1 Jan 2002

What Law was Paul talking about in Romans 7?

Submitted by theshovel
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Hey Jim, I was reading a Romans passage. Do we serve the LAW [ie ten commandments] of God from the inner man somehow? Are we talking about the same “law” or is there a different law being stated here. Its always thought he’s referring the mosaic law because of the massive amount of reference he did to it prior to these statements in the book of Romans…but is it? Adam

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:22-25

Hi Adam!

There is a long-time misunderstanding regarding the distinctions Paul referred to between the Law written on stone and the Law written in the heart. I find it absolutely amazing how much gnat-straining and camel-swallowing goes on as people try to figure out which parts still apply and which don’t. I just read an explanation from one of the experts on the Christian Living portion of a web site as to which laws we’re still under as Christians…and it made me cringe! This horse crap is so prevalent that no wonder so many people are so confused about the simple distinctions between life and death in relation to the Biblical verses. It is blindness indeed that keeps preachers and teachers spewing their legal garbage, for in their attempt to explain the Scriptures they have to ignore the prime distinction between the external law and the inner reality.

The Law of Moses was a set of standards for Israel (based off the reality of God) that was able to be recorded on stone plates in an attempt to govern from the outside. Why from the outside? Because there was no governance from the inside. The truth of the matter is that throughout their long history Israel recognized the total failure of an external governance to compensate for the inability to govern oneself…but they dare not let this inability be known because it would blow their cover!

Littered throughout the history of Israel were many prophecies, rituals and miraculous interventions that spoke of, hinted at and/or demanded an inward reality of self-governance. This distinction of self-governing was glaringly foretold in, among other places and by other prophets, by Jeremiah who made the distinction between the inability of Israel’s keeping of an outward set of standards leading to the coming miraculous intervention by which God would put his spirit into the heart making it so that the law was kept.

Of course, Israel was still blinded to this reality of what Jeremiah spoke even though they could read, discuss and ARGUE the writings of the prophets. It took the very life of God being put into a man to make it known…and known it became when the Spirit came into those men waiting in that upper room in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Even after that time the sheer distinction between the ministry of death (law written in stone) and the ministry of life (law written in the heart) could easily become confused when Jews would argue it after the fashion of their forefathers. It took one who was born through the line of Israel but displaced through rejection of his own people and sent among those considered outsiders to really make the distinction we knew in our hearts so clear. Yep, that would be Paul.

All through Paul’s writings, which expressed the insight given him to share with those not of Israel, he made the simple distinction between life and death. The technicalities of external commands had been his specialty, but in being sent to share the life of Christ to those who were raised outside the framework of the Jew’s heritage he was forced to recognize that the same Spirit that had been given to the Jews was also given to the non-Jews in equal measure.

In other words, in being removed from his zone of understanding he had been prepared by God to understand that the stuff upon which a true keeping of the law was made was NOT from an observance of any of the technicalities of that standard, but was the very life of God…the same life of God that temporarily drop in from time to time upon people in times past in Israel’s history.

Remember when Jesus was asked which was the greatest command in the Law? He quoted no technicality but only the under-riding reality of LOVE (Love God, love your neighbor). You see, all those meticulous commands were only shadows of a life lived that did not harm one’s fellow man. The added commands had been formed around their community and had been established for specific reasons as the need arose, to either protect some from a real harm, to provide for those left out, to judge against those who intentionally or unintentionally injured others, etc, etc.

But it all came back to a life that is not built upon falsehood, deceit, greed and hatred, etc, but upon honesty, truth and caring, etc. This is a concept that is professed even by those who do the opposite. Nobody wants to be cheated or hurt or lied to, but will cheat, hurt or lie to those that are being judged as cheaters, murderers and liars. The very stuff of the law had to do with a true goodness that could only be broken down into categories and specifics, but the very reality of a life that embodied a goodness that didn’t need a rule to make it happen was perpetually witnessed to. This is the very sense behind having the law written upon the heart…and it would have been recognized as being testified to by that written in stone of the Law.

The very fact that Paul would play the word for law against itself only made it obvious that he was describing the very difference between an external shell that did nothing and the inner reality of a life made alive by God himself. Remember, if anybody could rattle the legalist for preaching law and shake up the religious community around him, it was Paul. So, in contrasting law with law he was only making his point stronger by contrasting the lie held by religious, self-righteous man with the promised miracle of life of God that causes a person not to need the external command that could never do anything but condemn in the first place.

The clear distinction found in Paul’s CONTRASTING use (always notice this) is the difference between what he called the ministry of death and the ministry of life. No, he was not suggesting that we now had to figure out WHICH of the 10 commandments might still apply, but that the love of God that made for a true life had now been put within us so that the need for an outward governance only denied the very life of God. This reflects Paul’s statement to Timothy as to how those who want to be teachers of the law simply don’t know what they’re talking about!

This means that even in quoting any one of the commands it could be shown that Christ did what the Law could not do, for the commands themselves only judged and condemned those under it. I mean, who is going to deny that evil intentions reflect something other than life or that the true goodness behind the written Law’s commands is something to be despised?

I am glad that enforced, written laws have protected me and my family from harm by those who may intend otherwise…but I am under no illusion that the absence of specific matters of injury is only a band-aid against the intentions of the walking dead. I am instead convinced that the miraculous work of God’s Spirit without the need for external rules is as far superior to an externally controlled behavior as life is to death!

Anyhow, I hope this gives some sort of answer to your question! :)


Hi Jim, I wanted to know what this meant [where you wrote]: This means that even in quoting any one of the commands it could be shown that Christ did what the Law could not do, for the commands themselves only judged and condemned those under it. I mean, who is going to deny that evil intentions reflect something other than life or that the true goodness behind the written Law’s commands is something to be despised? Adam

Many are often confused or troubled by the inclusion of Biblical laws contained in the letters and accounts of the apostles, especially since they have been tagged by the religious mentality as being a re-affirmation that those in Christ are still under the particular laws mentioned. I will admit that I also found this constant quoting of OT laws quite intimidating as I began to realize our freedom from the law.

The simple fact is that the real culprit behind a legalistic mentality is not the law itself, but instead is the constant obsession that we need it as an outward set of standards to follow, knowing full well that those who had been under it could not. Remember, Paul is the one who stated that the Law is holy and righteous and good, but that the problem was in the weakness of the flesh.

Because love himself has been put within us we now not only recognize the imperative need or demand for love in any true relationship our very being rejoices in its reality. To have it included in a letter from Paul or Peter, etc would not have hit those who heard it as being the standard by which we must now operate, but would have been a witness to the reality of its embedding within them through God’s Spirit.

Instead of making the usual assumption that a quoting of specific laws in the NT letters are somehow legalistic in nature so that they either have to be danced around or else written off as a product of the apostles’ legalistic tendencies we should rather expect that they would have been constantly including them here and there as a testimony to the far superior reality of a life lived without their former futile demands. In other words, the hearts of the believers would be reassured that though they were never able to keep such standards that the true life demanded by the former inability was more than met in Christ. Instead of us reading the NT writings in defensiveness every time we come to an OT quote we can rest in the overwhelming relief that Christ has more than fulfilled the former false sense of law-keeping, knowing that Christ in our hearts has actuality brought the goods into us so that the former concepts of good vs. evil have been replaced by a real life that needs no such rules to make love happen…especially since such commands never did.

Does this help at all?

Jim

New Testament: 

Comments

Instead of us reading the NT writings in defensiveness every time we come to an OT quote we can rest in the overwhelming relief that Christ has more than fulfilled the former false sense of “law-keeping”, knowing that Christ in our hearts has actuality brought the goods into us so that the former concepts of good vs. evil have been replaced by a real life that needs no such rules to make love happen — especially since such commands never did. Does this help at all?

Jim

Oh, you BET it is helpful!

Love, Adam

PS: OK, so I am about 10 years late on my response! lol

theshovel's picture

So it may have been a little delayed ... I am still glad to hear back from you! :)

Jim

Hi Jim! It’s Bill again. Thanks for sending me to your Romans 7 articles/answers. I’m sorry if I seem like I’m nit-picking, but my understanding of the Law differs somewhat from yours. In relation to your first Q&A with Adam: Although you affirm that the Law was not internalized until the New Covenant kicked in, what do you do with verses like Romans 2:14-15, which state: “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them”? I understand this to say that man has been “hard-wired” with a conscience, and that conscience has the Moral Law recorded in/on it. The “Love God” and “Love your neighbor” laws - the greatest laws - were actually a summary of the Ten Commandments, not including the hundreds of ceremonial laws. In other words, if you truly love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, you’ll fulfill commandments 1-4. Likewise, if you truly love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll fulfill commandments 5-10. These two “summary laws” are, as you know, taken from the OT, meaning that there is not a false dichotomy as some would want us to believe between the God of the OT and Jesus of the NT. Now, “a life that is… built… upon honesty, truth and caring, etc.” is the fruit of the New Covenant benefits listed in Ezekiel 36:25-27 [new heart/heart of Jesus, clean slate/righteousness of Jesus, Holy Spirit/Spirit of Jesus]. This is our only hope for forgiveness, holiness and eternal life. The teachers of the Law in the NT churches were guilty of distorting the gospel, not some form of “Christian legalism” that we should reject. By adding Jewish ceremonial practices like circumcision to the gospel, these false teachers were taking people with them to hell! I say all this to point out that the Moral Law has an excellent purpose in showing pagan sinners their true situation before a holy God and their need for a Savior. Since, as you admit, the Law flows out of who God is [e.g., Because God is truth, according to Jn. 14:6, He says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness], we as Christians should never want to get away from it in our “pursuit of holiness.” The Moral Law helps us see how we’re doing regarding our pursuit. I realize that you may consider me tightly tied to the Moral Law, but since it’s an extension of God, I don’t think you can just shut it off when talking of Christ. God is still a holy God who expects holiness from us; and while this holiness is Spirit-produced, we can’t deny that we need to obey God-given commands in the NT so that the Spirit can have the tools to work with in our sanctification process. For example, 2 Thess. 3:14 says, “If anyone DOES NOT OBEY our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame.” Heb. 13:17 says, “OBEY your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Can such “objective” obedience dare to be labeled “legalism?” No way! God bless! Bill
theshovel's picture

Hello Bill,

I realize that you may consider me tightly tied to the Moral Law, but since it's an extension of God, I don't think you can just shut it off when talking of Christ. God is still a holy God who expects holiness from us; and while this holiness is Spirit-produced, we can't deny that we need to obey God-given commands in the NT so that the Spirit can have the tools to work with in our sanctification process.

My friend, you may be so tightly tied to the Moral Law that you don't even realize your reasonings and conclusions nullify the distinctions between the old and new covenants. I mean, you do use the phrase "Spirit-produced" in connection with sanctification, but then throw everything back upon the same concept of obedience as found in the Law, only updated as God-given commands in the NT. No, obedience is not the problem, for we have been brought into the obedience of Christ. And in Romans 6:17-18, Paul speaks of this obedience in such a way as to highlight the distinction I refer to:

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

I have a lot more written concerning obedience. You can find that here: Obedience articles

Regarding Romans 2:14-15, I suggest it needs to be examined in view of its strategic placement in Paul's message. The fact is that he inserted driving his real point home to those Jews who thought they had something to stand upon in the Law. In referring to "Gentiles" " not THE Gentiles " can it be assumed that Paul indicated all men in general? Or is it possible that he was describing Gentiles in whom the Spirit of God was at work, that is, the very same ones who were looked down upon by those Jews Paul was dealing with in this part of the letter? Whatever it is, the conscience bears witness, for it is not the same thing as the work of the Law written in the heart. Didn't Jesus confront the self-righteous Jews in the same way when he told them that a Gentile had more faith than he had seen in all of Israel?

Love has been put within us in Christ, for it has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Spirit. This love in us is the fulfilling of the Law.

The teachers of the Law in the NT churches were guilty of distorting the gospel, not some form of "Christian legalism" that we should reject. By adding Jewish ceremonial practices like circumcision to the gospel, these false teachers were taking people with them to hell!

My friend, what you pass off as Christian legalism is the very distortion of the good news that Paul wrote about. Think not? Consider how Peter himself had been called out by Paul as guilty of this very thing simply because he withdrew because of intimidation from fellowship with the uncircumcised believers. Paul's treatise to the Galatians didn't revolve around eternal destiny, as it so often assumed, rather it had everything to do with how they lived with one another.

I'm sure you already have you mind made up, but I offer these things up for your consideration.

Jim

Jim, Thanks for your response. Yes, your last statement is pretty true, at least in this area. But I actually agree with you on a couple of points. I’ll look at some of your “Obedience” articles and comment after. Let’s work backward [It’s easier for me!]. The thing that tips us off to Paul’s REAL purpose for writing Galatians is summed up in chapter 1: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” [vv. 6-10]. Since “the gospel” is summed up in 1 Cor. 15:3-6, any addition to that “Good News” is not good news, but a reason for condemnation. As you know, adding any work to gaining and/or maintaining one’s salvation [e.g., circumcision] is anathema! Wouldn’t you agree? Yes, Peter was called out by Paul for his hipocrisy, but he was already genuinely saved. We can’t say the same thing about the false teachers of Galatians, where 1 Jn. 2:19 comes in: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” A genuinely regenerated and converted believer will always come back to the truth. A non-genuinely converted person will eventually reveal the fruit of an unconverted life [e.g., the parables of the sower, the house built on sand, etc.]. Were some or all of the TRUE believers in the Galatian church practicing hypocrisy for buying into the need to be circumcised as a requirement for their salvation? Sure. But Paul is addressing the false teachers who were trying to get them off track and to produce false converts with their false gospel. That’s why he launches into a defense of his apostleship, obviously reacting to the false teachers’ attempt to discredit his message by discrediting him. And, in the process, he is communicating the need of the TRUE Galatian believers to come back to the PURE gospel by not adding any works to it in their own lives, not to mention in their evangelism! Now, moving up to the first part of your response, I certainly appreciate the biblical distinction between the Old and New Covenants. You use Jer. 31:31-34, but let’s not forget Ezekiel’s version in chap. 36: “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” [vv. 25-26]. In other words, the “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” is more clarified by the “how” in Ezek. 36 as receiving a NEW heart, a clean slate and the Holy Spirit who enables us to obey the Law that is written on that new heart. Now, I totally agree with you regarding the context of Rom. 2. Paul has just finished stripping the self-righteous “moral pagan” [2:1-11], who thought he was better off than the “immoral pagan sinners” of 1:18-32, of that self righteousness. But what do you mean by “THE Gentiles?” Are you trying to distinguish between “gentiles” as representing all non-Jewish mankind and “gentiles” who had just been addressed in 1:18-2:11? Frankly, I see 1:18-2:11 as pretty representative of all “unreligious” mankind. Don’t you? If so, then the moral law can be considered to be recorded on our hearts BEFORE Christ by the fact that we are born with a moral compass, the conscience. And it is the violation of this moral compass that condemns us, whether we have the written law in our upbringing or not. You wrote: “Love has been put within us in Christ, for it has been shed abroad in our hearts through the Spirit. This love in us is the fulfilling of the Law.” We don’t fulfill the Moral Law. Christ did/does. That’s why we need to have his righteousness imputed to us. I don’t know if you meant to, but your final sentence could be understood to be saying that it doesn’t matter how one lives as long as he has Christ - the “love” fulfillment of the Law - in him. One could understand you as promoting antinomianism. Are you? Okay, I’ll take a look at some of your “Obedience” articles and get back to you. Thanks! Bill
theshovel's picture

You agree with me on a couple of points, you say? We're really getting somewhere now! LOL. :)

As you know, adding any work to gaining and/or maintaining one's salvation (e.g., circumcision) is anathema!

Yes, but to what extent did Paul take this? While I don't question that Peter was born of God, he was the one Paul used as a prime example of having been guilty of corrupting the truth of the good news of Christ. Remember, it was Paul who said that "Peter stood condemned", and that's why he opposed him to his face. Now, if Paul was not saying that Peter was in danger of losing his salvation " which I am not suggesting in the least " then in what possible sense did Paul bring this situation up in such direct connection to what he stated from the beginning of the letter?

For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? "We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Galatians 2:12-16

Yes, we are talking about a believer here, a man who Paul said was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel. The thing was, Paul didn't confront Peter regarding any specific doctrinal error in how he preached the gospel. At least, Paul didn't suggest anything of the sort in the letter he wrote. Nevertheless, Peter's intimidation put him in the spot where his message came across loud and clear. And what was the message Peter demanded of the uncircumcised Galatian believers when he stopped eating with them? His message suggested that these uncircumcised saints of God still needed to become like the Jews. His unspoken message was one of justification by works.

You may argue the connection, but Paul went right from there and launched into one of the most profound declarations of justification through faith in Christ, apart from observing the law " all in connection with how a believer gave into the pressure to conform with those who demanded that Gentiles needed to obey the Scriptures in just this one area regarding circumcision. This portion of Galatians is mostly considered as having been written regarding how to preach the gospel clearly to the unbeliever, but the truth of the matter is that Paul wrote it to believers who were falling back into law for their justification in how they were living their lives as believers.

When I slowly saw the connectedness of this whole matter, I began to really see Paul's simple message of Christ. Yes, Christ and him crucified, and how it all tied together " without my having to keep it so technically segregated. I used to feel obligated to explain when I was referring to "salvation" as opposed to "service" because I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to confuse those who listened to me. I was trained to take great care in not confusing believers when talking about serving the Lord because I knew it could easily be thought that I was adding some kind of conditions to salvation. It actually irked me that Paul and the other apostles didn't seem as concerned as I was to make the clear distinction between salvation and service.

Well apparently, you don't totally agree with me regarding the Romans 2 passage. LOL!! I'm going to let you think it over a bit more, but let me add this: Could Paul have been referring not to all Gentiles, but only to certain ones among them? Are there not any Gentiles that come to mind that would have been perfect examples to make Paul's real point? Could these be the same uncircumcised people who kept the requirements of the Law as mentioned in Romans 2:26? Could these be those who are Jews inwardly? Just remember the point Paul was building toward.

Antinomianism, you ask? You can look that one up on the site as well. :)

Jim

WOW, JIM, THAT WAS A QUICK RESPONSE! OKAY, I’M GOING TO INTERSPERSE MY COMMENTS - IN ALL CAPS - ON WHAT YOU WROTE [WHICH IS IN THE NORMAL UPPER AND LOWER CASE]: Yes, but to what extent did Paul take this? While I don’t question that Peter was born of God, he was the one Paul used as a prime example of having been guilty of corrupting the truth of the good news of Christ. Remember, it was Paul who said that “Peter stood condemned”, and that’s why he opposed him to his face. Now, if Paul was not saying that Peter was in danger of losing his salvation ” which I am not suggesting in the least [NOR I] ” then in what possible sense did Paul bring this situation up in such direct connection to what he stated from the beginning of the letter? COULD PETER HAVESTOOD CONDEMNEDBECAUSE HE HAS ALIGNED HIMSELF WITH MEN HE KNEW TO BE IN ERROR [I.E., THE FALSE TEACHERS PUSHING THE OBSERVANCE OF THE JEWISH CEREMONIAL LAW TO BE ABLE TO BE CONSIDERED SAVED], BECAUSE HE HAD HARMED AND CONFUSED THE GENTILE BELIEVERS AND BECAUSE HE WAS, FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES, ADDING WORKS TO SALVATION THAT WOULD RESULT IN THE PREACHING OFANOTHER GOSPELTO THE HEATHEN? Yes, we are talking about a believer here, a man who Paul said was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel. The thing was, Paul didn’t confront Peter regarding any specific doctrinal error in how he preached the gospel. AGREED. At least, Paul didn’t suggest anything of the sort in the letter he wrote. Nevertheless, Peter’s intimidation put him in the spot where his message came across loud and clear. And what was the message Peter demanded of the uncircumcised Galatian believers when he stopped eating with them? His message suggested that these uncircumcised saints of God still needed to become like the Jews… TO BE CONSIDERED CHRISTIANS AND TO MAINTAIN THEIR CHRISTIANITY. His unspoken message was one of justification by works. ONCE AGAIN, AGREED. You may argue the connection, but Paul went right from there and launched into one of the most profound declarations of justification through faith in Christ, apart from observing the law ” all in connection with how a believer gave into the pressure to conform with those who demanded that Gentiles needed to obey the Scriptures in just this one area regarding circumcision. SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE WE’RE USING THE SAME TERMS, BUT OUR MEANINGS ARE SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT IN SOME CASES. STRANGE. I FEEL A BIT LIKE ONE OF US IS A MORMON OR A CATHOLIC AND THE OTHER A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER. I’M NOT IMPLYING ANYTHING, BUT CATHOLICS AND MORMONS ARE MASTERS AT DEFLECTING QUESTIONS ABOUT THEIR ORTHODOXY BY BORROWING EVANGELICAL TERMINOLOGY AND STILL USING THEIR OWN DEFINITIONS OF THOSE TERMS. I JUST FEEL THAT I MAY BE AGREEING WITH YOUR TERMINOLOGY NOW, BUT YOU MAY MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT BY THOSE TERMS. FOR EXAMPLE, I THINK OF THE LAW AS OPPOSED TO THE GOSPEL. YOU APPEAR TO USE LAW AS OPPOSED TO CHRISTIAN LIVING. I AM READING MICHAEL HORTON’SCHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY,” AND I REALLY LIKED HOW HE DEFINES LAW VS. GOSPEL: “EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE THAT REVEALS GOD’S MORAL EXPECTATIONS ISLAWAND EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE THAT REVEALS GOD’S SAVING PURPOSES AND ACTS ISGOSPEL.’ NOT EVERYTHING IN GOD’S WORD IS GOSPEL; THERE ARE A LOT OF EXHORTATIONS, COMMANDS, AND IMPERATIVES. THEY ARE TO BE FOLLOWED. HOWEVER, THEY ARE NOT THE GOSPEL. NOT EVERYTHING WE NEED ISGOSPEL.’ WE ALSO NEED TO BE DIRECTED. WE NEED TO KNOW GOD’S COMMANDS SO THAT WE WILL COME CLEAN, ACKNOWLEDGE OUR SINS, AND FLEE TO CHRIST AND ALSO SO THEY CAN DIRECT US IN GRATEFUL OBEDIENCE. WHEN IT COMEST TO DOING SOMETHING, WE ARE ANSWERING THE LAW [WORKS]; WHEN IT COMES TO BELIEVING WHAT HAS BEEN DONE FOR US BY CHRIST, WE ARE ANSWERING THE GOSPEL [FAITH]. CONFUSED WITH FAITH AS THE MEANS OF INHERITING GOD’S GIFT, OURGOOD WORKSBECOME THE MOST OFFENSIVE SINS AGAINST GOD. BUT WHEN FAITH ALONE RECEIVES THE GIFT, IT IMMEDIATELY BEGINS TO YEILD THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. WHEN EVEN GOOD, HOLY, AND PROPER THINGS BECOME CONFUSED WITH THE GOSPEL, IT IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE WE END UP WITHCHRISTLESS CHRISTIANITY”: A STORY ABOUT US INSTEAD OF A STORY ABOUT THE TRIUNE GOD THAT SWEEPS US INTO THE UNFOLDING DRAMA” [p. 109]. This portion of Galatians is mostly considered as having been written regarding how to preach the gospel clearly to the unbeliever, but the truth of the matter is that Paul wrote it to believers who were falling back into law for their justification in how they were living their lives as believers. AMEN! BUT THEN AGAIN, APPARENTLY THERE IS A NEED TO TALK ABOUTGOSPELTO CHRISTIANS THROUGHOUT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. PAUL IMPLIES THIS AS HE SUMMARIZES/REPEATS IT IN 1 COR. 15. When I slowly saw the connectedness of this whole matter, I began to really see Paul’s simple message of Christ. Yes, Christ and him crucified, and how it all tied together ” without my having to keep it so technically segregated. I used to feel obligated to explain when I was referring to “salvation” as opposed to “service” because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to confuse those who listened to me. I was trained to take great care in not confusing believers when talking about serving the Lord because I knew it could easily be thought that I was adding some kind of conditions to salvation. It actually irked me that Paul and the other apostles didn’t seem as concerned as I was to make the clear distinction between salvation and service. I’M NOT SURE IF I’M FOLLOWING YOU HERE. I CAN’T IMAGINE YOU SAYING THAT FAITH AND WORKS MELD TOGETHER SOMEHOW! LOL! Well apparently, you don’t totally agree with me regarding the Romans 2 passage. LOL!! I’m going to let you think it over a bit more, but let me add this: Could Paul have been referring not to all Gentiles, but only to certain ones among them? Are there not any Gentiles that come to mind that would have been perfect examples to make Paul’s real point? Could these be the same uncircumcised people who kept the requirements of the Law as mentioned in Romans 2:26? Could these be those who are Jews inwardly? Just remember the point Paul was building toward. I SEE THE POINT PAUL BUILDING TOWARD IS THAT NOBODY IS RIGHTEOUS IN THEMSELVES [ROM. 1:18-3:20] AND THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THROUGH FAITH APART FROM THE WORKS OF THE LAW [3:21-31]. ALTHOUGH ROMANS WAS WRITTEN TO CHRISTIANS, THIS SECTION HAS TO DO WITH JUSTIFICATION, NOT SANCTIFICATION. Antinomianism, you ask? You can look that one up on the site as well. :) HMMM! PLAYING HARD TO GET, ARE WE? LOL! Jim
theshovel's picture

AMEN! BUT THEN AGAIN, APPARENTLY THERE IS A NEED TO TALK ABOUT "GOSPEL" TO CHRISTIANS THROUGHOUT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. PAUL IMPLIES THIS AS HE SUMMARIZES/REPEATS IT IN 1 COR. 15.

My friend Bill, where you concede to the occasional need to talk about the gospel to Christians, I see the gospel as the everything to those who believe, to those who are born of God. For the gospel declares Christ, and him crucified. He who is the new creation, and we in him.

I understand your viewpoint, for it reminds me of my Bible college years where I learned how to slice and dice my way through the Bible in the attempt to make the gospel clear. You know what I'm talking about, as it's what most Bible students and teachers assume they do but others don't: "Rightly dividing the word of truth". But with all our rightly dividing, to which mind, which reasoning, are we actually relating? What I came to realize is that we were trying to make it understandable to those who didn't believe but might be persuaded ... if it could be shown to make sense. But the gospel will never make sense to those who insist they have to understand it first.

For the gospel is the power of God to those who believe. It's not that the gospel doesn't make sense, but it only makes sense to those who see it through the eyes of faith. In his letter, Paul told the Roman believers that he was ready to declare the gospel to them, And so he did " but not as an evangelical training class. For in his declaration of the gospel, he not only dealt with our introduction into this grace by which we stand, but he also intertwined the reality of Christ's death and resurrection into everything connected with them as the new creation in Christ. All of it is our salvation, for we were delivered out of the power of death and into the power of a new life.

Jim

Jim, I enjoy how you are getting BEHIND the words written on a page and getting right into the very reality that drives the Christian. For the temptation of the natural mind is always crouched and waiting to pounce. For the technical mind is a snare isn’t it? For it is something that WE can boast in. Lets repent and lay that down and go free in the truth.

“I understand your viewpoint, for it reminds me of my Bible college years where I learned how to slice and dice my way through the Bible in the attempt to make the gospel clear. You know what I’m talking about, as it’s what most Bible students and teachers assume they do but others don’t: “Rightly dividing the word of truth”. But with all our rightly dividing, to which mind, which reasoning, are we actually relating? What I came to realize is that we were trying to make it understandable to those who didn’t believe but might be persuaded … if it could be shown to make sense. But the gospel will never make sense to those who insist they have to understand it first.” Isn’t it interesting that one mind can only communicate to another through symbols? And yet, these very symbols are interpreted in a context that may be totally different in the one expressing the symbols as compared to the that in the one observing the symbols coming his way? When they want to ‘understand it first’ they mean that they must identify it within the context that lives within them, which is the very reality the message actually proclaims as having been done away with. How can they understand it? It’s impossible. That’s the point, I guess.
theshovel's picture

Excellent insight here, my friend. Fortunately, what is impossible with man is possible with God.

Jim

It’s been awhile, Jim, but here goes. I agree that faith is essential to understanding the gospel, but I would also add that God must grant that faith [not to mention “repentance”], which is the product of the “new heart” [Jer. 31; Ezek. 36:26] - or regeneration - being placed within the person. But explaining “rationally” the need for the gospel and then the gospel may be the instrument God uses to regenerate the person, thus allowing him or her to repent and believe, be subsequently-but-immediately justified [clean slate (Ezek. 36:25) + righteousness of Christ imputed 92 Cor. 5:21)] and have the Holy Spirit imparted [Ezek. 36:27], don’t you think?
theshovel's picture

God is the one who gives faith, who causes repentance, the one who creates the new mind, the one who initiates, the one who makes alive. In other words, it's all of God, even when we "participate" in it. God can bring this salvation about when we are either prepared or when we are opposed, with the Bible being quoted or without a word from it. Nothing is impossible with God. :)

Jim

Clapping here. Your side kick and bro, Adam

Miracles never cease! I agree 1OO% to your comment! I would want to clarify your second-to-the-last statement, however: “…with the Bible being quoted or without a word from it.” In light of Rom. 1O:17, a person may CURRENTLY convert without a word from the Bible, but there would have been some EARLIER input from the word before the SUBSEQUENT harvest. Can we agree here?

Hi Jim! I am the “vistor” here… sorry, but I forgot I needed to login.

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What is true is written in heaven. If a person is to convey this reality to another and they believe, well then the words[recorded in the Bible] may very well be there. However you might also consider that a word might not be present but, maybe a kind deed. Or a reluctance to condemn, or something else that was seemingly prepared by God to testify to the reality of our faith. It is one thing to simply hear the unfamiliar ‘word’ that ‘God was in Christ reconciling men unto Himself.’It’s quite another to see it’s REALITY in a persons life. Sometimes words are important, sometimes they are not important at that moment. Though we really want formulas and ‘things to say’[and DO for that matter], I wonder just how much God is looking for the reality of it coming forth from our very hearts toward the prospective believer? What if we NEVER got the words and meanings down from an intellectual point of view but, we instead understood His grace from within our very inner being because God was there? It is God that brings us to hope in Himself. He does this right through the emptiness that is present in the world. We often can not track this and it bothers us. We desire some human reason or act on our part to show that we can ‘activate’ it or deactivate it. So we look and read the Bible that way. As if these human concepts are true and reasonable. We spend all our time thinking about how He has to show some traceable way that can be naturally explained. Yet God is God and he is able irregardless of the sin infested world with all its power and troubles of it’s own making.

I see what you’re saying, Adam, but we must never forget that it’s the gospel, and not our lives or deeds, that is the power of God unto salvation [Rom. 1:16]. Those things can add to, but never substitute, the gospel. And the gospel is a very objective, concrete thing [c.f., 1 Cor. 15:1-6]. But I do agree that formulas and recipes aren’t the issue. God looks at the heart. He looks for humble hearts and risk-taking faith, but even those He grants. How those things express themselves verbally or mentally aren’t nearly as important as their simple existence in a person.

Ah yes Bill but, what IS the Gospel? No not the words or the scripture quotes which you and I are well aware of, what is it really? It is a reality that we came to KNOW. Yes there were probably words involved, yes there were probably some other things involved but, as the Author and Perfecter was at work, did we really oversee what we thought we were overseeing? Could we even KNOW what would be the final straw or the new beginning? Or did we just simply come to know God through our Lords work? It’s not just the words about the work, it is the work itself that means[and speaks] so much to us. For this is thing we truly thirsted for.
theshovel's picture

This is incredibly powerful, Adam. The gospel may be presented by the words we speak, even those wonderful quotes from the Bible, but as you say, the gospel is the very work of God through Jesus Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. For what is the very WORD that has been sent by God to do his will other than Christ himself?

Well, I'm late for work
Jim

Words, in the case of the gospel, represent several things: who God the Father is, who we are, who Christ is, what our sin is, etc. So, yes, words aren’t the most important, but they try to convey what is most important: the people and events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. As far as “thing we truly thirsted for,” how do you reconcile this with Rom. 3:11, which says, “No one understands; no one seeks for God”?

Hello Bill, Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. Bill to keep on the same train of thought here, this thirsting is I believe a God thing. For we realized we had NONE[righteousness] and it took Him to bring this into form in us. The mind of the flesh thrashes around in it’s attempt to understand God but, never does. For He is only revealed. When we look back and see that we were drawn to Him [or sought Him] we can know that it was His work that brought that about. I can give you all sorts of nifty analogies, Biblical context and factual data but, I can’t give you what only God can give and is giving behind the appearance that we are in control of it all.

Adam, we definitely agree that God produces the “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Can I be so bold as to suggest that we get these when He places a new heart in us [i.e., regenerates us]. Otherwise, our heart is described in Rom. 3:1O-18 and Jer. 17:9 [deceitfully wicked]. I know this is the reformed view of conversion, but what can I say? I’m reformed!

Dear Bill, I think it is nothing more than the natural mind that would have Christians interacting like they were on the college debate team. This is what the pursuit of raw, outward knowledge will do. It paints us into a corner were we go off into all sorts of crazy fleshly pursuits while acting like our life consists of surface dwelling. Coming to a position and coming to the Truth in Him in the way that touches our very active lives[both in our thoughts and actions] are two entirely different things. I suppose the natural mind can debate that too, in fact I know it can. See life is not IN what I know, it is Christ and I am fortunate and lucky[blessed] to have been the recipient of it. For there was nothing good in me that I should have merited it. I find that the more I hang onto my positions, the less I truly know if this Life that I and others stand in. Christ didn’t call us to a pretense of life, but life. Real life in Himself that dwells with and in us here and now. It isn’t really up for debate. I think it is healthy to break free from those things that we know are not true from the inward places in us but, God too has His hand in this. These are just a few thoughts that came to me before I head out the door.

Adam, now you’re starting to go a bit mystical on me! LOL! Let’s don’t throw out the mind entirely here. Look at the God-inspired reasoning that Paul uses in the first six chapters of Romans as an example. He anticipates an objection by asking a rhetorical question, then answers it… LOGICALLY! For example: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” [Rom. 6:1-4].

Hi Bill, It does SEEM like Paul is arguing on an intellectual level but, he is not. He is simply putting forth what the natural mind would say. Don’t get me wrong, he IS saying something and he is using his mind to communicate but, he is drawing out the meanings and expressions from the living mind that is in Christ. In other words, the reality that is in Gods Son. Paul would have received nothing but flack for his letter here from his contemporaries.

Yes, but do you think he realized all this was going on? I see inspiration as an author sitting down to pen a letter, in this case, utilizing his full intellectual faculties, while God directs the use of those faculties to compose a document saying exactly what He wants it to say. In other words, the author is not aware what God is doing, but simply being obedient to write what God has put on his heart. Let’s not read too much mysticism into the human side of the process, although the divine side may warrant this. But since we’re human…

We have all been taught[coached] to imagine exactly how those Apostles authored the letters they wrote to their friends and fellow believers. I know all the things I was taught about how that went down. I think much of it has to do with how Peter mentions[or one of the New Test writers] a bit about how the Law and Prophets was written. And he is right. Those that were of old did not have the joining of the Spirit that we have now but, were indeed ‘carried along’ by the Spirit in what they wrote. Did they understand it all? Probably not, for God gives us insight into the hidden things of God that are only understood through the mind of Christ.

It is not possible to interpret Romans correctly unless it is clearly understood which law Paul is referencing. Rm. 2:13 is not referencing the Sinai code. Rm. 5:20 is not referencing the Sinai code. Rm. 3:20 is referencing the Sinai code, but 3:21 is not, however 3:21 is also a translation error. "apart from law" "from" is a the wrong preposition. The phrase 'apart from law' is actually 'apart of law' or 'a part of the law'. "But now a righteousness from God, apart of law, has been made known to which the Law [Sinai code] and the Prophets testify." It is true that no person will be declared righteous by God for observing the Sinai code, but the law was modified after Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, Heb. 7:12, and it is the change Paul is defending in Romans. "For it is not those who hear the law (the change) who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those obey the law (the change) who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13

theshovel's picture

Greetings Theodore A. Jones,

At one time, a presentation like this would have pulled me in with its persuasiveness and its illusion of Biblically-sound, intellectually-superior wisdom, and I would have felt compelled to address it with the same sense of seriousness in which it was received. Any more, all I hear are the manipulations of a myopic scientist who disregards the life of his “subject” as he dismembers it and examines samples of it under his microscope. The mystery of Christ is not some kind of secret code or complex doctrinal puzzle that must be figured out by those of intellectual means, rather it is God’s wisdom in Christ that has been made known to all who have freely received him by grace through faith.

Jim

awesome Jim - God has delivered us from ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL codes and precepts related to the world system. the only “code” we “follow” is the “law” of LIFE.

yes.

what a discussion!  smiley  and ADAM!  wow!  awesome and great stuff of LIFE attested to … the very LIFE of GOD WHO IS the very SOURCE of the New Creation!  i love, adore and appreciate so very much how that miraculous Life of Christ in us is so loved, adored, cherished, supported, testified to and about here at theshovel.net!!  :)   i so love how the good news - the 'gospel' is a PERSONbouncy  the Person of Jesus Christ!  the good news is about Him, and even better, it is about Him and us together, and … well … He Himself will always be our good news for now and ever more!   thank you so much mr. shovel-dude-man for all your time and labor of love in sharing and testifying of Christ Who Is our Life!   heart

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Random Shovelquote: Cannot make this life happen (view all shovelquotes)

I guess what I’m saying is that while it is a good thing to realize that you cannot make his life happen, you don’t have to be afraid of planning or scheduling or getting together …. because he is the one who works through all things. source