The True And False Sides of
the Protestant Reformation
How Reformed Theology Distorts Our
Understanding of Salvation and End-time Events
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This Commentary May Contain
We make the following statement due to the controversial and emotional nature of this study. Rock of Offence is a Bible teaching ministry - and not a church. We do not promote any particular fellowship or denomination. We take a proper literal and dispensational view of the Holy Scriptures and embrace the call of a watchman as a responsibility God gives to all ministers of His Word.
When studying the New Testament Scriptures, the "good news" of Christ's freely given redemption is on display for all to see ("freely given" is a term that means Grace or the unmerited favor of God). Yet, for various reasons (none of them good), a shocking number of church leaders and their followers "twist Scripture" (abuse the context of the Bible), which redefines the salvation of Christ into something that God says He does not honor or respect. Saint Paul condemns this practice and calls the redefined teaching, "a different gospel of Christ". Stop and think about the serious eternal consequences connected to this practice. The authentic, yet controversial salvation teachings from the Bible are often treated as 'unimportant differences of opinion' which we should 'set aside' because they cause division.
But, God warns that we are led astray
in our faith by these erroneous and
We do not present our Bible commentaries and studies to deliberately offend readers. However, when eternal consequences are involved, sounding a warning, no matter how offensive, is necessary. A person's spiritual life could unknowingly be at risk. Many people, churches, denominations, movements and organizations that call themselves "Christian" actually do not represent the New Testament redemptive program of Jesus Christ or our Heavenly Father. As a result, some won't learn about their true spiritual condition until it's too late.
Many believe that God has some special obligation to honor their personal religious beliefs just because they seem to originate from the Bible. This is a spiritually lethal assumption and will end in disaster for millions of church members.
Due to the influence of certain erroneous systems of theology, the Bible is easily misinterpreted and distorted. Often this is done to advance the personal agenda of a particular minister (or an entire denomination). It's been an ongoing problem for hundreds of years. Misleading doctrine and religious deception operates under many different good-looking (and "feel good") Biblical disguises, which cross all denominational lines. Our Lord Jesus Christ used offensive teachings as a way to get His audience's attention concerning these dangers, which are skillfully hidden in popular religious teaching and cultural beliefs. That's why this website carries the name "Rock of Offence". It was one of the titles given to Jesus Christ, who is the original "Rock of Offence" (1 Peter 2:6-10).
Exposing Popular Misconceptions
The situation that currently exists within the world-wide Christian Church is both sad and unfortuante. One pastor recently commented that the Church (meaning 'the organized institutionalized church') is getting weaker and not stronger. When anyone attempts to shed light on the root cause of this problem, people who call themselves "Bible-believers" are deeply offended. Sometimes, the offense turns into anger, and occasionally irrational rage.
A Scriptural example of this occurred when the apostle Paul tried to preach Christ's New Covenant Gospel to Old Covenant Jews in Acts chapter 13. Yet, the Jews who embraced Old Covenant religion (or Judaism) were only defending religious beliefs that happen to dominate the Old Testament part of our Bible. If they were defending a theology or doctrine from the Bible (or what could be called "a Biblical religion"), why did they get mad at Paul, who was also teaching truth from the same Bible? Why did Paul consider their reaction so greivious that he shifted his ministry focus away from them - and redirected it toward the Gentiles? The Jews who verbally attacked Paul were only defending their religion, which also happens to be found in the Bible. What's wrong with that?
Discovering the answers to these questions will give us a better understanding of "The Stealth War Against The Truth of the Gospel", which is fought over similar issues.
"So when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." (Acts 13:42-48 NKJV)
Religious offense and anger usually occurs when cherished Bible beliefs, held by many professing Christians, are questioned or proven to be incorrect. They believe (actually they're assuming) that their "Biblical theology" (or what some call "Biblical Christianity) is perfectly aligned with God's intentions SIMPLY BECAUSE IT CAN BE FOUND "IN THE BOOK". The religion of the Jews who verbally attacked the apostle Paul in Acts chapter 13 was also "in the book" AND THEY WERE NOT ON GOD'S SIDE IN THIS MATTER.
This emotional situation reveals a characteristic of human nature. Our religious beliefs, whether right or wrong, run very deep. For those who make a commitment to the Bible, any challenge is sometimes perceived as a direct attack on God and His Word. Yet, it is actually about confronting a wrong understanding of the Word. When it's successfully proven that someone's interpretation of the Bible is incorrect, offense or anger is often the result.
IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE PROBLEM IS NOT WITH THE BIBLE OR ITS TRUTHS.
A questionable or faulty Biblical foundation is always the result of a wrong interpretation of Scripture CAUSED BY IGNORING OR ABUSING ITS CONTEXT - OR PLACING SOME ABERRANT "SPIRITUAL" MEANING ON THE TEXT THAT ISN'T THERE (OFTEN REFERRED TO AS "SPIRITUALIZING SCRIPTURE"). UNFORTUNATELY, MANY INTERPRET AND BELIEVE THE BIBLE INCORRECTLY AND STILL CLAIM THE TITLE; "BIBLE-BELIEVER". ALSO, WHOLE CONGREGATIONS CAN ALSO INTERPRET AND BELIEVE THE BIBLE INCORRECTLY ... AND STILL REFER TO ITSELF AS A "BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH OR DENOMINATION".
Just because someone (or an entire church) claims to build their spiritual life on what they consider to be "A Biblical foundation" - does not mean they are established on Bible truth. More importantly, it also doesn't mean that God must honor that person's wrong perceptions just because they claim to "believe the Bible". This can also be the reason God does not answer their prayers. This warning, given in the book of Proverbs, directly applies to those who "believe the Bible the wrong way" AND REFUSE TO CHANGE.
"THERE IS A WAY WHICH SEEMETH RIGHT UNTO A MAN, BUT THE END THEREOF ARE THE WAYS OF DEATH." (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)
Never make the mistake of thinking this whole discussion is simply about "differences of opinion" that should be set aside to preserve unity. It's actually about a "religious way" that carries the illusion of being right. It's about a religious way THAT LOOKS LIKE IT COMES FROM GOD, BUT DOESN'T.
One example involves a church (names are intentionally left out) that became notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen American soldiers (they considered the soldiers murderers) ... along with it's outspoken and vicious public opposition (using name-calling and sexual slurs) toward those who practice homosexuality. Since this particular church is associated with a major Christian denomination (and also considered "fundamentalist") the news media was eager to cover the story. Why? ... Because it makes all those who defend Christian values look crazed, paranoid and dangerous. It's a time-tested method of making someone look "guilty by association". We understand the Bible's position on the various themes of their protests. Many of their concerns are distortions of what the Bible teaches when you respect its context.
Using sexual slurs, threats and 'name calling' will never bring anyone to salvation in Christ. We can say with all certainty that God does not approve of the way the members of this church (and its pastor) acted in public. The insulting way they voiced their opposition was certainly not 'Christ-honoring'. It made other Christians involved in the cultural war for family values (and voicing similar concerns in a respectful way) - appear to be 'hostile religious extremists' and a danger to society. Even worse, it projects the same image on God ... making it a perfect story for the national news media's anti-Christian agenda. By taking a closer look, we discovered the congregation's foundation in the Bible's Old Testament program of religion - which they wrongly called 'fundamental Christianity' - is what allowed them to justify their behavior.
However, contrary to many church teachings, Christians are no longer under this "Old Testament Program", but are now under "The New and Living Way of Christ" and it's New Testament Program.
The practices of this church are an extreme illustration of what's wrong. We understand that these church members believe, with all their heart that they are authentic Christians (and probably some are--only God knows). Otherwise, they wouldn't be acting this way in public. However, just because a person is convinced they believe the Bible correctly DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE RIGHT. They could be ensnared in one of the many theological deceptions that causes them to "believe the Bible wrong" ... while still calling themselves; a Bible-believing Christian. This is why we constantly warn about this ongoing problem. Just because anyone (it could be an individual, pastor, church, movement or denomination) claims to represent Jesus Christ DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEIR CLAIM IS TRUE - AND AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANS MUST LEARN TO DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE.
They could be representing what the apostle Paul called "another Jesus", which illegally mixes principles of Old Testament Law with New Testament Grace. This "other Jesus" heads up what we refer to in our commentaries as "Christian religion", which is a misleading religious counterfeit of the authentic New Testament Christian Church that began AFTER THE CROSS. Christian religion currently dominates the organized church using countless different names and labels. Unfortunately, most church-going people and the rest of the world can't tell the difference.
The pastor previously quoted at the beginning of this commentary is correct. The institutional Christian Church (also known as 'Christendom') is getting weaker. But, the weakness is not caused by their commitment to the Bible. A vast and dominant majority of the professing Christian Church unknowingly embrace what they like to call "Biblical Theology", which is actually contrary to Christ's New Covenant program THAT STARTED AFTER THE CROSS. THE BIBLE WARNS THAT GOD DOES NOT HONOR OR RESPECT THIS KIND OF CORRUPTED "RELIGIOUS FAITH". WHEN GOD DOESN'T SUPPORT SOMETHING, IT HAS NO REAL POWER--ESPECIALLY THE POWER TO SAVE. THE APOSTLE PAUL WARNED THAT THIS KIND OF "BIBLICAL THEOLOGY" ACTUALLY CARRIES A CURSE. This is the main reason (but, not the only one) the institutional Christian Church is getting weaker - and will continue to do so until Christ appears at the Rapture.
Looking Beneath The Surface
On occasion, readers ask us to provide a deeper and more detailed coverage of some topics, especially in the area of eschatology or the study of Bible prophecy dealing with end-time events. There is a problem with "going deeper". Sometimes it generates more questions than it answers. However, in this study we attempt to look at some of these deeper issues. We continually remind the reader that "The Stealth War against the Truth of the Gospel" is an internal struggle between two popular theological doctrines or what we sometimes call "faith systems".
A brief review these two positions are listed below and discussed at length in this study.
Reformed Theology (also known as Covenant theology) - and its complimentary doctrine of 'Replacement Theology' - "permanently replaces Israel with the New Testament Church" in the Holy Scriptures. As a result, it illegally mixes (or merges) Old Testament Law with the New Testament Grace of Christ. This illegal mixing of the Old Testament spiritual program of Israel and the New Testament Grace program of the Church perverts the gospel of Christ and corrupts God's original intention in Bible prophecy. (Galatians 1:6-8)
Saint Paul's Grace of Christ (where Grace is 'God's unmerited and undeserved acceptance') and its complimentary doctrine of Dispensational Theology "rightly (or correctly) divides" (or separates) Christ's New Covenant dispensation in the New Testament from the Old Testament dispensation of the Law. By keeping these two spiritual programs "rightly (or correctly) divided", as the New Testament commands, God's original intention in Bible prophecy is preserved. (2 Timothy 2:15)
"In Him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE WHICH HE MADE ABOUND TOWARD US in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, THAT IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULLNESS OF THE TIMES HE MIGHT GATHER TOGETHER IN ONE ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him." (Ephesians 1:7-10 NKJV - Emphasis and Clarifications Added)
"For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles-if indeed you have heard OF THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD WHICH WAS GIVEN TO ME FOR YOU, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)...." (Ephesians 3:1-4 - Emphasis and Clarifications Added)
The True and False Sides of
The Protestant Reformation
We use the term "Reformed theology" in our writings to identify the popular Protestant doctrine that opposes many of the "free justification" truths found in Christ's New Covenant salvation that began AFTER THE CROSS. However, it should be understood that some expressions of this doctrine were originally part of Roman Catholic teachings. Some leaders of the Reformation became involved in the movement because of their opposition to wrong Catholic dogma. Their opposition or "protest" tended to focus on the authority of the Pope, who claimed to be "the head of the Christian Church" and inerrant in his proclamations.
HOWEVER, THEIR OPPOSTION TO THESE
TEACHINGS DIDN'T MEAN THEY
REJECTED ALL OF THE WRONG CATHOLIC
Some religious teachings, especially those of the Catholic theologian Augustine (354-430 A.D.), survived and were incorporated into the doctrinal foundation of the new Protestant movement ... mainly through John Calvin, the father of modern-day Calvinism. On the other side, Protestant minister Martin Luther was known for his preaching on "justification by faith alone in Christ--without works". This is the unconditional salvation that Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23 and Romans 5:18-21 defines as "God's gift", meaning that eternal life (or salvation) is obtained apart from human behavior, works or merit (Titus 3:5-7).
Luther's preaching on this subject was correct. Many years later His teaching (due to its agreement with the New Testament Epistles of Saint Paul) was considered "foundational" in the modern-day non-denominational "Evangelical Movement". YET, OTHER PROTESTANT LEADERS, LIKE CALVIN, DID NOT AGREE WITH LUTHER'S "FREE JUSTIFICAITON" VIEWS AND TAUGHT A SALVATION DOCTRINE THAT WAS "CONDITIONAL" UPON CERTAIN CONDUCT AND BEHAVIOR CONNECTED TO THE KEEPING OF OLD TESTAMENT LAW AND CATHOLIC TRADITION. This influence came mainly from Augustine's theology more than a thousand years earlier. Augustine's doctrine was, for the most part, believed and taught by John Calvin and his colleagues. Through these preachers, it was transferred into the Protestant movement, where it remains to this day often labeled as either "Biblical Christianity or Biblical Theology".
Today, 'conditional salvation' (traveling under various different names and labels) continues to dominate the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Because of Calvin (and others that agreed with him) this conditional salvation gospel (if you can call it that) also quietly operates within what is now called "Reformed Theology". The New Testament teaches that the salvation of Christ is "by Grace through faith" with no requirements for good works and human merit (Ephesians 2:8-9). The kind of Grace taught by Saint Paul in his 'Epistle to the Ephesians' is "unmerited Divine favor". But, Reformed theology superimposes its "conditional salvation" into the gospel by changing the word Grace into "a Divine enablement (or grace) given to keep the Law".
TECHNICALLY - AND ACCORDING TO THE DICTIONARY - BOTH THESE DEFINITIONS CAN BE CALLED "GRACE". Yet, the "enablement to keep the Law" type of grace changes Christ's "salvation of free justification" into a salvation that is now conditional (it's not free) upon certain Christian behavior and works connected to Old Testament Law and various aberrant Catholic traditions.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: Calvinists and other preachers in the "Reformed persuasion" insist that they teach a "salvation by grace" message". WHAT THEY DON'T TELL YOU IS THE TYPE OF GRACE THEY USE IN THEIR MESSAGE. This is one of the dangerous deceptions found within "Reformed Theology" operating within many (but thankfully not all) Protestant denominations -- and many churches that claim to be "fundamentalist" (but thankfully, once again - not all). It exists under countless misleading names and labels.
You can get more information about this
popular deception at the following link:
Exposing The Error of Redefining
It's a way to deceive and confuse the Church by failing to properly define certain terms or by redefining the terms so that it validates an otherwise wrong teaching.
Conditional and Unconditional Salvation
The Protestant Reformation was lead by various preachers, each having a different message that addressed the problems they felt were the most important. Many of these problems involved various teachings of Catholicism, since it was the most dominant religion of the time. Due to the complex nature of this subject, it is not the goal of this commentary to do an in-depth study of all the Reformation preachers and their individual doctrines. Instead, we choose to discuss the two most important sides of this movement, which defines the nature of Christ's salvation and how eternal life is obtained and kept. We've already mentioned Martin Luther's "free justification by faith" or what's known as God's gift of eternal life and "unconditional salvation" taken from; Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:20, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 4:4-8, Romans 5:18-21, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:8-13, Romans 11:6 and Titus 3:5. It's important to know that when we use Martin Luther as an example, it does not necessarily mean we're supporting the current teachings of the Lutheran Denomination that carries his name. A lot has changed in 600 years.
Unfortunately, the Reformation had a second major faction that taught a "conditional salvation" message. Many preachers in the movement taught this doctrine in different ways. The most popular was John Calvin, who was the father of modern-day Calvinism along with the newer movement called "New Calvinism". Many Protestant churches (but not all) that use the term "fundamentalist" to describe the nature of their doctrine - originated from John Calvin's side (and the numerous preachers aligned with his theology) of the Reformation. Calvin introduced his popular "Institutes of Christian Religion" that some churches wrongly consider equal to the authority of Scripture. The problem with Calvinism is all of its different variants. Some theologians point out that many fundamentalist churches claim the name "Calvinist", but fail to adhere to all of the teachings of Calvinism. This causes much confusion when we try to associate a name with a particular religious doctrine.
Curtis Hutson wrote a nice introductory article about the dangers of Calvinism. It doesn't go into great detail, but may provide help to those wanting to know more. You can read it at the following link:
Why I Disagree With All Five
Points of Calvinism
Official sources reveal how Calvin's Protestant theology is actually a modification and rewording of Augustine's Catholic theology. As a result, both men are guilty of redefining the origianl Gospel message found in the New Testament canon - into what Paul refers to as "a different gospel and another Jesus". Christian author Dave Hunt correctly uses the word "heresy" to describe Augustine's doctrine because it changes the way Christ's salvation is obtained according to Scripture.
Dave Hunt's entire commentary explains this complex problem in more detail and is available on his website "The Berean Call" HERE.
If this link becomes inactive, you can
also access Hunt's commentary HERE.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Quoting individual authors, such as Dave Hunt and Curtis Hutson, does not necessarily mean that we agree with all of their beliefs and teachings. Yet, church history shows that they are correct in their conclusions about Augustine and Calvin. The information presented here will almost never be preached from a pulpit on Sunday morning because of the divisive and spiritual implications. There is little doubt that these facts will deeply offend those who embrace the teachings of Augustine, Calvin, Reformed theology and various expressions of Christian fundamentalism, which literally dominate most of Christendom (but thankfully not all). Hopefully, it will help some to see that they need to re-examine the way they interpret and believe the Bible.
Other Popular Preachers of Calvinism
There were other factions in the Reformation, such as the Puritans, led by John Winthrop. John Knox, a Scottish theologian, was instrumental in establishing Presbyterianism and was also known for his work within the Church of England. It's important to know that John Knox was heavily influenced by John Calvin. There are more that we can't mention here. All these different divisions generally fall into two extremely important theological categories; conditional and unconditional salvation. Many Protestants and fundamentalists live in denial about the important warning that comes from the New Testament section of our Bible. God does not honor or respect the popular theology of "conditional salvation" as taught by many (but thankfully not all) of the Reformation leaders. Saint Paul sounded this warning loud and clear in his "Epistles to the Church". Yet, most churches and their leaders choose to shut their ears.
As I studied the Scriptures, Paul's warning is what turned my "unity-based" Christian world-view upside down. Why? There are many things in the institutional church that operate "in the name of Christ" THAT GOD DOES NOT WANT TO UNIFY. He does not want to unify those that hold to the New Testament doctrine of "free justification" - with those who don't agree and refuse to teach its principles. Some churches elevate prominent leaders of the Reformation to an almost "saint-like" status. They are known and honored for their "Biblical" accomplishments in reforming the church. Major denominations use the teachings of these men as their spiritual and doctrinal foundation. Yet, very few professing Christians discern that many of these historical leaders taught what they wrongly call "Biblical Theology", WHICH HAD CONDITIONAL SALVATION AS ITS FOUNDATION.
The reader should know that Calvinism, Covenant Theology, Reformed Theology, Presbyterianism, The Institutes of Christian Religion and Replacement Theology ARE ALL INTERRELATED BELIEF SYSTEMS THAT ARE FOUNDATIONAL TO MANY CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS.
To add to the confusion, Reformed theology travels under another name known as "Covenant theology". It falsely claims to be "the original doctrine of the first century church leadership". Unfortunately, it also carries several of the same misleading names and labels such as; "Biblical Theology" and "Biblical Christianity".
For more information about our position on these doctrines CLICK HERE.
The "conditional salvation" side of Protestantism (or those that oppose Luther's "free justification by faith" position) is found in the following modern-day church groups (the list is not exhaustive).
(Note: Opposition to Luther's "free justification" applies to many on this list, BUT NOT NECESSARILY ALL)
* Christian/Bible Fundamentalism
* Churches offically aligned with Reformed theology
* New Calvinism
* Holiness theology (Including Pentecostal Holiness)
* Various forms of Presbyterianism
* Discipleship and Shepherding theology
* Christian Reconstructionism (Kingdom Now theology)
* Christian Restoration theology
* Oneness Pentecostalism
* Some Messianic Congregations
* Latter-Day Rain theology
* Worldwide Church of God theology
* International Church of Christ theology
* Kansas City Prophets theology
Unfortunately, many within the modern Reformed/Covenant theology camp insist that their doctrine was the one exclusively used in the Protestant Reformation. HOWEVER, THIS CLAIM IS NOT BASED ON HISTORICAL FACT.
On the surface, it might appear to some readers that the Rock of Offence ministry is "anti-Protestant". If this is your perception it is not correct. THERE WERE TWO DIFFERENT YET MAJOR FACTIONS IN THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION. We side with the preachers that correctly taught "the free justification of Christ's blood" and "eternal life as the unmerited gift of God" as recorded in Romans 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 6:23. The New Testament word "Justification" means that GOD ACCEPTS AND TREATS THE BELIEVER AS IF THEY HAD NEVER SINNED. This freely bestowed Divine favor is given dispite the fact that the believer did sin in the past and will continue to do so in some measure (whether they want to or not) for the rest of their life (Romans 3:23). The following reveals the legal grounds that allows such a blessing to be given:
Believers in Christ are no longer judged according to their behavior. AFTER THE CROSS, God accepts us based only on the sacrificial death of His perfectly righteous Son PROVIDED AS OUR SUBSTITUTE. That means Jesus was punished for our sins IN OUR PLACE, allowing us to go free--Romans 5:18-21 and Romans 8:2-4.
The Free justification of Christ (Romans 3:24-26) is what Martin Luther (and others in agreement with his position) taught. Luther and his colleagues were not preaching some new doctrine. They were following the teachings found in the New Testament "Epistles of Saint Paul to the Church".
More information explaining how God "imputes"
righteousness to the believer is available at
the following links:
Imputation: The New Covenant Method God Uses
To Transfer His Spiritual Benefits To Us
The Believer's Position In Christ
Does The Controversy Concerning "A License
To Sin" Give Church Leaderhsip The Right
To Change Or Redefine The Gospel?
As we previously mentioned, some other popular Reformation preachers did not agree with Luther's doctrine. They claimed it wrongly gave the believer "a license to sin", while allowing them to keep their salvation. Here's another way of looking at their words: They believed that salvation was conditional upon achieving an unknown level of "Christ-like" character and remaining in some unspecified "sinless condition". This kind of popular religious teaching looks good on the surface, but leads to one disturbing conclusion. You could lose your salvation if you sinned. But, you get your salvation back if you sincerely repent. Here's the problem: You can never really know if your repentance is adequate (or sincere) enough for God to restore your lost salvation. As a result, you can't know when you lose salvation and you can't really be sure if you've repented enough to get it back. Why? GOD DOESN'T TELL YOU WHEN THESE CHANGES OCCUR. Under this kind of theology, a believer can never really have any assurance that they're saved.
To defend against the "license to sin" threat, these preachers chose an alternate "Biblical theology" (Paul calls it "a different gospel of Christ"--Galatians 1:6-8 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-4), WHICH WAS MORE IN LINE WITH OLD TESTAMENT LAW, RATHER THAN THE NEW TESTAMENT GRACE OF CHRIST. THE NEW "ALTERNATE THEOLOGY" ILLEGALLY MIXES BOTH LAW AND GRACE TOGETHER IN SUBTLE AND SOMETIMES UNDISCERNIBLE WAYS. They chose this path because the Law offers A CONDITIONAL SALVATION BASED ON THE BELIEVER'S RELIGIOUS OBEDIENCE, CHRIST-LIKE BEHAVIOR AND ABILITY TO LIVE A "SIN-FREE" LIFE. According to the requirements of Old Testament Law, salvation can be lost if a person failed to perfectly keep all the commandments and live according to its principles, which includes the avoidance of all sin (See James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10-12 below). These preachers (with good intentions) enthusiastically embrace the theology of "conditional salvation" (or what some call "Biblical theology"). This kind of "counterfeit faith in Christ" forces the believer to feverishly labor to become more righteous (or more acceptable to God) DRIVEN BY THE FEAR OF LOSING ETERNAL LIFE IF THEY FAIL. In the mind of these preachers, it successfully solved the "license to sin" problem. YET, THEIR SOLUTION CREATES A PERVERTED KIND OF "BIBILCIAL THEOLOGY" THAT OFFERS SALVATION ACCORDING TO CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS THAT NO ONE CAN SATISFY. This is why it must be understood that any teaching can technically be called "Biblical", while using the Scriptures in a way God never intended, or "out-of-context". You can read more at the following link:
A Warning About Violating
Few Christians have the skills to discern this popular form of religious deception that operates nearly unchallenged in the institutional Christian Church. Both James and Paul warns about this often misunderstood Old Testament provision;
"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)
"FOR AS MANY AS ARE OF THE WORKS OF THE LAW ARE UNDER THE CURSE; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." BUT THAT NO ONE IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD IS EVIDENT, for "the just shall live by faith." YET THE LAW IS NOT OF FAITH..." (Galatians 3:10-12 -- Emphasis Mine)
In the mind of these "Reformed leaders", their dotrine was an acceptable Biblical solution to the "license to sin" problem simply because the Law's "condtional salvation" is recorded in the canon of Scripture. The fact that it's "IN THE BOOK" made it valid as far as they were concerned. Yet, their theology ignores and distorts the context of "THE BOOK". The cross of Christ changed all the rules about how salvation is obtained. AFTER THE CROSS, GOD WARNS THAT HE REJECTS ANY THEOLOGY OR BIBLE DOCTRINE THAT HOLDS THE BELEIVER'S SALVATION HOSTAGE TO SOME SYSTEM OF WORKS OR "SELF-EARNED" RIGHTEOUSNESS (ROMANS 3:20, GALATIANS 5:4, GALATIANS 2:19-21, ROMANS 10:1-4).
"....And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9--Also Read Romans 5:18-21)
The New Testament condemns this kind of counterfeit "faith in Christ" (also known as self-righteousness or a works-based salvation). It is a misguided (and spiritualy lethal) move away from "The Grace of Christ". THIS MOVE AWAY FROM GRACE CARRIES A DANGEROUS SPIRITUAL CURSE.
"I MARVEL THAT YOU ARE TURNING AWAY SO SOON FROM HIM WHO CALLED YOU IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST, TO A DIFFERENT GOSPEL, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. BUT EVEN IF WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL TO YOU THAN WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED TO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED." (Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
The "alternate theology" of the Reformed preachers commits the exact same Scriptural error as the "believing Pharisees" of Acts chapter 15. Yes, their teaching is certainly found in the canon of Scripture, but it's being "spiritualized", twisted and used in a way that God never intended (or out-of-context). It fails to honor the sacrifice of Christ (also known as the New Covenant), which changed all the previous rules, especially the ones involving salvation under Old Testament Law. As a result, it wrongly claims that God relates with people today the same way He did in the Old Testament. This wrong teaching sends their followers dangerously astray in their faith. The Protestant Reformation was not the first place this theological error occurred. The roots of this teaching go all the way back to the early first century church. A more detailed look at this problem is available at the following links:
Exposing Religious Deception In The Church:
The Judgment of the Acts Chapter 15
Jerusalem Apostolic Council
A vast number of believers are fooled into
thinking that the teachings in this commentary
can't be true because "God never changes".
Unfortunately, this is a very common
misconception propagated by various
experessions of Christian fundamentalism,
Reformed theology and Calvinism. It results
from ignoring or distorting the context of
the Bible. If you find yourself in the group
that believes this way, refer to the
information at the following link.
What Does It Mean When God Says
'He Doesn't Change'
We oppose this sector of the Protestant Reformation that preaches a "conditional salvation" (and "self-earned" justification) based on our efforts to obtain Christ-like character and a "sinless life". As we repeatedly remind the reader; Christ-like behavior, good works and seeking to avoid sin are things every believer should desire and seek after. BUT, THESE CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES SHOULD NEVER BE SOUGHT AFTER FOR THE PURPOSE OF OBTAINING OR KEEPING GOD'S UNMERITED GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE.
The Reformation Mixing Bowl
The preachers of "conditional salvation" faced a serious problem. They refused to accept the literal core teachings and directives of Christ's New Covenant THAT BEGAN AFTER THE CROSS. They took this action because the New Covenant makes it illegal to use the rules of their theology, which seeks to take away a Christian's "license to sin". Some of these foundational New Covenant directives are listed below.
- Grace is the unmerited and undeserved favor and acceptance of God
freely available to the believer, not according to their works, conduct
or behavior, but as a result of Christ's sacrifice at the cross.
- Eternal life is freely imputed (or given) to the believer through this
Grace as the gift of God without the requirements of merit or work.
- Righteousness is freely imputed (or given) to the believer through this
Grace as "a free gift", not through their works, conduct or behavior, but
as a result of Christ's sacrifice at the cross.
- Justification (or God's treatment of the believer as if they had never
sinned) is given "freely", not according to their conduct or behavior, but
because it was pre-paid by Christ's blood at the cross.
The Scriptural support for these directives can be found in Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:29, Romans 10:8-13, Romans 11:6, Romans 4:4-8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:24-26, Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 3:10-12, Galatians 5:4, 1 John 1:7, Philippians 3:9, Titus 3:5-7.
In order to preserve their theology, the preachers of "conditional salvation" HAD TO REJECT THESE DIRECTIVES--WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE THEY WERE REJECTING THE DIRECTIVES. The New Covenant principles are clearly stated and difficult to refute in nearly every way, EXCEPT ONE. In order to diminish or eradicate these truths, THE DIVIDING LINE that God placed between the Old Testament administration of Law and Christ's New Testament administration of Grace HAD TO BE EXPLAINED AWAY AND REMOVED.
This happens to be the same "dividing line" THAT PAUL SAID MUST REMAIN IN PLACE if we are to properly understand and teach God's Word. It was a line of division in the Bible (involving context) that must be respected if we are to be "approved of God".
"Be diligent to PRESENT YOURSELF APPROVED OF GOD, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, RIGHTLY (OR CORRECTLY) DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH." (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
When Reformed preachers remove this dividing line, it allows both administrations to be mixed together into one unified or uniform theology that violates the context of Scripture. By using this method, everything that the New Covenant declares to be "freely given" (such as God's gift of eternal life) now becomes conditional, based on our obedience to the commandments found in Old Testament Law. When a gift or something that is "freely given" becomes conditional, IT IS NO LONGER A GIFT, NOR IS IT FREE.
THE REFUSAL OF REFORMED THEOLOGY TO "RIGHTLY DIVIDE GOD'S WORD" REDEFINES CHRIST'S NEW COVENANT SALVATION FROM BEING "FREELY GIVEN" INTO A CONDITIONAL SALVATION THAT IS PAID FOR THROUGH GOOD BEHAVIOR AND HOLY (SINLESS) LIVING.
This new unified "third type of theology" reintroduced during the Protestant Reformation LOOKS AND SOUNDS BIBLICAL. YET, IN HIS EPISTLES SAINT PAUL CONDEMNS THE DOCTRINE AS "A DIFFERENT GOSPEL" THAT TAKES US AWAY FROM GRACE (GALATIANS 1:6-8) AND SEPARATES US FROM CHRIST AND THE BENEFITS OF HIS SALVATION.
"You have become estranged (separated/cutoff/alienated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE." (Galatians 5:4 -- Emphasis Mine)
The preachers of "conditional salvation" were not offering a new teaching. It's the same error that the Acts chapter 15 apostolic leadership of the early church condemned and rejected. It's also the same error that nearly destroyed the Galatian church. Saint Paul wrote his entire "Epistle to the Galatians" in an effort to stop this cancerous doctrine before it spread. That's why some Bible scholars refer to the theology of conditional salvation as "The Galatian error". Others, refer to it as being "Galatianized". Yet, today it's found a safe home under the umbrella of Christian fundamentalism and Reformed/Replacement theology.
A Popular Bible Scholar Shares
We recently discovered a commentary from C.I. Scofield, who produced the popular "Scofield Reference Bible". He sounds a sober warning to the institutional Christian Church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this commentary.
In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer's rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. THE LAW IS NOT THE BELIEVER'S RULE OF LIFE. SOMETHING ELSE IS. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: "The test of the gospel is grace. IF THE MESSAGE EXCLUDES GRACE, OR MINGLES LAW WITH GRACE AS THE MEANS OF JUSTIFICATION OR SANCTIFICATION, OR DENIES THE FACT OR GUILT OF SIN WHICH ALONE GIVES GRACE ITS OCCASION AND OPPORTUNITY, IT IS 'ANOTHER' GOSPEL, AND THE PREACHER OF IT IS UNDER THE ANATHEMA OF GOD."
[From "Footnote #6" in the SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE under Galatians 1:6--Emphasis Mine.]
Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. PROTESTANT THEOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART THOROUGHLY GALATIANIZED, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, BUT THEY ARE MINGLED TOGETHER IN ONE INCOHERENT SYSTEM. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.--C.I. SCOFIELD
[Cited in THE COMPLETE GREEN LETTERS under footnote #10 by Miles Stanford (p. 265)--Emphasis Mine]
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The most frightening part of these comments is Scofield's use of the word "anathema" when talking about those who preach the popular gospel that mixes Law and Grace. Saint Paul uses the word "accursed" when describing the misleading message of these preachers. Both words (anathema and accursed) suggest a "Divine rejection" that falls upon these unsuspecting ministers. This is a most serious issue that is never properly addressed in a church service because it causes fierce controversy and emotional disagreements. Yet, it is a subject that should never be treated as just some "disagreement" over someone's opinion. The Scripture warns that God doesn't respect the religious opinions of man -- and that many opinions are wrong.
Is It Law, Grace - Or Both
We just looked at why mixing Law and Grace, OR MAKING BOTH VALID FOR ACQUIRING ETERNAL LIFE, brings some horrific and unexpected consequences. The preachers of conditional salvation attempt to make both Law and Grace apply to the receiving (and keeping) of eternal life. But, Saint Paul warned that this kind of theology "perverts the Gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-8). Some readers may be tempted to think that the Law was "thrown away" after the cross. Yet, Paul taught that the Law (specifically "The Ten Commandments") remains IN A LIMITED WAY as a guide for helping us identify sin. We need to know what sin is - according to God's understanding - so that we can avoid it (Romans 7:7-8). As a result, the Law (specifically "The Ten Commandments") was not completely "thrown out and discarded" - but remains as God's "moral code of conduct" for the Christian. However, the New Testament also warns that our obedience to this "moral code of conduct" is never to be used as a requirement to possess God's gift of eternal life.
Christ's New Covenant, WHICH BEGAN AFTER THE CROSS, made revolutionary changes in the spiritual world. The Law, which governed how salvation is acquired under the authority of its Old Testament administration, IS GIVEN A NEW ROLE AND PURPOSE. Paul calls the old version of the Law "the letter" because it's a physically written document in the canon of Scripture.
AFTER THE CROSS, God took the "the Law" (or what Paul calls "the letter") and wrote it permanently on the believer's heart, where it now becomes an internal guiding influence. He then abolished (cancelled) the authority of the old written version, which originally had the power to deny the possession of salvation/eternal life to anyone who violated its rules.
UNDER THE NEW COVENANT, only faith in Christ (what the New Testament calls a faith without works--Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-8) governs the acquisition of eternal life, WHICH NOW TAKES ON ITS NEW ROLE AS GOD'S UNMERITED GIFT. Under the administration of Old Testament Law, eternal life was not "the gift of God". The cross of Christ permanently takes away (wipes out and abolishes) the Law's authority to dictate how a person obtains or keeps eternal life (Ephesians 2:11-22 and Colossians 2:13-14). Under the administration of the Old Testament, one purpose of the Law was to force a change in your conduct and lifestyle. Under Christ's New Covenant, THE LAW IS WRITTEN ON OUR HEART as an ever-abiding influence (through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit) THAT OPERATES INSIDE US.
THE LAW NO LONGER EXISTS AS A WRITTEN CODE OR REGIMENT OF WORKS THAT CONDEMNS US WHEN WE FAIL TO "MEASURE UP", AND DISQUALIFIES US FROM POSSESSING ETERNAL LIFE (Romans 8:1-2).
As believers, we may not always sense its operation, but the righteous nature of the Law that now operates through the indwelling Holy Spirit, gently urges and directs our life FROM THE INSIDE. This Godly "internal guidance system" will continue to operate until we physically die, or Jesus Christ returns.
The preachers of 'conditional salvation' attempt to discredit the internal operation of the Law THAT BEGAN AFTER THE CROSS as being too subjective - claiming it gives the Christian too much freedom. But, here's the real reason for their objection:
It takes the control of a believer's life away from them and gives it to the indwelling Holy Spirit of God (also known as "The Spirit of Christ") where it properly belongs. The Law's new role eliminates the fear that existed under its previous Old Testament administration. FEAR MUST LEAVE BECAUSE GOD HAS NOW DECLARED THAT A BELIEVER'S SALVATION (NOW GIVEN AS "GOD'S GIFT") CAN NO LONGER BE HELD HOSTAGE TO SOME UNSPECIFIED (AND UNACHIEVABLE) LEVEL OF OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW'S COMMANDMENTS.
If the reader is experiencing fear of losing salvation or lacks assurance that they're saved, it's a warning sign that you're living under a gospel of "conditional salvation" that many preachers often - and wrongly - refer to as "Biblical theology or Biblical Christianity". The authentic Gospel of Christ takes all fear and doubt away because it completely rests only on Christ's merit (and sacrifice at the cross) ... AND NOT OURS.
AFTER THE CROSS, UNMERITED FAVOR (OR GRACE) IS THE ONLY PROGRAM THAT GOD HONORS AND RESPECTS. Some refer to it as:
These riches, including eternal life, are free
to the blood-bought and redeemed believer, but
they cost Jesus Christ our Lord everything.
An Important Warning About Good Works
And Christian Behavior
Many of the religious critics, who claim Christ's salvation obtained through Grace (or the unmerited and undeserved favor of God), "improperly removes the effort and work from Christian life", are practicing a dishonest method of Bible interpretation. These so-called Bible teachers attempt to REPLACE the New Testament version of the word "Grace" WITH THE SAME WORD THAT CARRIES A DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS MEANING. This popular tactic radically changes God's original intention in salvation and represents a covert attack against the finished work of Christ at the cross. It is commonly practiced by ministers, churches and denominations that embrace Calvinism, Reformed theology and various expressions of Christian fundamentalism. These preachers claim that the word "grace" carries a different meaning than what most people think--AND, OF COURSE, THEY PROVIDE THE CORRECT DEFINITION. Yet, their type of "grace" quietly and subtly reinserts (and mixes) principles of Old Testament Law with Christ's Gospel. The apostle Paul referred to this practice as "perverting the gospel" (Galatians 1:6-8).
You can get more information about this popular deception HERE. It is designed to deceive and confuse the Church by failing to properly define certain terms or by redefining the terms into something that validates their teaching.
Obtaining salvation through the unmerited and undeserved favor of God (called "Grace" in the Bible) DOES NOT RELEASE US from the task of avoiding sin, doing good works, adopting Christ-like behavior and holy living. GOD INSTRUCTS ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS TO SEEK AFTER THESE THINGS FOR REASONS OTHER THAN OBTAINING HIS GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE. He tells us that seeking these character attributes is the right thing to do. HOWEVER, as God sternly warns (Read Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:19-21, Galatians 3:10-12 and Galatians 5:4), our attempt to achieve these attributes (which involves work and effort) IS NEVER TO BE USED AS REQUIREMENTS to obtain (and keep) what Scripture calls, God's unmerited and undeserved gift of eternal life.
Contrary to popular belief and religious tradition, under Christ's New Covenant THAT BEGAN AFTER THE CROSS, God condemns any effort to hold a believer's salvation hostage until a certain level of Christian character is achieved. Yet, we are still expected to desire and apply "Christ-like character" to our life (Romans 6:1-4 and Titus 2:13-14).
EVERYONE WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT MEASURE OF SUCCESS IN THIS EFFORT, WHICH IS WHY GOD DOES NOT ESTABLISH ETERNAL LIFE UPON THESE PURSUITS. If we fail to "rightly divide" God's Word concerning these two imperatives (as Paul commanded in 2 Timothy 2:15), His gift of eternal life becomes nonsensical and God is made to look like a liar. When the critics claim that the Grace Gospel (some try to discredit it as "easy-believism", others use the newer label of "hyper-grace") "improperly removes the effort from Christian life", they are misleading their audience with deceptive terms and labels.
Scriptures That Reveal The Law's
New Role After the Cross
God establishes a New Covenant that "writes the
Law on our heart". The New Covenant replaces
the previous covenant God had with Israel when
they left Egypt, which was the covenant of the
Law established at Mount Sinai or or what
Hebrews chapter 8 calls "the first covenant".
"Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT (THE OLD COVENANT) THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant (The New Covenant) that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I WILL PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MIND AND WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS, AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Hebrews 8:8-12 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
AN IMPORTANT NOTE: The New Covenant WAS OFFERED TO ISRAEL FIRST, which is why the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah (repeated here in the book of Hebrews for the Church) seems to indicate that it is only something designed for Israel "and the house of Judah". After Israel rejected Christ's New Covenant, as recorded in Acts 13:44-52, God "went around" their disobedience and extended the incredible spiritual benefits of the New Covenant to the rest of the Gentile world. Keep in mind that the word "Gentile" is a racial term that includes all earthly human races, which also includes any Jewish people who choose to join the Gentiles and become "one new man in Christ" (Read Ephesians 2:4-19). We must remember that including the Gentiles in the New Covenant is declared to be "a mystery" and was generally unknown during the Old Testament administration of Israel.
Paul provides more information that shows why
we are no longer subject to the previous
covenant of the Law and why we are now under
the New Covenant of Christ.
"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. FOR THESE ARE THE TWO COVENANTS: THE ONE FROM MOUNT SINAI WHICH GIVES BIRTH TO BONDAGE, which is Hagar -- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children (speaking of the first covenant) -- BUT THE JERUSALEM ABOVE IS FREE, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:
"Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband."
NOW WE, BRETHREN, AS ISAAC WAS, ARE CHILDREN OF PROMISE. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman." SO THEN, BRETHREN, WE ARE NOT CHILDREN OF THE BONDWOMAN BUT OF THE FREE (SPEAKING OF THE SECOND [OR NEW] COVENANT)." (Galatians 4:21-31 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
The Law of commandments contained in
ordinances is abolished at the cross
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh-who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-that at that time you were without Christ, BEING ALIENS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL AND STRANGERS FROM THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE, HAVING NO HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, HAVING ABOLISHED IN HIS FLESH THE ENMITY, THAT IS, THE LAW OF COMMANDMENTS CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. NOW, THEREFORE, YOU ARE NO LONGER STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS, BUT FELLOW CITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:11-22 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
The Law is taken out of the way, wiped
out and "nailed to the cross"
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, HAVING WIPED OUT THE HANDWRITING OF THE REQUIREMENTS THAT WAS AGAINST US (THE LAW), WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US. AND HE (JESUS CHRIST) HAS TAKEN IT OUT OF THE WAY, HAVING NAILED IT TO THE CROSS." (Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
The first covenant of the Law is made
obsolete by the new and better covenant
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED ON BETTER PROMISES. For if that FIRST COVENANT had been faultless, then no place would have been sought FOR A SECOND." (Hebrews 8:6-7 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
"IN THAT HE (JESUS CHRIST) SAYS, "A NEW COVENANT," HE HAS MADE THE FIRST OBSOLETE. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
We are delivered (set free or liberated) from
the Law. We are "dead to the Law" through the
body of Christ. Being "dead to the Law" is
another way of saying that it no longer has
authority to condemn us or take away our
salvation as it did in the Old Testament.
"Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. THEREFORE, MY BRETHREN, YOU ALSO HAVE BECOME DEAD TO THE LAW THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST, THAT YOU MIGHT BE MARRIED TO ANOTHER -- TO HIM WHO WAS RAISED FROM THE DEAD, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. BUT NOW WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER (OR OLD TESTAMENT LAW)." (Romans 7:1-6 NKJV -- Emphasis Added)
How This Internal "Reformed" War Distorts
Our Understanding of Bible Prophecy
The battle between these two popular theological positions is the major cause of frustration when studying end-time Bible prophecy BECAUSE EACH ONE INTERPRETS THE SCRIPTURES IN A DIFFERENT WAY. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS ALSO MEANS THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF RULES, WHICH GOVERN HOW CHRIST'S SALVATION IS RECEIVED AND KEPT.
BUT, GOD ONLY HONORS ONE OF THESE POSITIONS
The physical Second Coming of Christ and 'the Rapture' ARE BOTH SALVATION-RELATED EVENTS. Contrary to popular teaching, the return of Christ at the rapture (or what Saint Paul describes as "the catching away of the Church to meet Jesus in the air"--read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) is not for the purpose of rewarding us for good works, faithfulness or devoted religious service. The translation and catching away of the Church COMPLETES THE SALVATION PROVIDED BY GRACE THAT JESUS INITIATED AT THE CROSS. When two opposing methods of interpreting Scripture (and our salvation) exist; where each one operates by different rules, you're going to have major disagreements and vastly different ideas about how end-time events unfold.
In an effort to preserve unity, many church leaders wrongly claim that both positions are accepted by God. They say that the disagreements just represent "differences of opinion" that should be set aside. If you insist on "rightly dividing God's Word" by drawing attention to the spiritual danger, you run the risk of being labeled divisive and "a sower of discord" (Some will even accuse you of "failing to walk in love"). HOWEVER, THE NEW TESTAMENT WARNS THAT GOD ACCEPTS ONE POSITION, BUT REJECTS THE OTHER. For this reason alone, it's important to understand which side God accepts, since the consequences of being wrong in this area are unthinkable. The study of end-time events is a vicious battle ground for these two positions. Most of us dislike having to educate ourselves about all these different and confusing names (and their teachings). But, it's necessary if we are to avoid the cleverly hidden religious snares, found throughout Christendom.
A Well-Kept Secret
It is estimated that more than 8 out of 10 churches embrace some expression of reformed theology and the aberrant belief that the Church is "The New Israel". This is a bedrock doctrine in many areas of what's commonly called, Christian Fundamentalism. Since a majority are fooled into believing that God has replaced the original Israel with the New Testament Church, THEY CONCLUDE THAT THE CHURCH (NOW CALLED "THE NEW ISRAEL") HAS ALSO INHERITED THE ROLE OF THE ORIGINAL ISRAEL DURING THE TRIBULATION.
This is the reason nearly all theologians and preachers, who embrace one of the countless variants of reformed theology insist on placing The Church (or the Body of Christ) somewhere in the tribulation period. Even worse, many teach that The Church will go all the way through this period of God's judgment, where a large part of the earth's population will be killed. For those who survive, the rapture is thought to occur shortly (possibly minutes) before Christ's Second Coming (known as post-tribulationalism). This kind of thinking is both dangerous and false, not to mention frightening. The Bible teaches that the tribulation is designed to bring Israel back into God's salvation. GOD USES THIS EVENT TO DEAL WITH UNBELIEVING PEOPLE. Yet, these spiritual leaders, blinded by their wrong theology, are convinced that The Church (all true believers in Christ) is now "THE NEW ISRAEL". Their misguided beliefs also cause them to attack and discredit those who teach "an escape before the tribulation", which God provides for the ones Jesus Christ made worthy through His redeeming blood.
More information about this dominant teaching
is available at the following link:
Avoiding the Error of Replacement Theology
Christ's Blood Paid the Ransom Price
For Our Escape
This is why any teaching that claims the Church (all true Christian believers) must go through the judgments of the tribulation IS A COVERT ATTACK ON OUR BLOOD-BOUGHT REDEMPTION THAT CHRIST PAID TO "BUY US BACK". We can now understand why Paul warned the Church, "Let no man deceive you by any means". This is not some "optional or nonessential" teaching of eschatology. It is about the completed salvation of the Christian believer. We might now better understand the offensive warning Peter gave when he said:
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, EVEN DENYING THE LORD WHO BOUGHT THEM, and bring on themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1 -- Emphasis Mine)
IMPORTANT NOTE: To limit the length of this commentary, we provide links to information that directly applies to our topic. Please read this additional material for a more complete understanding of this Bible study.