming that they are saved by grace alone, then seek to live their new life in Christ by putting themselves back under the Law or the Ten Commandments. As noted in earlier posts, Christians are no longer under the Law of Moses, whether we're talking about the moral, ceremonial or social Law that God gave Moses for the Jews to follow.

Good examples of Calvinistic denominations which publicly promote following the Ten Commandments include the Protestant Reformed Churches in America and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America--you will hear them even talk about observing the Sabbath (on Sunday).

Again, while we recommend Christians uphold the moral values in the Ten Commandments, we insist that we are not under the Commandments but under the grace of Christ. Christ himself is the fulfillment of the Commandments. The good works we do are not motivated by ourselves, but the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ...which God hath forordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

We would change "perserverance" in TULIP (the doctrines of grace) to "preservation" because it is Christ who gives us everlasting life and it is he who also preserves us in the salvation or everlasting life he has given us. Jesus tells us that he is holding onto us. We are in his hand and Jesus promises us: "...neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28)

With this in mind, I offer the following "Affirmations of Belief" posted by the Grace Evangelical Society. (I'll write about slight edits I'd like to make in the following tomorrow, but for now it is the same as it is written, found at I especially like the following because it is unafraid to state what must be stated--we truly are saved--as Christ promised--by faith alone plus nothing.

The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (“he who believes in Me has everlasting life”) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14 ; 5:24; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).

No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,20such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Titus 3:5). This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift (Eph 2:8-9; John 4:10 ; Rev 22:17 ).

Assurance of everlasting life is certainty that one is eternally secure simply by faith in Jesus. Assurance of everlasting life is based only on the promise God makes in His Word that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone possesses everlasting life (John 5:24; 1 John 5:9-13). Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary for a person to have assurance of everlasting life (Eph 2:10 ; Titus 3:8).

Assurance is of the essence of believing in Jesus for everlasting life. That is, as long as a person believes in Jesus for everlasting life, he knows he has everlasting life (John 5:24 ; 6:35 , 47; 11:27 ; 1 John 5:9-13).

Discipleship(Growing in Christ)
The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is to produce spiritual maturity reflected in consistent Christlike behavior and attitudes (Gal 5:22-25; Luke 14:25-33; Col 1:23-29). Therefore, obedience to the Word of God, while not necessary for obtaining everlasting life, is the essential responsibility of each Christian (Rom 6:12-23; Heb 5:13-14; 1 Cor 2:14–3:4). However, the Bible does not teach that this obedience will be manifested in all believers. If a believer does not yield to the ministry of the=2 0Holy Spirit in his experience, failure will result, evidenced by sinful acts or even prolonged disobedience (1 Cor 10:1-13; Gal 5:16-21).

The believer is assured of everlasting life and is thus eternally secure, since that life is guaranteed by the Lord Jesus Christ to all who believe in Him, and is based upon His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection (John 10:28-29; Rom 8:38-39). Therefore, it is inconsistent with the gospel and with Scripture to seek to gain or keep everlasting life by godly living. The Scriptures, however, do present several motivations for obedience in the Christian life.

1. A powerful motivation for living the Christian life is gratitude to God for saving us by His grace (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 5:14 -15; Gal 2:20 ).

2. Believers should also be motivated by the knowledge that their heavenly Father both blesses obedience and disciplines disobedience in His children (Heb 12:3-11; Lev 26:1-45). God is not mocked. Whatever a person sows, that he also reaps (Gal 6:7).

3. Finally, every Christian must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not to determine his eternal destiny, for that is already set, but to assess the quality of his Christian life on earth (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 22:12). Anticipating either reward or loss of reward at the Judgment Seat should also motivate believers to perseverance and=2 0to faithfulness to God’s revealed will (1 Cor 3:10 -17, 9:24 -27; Jas 5:8-9; 1 John 2:28 ). One’s capacity to glorify Jesus will forever be based on how faithful he was in his stewardship in this life (Luke 19:17 , 19, 22-26).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Christ is the End of the Law

By Don Fortner (Go to

"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." – Romans 10:4

"Christ is the end of the law." It is entirely correct to do with that statement exactly what the whole religious world says we must not do with it. Take it and run with it just as far as possible. There is no sense in which Christ is not the end of the law. He is the fulfilment of the law, the conclusion of the law, the finality of the law, the object of the law, the reason why the law was given, and the termination of the law.

"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness." There is no righteousness of any kind, justifying righteousness or sanctifying righteousness, to be had by our personal obedience to the law. It is written, "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain!"

Christ is not the end of the law for everyone. The Son of God did not fulfill the law's demands for everyone. He is the end of the law for God's elect, for all who trust him. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth."

Holy, Just and Good
When the apostle Paul declares, "Christ is the end of the law," he is not telling us that the law is evil. It is not (1 Tim. 1:8-9). It is an evil thing to misuse the law; but the law is not evil. Writing by divine inspiration, the apostle tells us those apostate religious leaders who try to mix law and grace, who try to put believers under the yoke of bondage, desiring to be teachers of the law, do not know what they are talking about, "understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." The law was never intended, in any sense, for those who are righteousness before God. The law was given for the unrighteous. The law is not evil. It is holy, just, and good. It would be well if all men lived in conformity to the law's commands, both in outward practice and in inward principle. Indeed, it is ordained of God and used by all civil governments to protect society from those who would otherwise disregard all respect for the rights, property, and lives of others.Delight in the Law

When the Scriptures affirm, as the New Testament constantly does, that Christ is the end of the law and the believers are entirely free from the law, the Spirit of God certainly is not suggesting that believers are free to break, or disregard God's holy law. Not only is the believer not free to break the law, he has no desire to do so. To those who believe, God's commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:1-3). Every child of God in this world truly delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). If we could, we would love God with all out hearts. If we could, we would love our neighbor as ourselves. But we do not have the ability to do so.Bible Doctrine

I am fully aware that the creeds, confessions, and religious dogma of almost every Protestant or Baptist denomination, as well as those written by papists, stringently affirm that there is a sense in which believers are yet under the law. (That fact alone ought to be enough to convince us that it is contrary to Holy Scripture!)) But the Word of God declares exactly the opposite, and states the believer's freedom from the law with such frequency and clarity that error in this regard is utterly in excusable. In Christ every believer is entirely free from the law, because Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." "We are not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14-15). We have been crucified with Christ, and we are "become dead to the law by the body of Christ" (Rom. 7:4). There is no sense whatsoever in which it may be said that the believer is under the law (Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 2:19-21; 3:1-3, 13, 18-19, 21-26; 4:9-11, 21, 30; 5:1-5; Col. 2:8-23).

"I defy anyone to find a solitary text of Scripture in the New Testament that uses the law to motivate, inspire, regulate, or even guide the believer. Believers are motivated by love, inspired by gratitude, regulated by grace, and guided by the Holy Spirit. The whole Word of God, the complete revelation of his will is our law. Our lives are governed by love, not by fear. We walk by faith, not by legislation. We walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh (Rom. 8:9-14; Gal. 3:3)." – (Scott Richardson)

Our law, our rule of life, is not one section of Scripture [1],
[1] Frequently, the word "law" is used in the Old Testament, particularly in the psalms, to refer to the whole Word of God, the whole revelation of God and his will in Holy Scripture. Sometimes the Word "law" is used to refer to the ceremonial, dietary and sometimes to the civil law given to the nation of Israel. And the word "law" is often used to refer specifically to the ten commandments as recorded in Exodus 20.

These ten commandments are commonly referred to as "the moral law" by preachers and theologians. However, you will search the Word of God in vain to find a separation between the ten commandments and the other laws given by the hand of Moses to the children of Israel. When the Scriptures declare that believers in Christ are free from the law and that Christ is the end of the law the declaration is that we are free from all the Mosaic law (civil, dietary, economic, and moral) by which the nation of Israel was governed in the Old Testament, but the whole revealed will of God in Holy Scripture.

We take the Word of God in its entirety as our only rule of faith and practice. However, we rejoice in the fact that we are no longer ruled, motivated or governed by the law. We do not live before God upon legal principles. Therefore we sing with joy,
"Free from the law, oh, happy condition!Christ has redeemed us from every transgression."

In Christ, the child of God, those who live in the Spirit, those who walk by faith, are entirely free from the law. We have no covenant with the law. We live under a covenant of grace. We have no commitment to the law. Our commitment is to Christ, who obeyed the law for us. We do nothing by constraint of the law. "The love of Christ constraineth us." We fear no curse from the law. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. For it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree."

False Accusations
Because the doctrine of the believer's freedom from the law is so clearly and universally taught in the Scriptures that it cannot, upon any grounds, be refuted, those who refuse to bow to the Word of God have only one other course of action by which to persuade men against it: Slander.

They attempt to justify themselves and their doctrine by making the doctrine of Holy Scripture and those who teach it appear vile. Men often accuse us of being antinomians. They accuse us of promoting licentiousness. They censor us and warn others to avoid contact with us, as though our liberty in Christ were some kind of spiritual leprosy. But we will not again be entangled with the yoke of bondage. We will not attempt to reach the throne of God by climbing Mt. Sinai. We will simply trust the grace of God streaming to us from the wounds of our crucified Savior, finding all our righteousness and all our redemption in that One who died for our sins at Mt. Calvary.

Be Warned
Let all who seek God's favor by their obedience to the law be warned – "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." Show me a man who trusts his own righteousness, his own obedience, his own devotion, his own feelings, or anything else of his own as a basis of acceptance with God to any degree or for anything, and I will show you a man who is entirely lost, a man to whom the blood of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, and the grace of Christ is worthless.

"Christ is the end of the law."
The law of God is that which we ought to dread above all things, for the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. The law condemns us and demands our execution. In solemn terms, it appoints for us a place among the damned. "For it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10).Yet, man has a strange infatuation with the law. Like the gnat that is drawn to the candle that will destroy it, man by nature is drawn to the law for righteousness, when all the law can give is destruction. The law can do nothing else but reveal sin and pronounce condemnation on the sinner (Rom. 3:19-20).

Still, we cannot get men to flee from the law. They are so enamored with their own self- righteousness and their own self-worth that they will cling to the law with a death-grip, though there is nothing to cling to. They prefer Sinai to Calvary, though Sinai offers them nothing but death. Listen to the Word of God. If the opinions of men, or your own opinions contradict the Word of God, "Let God be true and every man a liar."

The law was never given to save sinners; and it can never serve that purpose (Gal. 2:16).

The law was never given to motivate the people of God to holiness and service; and it cannot serve that purpose. The one thing that God requires is a willing heart (2 Cor. 8:12; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Rom. 12:1-2).

The law was never given as a rule of life, or standard of conduct for the believer; and it cannot serve that purpose (Rom. 3:28, 31; 1 John 3:23).

The law was not given to produce sanctification in the believer; or even to be a measure of sanctification, and it cannot serve such purposes (Gal. 3:1-3).

Christ is our sanctification!
The law was given to point men to Christ for salvation. The law was given to show man his guilt, his sin, and his need of a Substitute. This is the law's only purpose; and it serves that purpose very well (Rom. 3:19-22). The thunders of Sinai drive us away and point us with its lightening bolts to Calvary and to Christ who is the end of the law.

When the Holy Spirit asserts that Christ is the end of the law, he means for us to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is the end of the law's purpose. He is the purpose and object of the law. The law was given to lead us to Christ. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24-25). "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster."

The law is the sheriff's deputy who shuts men up in prison for their sin, concluding them all under condemnation, so that they may look to the free grace of God in Christ for deliverance. This is the purpose of the law. It empties, that grace may fill. It wounds, that grace may heal. The law was given to lead sinners to faith in Christ, by showing them the impossibility of salvation in any other way. Spurgeon said, "The law is God's black dog, by which he fetches his sheep to the Shepherd."

How does the law perform its work? How does the law bring men to Christ? It exposes our sin (Rom. 7:7-9). The law shows us what the result of sin must be. It declares that sin has separated and will forever separate man from God, unless justice is satisfied and sin removed. The law declares, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:20).

The only way any man can obtain mercy from God is to approach him with the bloody sacrifice of his own darling Son.

The law reveals our utter helplessness (Psa. 24:3-4). Any man who thinks he can keep the law, and thereby win God's favor, simply does not know what the law requires. "Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?" (Gal. 4:21). The law demands perfection. The law demands satisfaction. If we ever see what God requires in his law, we will beg for a Mediator (Ex. 20:1-19).

God's holy law shows us our great need of Christ as our Substitute. Our only hope before God is that God himself will send One who is able and willing to satisfy his holy law for us. We must have a Substitute, one who is able to make us righteous, one who is able to redeem (Rom. 3:24-26).

Knowing what the law requires, my soul cries, "Give me Christ. I want nothing to do with God's naked law!" The law strips. Christ covers. The law condemns. Christ pardons. The law kills. Christ gives life.

Not only is Christ the purpose and object of the law, the One to whom the law points. Christ is also the fulfillment of the law (Isa. 42:21). Our Lord said, "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil the law." The law demands complete obedience, without one spot or speck, failure or flaw. The law demands holiness, righteousness, perfection. The terms of the law cannot be lowered, not even in order to save God's elect.

The law demands complete satisfaction. It will settle for nothing less than the death of every transgressor. In Christ God's elect have all that the law demands. His life of obedience is our perfect righteousness. His sin-atoning death is our satisfaction of divine justice (Rom. 5:19). In Christ we are free from the law's curse (Rom. 8:1). In Christ the believer fulfills the law by faith (Rom. 3:31).

Christ fulfilled the law representatively for us; and we fulfill the law by faith, offering to God what his law demands: – The Obedience and Blood of Christ!
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the termination of the law. Yes, read that right. Christ is the end of the law in the sense that he is the termination of the law. Dead is just about as terminated as you can get; and Paul tells us that if we are truly married to Christ we are dead to the law (Rom. 7:1-4). Christ has terminated the law as a covenant of life. – "We are not under the law, but under grace." Christ has terminated the law's curse and penalty. In Christ, every believer has a just, righteous claim of merit upon all the blessedness of everlasting glory (Psa. 32:1-2; Col. 1:12).

Do you see the sweet mystery of salvation by the substitutionary work of Christ? The law has no claim upon those for whom Christ died. The curse spent itself on our Redeemer. Dying in Christ, when he died for us upon the cursed tree, we are dead to the law. We are righteous, justified, guiltless, innocent, holy, without blemish, perfect before the holy Lord God in Christ."Christ is the end of the law for righteousness."

Sinners cannot obtain righteousness of any kind, of any merit before God by the works of the law (Gal. 2:21). God requires perfect righteousness (Matt. 5:20; Heb. 12:14). We have no righteousness of our own, and we have no ability to produce righteousness (Isa. 64:6). Christ has established righteousness for his people that meets the law's demands (Phil. 3:8-10). His name is "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS!" The righteousness of the law is found only in Christ."Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth."

The one issue of vital importance is just this: – "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" If you believe, Christ is the end of the law to you. If you do not believe, you are yet under the curse of God's holy law. If you would be saved you must submit to the righteousness of God. You must trust Christ alone for righteousness. Your sin cannot be put away except by his blood atonement. You cannot be made holy before God except by Christ. If you refuse to submit to the righteousness of God in Christ, you must forever perish under the infinite curse of God's holy law.

Let us never attempt to serve God by a legal principle (Col. 2:16-23). We must never allow anyone to bring us back into bondage, no not for a moment (Gal. 5:1-4). We must never trust our own righteousness (Gal. 5:2). Self-righteousness sticks to human flesh like leaches. Shake it off. Flee from it. Cling to Christ alone for all your hope before God. He is "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Are there Two Brides of Christ? (An excerpt)

By Michael W. Adams. (go to for full article)

…In my distant former years as a Dispensational Premillennialist (DP), I agreed with the theological system of DP in their view of the nation of Israel. In other words, I agreed with DP’s belief that there are two peoples of God. Reduced to its simplest terms, I unwittingly held the position that Christ indeed had two separate and distinct brides: Israel and the Church. As an adherent to DP, I would have never worded it that way, and I don’t mean to sound critical in any way, but at its very core, that's the way I viewed the relationship between Israel and the Church. Let me explain.

DP revolves around its view of Israel and the Church. Within DP, Israel holds the place of prominence (favored bride status), while the church is more of an after-thought in redemptive history. The way I was taught while a DP’er was that the nation of Israel was and is God’s true focal point in redemptive history and the church is a historical parenthesis.

The church came into being only because Israel first rejected her Messiah. God’s main interest continues to be the nation of Israel and one day, when the church is gone, Israel will once again occupy the place of favored bride status.

Historically, Israel now serves as historic bookends for the church. The church is a temporary phenomenon within DP while the nation of Israel continues to be God’s favored people, even in this age. Israel is God’s plan A. The church is God’s plan B. Israel thwarted God’s original intention of establishing his kingdom on earth by rejecting her Messiah, forcing God’s hand to institute plan B (the church), but plan B is temporary because God’s most favored bride is the nation of Israel and once he has finished doing what he’s doing with t he church and the church is gone, Israel will once more enjoy the privileges of being God’s favorite people.

The question we have to ask is will such a view of Israel and the church hold up in the light of Scripture? Is Israel really God’s favored people that will one day become is focus of attention and saving love? One way to answer these questions is take a look at how the New Testament evaluates Israel as a whole and every evaluation the New Testament gives us is the Israel as a whole is unbelieving. Let’s look at a couple.

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were th ey who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:12-19

Remember that the writer of Hebrews is writing to professed Jewish believers who were considering abandoning their profession of faith in Christ in favor of going back to the Old Covenant. Such a move is “sinful” and “unbelieving” (verse 12). Instead of enjoying the most favored people status, the writer of Hebrews evaluates Israel as a whole as unbelieving. We know that there was always a remnant of true believers within the nation (in this instance Joshua and Caleb come to mind), but as a whole, the writer of Hebrews evaluates the entire nation as unbelieving. As a whole, they were not able to enter into true rest because of unbelief (verse 19).

Not only are they unbelieving as a whole, but their purpose in redemptive history was to be a temporary physical picture or illustration of how God was going to fulfill his promise to Abraham to save a people and bring them into a land. The point of Hebrews 3:7-4:11 is that even though Israel took possession of the physical land of Palestine under Joshua’s leadership and enjoyed physical rest from their enemies (Joshua 21:43-45), they failed to experience the true spiritual rest that accompanies salvation. As a whole, they were unbelieving. Additionally, the ceremonial and priestly functions of the Tabernacle and later the Temple, were only a temporary illustration pointing to Christ’s once for all sacrifice in purchasing a true people of God, the church.

Here’s the writer of Hebrews’ take on this subject:
This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings, external regulations applying until the time of the new order. Hebrews 9:9-10
The various ceremonies of the Tabernacle/Temple were an “illustration” of Christ’s greater sacrifice and the “external regulations” were temporary until the coming of the “new order” - the New Covenant. These temporary illustrations were powerless to forgive sin. Old Covenant Israel was an unbelieving, temporary physical picture of the true people of God, the church, which is made up of both Jew and Gentile.

But what of Plan B, the church? Here’s Paul’s take:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 3:3-14

I think my dear DP friends have it backwards. The church is God’s favored and only people. True believers in every era make up the true and only bride of Christ.

Excerpts from a couple of important responses…
Eschatology is not amenable to “thus sayeth the Lord” dogmatism; that said, our Lord has indeed unmistakably told us that ethnic/national Israel isn’t/never was Abraham’s seed (inter alia, Gal. 3:16, 29).

Non-system-driven exposition of Scripture, read in view of history, teaches us that ethnic/national Israel was judged (the Harlot was stoned) 70 A.D. Literalizing what our Lord spiritualizes via writers of New Covenant Scriptures is not merely erroneous — it’s audacious….

…As to the question of two brides, what could the Apostle say to make it any plainer that there is only ONE people of God, comprised of Jew and Gentile, than Ephesians 2?

“11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember ?that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down ?in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to th ose who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by? the Spirit. “

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We are no longer under the Law, but under Christ who alone fulfilled the Law

Some are shocked to hear certain Christians say they are no longer under the Ten Commandments. They say instead that they are under the grace of Christ. What are they talking about?

This is important because what they are talking about is central to the Gospel we preach—that we are saved by the righteousness of Christ alone and not by our own righteousness in following the Commandments.

The situation is complicated a bit more when some professed Christians claim that while they know they are not saved by keeping the Commandments, they still believe they should be considered their “Rule of Life”--watch out.

The Mosaic Law: Its Function and Purpose in the New Testament (an excerpt)

By J. Hampton Keathley, III, Th.M

(For complete paper go to

It needs to be emphasized that the end of the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments, does not cancel or detract one iota from the eternal moral law of God. The moral principles of the ten laws did not begin with Sinai but are as eternal and immutable as the character of God. To understand this should dispel the fears of those who think the abolition of the Mosaic law leaves only a state of lawlessness.

The moral principles embodied in the law of Moses Paul calls “the righteousness of the law” (Rom 8:4), and shows that such principles are the goal of the Spirit-directed life in the same context in which he teaches the believer is not under the Mosaic law (Rom 6—8).

This should be no more difficult to understand than the fact that a citizen of the United States is not under the laws of Canada, even though the moral principles underlying the laws of the two countries are the same. When a citizen of the United States becomes a citizen of Canada he does not remain under ten of the best laws of the United States. Nor does the fact that some of the laws of the United States are quite similar to some of the laws of Canada confuse or compromise his new exclusive responsibility to Canada. So the believing Jew of the first century moved entirely from the Mosaic economy of law into the new economy of grace instituted by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).14

The Lawful Use of the Mosaic Law
The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal sin (James 2:9), to get believers out of self-righteous legalism, and move them into a walk by faith in a living Savior.

The Relationship of New Testament Believers to the Mosaic Law
1. He is never saved by keeping the Law (Gal. 2:21).
2. He is not under the Law as a rule of life, i.e., sacrifice, Sabbath keeping, tithing (Rev. 6:14; Acts 15:5, 24).
3. Thus, he does not walk by the Law but by the Spirit, which is the new law for the New Testament saint (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5). This is law of liberty through faith in the power of God.
4. He is dead to the Law (Rom. 7:1-6; Gal. 2:19) by virtue of his union with Jesus Christ who fulfilled the Law.
5. He is to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, i.e., the spirit of the law as seen in Christ’s words in Matthew 10:37-40 love for God, and love for one’s neighbor (James 2:9). But this can only be fulfilled through a knowledge of Bible truth and the filling of the Holy Spirit, which furnishes the power or ability needed to live the Christian life according to the eternal moral law of God. So we are under God’s new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2-4).

Christ, the Fulfillment of the Mosaic Law
Christ fulfilled the Ten Commandments by living a perfect and sinless life. Thus, when man trusts in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to that individual so we have justification. We have Christ’s righteousness so the Law can’t condemn us (Rom. 8:1; 7:1-6; Rom. 5:1; 4:4-8).

Christ fulfilled the ceremonial ordinances, the shadows and types of His person and work, by dying on the cross for us and in our place. This showed that God was also perfect justice and sin must be judged, but God provided His Son, the precious Lamb of God. The penalty which the Law exercised was paid. Again there is no condemnation because the believer is “in Christ” (Col. 2:14; Rom. 3:24-25).

Christ also fulfilled the Social Law, but now He replaces it with a new way of life fitting to our new salvation. He gives provision for the inner man—the indwelling Holy Spirit—who enables us to experience true sanctification so that we may experience also the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:2-4).

1. Christ is the end of the Law and believers are not under the Mosaic Law. New Testament believers are not under Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14).
2. Since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfills the Law by His person and work, believers are under a new law; the obligation to walk by the Spirit of Life through faith (Rom. 8:2-4). If we are led by the Spirit, then we are not under the Law (Gal. 5:18).
3. Against such, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, there is no law because the believer is then operating under the highest law, the standards are met as we walk by the Holy Spirit and grow in the Word (Gal. 5:22).

Warning Against Entanglements with the Law as Believers Today
After salvation by grace there has always been the grave danger of reverting to Law or legalism by taboos and tactics of coercion, or some form of human manipulation (Gal. 3:1-3). To go back to the Law as a way of life puts one under the control of the flesh, it nullifies true spirituality by faith in the Holy Spirit, and defeats the believer. It results in human good and domination by the sin nature or the flesh (Gal. 5:1-5; Col. 2:14f). The fact that the Christian is not under the Mosaic Law does not mean, of course, that there is lawlessness or no proper sense of morality or ethics in the Christian life. Quite the contrary is true. But in dealing with the subject of morality or ethics, it must be understood that the clear teaching of the New Testament is that the moral life the Christian is responsible for is that (1) no one can be saved by virtue of his own works (Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-9), and (2) that the morality of the Christian life is to be the result of the Christ exchanged life by faith and submission to the ministry and power of a Spirit-controlled life.

The Threefold Duties of the New Testament Believer
In the New Testament, then, completely adequate teaching is provided as to the principles of conduct the Christian will follow if he truly presents his body “a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) and walks “in the Spirit” (Eph 5:9). In Titus 2:11-14 is to be found a convenient outline around which to group these principles. First in this passage it is majestically stated that God’s grace brings us salvation. But His grace then teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly. These are three important lines of responsibility: the believer is to live soberly with regard to himself (Rom 12:3); righteously with regard to his fellow men; and godly with regard to the Lord. The same truth can be more or less expressed in a somewhat different way: We should seek to live in accordance with the precepts of grace because (1) this will please God (Heb 13:16) and will demonstrate our love for Christ (John 14:15); (2) it will help others (Matt 5:16; Titus 3:8,14); (3) it will bring true joy and blessing to our own hearts (John 15:10-11). 15
The following compilation, though not exhaustive, contains some of the most important of these precepts.

Duties toward God

1. Trust Him (Mark 11:22; John 14:1, ASV; Heb 11:6).
2. Love Him and seek to know Him better (1 John 5:2; Phil 3:10, 15; Jas 4:8).
3. Be thankful to Him; worship and praise Him (John 4:23; Col 3:15; Heb 13:15.)
4. Serve Him (Rom 12:6-8, 11; 1 Cor 15:58).
5. Pray to Him (Luke 18:1; Rom 12:12; Eph 6:18; Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Tim 2:2).
6. Live in accordance with His will (Rom 12:1; Heb 13:21; Jas 4:7).
7. Walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25; Eph 5:18).
8. Hold fast to sound doctrine and contend for the faith (2 Tim 1:13; Heb 13:9; Jude 3).
9. Witness for Christ (John 15:27; Acts 1:8; 1 Pet 3:15).
10. Do everything as unto Him (1 Cor 10:31; Eph 6:7-8; Col 3:17,23-24).
11. Be diligent in devotion and study of His Word (John 5:39; Col 3:16; 2 Tim 2:15; Jas 4:8; 1 Pet 2:2).


1. Do not have idols (1 Cor 10:7, 14; Eph 5:3; Phil 3:19; Col 3:5; 1 Tim 6:17; Heb 13:15; 1 John 5:21).
2. Do not receive false teachers (2 John 10).
3. Do not mock or speak against God (Gal 6:7; Col 3:8).

Duties toward Other Human Beings

1. Love all, especially our brethren (John 15:17; Rom 12:10; 1 Cor 16:14; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 John 3:23; 4:7 {1 John 4:7}).
2. Be sympathetic and compassionate (Eph 4:32; Phil 2:4; Col 3:12).
3. Forgive and forbear (Rom 12:19; Eph 4:32; Col 3:13).
4. Deal honestly and fairly (Rom 12:17b; 13:7 {Rom 13:7}; 13:13 {Rom 13:13}; 1 Thess 4:12; Jas 2:1).
5. Do good to all and help all (Rom 12:13; Gal 6:2, 10; 1 Thess 5:15; Titus 3:1; Heb 13:16; Jas 4:17; 3 John 11).
6. Tell the truth (Eph 4:25).
7. Be courteous and live peaceably with all (Rom 12:18; 1 Pet 2:17; 3:8 {1 Pet 3:8}).
8. Treat others as we would like for them to treat us (Luke 6:31; Rom 12:17a).
9. Provide a good example for others (1 Cor 8:9, 13; Phil 2:15).
10. Urge brethren to good works and seek to restore backsliders (Gal 6:1; Heb 10:24).


1. Do not lie or bear false witness (Eph 4:25; Col 3:9; Titus 2:3).
2. Do not steal (Eph 4:28; 1 Pet 4:15).
3. Do not murder (1 Pet 4:15).
4. Do not commit adultery or fornication (1 Cor 6:18; 1 Thess 4:13).
5. Do not judge others or speak evil of them (Rom 14:13; Titus 3:2; Jas 4:11; cf. John 7:24).
6. Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14).
7. Do not have fellowship with professing Christians who live in scandalous sin (1 Cor 5:11; 2 Thess 3:14).
8. Do not go to law with other believers (1 Cor 6:lff).
9. Do not glory in men (1 Cor 3:21).
10. Avoid troublemakers and useless disputes (Rom 16:17; 2 Tim 2:23; Titus 3:12).
11. Do not have unpaid debts (Rom 13:8).

Duties toward Self

1. Be holy (1 Pet 1:15; 2:11 {1 Pet 2:11}; 2 Pet 3:1).
2. Cleave to the good and do good to all (Rom 12:9; 1 Thess 5:15).
3. Study the Word of God and meditate on sacred things (1 Thess 4:11; 2 Tim 2:15).
4. Grow spiritually (2 Pet 3:18).
5. Think on good things (Phil 4:8).
6. Think soberly of yourself (Rom 12:3).
7. Be ambitious in the right way (1 Cor 12:31; 14:1 {1 Cor 14:1}; 2 Cor 5:4).
8. Be content with what God gives you (Heb 13:5).
9. Rejoice in the Lord (Rom 12:12; Phil 3:1; 4:4 {Phil 4:4}; 1 Thess 5:16).
10. Live in the light of the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 9:24).
11. Judge yourself and confess sins to God (1 Cor 11:31; 2 Cor 13:5; 1 John 1:9).
12. Conserve time for good purposes (Eph 5:11; Col 4:5).
13. Cultivate your mind (1 Pet 1:13).
14. Do useful work (Eph 4:28; 2 Thess 3:12).
15. Keep your body clean and in good health (1 Cor 6:15; 6:19,20 {1 Cor 6}; 10:31 {1 Cor 10:31}; Rom 12:1).


1. Abhor evil (Rom 12:9; 1 Thess 5:22).
2. Avoid pride (Rom 12:3; Jas 4:10; 1 Pet 5:6).
3. Do not conform to or love the world (Rom 12:2; 1 John 2:15).
4. Do not fellowship with evil (Eph 5:11).
5. Do not sin through anger (Eph 4:26).
6. Do not worry (Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7; 1 John 14:1,27).
7. Do not be lazy (Rom 12:1).
8. Do not use filthy speech (Eph 4:29; 5:4 {Eph 5:4}).
9. Do not become drunk (Eph 5:18).
10. Do not complain (1 Cor 10:10; Phil 2:14).

Miscellaneous Duties
Beyond all that has been said…, there are still other duties which the earnest believer would do well to consider: duties toward the lower creation; responsibilities with regard to human government; special duties devolving upon particular classes, such as the unmarried, husbands, wives, children, servants. ---J. Hampton Keathley, III