The Church of the Living Dead
This post will be the summation of my last two post. ‘Two Face the Gospel’ and ‘Competing Word of God’ looked at the two different gospels preached from the word of God. The big question is, how can the Bible appear to teach a gospel of grace and not by works and a gospel that teaches we will be judged by what we do. One teaching concludes that our behavior has nothing to do with our hope of salvation while the other teaches it has everything to do with our eternal destination. Are we forever bound to have two gospels?
Now when most people consider the grace of God they say that God in His mercy sent His Son to die for our sins. Consequently the teaching is the sins of man were nailed to the cross. I think this is good doctrine. Only someone who doesn’t understand the basic principles of the gospel would mistakenly say this is not a profound biblical truth. But is our sins being nailed to the cross the only benefit man has received from the Lord concerning our redemption? There is something else taught in our gospel that in my opinion appears to be missing in the gospel message of the church.
For Paul, he did not look at the cross only as the place where his sins were nailed to the cross. Since Paul did not look at the cross this way neither should we. Paul actually has a view of the cross that reconciles perfectly this ‘Competing Word of God, this ‘Two Face Gospel’ that we in the church today do not. Because of the doctrine of Paul, and I would say the scriptures as a whole, there is no division of the good news. But because we like to pigeon-hole Paul into grace only and not understand he actually taught about the accountability of our actions concerning our eternal destination, we actually have missed one of the most important teachings of the New Testament. The lack of this teaching in the doctrine of the church has not only split asunder the gospel, it has produce a church full of the living dead.
So what was Paul’s view of the cross that we have missed, not only in our teachings but in our own response to the gospel found in God’s word? The cross to Paul was a place where he can look up and see his old man hanging on the tree with Christ. To Paul, God’s grace was not only that sins our forgiven, but a place where we can identify with our old man also hanging on the tree. The gospel is full of verses that speak not only of our sins being forgiven, it also teaches of the sin nature being taken away. Let’s look at some verses where Paul describes the cross.
Rom 6:3-7 KJV Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Our old man, the old nature spoken of in Rom 6 is nailed to the cross with Christ. This is the grace of God. Not only could we not work to have our sins forgiven (this the church gets right about the grace of God) or as some say earn our salvation, we could not contend with our sin nature outside of the work of Christ on the cross. But now we are to walk in the newness of this life and not serve sin by the grace of God. If Christ had not died for us not only would we not have the forgiveness of sins, we would still be slave to serve sin and the flesh. Think of all of those scriptures that speak of no longer being a slave to sin but now we serve a new master. If you wish for me to provide these for you, leave your request at the bottom of this post in the comment section.
As we can see in the rest of the verses in Rom 6 we can see Paul flat-out teach that the sin nature is destroyed so we no longer serve sin, of course that is if we have Christ and been crucified with Him. Paul speaks of this in another place. Listen to how Paul describes the cross in Gal. He doesn’t speak of it as the church does, our sins on the cross. Paul again sees the grace of God as he being crucified to the world and its lust and affections and the world being crucified to him.
Gal 6:14 KJV But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
In fact we will see Paul speaking of this whole idea of the cross of Christ not only bearing our sins, but our sin nature, our old man is now dead in Christ.
Gal 5:24-25 KJV And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
So what is the picture of the believer the gospel is presenting to those who would believe unto salvation? We who put our hope in Christ not only have our sins forgiven, we also have the missing part of the gospel, our old sin nature that was a slave to sin was crucified with Christ. Now by the grace of God we have the old nature under the old Adam put to death. By the grace of God we have this sin nature buried in Christ. Not only all of this, we have now been raised to life in the likeness of the new Adam no longer as slaves to sin, rather as slaves to righteousness. This is how scripture paints the grace of God in the believer’s life. It is not just our sins being forgiven. The grace of the gospel also is our old self and all it’s desire to sin as a slave to sin is now dead. This is how scripture speaks of being born again in the Spirit and not in the flesh. The nature of the flesh is supposed to be gone in the believer.
The testimony of this truth is so resoundingly clear in our gospel that John is able to say of those who by the grace of God had their sins forgiven, by the grace of God had their old sin nature nailed to the cross, by the grace of God the old man was buried with Christ and by the grace of God a new creation in Christ Jesus is raised in the image of Christ, those who have the Spirit of Christ can not sin. That is right, can not sin. This is not the teaching of the church. Instead the church teaches we do sin, but scripture teaches if we are experiencing the grace of Christ and the work of the cross in our lives we are slaves to righteousness, because the old sin nature died on the cross and is now buried.
1Jn 3:4-10 KJV Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
The church rejects the teaching of biblical grace for the watered down version of the work of the cross to take away sin only. Because we reject the death of the old man and birth of the new man who can not sin because we have His Spirit, churches are full of the living dead. The church has abandoned biblical abiding in the verses above. We think we abide in Him because we think we are experiencing the grace of God to take away our sins. Instead scripture says we are abiding in Christ if experience the grace of God in having a new nature in us replace the old nature through the cross of Christ through which we sin not!
There are those who claim the grace of God to take away their sins, but they do not trust in the grace of God to crucify on the cross their old sin nature. Although this is the fact for the believer, they not understanding this still walk in the flesh, in the old nature as slaves to sin. In Christ their old man is supposed to be dead, but with the help of the teachings of the church the old man has escaped his grave and is roaming the earth again. When we find a convert who would believe unto eternal life we teach them our doctrine of grace for sins forgiven only and make them the living dead in Christ too. It is so bad in the church that we actually teach sin as a natural part of the Christian faith. It is so bad in the church we no longer preach on repenting from sin and being born again as new creations in Christ Jesus. We preach instead to trust in God’s love and encourage those bound in sin to take advantage of peer groups that will help to cope with particular sin. We even have 12 Steps programs in church. We have a church that doesn’t understand what the cross is to a true believer. They do not understand what the grace of God has done. It is not just to forgive sin. It is making us, our sin nature, dead in Christ and us new creations. We shouldn’t have the living dead in churches. If we are those who are still unregenerate and slaves to the sin nature we not His for we are not abiding in Him as explained in scripture. How we have forgotten the words of the gospel. We are saved by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. If we live as the living dead we do not have the Holy Spirit.
Tit 3:5-7 KJV Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is why we have scripture teaching us only those who are renewed by the Holy Spirit and walk in the Holy Spirit and not as the church of the living dead are those who are no longer under the condemnation of sin.
Rom 8:1-9 KJV There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Consequently we have those who preach works and those who preach grace who do not understand what scripture supports. Those who read those verses that speak of works and the importance of them and the fact that bad fruit in a believer’s life will lead to spiritual death, think we have to follow the Law. This is wrong, this is bad, this is not found in scripture. As believers we have these warnings not to remind us to be slaves again unto the Law or ordinances of men, they are there to warn us to live in the Spirit by which the sin nature is still dead and buried in the one who is in Christ Jesus. Those who preach legalism are like those whom Paul warns the church. So called men who only want to bind men up again unto bondage. These men masquerade as servants of righteousness.
2Co 11:13-15 KJV For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. (14) And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Those who preach the watered down version of grace applied to a believer’s life teach that our actions have nothing to do with our eternal destination. It is actually taught in some places that believers can live as slaves to sin for an undermined amount of time doing an undermined amount of sin and they are ok to do this. They teach these believers are never in danger of hell. Which goes against the teaching found in scripture, and they call this the perseverance of the saints. How about teaching the kind of perseverance of the saints the bible does.
Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
And again, how about teaching not to let sin deceive us. There is no perseverance of the saints who are still the walking dead in Christ as unregenerate believers.
Heb 3:13-14 KJV But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;
This is how scripture can speak of not being deceived by sin when it warns us that only those who do righteous are righteous as He is righteous.
1Jn 2:29 KJV If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him
Again Christ work of God’s grace in a person’s life is not based upon whether or not they have their sins forgiven, it is based upon whether or not that persons lives in righteousness. Ironically this makes the work of Christ only for those who obey, only for those who can obey because they are no longer slaves to sin.
Heb 5:8-9 KJV Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
So yes, we are saved by grace and not by anything we can do on our own. Not only are our sins forgiven, by God’s grace, our old man is crucified and buried with Christ. By His grace we are raised in newness of the life of Christ no longer slaves to sin. We now also now there is no contradiction in scripture to teach we will be judged by what we do, if we sin we show we are not regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we show that we are not abiding in Him and show we are not His. Yes works go hand in hand with the true grace that God has given us. But let us understand the proper meaning of what God has done for us by His grace and also let us understand how we can do works of righteousness through the Spirit as new creations who are slaves to righteousness not the works of the Law.
Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Can it be any clearer? Let’s quit preaching the gospel according to men. Let us preach The Gospel According to the Gospel and put the old sin nature back in the grave so the new man can live in the Spirit of righteousness by the grace of God.
In my next post we will look further into this idea.
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