Redeemed or Forgiven?
Part 5 of 8
This part 5 will cover what happened with the Person of Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross along with being born again and salvation by faith.
THE SECOND ADAM-
According to the Hebrew Roots Movement and at least a few of the Seventh Day Adventists, the only thing that happened with the Cross is that our sins were forgiven and the previous temple sacrifices were fulfilled through the sacrifice of Christ. When the issue of fulfillment concerning the Law is up for debate, the HRM holds to the position that fulfillment is STRICTLY reserved to the messianic prophecies concerning Christ’s appearing and the temple sacrifices or Passover.
The focus of this article will be centered on what do the function and purpose the Cross of Christ has to do with the fall of man and original sin and we will see how that applies the to the differences between the Law and the born again life by faith.
Did Jesus Christ only redeem us through forgiveness from the sins and penalties in relation to the Law? Let’s look at this verse that would seem to indicate that:
“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
If this verse was the sum definition of redemption, then it would completely destroy my argument in these series of articles, but verses like this are not the sum of doctrines. This verse is about sin in relation to the first covenant which suggests that Jesus Christ fully rectified and redeemed mankind in the scope and nature of the first covenant. We have to begin by looking at scriptures that encompass and define the broad spectrum of sin and redemption in relation to the first covenant. Let’s start with the broadest aspect that describes the purpose of Christ.
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
In these verses, Paul skips over everything else in the Bible and presents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in direct relation to the fall in the garden. Nobody else was the second Adam; not Abraham, not Moses, not Joshua, not Samuel, not Elijah and not king David and not Isaiah.
Paul presents the concept that the ultimate situation that needed a remedy was the fall, not Sinai, and it was the Law that exposed the symptoms of that fall which Paul presents in the very next verse of that passage:
“Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.” (Romans 5:20)
And for those who may have thought they were keeping the Law; Jesus adds an even greater weight to the Law in the Beatitudes showing that there is an inward standard that men will be judged by.
Romans 5 is built on something that seems to be entirely missing from the Hebrew Roots Movement, and that something is hindsight. The HRM will affirm the event and benefits of the Cross, but Romans 5 is built on the question of- Why? Why did Jesus have to die? Romans 5 is not a history lesson. It’s a revelation that is a result of looking into why Jesus came and died rather than only observing what He did and believing in it.
The type of hindsight that the HRM presents would seem to be opposite to Paul’s hindsight. Because the HRM spends most of their time arguing about how we should live as believers in Christ, their hindsight doesn’t really go back any farther than Sinai and commandments, and therefore, Jesus becomes someone for the purposes of restoring and promoting the Law.
This is different than Paul’s hindsight because he doesn’t see mankind as being righteous under the Law, but rather guilty and eternally condemned.
To make this more simple, we can look at these differences in contrast to each other:
For Paul, he looks at Jesus Christ and the Cross as the foundational and chief revelation of God and His righteousness. From this point, Paul reasons backward in time to examine the purpose of everything that occurred before Christ and how it led up to Him.
On the other hand, the HRM looks at laws and commandments as being the foundational revelation of God and his righteousness. From this point, the HRM reasons forward in time to examine how everything should be subject to the preeminence of the laws and commandments.
The forward reasoning of the HRM makes Jesus out to be the second Moses who creates a renaissance and restoration of the Law with improved commandments, but the backward reasoning of Paul makes Jesus out to be the second Adam who creates a renaissance and restoration of mankind with God by conquering the basis and core reality of sin.
There is alot of truth and application to Jesus being the second Moses, but neither Adam nor Moses ever conquered sin. The Law does not conquer sin either, but the HRM would seem to prefer viewing Jesus as the second Moses because they see the Law as the basis of righteousness and the absence of sin. Paul however, sees the the basis of righteousness and the absence of sin in Jesus Christ as the second Adam because He is the only one who conquered sin.
There are only two men that confronted temptation while they were without sin; Adam and Jesus. Adam gave his dominion over to the power of sin and Jesus Christ conquered sin and reclaimed dominion over it.
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:18)
This is what I mean when I say that Jesus paid for the transgression of Adam and this is what is meant when Jesus is referred to as the second Adam.
THE TEMPLE VEIL-
The temple veil was torn in two when Christ died and this event gives us another place that we can reason from in a backward manner. Just as the Law was intended to confine all men under the guilt and condemnation of sin, the temple veil also gives us an indication of the condition of mankind before Jesus Christ. The temple veil lets us know that all mankind was in an unsanctified condition that separated him from the presence and holiness of God. This is a pretty simple inference that can be reasoned in hindsight.
ROMANS CHAPTER 6-
If Jesus only died for the transgressions in relation to the Law, we would have a better legal justification but there would be no personal application when it comes to the dominion of sin, and mankind would still be under the confines and restraints of the Law due to the fact that the power of sin would still reside within him. Man would still need the inward nature to be governed by the Law.
The HRM holds to the position of a pseudo-redemption where mankind has been freed from the penalties of the Law, but he is still obligated to the same format of commands and restraints therein. They back this position with the fact that sin is transgression of the Law, but this position overlooks the fact that man walks in purity before God through Jesus Christ apart from the Law. This position also overlooks the fact that believers are now in a sanctified state which is evidenced by the temple veil being torn in two, and it assumes that because sin is transgression of the Law, then righteousness would be the keeping of it.
This position of the HRM is contrary to the personal application that Paul puts forth in Romans 6 in which we are co-crucified with Christ. Co-crucifixion is where we die the same death to the penalties of the Law that Christ did by identifying with His death by faith. Now that the transgression of Adam has been paid for and the dominion of sin has been cancelled in Christ, our restraints are according to the new man in Christ, and not according to the Law and our old man who was under the dominion of sin. Let’s take a look at how this is put together in Romans 6:
“knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6-6:11)
The HRM does not preach nor live within this framework of Romans 6 and they do not want anyone else to live within this framework otherwise it would not support their enforcement of the Law. They preach that a person is legally justified through Christ but they do not preach that man is dead to sin through Christ. This is why they say that we are no longer under the law of sin and death but we are still under obligation to the Law, but the obligation to the Law implies that we are still under the dominion of sin and thereby needful of the restraints of the Law. This is completely contrary to the Bible and the provisions of the Cross. Their theory that we are only freed from the law of sin and death (penalties) but still under the Law, does not hold water because the Law holds no obligation without its adjoining penalties. This would make the Law a suggestion for righteous living but the Law is not a suggestion; it is a demand, and its demands carry with it the penalty of death. The Law is now a context or shadow for what was purposed in the finished work of the Cross and our obligation is to that finished work by faith, not works.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”(Romans 6:14)
The HRM would have to render this verse to say, “…you are not under the law of sin and death but under the Law.”, because according to them, the dominion of sin still resides with us and it must be cancelled and subdued through obedience to the Law.
A person cannot be born again unto a new nature if something hasn’t happened to the old one. That’s pretty simple logic.
“…For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
(2 Corinthians 6:14)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)
The HRM doesn’t deal with the aspect of lawlessness and sin in relation to natures and that is why they do not view the Law as something that reveals the hidden nature of sin that must be put to death. This is why they offer such a limited view of the Cross that doesn’t deal with the necessity for change in natures, but only in works. They seem to be perfectly content with the existence of the carnal mind which is enmity with God so long as it keeps the Law but Paul says that this carnal nature is contrary to God and it does not constitute true obedience and submission to the true laws of God.
The subject of opposing natures and the born again life puts the HRM in a real theological bind. According to the Bible, the Law entered to reveal the offense of sin that fell on every man because of Adam (Romans 5:14) and in Christ we are dead to sin and the nature of Adam which was crucified with Him so that we might be alive to God through a new nature, but the HRM still proposes that we are in direct need of the Law in order to avoid and subdue sin. This presumes that we are not dead to the sin of the old man because the Cross did not conquer its power and if the Cross did not conquer its power, then we can’t be born again and therefore, everything we do is ultimately carnal and not subject to the true law of God. This would make everything we do a type of Ishmael and not according to the promise of Abraham. Lets read:
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8)
SALVATION BY FAITH-
Now that there are two opposing natures because of Jesus Christ; salvation, justification and righteousness are not just luxuries and benefits that we have by grace through faith, but now it’s mandatory that they are obtained by grace through faith. The old nature produces Ishmaels and God won’t allow it now that there is an alternative.
Salvation by faith is not mandatory simply because that’s what the Bible describes as the terms and conditions of salvation. Charles Finney explains that the righteousness that condemns us is the same righteousness that saves us, and this makes salvation by faith extremely important because salvation cannot be accomplished when there are lingering remnants of our fallen nature involved in the work of the Cross. If we involve of our fallen nature in the work of the Cross, that becomes a denial that our nature deserves absolute condemnation and if we are not submitting the fallen nature to the judgments of God, then He cannot crucify it in order to resurrect us in the newness of life.
God fully intended to destroy sin at the Cross so that we would be alive to Him through His Son and not through ourselves. Therefore, to obtain these things through any other means or source is a rejection of the Cross as being the place where sin is separated from righteousness.
Remember how God rejected Abraham’s offspring through the bondwoman? This is the foreshadowing of our life in Christ, in that God fully rejects what is born of man, therefore, the purpose of the Cross was not only to reveal and expose, but also to nullify everything that is born of man, “lest any man boast”.
I don’t doubt for one minute that the HRM fully understands and fully affirms that salvation is by grace through faith. However, it’s not about motives and understanding salvation by faith as much as it is understanding what should be the object of our faith. When it comes to sin, righteousness and obedience, I truly believe that the object of their faith and what they exercise their faith towards, is not in the finished work of Christ.
A person is not saved by faith but rather for the object of their faith and if a person does not see themselves wholly condemned under the Law and rightfully crucified with Christ as a just requirement of the Law then the object of their faith will only be a vicarious forgiveness rather than a personal application of a new birth. A limited view of the Cross will only yield a limited view of the work of God and a person will have to question what the substance of their life is after salvation. They will have no other choice but to pick up and re-master the former righteousness that condemned them.
The HRM places faith in the category of motives, but faith and motives are separate. A person can have a good motive, yet still place their faith in the wrong object. The HRM retains a view of righteousness through the Law, rather than full condemnation. The Law is the object of their faith for the hopes of righteousness and this is justified on the basis of having the right motives. This creates a salvation of works with the right motives, rather than salvation by faith in the object of Christ alone. I don’t underestimate having the right motive, but Eve had a good motive when she ate the fruit, and Abraham and Sarah had a good motive when they created Ishmael. All of these had the right motives but the wrong object of faith. The HRM is simply re-packaging a pseudo-alignment with God that Adam and Eve, and Abraham and Sarah fell prey to. It overlooks the object and dependency of faith. Motives are usually based on our own personal opinion and it takes many, many years to establish and perfect a symbiosis between Godly motives and Godly works. On the other hand, it only takes a split second to have the right object of faith. The object of your faith is determined by what you find more credible.
Many people are intimidated by the HRM’s willing admission of salvation by faith alone, but salvation is not just by faith, but by faith “in Christ”. The same goes for our life and context of righteousness after salvation which is not just by faith, but faith in the object of Christ and the Cross.
Groups like the HRM and SDA openly profess to a limited view of the Cross that does not provide for a new birth in the Spirit. In their view, the Cross only pays for the transgressions in relation the Law and not the transgression of Adam but what isn’t realized is that the Law is in relation to the transgression and nature of Adam. This is why the physical body of Christ, representing the flesh and nature of man, had to die. “For man is indeed flesh.”(Genesis 6:3)
This limited view of the Cross does not provide an object of faith where sin is separated from righteousness and therefore, there must be some other means whereby sin is subdued. The only remaining alternative for the absence and crucifixion of sin is the Law, but under the Law is the magnification of sin and the fallen nature. The Cross is the only place where sin is subdued and conquered and the work of the Holy Spirit is identifying us with Jesus Christ and Him crucified when we place our entire dependency and faith in that work. If we promote any other form of righteousness, motive or object of faith, neither is sin subdued, and neither are the works thereof born of God. The Law can give us a context of righteousness due to the fact that it was the previous revelation of righteousness, but no where under the Law is sin and the flesh conquered. The Holy Spirit cannot identify us with the work and righteousness of the Cross when a person is trying to find their identity and guidance under the righteousness of the Law or any other source.
If a person is reliant on obedience to the Law for the regulation and establishment of morality, then that person is not born again or their is a huge misunderstanding in their born again experience. The moral precepts of the Law are conversely symptomatic to the lack of morality in man. The reason that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor is because the basis of immorality or carnality violates these two commandments. The 10 commandments conversely indicate how this base carnality manifests itself and so the commandments guard against the manifestations of the fallen nature. If we keep the 10 commandments, then we limit the manifestation of this carnality but this carnality still exists and it is an offense to God regardless of how it manifests itself or not. God sees the nature of carnality behind it all and this is the great aim of the Cross in restoring love for God and love for man. If the nature and disposition of man is altered through the Cross by crucifying Adam, then what we do will be born of God in keeping with love for God and love for man. The born again nature of Christ will manifest itself in keeping with love for God and love for man. We can see why Paul says:
“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
If you haven’t noticed it before, in this passage, Paul breaks down the basis of two natures; the Spirit and the flesh. He then goes on to describe how these natures manifest themselves. The manifestations of the flesh are under the Law, but Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit has no law against them.
If the Cross of Jesus Christ now provides the believer with the manifestations/fruit of the Spirit, then there is no basis for a believer to be arbitrarily subjected to the Law to somehow purify and perfect what the Law could never purify and perfect in the first place. The sinful nature will always be present, but the Law only restrains its manifestations, but the Spirit crucifies it and provides fruit that is born of God. The Law does not produce fruit unto God that is born of God:
“Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may 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.” (Roman 7:4-5)
It’s all about the Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross by faith.
It’s not by works because the flesh has been judged and condemned in Christ.
It’s not by motives because we have been given an object of our faith.
It’s not by law because we have been given the Spirit of grace.
“It is finished!” (John 19:30)
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
In the next article, Part 6, we will take a look at the specific functions and purpose of the Holy Spirit and what His role is in relation to us and the Law.