Gal 1:6-8: Only The Historical Fact? Or The Principles?
Paul expressly condemned any and all false additions to the gospel. Be it via one claiming to be an “apostle” or even an “angel from heaven”, ANY and ALL additions (which are really subtractions from) Christ alone by grace alone, are under the eternal curse of God…Strong language indeed!
In his commentary on Galatians, Calvin observed,
“They were removed from Christ; not that they entirely rejected Christianity, but that the corruption of their doctrines was such as to leave them nothing more than an imaginary Christ” Ok. This addresses the historical specific context which prompted Paul to write. But we must inquire further: Does the principle extend beyond the actual historical particular?
Indeed, it does…and must! While the specific historical occasion may indeed have been the attempts by the Judaizers to re-insert the Jewish Law back into the means of justification, the principle is that ANYTHING other than grace alone and ANYONE other than Christ alone as the means and basis of justification, is a distorted, false gospel and under the same anathema!
** Otherwise, the entire argument in Galatians has NO practical meaning for the vast majority of believers who have lived through the centuries with NO personal enticement to Judaism.**
Calvin applies the principle to the Romish church of his day saying:
“Thus, in *our own times*, the Papists, choosing to have a divided and mangled Christ, have none, and are therefore “removed from Christ.” They are full of superstitions, which are directly at variance with the nature of Christ. Let it be carefully observed, that we are removed from Christ, *when we fall into those views which are inconsistent with his mediatorial office*; for light can have no fellowship with darkness.”
INCONSISTENT WITH HIS MEDIATORIAL OFFICE:
On this particular, Calvin nailed it. He understood the heart of the matter. This then brings us to the very heart of Christian truth – That Jesus’ death cannot be rightly divorced from His role as Mediator/Intercessor. Jesus, the sin-offering is also, simultaneously the Mediator/Intercessor. There is no dichotomy, distinction, or confusion.They are two halves of the same coin. We do not have one without the other. Nor indeed can we. Isa 53:10-11 make this perfectly clear. Messiah bore the sin of “the many”, He justifies them said Isaiah because He bore their sins, and He made intercession for sinners. Thus, atonement, sin-bearing, intercession are ALL simultaneously essential components of the Christian gospel. Remove any and you no longer have a functional whole. THE GOSPEL therefore IS that Jesus by His substitutionary death offered Himself as the sin-bearing, sin-offering and advocate to God for all whom He justifies. They are justified by His death Isaiah said – not their faith! “By His knowledge My righteous servant shall justify the many FOR He will bear their iniquities”. The text says nothing at all about what “the many” who WILL be justified BY Messiah bearing THEIR sins will do.
FAITH IS A LINK, NOT AN END:
Please understand, this does not make faith unnecessary. God forbid! God included faith as A component in the whole of salvation, so that it is salvation-“BY grace-THROUGH faith” (Eph 2:8-9). God is pleased “to save everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:21). But faith has zero value in and of itself. Faith looks TO another – Christ and His work. That is the only value faith has. It LOOKS, TRUSTS, HOPES in Christ. Therefore, by definition, saving-faith places zero in self for anything! Sure, many profess a faith which is full of self-boasting. Matt 7:22-25 declares many will stand before Jesus, professing Him as “Lord”, boasting of the “many wonderful works” they did “in His name” to whom He will say “Depart from Me! I never knew you!”
Faith …meaning, saving-faith, is a link, a means. It is not a basis. Nor is it an end. Christ alone is the end! Grace is the “BY” component. Faith is the “through” element God uses faith as His desired means for His chosen ones to obtain what Christ wrought by Himself, in His own flesh on th cross. His work for us is what saves us. Period! Since we cannot physically see or touch Jesus anymore, faith alone links us in saving relationship to and with Him – the Advocate/Intercessor/Sin-Bearer/Saviour.
MEDIATOR/ADVOCATE CANNOT BE SEPARATED:
Christ as Advocate with the Father cannot be divorced from Christ as sin-offering to the Father. Regardless of who tries to suggest otherwise, the idea that there is any distinction or separation between Christ AS atoning-sacrifice and Christ AS Advocate, is therefore false! Even if unintended…it is still false.
While sincere misunderstanding, misinformation lack of knowledge CAN be lovingly corrected. Open, outright arrogance in denying the truth cannot be. There is nothing in terms of doctrinal truth more important than the one person and work of Jesus. So intertwined are they in scripture, that it is not possible to separate Jesus the person from His saving-work. Nor does God the Father ever want such a separation.
> The LORD Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem TO BE the sin-bearing, atonement providing, mediator/advocate with the Father.
Those for whom Christ was offered are those for whom He made (and makes) intercession (Isa 53:10-11; Rom 8:33-34; Heb 7:25; 10:14). Thus, it is entirely wrong to say He atoned for “the whole world” (as defined by Arminians) but only intercedes for His own after they come to Him! That is the subtle lie, error. That is what separates the ONE mediatorial-work of Jesus into two distinct, separate parts which scripture does not support! Isa 53:11-12 clearly state that Messiah justifiesvthose whose sins He bore, for whom He made intercession.
Thus, this lie says in effect that though Jesus interceded for the entire human race, His death and intercession are not what saves! it denies the efficacy of His intercession – for most for whom He supposedly atoned for/intercedes for, are yet lost! Thus rendering His role as Mediator/Advocate/Intercessor to be in the final analysis, irrelevant for the majority! Friends, THIS is such a serious error and slant and in fact, such an open attack on the perfection of Christ as atoning-sacrifice/Advocate, that it MUST be exposed, rebuked and shunned at all costs!
WHEREAS scripture expressly declares that it is precisely His advocacy and intercession for us which saves us (Rom 8:32-33; Heb 7:25; 1 Jn 2:1-2), therefore, we must affirm, cling to and contend for the ONE mediatorial work of Christ! So in the “universal” language of 1 Jn 2:2, which cannot be divorced from 1 Jn 2:1 (as so often happens when vs 2 is used as a “proof-text” out of context), we see that John inseparably linked Jesus AS Advocate with Jesus AS atoning sacrifice. So must we…always!
THE JUDGE IS THE JUDGE-ADVOCATE: How Can Any Be Lost Then?
Jesus said “The Father judges no man but has entrusted ALL judgment to the Son” (Jn 5:22). The ONLY one who has the authority to condemn to hell is Jesus! But He supposedly died FOR, making atonement FOR, and interceding FOR all men without exception. Yet all men are not saved by that! But He is also Judge! Does He forget His own work as atoning-sacrifice.
So Arminianism compounds its error by having Christ work AGAINST Himself! He supposedly died FOR every person (rather than FOR “the church”), interceding FOR the “whole world” (they say). But then evidently forgets His own intercession and atoning-death when He condemns sinners to hell!
But when HE defined HIS mission, HE said it like this “Father, You have given Him (Jesus) authority over all flesh SO THAT He may give eternal life TO all YOU have given to Him” (Jn 17:2). Jesus AS Judge of the world is separate from Jesus as Judge/Advocate Jesus is ONLY advocating FOR His own FOR whom He came to save (Matt 1:21). But there is NO such distinction between His one work of atoning-sacrifice and Advocate.
“I DO NOT PRAY FOR THE WORLD”:
IF the premise of Arminianism is true, then the prayer of the High Priest who was only hours away from His suffering AS the sin-bearing, atoning-sacrifice for “the whole world”, in Jn 17:9 is unfathomable! Why would Jesus say “I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me out of the world”, IF in fact, He understood He was about to die for it? Why would He not intercede in prayer for the world IF in fact He understood He was about to intercede for it on the cross? In all my years as a former Arminian – for many years a truly self-righteous, self-boaster of my choices rather than grace alone, an ordained Pentecostal pastor with an earned degree in Theology from a respected Pentecostal Bible College; I never encountered what I considered a credible answer to these enormous and deeply weighty questions from the theological camp of Arminianism. And the more than eighteen years since the Lord one day spoke to my heart quite unexpectedly, humbling me to my very core, exposing my proud heart which was the natural, inescapable result of my theological assumptions and error, and by that word to my heart exalting and magnifying only His grace to me, I have yet to hear or read a credible answer! The reason? I am confident, the answer is simple…Arminianism as a system of theology has no credible answer here! It is simply inconceivable that the Lord Jesus would have made such a glaring distinction between who He was and was not praying for IF in fact He understood His mission to be more exhaustive than He expressed in Jn 17:2!
“THOSE YOU HAVE GIVEN ME”
Jn 17:2 provides the theolgical, and more importantly, the soteriolgical framework which clearly expressed the particular object of Jesus’ concern and desire – HIS people both at that time and all in the future, as the context of John 17 makes perfectly clear. Later in that intercessory prayer, Jesus included all who would in future believe as well (Jn 19:20). Jn 17:21-24 make it perfectly clear that Jesus used the phrase “those You have given Me” in both an immediate and comprehensive way. In Jn 17:9 it clearly refers to all who at that time believed in Him. And in Jn 17:21-25 it clearly refers to all believers of all time. Jesus saying “Father I want THOSE YOU HAVE GIVEN ME to be with Me to see My glory” certainly refers to more than just the original disciples and believers! Unless we are to suppose that Jesus does not want all who believe in Him to likewise be with Him and see a His glory? So we see yet another Arminian invention – that Jn 17:9 only referred to the disciples at that time, is easily refuted when we look at Jesus’ prayer in context as a whole. It begins with His own summary of His mission – that He came to give eternal life to ALL THE FATHER GIVES Him. His prayer then encompassed those who at that time had come to faith and all who yet would. As High Priest. Jesus here was indeed advocating…just not FOR the whole world. At least, not in the way Arminians understand that phrase. But rather, how Jesus understood it, and how the ancient Jewish writers understood it as synecdoche meaning every nation, tribe, tongue rather than every single individual. Therefore, either His beloved disciple John completely contradicted His Lord Himself in 1 Jn 2:1-2, OR, the Arminian assumptions they attach to their faulty, superficial interpretation of it, are easily exposed and refuted.
Thus, in the end Arminianism teaches a false doctrine, inventing a false Christ who cannot accomplish what the scriptures attribute to Him and His mediatorial-work! In other words, Rom 8:32-33; Heb 7:25 cannot be depended on, since they did not and do not avail for the vast majority of humanity for whom He supposedly atoned and advocated for.
ORTHODOXY IS IRRELEVANT IF THE GOSPEL IS FALSE
Here then is the great error and lie of Arminianism. It affirms many Orthodox tenets of faith/theology: God is Triune, Jesus is His unique Son fully God and fully man in one person, virgin-born, sinless, Jesus died as the only sin-offering making atonement for sin. Jesus rose again, Jesus will come again as King. All good so far, right?
Yes…except that Roman Catholics will all of their extra-biblical and non-biblical heresies also affirms all this too. So are practicing Roman Catholics born of God?
Wherein lies the problem then? It is more subtle, but no less real. Remember, satan disguises himself as “an angel of light” Paul said (2 Cor 11:14). So all of his lies are not always overt. Often they are subtle, hiding in and around truth. But his lies are damnable nonetheless!
CONCLUSION: THE LIE EXPOSED
The consistent Arminian for all his orthodox profession of faith, SEPARATES the mediatorial-work of Christ. How so? By insisting that Jesus died FOR all men, (rather than FOR “His people” in particular, as the scriptures expressly state -Matt 1:21; Jn 3:16; 11:51-52; 17:2; Acts 28:28; Eph 5:25 etc), the Arminian thus reduces, nay NULLIFIES the efficacy (effect and sufficiency) of Christ’s work. Jesus supposedly made atonement for the “whole world”, yet the whole world is not saved by that suffering, death and intercession. So in the end, His blood did not avail for the vast majority of humanity! It nullifies it because though Jesus is Himself the Judge AND also the atoning-sacrifice/advocate, He therefore must view His OWN work on the cross as insufficient to save all FOR whom it was supposedly offered! Why are they damned for the sins He supposedly atoned for on the cross?!? So when passages like 1 Jn 2:2 are understood by them in only slavishly literal terms, rather than the obvious literary use of synecdoche by the ancient writers of the New Testament, they end up with an INEFFECTUAL atonement, advocate and advocacy! And they think this “honours”Christ?!?!
> The “whole world” is not saved by that all-sufficient, supreme work and intercession of Christ, so in the end, it cannot be rightly said that it is the work of Christ which saves! Rather, it is our own which does! Herein then lies the great error and indeed, blasphemy of the Arminian version of the gospel. It presents Christ as Sin-Offering/Advocate for everyone – but then denies that everyone is saved by that offering and advocacy! In short, the wonderful, essential truth so stated in Rom 8:32-33; Heb 7:25 are NOT in fact sufficient. Nor does Jesus actually save all for whom He acts as Advocate…Hence, Christ alone is not sufficient. HIS work alone is NOT sufficient. Something added by us, rather than granted by Him to us, as scripture expressly teaches 2 Tim 2:24-26, must be added in order for HIS work avail!
. Jesus offered an atonement which does not actually atone.
. Jesus advocated for those who will not benefit from His advocacy.
. Jesus suffered horrific brutality to no avail for the majority He endured it for.
RESULT? A failed atonement, intercessor, advocate. THIS is the inevitable, inescapable conclusion of Arminian doctrine when consistently held.
> Satan hates the cross and the shed blood of Jesus. And will employ any and every deceitful leaven to try and undermine it. To get people to look NOT to Christ and HIS work alone for salvation, but rather ALSO to someone or something else…be it Judaism, Moses, Mary, or SELF!
Any and all additions to Christ and grace ALONE, (which are really subtractions from Him) are therefore false distortions of the gospel as Paul used the term. They are all under the anathema of God – REGARDLESS of WHO teaches them! …even if one claiming to be an apostle or an “angel from heaven”!
May God give light
John M. Platanitis March 2017