Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 5: Conquest and Settlement: The Disruptive Truth of Israel’s Holy War
Lesson 60 – Sanctification (Continued), Law and Grace
15 May 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We want to go into some of the areas of sanctification, but before we do, I want to go back to what we see again and again. Visualize a situation in life, anything. Just to heighten contrast and how we can solve that problem, we want to visualize how a person who operates in the energy of the flesh as an unbeliever visualizes that problem. Then we want to take the same problem and apply the truths we’ve learned from the creation and fall, which are the basic ones underlying a lot of the stuff we’re learn tonight. If a person were to try to resolve this problem, obviously somewhere embedded in that problem is the issue of evil, there’s frustration, there’s some impediment to this person’s will, etc. So here a person is enveloped in this problem. Let’s visualize the tools that that person has available to work the problem. As a human being we know that a person has choice, remember the attributes of man, he has choice, he has a conscience, he has the capacity to love, he has a sense of time, limited time, he has a certain amount of strength, knowledge, he has some physical strength, he’s limited in his location at any one time so he has his own location to deal with, all the attributes of a person made in God’s image. And we add to those the detriment to each one that becomes because we are fallen. So now we have all the attributes of man marred and limited and distorted by the fact that we are fallen.
Faced with that problem, without relying on Scripture, we are looking at the person playing a fleshy game, so our analysis of the person isn’t going to be their analysis of the person. We’re getting back to presuppositions, etc. we’re looking at them but we’re not looking at the situation through their eyes, we’re looking at what they’re doing in the situation through their own eyes. They are looking it by way of his tools, and we’re just describing, we’re external observers to this process. This is the problem and embedded in that is evil, the effect of the fall in the person. So now we have all this together, and the person is saying how can they reach out into the world and resolve the conditions out here that lead to that problem, because obviously there are external forces that bring things into our lives. What control over those forces does a person have in and of themselves? They have some limited influences, they have some shields. What are some things that people normally do to shield themselves, just tools that be and unbeliever have.
The unbeliever or the Christian operating like an unbeliever has to cope with life with whatever he’s got. What are some stratagems for dealing with that? [someone answers] One tool is to deny the problem is there, block off the problem, that lasts for about five minutes. [someone answers] Some form of escapism, there’s various versions of this, there is physical, there is mental escapism, what other versions of escapism are there? Drugs. Drugs can be classed along with alcohol and a few other things as ways of, basically anesthetizing because your body under the influence of these things, the nervous system just simply degrades so it becomes an anesthesia. That’s another way.
So far all these mentioned are escapisms, are ways of dealing with a problem perhaps emphasizing passivity. What about an aggressive person, a person who is going to go out and kick the problem in the teeth, what tools do they have? They have a set of legalistic works, and that can be acquisition of wealth or whatever it is to use that as a shield, acquisition of power, social power, political power, business power, etc. I think you basically get the passive and aggressive approaches. These passive and aggressive approaches mirror what we’ve talked about. One tends to be toward the licentious approach and one tends toward the legalistic approach. They basically are the same way that paganism always deals, paganism always rocks eternally between these two modes. You’ll see it in your own life because we’re fallen and God is redeeming us and God is working in our lives, but if you look at yourself you’ll see these tendencies. If you look at other people, at movements, at whole groups of people and you’ll see that tendency.
One of the greatest tendencies of legalism that existed for a time probably was the Roman Empire. The Romans had a tremendous emphasis on law and order, they built aqueducts, they built roads all over Europe that are still there, tremendous order against chaos. They despised peoples who were chaotic and disorganized. Romans loved organization. Communism was an example of this approach on a large scale; build us a kingdom, like Nimrod, because then we can contain this chaos problem. The fear always is chaos. The problem is after while people get tired of this approach. What happens after a while to a legalist, to a person who approaches these problems in an aggressive way trying to solve them? Does he ever solve them? Finally you get worn out trying to solve them, so you need some relief from that, so you go over here. So it’s an eternal oscillation, back and forth, back and forth, and at any given point you’re going one direction or the other.
The difference between that approach and the way… we want to work our way toward the Abrahamic Covenant is where we’re going with this thing, but we’ve got to start with the God of the covenant. Starting with the biblical approach, a person is in the same situation, same form of evil, same problem. In this same situation, what tools does a person have who goes to the Lord? Again, looking at God’s character, we’ll draw an upside down open box. Let’s introduce the attributes one by one and see what difference it makes. If God isn’t there, and the Christian faith is a bunch of bologna, there is nothing outside of you, me, and the entire human race, that corresponds to anything like sovereignty. What you ultimately have out there, in the universe, is a mystery of some sort, perhaps with something called Fate, with a capital F. Whatever this mysterious Fate is, it isn’t a person because if you’re trying to say that Fate is a personal will then you’re back to a personal God and we can’t have that, it would interfere with our lifestyle.
From the Christian point of view we’re going to have God as sovereign, now we know that even though we know that there are these forces that come, out beyond those forces is a screen that filters these things. Can anyone give an example from Scripture of a famous incident, a well-known passage, there’s many but I’m thinking about one where Satan himself is chomping at the bit to be a force against someone and he finds his attack has to be filtered by the sovereignty of God. Job chapters 1 and 2 is a classic instance in Scripture that shows the screening process going on. Job, at the time didn’t know that, because in Job 1 and 2 there’s no evidence that Job himself knew what had happened while he was going through the trials. That is put on by the author of the book, the Holy Spirit to explain what was going on in Job’s life. Job might have thought that, but Job wasn’t intimate to those conversations that the Holy Spirit recorded in Job 1 and 2, those are conversations that went on in heaven and they’re beyond the means of us, we don’t have any receivers that will tune in to those conversations. The only reasons we have those conversations recorded in the book is because the Holy Spirit wrote the book. But we have that sovereign character of God, and we know therefore that these forces are now under His control. That cuts the problem down a little bit, now it’s not a mystery.
Let’s go to some other attribute because we want to deal with this mystery problem. Over here man has his limited knowledge, over here God is omniscient. Put those two together and how are we going to deal with the problem? When we face these problems we don’t know why they’re here, necessarily, we don’t know all the details of why these things happen in our lives, even as Christians, even reading the Bible we don’t know all the reasons why. So what’s the difference between the guy working out of the blue and the person who knows and is convinced in his heart, not just because he heard it in church but because he’s convinced in his heart that there’s a personal sovereign will behind the universe and all things in it, and that the person behind it is in absolutely total control of all things and all knowledge. How does that help a person like us, we’re limited, we have limited knowledge, so He may know things that He’s either not willing to share with us, or maybe He can’t share with us. So you can say then what’s the difference to us.
What difference does it make with just these two attributes, looking at these two attributes in this situation? What difference does it make to the person who knows these things and yet still, in spite of this, doesn’t know why this particular thing happened at this particular time to him in this particular situation? We can have peace because we trust the character of our God. We don’t have peace because He’s sharing all of His thoughts with us. Do you see the difference? We’re not saying that God shares all of His thoughts with us, we’re saying that He shares enough of His thoughts that He considers it sufficient, and we take it from there based on faith in His character.
That introduces another attribute; we have a God who is loving. Now with those three attributes we know a lot about the situation. What are we doing? We’re containing the problem; this is damage control, that’s what’s going on here. This is where Satan loves to get us off balance and get us out in the toolies some place, forgetting everything we ever learned and reacting to life just like an unbeliever. What God wants us to do is to look to Him. But we have to have content, you just can’t say ooh, I feel spiritual. That isn’t going to cut the mustard, not when you’re really in a state of shock over something that happens in life, how you feel isn’t going to do anything. And if you’re the kind of person that goes on the basis of your feelings, then you’re going to be doubly depressed, because now you don’t the feeling, so because you think that feeling is some sort of a parameter, a measurer, a barometer of spirituality, what do you do when you don’t feel well. So you can’t base it on feelings, feelings are nice but they’re accompaniments, not causes.
We have God is sovereign, God is love, God is omniscient. Let’s think of some more attributes that are the archetype behind these. Here we have strength. Most problems seem so big to us because compared to our strength they overwhelm us, so here we add another one, God is omnipotent, therefore He never gets tired. Think of your own phrasing these attributes. God is love, what does that mean, and see if you can develop that as a sentence and say it to yourself. As the Lord works in your life you’ll change, because maybe in the last three or four months He’s shown this, so to you the attribute of love means that, and maybe three years from now the attribute of love will have a different kind of flavor to it. But see if you can phrase to yourself these attributes and what they mean. I try to state them in non-religious ways because if you get too religious about it everybody tunes out. That’s why when I deal with the attribute of omniscience I try to say something like God never gets tired, because you don’t read about that in theology books.
Now we come to conscience, because in this situation he faces evil. We have a God who is holy, and this introduces a tension, because the frustration with evil is that no matter what our awareness of God is in a situation, even if we forget He exists, somehow He’s always there to blame for the evil. Did you ever notice that? He’s always the blame for the evil, not a peep of thanks for weeks, but let there be one thing that’s wrong and it’s His fault. So let’s deal with that, because that’s embedded in every problem, the problem of evil. God is holy, so how are we going to balance that? What do we do to bring those things under control in some sort of scheme that makes them fit together more comfortably? What do we reason? First of all, the problem is evil and our environment is evil, what else is evil that we haven’t mentioned? We are. Who’s fallen? We are.
Before we get on a high horse fussing about all the evil, we start with ourselves. We are members of the human race and the human race is fallen, so evil world, evil people, and evil powers. That puts the perspective in a bigger light, so it keeps us from getting fatheaded about how we think of ourselves, poor us, and we realize that this is all tied together and we realize that because God is holy at the point of creation there was no evil, so the evil is an add-on. That’s helpful, because if you’re not a Christian you don’t believe that. If you’re not a Christian and you don’t operate according to Scriptures, you can’t say that, you have to say finally that evil is part and parcel of what’s out there, along with the electrons and protons. You never can get away from evil on a non-biblical basis; there isn’t any way to do it other than commit suicide, both the body and soul, like Oriental religions and New Age thinking does.
These are just some tools and what I want to do now is turn in the notes to pages 87 and 89; I want to review these two circles that I keep talking about. Let’s go back to the Abrahamic Covenant. When we dealt with the Abrahamic Covenant, what new things were happening in history when the Abrahamic Covenant was written? What had preceded the Abrahamic Covenant? The flood. What had happened between the time of Noah and the centuries that went along until Abraham, 400-500 years? During this period of time what was happening. We spent a lot of time going through, showed maps of Antarctica, we showed the decline of longevity, and we said that basically the world civilization was built. Noah and his sons built what we call civilization, the math, the architecture, the technologies, rudimentary forms of it were all there. Who can look at the pyramids and not say geometry was required. All of the rudiments of our technology in our civilization were structured in this time period.
What was happening spiritually in the world at large? How do we explain the fact that if Noah and all of his sons and his daughters-in-law knew God and they knew all of Genesis 1-9 and you go out to the hottentot tribe some place and they don’t know anything, what has happened. That’s the end result of a process that began with Noah. What was that process? A deterioration and a collapse in the memory of originally the Word of God that all peoples knew. Everyone knew; there’s no such thing as somebody who never heard. All peoples have heard. What has happened is they have progressively sunk down into mythology, etc. Why is that? Why is it that you can take tribes of men and let them exist for 500 years and they forget everything? What’s wrong with them? They’re fallen. So what we see in the deterioration of world culture is a result of the fallen-ness coming out. The technology doesn’t fall quite so fast. What falls first is the spiritual side of civilization, after that it deteriorates in a physical way.
At the Abrahamic Covenant God does something, what’s the new thing He does here? He calls one man out from the middle of the center of the most powerfully developed civilization of the time. He calls him, come on, get out of there, then He says I will give you a land, a seed, and a blessing. At this point God surprises History because He introduces something that was not predicted. He surprises all of history by pulling out and starting from that point forward a deliberate counterculture. From that point on there’s tension of an official sort, there’s an identifiable group of people now, separate from all the other cultures, that carries the Word of God.
Now there’s friction, and a friction that will last for centuries, battles will be fought, people will die by the thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands over the issue raised by Abraham. His existence dooms the world, in one sense; it blesses the world, it curses the world. How does the existence of Abraham bless the world? Because through Abraham what happens. This is how the world will be saved from its deterioration, all the tribes are deteriorating. Who is it that’s going to be the saving channel through which God speaks? Abraham. So that’s the blessing. The cursing is that God basically has rejected the spiritual worth, value, of all cultures and this raises what we called exclusivism. Our faith is an exclusivist faith and this is the most offensive thing that you stand for, that will irritate to no end unbeliever in your family, your neighborhood, your work place, etc. It is terribly offensive, we are terribly offensive by virtue of our identity with an exclusivist faith that arrogantly proclaims it and only it is the way, the truth and the life. That’s the way it sounds to them, arrogant, but it’s arrogant only because it says something about them.
When God calls Abraham out, what has He said about everybody else that He didn’t call out? They’re rejected. So you have the interference of God into history in an official way, now it’s not just working in a person’s life, now it’s an official disruption of civilization. Out of this come these grand promises of God and they’re, all of them, the land, seed and blessing, are irritating. The land is irritating because it says who is the final owner and determiner of real estate? God is, and God will determine the boundaries of people. And furthermore, God will eliminate every unbeliever from the planet. That’s what is so irritating about this land promise, it is a declaration of holy war, either you bow, all of us, either we bow our knee to Jesus Christ or we’re going to get kicked off the property. It’s very simple. That’s terribly offensive, obviously. We have the fact that only through Abraham will we have the seed finally culminating in The seed, the Savior, not going to come through any other person except the line through Abraham. Then we have the worldwide blessing. But all of this depicts God in His sovereignty.
Let’s go back to God and put Him by that circle. We have God who is sovereign and that means that in His sovereignty He can shape history any way He pleases, and not only has He shaped history, but He has revealed the beginnings of the outline of how He’s moving. Down through the centuries He is moving human history in a certain direction. There’s His sovereignty. God is omniscient and therefore He has a perfect plan that has all the details, and He takes pieces of this plan and He reveals them in the Abrahamic Covenant. Why does He reveal pieces of His plan in the Abrahamic Covenant? What is the purpose of a covenant or contract? You form a covenant or contract when you want to measure behavior. You establish written terms of expectations embedded in the contract, you let life unroll and they you see whether or not the behavior fits the terms of the contract.
In the Abrahamic Covenant God is doing the promising, therefore the Abrahamic Covenant is a measure of God’s behavior. God is bound to certain things, God in His love has said I am going to start something new inside a sinful world, and when you have love confronting evil, and you also have the attribute of holiness, these two together when they confront evil come out with grace, because God didn’t have to do it. So grace is the outworking. We have a sovereign gracious work of God in this Abrahamic Covenant, and He is saying I am going to do certain things and I’m going to announce beforehand I’ve done them so you can track history and see where My footprints are. That becomes a source of our trust in God and that’s why we have to have an inerrant Scripture. If we don’t have an inerrant Scripture we have no yardstick to measure His footprints.
Now we come to the Sinaitic Covenant, or that bottom circle of life. In that area, visualize a light shining down in darkness, and the Sinaitic Covenant, or the Covenant of Moses, this covenant is filled with dos and don’ts. It’s very cerebral, it’s very content filled. There’s no doubt about what God wants. There’s mystery in the , because He hasn’t really told us everything He’s doing, but the Mosaic covenant is quite clear cut, yes, no, do this, don’t do that. That’s the imperatives, and this is where we have law. Up here is where we have grace.
We want to go to page 90-91, the means of sanctification. We want to deal with these two terms, law and grace, because we have tendencies, we have tendencies to go between legalism and licentiousness. If we go to legalism we distort grace and law one way; if we go to licentiousness we distort law and grace another way, and both of these are distorting law and grace. So obviously what we want to do is to come back to this and say how can we operate so we are clear on this point. We come back to the law. Let’s look first at law; it’s the easier of the two. The picture you can have in your mind is the dos and don’ts of the Mosaic Law, easy picture, Ten Commandments, written in stone. We have a law; is there any question about what the law says? No question about what the law says, it’s quite clear. What happens when we distort the law? How is the law distorted? What do we say when the law is done away with, when the law is minimized. The Greek word for law is nomos, and anti is against, and that’s where we get the word antinomian, against the law. What is antinomianism? It’s licentiousness. What antinomianism tries to do is destroy the law with grace; it tries to say that the law goes away because of grace.
Let’s think about that, forget about the words and go back to these two law codes. We’ll keep it in the Old Testament; we’ll get into the New Testament another time. Does the Mosaic Law, does the Old Testament dos and don’ts addressed to the nation of Israel, go away because God made a promise to Abraham? Which came first? The promise to Abraham? Which is the foundation of that? Grace is the foundation of the law, isn’t it? When God spoke on Mt. Sinai and He revealed the law code, what were the first words out of His mouth? “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt,” then he says now I want you to do this, this, this and not that, that, that. The deal is that grace is the underlying foundation of the law. The law does not stand against grace; the law is supported by grace. If you think of these two covenants it clicks with you, because the Abrahamic Covenant controls this, this [Mosaic Law] is administered as a means to the goal that this promises. The law is a training device, it’s a pedagogical revelation of what God’s will is, it’s to give us a challenge to believe or disbelieve.
On page 91, middle paragraph, I try to summarize this thought. “Elimination of all law in this general sense is antinomianism pure and simple. Antinomianism supports licentiousness in all its forms. It can manifest itself,” there are various versions of this so I’m trying to show you that this tendency is very widespread and it crops up in very unusual areas so watch it. “It can manifest itself in a false mysticism and religious emotionalism where ‘something more’ than God’s own inerrant Word is insisted upon.” Does that sound familiar? Of course it does. That’s not to say, obviously, it’s a relationship with the Lord that counts and He’s the God of Scripture, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the idea that when God spoke to Israel and He outlined these dos and don’ts which were His … He’s defining a relationship, remember I said Father-son relationship, He’s defining a relationship and He’s outlining what He wants.
Now if some Israelite is sitting down there and says well, that’s not real relationship with God, I have to go beyond that. What’s he saying, what do you mean go beyond that, how do you go beyond that when you go to God on a mountain and that’s what He tells you He wants you to do? How do you go beyond that? That’s what I’m talking about, it’s not wrong to have emotions and feelings, but they’ve got to be ruled by revelation. That’s the point. They have to be in subjection to the revealed will of God. That’s all we’re saying, we’re not saying this particular emotion is wrong or that particular emotion, we’re just saying a general principle, that you’ll tend to find antinomianism in religious areas in this area. But religious areas are not the only place.
“Elimination of law creates a false interpretation of grace …” One error always begets another one. If you eliminate law, and talk endlessly about grace, what content does have? Grace becomes an “… eternal laxity in the holiness of God.” That’s what happens. There are other areas where antinomianism crops up. “It also manifests itself intellectually in the various forms of irrationalism—undisciplined speculation and existential depression.” Those of you who read literature in the 20th century are aware that the theme of existentialism, the fact there’s no standards, everything is relative; just do whatever strikes you this moment. We are a profoundly antinomian century… profoundly antinomian century! Nobody wants to be bound by the Scripture. Listen to the talk show, some poor Christian on the talk show says something and everybody pounces on him or her. Why? Because there’s a hatred … a hatred for law, i.e., biblically based law. They always substitute another law, you know, my mother dropped me on my head when I was a baby so I have the right to do whatever I want to because I can’t help it.
So antinomianism shows up intellectually. Furthermore, “Antinomianism underlies the frantic search for happiness seen in drugs, sex, and musically-induced ecstasy. The frantic search for happiness is a frantic search for happiness because they’re not happy and they’re not happy because they’re not in a relationship with God. The cup can’t spill on the table until the cup is full. So when men aren’t happy it’s like a vacuum is created and they suck in everything that’s around them in order to fill the vacuum that only God can fill, hence therefore we go into these other areas. The answer is that we are to be taught.
Let’s cover that 2 Timothy verse because there are some neat things in there about the role of Scripture. We’re talking about the means of sanctification, and Scripture plays a vital role. We have the preposterous notion that we can translate the Scriptures differently, now we’re going to have gender-neutral translation of the NIV. What a sick thought. Do you know what the gender-neutral translation of the NIV ultimately is doing? It’s very dangerous, very dangerous and is promoted by the largest evangelical church in the United States, it’s no liberal thing that’s going on, it’s our evangelical brethren that are cranking this one out. What it amounts to is that when I see passages of Scripture that give me grief in my day, and my moment of history, then the sneaky way I can grease my way around it is to pawn it off as cultural, so therefore we can take all the gender specific vocabulary out of the Scripture and say that’s all cultural. Well if you can do that, guess what I can do? If you want to play games with gender vocabulary, let’s go through Scripture and pick out some more vocabulary and play the same little number. All talk about morality in society is just as cultural accretion. What are you going to do about that, stop the game, you can’t stop the game, you started it, there’s nobody here to blow the whistle to stop the game because I’m going to keep playing it. You gave me a wonderful option, I can get rid of any Scripture I want to, all I have to do is declare it culturally relative. Do you see what a Pandora’s Box you opened? But they don’t want to do that.
For example, if you’re going to say that gender-specific passages are culturally relative, that gives me an idea that as a man I can go out and mistreat all women because the idea that men should respect women is just a cultural accretion, they treated women nicely back there, and they honored them, they were mothers, guardians, and looked upon as saviors, so now I don’t have to do that because that’s culturally relative. So what are you going to say to that one? Don’t start the game unless you want to play it all the way. That’s what’s happening right now, we’ve got a bunch of people inside our own evangelical camp that suddenly want to play a new game, and these poor guys don’t realize that once they open the door and blow the whistle on this thing, they just started a neat story and they’re going to be taken to the cleaners on this one.
2 Timothy 3:16, look at what Scripture is profitable for. Scripture is the dos and don’ts, now it’s more than that, yes. But right now we’re just looking at the role of Scripture in the sense of the Mosaic Law Code. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,” what else, not just for teaching, but “for reproof,” there’s a function of sanctification, that’s how the law is, it reproves us, “for correction, for training in righteousness,” it corrects us, and it trains us in righteousness. So does law have a role in sanctification? It sure does.
Let’s go back to the top circle and the Abrahamic Covenant on page 92 [blank spot] … He could have, He didn’t have to say “Adam, where are you?” God, that afternoon after they ate didn’t have to take his usual stroll in the garden, He could have said screw them. Suppose He had done that. So the fact that God reached out and maintained and continued to open up communication is grace. So is grace necessary? You bet, because if grace isn’t there we’re not even on speaking terms. We’ve got to maintain the speaking terms, and you remember we already talked about some of the things we’ve seen, how at Mt. Sinai He was giving the law, what was happening down below, party time, and God still dealt with these people, Moses still made intercession for them to sustain them. So grace sustains.
On page 92, “Elimination of grace is the opposite pagan tendency,” people like to eliminate grace too. We went back to this problem set, we said the aggressive person will tend toward works, and when we go through works whose works are they? Our works. If it’s going to be our works what value will we put on our works, high value or low value? High value, so now we’re attributing righteousness to our works. If we value our works on a scale like this, what are we in essence really saying about our capabilities ethically? That we fallen creatures independently of grace, can produce righteousness. What kind of an arrogant situation is this? So, “Elimination of grace is the opposite pagan tendency—that of legalism. To assert that God’s grace is no longer needed for us to meet His righteousness, is to assert that His righteousness is within man’s reach.” If His righteousness is within our reach, what don’t we need that Christ did for us? He died on the cross. That’s not necessary is it, if we really can be righteous, isn’t that a waste, so haven’t we really wasted the whole cross of Christ here. Do you see where these errors lead? You start down the primrose path, you walk five hundred feet and you’re off on a cliff some place. These ideas have consequences.
“Elimination of grace creates a false interpretation of law where law is seen as a legitimate produce of the finite human intellect—defining good and evil like a god. Man now becomes the center of all works, all order, and all attention. The battle is on to attain security—knocking down Jericho’s walls and stopping the sun as it were—independently of the Creator. Legalism destroys dependency upon God by destroying all gratitude for what He needs to do for us.” Circle that, underline it, because one of the fatal flaws of this particular error is if we eliminate God’s grace we eliminate the necessity to rely upon Him and when we eliminate the necessity to rely upon Him we eliminate thanksgiving in our Christian life. What is the barometer of how well we’re going in our Christian life? How much in our heart we’re thankful. That’s a good barometer. If we’re thankful for what He has done, we probably are okay in the area of grace. And when we’re drifting and we forget to give thanks, we’re getting wobbly in our practice of understanding His grace.
Further in that paragraph: “Gone, then, is the primary motivation in living a faithful life before God.” What happens on a secular pagan basis to the guy that’s aggressive in his works, what finally happens? He runs out of gas, he gets tired, doesn’t work anymore, got to have Rolaids for all the pressure. Then he defines relief by going over to this side. “It manifests itself in ‘self-help techniques and the frantic search for ‘self-esteem.’” My, my, how much we’ve heard about that. One of the creatures that has the highest self-esteem, you can read it, it’s in Isaiah 14, perfect self esteem, just read the passage and find out who said it. “Intellectually, it shows up in the various forms of rationalism—in the philosophical and socio-political spheres—that seek to build a utopian civilization through man’s efforts alone.” There you have it, those are the two basis.
What do we say then, going back to this, we have our position, we owe everything to our position, He has saved us, He has justified us, He is giving us all kinds of things through the Lord Jesus Christ and they’re all grace, and they did not come to us because we were such goody-goody people down here and we did everything He told us to do. As a matter of fact, He cut us out of the whole picture because Jesus Christ did it, and He didn’t ask for our help, and He did it long before we came along, it was all planned from eternity. Just like the Exodus, the Jews were belly-aching and crying about Egypt was so terrible, then they got saved from Egypt and then they were fussing because the desert was so bad. But it was God’s plan because back before then He promised that he was going to do these three things in history, to save the human race, so all of this follows that.
We’ve dealt with the position, we’ve dealt with the area of experience of obeying God, submitting to Him, and then we’ve dealt with the grace issue and the law. Both grace and law mirror those two relationships. Grace tends to show an emphasis on the , God’s sovereign grace, and then down below in the Mosaic Law what He tells us to do and He establishes authority. Another point about this balance is if you don’t have law, you don’t have authority. Remember, what is the image of God on Mt. Sinai when He speaks law? It’s a king, and He’s establishing His reign, He’s establishing His authority and His authority is embedded in the law. So in an antinomian age, guess what goes away? Respect. Isn’t that true!
Let’s go to one more thing on page 92, this is just another tool for thinking in terms of sanctification, and that is the dimensions of sanctification. If you look at the graph I want to show something that might help distinguish some concepts of sanctification that get confused. We distinguished between position and experience. We also want to distinguish between growth and at any given moment we’re obeying or disobeying what we know of God. I just kind of coined these terms, one is kind of the existentially present moment, that means at this time what am I doing, am I in rebellion against God or am I submitting to God, am I trusting Him or am I not trusting Him. We usually face at any given point sort of a plus or a minus. But if you map this out as God works in our lives, hopefully we see a growth curve. This process takes time, there’s a lot of time involved because there’s got to be this decision, this decision, this decision, hundreds and hundreds of decisions go into growth and it takes time.
The New Testament points this out when it says don’t promote a novice to a church office. Is that saying that novices disobey God? Certainly not. Someone can trust the Lord and in the next five minutes be in fellowship and obeying, so it’s not implying anything about this person’s disobeying. It’s simply saying they’re got a long time with God in a relationship to grow in it. This factor of growth also needs to be distinguished from the factor which we’ll call the obedience-disobedience. That can afflict you at any point along the curve. Peter is a good example of that in the New Testament. Up to the last moments before the cross he’s having problems, and we identify with that. How long has he been with the Lord? As long, or longer, than any of the other disciples. Has he grown? Yes, he’s grown. Does he still have sin problems? Sure he has. So the balance that we’re trying to devise here is that growth doesn’t immunize us against this, and one-shot great decisions don’t promote growth. Growth takes a long process of time.
We’ve covered these areas of sanctification and we’ll just stop at this point because I want to spend a lot of time with the enemies of sanctification, and then have a review the last night. If you notice on page 94, if you want to have your eyebrows raised, you might want to look at some of those Psalms that I list, those are the so-called imprecatory Psalms, and they kind of fall into the same category as those holy war passages in the Old Testament, I just want to show you that so you’re exposed to these kinds of passages here in a safe environment instead of out in a discussion somewhere where some non-Christian whose read these things suddenly puts them in front of your face and you’ve never seen them before. We want to take this opportunity to go through these things and discuss them and say yes, they are in the Scripture and why are they in the Scripture.
Question asked: Clough replies: Regarding the NIV and how does this get started, it gets started in the same way that every large seminary and Christian training school has usually gone down the tubes within 50 years. By going down the tubes I don’t mean to the point of denying that God exists, but getting off in all kinds of liberalism and we can’t really be sure the Scriptures are true and valid. The example that comes to mind it’s kind of a hot topic, but Wheaton College is a good example. Wheaton College is looked upon today, I have some friends I went to seminary with that think it’s the greatest thing, Billy Graham graduated from there, but if you study church history Wheaton College was started by two wealthy men who financed it, I think one was Armading, and either he financed it he was in a circle of business men who financed the publication in 1917 of a group of tracts called “The Fundamentals of our Faith”. It’s those tracts that were issued back in WWI time that’s the word from which we get the word “fundamentalist.” Those men had to stand up in their day against the liberalism and define five fundamentals.
You hear the word “fundamentalist” today and the image comes to mind because we’ve listened to the media of some Elmer Gantry weird guy, but fundamentalists originally were, I believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, I believe in the virgin birth, I believe in the substitutionary atonement and there are two other doctrines that they said if you don’t believe these you’re not a Christian. And that was terribly offensive, and all during the 20s and 30s you had these people looked upon as the fundamentalist that were these people, they wouldn’t go along with everybody else, and they were these religious nuts, etc. And they formed Wheaton and they formed these other colleges and today you can go on that campus and there’s one professor there that’s an apologist for the gay homosexual lobby.
This just happens, I don’t know of one school that’s remained faithful more than 50-70 years, and it’s just because men are depraved. And that’s why the Christians, evangelical Christians in this country got burned real bad at the beginning of this century, and whenever I hear people saying oh gee, how come you fundamentalists have all these little store-front churches and you don’t have the great churches, etc. who built the great churches, whose money, that was a faithful people who gave money to those things. And they were taken over in the 20s, 30s, and 40s by the liberals. The liberals took over every major school, it starts back in the early days of this country, Harvard University was for one purpose, I can take you to the campus of Harvard and show it to you right there in the building, Harvard was for men to learn to preach the Word of God. Come on, what’s happened to Harvard. Yale was formed against Harvard because Harvard was too liberal, so a bunch of guys moved down to Connecticut and set up Yale. Princeton, the bulwark of the 19th century of all serious Christian conservative scholarship came out of Princeton Seminary, and then they got kind of infiltrated.
I’ve thought about this because I see it in some of the evangelical seminaries now, I think the process is that young guys get on the faculty, they get their doctorate and they’re not pastors, they’re not really out there ministering the Word of God in a practical way, and the next thing that happens is they want intellectual respectability. Where do you get intellectual respectability? You don’t get it with people taking pot shots at you because you’re a fundy, you get it by joining scholarly organizations, by going to meetings where everybody is there, this and that, you can appear to be educated, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I’m just saying that there’s a process that starts here, that seeps in and then it becomes the thing to do.
In this case, more directly to your question, the NIV revision was started in the largest evangelical church in this country, Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. There’s a fulltime guy on the staff there, a PhD they hired, and he dreamed this thing up. Further investigation shows that you can’t be an office holder, deacon, or anything else in that church, starting 2 or 3 years ago, if you don’t believe in an all-inclusive gender neutral doctrine. Everybody else is welcome in that church except anyone that holds to the traditional vision of gender issues in the church polity. And you are not welcome there and you will not be accepted for membership. So once you have that set in motion, what does it do to your criticism. You don’t have any criticism from the inside because you’ve filtered them all out.
I went to Dallas Seminary and one fellow has a son going there now, and he was sitting in a class and they were going through Greek, and the whole reason for Dallas Seminary existing was because Lewis Sperry Chafer and C. I. Scofield were teaching the Bible and they felt frustrated because they didn’t know the Greek and the Hebrew. Chafer vowed that his boys that he was trying to nurture were not going to be handicapped like he was. So he started Dallas Seminary to teach theology, Greek and Hebrew. And for years that’s all they taught. Then we have to add Christian education, we have to add this, we have to add all these other things, and then the languages start going down. Well, if you study language you know that you never get proficient in a language unless you have three to four years minimum, because what happens is it’s so difficult that if you don’t get up to the plateau you sink right back down.
So they started snipping off the language requirements, we’ve got too many other things we’re doing here, and once you’ve reduced the language requirement, you reduce the facility and you might just as well not take languages, you never get facility enough to use them. So in that situation, it was a class on New Testament exegesis or something, and this guy was sitting there, again this is not to knock women, but it’s just this feminist doctrine, so they were discussing something in Greek text and this girl says I don’t see what this has to do with it, why are we discussing this, this has nothing to do with women’s issues in this class. Excuse me hon, this is the New Testament, do you know who wrote that? So it’s all over, it’s just permeating everything, and it’s slick, it’s so slick, so that you can’t oppose it without looking like a real nerd. It always seems like the other side is very skilled at making us biblical-centered people look like we’re the world’s idiots. They come off like that; it’s very rare that you can engineer it so that that doesn’t happen.
But you watch, NIV is the first one to go, and I’ll bet ten years down the road there’ll be a whole bunch of translations doing the same thing. But there are people who are opposing it, that’s how I heard about it. The Liberty Journal from Jerry Falwell had the Dean of Students at Louisville Seminary, he teaches the Southern Baptist Convention which amazed me, came out and says I went over to Willow Creek Church, I went there for three weeks, went through all the ministries, talked to them I critiqued them, gave the guys my critique so they could comment to make sure I wasn’t misrepresenting them in any way, and they said no, this is true, so he wrote it, and that’s how I know about it. That happens, and it’s a fundamental problem.
Remember last year we talked about creationism, it’s the same thing there. We have people like Dobson, I have a high respect for Dobson, but he gets this guy that I mentioned in the footnotes last year, Hugh Ross gets on Dobson and starts promoting old earth views, and the fact that we can kind of accept millions and millions of years because Genesis really doesn’t tell us. Excuse me, what does Genesis 1 say? But that’s got to be culturally interpreted!! So it’s the same thing that we kind of culturally interpret our away Biblical 1 and 2, then we culturally interpret away the policy of the church, and this and that, it just goes from one thing to the next. It’s something that you just have to be vigilant.
Question asked: Clough replies: Well, it’s an ignorance; Colson and Dobson are not men who have really studied the issue. They’re very powerful, they’re great guys, they’ve done some tremendous things for us, they’re shields for us against the system. But they personally can’t be experts in every area, and they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to this area of apologetics, I’ve studied all my life, I’ve studied for thirty to forty years and I think I know something about it, and the arguments that these guys are bringing up, they were tried in 1850 and failed, and the reason you have what we call “strict creationism” arose because in our own time guys involved in science, not at Christian schools, in secular schools but they were Christians in secular schools, said we can’t survive, you don’t provide us the tools, something’s wrong here and what we think is wrong is all of science, all of historical science is fundamentally flawed. That’s obviously not too welcome, but that’s their position. And it’s not because they sat in a back room and said gee, we got nothing to do so let’s think up something to be controversial. These guys, some of them lost their doctorates, they lost their jobs, it hasn’t been easy, but it’s because they’ve come to this conviction, because they’ve looked at the issues, and this is what’s happening.
There are some wonderful spokesmen for the other side, women that have stood up and argued this, because it’s not a demeaning of the woman, that’s the problem. The problem is that the gender specificity of the Scriptures comes out of Biblical 2. Think about it for a minute. What do you do with Biblical 2? M-a-n is not gender when it says “Man was created, male and female He created them,” but anytime you see “man” now that’s a gender reference, but if you read the Scriptures, m-a-n doesn’t refer to gender, it’s just a synonym for the whole human race, including men and women. And you get that by the fact that in Biblical 2 you have a man, and he’s bifurcated. What happened when Eve came out of Adam? Now you have the rise of the male and the female, but it came originally out of man, and it’s man, excuse me, but it says man, it doesn’t say woman, it says man, and the woman, that word means I came from the man, and it’s a reference, not of dependency, it’s a reference of the history of how women were created in Biblical 2. So if you’re going to argue it’s cultural, if you think about it, every passage in the New Testament that I can think of except one that deals with the male-female difference, refers to Biblical 1 and 2. Now if it’s cultural, why does it do that? Because it’s referring to the way men and women were made, we were made differently.
Question asked: Clough replies: They’re arguing the culture of the people who wrote and carried on Biblical 2. They will say they are but really they’re not, because they’re saying that the Old Testament is patriarchal, it was a Jewish society controlled and run by men. Now, that really isn’t true, because if you look at key… I mean, how can you argue that the men were wholly in charge of things. Look at Ruth, why is the book of Ruth there? You have the whole story of Naomi and Ruth, who put that in there? The Holy Spirit put it in there. What was going on then? It was proof that here were some Canaanite women that came out of the cursed countries, who trusted the Lord and God blessed them. To whom did the angel of Jehovah first show up in the Old Testament? To a man, or to a woman? Hagar, a woman. They talk about arranged marriages; yes parents had a role in arranging marriages of their children. But look at the story in Judges of Samson. Samson goes to his mother and dad and says I want that girl over there, you get her for me. Now he’s rude, insolent, a slob, but the point is that that text shows you that yes, the parents arranged marriages, but the kids had a lot to do with it, and that’s what that’s saying. So they try to read the Old Testament like it’s some sort of anti-anti thing that’s the worst possible thing they could imagine, and they’re not entering into the spirit of the text. That’s not what the text was saying. Who was it that ultimately brought Christ into the world? Man or woman. So obviously the Scriptures are not demeaning women.
Question asked: Clough replies: They can’t, inerrancy is at the heart of this. What they do is they get very greasy, because if you say you’re denying inerrancy, oh no, we’re not denying inerrancy, we believe in the Scriptures, oh yes, we believe God’s Word, we just don’t believe your interpretation of God’s Word. So they back off claiming that we are misinterpreting it, they’ve got the true interpretation. But obviously a piece of literature cannot be interpreted arbitrarily; there are objective standards and rules for interpreting literature. We all intuitively know that or we wouldn’t write letters; think about it, why do you write a letter to somebody? When you write them a letter do you really expect that there is 85 ways to take the letter? If you really believed that literature was arbitrary you would never write. But we all write because we all intuitively know that we can send a message through written means. Why would you send e-mail, it’s the same thing, it’s via computer.
So it’s playing games with words is what’s happening and what ultimately happens is you move inerrancy, inerrancy never disappears, inerrancy is relocated. It’s relocated from the Scripture to man, now man becomes inerrant, he becomes a possessor of the judgment, he makes the judgment call. And what was the temptation? In the day that you eat thereof, you shall be as God, and what does it say, “knowing good and evil.” Well, “knowing good and evil” is an idiom for you’ll have total knowledge, you’ll be your own gods, you can determine, you can judge, you’re the final authority to determine good and evil. So it’s the voice of the one who was speaking back in Genesis 3. So it’s a battle that goes on and on, but we have to be careful of it, there’s no sense getting your liver in a quiver about every little detail because you’d have high blood pressure all the time. But what you have to do is sit back, look and see, and smell which way the winds blowing, and stay away from that ground and don’t support them. That’s just something that you just have to make a break, they’re nice people, great, but I’m not going to support that, sorry. I can’t do it by faith, and that’s basically how you have to handle it.
Question asked something about law and grace in the context of the New Testament: Clough replies: That has come about and I addressed that, let me show you in your notes because I deal with it, if you go to the bottom of page 90, the last sentence, “Sometimes it is said that in the age of Israel, men were sanctified by law, and in the Church age men are sanctified by grace.” And I gave a footnote on that, footnote 10, and that’s a very interesting footnote. If you look at it, you’ll see that I addressed the dispensational theologian par excellence, the guy that taught me theology, Dr. Ryrie, and he’s written an excellent book on dispensationalism where he deals with this law-grace issue and points out yes, there is a difference between the New Testament and the Old Testament, and yes it does involve law and grace, but on page 91 the second full paragraph is where I try to answer that. “The word ‘law’ can refer generally to all revelation in all the covenants taken together, it can refer to the first five books of the Bible, or it can refer to the Sinaitic Covenant in particular.”
There are three meanings, at least three meanings of l-a-w that you can find in the Scriptures because the first five books are called law because the Jewish title of the Old Testament is the law, the prophets and the writings. That means Genesis is included. Law, as it is talked about in Romans and Galatians, and I quote the verses there, let me read that sentence: “It is when ‘law’ refers to the Sinaitic Covenant in certain New Testament passages, that it is contrasted with ‘grace.’” Because both of those, Galatians in particular, were written to a heavy Jewish situation. “That is a special usage that I will discuss later.… For now, I mean by ‘law’ revelation in general,” so I don’t want you to get confused.
An interesting point, very important point has been brought up, in the New Testament there are specific passages, we are NOT under the law. So how can you say what we’re saying tonight? Because in those passages the law is talking about the Mosaic Law Code, we’re not under that. Why aren’t we? Because the law was mediated through the Levitical priesthood, and the New Testament is mediated through Christ, we are under a new covenant. The new covenant in Christ has replaced, that has to be, because what else don’t we do that’s prescribed in the Old Testament Law code? Sacrifices, we don’t go through a lot of the processes that are there, the tabernacle, we don’t have any of that stuff. The best way, Dr. Ryrie had a neat illustration of this, he said the way to think this through is imagine two Presidents of the United States, you have one administration, you have another administration, two different distinct administrations. One administration has certain policies; those policies are changed when you come to the second administration. So you have two distinguished administrations, with two distinct policies. You have a policy of God toward the nation Israel in the Sinaitic code, and you have a policy of God toward the church in the New Testament. And those are two very distinct policies, and that’s the difference, and the dispensational distinction between Israel and the church is very important.
That’s why I didn’t get into the details of law because I didn’t want to get into so much detail that we were thinking that we were to live under that system. All I’ve done here in the Old Testament is I’ve touched on these great events so that you can use these to conceptualize. Under the New Testament, do we have law in the New Testament? Yes we do, it’s called the law of Christ. And what does it consist of? Here’s an exercise that a person did once when we were in Texas. She went through the and listed on a piece of paper every single imperative, starting with Romans, going all the way through Jude, every single do, don’t do, then she listed them and categorized them, then she took a sample out of the Old Testament, do, don’t, do, don’t, she categorized them. Then she put the two together, and you see there’s a very big distinction. What do you think one of the big distinctions is, besides worship? What is said a lot in the Old Testament that you never hear said in the New Testament? Dietary. Where are the dietary codes in the New Testament? None. We’re not saying that dietary codes are bad; we’re just saying that God doesn’t require that in the New Testament. Why doesn’t He? Because the gospel is going to go to all nations and the dietary code, apparently some of it was to make Israel live in a certain way to mirror Christ. There are all kinds of laws in the law code of the Old Testament dealing with a king. Anything dealing with a king, other than pray for him, in the New Testament? The two are distinct.
Grace and law, when they mean these two administrations, grace is a label for the New Testament administration, and law is a label for the Old Testament administration. And the reason it took that label is because Paul was a Pharisee, and he wanted to distinguish this whole edifice of the Mishna, I read you all the machinations of interpreting the law, how to fry an egg on the Sabbath day without violating the Sabbath law and all the rest of the hoopla. There were lawyers by the thousands involved in the law, what Paul said, you guys missed the whole point, forget, so he says grace, but you know Paul isn’t saying that there’s not such a thing as sin in the New Testament, and you know that he’s not saying you can do what you want to, because if he said that why would he write all the dos and don’ts in the New Testament? So you have to distinguish the meaning of the word law. If you just, for the Old Testament, we’re going to sharpen this up as we move toward the New Testament, and if you want to wash out the words law and grace, fine, but just think of what He wants me to do and what has He provided for me to do it. But there is content in the New Testament, lots of content to do things. And this gender issue is one of them, there’s a whole content about polity, how do you set up a local church. There’s ways, it’s not just whoever would have you do it however you want.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question concerns what about Jews who believe in God but don’t believe in Jesus. That’s part of a larger question, what about anybody, Jew, even non-Jews that believe strongly in God and don’t believe in Jesus. I think the clearest way to answer that is that Christ said in no uncertain terms that He is the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by Christ. Is it possible for people who deny Him to believe in Him? I don’t think so. However, is it possible that you have somebody, the Inca and the Aztecs, who responded to the revelation available to them, both in nature around them and also in what was left over from Genesis, who believed in a blood atonement, who believed that they had to be saved somehow.
It’s hard for me to say in that case, not having the explicit knowledge of the New Testament text that they have disbelieved in Christ. That’s a judgment call by God Himself. Remember the gospel at one point is an expanding circle and it expanded out into the world. What happened two hours after the cross to people who were Old Testament saints that lived in Greece, were they saved? Sure they were, because in the Old Testament many people were saved and they didn’t know anything about Jesus, but the difference is that now Jesus has come and so we have all these texts that say I came to you, O Israel and you didn’t recognize me. The failure to recognize Jesus as more than a mere prophet is a commentary not on Jesus, it’s a commentary on me or anybody else who takes that position, because what He’s saying is I’m a [tape abruptly ends]