As reflected in Paul’s inbox, it’s evident that the TANC conferences have played a pivotal role toward educating believers on the Platonic philosophy driving the Protestant bus. Therefore, PPT is introducing a weekly video segment called “Gnostic Watch Weekly” wherein Paul and Susan discuss and decipher readers’ contributions of the many examples plaguing Christianity of every denominational stripe. We welcome contributions from any denomination and all nationalities! Please send articles, posts, and sermon examples to email@example.com, then tune-in to “Gnostic Watch Weekly” every Friday at 7pm.
Addendum: Gnosticism and the Contemporary Institutional Church
“To emphasize the shadows is to emphasize life itself.”
There is one proof that today’s church is saturated with Gnosticism, other than the tyranny that comes with it. For the most part, when you listen to any given message taught to Christians, you will notice that a neutral or third option is missing. It’s an either/or worldview. The essence of Gnosticism is known as “dualism.” All knowledge is either good or evil. In the case of Protestantism, it’s Luther’s cross story or glory story. The knowledge of good and evil; sound familiar? All reality falls into two categories only: it’s EITHER about you, OR it’s about the cross.
“_______…is not necessarily a bad thing (fill in the shadow element), it’s just not the best thing.” Yes my friend, why do you emphasize the shadows when it is only the Son that gives life? In Protestantism, “Son.” In Platonism, “Sun.” For both: shadows = life and the material realm. To emphasize the shadows is to emphasize life itself.
Shadows are true. Plato never said that shadows don’t exist—he just deemed them useless for true knowledge. The virtuous person does not live in the shadows, he/she lives according to the true, good, and beautiful aka Plato’s trinity. The shadows, viz, life and whatever may be going on, is irrelevant to the wellbeing experience of the true, good, and beautiful. In the same way, good Protestants are deemed happy regardless of their circumstances; it is well with our soul.
If ISIS raises their flag above the White House—it is well with our soul.
If there is a pedophile in our church—it is well with our soul.
“Justice!” you say? If you want self-justice, you are just as guilty as the one who followed his self-desire. Come now, use this preordained opportunity to be the bigger person, to show forth the cross of self-denial. If you deny yourself justice, you are showing forth the gospel to the one who should have denied himself the fulfillment of his self-desire. We must “bring grace to the situation.” We must, “show forth the gospel.” We must show forth the self-death of the cross.
All of these things are just shadows after all. And to the Gnostic, whether an atheist or a good Protestant, the biggest shadow of all is capitalism. The profound spell of Plato is that he appeals to the social scientist and the religionist alike. Self-concept is the waters of the shadow world that we swim in. To the degree that we empty self and live solely for the sake of community, our individual soul is transformed. To the degree that individuals are transformed, society is transformed. Atheists and Protestants must not fuss; here now, hold hands and say, “ahhhmen.” After all, we all want the same thing: community wellbeing.
One is greatly mistaken if they point to the woes of societies living in the rotten fruits of Eastern mysticism as a contention. Those people are deemed virtuous because they are content in the shadows. If everyone would follow their example, the world would be balanced and the true, good, and beautiful would be manifested. The only reason that countries are poor is because capitalism’s greed takes from some and gives to others, and the earth is therefore unbalanced. The only way to a balanced, unified earth is collective self-death. This is where the liberal Democrat and the Neo-Calvinist both walk in the way of Martin Luther’s cross story.
Hence, the likes of ISIS is an unfortunate example of those who are a bit over-zealous. But they understand the importance of devaluing the life of the individual—they are just a bit extreme in demonstrating that truth. They are misguided, but yea, if only the capitalist understood their child-like faith.
Bad results are no pudding test. Capitalism isn’t the cure, it’s the cause. This is where the contrast between Christ who said, “the poor will always be with you,” and the dominion theology of the Neo-Calvinist and the liberal democrat alike should strike terror in our hearts.
An excerpt from a reply to someone about election and covenants:
It’s perpetual covenant renewal. By experiencing perpetual death and rebirth (“mortification and vivification”) you gain assurance of salvation, but you won’t know for certain that you are saved until the final judgement. Calvin held to three classes of election: the non-elect, the called (temporarily elected), and those who persevere (those who stand in the judgement). Calvin actually taught that the “called” were temporarily illumined by the Holy Spirit. Most Calvinists of the Neo-Calvinist resurgence are aware that Calvin believed this and hold to it.
Justification/salvation is a finished work and is completely separate from sanctification/Christian living. There is only one connection between justification and sanctification; one precedes the other. Seeing the radical dichotomy between justification and sanctification is key to much needed revival among Christians. Fusion of the two in varying degrees is the spiritual cancer that presently plagues the Christian community in our day.
A good way to see the vast separation between justification and sanctification is the difference between gift and reward. A gift cannot be earned, but a reward is something that is earned. Something that is earned, or worked for, cannot be a gift. When your employer pays you, he/she doesn’t hand you a check while saying, “This is a gift from me to you.”
In the Bible, salvation is a gift, and kingdom living is rewarded. Calvinism tries to get around this dichotomy by using Covenant theology. Supposedly, Adam violated a covenant of works when he disobeyed God, and the Covenant of Grace is a gift to us by faith alone, but is a result of Christ fulfilling the Covenant of Works (the covenant violated by Adam) for us. This enables them to explain away the following:
Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
If God overlooked the work we do in kingdom living, that would make Him unjust. You can compare this to an employer who doesn’t pay an employee what they have earned. A reward is something you earn.
Calvinists say verses like this must be interpreted redemptively and not grammatically. In the grammatical interpretation, “your” means “you.” It is work done by you and you have earned a reward accordingly. If God overlooks what YOU have earned, that would make Him unjust. But if this verse is interpreted redemptively, it becomes the work Christ has done for you rather than by you. It is Christ’s fulfillment of the Covenant of Works that is being referred to, and your reward is salvation accordingly.
So, our “reward” is really a “gift.” And the “gift” is a reward given to us because the work is done by someone else. Hence, one cannot be a grammarian and Calvinist both. In addition, any claim by Calvinists that they use exegesis is not in the realm of reality. Covenant theology is clearly eisegesis. You must go to the Bible with a prism that can explain the contradictions that arise when sentences are evaluated by the plain sense of the words.
It was brought to my attention yesterday that Mr. Reformation himself, John Piper, hands down the most popular Calvinist of our day and the “elder statesman” of the Neo-Calvinist movement, stated the following in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin ( John Piper, Crossway Books, 2000, page 73):
We need to rethink our reformed doctrine of salvation so that every limb and every branch in the tree is coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight.
This is an outright admission that Plato is the foundation for understanding reality and the Bible. Augustine’s integration of Platonist philosophy with the Bible was well documented by Susan Dohse during the 2013 TANC Conference. Once one pursues knowledge in this information age regarding what was really going on during the Reformation, you see that it was nothing more or less than a philosophy war. You can take that literally because armies in fact brought swords and catapults to the theological debates going on during that time.
So, why did Martin Luther make Sola Scriptura a central focus of the Reformation? Due to the rise of the Age of Reason, the Bible being made readily available to the great unwashed masses was inevitable. Ingenuity invented the printing press, and the handwriting was on the wall. The masses were going to get a Bible in every hut, and it was obvious that Augustinian-like slaughter was not killing people fast enough to prevent mass distribution, so the next best thing was to mandate how people interpret the Bible. That’s what the Heidelberg Disputation was all about. Nothing more, nothing less.
Yes indeed, Scripture alone, but with what interpretation? Not the use of reason. To Luther and the Reformers, a serf believing in the ability to reason is like a toddler playing with a loaded gun. Basically, this is a discussion about grammatical interpretation using reason versus redemptive narrative. Those who would use reason to interpret the Bible were known as the “schoolmen,” and Calvin refers to them 69 times in the Calvin Institutes. The references are not complimentary. Like Luther, Calvin saw the use of reason to interpret the Bible as a rogue hermeneutic and antithetical to Platonist principles of philosophy.
This is an issue that has never been brought to the forefront among Christians for consideration even though most pastors preach via meta-narrative, and most Christians assume the use of reason to reach logical conclusions past, “I am a totally depraved person who can know nothing beyond the foolishness of the cross.” This is why Protestants are the most confused individuals on the face of the earth. Protestant pastors interpret reality in a totally different way than those being led.
And so it goes: Sunday after Sunday, the churches are full of parishioners trying to draw logical conclusions for living from a sermon designed to lead parishioners to one conclusion only: the only thing you can understand is that you cannot understand anything save that you deserve hell, and everything other than that is a an undeserved gift. Principles for living life? What life? Life isn’t for living, it is only to be praised as something done to us, not by us. The only thing we should be doing is hell, not life.
Therefore, if you raise a concern, or ask a question, this immediately reveals the fact that you just don’t get it. You are living for your own glory, and not the glory of the cross story. Knowledge and pride are inseparable, and of course, “pride precedeth a fall.”
Transcripts forthcoming at a later date.
PART ONE TRANSCRIPT
All right. Tonight we’re going to be looking at Revelation 12, if you want to go ahead and turn there. The big news right now is the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and per the usual when Israel is in the news like this, the anti-Israel rhetoric is ratcheted up to a great degree. I figured we’d weigh in on this before we continue on our Roman series next week. Our particular interest coincides with our ministry, which is research on Reformed Theology, and there is no lack of discussion to be found when discussing the Reformed view on Israel. The subject of Israel clashes with the Reformed thought in many areas.
First, let me say this. Anti-Israeli sentiment is simply satanic, all right? When it gets right down to it, the Bible in Ephesians 6:12 says that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Primarily, that’s a good thing to remember. But against the rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil and heavenly places. Save that thought. Hold on to that thought because I really want to apply it to what we’re going to be learning in Revelation 12, okay? This is something that we ought to remember often that humanity is in the middle of cosmic warfare between Satan and God. Our subject today is not at all far off from what we’ve been looking at in regard to predestination and election. The more we learn, the more we suspect that God has predetermined the outcome of this cosmic war as way of election. So what we’ve learned is, learned positively from other places in the word of God, that God elects outcomes, okay? We all want a good ending to the story, right? And he’s elected groups of people to bring about that end. But as we move through time from past history to the future, people have free will to take sides in the warfare, okay? The Bible states that God created hell for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:24 states, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into eternal life prepared for the devil and his angels.'” So notice that when people are judged by God in the end, they are sent to a place that was not prepared for them. I think this is worthy of notation that man did not create hell, or that God did not create hell for men. Well, if God has predetermined some for destruction and some for salvation, why wouldn’t it be prepared for them? Add to that that Christ died for all people, John 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:1, and God is not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-9. Also, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, Ezekiel 18:32.
One thing we must understand is that the Reformed tradition struggles with the grammatical biblical view of Israel for a couple of reasons. First, this whole Promised Land thing, the geography thing, emphasis on earthly soil does not fit in to the Reformation’s Gnostic view of the visible or the material being evil and the invisible being good. A plot of land also means a literal kingdom on earth for Israel, which throws their whole progressive justification soteriology and the contradiction in confusion, okay? An actual literal plot of land is good for a dispensational view but not a Reformed view of progressive justification. Secondly, and worse yet, Israel as a nation, having salvation ramification completely turns the Reformed applecart upside down. The Reformed crowd likes to make a very distinct separation between Israel as a nation and what they call spiritual Israel.
Before we get into Revelation 12, a word about confused Calvinists. Always remember that Israel is a big problem for the tie that binds. Gnosticism with progressive justification is the application. There will be many variances of the central idea but progressive justification, the idea that salvation isn’t a finished work, or that justification likewise is not a finished work is still the underlying false gospel that drives most denominations in our day, especially those of the Reformed sort. Now I think around 2009, John MacArthur Jr. opened up an annual shepherd’s conference with a controversial message propagating the following. Supersessionism or replacement theology contradicts election. Israel is elect, so the idea that the Church replaced Israel must be a contradiction. The message caused a lot of stir, and MacArthur’s Calvinist friends thought that they had been ambushed at the conference. But the idea that one’s election can be lost is in no wise contradictory to what Calvin taught. So what John MacArthur was teaching is that, hey, you know, we Calvinists, we believe in election. So how can you not be for a dispensational view to some point of the Bible? MacArthur is confused about many aspects of Reformed Theology, and this is one of them. Calvin believed that the called were a class of elect who are temporarily illumined. And I’m not going to cite the citations. I’m worn out from citing the Calvin Institutes on this. The idea that people can lose their election is not inconsistent with Reformed Theology at all.
This Calvinist approach can also be split up into two groups. What some prefer to call immutable justification and mutable justification. The former believe that three groups are predetermined: the non-elect, the temporary elect, and those who persevere. The latter holds to the idea that people can actually determine their final faith if they persevere by remaining faithful to the New Covenant. What does that entail? For all practical purposes, remaining faithful to a local expression of the institutional church–show up, tithe, and make life easy for the elders. This is the Galatian problem all over again because their justification is progressive. They must do the right things to stay justified. But the requirements are a dumbed-down version of the law in the form of traditions of men. And I’ve talked at length about some Calvinists about this, and they say that it’s not keeping the law per se that keeps you safe, it’s being, and this would be the crowd from the mutable justification or changeable justification, the idea that if you’re faithful to the Covenant, i.e. the local church, and that you’re as faithful as you can be, you’re in. That keeps you justified.
The other immutable crowd comes from the position that it’s all predetermined. There’s absolutely nothing you can do except to work out your own salvation with trembling and fear to see if you make it in the end. And you can come to have an assurance of salvation as long as you see yourself being faithful, but you won’t know for certain whether the called temporarily illumined, or those who receive the gift of perseverance and persevere to the end, okay? And this is arguable. I’ve quoted the Calvin Institutes on this constantly. Paul warned the Galatians that if they wanted to be justified by the law, they were accountable for all of it, not the dumbed-down traditions of men versions. Now that’s Galatians 5:3. Paul goes on to say that justification is a finished work wherein there is no law. Law is now a guide for works of love and sanctification. And that’s in Galatians chapter 5:6-7.
So I got away from my main point a little bit in that let’s look at a few things here from Revelation 12. Let’s kind of go through and look at the verses, and let’s focus on the very important point that I want to make in this passage that Israel as a nation is part and parcel with redemption, the redemption plan, okay? The redemption plan that is elected by God. And we had a study on this from the book of Romans where we went into this pretty – people like to make a big dichotomy between national Israel and spiritual Israel. And the Church is now spiritual Israel and the true Jew is really one who is part of the church that has replaced Israel because it fell from its position. The Bible plainly says Israel is elect. How can they say that that was lost? Especially if you read Jeremiah 31 where it’s absolutely clear. Well, again, in Calvinism and the Reformed doctrine in general, there’s a difference between the called and those who have been granted the gift of perseverance. When you’re saved, you’re entered in to the salvation lottery. You’re entered in to the race. And the race is not for rewards. The reward is salvation.
Now let’s look then at Revelation 12:1. “And a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and on her head a crowd of 12 stars.” Though this passage uses a lot of symbolism, it is not difficult to interpret. The woman is national Israel, and this passage shows how Israel as a nation cannot be separated spiritually from soteriology. We will see this as we progress. But let me drive the point a little more with Ephesians 2:11-12. So let’s borrow from Ephesians a little bit here in our study. Verse 11, Paul says, “Therefore, remember that at one time, you Gentiles in the flesh,” okay, those once slave to the flesh before they’re saved, “called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision which is made in the flesh by hands,” verse 12, “Remember that you were at that time,” when they were unsaved, “You at that time were separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” All right, what’s a commonwealth? We’ve looked at this before in our study of Romans sometime ago. The idea of commonwealth has national connotations to it, and you were strangers to the covenants of promise. And we also looked at covenants being used in the plural there. Why is that? Because all of the covenants in the Old Testament work together to build and culminate on the one final New Covenant in the end.
And I note that in my notes here that we spent a whole lesson on making all these points and the fact that Israel as a nation, Israel’s identity as a nation cannot be separated from God’s salvation plan. And that’s why we love Israel, the nation, and that’s why we look at great interest with what’s going on in Israel today. Well, Israel is a secular nation, and remember, we’re learning more and more that secular is not always necessarily evil. The United States was founded as a secular nation. Obviously, it was a secular nation in regard to the decision that they would stay neutral in religion, that they would focus on freedom of religion but as a government, not take sides, okay? So that’s not necessarily evil for a government to say, “We’re going to rule and not take sides in regard to religions.” Well, Paul, then, what’s their standard? Well, first of all, they were ordained by God. And secondly, as we often talk about, all men born into the world have the law of God written on their hearts with their consciences, either accusing or excusing their behavior. All right? We’ve talked about this before. The Nuremberg trials, what law was used? They got to gather these nations and brought these Nazi war criminals up on charges before I guess you would call the World Court because what they did was horribly wrong. Well, says who? From what law book? Why did men all gather together and agree that really along with the rest of the world that this was absolutely horrible behavior? Where has such a law come from? Only one place. Man is created with that intuitive knowledge of good built in, part of the creation.
Okay. So verse 2, “She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains in the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven. Behold a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. And on its heads, seven diadems.” Go down to verse 4. “His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth, and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she bore her child, he might devour it.” Okay, so what’s this a picture of? This is obviously a picture of Christ coming out of Israel, the nation Israel, which gave birth to Christ. This is a woman with, what was it? 12 stars on her head, which is obviously the 12 tribes of Israel, okay? And so the dragon stood before the woman who’s about to give birth so that she bore her children that he might devour it. Well, okay, yes, this could pertain directly to – remember when Herod tried to have Christ murdered by murdering all the infants in Israel, amongst the Jews from two years old down. But I think this speaks generally to the kingdom of darkness trying to destroy Christ.
Verse 5, “She gave birth to the male child, one who is to rule all the nations with an iron rod, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” So what we have up until verse 5 is the introduction of national Israel, the fact that the Messiah or the Savior came out of Israel, the fact that the kingdom of darkness, Satan, tried to destroy the Christ who came into the world as a man. And notice that he will rule all of the nations with an iron rod. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. This is literal. This is the millennial kingdom. This is where Christ will rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and Israel as a nation will be the head of the world and not the tail. And there’s much, much information about this and the details of the millennial kingdom in the Old Testament. He wasn’t able to destroy Christ. Israel’s child was caught up to God and to his throne. That of course is the resurrection. Okay. “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”
So basically, what we have in chapter 12 is a thumbnail of all redemptive history up to the tribulation period is what we have, and really beyond with the mentioning of the millennial kingdom where Christ will rule the nations with an iron rod. Now we all look forward to heaven for many things, but this is one reason we look forward to redemption. As we study the Bible, it’s not heaven per se, I suppose. We’ll be given assignments and work to do, and I guess that will be in heaven and in the millennial kingdom. But we know that at the end of the millennial kingdom and after the white throne judgment that there is a new heaven and a new earth, and heavenly Jerusalem comes down from heaven, and that’s where God tabernacles with man on earth. Again, this kind of upsets the Gnostic applecart big time, right? You’ve got the invisible coming and dwelling with the physical. You have God coming down from heaven and dwelling with man, which of course the Exodus and everything with the tabernacle with Israel was what God wanted then, right? So basically, that finally comes about. The tabernacle represented God’s desire to dwell on earth with men.
So let’s say instead of talking about going to heaven, let’s talk about redemption. One of the things that we will look forward to enjoying is in the millennial kingdom, there will be justice, okay? This is the point here. Christ will rule from David’s throne in Jerusalem with an iron rod or a rod of iron, and things are going to be done right. There’s going to be justice. There’s going to be fairness, okay? We’re going to be able to look at that and see that happen as set against the injustice that we have to live with all the time in this world. Things are going to be done right, and that’s going to be a glory. Also, another thing that will be glorious as set against what we’re used to, and I look forward to this, Israel will no longer be the ugly stepchild of the world that everybody beats on. They’re going to be the head, the Old Testament said, they’re going to be the head of the nations and not the tail. And all of this frustrating persecution and horrible treatment and anti-semitism that we see against Israel, we’re going to be able to set that against the extreme opposite being true in the millennial kingdom. For me, that’s something to look forward to. And when I see this incessant anti-semitism that we experience in our culture and in history, I’m always encouraged and I always think, even though it makes me angry and frustrates me, the thought that comes to mind is, “The day is coming. The day is coming when all of that is going to be made right.”
Now verse 6, “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” So what Revelation 12 does here is we have the creation of Israel as a nation; we have the fact that the Messiah comes out of that nation, the fact that Satan tries to devour that child, then we have in verse 5 him going back to God and his throne. So this is up to the resurrection, and you can throw the birth of the Gentiles being grafted into Israel in there. Now we’re jumping in to verse 6 which is definitely during the tribulation period, the seven-year tribulation period. Now look, this is the only place 1,260 days fits into anything. That’s what? Three and a half years, right? Okay. There’s no place else in all of scripture to put these 1,260 days. There’s only one place these days can go, and that is the seven-year tribulation period.
What we see here is that there’s a persecution of the woman in these days, and somehow Israel is protected for that many days from being wiped out. I don’t know what happens. One day we will study the book of Revelation. For now, suffice it to say, Israel as a people is protected as a people for these many days. Now a war arose in heaven. Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fight back. This is interesting. Eight, “And he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Now we know up until this time from other scriptures, especially in the book of Job, that Satan and his demons have access to heaven and apparently even go there and dialogue with God. I think Satan is also called the Accuser of the Brethren, and what the Hebrew writer talks about in regard to Christ being our advocate, I think this is where Christ is our advocate in heaven. Now the Reformed crowd teaches that he’s an advocate for a continued imputing of his righteousness to us to keep us justified, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think Christ is our advocate in sanctification because even though we’re sanctified and our justification is a done deal, we’re continually accused in heaven by the accuser of the what? The brethren.
So verse 9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who’s called the devil and Satan and the deceiver of the whole world.” I find this interesting too. The concept all through the Bible as Satan being a deceiver of the world. I just find that interesting in that this is in the mix – how should I say? If our eternal faith is predetermined, why have the kingdom of darkness being capable of deception? Why is that even in the mix? And if we’re so totally depraved, if mankind is in general totally depraved, why do we need a deceiver? So just a thought. I’m not saying that’s a big deal but just something to think about. Anyway, he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Now this is undoubtedly in the middle of the tribulation period. During this time when Israel is protected somehow, whether supernaturally or God used his other nations to protect Israel, I don’t know. I know this for a fact. The book of Revelation is going to read like the daily newspapers during that time. In the book of Daniel, we find that during this time knowledge will increase, we read in the book of Daniel. I think what will increase is the book of Revelation is what’s going to increase. That’s the knowledge that’s going to increase. This is where all heck breaks out on earth. We have the seven-year tribulation period, and I think when Satan is cast out of heaven, I think this is where we have the great tribulation, which is the last three and a half years.
Verse 10, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying now salvation and the power of the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before God.” So again, this is where I believe the Hebrew writer talks about Christ being our advocate. I think this is what’s going on.
Verse 11, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony for they love not their lives even unto death.” Hold the fort. Wow. What translation do you have?
Susan: King James.
Okay. I believe what I have is the ESV, and I believe we’re missing something. Wow. Okay. It’s going to be in verse 6, okay? “And the woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared for God and where she was nourished for 1,260 days.” Is there any more to that verse?
Susan: No. And it’s “prepared by God,” not “prepared for God.”
Okay. Somewhere in there, I’m not finding it, when there’s a – he puts out a flood to try to destroy the woman. But anyway, when he can’t destroy the woman, he wages war against her offspring.
Susan: That’s in verse 15, 13, 14, and 15.
Oh, okay. We’re not there yet. Okay. So anyway, “And they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell on them, but woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows that his time is short.” So the heavens will rejoice that he’s finally been cast out, but woe unto the earth because this is when this great wrath comes.
All right, 13. “When the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” Now who is that?
That’s Israel, the Jews. Verse 14, “But the woman was given the two wings of a great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness to a place where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time,” and again, that’s the three and a half years. So you can kind of coincide this with what Christ said in Matthew 24, I believe, when he said, “When you see the abomination of,” or the…
Susan: Abomination of desolation.
Yeah, abomination of decimation [SOUNDS LIKE] or whatever it was, where Satan goes into the temple and sits there and proclaims himself, he says, “Flee.” He says, “Don’t even go back to the house to get anything. Flee.” So apparently, this happens suddenly. And I don’t know what all happens there, but wherever they flee to or whatever they do, they’re protected for these three and a half years. “So the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman.” And I believe people during that time are going to be able to read in the book of Revelation and know exactly what that’s talking about. I don’t know what that symbolizes, but they’re going to know then what it symbolizes. “So the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to help the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from its mouth.” Again, we don’t know what that’s going to symbolize. It may be some kind of supernatural event or it may be something else.
Verse 17, “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring on those who keep the commandment of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” And what I think that is referring to, the dragon can’t destroy Israel, so then he goes after her offspring. Who do I think that is? I think that’s the Gentiles, okay?
Susan: The believing Gentiles.
The believing Gentiles who are alive during the tribulation period. He can’t destroy Israel. Somehow Israel is protected for three and a half years. Satan knows his time is short. He can read the Bible too and know what’s going to happen. So basically, here is where you, I believe, get this great slaughter and persecution of Christians during the tribulation period. Apparently, that’s going to be mostly Gentiles. I do believe the offspring spoken of here is the Gentiles because they came out of Israel. Again, I want to make the point here that Israel as a nation is very relevant to God’s redemptive plan, and we got to keep that in mind. Any questions or comments?
Susan: It’s obvious from what is written in Revelation that this is a national Israel and not a spiritual Israel that we’re talking about here.
Right. And that’s my point. I think we make a big mistake in scripture when we try to make this huge dichotomy between spiritual Israel, whatever that is, and national Israel. And that’s why as Christians, we don’t look at Israel as just a “sliver of geography” that people use to eclipse the glory of Christ. And do you know how many Reformed people have said this to me and the dispensational people in general that you’re accused of making a plot of land more relevant than Christ himself, you know? So again, there’s this dichotomy. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, their real problem is that we’re talking about material land. And if it’s material land, it can’t have relevance because it’s evil, because it’s material. So yeah…
Susan: Nowhere in the scripture was the material land promised to Abraham given then to David ever described as being evil. It was Promised Land, a land of covenant, a land of promise, a land of hope. Now did evil happen there? Yes. There were evil rulers, et cetera. We all know the history of the nation of Israel. But all throughout scripture, there’s always that connotation that it is a land significant to God, not evil, significant, blessed and important to God for redemptive purposes and for his elect. And how much more we as believing Christians need to bless the land of Israel?
Right. Absolutely. So any other comments? All right, well, we’ll wrap that up for tonight, and hopefully that will be useful for some folks.
PART 2 TRANSCRIPT
PAUL: So we’re going to look at Revelation 12 again, and the reason we are is because Israel, of course, is in the news, and we all know that, and we’ve all been following that. But what is prompting me to look at Israel on the Bible, particularly at Revelation 12 is when Israel is in the news like this, the anti-semitism just comes out of the woodwork. It’s crazy, especially among professing Christians. I was on a back on forth on Facebook till two o’clock in the morning about this. And granted, it’s primarily the Reformed crowd, their unabashed anti-semitism is just over the top. And of course what we’re saying is – the reason we’re saying this is because we’re in an era right now in the American Church that is the return to the hardcore Protestant doctrine and gospel. I mean, this is a return to the authentic article, and that is where this anti-semitism comes from, or replacement theology, this whole idea that Israel fell from grace and has been replaced by the Gentile church, which is exactly what the Apostle Paul warned against in Romans 11, very sternly warned about “boasting against the branches,” so to speak. Okay? (more…)
How do you respond to someone who says they are a liberal Christian?
“It’s hard because they have no clue what they are talking about. Did they use the above placard to clarify?”
Yes, they are using that as a definition (click on to enlarge, then back-arrow to return):
“Then they are an Emergent Calvinist.”
Answer: read or download free pdf ebook here.
Originally posted on Paul’s Passing Thoughts:
The insanely celebrated return to our Reformed roots teaches the following about the law:
We are unable to keep the law perfectly. And since a perfect keeping of the law is the standard for righteousness required to live with God forever, our inability to keep the law perfectly leads us to Christ who must keep/fulfill it for us. As Christians, we continue to use the law in this way to “preach the gospel to ourselves.” The more we use the law to show our innate sinfulness, the more we experience “vivification” (a joyful, perpetual rebirth).
The bogus idea that perfect law-keeping is justification’s standard aside, the most popular text that supposedly supports this idea is Galatians 3:24 –
So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
Originally posted on Paul's Passing Thoughts:
Something has been on my mind for some time that I have never written about. During the 2009 Resolved conference, “Pastor” Steve Lawson preached a sermon on the Great White Throne Judgment. In that message, Lawson claimed that Christ Himself will “be in hell”… “personally inflicting the wrath on unbelievers” for eternity. I know that Calvinism is heavily predicated on fear so I wasn’t surprised that Lawson said it. Rob Bell committed the unpardonable sin among New Calvinists by removing the fear factor in his book, “love Wins.” Calvin himself taught that fear and terror of judgment was efficacious to the mortification and vivification process that enables Christians to stand in the final judgment (CI 3.3.3-7). Bell didn’t merely violate Scripture, he dissed a Reformed mainstay: fear and its kissing cousin control.
Hell, in and of itself, is sobering enough, but apparently Lawson thought the reality of it needed…
View original 750 more words
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“But in contrast, if God’s choice over our choice is the crux of the gospel, that crux must be explained in order for the presentation itself to be a true gospel.”
At the 2008 T4G conference, John MacArthur Jr. officially came out of the closet as a bonafide New Calvinist. He did this because he was convinced by John Piper and others that New Calvinism is Old Calvinism. MacArthur signed up because it’s true, and he was unwilling to reject Reformation tradition. Apparently, only other-than Anglo Saxon can be deceived en masse.
MacArthur’s keynote address was titled, The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability. MacArthur was converted from his Lordship Salvation escapades of the late 80’s by the New Calvinist camp. According to a pastor I knew at the time, Michael Horton and others challenged MacArthur to rethink the controversy he had started. The result is MacArthur still affirming Lordship, but as a manifestation rather than actions of new creaturehood. I recently completed a series explaining all of the confused controversy in regard to the Lordship Salvation issue.
At any rate, the very attempt by Calvinists to evangelize places them in a twofold grand quandary that requires the abandonment of rudimentary logic.
I have written before about the Gospel of Sovereignty. Any ability at all on the part of mankind is a slight against God’s sovereignty. This is the hypothesis of MacArthur’s aforementioned messages. Hence, the “good news” is man’s “absolute” inability and God’s sovereignty. MacArthur’s primary text was John 3:1-8…
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
MacArthur stated during his messages that when the gospel is presented we must make it clear that people can only do one thing in response to the gospel: ask for salvation, and then wait to see if the wind blows or not. So, it is not a decision, often maligned in Reformed circles as “decisionism,” or a choice. Either suggests ability on the part of the individual to make a decision for God or to choose God; ability and God’s sovereignty are mutually exclusive. If man can choose, or make a decision, God ceases to be God.
This qualifies a fair challenge to all Calvinists: “Do you make it absolutely clear in your gospel presentation that people have no ability to choose God?” If they do not do this, if this is not qualified, they are presenting a false gospel by their own definition. Why? The truthfulness of their gospel must be verified by the certainty that the individual does not assume they have a choice or can make a decision.
Most Calvinists get around this by replying that people are being called on to believe only, not make a decision or a choice. However, it also stands to reason that belief itself is a choice. When we are presented with a proposition, we DECIDE to believe it or not believe it. In all fairness, according to their own definitions, Calvinists must make this distinction clear in their gospel presentation. Let’s face it; few do if they evangelize at all. In fact, when Calvinists are cornered with this question, they immediately start acting like a toddler who needs to use the bathroom. Basically, they know that the lack of this distinction in their actual gospel presentation is telling. Their presentation is supposedly purified by the absence of information.
On another wise, Calvinists are also admitting that they are asking for a mere mental assent to acknowledging that God saves people. The Bible states that part and parcel with belief is the acceptance that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Obviously, among the unbelieving, there are those who reject the existence of God altogether, and those who believe in His existence, but don’t want anything to do with Him. Is the wind only blowing halfway in those cases? Are there three different wind advisories? None, moderate, and gale force? Furthermore, if people have no ability to choose, is a decision to choose Buddha over Allah made for them? The logic seems to be that man can indeed choose, but will only choose other gods unless God intervenes—if they understand that they have no ability to choose.
If we give this whole construct merit to this point, we further find that the definition of faith must be a mere mental accent to the facts of the gospel with an intentional non-response; any response must be from the blowing wind. MacArthur stated in the same messages that we know Nicodemus was saved because “the wind blew” referring to his righteous actions.
Hence, if the Calvinist gospel is not false by their own definition, it must be presented as follows:
“God saves people, and you may be one of them and you may not be one of them, but if you are able to choose, God is not sovereign, and you are trusting in your own ability to choose.”
Unwittingly, some Calvinists say it is alright if people initially think they are able to choose, but later understand that it wasn’t their choice. So, it is alright if they initially trust in their decision in order to receive the gift of salvation from God, but later realize this was not the case at all. So at what point were they really saved? And would not sooner be better than later? Why not tell them from the get-go? This implies a cult-like procedure that misrepresents the truth, and then slowly indoctrinates the individual to a just standing. Others suggest that the evangelist should never state that it is their decision, but rather cite Scriptures that imply such—that way, apparently, it is the Holy Spirit lying instead of you. But nevertheless, what the individual believes about choice is uncertain unless clarified.
In the final analysis, everyone but the recipient of the gospel knows they have no real choice, but thinking they have a choice might be necessary to get them into the kingdom. But in contrast, if God’s choice over our choice is the crux of the gospel, that crux must be explained in order for the presentation itself to be a true gospel.
Add to this the definition of “believe” in the Bible. In the Bible, “believe” is never defined as a mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel; it also involves a commitment to kingdom living. More than not, it was the “gospel of the kingdom” that was preached by Christ and the apostles. As I explained in the Lordship series, it is impossible for the execution of the commitment to save you because justification and sanctification are completely separate. But clearly, a response to the gospel must include a decision to leave life A for life B. The follow-through doesn’t save you, the decision saves you. Because of the weakness of the flesh, love for God’s ways will vary in application, but you are not only choosing a savior; He is also Lord.
Consequently, Calvinists insist that repentance be left out of the gospel presentation for this reason—it calls on the individual to choose a different way. In the book of Acts, Christianity is referred to as “The Way” in several places. This is more information that must be excluded from the Calvinist gospel in order to make it true by their own definition. Therefore, in order for their gospel to be truthfully presented by their own definition…
“God saves people. If He saved you, you will live differently. The wind will blow, but it’s not your choice, do you believe this? And by the way, don’t change your life to prove to yourself God saved you, that’s fruit stapling. If you believe, that’s great, but now you must wait to see if the wind blows. The Christian life is a Sabbath rest.”
Anything less than this in a Calvinist gospel presentation is a false gospel by their own definition.
And let us not forget, in Calvinist post salvation status, the wind keeps on blowing, or not. It is undeniable that Calvin himself believed in three classes of people: the non-elect, the called, and those who persevere. Said another way: no wind at all, those who are temporarily enlightened (the wind stops), and the ones who get a steady wind to the end.
There is only one way Calvinism can be feasible; logic must be completely divorced from the Bible.
Gnosticism does not interpret reality in three dimensions. That’s why it is of the Dualism family of philosophy. EVERYTHING is good or evil, material or invisible. This is the “knowledge of good and evil.” ALL of reality is interpreted and defined by one or the other. This also involves Anti-Type epistemology as well: opposites define each other; we would not know light if not for darkness, and evil gives deeper understanding of good and vice versa.
This was the basic hypothesis of the Calvin Institutes (see 1.1.1.) and Protestantism in particular. Martin Luther interpreted ALL reality via the “glory story” and the “cross story.” The story of man and the story of redemption. Luther believed that man cannot reason or know reality, and God sent Christ to marry the invisible to the visible as the only gateway of wellbeing—the only gateway of understanding between the shadow world and the true forms through suffering. This IS the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic so highly touted in Reformed circles. It is behind comments by the likes of John MacArthur Jr. that people doubt their salvation because they have not suffered enough as a Christian.
This worldview has seriously crippled Christianity’s ability to minister to the world because, among many examples, the secular is always defined as being evil. America was founded on secular principles: separation of church and state. The founding fathers saw the secular as a force for good that freed man to pursue life and happiness. This was the first time in history where faith and force were separated.
Other words that are unfortunate Christian synonyms for evil… “flesh,” and “leaven.” The latter often denotes influence whether good or evil; the former, like the secular, can be used for good or evil. The framers recognized that church and secular together, never turns out well. This is why movements such as the Moral Majority are egregiously misguided.
Here is an example of God using the secular for good purposes, and His call to Christians to support such:
Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.
Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime. The issue is whether you must keep buying your life, dime by dime, from any beggar who might choose to approach you. The issue is whether the need of others is the first mortgage on your life and the moral purpose of your existence. The issue is whether man is to be regarded as a sacrificial animal. Any man of self-esteem will answer: “No.” Altruism says: “Yes.”
One popular evangelistic technique is to ask someone, “if you were to die today and God asked you why He should let you into heaven, what would your answer be?” While this may seem like a clever intellectual excercise, it is erroneous on two levels:
1. The only judgement Believers will stand before is the Bema, which is a judgement for rewards, NOT salvation. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
2. Unbelievers will stand before the Great White Throne. There will be no opportunity for them to testify. All their works are already recorded, they will be judged by them, and their name will not be found in the Book of Life. They will subsequently be cast into the Lake of Fire (the “second death”) where they will experience eternal torment and separation from God! (Revelation 20:11-15)
When we seek to evangelize the lost, we must make sure our message is accurate!
While our ministry will continue to reveal the plenary doctrinal aberration of authentic Reformed soteriology, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the societal impact of New Calvinism.
Be sure of this: New Calvinism has bold political aspirations. The movement is simply a repeat of European church history trying to function under American rule of law. Right now, the movement is using a particular doctrine to gain a following, and once the following is big enough, it will make its move because it has votes to bring to the political big-boy table. In times past, the biggest sword won, but because of America, politics must replace bloodletting.
Also be sure of this: New Calvinism is about world domination, to the glory of God of course. Um, New Calvinists such as Doug Wilson and Albert Mohler have stated that in no uncertain terms.
Also note their reluctance to be critical of terrorism and such groups as ISIS. In fact, New Calvinist Joe Carter recently defended ISIS in regard to “false accusations” under the auspices of setting the record straight…because you know…we Christians should care about getting our facts straight. Yes, perhaps we should form a committee to defend career bank robbers accused of robbing a bank they didn’t rob. Indeed, one should ask Joe Carter why that is a priority, but I am afraid I already know.
Same ideology…different god.
Here is another thing you can be sure of: New Calvinists wouldn’t deem it a horrible thing if the ISIS flag eventually flies over the White House. Why? Well, their metaphysical epistemology is suffering to begin with, but the bigger element is the fact that groups like ISIS are seen as serving a possible benefaction: getting rid of Enlightenment ideology. If terrorism can serve that purpose, the New Calvinists figure they can make lemonade out of the lemons later on. BUT, New Calvinism cannot ultimately reach their utopian goals as saline fish in fresh waters—Enlightenment ideology must go, that is job one for New Calvinism. And hey, if terrorism can do that, it must be god’s will. Yet one more thing you can be sure of: New Calvinists see Enlightenment ideology as the absolute root of ALL evil.
Right now, New Calvinism is building their base; following/votes equal power. They are a political animal. If you think any of this is about God, you are simply naive.
What is prompting posts like this from moi? Because of our educational relationship with John Immel, PPT readers are beginning to understand, resulting in a mass of information being sent my way. They understand the doctrinal aberrations and the relationship to the political. This all boils down to collectivism versus individualism. Church folk only think they are doing church when in reality they are being USED for a broader political motive.
I will use a few recent examples sent to me. This one here (Article pdf) is yet another example of moral equivalency being preached from the pulpits. John Immel has a great post on that here…and here. Folks, please, there is a reason why New Calvinists are not outraged by terrorism. They share the same ideology and their forefathers practiced the exact same tactics to bring people into conformity.
This one highlights the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic which is Platonist epistemology dressed in biblical garb (Article pdf. I have written extensively on this to the point of literal exhaustion. Platonism was the foundation of the Medieval church. Copies of the Bible were not available because rulers believed that the masses were unable to reason (see, “Catholic Church”). And, allowing the masses to reason will supposedly lead to chaos. Due to my research, I have come to believe that the Protestant Reformation was an answer to the inevitable mass distribution of the Bible to the serf populous. Trust me, the Bible is no friend of the Reformation. The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic is specifically designed to rob God’s people of reasoning intellectually with God, and making it a Platonist epistemology instead.
New Calvinism is a political movement that is using people who think the movement is about Christian discipleship. The results speak for themselves; though New Calvinism posits “new resurgence,” it’s been “new” since 1970. While these Platonist philosophers attempt to save the world from chaos like their Marxist predecessors, in the same way, they create chaos, and then blame the same chaos on “losing our original roots.” New Calvinists have been firmly in control of the American church since 2006, and the results again speak for themselves. Virtually ALL anti-spiritual abuse blogs were authored post 2006.
I didn’t realize the extent to which I functioned as a Christian mystic until I was exposed to Dr. Jay E. Adams. I found his common sense practicality applied to Scripture liberating. His principle of definitive knowledge as a starting point is a principle I have never swayed from. He had simple quips that would fill the hopeless with hope in a matter of seconds:
“I’m having a nervous breakdown—I’m losing my mind! ‘No, you are not having a nervous breakdown. Obviously, your nerves are working quit well, we just need to see what God’s word says about bringing your nerves into proper use.’”
“We can’t go there, that will open up a can of worms! ‘Perhaps, but if we deal with one worm at a time, the can will eventually be empty, and the more empty the can is, the better off you are.’”
…or something like that, close enough.
Christians don’t need more spiritual bumper stickers to live by, they need better definitions of words. We are in a day when biblically specific word use has never been more important. When we read our Bibles, we need to make sure that we really know what the words mean specifically, and we need to be biblically specific in our communication when referring to it.
Until very recently, I always read the word “flesh” in the Bible as synonymous with evil/sin. With that presupposition intact, it led to the conclusion that “weakness” is also synonymous with evil as well.
This is not the case. Let’s think about this. The “’holy’ angels” are weaker than God, no? This obviously does not make them sinful. Being weaker than God is not sin.
This is also the definition of “flesh,” “members,” “body,” etc., in the Bible; it’s “weak” (specifically defined as such many places in the Bible), but not inherently evil. How do we know this? Because our bodies can be used for holy purposes:
Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 6:13 – Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
Throughout the Bible, the problem of sin is defined as sin that resides in the body, but the body is not sin. Notice that Paul tells us to not “present” our bodies TO sin. We are to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, not to sin. The body cannot be both. God is a master, and sin is also biblically defined as a master, the body can be used to serve either.
To the degree that we have improper understanding of biblical words, we are blinded to the truth of Scripture. To the degree that we are biblically ignorant, we are enslaved.
The gospel is the proclamation to all people that they have been purchased by God. Before God ordained the plan of salvation, mankind had no choice, they belonged to a master that the Bible calls “sin.” In the Bible, we find that our birth sold us into slavery to this master.
Salvation is all about choice; a choice between two masters. Man can choose because he has been purchased—he has been set free to choose. A purchase is a choice, therefore, God desires that all men be saved, and calls men everywhere to repent as willing servants. They are free to stay with their present master, or choose Christ as their new master.
Salvation is a choice between two masters. Choice cannot be separated from the gospel. Christ did not die for those unable to choose. The five points of Calvinism do not stand or fall on total depravity, it stands or falls on limited atonement. Christ died to set man free from the slavery of sin—He set them free to choose.
Article discussed in pdf format: Is Sanctification a Process or a Position_ _ TGC
This article is the first of what I hope to be a series of articles designed to give believers the tools they need to be able to more effectively study the Word of God on their own. It is a sad reality that most believers over the past 500+ years have not and do not really know what the Bible says. I have been a believer for over 36 years, and I must regretfully admit, that up until about 5 years ago, I was included in that same lot. I was taught ABOUT the Bible. I was taught ABOUT doctrine. And I dutifully towed the line of orthodoxy. This, I think is indicative of most believers; they simply do not read their Bibles.
I think as Christians we intuitively know we should be reading our Bibles, but aside from the fact that the modern day institutional church purposefully seeks to keep the masses dumbed-down, one of the reasons I believe most Christians don’t read their Bibles as much as they should is that they don’t know where to start. And those Christians who do read their Bibles on a regular basis aren’t getting as much out of it as they should be. Their Bible reading time is ineffective because they don’t have a plan. In either case, the results are the same:
Bible reading becomes a chore rather than a delight. Do we simply trudge on ahead dutifully and have faith that the Spirit will work on us? That seems a rather bleak prospect. Or do we just rely on the work that others have done for us and expect them to feed us spiritual nourishment? What hope is there for any maturity whatsoever with that mindset?
There are two key truths found in the Bible itself that must be reconciled.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
2 Timothy 2:15
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
- The Word of God is active.
Hebrews 4:12 uses the words “quick” and “powerful” to describe the Word. The word “quick” is the Greek word ζαω (DZAH-oh), and it means, “to live”. It is alive! It is also powerful. Here the word is ενεργης (en-er-GACE). The idea is that it is full of energy. God’s Word is different from any other written work in the world! As we read it, because it is alive and active, we can expect it to actively work on us. Its cuts are deep and clean, dividing and discerning. It reveals truth to us because it is truth. By it, we are sanctified (John 17:17).
But we don’t simply sit idly by and wait for the Word to work on us.
- Believers are to study the Word
The word “study” is the word σπουδαζω (spoo-DAHD-zoh). It literally means, “to use speed.” The implication is to make an effort, to be prompt or earnest. Study the Word with the result of being able to use discernment (“rightly dividing the word of truth”). The Bereans (Acts 17:10-11) were called “more noble” because they studied the Word. They earnestly and diligently searched the scriptures daily to be able to discern truth from error.
So if we are to be good students of God’s Word, we first need to actually read it so that its life and power can work in us. But we must also study it as well. This places an emphasis that goes beyond merely reading a chapter or passage or verse every day. This must include a dedicated effort to a searching for knowledge. But unfortunately, most believers don’t know how to begin.
Let’s start with the basics. And this is really very simple. Just READ your Bible! BUT…you must read with purpose. A daily devotional book just will not cut it. You are simply consuming someone’s pre-digested, pre-packaged orthodoxy. You are not studying. You must read the actual BIBLE yourself! And you must have a plan if you want your Bible-reading time to be most effective.
Most people will tell you that you need to read your Bible through each year. To some, that may sound like a daunting task, which is why many people will not attempt to undertake it. Also, the Bible is comprised of many different genres of literature: historical, poetic, biographical, instructional, prophetic. For this reason alone, simply reading your Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation is not going to be an effective way to study scripture. Your understanding of a passage is only going to be relevant within that genre.
The key is to include passages from every genre in your study each day. There are many Bible-reading plans available to choose from, but there is one in particular that I use personally, and I highly recommend it. It is called Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System (http://www.challies.com/sites/all/files/attachments/professor-grant-horners-bible-reading-system.pdf). Now, I have no idea who Professor Grant Horner is. I don’t get any kickback for referring his system. No, I do not know what his doctrinal beliefs are. I don’t care. I do, however, think he has devised a very useful tool for Bible reading and study. Here is how it works:
This system divides the 66 books of the Bible into 10 lists.
- Romans-Colossians, Hebrews
- 1 Thessalonians-Philemon, James-Revelation
- Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
With this system you read 1 chapter from each list every day. The next day, you go on to the next chapter in each list. When you get to the end of a particular list, you start again with the first chapter in that list. Since each list varies in length, the combination of 10 chapters you read each day will constantly change as you work your way through. By following this system, you can actually read every chapter in the Bible in just 250 days, less than 1 year!
Now, that still may seem like a daunting task, but reading 10 chapters from your Bible each day actually only takes less than an hour to accomplish. With practice, you will find that it may actually take less time than that. But is 1 hour of Bible reading each day too much to ask of someone who desires to “show themselves approved”, or who wishes to be able to “rightly divide the Word of truth”?
Following this system will result in the scriptures revealing themselves to you in ways you have probably never seen before. The Bible is its own commentary, and as you read through the various chapters each day, you will begin to see patterns emerge; phrases, and expressions repeated over and over again. Themes will develop and will become familiar to you. Prophesies given in the Old Testament will be expounded upon in the New Testament. You will see teachings in one section of scripture clarified and expounded upon in another. You will suddenly see connections throughout the Bible that you did not realize were there before! That is an exciting prospect, and that is a tremendous motivation. You will suddenly find that you cannot wait to get to the next day to find out what you will discover! Consider the words of the Psalmist:
“O how love I thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies:
for they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers:
for thy testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
because I keep thy precepts.
I have refrained my feet from every evil way,
that I might keep thy word.
I have not departed from thy judgments:
for thou hast taught me.
How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through thy precepts I get understanding:
therefore I hate every false way.”
I exhort and encourage every believer to get deep into God’s Word. These are the instructions for life and godliness. You must know and understand them for yourself if you are to become a mature believer who is able to discern truth from error. And these words will equip you to go out and give these same words of life to a lost world!
By Andy Young, Delaware, Ohio
“What! I don’t believe in election! I’m not even a one-point Calvinist!”
See what I mean? Christians believe Calvinism is defined by the sovereign grace issue. No, Calvinism is defined by the plenary inability of man issue. Calvinism completely owns the prism in which Western Christianity interprets reality and the Bible. This was their goal from the very beginning, and I must give them credit for the excellent job they have done.
I catch on slow, but apparently, I eventually catch on. For years I have been sending emails to the who’s who of the Not Reformed among us stating the following:
“Uh, guys, Calvinism holds to a blatantly false justification, and this is simple theological math. If people of your stature start talking about this—they are done.”
Not one reply ever, except from a well-known evangelical that told me what I should have already known:
“We all believe the same gospel.”
Yep. What has become obvious to me is that the academics on both sides feed all of the drama to keep the dumb sheep distracted from the real issue: Protestantism is a false gospel. Arminians and Calvinists have the same gospel at stake and all of the money that goes with it. Catholicism and Protestantism both are institutions that collect a tax, and foundational to any religious institution is the idea of human mediators. In other words, religious institutions must have a spiritual caste system.
This confuses body life with authority, and the purpose of the body of Christ. The body of Christ and institutions are mutually exclusive. This is what all of the academia on both sides of the Calvinism/Arminian debate don’t want the herd to figure out. The called out assembly of Christ was based on the fellowship of likeminded believers in one mind, or one truth. It’s based on conscience and not authority. Get into the New Testament and find an institution construct that resembles what we have today in any regard—good luck. That’s not to say there isn’t organization; there most certainly is, but that’s not the same as institutional caste.
A religious institution must have one particular gospel in order to survive: a linear one; specifically, the “golden chain of salvation” (eerily similar to the “golden chain of philosophers” or the “golden chain of Platonic succession”). It isn’t complicated; justification/salvation isn’t finished and you need the religious scholars to help you make sure you finish it correctly. Come now, look around. We don’t find our own understanding in the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, we listen to men. Christian academia is a multi-billion dollar a year business. While we say, “The Holy Spirit is my counselor and He uses the Scriptures which I am called on to study,” that’s not how we function at all. The idea that salvation is not finished dominates the American institutional church.
“But I believe that my salvation is finished!”
No you don’t. You believe that YOUR part of it is finished while Jesus is finishing your salvation for you, lest it be by works. This is why Calvinists and Arminians only stop arguing about election long enough to say in unison, “But for the grace of God there go I.” And, “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” Calvinists and Arminians teach the exact same inability in sanctification gospel. Why? Since salvation is an ongoing process in their minds, any ability on our part in sanctification suggests a colaboring in our justification. Martin Luther taught the following: if any good work done by a Christian was “attended to with fear,” God would not consider it a mortal sin. The contemporary version of this is the often heard, “I didn’t do it, the Holy Spirit did it.” Indeed, Christians caught doing a good work even in our day must plead their case.
If salvation is truly finished, and we have ability to pursue our gifts because the only possible motive is love, that obviously decentralizes the need for authority. In contrast, the steroidal introspection continually called for in the institutional church Sunday after Sunday, after Sunday is clearly on display.
The institutional church is that research foundation looking for the latest and best way to work by faith alone so that Jesus will not be angry. You need them, and they need your money to research the best way to let Jesus finish your salvation for you, lest your part is a work that is really a work and you find yourself in hell. People will pay big money for that information, and obviously do. We have a name for all of the theories that come out of this research: Denominations. This is nothing more or less than different theories on how to live our Christian life by faith alone.
The placard below is what inspired this post; it is indicative of the Protestant gospel that encompasses all of the various denominational labels, but what they all have in common is faith alone in sanctification because justification isn’t finished. Note that each statement is a blatant contradiction to many different Bible verses. Rather than the Bible being a tool for aggressive obedience in sanctification, it is a tool for reminding us how weak we are, even in the new birth, and reminding us of how much we still need the same gospel that saved us lest we try to help Jesus finish our salvation.
One of the more valuable lessons taught to us here at TANC was during our first conference in 2012. John Immel demonstrated historically and philosophically that people always believe what they believe and do what they do for a reason, and that reason is logic—logic drives behavior. Find the logic—find the reason for the behavior, or belief.
At the time, I was in good graces with Old Calvinists because I had published The Truth About New Calvinism: Volume One, exposing the dastardly evils of the Neo-Calvinist movement which was supposedly an aberration of Reformed soteriology. They threatened to boycott the conference because Immel hadn’t been vetted by them. At the time, the decision to tell them to hang it on their beaks was based on principle alone while unaware I was trading orthodoxy for knowledge that really gets down to why church looks like it does in our day.
So, why do bosom buddies John MacArthur and John Piper differ on Cessationism (first century miracles ceased after they served their purpose)? MacArthur is very inconsistent because he started out as a grammarian interpreter of the Scriptures. Later, circa 1994, John Piper et al convinced him that New Calvinism was authentic Reformed soteriology, and I don’t think MacArthur was willing to reject the Protestant narrative wholesale. If you understand how the Reformers interpreted reality, you understand how taking the Scriptures at face value is going to cause the mass confusion that we see today.
Hence, one example among many: MacArthur’s dispensationalism is going to drive many New Calvinists nuts because one of the pillars of Platonism follows; truth is immutable. Regardless of what the Bible plainly states literally, viz, that God has used different economies to bring about His will, the Reformers insisted that the Bible had to be reconciled to the great thinkers of old. That would be Plato and company. This is by no means ambiguous history. MacArthur’s unwillingness to reject Protestant tradition makes him what he is: one of the most confused pastors to occupy the pulpit in our day. He can be defined as one who interprets reality using two contrary epistemologies: grammatical and redemptive. This is indicative of most Protestant pastors who must try to interpret truth with two contrary epistemologies in order to hang on to Protestant tradition. This is the very reason for the confused mess that we see in the institutional church. For this reason, the institutional church is intellectually bankrupt.
This ministry is benefiting greatly from information sent to us. A reader sent me a video of John Piper being interviewed at a conference in London. In regard to how Piper answered a question, the reader wanted to know if his answer was related to the whole, We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day. Answer: yes. And, I believe I have learned something new in regard to Piper being a Continuationist. In his answer, Piper put together Galatians 3:2 and 3:5 to make the case that we are sanctified by the same gospel that saved us. Because the Christian life is supposedly powered by the finished work of justification, Christians must return to the gospel daily in order to be sanctified.
However, take serious note: to the Reformed crowd who know what they are talking about, this isn’t semantics about the best way to be sanctified, this is stating that we must keep ourselves saved by faith alone in Christian living. If we “move on to something else” other than the same gospel that saved us, we “lose both” justification and sanctification. Get this into your head: they make epistemology a salvific matter. Many Calvinists like Paul David Tripp have stated that a literal interpretation of Scripture is equal to works salvation.
In the Conference Q and A, Piper notes verse 2…
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Then he connects it to verse 5…
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—
Piper uses the adjoining of these two verses to make the case that the Holy Spirit only continues to work in our lives after salvation via the same way we were saved (by faith alone). In other words, Piper makes this verse an issue of sanctification, and not the context: justification. But, to make this point, he must concede that miracles are also a continuing part of His works when people live by faith alone in their Christian lives. This is a good indication of why he is a Continuationist.
It also bolsters the Reformed view of obedience as realm manifestation. Obviously, miracles result when God manipulates the laws of normality; in the same way, the works of Christ can be imputed to us without us actually doing the work. It’s just a lesser miracle. Christians are to live by faith alone and assume that any good works we do are wrought by the Holy Spirit and not us. Martin Luther was very specific about this in the Heidelberg Disputation. For the Christian to think himself able to do a good work is a “mortal sin.” The Christian life is to be lived by experiencing justification subjectively. As long as we “attend good works with fear” of accreditation, our good works are only “venial” and perpetually covered by Christ’s death. This is the Reformed formula for living our lives by faith alone. This is nothing new, and is the exact same thing that James railed against in his epistle to the 12 dispersed tribes.
Paul was making the point that justification is completely out of the control of those who choose to believe. Man didn’t seek out God and collaborate with Him on reconciliation. Man didn’t call for peace negotiations. God pursues man, corners him, and presents the plan and the terms. If man accepts, the Holy Spirit quickens him or her. Even when man believes and accepts the terms, he/she cannot rebirth themselves any more than they can wrought miracles on their own like the Holy Spirit does—they can only believe.
That was Paul’s point; justification is completely apart from the law of sin and death. The Galatians were being taught that keeping a dumbed down version of the law of sin and death kept them saved. Paul said NO, if you want to justify yourself by keeping the law of sin and death, you must keep all of the law perfectly. He added that circumcision did not matter (justification by keeping the ritualistic parts of the law), but only faith working through love (obedience to the law of the Spirit of life).
Paul David Tripp is a leading “Christian” author and well noted in the contemporary biblical counseling movement. Tripp was active in aiding fellow Gnostic David Powlison in hijacking the biblical counseling movement from Reformed grammarians. I use the term “grammarian,” who are few in our day, to differ from redemptive historical interpreters. If a teacher is not identified according to his/her interpretation method of either grammatical or redemptive, it is impossible to know what they are really teaching. You may think you know what they are saying, but you don’t. Depending on which method is being utilized, all basic theological terms, like “new birth” mean different things. To believe you can understand any teacher without knowing their interpretive method is folly. The best way to explain a grammarian is, “words mean things.”
Gnosticism came from Platonism and to state it simply: it is the belief that the material realm is evil and only the spiritual realm is good. In order to find true knowledge, one must obtain it by getting beyond what the five senses can ascertain. Plato believed that the material world is the shadows of the invisible world. Plato also believed that truth is immutable; so, the gateway to truth from the material/evil realm must be something immutable. For Plato, that was math.
The Reformers were not theologians first, they were philosophers first and were embroiled in the debate of that era: Plato or Aristotle? Platonism holds to spiritual caste which proffers the idea that elitist philosophers are preordained to lead the masses who are enslaved to the shadows of reality. They are specially gifted by the force or god of your choice to obtain the “Gnosis.” Determinism is also a major pillar of Platonism.
Hence, Gnosticism can be seen throughout Tripp’s teachings, especially in How People Change. In that book, Tripp attributes a literal interpretation of Scripture to works salvation. He also attributes obedience to something that Christians only experience, but do not really perform; the experience is imputed to the material realm by the Spirit, who is defined more as a realm than a person. Gnosticism can be seen in Tripp’s interpretation of Romans 8:2 and most of Romans 7—“law” is not really “nomos,” a written law, but refers to two different realms: material/evil versus invisible/good.
It’s hard not to stop and think about what’s going on in Ferguson Missouri, especially if you are 50-something like me. I grew up watching American cities burn on TV due to racial unrest, and as a young boy, was perplexed that the offended were burning down their own neighborhoods. I still haven’t figured that one out. However, I have figured this out: people always do what they do, or don’t do, for a reason.
The news media has always seemed to be the experts in regard to why these things happen; these people (not politically correct) they be like, very, very, angry. This is understandable; no one refutes the prejudice that was part of our American culture, primarily in the South, for much of our history. Nevertheless, the cities I watched burn on TV as a young boy were primarily in the North where people of color have risen to prominence as far back as the Colonial era. I haven’t figured that one out either.
So, this whole thing with Ferguson is déjà vu for me. It’s a return to the exact same narrative I watched in black and white, night after night lying on the floor with my palms under my chin propping up my cranium case with perplexity swirling about inside. I am no less perplexed, but all this has me wondering.
Are white people and Jews indifferent? Even with the improvement of race relations in this country resulting in opportunity as well; i.e., our President is a man of color, a far cry from the days when the same be like, unable to vote, any vestige of the old days at all is met with the same intensity as the former days. They be like, burning stuff down and looting their neighbors. Yes, perhaps their righteous indignation is a bit misguided, but at least they are not indifferent!
Synonyms for “indifferent” are uncaring, uninterested, apathetic, unmoved, cold, insensible…Yikes! And consider the turning of the tables that has come about in recent years. According to the well documented book, White Girl Bleed A Lot, unprovoked and random black on white violence in this country is now an epidemic. Unlike the nationally televised episodes like Ferguson and the Trevon Martin case where the event evolved out of some kind of altercation, these situations be like, totally random. Recently, in nearby Dayton, Ohio, an Asian American woman was shot dead for the pure sport of it by a young man of color. Although such cases are presently viral in this country, they go virtually unreported, and the crackers (also pronounced, “cracka”) could care less. Where is the outrage? Such indifference is disgusting!
And besides being a cracka myself, I have some special experience with kikes as well. I was originally born with a Jewish name, but later adopted by a kraut (also known as “German”). I also have an older brother who was not adopted by a kraut, wetback, dago, or any other-than kike. At some point in my life, I moved to Dallas, Texas and spent time with my brother professionally and personally for 12 years. People didn’t know we were related because our last names are different, and that my friends, was an education.
My brother is the quintessential business man. His gig is building things. Certainly he has opinions, but has always been pretty indifferent to any that obscure productivity. As an observer experiencing what people said and did when their guard was down around me, I can assure you that Jews experience daily prejudice in subtle, and not so subtle experiences. An example would be the time when a Texas hick pulled a 38 revolver on us before I could say, “Whoa buddy, I ain’t the kike here, my name is ‘Dohse,’ that’s kraut!”
Never once, in the 58 years that I have known my brother, have I ever heard him complain about prejudice. Never once, in all of my relationships with Jewish people, have I heard them talk about the Holocaust. But I can tell you this: I know well what I have been spared because I have a different last name.
I think it is time that whites and Jews repent of their indifference and follow the example of the courageous people of color. We only now need to figure out the best way to take this stand. Perhaps the great leaders of the Civil Rights movement can counsel us? Surely they know; I have been watching them on TV all of my life. That would be Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Let’s use my hometown of Xenia, Ohio as an example. Should we burn down the east side or the west side? What should we write on our signs? What should our chants be? When we say, “No justice, no peace,” how do we define “no peace,” and how does that equate to “peaceful demonstration.” There is a print shop up the street owned by Christians that I could loot, but is that the proper protocol? They are white Christians, does that make a difference? Not being indifferent is very complicated; I wonder if Jackson and Sharpton could help us?
And this indifference is by no means limited to crackers and kikes. Ragheads, chinks, spics, beaners, pakis, chugs, city-slickers, yanks, rebs, wops, hicks, and even fat people, etc., could also repent of their unrighteous indifference to the plight of their own kind.
Al and Jesse, please help us.
First, it’s Calvinism. Are you a Calvinist? If not, just stop saying that Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to us. It was God the Father’s righteousness that is imputed to us, not Christ’s. Does it really make that much difference? Yes, it makes a huge difference.
For the very much most part, the Bible attributes our righteousness to God the Father, a few verses could be cited to imply Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to us, but the arguments are weak. Nevertheless, why are we not emphasizing what the Bible clearly emphasizes and instead emphasizing the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us?
The reason is because the contrary emphasis is tied to the false gospel of Protestantism which hinges its gospel on the idea that Christ came to fulfill the law rather than end it. Fulfillment verses ending is the difference between a true gospel and a false gospel.
So, fulfillment posits the idea that Christ not only came to die for our sins, but also had to live a perfect life so His perfect obedience to the law could be imputed to us as well. This turns the true gospel completely upside down and rejects the new birth. The power of sin is death and condemnation, and any violation of the law is sin—that’s why Christ came to end that law, not fulfill it. There is no life in that law even if Christ did fulfill it, and if He did fulfill it for our justification, there is not one seed, but two. Christ came to end that law, there is therefore no condemnation for us and the power of death is broken.
I say “that” law, and not “the” law because there are two laws. John Calvin and his heretic buddies only recognized one law, and that is a huge problem. Yes, it is one law as far as the same words, but with two different relationships to life and death. For the unbeliever, it is “the law of sin and death,” for the believer, it is “the law of the Spirit of life.” When the Bible talks about fulfillment of the law, it is talking about the fulfillment of the law of the Spirit of life “through us” (Rom 8:4).
Also keep in mind that the law couldn’t be completely fulfilled to begin with because of future unfulfilled prophecy. Not only that, when Christ said He came to fulfill the law, the New Testament had not even been written, and most of it, actually all of it, was written after His ascension. Keep in mind that there is unfulfilled Bible prophecy in the Old Testament as well.
Here is where we get into a huge problem: the idea that there is one law and the atonement is two-fold; His death for sin, and obedience to the law by Christ because the one law of sin and death is the standard for righteousness. Think about this, if there is one law, the law of sin and death, and it is the standard of righteousness, then the perfect demands of that law must continue to be satisfied in order to keep us saved. That’s the crux of Protestant heresy—a one law that must be perpetually satisfied in order to keep us saved.
But when we believe, we are no longer under that law because it is ended for us. We are no longer “under law,” but “under grace.” That means that we are now under the law of the Spirit of life. When we sin, we cannot be condemned, but unfortunately, we grieve the Holy Spirt who has sealed us until the day that our bodies are redeemed.
This is where it is necessary for the Reformed heretics to say that Jesus’ righteousness (obedience) is perpetually applied to the law of sin and death in our stead. That law is not ended, it must be perpetually satisfied for us. This is what those heretics are talking about when they verbalize the truism, “Jesus 100% for us.” This keeps “Christians” under law and not under grace in regard to justification. Sanctification fulfills the law of the Spirit of life and is completely separate from Justification. This is why Protestantism calls for a sanctification by faith alone; if we live by faith alone in sanctification, the same way we were justified (“We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day”), the perfect obedience of Jesus will continue to satisfy the law of sin and death in our stead.
The contra Reformation gospel frees the Christian to aggressively obey God in sanctification because the only possible motivation is love because the other law is ended and has nothing to do with our justification. That is a finished work that has nothing to do with our Christian life. We are free to aggressively love without fear instead of being afraid that we are not properly living by faith alone which supposedly circumvents the satisfaction of the law via Jesus.
Learn to interpret your Bible accordingly: “Is this a justification verse, or a sanctification verse, and which law is being addressed?”
Do Christians Have Two Natures?
My belief strata is probably similar to most Christians: A. Dogma, firm on that fact; B. Not dogmatic, sounds logical, going with that for now; C. That’s a bunch of boloney. The idea that Christians have two natures has always been categorized under B for me.
Where do I think a stake needs to be driven most in the arena of Christianity right now? Who we are. We are righteous. We are able. We are good. We are not just righteous positionally, we are in fact righteous in and of ourselves. Righteousness is a gift from God, we cannot earn it, but once we have accepted the gift, we possess it. I fear that most gospels in our day propagate a rejection of the righteousness gift, and I strongly suspect that this is the point of the Parable of the Talents. Clearly, the paramount gospels of our day promote a meditation on the gift in order to keep our salvation. To put the gift into practice is to make His story our own story exclusively.
What is the gift? Is the gift just a gift, or is it also a calling? The “church” is a “called out assembly.” Is answering the call works salvation? And what are we called to? We are called to holiness. In part 2 we have looked at the primary problem with anti-Lordship Salvation. They make answering the call works salvation. How do they rationalize this? As we have discussed, it is the age-old Protestant golden chain gospel. Because justification and sanctification are not separate, a calling to holiness is a declaration that progresses in sanctification; if we commit to holiness in order to be saved, we now have to participate in that progression by obedience to the law.
ALS solves that problem by eliminating the commitment all together and making obedience in sanctification optional—a nice gesture unto the Lord, and it will kinda make your life better. If we doubt our salvation because of behavior, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of grace; so, the solution is to return to the same gospel that saved us and re-preach it to ourselves. Both ALS and the Calvinists they despise proffer this same construct.
Calvinists deal with the progression of justification in sanctification a different way: by all means we are saved by making a commitment to obedience, but the commitment we are making is a commitment to living by faith alone in sanctification which results in the commitment being fulfilled by Christ. In fact, both camps speak of experiential sanctification; viz, we only experience the works of the Spirit being done through us and we kinda really aren’t doing the work. In Reformed circles, even our “good” works are sin, and our demeanor in obedience gives a clue that the work may be executed by the Lord in that instance, but we don’t know for certain. They call this the “subjective nature of sanctification.” It is manifested in Arminian camps via, “I didn’t do it—it was the Holy Spirit doing it through me.” Really, in all Protestant camps, accomplishment and meekness are mutually exclusive; you can’t have both.
And with ALS as well as Calvinism, righteousness is defined by perfect law-keeping. When their fusion of justification and sanctification is challenged, both camps retort, “Did you sin today?” In BOTH cases, they make no distinction between sin against the law of sin and death, and sin against the law of the Spirit of life in sanctification—violations that grieve the Spirit. That’s because they see justification and sanctification as the same (though both camps are outraged in regard to the accusation).
Because ALS, like Calvinism, makes perfect law-keeping the essence of righteousness, they cannot not deem the Christian perfect in regard to justification. They posit the idea that the Christian is only positionally righteous and not practically righteous. Unfortunately, that same view of our righteousness is then juxtaposed into sanctification because they fuse the two together. To not continually drive home the idea that we are just “sinners saved by grace” is to suggest that we can keep the law perfectly. But the question is… “What law?” There is no law in justification, and where there is no law there is no sin (Rom. 4:15).
Christ primarily died on the cross to end the law of sin and death. Now there is no law to judge us, and that can be coupled with the fact that we are born again of the Spirit and have the seed of God within us (1Jn. 3:9). The new birth is a reversal of slavery resulting in a change of direction. We were once enslaved to sin and free to do good, resulting in a direction away from God (under law Rom. 6:14), but now are enslaved to righteousness and free to sin (Rom. 6:20). As we will see in Romans 7, we were once enslaved to the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2), but now we are enslaved to the law of the Spirit of life. In both cases, there is a reverse freedom as well. Unfortunately, the Christian is still harassed by the law of sin and death, which is a law standard by the way, and free to sin against it. We will discuss exactly how this happens.
But, because ALS, like the Reformed only see one nomos (law), and Christians obviously sin, the Christian must be both saint and sinner in sanctification. This is Martin Luther’s Simul iustus et peccator—at the same time righteous and a sinner. But, this means saint by declaration and position only while the Christian remains in the same state. The only change is the recognition of his vileness—this defines faith according to Reformed ideology.
Likewise, since the Christian cannot keep the law of sin and death perfectly, and that is justification’s standard, the ALS has its own version of the Simul iustus et peccator: the two natures. Sure, it’s soft Simul iustus et peccator, or Simul iustus et peccator Light, but it’s the same concept. I am not going to take time here to articulate all of the versions, but suffice to say all denominations are spawned by the question of how we do justification in sanctification. There are only two religions in the world: Progressive Sanctification and Progressive Justification. One is a call to holiness and you get justification in the bargain. The other is a call to be declared righteous while remaining a sinner. The former is a call to be made righteous. Answering the call saves you, following the call sanctifies you, but the two are separate with the demarcation being the new birth—following the call does not justify you. Accepting the gift justifies you—but the gift is a calling to holiness. Seeing the gift and the execution of the gift as being the same is the monster of confusion known as Protestantism.
The idea of two natures is contradictory to the new birth.
There is only one us. The other guy is dead. His nature is not hanging around with us. He is not sort of dead, and we are not sort of under the law. We are not under the law at all. The guy’s death did not merely weaken him, it utterly slaughtered him. You are not kinda the old you, there is no old you, that person is not you at all, he is dead.
So what’s going on? I am going to pull the theses out of the barn from the get-go. Think, “sin.” This all starts with a very simple word that has very deep metaphysical ramifications that will not be investigated here, but it all begins with sin as a master. Sin was originally found in God’s most magnificent angel, Lucifer, “son of the morning.” How did sin get there? Far be it from us to discuss that here, but there are theories.
Secondly, a law that should promise life, but sin uses the law to create sinful DESIRES within the individual.
Thirdly, this is daring, but it is best to think of the “flesh,” also, “members” as neutral. Our members can be used for both good and evil. The “flesh” IS NOT the old nature.
Fourthly, fruits unto death and fruits unto life.
The Theses Articulated
Much more study needs to be done in this area; this study is designed to get the ball rolling, but you could spend a lifetime articulating it.
When man is born into the world, sin is within him and sin is a master. When people are born into the world, they are sold into slavery:
Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Paul is not saying that flesh =’s evil, he is saying that sin resides in our mortal members. He is saying our birth sold us under sin. Sin is a master. According to the New Testament, this is synonymous with being born “under law” as in… “the law of sin and death.” Christ was the only man ever born under that law who could keep it perfectly. All others are condemned by it.
Let’s look at sin as master:
Genesis 4:6 – The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Sin is a master who desires to rule over the individual. Sin is the problem. This does not mean mankind is totally depraved and his will is in complete bondage to sin, he/she is still free to do good and obey the conscience, but the overall direction is away from God and to sin.
Sin resides in the mortal body, but the mortal body, as we shall see, is somewhat neutral. I am not going to get into anthropological dichotomies and theories, but the Bible seems to say that the mind within the body is what’s redeemed when we are saved. Our thesis here contends that the battle within is between our redeemed righteous minds and SIN, not the old us that is dead. However, we are using the same body that the old man (the former us) used and the body can be habituated to some degree. We are to put off those habits and build new ones into our lives:
Ephesians 4:17 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The putting off of the old self is the likeness of the old self, not the literal old self. The body is habituated by the old ways, and we can bring those same habits into the Christian life with the same ill results. Note that the mind is being renewed, and we are putting off the old ways and putting on new ways. We are not “sinners” just because we fall short of perfect putting off and putting on, we are righteous persons in the process of renovation. The flesh is not inherently evil because it can be used for righteousness:
Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 6:19 – I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
The flesh is weak, sin resides there, and our bodies will be redeemed; in that sense, “nothing good dwells in me,” but our members are to be used as instruments for righteousness nevertheless. Let me caution in regard to this study. This is not a study that should be approached with sloppy research. For instance, consider Romans 7:24:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
We now hear, “See! See! Paul stated that we are still wretched sinners!” Problem is, the Greek word translated “wretched” in this verse means to persevere in affliction. Paul is longing to be saved from his mortal body where the conflict rages. He is not saying that Christians remain as wretched sinners. Likewise, was Paul really saying elsewhere that at the time of his writing that he was the premier sinner in the entire world at that time? The “chief” of sinners? I doubt it. One may ponder the idea that…it’s obviously not true. Paul was making some other point that will not be addressed here.
So, what is the dynamic that we are really fighting against? We are set free from the law of sin and death because Christ purchased us on the cross:
1 Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
When we are saved, ownership is transferred to another master. We are no longer enslaved to Master Sin. Let’s look at what that slavery looked like:
Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
As Christians, we are no longer enslaved to sin which used our passions aroused by the law to provoke us to sin. Apparently, the cancelation of the law’s ability to condemn us comes into play here. If we cannot be condemned by the law, sin’s motivation is gone. Being condemned by the law is how sin enslaved us. If Christ died for sin, and the penalty is paid, and there is no condemnation in regard to the Christian, sin is robbed of its power. In addition, I assume it goes much deeper than this, but that is another study. We may assume that the intrinsic power of sin over us was broken as well.
Sin was able to produce sinful desires within us that provoked us to break God’s law; we were enslaved to a lawless master. Hence, and this is VERY important, phrases like, “For while we were living in the flesh” should not be interpreted as flesh=evil; it means that the unbeliever was living in a mortal body that was controlled by the Master Sin dynamic that used the law to condemn us and control us, and destroy us. No doubt, sin uses sinful desires to get even unbelievers to violate their consciences against the works of the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:12-16).
This is why many unbelievers will obey their passions in things that are in the process of destroying them. They are enslaved by passions that Sin uses to get them to violate their consciences. In this sense, we were living according to the flesh—our flesh was controlled by the triad dynamic of sin, sinful desire, and the law of sin and death. Now we are controlled by a different triad dynamic: the Holy Spirit, His law, and godly desires. To insinuate in any way that a believer remains the same as before or is in some way marginally different borderlines on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and troddens underfoot the blood of Christ.
We will look at another text to build on our point:
Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
A problem arises when we interpret “flesh” without the full corpus of the subject. When we “walk” we are using the flesh. When we walk according to the Spirit, we are using our flesh (members/body) for holy purposes. The full dynamic of sin’s mastery is then interpreted by one word used in various and sundry ways to make any number of points. And, any idea that the Christian is still under the law of sin and death is particularly egregious. Worse yet, if one believes that the law still condemns them as most teach today, this empowers the Sin Master. The word of God can now be used to provoke even Christians with sinful desires.
Furthermore, since sin still remains in the body, it still attempts to use the law to provoke us with evil desires. I imagine that ignorance of the Scriptures supplies a field day for sin in the life of believers accordingly:
James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The desire James is talking about are sinful desires provoked by sin. When we are tempted by a sinful desire, we should know exactly where that is coming from; sin is still trying to master us by using the former scheme. A Christian can produce fruits of death in this life by succumbing to those desires. These are temporary death fruits, not eternal. The former you could generate fruits of death in both this life and the life to come, but the believer can only generate temporary fruits of death. Peter referred to it this way: suffering as an unbeliever.
With all of this in mind, let’s look at some verses from Romans 7:
Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Precisely. But note, when Paul writes, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin,” he is not saying that we are still enslaved to the same master or dynamic, he is saying the dynamic is still at work in us, but we are obviously no longer enslaved to it. Hence…
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So, “Did you sin today?” Well, what sayeth Paul? Unless you take all that we observed in these three parts, this statement by Paul would seem outrageous, but we know what he is saying, and no, we are NOT “sinners.” Note as well, the law is not sinful, our flesh is “weak,” but it is sin itself that causes us to sin. Before we were saved, we desired sin and were ruled by it, but now, we have the desires of the Spirit and love His law…
For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Romans 7:21 – So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
There remains a rest for God’s people, but it is not now. This is war, but we must know who the enemy is and how he works. Let me also add that simplicity is not the duty of the “learner,” aka disciple. Christians are to study in order to show themselves an approved “worker.” Lazy thinkers make for poor disciples and are the fodder for the wicked. The final analysis is this:
So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
We are enslaved to the law of the Spirit of life, and fight against the law of sin and death that sin uses to provoke us with evil desires.
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
We are not fighting against the old us. We are fighting the sin within that is no longer our master. In addition, our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but rather principalities.
We only have ONE nature, the new one.