© Charles A. Clough 2002
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church
Lesson 200 – Eschatology (cont’d); Sanctification in the Church Age
16 May 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Just to go back to where we were on eschatology, the last area on the Church Age, there’s a diagram on the handout on page 107 that summarizes what we’ve been doing. What I’m trying to do in Figure 7 is this: if you read church history it’s very clear, and scholars have said this long before I came along, it’s very clear that there is a movement theologically from the time of Jesus to the present hour. By a movement theologically I mean that in the first part of the Church Age the Holy Spirit seemed to emphasize certain issues. Then along later on came other issues.
If you look on Figure 7, on the right side of all those little arrows, if you read from the bottom up, you’ll see the first one is returning to the Bible as the sole, final authority of all things. In the early area of the Church Age it’s not that they had everything smoothly defined, it’s just that those first couple of centuries, three or four centuries of church history, what that did for us is it brought into existence, obviously the Scriptures, but more importantly it brought into existence a recognition, pretty much, of what we call the Canon of Scripture. And the importance of that first step is that that locates authority.
There are only three areas that you can have authority in and all men gravitate to one of these three areas. There are no more than three areas because philosophers have long examined the question and there’s not any more; if there were more people would have already thought of them. The three possible authorities are, ultimately revealed Scripture, i.e., God has revealed verbally a content filled message so that there’s information from heaven given in human language that man can understand. And if that is from God, then that is the authority, period! If you reject that as the absolute authority, you’ve got to come up with something else, because every person has to, we all have to have some sort of authority in our lives that we’re using daily to evaluate, to make decisions with.
So if you don’t have God’s revelation as your authority, you’re going to have something else and what you’re going to have is one of two things. You’re going to go on the concept of reason, and by that I don’t mean just logic because the Bible is logical, what I mean by reason is in a sense of a rationalism, the idea that the human mind is capable of attaining truth independently of any external authority. The idea of rationalism, promoted largely in history by Plato and the early Greeks, that idea is that man has a self-sufficient intellect, so that he doesn’t need revelation from outside of his brain to arrive at truth, he can seek it for himself. Remember that diagram, the cartoon, the thinker, he’s bending over and you see books, and there’s a picture of the Greek thinker and he’s got his head like that and you remember the one where she extended his arm and had the arm up meaning I’m thinking, I don’t need any word from God. That’s a great picture of rationalism.
The third thing which has become more prominent in the last 200–300 years because of the (quote) “rise of modern science,” is sensory perception, i.e., experience. And that has a thousand different versions. Mysticism is one of those that deal with sensory perception, the mystic that has all these feelings and that out of his feelings comes (quote) “God’s Word.” That first step in church history is important, and it’s not accidental that if you read church history you realize that the first 200–300 years the men who pastored, the teachers who taught, were people who were reacting against their Greek background and said it’s the Word of God, we are preaching the Word of God. We say well gee, that’s obvious. Well it wasn’t obvious then, not if you were a pagan Greek it wouldn’t have been obvious. So that’s the first block of material occupying the first centuries of church history.
Figure 7. From church history we observe the pattern of spiritual growth under the direction of the Trinity.
Now if you go up on the right side of Figure 7 to the next level, you’ll see there it’s “Understanding more the Divine attributes, the Trinity and the Person of Christ.” And you can’t get more basic than this and it behooves us all the time to go back over these and I just draw this because these are just some of the attributes of God, but they’re necessary and if you get these down you can almost utilize in a pinch, if you forget Scripture and you forget some area, you can reason this through. I’ve done it many, many times where you just go through the attributes of God. God is sovereign; that means He controls all things. There’s not chaos out there, there’s not chaos and God, it’s just God. He is in control of all things. God is absolutely righteous. He is just - you can call that His holiness, i.e., He is the moral standard. It’s not what you think, it’s not what I think, it’s not what a Gallop poll says—ultimately, it’s God’s character that determines right and wrong.
Then there’s His love, God’s love, and if He doesn’t love, then all human love becomes transient. That’s why this attribute of love is important because that’s the anchor for human love. Human love without divine love, if God doesn’t have the attribute of love, is rootless, it is arbitrary and it is impotent. Then we have the fact that God is omniscient, i.e., He knows all things. There is the location for the reasoning process, i.e., there is true knowledge because God thinks it and it is His thought that is the archetype and forerunner of whatever we think. We think God’s thoughts after Him, but if He’s not there to think, then what we come up with are just chemical reactions in an evolving brain and that’s all it is, it’s not truth. There’s God’s omniscience.
Those are His more personal attributes. We can also get over to His omnipresence, i.e., He is everywhere. That is the basis for geometry and space; that is what we call geometric reasoning in space is really a creature version of omnipresence, that God is fully there and the creature has an analogue to that. Then we have God is omnipotent, and He is all powerful, He can do all things according to His will and that is the basis for energy in the universes. The archetype of all energy and all work is God’s omnipotence. Then we have God is immutable, He never changes. There’s the other root of logical. You see, a logic machine breaks down if the categories that you use at this stage of your reasoning are changing at the 14th step of your reasoning process. If you’re reasoning about a cat, category cat, and by the time you get down to the 14th step in your logical process of reasoning, now all of a sudden the category of cat gets wishy-washy and you can’t categorize it, you can’t think through it. That’s why ultimately evolution, being the idea of the dogma of a transmutation across boundaries, is ultimately an irrational belief because it destroys categories and anything that destroys categories destroys logic. So immutability means God is the same yesterday, today and forever and a billion years from now He’s going to be the same God.
That’s the basis for all stability. How do we know, when history is as chaotic as it is, and when nations rise, nations fall, accidents happen, disasters happen, loved ones get killed on the highway, die of horrible suffering, we have wars, we can have biological war and wipe out thousands of people, and all these horrible things. But there’s one thing that will always be the same and that is God and His character. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, period! Whereas we can’t locate our stability in human institutions, we can’t locate it in how strong we are because we might not be strong tomorrow, we can’t locate it in how brilliant we are because we may be deceived, or we may have another experience that refutes some of what we think from a human point of view, not from the Word of God.
So we have omnipresence, omnipotence, immutability, and of course God is eternal. He is not going to end, He never began. There are other attributes, but the idea is that if you’re not clear on who God is and that all these attributes are attributes of the Creator, and down here we have the finite creature who shares similarities with God, but they are only similarities. None of these attributes are possessed by people. And of course what part of the universe, what part of the creation scheme is made in the image of God? Man is made in the image of God. Therefore of dinosaurs, dogs, cats, bugs and men, of that assortment, which one shows more of the attributes of God? Man does, man is made in God’s image. And it’s precisely there where the cosmic battle hangs. The cosmic battle for the last four, five, six, seven thousand years has been centering not on dogs, cats and bugs. The cosmic battle has been centered on people and what people believe or what people disbelieve, whether people defy the living God or whether they bow their knees to the living God, that’s where the controversy stands because of the nature of man.
This is the basic thing in the early centuries of the church; the church had to get these attributes correct. In doing this, they realized that there is revelational information in the New Testament that shows that Jesus has two natures. He is God, for He says “I AM,” using the very words out of the Old Testament for God. So we have passages that speak of Jesus as God and then we have passages where He appears as a man. So He speaks as a man, He’s tired, He’s hungry, He sleeps, He’s a real genuine human being, but He’s also God. So the church, at the second point, had to deal with the person of Jesus Christ and it took 400 years for the church to come up with the following statement and the following classical statements is at Chalcedon. This is called Chalcedonian Christology and it’s a mark of orthodoxy. Chalcedonian Christology says that Jesus Christ is true humanity, He is undiminished deity, not diminished deity, He is true humanity, He’s not just a body in whom God dwells, He is true humanity, He had a real human soul, a real human spirit, a real human body. He is a true human. He has true humanity with undiminished deity, i.e., He has all of these attributes, united in one person without confusion, the Creator /creature distinction remaining forever the same, without confusion forever. That’s easy for us to say in one simple sentence, but if you partition that sentence and unpack it, with all the content that’s in that one sentence, you will understand why it took 400 years for believers to iron this thing out.
And then after that in church history came the next step, the third box on the right of the arrows and that is people, after dealing with the Bible as the authority, after defining the person of God, the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ, now the next issue, the Middle Ages up to the Protestant Reformation, were characterized by debate after debate after debate on what did Jesus do on the cross. Remember we had two basic views and they’re still with us, because liberalism that denies the Scripture still believes in Abelardian view of the atonement.
What was Abelard? Remember the two guys, first there was Anselm then there was Abelard. And what Anselm said is that on the cross, Jesus objectively and truly accomplished a complete, blood atonement. That was something that was done there whether a thousand people believed it, no people believed it, or a million people believe it, it doesn’t make any difference, Jesus Christ on the cross made a sufficient, blood atonement before God the Father. So there was something truly done on the Cross, whereas Abelard and these other people said it’s not what Jesus did on the cross, it’s the impact of that psychologically on people. People look at that and they say oh, what a martyr’s death and that so inspires me. So it was all psychological and subjective. But the problem and weakness with Abelardian soteriology is simply this: if He really didn’t do a blood atonement on the cross, then why should it have an impact? The impact that it has is precisely because something really happened there.
So the debate over the finished work of Christ, and you’ll notice in the box, “and appropriating it by faith” and that was the issue in the Protestant Reformation. How do the merits of Jesus atonement come to you and to me? Does it come to us because we impress God, we do a thousand good works, we come to church, we get baptized, we get confirmed, we go to Mass or we go to communion and we get a certain number of points that show that we are really interested, and if we are really interested then God will drip His grace down a little bit at a time. That’s basically the Roman Catholic position. The Protestant revolution that traumatized Europe was the audacity of people like Luther and Calvin to say hey, it’s a salvation package, folks, you don’t do nothin’ to merit the merit of Christ. All we can do is receive because “we got nothin’.” Merit wise before a holy God we have zero assets. Therefore any positive righteousness that we get has to come from Him, not from human works. And since it has to come from Him and it’s that work that establishes us, it’s a perfect work, we get it period in toto and if we don’t get it in toto, and if we’re not sure that we are recipients of that work we cannot start and take the first step in the Christian life because in the Christian life we have to operate by faith.
What is faith? Faith is the confidence that all that is true. Well if we’re not confident that we are born again, we’re not confident that we’re justified before Him, tell me how I’m supposed to live the Christian life. I’ve got to have that. Remember the debate, at the third level the debate was the Protestant Reformation was very, very dangerous, and it was very, very dangerous because it would lead, the Catholic critics said, that when you are saying and preaching a gospel in which the salvation package is complete, sola fide, sola Christo, only by faith, only by Christ, what you have done is you have allowed ordinary John Q. Public, who thinks he’s got this salvation package to walk around and do what he wants to. You’ve removed his fear and because you’ve removed his fear he can go out and raise hell and have all kinds of licentiousness, etc. and not be serious at all. So the only way you can get people to live godly lives, the argument went, was to withhold assurance of salvation from them so they’d be good boys and girls, always under fear that if they weren’t good boys and girls they’d go to hell.
The problem with that is that that’s not walking by faith, that’s walking by fear. That’s always the problem of a good works based religion. So the issue there was what did Christ do on the cross and how do we appropriate it. The last box going upward in Figure 7 is a summary of what has been happening in the last 200 years of church history and that is a clarification of how Jesus Christ will return to earth and set up His Kingdom. Those are the four areas that the Holy Spirit has emphasized down through church history. That’s what the Holy Spirit has done for the church.
What about what the Holy Spirit has done for individuals? With that we’re going to start a new section which starts on page 105, sanctification in the Church Age. Before I get there, because the last part that we were talking about, premillennialism, amillennialism and you remember we said that the premils, the people who believe in a literal Kingdom, that Jesus Christ is going to come before the Kingdom, that that belief was very, very instrumental, particularly as liberalism and modernism came to America after 1860. From 1860, 1870, 1880, when those years were happening after the Civil War there were a series of Bible conferences. They were held in New York and Massachusetts. They were interdenominational conferences, the Presbyterians and the Baptists and Episcopalians got together, and they were trying to iron out this business of the return of Christ. And through those conferences they came to respect a return to what the church had believed in the first 200–300 years, premillennialism based on a literal interpretation of Scripture.
No sooner did they do that but here come the modernists and the liberals. They’ve got their PhDs from Germany. Last week I was in L.A. talking to a professor of New Testament, and who had done his thesis, if you go to college and take a religion course sooner or later you are going to run into what they call the synoptic problem, and that is the basis of the first three Gospels. Who wrote what and the liberals have all this theory about a document called Q and this and that, and whether Mark started it and then Luke and Matthew copied it, and all the rest of it. It’s a big, big argument; it’s been going on for a hundred years. It’s interesting that he in his research found out evidence in Germany, where all these guys were getting their doctorates, that when the German universities started setting up courses to train people in how the Bible came to be that they were afraid that the conservative scholars in Germany who believed in a literal Bible, who believed in the integrity of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, that they didn’t want that influence because at that point in the scholarly world Roman Catholicism had pretty well held that line. We disagree with their soteriology but they certainly adhere to the authority of Scripture insofar as they allow it to happen in their scheme of things. But they used to, the older Catholic scholars, used to believe pretty much like fundamentalists as far as the authority and how the Scriptures came to be, etc.
The guys that headed up these universities didn’t want that, they wanted to stop that business, they didn’t want Catholic and conservative Protestant influences on the university campus, so they deliberately, deliberately, and my friend says he’s got the documentation, I’m going to ask him to provide it, the documentation that behind the scenes the German universities deliberately started and fake version of how the three Gospels came out just to fight the conservatives that they didn’t want on their university campuses. So guess where the rising brilliant young men who were training for the ministry went in 1880 and 1890 and the 19th century? They went to Berlin; they went to the German schools because the Germans had (quote) “the best schools.” These guys learned all this unbelief and all this concocted scheme of how the Bible came to be, and they come here to America, back to the pulpits. Worse, they don’t come back to the pulpit, they go into the seminaries so they can teach the guys and screw them up that are going to come into the pulpit. They can’t do it too much because, you know, George Patton used to say the most sensitive portion of the human anatomy is the wallet. These guys have to get paid, so you really can’t preach your unbelief too much in the Christian church because after all, you might raise eyebrows. So in a very sneaky way they always talked about God’s love, and they used all the Christian words, you’d go hear a sermon on Easter and they’d all talk about the resurrection, of course they didn’t mean resurrection in a physical sense, they meant spiritual resurrection. But they used that vocabulary to confuse people.
It was the lowly fundamentalists, dispensationalist, premillennialists who had an insistence on checking everything by the Word, they didn’t just sit there in the pew and take whatever drivel came out of it, they went back and they studied the Bible. Out of these Bible conferences, at the end of the 19th century, came a Bible called the Scofield Reference Bible. That was one of them, and little old ladies in the congregation would sit back in the 18th pew with their Scofield Bible and when this guy started spouting off his stuff they were sharp enough to smell a rat here. Something’s wrong! Anyway, we had a big fight, big argument, I’ve mentioned it many times, it’s an important chapter in American history that probably not one in ten Christians know about, what happened between the end of World War I and the depression. From 1917 to 1929 saw a war in this country that was spiritual. During those years every major denomination was taken over by liberalism. During those years every major seminary was taken away from the conservatives.
Just so that you get this, I’m going to have three exhibits just to show you what was going on. Here is a quotation, not mine, from the Christian Century, that’s a theological journal; it’s basically a mouthpiece of liberalism in this country. The date of this quote is January 3, 1924. Listen to this quote, this is a picture that you will never hear in your public education, you will not hear this in a university history course, but this is fact. This explains why we are where we are, why fundamentalists are in some store front church and not in the grand motif.
“Christianity according to fundamentalism is one religion. Christianity according modernism is another religion. Which is the true religion is the question that is to be settled in all probability by our generation for further generations.” 1924! “There was a clash here as profound and grim as between Christianity and Confucianism. Amiable words cannot hide the differences. ‘Blest be the tie that binds’ may be sung till doomsday but it cannot bind these worlds together. The God of the fundamentalists is one God; the God of the modernist is another. The Christ of the fundamentalists is one Christ; the Christ of modernism is another. The Bible of fundamentalism is one Bible; the Bible of modernism is another. The church, the Kingdom, salvation, the consummation of all things, these are one thing to fundamentalists and another thing to modernists. Which God is the Christian God? Which Christ is the Christian Christ? Which Bible is the Christian Bible? Which church, which Kingdom, which salvation, which consummation are the Christian Church, the Christian Kingdom, the Christian salvation, the Christian consummation? The future will tell.”
1924! Do you see what was going on? Do you get the idea from this quote, and I hope you did, that it was a total conflict over every area, and they knew it. People back then knew it; it was a total war. It wasn’t just a disagreement over half a page in Zechariah; this was a disagreement over the total nature of the Bible, and this was in the major theological journal of America. This was going on in every major denomination. Your grandparents lived through this. Go back to your grandparent’s bookshelves, or you go digging around some of the places, you’ll find some books on there and one of the books you’re going to see is a book, The Manhood of the Master was one of the best sellers in the 1920s. It was written by a guy called Harry Emerson Fosdick. Fosdick was one of the great liberal leaders and he was wonderful, he had good press, if he was on a talk show today he would make every fundamentalist look like the world’s biggest idiot, the world’s biggest bigot, he was a tremendous politician. He had personal charm and he had tremendous power and influence in this country.
One day in June of 1922, he was the guest minister at New York’s First Presbyterian Church. This was in the middle of this, this was 1922, remember the quote I read was 1924, get the dates. This is one of the most famous sermons in the 20th century, June, 1922. I will just read sections of it, just to give you the flavor how cool this guy is, how slick he is. “This morning we are to think of the fundamentalist controversy which threatens to divide the American churches, as though already they were not sufficiently split and [can’t understand word].” Later in the quote: “Already all of us must have heard about the people who call themselves the fundamentalists. Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches,” notice the difference in vocabulary, see liberals claim that they are evangelicals too, notice that.
The fundamentalists are going to “drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. I speak of them more freely because there are no two denominations more affected by them than the Baptists and the Presbyterians. We should not identify the fundamentalists with the conservatives. All fundamentalists are conservatives but not all conservatives are fundamentalists. The best conservatives can be often seen to give lessons to liberals in true liberality of spirit. But the fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant. The fundamentalists see and they see truly that in this last generation there have been strange new movements in Christian thought. A great mass of new information has come into man’s possession. New knowledge of the physical universe, its origins, forces” see the role of evolution historically, “and the ways in which ancient peoples used to think in matters of religion and methods by which they phrase and explain their spiritual experience, and new knowledge also about other religions in the seemly similar ways which men’s faith and religious practice has developed everywhere.”
It goes on, “It is interesting to note where the fundamentalists are driving in their stakes.” Watch this; this is where the fundamentalists are making an issue. Listen to this, “It is interesting to note where the fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except in terms of agreement.” Oh those nasty fundamentalists, they were actually making doctrine a matter of fellowship. Fancy something as bigoted as that, terrible isn’t it! “They insist that we must all believe,” now look at this, this is the horrible doctrines of those fundamentalists, “They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord.” Imagine having to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. “… that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration, that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to his stenographer.” By the way, that’s not true, fundamentalists have never said it was dictated, the Holy Spirit worked through normal personalities in normal ways.
“They say that we must believe in a special theory of the atonement,” listen to this, this is the horrible fundamentalist doctrine, “that the blood of our Lord was shed in a substitutionary death and placates an alienated deity.” Isn’t that a horrible doctrine? “And that we must believe in the Second Coming of the Lord.” You know, that’s so narrow to believe in the Second Coming of the Lord upon the clouds of heaven, etc. “These are the stakes that these people are trying to drive as doctrine into the church and divide us. If a man is a genuine liberal his primary protest is not against holding these opinions, though he may well protest against them being considered fundamentals. It’s a free country, anybody has a right to hold these opinions or anything else, if he’s sincerely convinced of them. The question is,” here’s the knot cutting, right here, “The question is, has anybody a right to deny the Christian name to those who differ with him on such points and to shut against them the doors of Christian fellowship?”
Do you know what was happening? If you don’t believe that you’re not a Christian. You’re not a Christian because you’re born in a Christian home. You’re not a Christian because you walk down an aisle. You’re not a Christian because somebody poured water over your head when you were two weeks old. That doesn’t make you a Christian. You’re a Christian if you believe these things that Jesus believed. What do we read in 1 John, “These are written that you might have fellowship with us, and our fellowship is with the Father.” What’s he talking about? What’s the content of the writings? The apostolic writings? You all know that, but I just wanted you to hear the flavor. 1922! 1924! Now I’m going to read one final quote, 1926, just so you remember between World War I and the depression, think of those two dates, 1917–1929, that’s when the mud hit the fan. And you can go back in your own family, go back to the people in your family in your line that lived during those years, if they’re still alive. But if you have any letters, writings from them, check them out, see what they were reading. It’d be curious which side of the fence they were sitting on in the 1920s.
Here’s Kirsopp Lake, Professor at Harvard University. This guy is a Bible scholar, a first-rate scholar. Listen to what he says about fundamentalism. This is a classic quote, this is my favorite quote. “It is a mistake often made by educated persons who happen to have but little knowledge of historical theology to suppose that fundamentalism is a new and strange form of thought. It is nothing of the king. Fundamentalism is the partial and uneducated survival of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians.” Here’s a professor at Harvard who himself is a liberal, but he has enough intellectual integrity to admit that what the fundamentalists believe was once held universally by all Christians. “The fundamentalists may be wrong, I think he is, but it is we who have departed from the tradition and not him, and I am sorry for anyone who tries to argue with the fundamentalists on the basis of authority. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the church is on the Fundamentalist side.”
Aren’t those something else? You wonder what’s going on in America. We lost the battle. By 1929 the battle’s gone, every major denomination decided that the Word of God wasn’t really the Word of God, period! That’s when you had the independent churches, and why do we have these independent chapels and Bible churches and storefront churches? Because people had to survive. That’s why. So that’s the background.
Now we want to get into the personal sanctification issue. Turn to 1 John; we’ll go to that section because 1 John is a book about fellowship. When 1 John starts, how does he start? He starts with the issue of authority, starts right out in the first three verses. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have beheld and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we” what? What’s the verb? “we proclaim to you,” now I submit to you that the verb “to proclaim” has what in mind if not content. When you proclaim something, what do you proclaim? A feeling? Or do you proclaim a thought, something that is a concept that people are supposed to trust in? So right here in verse 3 what he is arguing is you can’t even have fellowship with the Lord even after you’re saved if you don’t get with the Word of God. It’s the Word of God that gives you the content, “which we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Here’s Professor Kirsopp Lake saying that you’re right, the Bible is on the fundamentalist side, it is we who have departed from that faith. Yes sir, professor, you’re right on there. That was the big divide. So we’re back to the authority of the Word of God. You cannot have fellowship with God, we cannot have fellowship with Him apart from, as verse 3 says, we have fellowship with the apostles, and when you recite the Apostle’s Creed and you get to that phrase in the Apostle’s Creed which says “we believe in the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church,” if you’re a Bible-believing Christian you can really say that and mean it because what you mean by Holy, Catholic means universal, not Roman Catholic, I believe in the Holy Catholic Universal Apostolic Church, etc. That refers here to things like verse 3, apostolic, how do you have fellowship with Christ but through the apostles? Isn’t that true? Where else do we learn about Jesus? Through the apostles. You don’t learn about Him anywhere else. So it’s the conduit, the apostolic writings, the Canon of the New Testament that is the plug, the thing that clamps us into fellowship with God.
Beginning on page 105 we want to review the categories of sanctification. We’ve done that in previous years when we dealt with the Old Testament, we’re going to cover the same five categories and we’re going to start with phases of sanctification. This is a fundamental idea. There are going to be several ideas to handle this issue of sanctification. These are just tools to help you when you read the Word of God and to apply it. One of the things that you have to realize is that there are phases of sanctification. That means nothing more than past, present and future. So let’s do it that way, past, present and future. Except this isn’t exactly the past, present and future in your lifetime, this is the past, present and future in your destiny as a Christian.
On page 105, “Past Sanctification.” I said this year we were going to deal with dispensationalism, prophecy and eschatology, and I said these are important because they orient you to the Christian life. Sanctification is not separate from these issues, because in past sanctification the issue is “what is our position?” In other words, the position at the time of believing, when you became a Christian, at that point in time, what position did you enter, or were you entered, passive voice. Were you an Old Testament saint or are you a New Testament saint? That’s a different position. That determines the whole modus operandi; it determines what God’s will is for your life. You can’t promiscuously go into the Scriptures and pretend to be an Old Testament saint. The reason for it is, number one, there’s no temple for you to go. There are no animal sacrifices to be done with. So we kind of know intuitively that things have changed since those Old Testament times.
Where do you go for knowledge of our position now? You go to the New Testament. Since when? What did we say? We dealt with an event called Pentecost, after the cross of Christ, after His resurrection to heaven, He sends the Holy Spirit down to earth and we have Pentecost. At Pentecost what new thing happened? The church formed. We said the church is not a nation; Israel was a nation, the church isn’t a nation. Israel was ethnic, meaning they were physical Jews, had the genes of Abraham. The church is not ethnic, the church is multi-ethnic. The church is multi-cultural that way, in the good sense of the word. So the church is a different thing than Israel was. That’s not radical, that’s just what the Scripture is saying.
“The will of God for his or her political, economic, and social life was spelled out in the Sinaitic covenant.” Top of page 106. That was the will of God because of their position in Israel. That’s not the will of God for us because we’re not in Israel. We’re “in Christ.” “For a special subset of such Jewish believers who carried the seed of David either through Solomon or through Nathan it was subject to a special will of God regarding its relationship to the Messiah. These covenants revealed the Old Testament believer’s position in God’s plan, explained the meaning of their lives, and provide ‘operating assets’ available during their lives on earth.”
One of the operating assets that the Old Testament believer has that we don’t was an earthly priest. They had earthly priests they could go to … [blank spot] … but you see, what I want to get here is that the past, the trigger, the basis of sanctification is your position, and you’ve got to see where that position is in the grand scheme of things from Genesis to Revelation. That’s why dispensationalism looks to the uniqueness of the church.
Next paragraph, “With the coming of the church, however, each believer shares certain blessings of the New Covenant given through the Messiah especially for Gentile and Jewish believers.” We’ve already talked about the New Covenant and why it’s not fully implemented, etc. “Figures 5 and 6 show at least six items for each member of the Trinity constitute the ‘operating assets’ of the New Testament believer. Each of these items became true for the New Testament believer at the point of saving faith and applies to every believer regardless of stature in life, gender, nationality, or ethnicity.” Go back to page 84 in the notes, we want to review that. We said each member of the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has done things for us. This constitutes our position. So when we talk about sanctification or Christian growth we have to go back to our assets that we have. Here’s the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. This is just an abbreviation, this is not complete. The guy that started Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, has 36 things that he lists of positions and possessions of the church. This is just a quickie.
What does the Father do according to Figure 6? Remember, this is taken right out of Romans. This is not some weird doctrine or something, this is just a quote of Romans 8:29–30. God the Father foreknows, God predestines, God calls, God justifies and God glorifies. That’s all from Rom. 8:29–30. Then we added to that the fact that in the book of Hebrews God also disciplines like a Father does His children. That’s why He’s called Father. The first person of the Godhead is called “Father” because He’s like a father, He disciplines His children. So there’s the answer to the objection of the Protestant Reformation that if you have a grace package that is so gracious, is so liberating, that this will allow people to go out and live licentious lives, that idea is cut off and checked by the doctrine of discipline, because God is our Father from the instant that we believe in Jesus Christ. God is your Father, God is my Father. And when we get out of line He applies discipline. I frankly don’t care too much for His discipline; I don’t think you do either. He can get very rough with Christians according to 1 Corinthians 11 that every pastor reads in communion service. What can He do? He can kill us. If we get out of line God the Father will kill you or me, He can do that. Paul says “many sleep and many are sick.” Not all sickness is due to that. But God can strike us with bad health and God can just take us right out, check us out right now, that’s all, I’ve had it with you, boom. Keep that in mind. If you stay with the Bible everything is balanced, you don’t have to protect the Word of God, it protects itself.
Here are six things that God the Father does; those are things that every Christian has in common. Every one of us has been foreknown, every one of us has been predestined, every one of us has been called, every one of us has been justified, every one of us is being glorified, and will be glorified, and every one of us receives the discipline of the Father. Nobody can take these things away from you, no government can take it away, no person can take it away, no religious authority can take this away. This is the assets given to each person who believes in Jesus Christ.
Now we come to the Son and we list some of the things that Jesus Christ does. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life as a human, true humanity, undiminished deity. He lived a model life, He proved that the human race does not have to err. “To err is human,” NO it isn’t, to err is being a fallen human. But there was one human that did not err and that’s Jesus Christ. So Jesus Christ is the model, Jesus Christ, as Adam should have, Jesus Christ generated acceptable righteousness and merit to the Father. That’s where it comes from, His perfect life. Jesus Christ died and He rose again, and the death and resurrection permits a positional shift from being a victim of the world system to one, so to speak, who has their foot beyond the world, in the heavenlies in Christ. The death and resurrection of Christ—Christ is no longer under this world system, He is above the world system. Jesus Christ has eternal life and grants eternal life. The life that is fit for eternity comes forth from Him; eternal life is in the Son.
Jesus Christ makes intercession for you and for me, and the object of His intercession, also spelled out in the book of Romans, is that He applies His atonement to us to cover our sin when Satan accuses us before the Father. We’ve all had accusing thoughts in our heads, we’ve all known what guilt thoughts are and guilt patterns and guilt parties are. But worse than what goes on in our heads is what can go on in Heaven because when we get out of line Satan can say look at that, look what you’re tolerating down there; see that person, see that so-called Christian, look what they’re doing, and You’re judging me? What are you doing to do about them? Be impartial God. You’ve got to judge them just like You judge me. [If] you send me to hell, you should send them to hell. Now you got a little legal problem going on, so 1 John 2:1, what goes on? It says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,  and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” So one of the things that Christ’s intercession does for us is He applies the result of His atonement to us. That’s grace. We don’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, but it is God’s grace toward us.
Then Jesus Christ directs the church. He’s the head of the church, the Bible said. The head, the brain, directs the body. He directs the church. That diagram we just went through, the four areas of church history—who do you suppose engineered the lesson plan for the church? Who engineered how the church operated, for example, the entrance into Europe and why the Christian religion is really European centered? Why didn’t it go East, why didn’t it go into Asia first? Why did it go into Europe? We’ve talked about why it went into Europe, because of the Japhetic influence, etc.
So we have Jesus Christ directing the church and then we have Jesus Christ is the One who judges the church, the bema seat, 1 Corinthians 3, 2 Corinthians 5. The important thing about judging is that God the Father has committed judgment to God the Son. Why is it, what principle of justice is operating here so that God the Son is the guy that does the judging? Has anybody served on a jury? What’s the key in jury selection, when you have a trial in a courtroom and lawyers are trying to work a jury issue? Why do we have juries at all in trials? It’s so that we have a trial by peer, p-e-e-r, trial by peer. And it’s looked upon on the human level as a means of promoting justice because if you were tried by somebody that’s ten strata above you economically, they’re not going to sympathize with you. If you’ve been unemployed and you went out and stole some bread, here’s a guy that drives a Mercedes, he can’t figure out why you stole bread. Because you were hungry, that’s why. So you have to be tried by somebody who’s of equal economic background, culture, etc. so they can understand what you went through when this happened. That’s called trial by peers.
God, interestingly enough, judges the same way, that of the three persons of the Trinity one of them has been picked out to do the judging, and that’s God the Son. Why is that? Because God the Son as tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. So when we sit there and blow smoke about well, it was my adrenal glands, or it was my low blood sugar, or as one murder suspect, a famous murder trial in California, I ate Twinkies at 10:00 o’clock so that lowered my blood sugar and I went out and robbed a bank and killed somebody at noon, it’s called the Twinkies defense. That doesn’t work with Jesus because Jesus was there. Oh, you were tired were you, what do you think I was. Every excuse we can come up with He’s got an answer for. Why? Because He’s a peer. On the other hand, He also can empathize because He was tired, He did go through these things. So God the Father has committed the evaluation of our lives over to God the Son.
Then we have in the diagram six things the Holy Spirit does for us. Remember RIBS, Regeneration, Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing, giving a spiritual gift and intercession. But the Holy Spirit’s intercession is different from God the Son’s intercession. The Holy Spirit’s intercession is actually to God the Son, Romans 8 again, and this intercession is different from that intercession because the Holy Spirit’s intercession for us deals with issues in our life that need changing. The Holy Spirit works with our infirmities; the Holy Spirit knows our weaknesses, He knows where we’re being tempted, He knows where we need strengthening. He has a secure line, so Satan can’t overhear the conversation, to Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Jesus Christ’s intercession is to cover us at all times with perfect righteousness. That’s what this intercession is about. But is intercession is about the on scene teaching that’s going on day by day in our lives.
Going back to the first step in sanctification phases, the past is our position. You have to know the New Testament to know our unique position. These things that we’ve just outlined were not necessarily true of all the Old Testament saints. Some of them were, some of them weren’t. So this is a depiction of 18 assets that every Christian has. Again, no one can take it from you, you didn’t merit it, I didn’t merit it, they are given to us in grace by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Next week we’ll take up how do we utilize those assets in the present, but before we worry about the present we have to go back and see what our position is.
Question asked, something about it started in Germany, how does it get that corrupt, what did they gain from it: Clough replies: I think what they gained from it, first of all I don’t think they were believers that started it, they were just leading German scholars and the issue, I think, they felt is the issue that goes back to Pontius Pilate and Caesar. We Christians, for someone who is not a Christian, we represent something that though we may be nice people, we may not be nice people, but we may be socially at peace, but all the time, even when we’re socially at peace, we stand for a principle that is threatening to a non-Christian. The idea, first of all that all men are created instead of evolved, immediately sets up an agenda that we’re responsible. Of course intuitively we know from Rom. 1 that every member, whether atheist, agnostic or Christian, knows in their heart of hearts that this is true anyway, it’s just that they suppress it. So the issue here is that the festering defiance of God always lurks beneath the veneer. And at certain periods and places in history it breaks through the veneer and shows all of its ugliness. But other times it hides, it lurks underneath, it doesn’t show itself.
I deliberately mentioned Germany because it’s traceable to Germany. This is something objective. I’m not just name-calling Germans; Luther was a good German. There are godly Germans. I was just listening to a tape going to work of the girl that was one of the two girls that were captured in the Taliban in Afghanistan and this was an address that after she got back to the country she was telling about her adventures in Afghanistan, and one of her joys was, this is just an incidental, I thought it was kind of neat, about the President. She said when she sat next to President Bush with her dad and stuff after she got back, he leaned over to her and he said, you know, don’t we have a gracious God. She said I was just so touched that the President of the United States would in sincerity, not just mouth the words, but just lean over and say we have a great and merciful God. I was just encouraged.
But anyway, to talk about Germans, one of the girls in prison with here, forty women with one toilet in the jail, that was interesting, they had a German lady that was there, one of the girls was a German, and somehow she got word out to her mom or her mom talked to her, I forgot which it was an there were Christians all over Germany praying for that girl. And from Germany it spread into Holland and France. So the Christians kind of have their built-in network, so this is not to demean those kinds of Germans. It’s just that Germany was the center of the Reformation. I almost think it’s because Satan resented the Reformation, that he had to just get back at it, because look at the hell hole that happened in Germany in the 20th century. Now wasn’t it interesting that in the 19th century one of the great apostles that led to Hitler’s belief system was none other than Fredrick Nietzsche, the rise of his essay, The Super Man. Nietzsche had a concept of the super man and the Nazi’s came by and fulfilled it. So here you have this, almost like cause/effect, that rationalism and unbelief rise up and within 100 years you have this paroxysm of violence in Europe all coming out of Germany. It’s almost like there’s just a demonic influence on the culture at that point and I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just that these things happen.
Question asked: Clough replies: You’re right about German culture in that if you think about, for example, Wagnerian music, it’s wonderful music, it’s majestic music, but you listen to some of his things and think about the Ride of the Valkyries, etc. it’s very pagan and that’s why you understand why the Nazi’s lover Wagner. Yeah, Germans are very good and where they want to be demonic they’re very good at it. But when they’re godly they can also be very good at that, George Mueller for one. We have people like that, we have, of course, Luther himself, and it wasn’t just Luther, it was a bunch of other Germans with him. So it’s a checkered situation but I think, for me this kind of makes history interesting because God doesn’t write in the sky what He’s doing in these different countries and these different movements. But I think it’s fascinating to think as a Christian, when you’re looking at current events and the passage that always comes to mind in political issues is that passage in Daniel where Daniel is praying and God sends the answer via an angel. And it takes the angel two weeks, two weeks to crash through the demonic powers over Persia. What the heck is that all about? We don’t know what that’s about. All we know is that at that instant in history, which is about the 5th century BC, but what was going on. In fact, the demon, one of the evil powers is called the King of Persia.
It’s almost like when we see a world map with the different countries on the map it’s almost like a human manifestation of a demonic sectioning off of the world system. Countries have their mascots that are … you know, the eagle goes back to Rome, the Roman Eagle. So all countries have this kind of structure and when you think. … As I was listening to this testimony this morning by Dayna Curry of her adventures in Afghanistan, she was saying how humbling it was after she was released to hear of the millions of people across this world that were praying for her, people in Germany, people all over Europe, people in America, people of many denominations, now you can’t tell me that if that amount of prayer was going up by millions of Christians that that isn’t correlated with the fact that the Taliban collapsed in eight weeks. As my son, who is now in air command, learned from a lecture, at no point in those eight weeks did America ever have more than seventy men on the ground, and a nation collapsed. Of course the seventy men had big sticks from the sky, but the point still is that there were only seventy men on the ground during that Afghan campaign. Seventy, and that nation rolled right apart, came right apart. That’s amazing, what happened in eight weeks is absolutely amazing when you think about what we were worried about when we first started this thing. Oh man, are we going to have another Vietnam, are we going to have soldiers mired there for months and years, and the whole thing fell apart.
I can’t help but think that was God in answer to the fact that He wanted to crack open that culture for Christianity. I think there’s a higher rule, I don’t think it’s just Al-Qaida and all the other stuff, I think there’s another thing going on there and apparently in God’s working it’s time that He said those Afghan people are going to hear the gospel and I’m going to open it up for them. Whether the church follows up with that is another story, but at least the door is cracked open and God does that. What did MacArthur do after World War II? He sent for missionaries, He said that the Japanese culture has been devastated, the whole institution of the hierarchy of the deity of the Emperor, the invincibility of the Japanese mainland to conquest and to have that all boom, just destroyed. There was a generation right after World War II, 1945, that was open to missionary work and the church kind of muffed that one. We did not send missionaries in right after World War II in Japan too well, and the Japanese culture has been very hard to deal with.
But I think that’s a legitimate biblical Christian view of history. It’s just that we can only speculate because we can’t know exactly what God’s doing. But we do know that as long as the church exists, until the rapture, the command to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature is a valid command. And He’s not going to have doors, doors may be stopped temporarily but they’re not going to be stopped permanently. In the Islamic world, the Islamic world has been shaken by these events. They have seen the United States just roll them back; they have been shocked at people coming out of their own religion doing these things.
And now Israel is a big thing, here’s this Jewish colony, sitting there in the heartland of Islam, and they can’t get rid of it. Every time they try to get rid of it they get kicked again and that gives them grief. So God’s doing something and missionaries are finding ways of dealing with it through radio. We can’t preach to the Muslims quite like we could to other kinds of people but there are Christians that are innovative. I think of Campus Crusade, a marvelous thing, they’ve got videos, not the Jesus tapes so much, that’s how Dayna Curry got arrested, for showing The Jesus tape, but Crusade has some Old Testament tapes, kind of like a Jesus story of the Old Testament, and they learn something. The Muslims in North Africa go across the ferry to Europe and they like to go up there for the summer, etc. and then they come back on the ferry. They wait in lines, hundreds of cars waiting in lines to get on the ferry boat. So the Campus Crusade people go from car to car, selling, not giving out, selling videos, this is a video, we’re just selling this, you might be interested in it, you’re Muslim, we talk about the Old Testament. Oh, okay, so these people are buying hundreds and hundreds of these video cassettes, taking them to North Africa right into the heart of Islam. I think that’s a slick operation. Radio is doing the same thing. So there are exciting things going on, it’s just that there are some evil things going on all the time and we’re kind of stupid and naïve if we think that history is just this plastic thing that purely is human. There are other powers involved and church history is one of them.
Question asked, something about Christ dying for the sins of the whole world or just the elect and the unpardonable sin against the Holy Spirit: Clough replies: If you remember when we did the life of Christ we got on the death of Christ, there was a section in the notes about limited versus unlimited atonement and the problem and why you get into these debates is because the question, when you start the discussion you have to pay attention to the question you’re asking. This is one of those things; the answer to the question depends completely on the design of the question. The reason that classic Reformed thought has a problem by saying that Christ died for everyone is that clearly unbelievers don’t receive the results of the atonement. What they’re trying to do, they are trying to do something here; they’re trying to protect the atonement from being a failed effort. They rightly argue that if God elects to do something in history, nothing will stop Him from doing that. So that’s where they’re coming from.
Something else said: Clough says: The unlimited atonement has been abused by liberals. In fact, one of the great liberal theologians of the 20th century is the neo-orthodox guy, Karl Barth, and Barth holds to universal salvation and the gospel is just telling people you’re already saved. This is what’s happening. So naturally when people out of a strong Reformed tradition see guy like Barth and what they’re doing with unlimited atonement, whoa, hold the phone baby. So that’s why there’s that reluctance. However, the problem with the Reform position is that you’ve got Scriptures like we covered tonight, 1 John 2:2, and the problem is you’ve got to deal exegetically with the text and I don’t believe that they’ve done a good job exegetically. It’s always, in that particular text 1 John 2:2 they’ve got to redefine “world,” the word “world” in 1 John 2:2 for the limited atonement people is redefined as the world of the elect, it’s not the universal world. So you have to watch it. I went through these things on the limited and unlimited atonement, and when I did that I walked you through that.
You’re basically onto it, that people wind up in hell not because there’s not a sufficient atonement for them, it’s because they have rejected the grace of God in some for. It could be rejecting the grace of God in a gospel presentation, but there are millions and millions of people in history that have never had a gospel presentation so you say how could they reject the gospel? It’s because they rejected what they knew of God already which Romans 1 says is universal knowledge. You say, well, then, we’ve had extra privileges. Yes we have, and that’s the other place that you have to be careful because in Matthew 11 when Jesus was upbraiding the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida what did He say? He said Chorazin and Bethsaida, if the works that I did in you had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah they would have repented. What do we make of that little verse? The only way you can read that verse is that God can withhold revelation, a certain intensity of revelation, and it’s like a bright light with a rheostat on it, He can turn it up or He can turn it down.
Someone says something: Clough says: Well that particular passage in Matthew 12 you also have to be careful about generalizing that particular language because that particular language was the rejection, remember the Synoptic Gospels are explaining why it is … see, the problem the early Christians had was that if Jesus was the Messiah, then what went wrong? All the Gospels are designed with that in mind. If you outline, if you sit down and inductively outline every one of the three Gospels you come out with exactly the same outline. You find a crescendo of ministry and then you find that place, and Matthew 12, right where you’re talking about, is the apex. At that point the whole culture turns against Jesus. They absolutely refuse to go along with the Messiah. And after that, in all three Gospels, that’s when Jesus starts talking in parables. Matthew 13 follows Matthew 12 and he says, “those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” He changes the whole course of His ministry right there because He recognizes that from that point on, it’s going to be two advents. Up until that point (quote unquote) “the theoretical” possibility existed that they would have accepted Him, and that would have been the Kingdom, but after that, no, it’s all over.