Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P20 (09-21-21)
Knowing the Finality of the Cross and Being Made Complete in Christ Exposes the Common Errors Taught in Christendom Still Today
Preachers can be quite persuasive with illustrations that sure makes something sound so believable and true. They may not be doing this deliberately trying to deceive the people, but they are passing along error of what has been taught to them. They could be well-meaning and sincere, but nevertheless what they are teaching is error. So it is important that we grow in discernment by checking out whatever anyone says by studying the word of God ourselves, relying on the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, to teach us the meaning.
A common example of wrongful teaching is on this area of forgiveness, making a distinction between judicial forgiveness, that which Jesus’ death takes away, and then those parental sins that we must still confess to get back in fellowship with God on. The typical illustration used is expressed like this: “If my son goes out and does something wrong, they need to come and ask me to forgive, so surely that is the way God would do.” Bob would now respond like this, “Friend, you have not hung on a cross for your son to ask you for forgiveness. To give the kind of forgiveness God is talking about, you would need to be crucified. If you were, you would not require your son to ask what you hung on a cross to do. You would have hung on a cross in order to free your son to walk in newness of life.”
To bring God down to our level of understanding forgiveness and to say because that is the way I would treat my son so that must be the way God would treat me is an insult to God. Instead of us being elevated up to God’s type of forgiveness, we are dragging Him down to our feeble kind of forgiveness. We are spitting in the face of God and treating the cross as an unholy thing [Hebrews 10:29]. There again is the focal point of our life in Christ, being focused on me and what I do instead of being focused on Him and what He did. So, again, as we understand the totality of the cross, we can reject any of those fine-sounding arguments, the persuasiveness of men, and hold onto the truth.
As we read the epistles of Paul, such as Colossians, Galatians and Romans, we understand that we are no longer under the law, but under grace.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
In Colossians and Corinthians, we read that the law could only condemn us (Colossians 2:13-14, 2 Corinthians 3:7-8), and from Galatians and Romans, we know that was the purpose of the law (Galatians 3:19) so we might recognize our condition of death and seek a Savior in Christ Jesus (Romans 7:13). We are already dead in our sins, condemned already (John 3:18), and the only way to get out of this condition of condemnation, is not by the law, which can only condemn (2 Corinthians 3:7-8), and also not by what we do, being weak in our natural selves (Romans 8:3-4), but to turn to the only one who can save us, who alone is Christ Jesus.
Jesus died to take away our sins, and not just some of them, not just the judicial or venial ones, but all of them, having nailed all of the sins of all mankind on a cross. We could not keep the law, but Jesus, being God in the flesh, is the only one who could, and He did. And having fulfilled the law, all the ten commandments and all the Mosaic law, He took upon the punishment of death for sin for us by dying on a cross. All the ten commandments which stood against us and condemned us was nailed on the cross.
Having been born again of the Holy Spirit, having identified with Christ in His death and with Christ in his resurrection, we have not only become a forgiven person but made alive in Christ Jesus. We are no longer under the supervision of the law. We are no longer under the law of sin and death but under grace, under a new law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, who deals with you and me as who He made us, a child of God. We are now led internally by the Spirit of truth who lives in us, and since the sins of the entire world have already been paid for on a cross 2000 years ago, and since we have come alive in Him, there is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus.
16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood.
To explain this transformation from death to life, from under the law of sin and death to a new way of living under grace, the author of Hebrews explains the concept of a will and a testament, an old one replaced by a new one. The apostle Paul also used an illustration of marriage (Romans 7:1-6). Just as you are bound to the law, an old will, until a new will is made, and until the death of the one who made the will dies, so too a man is bound to his wife until his wife dies. But when his wife dies, he is no longer bound to the law of marriage and is free to marry another. So, too when a man dies to the old law of sin and death, he is no longer bound to that law, and is freed from that law of sin and death when he is bound to Christ. He, in essence was married to the law of sin and death, until that law was set aside, and a new law, the law of the Spirit, was established, the law of liberty in Christ Jesus. But when Christ came, and died to establish that new will and then was raised to new life, then you can die to the old law so as to be married to Christ and come alive under that new law. The old law is referred to as the Old Covenant, and the new law is referred to as the New Covenant we live under today, as explained in Hebrews.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Another common error taught in modern Christendom is that of being out of fellowship with God because of sin. But fellowship is two fellows in a ship. You are either in the ship, saved, or not on the ship, lost. What covenant are you sailing on? Are you on the ship, saved, but being blown by every wind of doctrine and putting yourself back under the law that you are freed from? If so, you cannot experience the new life God has given you living that way. It is not our fellowship with God that is in question. The Spirit never moved. The Spirit is still telling us that we can boldly come to the throne of grace for help in time of need. If we choose to sin as a believer, the Spirit is still living in us. He is grieved like a father who wants the best for his son, but the son is still a son. God wants to discipline our mind so we can think in accordance with who we are, a child of God, with truth that will set us free to live in the new way of the Spirit.
When we understand the totality of the cross and of being made complete in Christ, that we never will be out of fellowship with God, and understand that this fellowship with God is because the Spirit is sealed in us until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We do not have to ever live in fear that God will ever leave us because of sin (Hebrews 13:5). We do not have to do something to make sure we stay in relationship with God, or get back into relationship with God or that we could somehow lose our relationship with God. This New Covenant does not depend on man to keep it. It does not depend on us to keep that fellowship, for this is a promise of God, a guarantee made under a New Covenant by the guarantor (Romans 4:16, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:14), who is Christ Jesus, who set the conditions and secured salvation, eternal life, for us, by what He alone did by His death, burial and resurrection, and we entered into that when we were born again of the Spirit. We are now under a New Covenant of grace.
10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We have been made holy, sanctified, set apart by God from the thinking of the world. Bob George went to great lengths to explain the meaning of being made holy and sanctified. We are made into a new creation, and are set apart to the purposes of God as a new creation. You and I have been made holy. What in the world does that mean? Does that mean holy that we dress a certain way, cut our hair a certain way, look a certain way, do certain things a certain way? No. In the Old Testament, you had dishes that were holy. Obviously that was not holy because of their behavior. They were holy because they had been set apart for a divine purpose. That is what it means to be made holy. That is what it means to be sanctified. It does not mean to walk around looking sick at your stomach. It means you have been set apart by God for the intelligent purpose for which we are created. The word “holy” and the word “sanctified”, we made it into a very religious and pious sounding word. The fact of the matter is that sanctification, holiness, those words are probably the most practical words in the New Testament. It does not mean any more or any less than I have been set apart for the intelligent purpose for which God created me.
As an example, the chair you are sitting on, you and I are sanctifying the chair. How? We are sitting on it. We are using the chair for the purpose for which it was created. I guess if it were raining outside, we could turn it upside down and sit under it. But for the size of most of us, that would not cover too many of us from the rain. You would not be really using it for the purpose for which it was created. The manufacturer made the chair for the purpose of a human being sitting on it. That is why he made it. When you sit on it, you are sanctifying it. When I am looking at it, I am looking at it. When I am sitting on it, I am sanctifying it. I am using it for the purpose it was created.
Looking at a chair across the room, I could say that is a holy chair. I can say the chair is made for sitting on it, and I am not sitting on it, but it was made for that. My keen mind knows it is a chair. What is it? It was set apart from the table. It is not a table. You do not put flower pots on it. You sit on it. It is set apart. It has a usage. I can see that it is a chair. It has a purpose for being there. I am not sanctifying that chair yet. I am not sitting on it. But I can see that it is a holy chair because it was made as a chair to be sat on. When I sanctify it, I go sit on it. Those two words go hand in glove. It is not a religious word but a very practical word.
As another example, you and I have a watch on our wrist. That watch was made to tell people what time it is. You could hang that thing on your ear as an ear ring if you wanted to but you would not be using the watch for the intelligent purpose for which it was created. You would be using it for another purpose besides the intent it was created. When I am sanctifying my watch, a holy watch, I am using a watch made for a purpose. When I sanctify that holy watch is when I use it to tell time. I see people when I am lecturing sanctifying their watches, seeing what time it is, or in some cases, what day it is.
So, as a new creation, you have been set apart for a new purpose that God created you. You can certainly behave like you are not a believer, and act contrary to who you are, but you are still made holy, but since you are not allowing yourself to be used as God intended you are certainly not acting sanctified. You and I, as a child of God, the very moment we stepped out of Adam into Christ and Christ steps out of heaven into us, we have been set apart from the world. We have been made holy, like the illustration of a chair. We are no longer lost, running around in the woods like a chicken with his head cut off, bumping into every tree. You have been translated out of that darkness into the kingdom of the Son that He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
By that that agreement, that new will, you and I have been set apart, made holy, through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus one time and for all. But we, in our ignorance, can hang ourselves on our ears as a decorative piece instead of being used as we were intended. Nevertheless, like a watch hanging on your ear, we have been set apart. We may act like someone who is not set apart. But God set you apart forever and forever. When you come back to the reality and the knowledge of the truth of what Christ has done and you being able to see your identity as to who you are and who He made you in Christ, that is what draws you to the heart of God and draws us to the point where our attitudes and our actions begin to come in line with our identity in Him.
Another common error taught today is this concept of election. I do not deny their sincerity, but they have been taught man who is spiritually dead is so dead that he cannot even believe on his own. What death means to them is you are a goner. But death is a separation from life, and that is the life of God, not from the reality of human life but from the life of God. Because man is made spiritually born into this world with his human spirit absent from God’s spirit, but that human spirit is what delineates him from being an animal. And because we are not an animal and given a human spirit, even though absent from God’s Spirit, it is still a human spirit desiring what it is absent of.
That is why man, whether talking about the most remote tribes of Africa, or New Guinea or any place else you want to talk about remoteness, as Pascal said, ’There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man that can only be filled by God through His Son Jesus Christ” or as St Augustine said, “He has made us for thyself, Oh God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” How can our hearts be restless? How can their be a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of man if his human spirit was incapable of knowing he was empty?
So the idea that man is so dead that he does not even have enough sense to respond to God unless God gives him faith to do so is, again, a denial of how God made man. It puts man in the category than no more than that of an animal. God did not make us an animal. He made us a human being. When Adam died, even in his spiritual death, he was still talking to God, wasn’t he? He was not so dead that he had no capability and God gave him the ability to talk to him. He knew he was empty and he knew those fig leaves will not do more for him either. He got information from God that those fig leaves are not going to do anything for him. Yes, the life of God departed from him but the human spirit left behind was aware of the fact that God did not live in him any more. There is a world of difference between the two. When talking about dead, it is not that the human spirit is dead. The human spirit is alive, otherwise it would be an animal. It is dead to the life of God living in him. There is a difference there.