Just what happened on that Cross? (The Judgment of the World)
by Seth Tipton ( mercifultruth.com )
It's the same story and you have probably heard it before, yet it comes in many forms. I am talking about the story that most Christians tell the world when they want to explain how Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, while simultaneously professing that he will NOT save most people at all. Here is how it usually goes:
"It's like if a boat is sinking and the Coast Guard tosses a life vest to a drowning man. The Coast Guard officer is the savior, but it is up to the drowning man to accept the vest."
Or how about this one?
"It's like if someone is in a burning building, and the fireman wants to save the person, but the person doesn't want to be saved."
Try this one on for size:
"Supposing a parent leaves money on the table for his kid to get his haircut. But the kid doesn't accept the money and so does not get the haircut. The parent tried."
As a young Christian scratching your head, did you ever hear one of these demonstrations from a fellow pew mate? You can see a certain tortured logic at work here. On one hand they need to say "Jesus Christ is the savior of the world!" But at the same time, they must find a way to rationalize how Jesus also is NOT the savior of the world, since they must also believe that most people will actually not be saved! Nice, huh?
But, taking a look at the sketches above we can see how truly flawed they are, and how far removed they are from God's true character. If a boat is sinking, the Coast Guard does not simply throw a vest into the water, then give up if the vest is not taken. He will dive into the water and drag the drowning man to safety!
Any fireman worth his salt does not wait for approval. He drags every living thing out of the burning building before they have time to think about why they might not want to be rescued! And if a parent wants their child to get a haircut, a parent drags the child to the car, drives them to the barber, and sits there while the child gets it done. That's called love:
Luke 15:4 Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it?
The answer, of course, is "yes." In this paper, we will discover the meaning of the Cross and what Jesus Christ did there. In doing this, the fact that Christ is the savior of the world will never be disputed, nor will it be watered down into non-existence by silly analogies. Let's connect the dots and untangle the confusion of orthodox theology.
In this paper, we will study these things:
If you were raised in the traditional Christian church, be it Catholic or Protestant, some things in this paper may be difficult to hear but will be thoroughly backed with Scripture -and you can see that for yourselves. The intent is not to invent anything new, but to show more clearly what the Bible has always been saying. If you see this paper through, and understand the point, the pieces will fall together.
The fruit of salvation
At the suggestion that Jesus Christ will eventually save the whole world, many people wonder "If that were so, then why did Christ have to die on the Cross?" An odd question since he died on the Cross to save the world. Nevertheless, let's take a look at a deeper meaning of Jesus' death on the Cross, and his consequent resurrection, and how both events affect the world at large.
Let's start with one of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible, yet it figures deeply into the meaning of the Cross of Christ:
Phi 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
It sounds like an odd thing to say. Can we "work out" our own salvation? What the heck does that mean? Start with what it does not mean: that we need to "figure out our own salvation." Certainly, there is nothing wrong with doing that, only that is not what this scripture means.
Notice that the term "work out" is translated from the Greek word katergazomai (kat-ergad-zom-ahee). According to Strong's Concordance the word means "cause, do (deed), perform, work (out)." It means to outwardly work. Here are a couple examples:
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works (katergazomai) patience.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will (meaning to want to do good) is present with me; but how to perform (katergazomai) that which is good I find not.
This tends to make Christians nervous. Anytime one mentions "works" one gets a raised eyebrow. After all the Scripture says: "By grace ye are saved, not of works, but faith. And that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God." (Eph 2:8). If we are saved by grace, not of works, but faith, why does Paul tell us to start working salvation? Short answer first: you don't gain salvation by working for it, but once you have received it, you can then work it outwardly. This probably makes no sense to you right now, if you do not understand what the Bible says about being saved and this is most likely not what you heard in church.
Grace is as Grace does
By Grace ye are saved! Is that ever true. But, you are about to discover something that the Bible reveals about Grace, that the Christian church has never seen before, even though they read the same book. You are about to see the very foundation of how and why Paul tells the church to work our salvation outwardly.
In the orthodox Christian doctrine we are taught that God's Grace equates to God's ignorance. Many in the Christian church believe that Grace is basically God being nice. It goes like this: in order to get God to be nice to you, and forgive you, obtain grace. After all, according to Evangelicals, we are not saved by works, but faith alone. Jesus was judged in our place, right? Therefore, if you have faith in Jesus, God sees His righteousness, even if you are not. The flesh loves that idea, but it's clearly ANTI-BIBLICAL as this paper will show.
The Bible reveals Grace in its true purpose. Grace comes from the Greek word charis, meaning "good will, favor, benefit" etc. This grace is attained by faith in Jesus. The Bible says that "we have access into grace by faith" (Romans 5:2). Are you with me so far? Are you ready for a revelation?
Titus 2:11-14 For the Grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches (paideuo) us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to DO what is good.
The word "teaching" in the above verse is translated from the Greek word paideuo meaning "to chasten."Strong's Dictionary defines it this way:
paideuo (pa-hee-dyoo-o) to train up a child, that is, educate, or (by implication) discipline (by punishment): -chasten (-ise), instruct, learn, teach."
How many times have you been taught that by Grace, the Lord will NOT chasten someone for sin, because they believe in Jesus? Christian doctrine is founded on that idea. It is wrong and not at all what the Bible says. See how "paideuo" is used in other contexts and you will understand what Paul was really teaching about Grace:
Hebrews 12:5-7 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth (paiduo), and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Rev 3:18-19 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten (paiduo): be zealous therefore, and repent.
2 Cor 6:9 as unknown, yet we are known by all; as though we were dead, but, as you see, we live on. Although punished (paiduo), we are not killed;
Did you know that God is so good and so merciful, that by His Grace, He will punish, rebuke and chasten you when you really need it? That probably doesn't sound too nice. Keep reading. We need to start considering God's mercy-by-Grace in line with the Bible. The carnal man sees "mercy" in God leaving him alone. God sees mercy from On High, in freeing man from that flesh. If God left the carnal man dead in sin without chastising him, that would be showing a lack of mercy. This process is called "deliverance from sin."
God does not expect instant perfection. Nobody is perfect. John says "If we say we are without sin, we are liars and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8). If we were perfect, God would find no need for chastisement. Paul said "For sin shall not have dominion over you." (Romans 6:14). The Gospel is about deliverance from slavery to a carnal mind not instant perfection. The Gospel is about freedom! The question is, do Christians really desire that kind of freedom? Do they desire it enough to desperately cry out for it?
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as (God) is righteous.
That's the New Testament, mind you. It is not a very popular thing to say in today's Evangelical Christian churches. Nobody wants to hear that you cannot be righteous without doing it. No preacher will say "people who do good are righteous." They say they are righteous just by believing in Jesus. The question must be asked of all who claim to be Christ's followers: do you want to be free to sin, or freed from it?
Christians would rather believe that God gives them Grace by declaring them righteous and perfect because of their faith. Actually being pure is not taught as essential to the Gospel, but it's nice if you can. In today's church, preachers say that we are righteous by our faith alone, not by what we do. Wrong. John says, "do not be deceived" by that. John says "he who does righteousness is righteous, even as God is righteous."
He was very concerned about a deception floating around the churches, in whispered theories and vain teachings: That because Christ died for the world, even them who have not had a changed heart are still declared righteous by God, as long as they have faith. Yet, God says "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isa 5:20).
Common sense dictates that if God has already declared someone pure, this would negate any necessity to chastise us for sinning.
Their doctrines negate the purpose of Grace. Just because people believe in Jesus, does God himself abandon his above words by calling them "good," and "sweet" and "light" even if they work evil, and bitterness and abide in the darkness instead? No. The reason we fall into deception is because we misunderstand Grace. We are taught that grace is God's mercy in not punishing sin.
But, from God's own mouth: as many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens. Such grace. Yes, that is part of how God saves us by grace, that "we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," By CHASTENING the sin right out of us, that we may be "eager to do what is good!"
Do not misunderstand, Grace is not chastisement itself. It's God's goodness. Jesus Christ, by God's goodness of grace, wishes to "purify to himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." by faith in Him. Chastening is a big part of that. You tell me, why would God need to chasten anyone if Jesus Christ's righteousness was already "credited to his account?"
Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them,
purifying their hearts by faith.
God does not LOOK the other way. By His Grace, he PUTS sin away. If God does not see our sin - because He can only see Christ on the Cross - how then can God chasten us, rebuke us, scourge us, so that we can be freed from sin?
John 1:29 The next day John (the baptist) seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Here is where the orthodox Christian church spirals further downward in its understanding of Jesus Christ's purpose. Let's look at it with a child's logic: If sin is still there, is it taken away? Of course not! If sin is there, IT'S STILL THERE. But if it is taken away, IT'S GONE. Pretty darn simple, huh? If sin is chastised out of us, by Grace, does it remain? Or, through chastisement is it taken away?
But, the church believes that since Christ died on the Cross, Jesus took the punishment, and now God cannot see our sins. He only sees the blood of Jesus. They think that is Grace. In the Bible, we see clearly that God's Grace chastises us to live godly lives, and to be zealous (hungering) for good works in Him.
Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Look very closely at what John says "the Lamb who taketh (TAKES) away the sin of the world." Jesus TAKES (not took) away the sin of the world. It is present tense. It is a continuing process of Jesus taking our sins away by his Grace.
Jesus Christ: in the likeness of a sinful you
We have now come to the Cross, which is what this paper is all about. Up until now, we have examined the scriptural meaning of what it means to work salvation outwardly, and how Grace through faith chastises us into doing so leading to deliverance from sinful lives. Now, we have arrived at the Cross, and we will examine how this great event illuminates all the above in a single display of power over the flesh.
Jesus said something of considerable weight just before he died, something that once understood in its fullness sheds light on the judgment of the whole world. If you blink, you can miss it:
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.
How many Christians understand that the Cross is the judgment of the world? They say that the Cross is the way for us to ESCAPE the judgment the world. But Jesus says that God judges the whole world BY the Cross, and that the time had come. That was 2,000 years ago.
These are three facts:
Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the LIKENESS of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
That is why Jesus died, that righteousness might be "fulfilled in us." Having come in the "likeness of sinful flesh," Jesus was not ACTUALLY sinful. But, we know who is ACTUALLY sinful. The Bible says it: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23) If you saw Jesus, and didn't know who he was, you would have thought he was just like you, a fallible, sinful man. This is not to say that Jesus' flesh was not real, only that in being lmade flesh, he took on the appearance of sinful people, without being sinful. We have here a physical Jesus, who came in the likeness of our very real spiritual condition.
What happened next? In the "likeness of sinful flesh," Jesus died on the Cross. What does that suggest about the future of our spiritual condition? Jesus Christ's physical death on the Cross symbolizes our deliverance from sin, as we spiritually die to carnality.
The Cross is the figure of Grace, how God puts sin to death within us.
Remember what it says: Jesus condemned sin in the flesh. He, while in the flesh, gave sin a death sentence! Jesus did this so that he could be Spiritually resurrected, and carry out that death sentence in us. The reason: so that "the righteousness be fulfilled in us who walk, not after the flesh, but after the SPIRIT." In order for us to stop walking after the flesh, Jesus must put our sinful flesh to death spiritually, the way he did to himself physically.
First let us look at how this happens in believers, and then how it will happen for the rest of the world at large, as this death sentence against sin is carried out to its completion. As we do this, think again about Grace by faith, that Grace chastens man into godliness. Think again about how this death of sinful flesh results in salvation outwardly worked through a believer.
Spirit Baptism into the cross
According to the church, Jesus died, so we would not have to. The Bible says the opposite. The truth is that Jesus died, and by being raised, became a life-giving Spirit. This way, by living within us, the Cross-judgment could free us from sin.
Rom 6:3-9 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the LIKENESS of his death, we shall be also in the LIKENESS of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is...freed...from...sin.
This is an astonishing passage! Do you see how Paul firmly grapsed the symbolism of the Cross?
According to the Bible, Jesus' death was not simply an external event. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we JOIN Christ in that death. We know that Jesus was in the likeness of sinful flesh. We know that we are actually sinful. That means if Jesus physically died, we Spiritually die in the likeness of the Cross. When we die to sin, we are set free from sin. Therefore, our "newness of life" is also in the LIKENESS of Jesus Christ's resurrection from his physical death. We are resurrected from sinful lives.
But, which baptism into this death is being spoken about here? Do we join Christ's death, of the sinful flesh, through the carnal act of being dipped in physical water? Can physical, external river water set us free from sin? Or does that water represent the much more powerful Holy Spirit (the water of life)?
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
John himself says:
Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
There is according to scripture, ONE baptism.
Ephesians 4:4-5 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, ONE BAPTISM.
IF there is ONE baptism, which one is it? Water or spirit? And if there is one baptism, and that is by Spirit (a much more mighty baptism than John's by his own mouth), do we not see that when the Spirit enters into us, we are baptized into Christ's death on the Cross? When we are baptized into Christ's death, the Spirit comes upon us and into us, that God may CHASTISE us by grace through faith to live Godly lives! Henceforth: we are crucified with Jesus Christ, the death of OUR sinful flesh. Being set newly free from sin, we may work this salvation outwardly in the form of healings, ministry, laying on of hands, in short: Love. Is that something river water can do for us?
This baptism in "Spirit and fire" is the whole point of the Cross. This is why Jesus died on the cross, so He could live again in us, and that is baptism into His death.
To put it another way: In the flesh, Jesus being whipped and scorned and put to death, is the same thing that - by the Spirit - God does to sin within us by the resurrected Spirit. That is how God unites us to Jesus' death by baptism.
Next time you watch The Passion Of The Christ, rather than seeing only Jesus dying, see yourselves dying. When you see the Israelites calling for his death, and the Romans whipping him, see God calling for the death of your sin, and Spiritually scourging it out of you - until that sinful flesh dies and you are resurrected into a new life.
The 10 Commandments: "A Ministry of Death"
Most Christians understand that the "ceremonial rules" within the Law of Moses have been put away by Jesus Christ. They understand that nobody needs to slaughter sheep, or avoid pork, or observe any other ceremonial laws. They say that, by faith in Jesus Christ, we are delivered from that. Yet, no Christian would admit that, by faith, we are also delivered from the 10 Commandments. That would be going "too far."
So, they even invent theological divisions in the Law to fight against such a belief. They say that the Law contained "ceremonial rules" and "moral rules." They say that the ceremonial rules have indeed passed, but the moral rules, as expressed in the 10 Commandments still apply. This is called heresy, and you will see how the Bible refutes that. God NEVER divides the Law and the Bible proves that with genuine faith we are delivered from the whole Law, even the 10 Commandments. This does not mean morality is made obsolete as they fear. Quite the opposite.
First, let us establish that the Law of Moses was a contract. Can we agree on that? In fact it was a BINDING contract. According to the Bible, God provides only one way to be released from it:
Rom 7:1-4 My friends, you surely understand enough about law to know that laws only have power over people who are alive. For example, the Law says that a man's wife must remain his wife as long as he lives. But once her husband is dead, she is free to marry someone else. However, if she goes off with another man while her husband is still alive, she is said to be unfaithful. That is how it is with you, my friends. You are now part of the body of Christ and are dead to the power of the Law. You are free to belong to Christ, who was raised to life so that we could serve God.
Right away, even the casual reader can see this mysterious truth: We are delivered from the Law - SO WE CAN BE FREE TO SERVE GOD. But, the only way ANYONE can be released from this binding legal contract is through death. Jesus said "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matt 5:17). He has no intention to destroy the Law.
Instead, Jesus will destroy YOU so the contract with Moses cannot hold you in its power. Pretty simple stuff, right? Reflect back to what Paul said: "I...am...crucified...with...Christ." Are you starting to see it?
By Spiritual baptism, Paul was handed over to the executioner, into the Spirit of Jesus Christ so that his carnal minded "old man" could die. Once that happens, being newly dead to sin, and resurrected from sin, Paul was released from all the Law, even the 10 commandments:
2 Corinthians 3:7-9 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.
Pop quiz: which regulations in the Law of Moses were "carved in letters on stone?" That's right, those 10 Commandments were the ONLY ones recorded in the Bible to have been carved into stone. The completion of the Law was recorded by scribes in ink. According to the Bible, the 10 Commandments are a ministry of death. And according to him, this is the same "ministry of death" which was "being brought to an end." Have you ever heard a preacher say that?
Romans 7:5-6 Our sinful nature used to control us. The law stirred up sinful longings in our bodies. So the things we did resulted in death. But now we have died to what used to control us. We have been set free from the law. Now we serve in the new way of the Holy Spirit. We no longer serve in the old way of the written law.
Christians will never say they are delivered from the "tablets of stone," only from the "ceremonial laws." They would never dare say that "the tablets of stone" are a "ministry of death." But they are. In the same chapter where Paul says we are delivered from the Law, he refers to the 10 commandments! Paul explains himself perfectly:
Rom 7:10-13 If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."
But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and, through it, killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means!
It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
Let's stop right there. Paul is referencing "Thall shalt not covet." As Christians should know very well, that is one of the 10 Commandments! Paul is explaining how SIN used the 10 commandments to kill us! That is why the 10 Commandments held us in death. That is why the "tablets of stone" are a "ministry of death" not because the Law kills us, but because SIN kills us by the Law.
Paul said, "I had not known lust, except the law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet.'" However, once he realized he should not covet - by one of the 10 Commandments - sin led him to covet more. Why?
It's all written down: For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Rom 7:14)
The Tablets of Stone were not intended to make anyone good, they were intended to show the opposite: that we are sold under sin, that we are carnal. God gave the stone tablets to Moses, so "that sin might be shown as sin" not to cure us from sin. There is only one cure for sin, which we will talk about in a moment. For the sin in us to be shown for what it is, we needed the Law, because while we are trying to obey, our carnal minds held us in death and disobedience.
This carnal slavery is so bad that our thoughts - now be honest with yourselves - become so evil, so lustful, so mean spirited, so driven toward everything ungodly, and everything selfish, that we can never see to do anything right.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Who indeed? The answer Paul gives is "I thank God through Jesus Christ." It is common to mistake Paul's statement of "wretchedness" to be about his current spiritual condition. Clearly this not the case. Here, Paul is employing a common Greek literary device known as "gnomic present." That means Paul is speaking from his past perspective of being slave to sin under the Law. Did Paul really not know who the Savior from the body of death was? Of course he did, only not when when "the sinful nature controlled him." Of course he did, only not when when "the sinful nature controlled him." In two sentences, Galatians 5:16-18 summarizes the entire chapter of Romans 7.
Paul was not a slave to sin, but describing the affect the Law had on his mind when he was. Under the Law, our sinful condition is so bad that, when we realize our "wretched" condition, we cry out: WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM...what? Not, "who will deliver me from the Law," but "who will deliver me, "from the body of this death."
Brothers and sisters, to be delivered from the power of the carnal flesh, is be delivered from the 10 Commandments which revealed that sinful condition. The sinful flesh and the Law work together as though married. Kill one, and you dissolve the other. Since the Law cannot be destroyed, the sinful flesh must be. The Bible says that the "ministry of death" did have a glory, but only a passing glory. The glory of the Spirit is much higher and more lasting.
Being under the Law, and sin killing us by the 10 Commandments, makes us desire a savior from the whole mess. But the only way to be delivered from the Law, including the tablets of stone, is to be delivered from sin. Do you remember earlier when Paul described our spiritual baptism into the Cross, declaring, "Our old man is crucified with Christ, so that the body of sin may be destroyed?"
By Spiritual baptism into the Cross, we die. Once dead, we are released from the 10 Commandments, and the whole Law. Thereafter we are free from sin, to serve Jesus. that is why Paul said that we are delivered from the Law, so that we may "serve in newness of Spirit." The Laws of Moses - both moral and ceremonial - only apply when we are slaves to sin. But once "the body of this death" is crucified with Christ, in Spiritual baptism, the carnal mind no longer holds us in it's grip, and the binding contract is dissolved. That is why Paul says "we have been set free from the Law."
Why Do you Need 10 Commandments?
Up until now, we have talked much about "deliverance from sin," "being baptized into the death of your carnal mind," having the old man "crucified with Christ," receiving the Spirit so that your heart can be "purified by faith." You might be wondering if this means we must be perfect. If we are supposedly dead to sin by faith, does that mean we will never commit sin?
Do not misunderstand this point. We are talking about being delivered from SLAVERY to sin, from SLAVERY to a carnal mind, and delivered from attempting work our own righteousness through the Law. This does not speak to instant perfection. Nobody is perfect. Even Paul said: "I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize." (Phi 3:12). So what happens if we are delivered from sin, but we still struggle with certain things? The Bible has an answer:
1 John 2:1-3
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours
only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Being delivered from the body of death does not bring instant perfection. However, and this is a BIG however, notice that John does not point his finger back to the 10 Commandments. He knows better than that. John points to Jesus, not to letters carved in a rock. If you sin, John wants you under Grace not under the Law, because John knew that Grace "chastises us" to abandon sin. The Law only held us under the power of sin until a savior came to rescue us from our "body of this death."
Christians are so afraid to declare themselves free from the 10 Commandments, because they fear that means morality itself is destroyed. Oh, ye of little faith! Don't you know that the only way to be delivered from the 10 Commandments is to be dead to sin itself? As the Bible declares: "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." We do not receive the Spirit by how well we follow the Law, but by faith. And the Spirit purifies our hearts.
Romans 6:14-15 For sin shall not be your master, BECAUSE you are not under Law, but under GRACE. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey -
whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Consider this question: What is the reason Paul gives us for sin "not being our master?" Does he say that sin is not our master because the 10 commandments are still in effect? NO! He says that sin is not our master BECAUSE we are under Grace and NOT under Law. If Grace is delivering us from sin, why do you need 10 Commandments to tell you how to live?
Yet church leaders everywhere are still placing God's sheep under the 10 Commandments, because they fear that to be out from under those "tablets of stone" means they will be slaves to sin. You hypocrites! Stop putting God's people back under the 10 Commandments which hold them in death! You blind guides! Stop ordering people to observe the Sabbath as commanded on the tablets, when God says through Paul:
Colossians 2:16 Don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
Which part of that scripture do you not understand? Yet God's churches blatantly defy the Word of the Lord by ordering God's people to observe the "Christian Sunday Sabbath" under pain of spiritual threat.
We have whole churches ordering their flock to pay no less than 10 percent of their money to the church. These "teachers" tell them that because the Israelites gave 10 percent of their crops, Christians ought to give 10 percent of their money. Why? Because God will be unhappy if they do not. After all, it says so in THE LAW. What does Paul say?
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Which part of that scripture do you not understand? These fear mongers teach that Christians must give as the church purposes from the Law, not as each Christian "purposes in their hearts." They teach that Christians must indeed give "of necessity" because God may be displeased if they don't give 10 percent, and He won't bless them. As a result, for the poorest of their flock, giving to their church as to the purpose of the Law means their families go hungry. Meanwhile the church leaders get rich and fattened. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer, all on the foundation of spiritual threat.
Will your lusts never be abated, you generation of vipers?! You who murder the truth and enslave! Let his people go, you Pharaohs! You drive them into physical and spiritual death because you don't know the Scriptures or the power of God!
The whole Law, including the 10 commandments, are designed to reveal sin, but once Jesus comes, the Law says this: "I have done my job, I am now passing, so that you can go serve the living Jesus." The Law does not pass so we can be immoral. It passes when we are healed of immorality. If a person is a slave to righteousness, what good is the "ministry of death in stone tablets" when "the ministry of life in the Spirit" has come instead?
If you are under the stone tablets, you are not under Grace. Period. There is no mixture and no balance between them. The stone tablets were given until a Savior from sin would come:
Matthew 1:20-21 An angel from the Lord came to (Joseph) in a dream. The angel said, "Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
God told Joseph to name Him Jesus, meaning "Jehovah saves." God gave his Son this name, because Jesus was sent to "save his people from their sins." His mission is to deliver them from "the body of this death."
Ephesians 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (from "death in transgressions").
Ephesians 2:4 For it is by grace you have been saved (ie from "death in transgressions"), through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift
of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Salvation from "death in trangressions" is a gift from God, by the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit were given because we worked the Law, then we could boast. But, the Spirit is given through faith, and by it, we are "created in Christ Jesus to do good works." Have you ever been "dead in transgressions?" Have you ever been dead in pornography, alcohol abuse, violence, drugs and other excesses? The Spirit provides salvation. According to the Bible, in the Scriptures we have seen, Jesus came to:
1) "Save his people from their sins" 2) "Redeem us from all iniquity" 3) "Deliver us from the body of this death" 4) "Take away the sin of the world" 5) Die on the cross to condemn sin in the flesh, so that 6) our "body of sin" would be destroyed by Spiritual baptism into His death. 7) Purify our hearts by faith so that we will be zealous for good works in Christ
Ask yourselves these questions:
1) If a member of the Church choir commits theft, is he saved from the sin of thievery? 2) If a pimp, even if he is wearing a cross around his neck, saved from the sin of being a pimp? 3) If a murderer, even if he hangs a Jesus picture on his wall, saved from being a murderer?
People go around wondering if they are saved. It's objective. You can see if you are saved or not by examining yourself. If they were saved from their sin, they would not be slaves to it. However, if you asked them, they would tell you when they "got saved." If saved from sin, they would be delivered from sin. This way, they could enter into "newness of life" of the Spirit received by faith.
Luke 1:76 To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission (aphesis) of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Theologians talk much about the "remission of sin." They think it only means forgiveness. Speak to anyone in the Christian religion and they will say that "remission of sins" means forgiveness. Brothers and Sisters, I tell you, it means so much more. Remission is translated from "aphesis." It actually means LIBERTY. That's right, Jesus Christ shed his blood for remission/liberty from sin. When Peter said this, the Holy Spirit fell upon them. They were baptized into the Cross by the Spirit: FREEDOM from sin.
Watch very closely:
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance (aphesis) to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty (aphesis) them that are bruised.
Have you ever known someone who has a painful disease and their symptoms "go into remission?" What happens? The pain goes away. Jesus puts sin into remission. Liberty. Deliverance. Remission. They are all the same thing. Without Jesus blood, there is no remission/liberty-from sin because his blood represents the death of sin in us that we may be freed from it. That is why it's not possible for the blood of animals by the Law to take away sin. Animal blood is EXTERNAL; Jesus Christ's blood is INTERNAL, by Spirit baptism, for sin to go into remission. His blood executes the sinful mind.
The Divine Nature (and "the doctrine of imputed righteousness" heresy)
The Christian doctrine known in theological terms as "the doctrine of imputed righteousness" is what most churches teach. It claims that, as long as we believe in Jesus, God will, take Jesus purity and consider it to be our own. Modern Christians phrase their creed this way: Jesus lived a perfect life, then died on the cross and rose again. Now, by faith alone, His righteousness is "credited to your account" and God considers you righteous because of faith, and not by what you do.
They call it heresy to believe anything different. That's the "pot calling the kettle black." They say that with faith, God cannot see your sin. Wrong. If God could not see our sin, He would be too blinded to deliver us from sin. That is not to say that the word "impute" is not in the Bible with regard to righteousness. That's where this false doctrine gets its name. We will see that later, after we examine the gift promised to believers through their faith.
Friends, if there is one scripture that summarizes this paper's theme it is the following. If you can see this for what it actually says, the Scriptures will begin to open wide:
2 Peter 1:3-4 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
How simple is that? That is what Paul meant when he said that God gave us the Holy Spirit, to "purify our hearts by faith." That is not imputed righteousness. That is not God considering us to be pure. That's God MAKING us pure. That's a free gift. We don't pay for it (Jesus already did), and we certainly don't deserve it. That impartation of the Divine Nature is not only free, it is gained by grace through faith. That is the same Divine Nature which "chastises us to live godly lives in this present age." That's grace.
Evangelical Christians, especially Lutherans, fondly declare: "I am justified by grace through faith alone." I assure you, that phrase is FOUND NOWHERE the Bible! It says we are saved by "grace through faith." The "alone" part was added by Martin Luther when he separated from the Catholic church.
In response to the various rules established by the church in those days - to receive grace through good works by ordinance - Luther contended that man is not saved by his works, but faith "alone." In Protestant circles, to deny that one is saved by grace through faith ALONE, is heresy, though it is not in the Bible. The fact that Luther needed to add a word to scripture to clarify matters is a sad thing. The scripture doesn't need help. It is perfectly clear, if you agree with what it actually says.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Three times in one sentence Paul said "works of the Law." It's the "of the law" part that is particularly interesting. Because in the next verse Paul makes this declaration. I tell you, if you can see these scriptures for what they actually say, the fog begins to clear:
Galatians 3:2-5 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit (ie The Divine Nature) by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
Wow. WOW! Did I say wow? WOW! Writing to the Galatian believers, Paul was vehemently rebuking them. They had begun to circumcise eachother, being told that it was necessary to God. This clearly informs us as to what good works of the law do not accomplish, and what faith does accomplish.
Two types of good works are illuminated here: 1) Works of the Law, and 2) works that proceed from the Spirit received by Grace through Faith. The Bible testifies to this:
Phi 3:8-10 That I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
If you have been reading this far, and understanding, you know exactly what Paul means when he says "That I might be made conformed to Jesus' death." The Bible is so rich with Truth when we begin to acknowledge what it really says. Every single word of that Scripture is so important, I could bold the whole thing!
Works that are "of the law" establish our own righteousness. That's bad. God is not interested in our own righteousness. He said our own righteousness is like dirty filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Instead, God is interested in the righteousness of Jesus performed through us by faith. Once the Spirit lives within you, you will begin to be "made perfect" and the Spirit will begin to "worketh" good works through you. When that happens, you will come to be saved from "the body of this death."
The One who saves us from from "this body of death" does not come by "works of the law" but grace through faith saves us from our sins. It saves us from "this present wicked age" by "chastising us to deny worldly lusts." That is how we "know him and the power of his resurrection" - being resurrected from the body of death. That is how Paul becomes "conformable to His death." The power of Christ's resurrection, and being conformed to his death IS THE JUDGMENT OF THE CROSS. Do you notice that I am hardly using my own words here?
This is why the Bible says: Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Romans 10:4). The Law was given so that we may attempt to "establish our own righteousness" by "works of the law." People tried to obey the law of 10 Commandments for righteousness. THE CHURCH TEACHES THE SAME THING! It's a big failure. There is no faith in it because the blocks of stone are physical and visible. We trust in an invisible Lord. That's what makes it faith.
Galatians 3:12-14 The Law isn't based on faith. It promises life only to people who obey its commands. But Christ rescued us from the Law's curse, when he became a curse in our place. This is because the Scriptures say that anyone who is nailed to a tree is under a curse. And because of what Jesus Christ has done, the blessing that was promised to Abraham was taken to the Gentiles. This happened so that by faith we would be given the promised Holy Spirit.
The Law is NOT of faith, and sorry folks, that includes the 10 Commandments. Loosen that stranglehold grip you have on those stone tablets. Let them go. Put them down. It's ok, you're not losing anything by doing so. You are free to walk by faith and not by sight. The reason Jesus is the end of the Law for righteousness, is because, by the promise of the Spirit, HE works through his followers by their faith in Him. It's a relationship built on trust. This means that Jesus becomes a living teacher in daily life, if He lives within you. Works of the Law only remind you of sin and make you desire a savior from the body of this death.
Remember this Scripture we spoke about near the opening, let's look at it one more time:
Phi 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out (outwardly work) your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Have you been delivered from "the body of this death?" Has Jesus (Jehovah-saves) saved you from your sins? Show me. Work this salvation outwardly and show the world your heart which has been "purified by faith." Do this with fear and trembling. Why? A preacher might tell you that you should do that with fear and trembling, because if you don't you might burn for eternity. But that is not the reason given by the scripture. Work your salvation outwardly with fear and trembling, BECAUSE it is God who is WITHIN YOU both willing and doing it through you.
That God lives within a man is cause for fear and trembling (an ancient way of saying "great respect and honor"). If good works naturally spring from deliverance through faith, you would always honor God and credit him for it. Is prophecy, healing, spiritual knowledge given to man because he worked his own righteousness by the Law? No, those good works come by faith which has delivered us from our former iniquity. To see how this works look at Jesus and Stephen:
Rom 5:6-8 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Act 7:58 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The Son of God showed his love for us by dying for us, not when we were good people, but when we were sinners. Can you imagine someone dying for sinners? Would you lay down your life for Hitler? If the United States captured Osama bin Laden, would you offer yourself in his place? I doubt many would. Someone might die for a good person, but Jesus revealed his love in dying for you, me and Osama bin Laden "while we were still sinners." That same Spirit is within Jesus Christ's followers.
What you just witnessed in Stephen here is a man "working out his own salvation with fear and trembling." When Stephen was baptized into the Cross, God imparted the Divine Nature to him. God saved him from his sins which proceeded from his "body of this death," so that Stephen AS HE WAS BEING STONED, would cry out to God for mercy....for his killers. Is that not remarkable? That was the same Jesus Christ in him who sacrificed Himself for the ungodly.
Stephen was a man saved from sin. And that is truly rare for him to forgive his killers as they killed him. And it was God in him who both willed and did of his good pleasure. Because as the scripture says: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Judgment begins with the House of God
Lest we forget, let us return to the simple truth about the judgment of the entire world and its judgment by God. As He spoke through Jesus: "NOW is the judgment of the world. NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I if I be lifted up from the earth will draw ALL men to me. He said this to signify the death that he would die."
Does that mean that the world's judgment is already past?
1 Peter 4:16-18 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment MUST BEGIN at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely (Gk: molis - with difficulty) be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
If you are like me, you might be wondering why "judgment must begin with the house of God," if Jesus already said the world's judgment was "now" long ago. It makes sense - but you will never understand if you believe that the Cross was just a physical event years ago. According to the Bible, we are Spiritually baptized into that death. Both Christ's death and judgment upon the House of God are the same judgment.
Peter says: "if the righteous shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" With this line theologians abandon their well-established rule of interpreting scriptures in context. Here they let the assumptions fly. When they see the word "saved" they can only think "saved from eternal torment." That creates a theological problem. Christian doctrine says that the righteous are always saved from eternal torment, so how can they be scarcely saved? But if they are saved from "the body of death" it makes sense. The word "scarcely" comes from the Greek word "molis" meaning "with hard work" or "with difficulty."
Act 27:7 (King James Version) And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against
Act 27:7 (English Standard Version) We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.
Peter's point is about the Cross. With hard work, we are saved from the body of death by the Cross. First, we are delivered immediately from slavery, and the work continues from there. Anyone who battles the flesh knows that. If the righteous are saved from sin with hard work, how much more so with the ungodly and sinners? The Cross awaits them. The world's judgment began with Jesus, in physical shadow 2000 years ago. It spiritually began with the House of God. And the world will be judged too....by the Cross.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
This is the famous scripture that theologians use to squash the Cross's effectiveness. This is how they interpret this passage: If you keep sinning after receiving Jesus, his sacrifice will not cover your sins anymore, and you will lose his Grace. So much for Jesus forgiving all sin - past, present, and future - right? This interpretation is wrong. It limits and diminishes the Cross.
Paul is really saying: "If you continue to sin after receiving knowledge of the truth, no other sacrifice/judgment exists. Even if by fiery indignation, the sinful flesh will die. No escape from the Cross." Interpret this passage from Christ's perspective -that His death is the method for world judgment - and you can see how Paul's statement strengthens and broadens the the Cross.
Paul is making the same statement as Peter. No other path exists for sinful man, but death on the Cross with Christ. As Peter declared, "judgment must begin with the house of God." As Paul declared, no other sacrifice exists than the Cross. What will become of them that do not obey? THE JUDGMENT OF THE WORLD. The Cross awaits them by fiery indignation. It's a rhetorical question.
Isaiah 26:9-10 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:19-20 Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it
will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.
According to Isaiah, if God shows favor to the wicked, will he learn righteousness? No, he will deal unjustly and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. SO BEHOLD a whirlwind of anger goes forth upon the wicked, and does not return, until it executes the thoughts of HIS heart. What are the thoughts of his heart? THAT THE WORLD LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS. That is the purpose of his judgments in the earth, and this blazing fire FIRST begins with the house of God:
James 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (various trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations (great trials): That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
God does not desire the death of the wicked, but would rather they mend their ways and live (Ezekiel 33:11). So the purpose of his judgments, the intent of his heart, is that they mend their ways and live. This great trial, this great judgment by God's blazing fire, produces something special. Patience, experience, hope, and a faith that is much more precious than any gold. And when patience, hope, experience and faith are produced in us, what happens to our sinful flesh?
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself (his sinful flesh), and take up his Cross, and follow me (unto the death of the sinful flesh).
The Cross within puts our sinful flesh to death, so we may be resurrected into newness of life. Through this baptism in the Spirit, our sinful flesh is judged daily out of us. Again, this is a daily process, not instant perfection. Even Paul himself said that he had not attained perfection but still presses forward (Philippians 3:12). But, by the Spirit we are released from a slavery to sin that keeps us mired in defeat, and God's grace then continues to work on us as we mature.
What Being "justified" Really Means
One reason the church misrepresents the Gospel, is because they do not understand what is intended by the Biblical word "justification." Again, Evangelical Christians believe that being "justified by faith" means that God pretends they are sinless, because He takes (or mistakes) Jesus' purity for their lack. They think "justified" means God "declares us righteous" when we have faith in Jesus. Faith brings more than a declaration.
Romans 5:5-8 We're not ashamed to have this confidence, because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (by baptism), who has been given to us. Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us.
Romans 5:17-19 For if by one man's offense (Adam) death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto JUSTIFICATION (dikaiosis) of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were MADE sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.
Carefully see what the words actually say! Do you see "declare" in there? I don't. Do you see "made" in there? I do. The "doctrine of imputed righteousness" church teaches only a partial parallel between Adam's work and Christ's work. But, the Bible teaches a PERFECT parallel. Did God only declare many to be sinners by Adam, or did Adam's disobedience actually make many sinners? The church acknowledges that Adam did MAKE people sinners, but that God only DECLARES them righteous when faith comes. Look at the words! Adam's disobedience made people sinners. Jesus counteracts Adam, and makes them righteous. Return again to the great signifier of this truth:
Rom 6:3-9 For if we have been planted together in the LIKENESS of his death, we shall be also in the LIKENESS of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is FREED (dikaioo) from sin.
Stop right there. Did you see that? "Justification" and "freed from sin" are translated from the same word: dikaioo. The word dikaioo means to be freed from sin, by God filling a person with the Spirit, and conforming them to the image of Christ ( Romans 8:29 ).
The Bible says that God is righteous (dikaioo). Is God only declared righteous, or is He actually so? Isn't God, being perfect, therefore free of all sin? The scripture says "HE THAT IS DEAD is dikaioo/justified/freed from sin." It also says "we have been planted together in the likeness of Christ's death." And the great news, the glorious Gospel, is that this gift has been promised to ALL MEN on the Cross. Jesus didn't just condemn sin for some people, but for ALL who were made sinners in Adam. It was a gift given on the Cross, to be FULFILLED in the Spirit when He spiritually puts sinful flesh to death by Spiritual baptism.
Remember Paul said that no man is justified by works of the Law? That is what he meant: No man is justified/freed-from-sin by working the Law, but Jesus is in them by faith. Because once someone has been freed from sin by faith and spiritual baptism into the Cross, he is freed from sin to do good works in Christ.
The physical Cross fulfilled in the Spirit
The word dikaioo carries the weight of being rendered, being made, being conformed to purity, not simply declared pure when actually evil at heart. God never considers evil to be pure or right, just because someone says "I'm a Christian and I got saved." In fact the Bible says this: "If ye know that God is righteous (dikaios), ye know that every one that doeth righteousness (dikaios) is born of him." (1Jo 2:29)
Since "justified" and "righteous" are from the same root word do we say that God is "justified?" Again, God is not declared righteous, God IS righteous. In the same way "justified" (dikaioo) means:
But too many Christians teach that to be "justified by faith" means that God cannot see your sins, as long as you have faith in Jesus. The scripture tells us - in contrast to such false teaching - God does not purify our hearts by "works of law" but He "PURIFIES our hearts by faith." Paul says "he that is dead to sin is justified/freed from it." Therefore, if justification is freedom from sin, and he that is dead to sin is free, the Bible demonstrates further why faith does it:
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching (chastising) us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Romans 3:24-26 Being justified (dikaioo - liberated from sin) freely BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time HIS righteousness: that he might be just (dikaios), and the justifier/liberator (dikaioo) of him which believeth in Jesus.
Here in Romans 3 we see the word "declare." But the statements refer to the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus." So, what is being declared? Look very closely. Paul says: "to declare HIS righteousness for the remission of sins which are past." Remember, we just talked about sin going into remission, like pain goes into remission. Paul is here to declare, not OUR righteousness, which is of the Law, but HIS righteousness for the remitting of sin, for the putting down of a sinful condition. When sin goes into remission, it becomes "sins that are past."
The Bible says, God in you "both wills and works of his good pleasure." The declaration is "Him in you." That is why Paul is declaring that God Himself is righteous/free-fromsin/dikaios, and the one who makes righteous (dikaioo) him who has faith.
Romans 4:11-12 And (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.
Remember "the doctrine of imputed righteousness?" Romans 4 is where that false doctrine is derived from. Be careful. Did you notice here exactly who righteousness is imputed to? Not just to them who "have faith," like the church says, but to them who "WALK in steps of that faith." Paul says, early in this Chapter, about works of Law: "When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned." He is discussing physical circumcision (a work of Law) and why it avails nothing. Abraham was circumcised, not as a debt to Moses, but as a sign of faith in the living God, faith which came before the work. The seed is faith. The gift is THE HOLY SPIRIT. The result is a purified heart. The law is powerless in delivering that gift.
Working Law to gain righteousness, means it is not a gift manifested through the Spirit, but is a self-work. By faith the free gift of the Divine Nature is given to man. That is why the Law "held us in sin" rather than saving us from sin. The "imputed righteousness" here in Romans 4 is from logizomai, meaning "to declare" or "to reckon." It means "to officially record" like a log-book, to calculate, to compute, to count.
The Bible says that Abraham had faith, "and God counted (logizomai) it to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). It did not say that God counted Abraham righteous, but counted his faith as righteousness. God declared FAITH as righteousness, and logged it for Abraham. The seed of faith was declared a righteous trait. As we will see, Abraham himself was counted righteous, not only by having faith, but when that seed bloomed into "walking in steps OF faith." The Bible says "Was not Abraham justified (righteous) when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?"
According to Paul, righteousness is imputed to them "who also walk in the steps of that faith." This is how God stays consistent with his Word: "do not be decieved, those who do righteousness are righteous." According to the Bible, who does God declare justified? Them who have faith? No. Them who WALK in steps of that faith. The faith itself is counted to us as righteousness, but without the walk faith is dead in the believer. But, the church teaches that to be imputed righteous "the walk" isn't necessary, just "have faith."
The Bible says "blessed is the man to whom God does not impute (logizomai) sin." According to the Bible, how was sin logged against us? By the Law. The method God uses for forgiving sin is when we are "delivered from the Law." We are delivered from the Law when we are delivered from slavery to sin by the Spirit. With no Law to accuse us, sin is not counted up in that manner. So, when we do sin, this does not mean God ignores it. He just doesn't count it against us in the manner of Law, but chastises us by Grace.
2 Corinthians 4:10-11 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
God placing the "death of Jesus " - our death to sinful flesh - and the "life of Jesus" - our new heart - within us is how the physical cross is fulfilled in the Spirit. God's discipline is the most merciful thing he could do for us. God wants us delivered from sin and the Law, so we can be freed to serve God.
The Gospel is not about declared freedom. The Gospel is about actual freedom.
Romans 5:1-3 Therefore being justified (dikaioo -liberated from sin ) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
That is why we are told not to "despise the chastening of the Lord." When we were in the sinful flesh, Christ came in the flesh to CONDEMN sin on our behalf. When he was resurrected, we received the Spirit. Therefore, Jesus FULFILLED that death sentence against sin, by filling us with the Spirit, and removing that power of sin in our lives that we may no longer serve it.
When He died on the Cross, it was a promise to all man, not just Christians, that by grace God will chastise the sin out of the entire mass of human hearts. The gift of righteousness was purchased for everyone on the cross, with a heavy price. It is done, and cannot be added to or subtracted from. Furthermore, this reconciliation is FULFILLED in the Spirit, and will continue to be fulfilled, until it fills the whole of creation.
Jesus said: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." (Matt 5:6)
He did not say, "blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness for I shall look the other way and consider them righteous no matter what kind of evil deed they do, if only they call themselves Christian." What kind of saving grace is that? No, he said they will be FILLED with righteousness (virtue, purity, power against sin). When you are filled with it, it permeates the fiber of your being. It becomes part of you. This is not a counterfeit gospel, and we are not talking about counterfeit virtue.
Jam 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Brothers and sisters, it does not get much more clear than that. As God has said in his Word, He does not pretend that you are right and pure because you have a bumper-sticker fish on your car. He imputes/declares righteous them who "walk in steps of faith" because the Spirit is within them, not by works of Law. This is what God accepts as "pure and faultless" that his followers keep from "being polluted by the world" and the lusts therein which work darkness. Some Christians love to say "Jesus did it all." But the Bible is saying that if the Spirit is in you, "Jesus is doing it all, daily."
Did the apostles James and Paul contradict eachother?
In a work called Preface To The New Testament, the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, gave this notorious summary of the Bible's Book of James:
“In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine.
Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.”
Ouch! That's quite a black eye Luther is giving poor James here. This all goes back to Luther's "justified by grace through faith alone" doctrine. Let's see why Luther was a bit miffed. This is what James said:
James 2:20-26 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified/righteous (dikaioo) by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (dikaiosune)"--and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified/righteous (dikaioo) by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also
faith apart from works is dead.
They say opposite things. Take your pick. Do you believe the Bible, or some theologian? Martin Luther didn't like that very much. And who can blame him? James completely refutes his foolish doctrine. The Bible literally says the opposite of what Martin Luther says. A man is justified (freed from sin) by faith, and the good works inspired by the Spirit which are a result.
James and Paul are not talking about the same kinds of works. Paul said that nobody is justified by works...of the law. But, when James says that a man "is justified by works, and not faith alone", he is not speaking about being purified by works...of the law. He is talking about works that come...by faith. But both Paul and James stress the fact that God imputes righteousness to them who "walk in steps of faith."
If a man watches pornography, beats his wife, and steals money from his company, is he saved from all those things by faith alone? No. If he has faith, his heart should be purified by it, so that he can BE ZEALOUS FOR GOOD WORKS. "Faith alone" cannot save anyone from sin, as much as "walking in the steps of faith" would have. If this man "walked in steps of faith" he would be saved from sin. His good works would make his faith complete.
The word "justified" in James' statement is again translated from dikaioo. So, in James' example of Rahab and Abraham, he is saying that they were righteous/freed-from-sin, by the works they did for God. Seeing that the Bible claims that "those who do righteousness are righteous" allow me to pose this question: Was Abraham NOT righteous when did good for God? Was he UNrighteous? Of course not. Who wants to be the first to raise their hand and say that Rahab was UNrighteous by doing good for God? No takers?
Again, Paul was saying that man cannot be justified by works... OF THE LAW. That is not how Abraham was justified in God's sight. The Bible says that Abraham had faith, and God "counted it to him for righteousness." God always counts faith as being righteous. Faith was credited to Abraham as a righteous trait. That righteous trait is what made him God's friend. And that trait caused Abraham to "walk in steps of faith." His faith RESULTED in obedience which, according to James, is what made Abraham a justified man. If Abraham had faith (which is good) but disobeyed God concerning Isaac, Abraham's faith could be credited as righteousness, but nothing else. Abraham himself would be counted by God as disobedient.
If we Christians have faith, and the Divine Nature is imparted to us that we may be "saved from our sin" and "delivered from the body of this death," and no fruit comes of it, what happened to our faith? If your heart is not "purified" by faith and your life is not renewed, then your faith is dead because it did not produce salvation from "the body of this death."
The whole point of faith is to save us from our sins, that we may be "created for good works in Christ." This is what James is saying: You say you "got saved?" From what? Did you get delivered from "the body of death?" Did Jesus save you "from your sins?" Show me. Let me see that in your actions. James says "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14)
Well obviously, if that is the case, that person's "faith" did not save him from being a sinner, if nothing good came out of it. Obviously that person's "faith" is not being made mature from the Divine Nature imparted to him to be saved from his sinful desires.
James 2:15-18 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Sorry Martin Luther - and all his modern adherents - faith alone does not save you from the "body of this death" in sin, if no good works come from a regenerated heart. Nobody is saved from sin who is still living as a slave to it. If Luther had realized this, he never would have labeled James an "epistle of straw." Instead, he simply would have agreed with the Bible.
But what about those who do not believe?
Tell someone that Jesus will save the whole world and this is what you might hear sarcastically from one who scoffs: That's dangerous teaching. If you say that Jesus will save everyone, now people can live how they want and be saved anyway? No way! Christians will actually say that! What foolishness! They will argue against the teaching that Jesus will save the whole world by claiming it will give people an excuse to "live how they want" and be saved anyway? I tell you now, NO CHRISTIAN would ever make such an ignorant argument if they had ever cried out to God in their heart: WHO WILL SAVE ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH? WHO WILL SAVE ME FROM MY INIQUITY? WHO WILL SAVE ME FROM MY SINS? WHO WILL PURIFY MY HEART?
If they had ever cried out to God these things, they would never say that the eventual salvation of the world means people can "live how they want" and be saved ANYWAY. If people are living how they want, it shows they need salvation from that. The very fact these scoffers make this "live how I want" argument, reveals what THEY really want. God will lead them to repentance in due time from their twisted priorities.
We must remind ourselves always what Jesus said is the judgment of the world:
John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw (helkuo) all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.
Jesus did not die for Christians alone. If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. He is the propitiation for our sins, but not ours only, the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), and by his own words, He will draw all men to his death if he is lifted up (on the cross). He was lifted up on the cross, so He will drag all men to the judgment of the world. He will "drag all men to the death he died." The Greek word for "draw" in the above scripture is helkuo. According to Thayer Bible Dictionary the word means "to draw, drag off." In order for Christ to submerge all men in the death of the sinful flesh, is there any doubt that he must drag them (even if kicking and screaming) to him, to the death that he died? Look at some other contexts:
John 21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew (helkuo) the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
Do fish want to be caught? What happens when you bring a fish out of the depths of the water? They flop around in protest. They must be dragged into the boat by a stronger hand. Peter is instructed to DRAG the fish into the boat. Sooner or later, Christ would make Peter a fisher of men (Matt 4:19). Jesus himself will drag all men into the death of their sinful flesh. He will drag them to the extermination of "the body of this death."
EVERY TIME the word helkuo is used in the scripture it is used to describe it happening to an unwitting, or unwilling subject:
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw/drag (helkuo) him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw/drag (helkuo) you before the judgment seats?
Does not the sinful flesh resist being DRAGGED to the Cross?
Acts 16:19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew/dragged (helkuo) them into the marketplace unto the rulers, And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
Acts 21:30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew/dragged (helkuo) him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.
Yes, speaking about his own death, Christ said I will DRAG ALL MEN TO ME! Doesn't it make sense? The carnal mind must be dragged to its own death, and that death is the Cross, and that Cross is the judgment of the world. If Jesus Christ is correct (and he always is), "that NO MAN may come to Him unless it is given by God," we may find a good example of that in the most famous conversion account recorded in the Bible, which is Saul, who would later become Apostle Paul:
Acts 9:1-6 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
Ok everyone, let's see a show of hands: Where does it show here that Saul attained faith by his own working? Where does it show that Paul received Grace by works of the Law? Where does it show that he attained liberation from sin that way? Looks like a free gift doesn't it?
That certainly would shed some light on why Paul later said: " For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. " (Romans 12:3)
Or: "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." (Ephesians 4:7)
Or: "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8) In fact, since Paul said himself that he was once the chief of sinners, it looks like his experience amounts to "many offenses unto justification (liberation)" Now, do you believe that God would do this for only one man, even though his Son was beaten, broken, and murdered for the whole world to purchase the same thing for ALL PEOPLE? God is not a man that He should lie or squelch on a promise.
So, what about the people who do not have faith now? Do they render the Cross moot, and all it's intended effectiveness? When God intends to do something, can His purpose and plan be reversed by man's weakness of faith? Maybe according to the church and its doctrines, but we will not suppose such blasphemy here.
Romans 3:3-4 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.
Jesus Christ's faith put him on the Cross. Man had nothing to do with that. With man, salvation is impossible, which is why the promise of the Spirit is given by faith. With God all things are possible. The same which were made sinners in Adam, SHALL BE MADE righteous by Jesus, who sealed that fate on the Cross, without man's approval first. That is what makes it a FREE GIFT! Everyone will be led to repentance by the goodness of God, not a passive goodness, but active in removing sin. That inevitability was purchased by Jesus Christ at a heavy price, and he is no failure in his purpose. He gave proof, perfect proof, that all men would be given newness of life due to His sacrifice:
Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (Jesus Christ); whereof he hath given assurance (PROOF) unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
That Christ was raised from the dead IS the assurance is that ALL MEN shall be judged by Christ - that they may learn righteousness and live too! That is the assurance of Jesus judging man! If we trust God, we ought to rejoice with David regarding God's judgments:
Psalm 96:11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
David was a prophet. And as the prophets knew: "when God's judgments come upon the earth, THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS." Let all the world, therefore rejoice in God's judgment of earth. Let the earth be glad! King David sure was! That judgment, the Cross, is a condemnation Jesus made against sin, FOR MANKIND, not against him.
So why can't Christians rejoice with David in God coming to judge the earth? Because they think God's judgments nullify the purpose of His Son's Cross! They think that when God judges the earth, Jesus' purpose in the Cross, in bringing salvation to the world, will be terminated! They have no idea that God judges the earth BY the Cross rather than being counter-productive to it. Most Christians have no faith that that when God's judgments are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. But, the Father will never deny the Son the full fruit of His sacrifice, and that is indeed reason to rejoice. For as God has said:
Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
Such simple statements like these should give Christians pause, those who say Jesus is the savior of the world, but it won't work. God says it will. God says He can bring about what He planned by "the man to fulfill (His) purpose." That is why the "Gospel" means GOOD NEWS. And, this judgment of the Cross is not a promise given only to those in the Christian religion. It is a promise made to the world, and therefore, all mankind SHALL BE made righteous by God, when Christ draws all men to Him. To be made into something means to form, to render, to cause to become pure and right before God. It does not say that the judgment of God (the Cross) makes everyone instantly righteous, but that men LEARN IT. That is a matter of being FORMED by the Spiritual baptism into Jesus Christ's death.
So the question "If everyone will be saved, why did Jesus die on the Cross?" becomes a bit silly. What is the point of calling Jesus the savior of the world, only to turn right around and tell us he cannot do it? Jesus died to demonstrate outright that ALL MEN SHALL be saved. The question then becomes, why did Jesus have to die on the cross, if NOT everyone will be saved?
Ephesians 1:9-10 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.
Acts 3:20-21 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.