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Just a few questions:
1. If you accept the idea that “flesh” and “spirit” refer to parts of regenerate believers rather than to spheres in which people live and by which we are controlled, where does sanctification take place, in the flesh or in the spirit? The same question applies in terms of “old man”/ “new man.” Which of those grows in sanctification?
Answer: This question reflects the fact that the Reformed crowd doesn’t openly discuss what they really believe about this issue, and I commend you accordingly. Authentic Reformed doctrine holds to the idea that the active obedience of Christ is manifested in the “Spirit realm” as a result of what we see in the Bible being imputed to us by faith alone in sanctification (see Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, theses 27). We don’t change. The “Spirit realm” and the “flesh realm” are two forces that put pressure on us, and at any given time, we “yield” to one or the other. This is the position of the elders who are over the NANC training center in Springboro, Ohio according to an email I received from them when they thought I was on board with their doctrine.
Of course, the take on this varies among those in the Reformed tradition. Another example would be the idea that we are still dead spiritually, and the living Christ within us is the one obeying. What is consistent is the idea that this obedience is experienced in a certain way: joy and a willing spirit (see LHD, theses 27); that’s how we know Jesus is doing it and not us. At any rate, the crux of Reformed theology is that all good works take place outside of the believer; i.e., Luther’s “alien righteousness” for not only justification, but for sanctification as well. Your question is at the very core of debates that took place between heretic Dr. Ed Welch of CCEF and the commendable Dr. Jay Adams.
Jay Adams oversees INS as he was pretty much run out of NANC and CCEF—largely due to the fact that NANC and CCEF are both bastions of evil. I find it utterly intolerable that thousands are sent to these organizations daily with the hope of change when these Reformed organizations in fact don’t believe that God changes them. There are no words for my loathing of such hideous deception while these organizations also take people’s hard-earned money to boot. And some don’t go along with these ideas, but they stand silent and therefore are just as guilty. And my “whole life” is contending against this? Perhaps, but better that than one’s whole life buying acceptance with silence. Moreover, people praise CJ Mahaney and co. for their tireless night and day service to the “gospel” which is really the work of the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of light. A pity that I would counter that with my own life.
Unfortunately, Adams, who is much more advanced in patience than I am—associates with them, and in my estimation thereby causes confusion regarding the kind of counseling that will change people. Also, the possibility that the only biblical counseling organization left on the face of the earth that is not infected with Trippism and Powlisonism is also a major concern. Nevertheless, Adams and his associate, Donn Arms, are the only ones who have taken a stand against the heretical onslaught taking place in biblical counseling circles which is fraught with mindless followers, lackeys, lovers of filthy lucre, shameless cowards, and lying integrationists. The idea that these people care about any marriage or the well being of any saint is laughable.
But to answer your question completely, I believe the Scriptures are clear that the old self was put to death and no longer has the ability to enslave us to sin. The old self was “under the law” which means that the law provoked him to sin and a final judgment according to the law. As long as we are alive, our mortality has influence over us in regard to the old ways of being under the law, but the enslavement is broken. We are in fact born again, and have a regenerated “law of our mind.” Hence, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The warfare takes place inside of the believer between the law of his mind and the “law of sin.” The apostle makes it absolutely clear: this warfare takes place between my “inner being” and “in my members.” What is clearer? Unless the Bible is a Reformed gospel narrative that isn’t meant to inform our co-laboring with God in sanctification. But it is, because we are no longer “under” it for justification, but are informed by it for sanctification. Because the Reformers believe we are still under it, we must continue to live by the gospel that saved us from the law. We are still under it, but Jesus keeps it for us. How this is applied to the Christian life by the Reformers is outright Gnosticism to the core.
Furthermore, the “law of my mind” part of the believer that “delights in the law” in our “inner being” is what grows. Something in us is in fact growing: a host of passages that include 1Peter 2:1-3 make this certain. Really? Jesus isn’t really talking to us when he states, “Well done faithful servant”?
2. Do you believe sanctification occurs completely apart from faith? Do we have everything we need at the point of regeneration, so that further dependence on the Holy Spirit is no longer necessary? It sounds as if that is what you are saying.
Answer: Your question is framed within the confines of the Reformed either/or hermeneutic. Reality is either interpreted through the “glory story” or the “cross story.” This is the interpretive foundation of Reformed theology as stated in Luther’s HD. Because sanctification includes us, it must be by faith alone like salvation or it includes our glory as well. Therefore, where faith is, it must be by faith alone because faith is of God who will not share His glory with another. Therefore, if our doing is involved with sanctification, it must occur completely apart from faith. It must be the glory story, or the cross story. Reformed proponent Gerhard Forde states this in no uncertain terms.
Biblicists reject that metaphysical presupposition with prejudice. We stand with our beloved brother James, whom Luther rejected for obvious reasons, in saying that faith and works are together in sanctification while faith is alone in justification. Luther and his Reformed minions believe that grace is fused with works apart from our faith when it is faith in the works of Christ alone in sanctification (LHD theses 25).
Also, “Do we have everything we need at the point of regeneration, so that further dependence on the Holy Spirit is no longer necessary?” Again, we see Reformed metaphysics. If any part of our story is in the narrative, it’s semi-Pelagianism and not the cross story. This is a rather simple concept. All of the power that raised Christ from the dead is credited to our account in salvation. The Holy Spirit, our “HELPER” (ESV) “helps” us (that’s what a “helper” does, they “help”) in appropriating the blessings of salvation. He aids us (that’s what a “helper” does, he “aids”). And those blessings are appropriated “IN” (that’s a preposition) the DOING (James 1:25).
3. Do you believe Jesus’ actions are ever to be considered not only as instructional as a pattern for our obedience, but as motivation to imitate him?
Answer: As many have forcefully argued in several articles, especially Presbyterian Pastor Terry Johnson, God uses many different incentives to motivate us other than gratitude and meditating on the salvific works of Christ. This was also Adams’ primary contention against Sonship Theology.
4. Do you see any difference between God’s work in a believer that replaces his need to obey and God’s work in believers motivating them to obey?
Answer: The very question suggests a “need” to “replace (s)” the “need” of a believer to “obey” in sanctification? Of course, a clear distinction is not made regarding….in sanctification or justification? But, NO SUCH NEED EXISTS for sanctification. Our work in sanctification has NO bearing on our justification. The premise of the question is based on faulty Reformed presuppositions.
5. How do you see the Reformed doctrine as teaching that sanctification completes justification?
Answer: They call it a “CHAIN” (The golden chain of salvation-Romans 8:29,30). What’s a “chain”? What happens if you remove the middle links of a “chain” ? It’s not completed—this would seem apparent.
Challenging Doctrinal Presuppositions of Orthodoxy
Opening Introduction – An online event: Thursday, August 27, 7:00PM
Session 1: Friday, August 28, 9:30 AM
Session 2: Friday, August 28, 3:30 PM
Session 3: Saturday, August 29, 10:45 AM
Tonight we are discussing the question, “Is America a Christian nation?” Is America a Christian nation? The fact that the question is trending really should alarm us. The fact that the very question is trending is an open display of the average Christian’s errant view of history and really reality itself. Because of Protestant tradition, most Christians have a completely bogus worldview. Nevertheless, we will answer the question biblically tonight. We will present a truly biblical worldview. We’re not going to spend a lot of time on that. I’m going to present what I think is the biblical worldview at the end of the presentation reading from Romans Chapter [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:03:35]. Really another way you could ask it is, “How should true Christians process reality itself?”
Well, where to start? First, let’s start with defining what a Christian is. Christian is one of those generic words that we kind of throw around, right? We are going to stop here and ask why that is. Why do we just kind of – are able to throw around these words like Christian, Gospel and so on and so forth? And we need to look at that because it speaks hugely to the point at hand here. How can we have this conversation without a definitive understanding of what the word Christian means? This question is discussed on radio and other venues, that is, the question of “Are we a Christian nation?” America, that is. The question is discussed on radio and other venues comfortably while crossing every line between everything and the kitchen sink that calls itself Christian, and nobody blinks. How can this happen? Well, here’s how. Because all stripes under the nomenclature of Christian define the word this way. You ready? Not secular. That’s the definition of Christianity, not secular.
So during the day when Christian soccer moms are running the home base and listening to this discussion on the radio via the Janet Mefferd Show or whatever, it can be Catholic, Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Unitarian or whatever. To all of them, the word Christian in this context means the same thing: not secular. Yes. While this subject is being discussed, all theological differences can be put away because all of these parties have one thing in common. They believe in God in one way or the other. For the time being, they are united against the greater evil, the secular, the big S, those who don’t believe in God. And as we know, the godless have been out to destroy the godly since the beginning of time, us against them. Yes, as we think, the primary nemesis of the Church has been all of those secular people who don’t believe in God. And on the other hand, you could also say their definition of secular are those who don’t believe in God. Usually, more times than not, it’s just equated with atheism. Secular equals atheism.
This so not human history. Do this. Find one account in human history where a secular government persecuted religion. Well, your answer is probably going to be, “Well, Marxism.” But even if that’s true, even if you could use Marxism as an example, Marxism is a parenthetical historical anomaly really. But let’s look at the notion. Marxism was/is an equal opportunity persecutor when it gets right down to it, that is merely intolerant of different views on how to achieve its utopia. I think it’s fair to say for the most part Marxism doesn’t care what you believe. It primarily believes whether or not you give them any trouble or stand in their way. Those who die under its tyranny usually do so as a result of its policies, not a targeted persecution. Its targeted persecution is usually against dissenters. Even if you find fault with my assessment, remember Marxism is primarily a 19th and 20th century phenomenon. And, by the way, secular governments in general are really a post-American Revolution phenomenon. Before that, church states were the norm, and by church, which is a very handy word with a 5th-century etymology, we mean organized religion. Organized church states were always the norm by and large before the American Revolution, and again, really, the whole secular government thing is kind of a post American Revolution phenomenon.
Okay. So here at TANC, which sponsors this radio show, we are big on defining words because words mean things. “Church” is defined as a religious institution with an authority structure. By and large, all international violence in human history is predicated by religious intolerance. This is a violence that will not even tolerate those who keep their mouths shut and look the other way. This is a violence that goes door to door demanding that you agree with them. This is an intolerance that one day announces that your race has been proclaimed anathema. Have a nice day. Please note the first step kind of sounds like this: Don’t you want a government ruled by godly principles? Of course, you do. Christian good, secular bad. Those who believe in God, good. Those who don’t believe in God, bad. Second step, once they get into power using that ploy, hark! Not all who claim God really believe in God. Then the secular boogeyman that never existed in the first place is now the pseudo-Christian. Let the slaughter begin. That’s history, period. This is the way it always happens.
So this is what we really are asking when we ask if America was founded on Christian principles. Was America founded on belief in God? Was belief in God principal in which the nation was supposed to function? After all, don’t we have money with “In God we trust” printed on it? We have defined what is really behind the trending conversation. I’m going to pause and give a short answer to the question, really longer than I thought it would be, and then develop the first notion. Really, I’m going to first develop more the second notion, that is, what’s behind the trend? I’m going to address the second notion first, actually. What is the true historic answer to the question? Then I’m going to conclude with what a true biblical worldview should be. (more…)
Jared Fogle had it all. Through fluke circumstances, he became the “Subway Guy” which resulted in a net worth of around 15 million dollars. He was also willing to risk all of that because of a desire that is seriously illegal. In the face of what he had to lose, he could not say no to his desire for sex with adolescents.
Those remotely familiar with the Bible are not surprised by this. The Bible teaches that sin makes its appeal through desires, and to one degree or another, the unregenerate are enslaved to those desires. The Bible is also clear: believers have sinful desires, but because they are born again, they are able to say no to those desires. In addition, the Christian is able to put sinful desires to death or at least reduce them to a mild nuisance.
Because the believer undergoes a spiritual baptism that puts the old self to death in exchange for a new life in Christ, desires are not able to impose a suffocating full court press upon them; ignorance of God’s word notwithstanding. In contrast, we find that some unbelievers cannot go to sleep at night until they fulfill their evil lust (Proverbs 4:16). The Bible also documents several instances where individuals seek to fulfill their lusts in the face of certain death. Certainly, today’s headlines are full of such examples. This also brings to mind Andy’s Bible study from last Tuesday, and how “self-control” was part of the apostle Paul’s gospel presentation. Now we know why. Self-control is part and parcel with being saved. For the true Christian, the ability to say no is present, and learning how to say no to sinful desires is an ongoing process:
Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (KJV).
1Thessalonians 4:3 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God (ESV).
This ministry is fond of talking about the two kinds of people in the world: under law, and under grace. Those under law are enslaved to sinful desires that vary in type and degree from one person to another, are provoked to sin by the law, and will be judged by the law. Those under grace are not enslaved to particular evil desires, are provoked to righteousness by the law, and will not be judged/condemned by the law. These are two different states of being.
However, what most Protestants are unaware of is the fact that Reformation soteriology denied a change of being for the “believer.” Salvation only enables a person to SEE reality differently without actually being transformed into a new creature. In other words, salvation is a different experience, but not a new state of being. Therefore, the Protestant gospel calls for an imputation of righteousness to the “believer” that is not their own because the “believer” does not change in regard to being. This is known as the doctrine of “double imputation.”
Hence, the “believer” is still enslaved to sinful desires. Yet, Protestants become perplexed, confused, and dismayed by events like that of Josh Duggar. Actually, the Protestant herd put a pretty good spin of Duggar’s last episode, but the latest revelation that he was subscribed to two Ashley Madison accounts is a Rhonda Rousey smack down; game completely over.
Of course, citing an example like Duggar is making a case that there is lots of sand at the beach. Judging by the fruit, Protestantism is a decadent religion that has found cover with religious common decency over the years. Nevertheless, common decency is giving way to what is hidden and provoked by a return to the authentic Protestant gospel of medieval times via the New Calvinist movement. Apart from what is on the news, this ministry has received many emails about what goes on among New Calvinist leaders, not excluding things like wife swapping.
And why is this? It’s the doctrine. Under law is under law…it is what it is, and behavior is always the result of doctrine/logic…always. Jared like Josh, because they are both under law.
We have previously discussed how most “church covenants” in our day state that you must have permission from the elders to vacate membership, and that these so-called “covenants” are legally binding contracts that waive your rights to certain state laws. Hence, your salvation can be cancelled by the elders, and you can be publicly humiliated for “insubordination.” An example can be seen following:
If you’re a person who doesn’t have many skeletons in your closet, they will leave the congregation to their own imaginations. But, if they have the goods on you, that will be announced. And, the primary way they obtain the goods on you is by obtaining your trust through discipleship and formal counseling. Though confidentiality is assumed, biblical counselors certified by ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) do not have to play by the same rules. Following is a video capture of an ACBC counselee data sheet. Basically, if you are a person with a lot of baggage and you fill this out, they own you.
“This isn’t a technique for boosting our spiritual growth; this is a means of re-salvation because we are still technically lost and under law. ‘Under grace’ merely qualifies us for perpetual re-salvation. That’s Protestantism…period!”
Week in, and week out, and days in-between, professing Christians meet at a local institutional church to further indoctrinate their families in the Protestant culture of death. It doesn’t seem like death as families cheerfully socialize together and lift up their hands as the hipster praise bands make a joyful noise to the Lord. In addition, charismatic orators speak of things that are clearly in the Bible.
But let’s talk about good old fashioned theological math found in the Bible. The Bible addresses the only two people groups that exist in the world: the lost and the saved. As professing Christians, we want to be biblically defined as saved people, no? Can a case be made in this post that present-day evangelicals define themselves according to what the Bible defines as “lost.” Yes. All in all I am sure you will agree; any religion that defines itself as unregenerate is a really bad idea.
Here is how the Bible defines the two people groups:
Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Every person living in the world is under law or under grace; lost or saved. Protestants define themselves as under law with under grace as a covering. Romans 6:14 is defined this way:
We are under grace because the righteousness of Christ continually saves us from being under law.
So, with Protestantism, it’s both. Under grace means we are still under law but progressively saved by grace. Under law is who we are, while we “experience” grace. Under law is what we do, under grace is what we experience. Supposedly, when Paul stated that we are “not” under law, what he really meant to say is under law is the absence of grace. The lost are only under law, but the saved are under both.
Hence, we are still under the “righteous demands of the law,” but if we are under grace, Jesus keeps the law for us. This is achieved by focusing on our sinfulness against the law, and returning to the same gospel that originally saved us out of gratitude. Objections to this idea are met with accusations of indifference to Christ’s sacrifice. Therefore, the “Christian” must live a “lifestyle of repentance” and constantly seek a “greater revelation of self” which is inherently sinful. The goal is to plunge the depths of our supposed total depravity. And if you are paying attention, our sin and the original gospel that saved us are the constant drumbeats we hear in the institutional church week in and week out.
Consequently, our goal is to see more and more of our reality of being under law resulting in an increased joy regarding our original salvation. Mainline evangelical Paul Washer states it this way:
At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).
This not only turns the Bible completely upside down, but leaves the Christian in a lifestyle of death while rejoicing in it. This is a true celebration of death, and church is the culture thereof. Romans 6 is clear about what it means to remain under law:
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Obviously, if we believe our formal sinful self has been “brought to nothing,” Paul Washer’s sanctification construct is impossible, and his statement speaks to the authentic soteriology of the Protestant Reformation. How do you achieve a greater revelation of your sinful self when your former sinful self has been “brought to nothing”?
You don’t, which leaves the “believer” yet under law and in need of salvation. The “believer” needs to continually return to the same gospel that saved him/her in order to remain saved. Instead of the new birth being a onetime event that brings the former sinner to “nothing,” the new birth is defined as a joy experience resulting from revisiting the gospel afresh for forgiveness of sin that still condemns us.
This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ (Ibid).
We are asking the question, How does the gospel save believers?, not: How does the gospel get people to be believers?… Believers need to be saved. The gospel is the instrument of God’s power to save us. And we need to know how the gospel saves us believers so that we make proper use of it (John Piper: Part 2 of a series titled, “How Does the Gospel Save Believers”).
Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).
…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).
Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered (The Calvin Institutes: 3.14.11).
Where we land on these issues is perhaps the most significant factor in how we approach our own faith and practice and communicate it to the world. If not only the unregenerate but the regenerate are always dependent at every moment on the free grace of God disclosed in the gospel, then nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image. Start with Christ (that is, the gospel) and you get sanctification in the bargain; begin with Christ and move on to something else, and you lose both (Michael Horton: Christless Christianity; p. 62).
Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).
Therefore, “under grace” is defined as a mere qualification to return to the same gospel that saved us; in other words, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” in order to keep ourselves saved. How prevalent is this idea in the contemporary church? Consider this laundry list from Peter Lumpkins .com:
“As Pastors we must first preach the gospel to ourselves before we proclaim to the world the necessity of a Savior” Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29 Network.
“Yet even when we understand that our acceptance with God is based on Christ’s work, we still naturally tend to drift back into a performance mindset. Consequently, we must continually return to the gospel. To use an expression of the late Jack Miller, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day” Jerry Bridges, Reformed author.
“We must preach the Gospel to ourselves and one another every day” Ashland Avenue Baptist Church Distinctives, Lexington, KY
“The Gospel must be central to our lives and central to our message. Strive to keep the Gospel in the center of your worship ministry. Jerry Bridges tell us that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It has been said that we never move on from the Cross, only to a more profound understanding of the Cross”
Dr. Greg Brewton, Associate Dean for Music and Worship Leadership at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“We must preach the Gospel to ourselves” Francis Chan, Passion 2011
“Yesterday was a powerful moment in the Word of God as we studied Romans 8:1-4. I challenged those present to learn to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Why? If we do not preach the gospel to ourselves daily, we will return to sin, bondage, guilt, the Law, and legalism…You see, this is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves daily” Ronnie Floyd, former Chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force
“I’ve been re-reading Jerry Bridges’ excellent book The Discipline of Grace…Bridges reminded me of just how important it is to “preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” if we are going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ” Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
“…I once assumed…that the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved… But I’ve come to realize that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. The gospel, in other words, isn’t just the power of God to save you, it’s the power of God to grow you once you’re saved… . This idea that the gospel is just as much for Christians as it is for non-Christians may seem like a new idea to many but, in fact, it is really a very old idea” Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
“We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday… . As we preach the gospel to ourselves, we should be both encouraged and overwhelmed with gratitude, and both should give us a desire to deal with the sin in our lives” Casey Lewis, student, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves… . …Most gracious Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, so I’m eager to preach it to my own heart today…” Scotty Smith, Guest blogger at Justin Taylor’s The Gospel Coalition site and Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN
“We must constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves, filling our hearts with your beauty and bounty, Lord Jesus… . Dear heavenly Father, it’s not about “mind over matter,” or the power of positive thinking, or the pragmatic good of cognitive therapy. It’s all about preaching the gospel to ourselves every opportunity we get…” Scotty Smith, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN (here and here, respectively)
“We must constantly be preaching the gospel to ourselves, filling our hearts with your beauty and bounty, Lord Jesus… . Dear heavenly Father, it’s not about “mind over matter,” or the power of positive thinking, or the pragmatic good of cognitive therapy. It’s all about preaching the gospel to ourselves every opportunity we get…” Scotty Smith, Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, TN (here and here, respectively)
“How can we not shift from the hope of the Gospel? By preaching the Gospel to ourselves daily… . “Preaching the Gospel to yourself” is a phrase I first ran across in The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges, and have observed for years in the life of my good friend, C.J. Mahaney. C.J. has written persuasively, biblically, and practically on this topic in his new book, Living the Cross Centered Life… . Don’t take a day off from preaching the Gospel to yourself” Bob Kaulfin, Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries and worship leader at Covenant Life Church led by Josh Harris.
“Far too many Christians are passive in their fight for joy…. What can I do?’ Well, God does not mean for us to be passive. He means for us to fight the fight of faith t he fight for joy. And the central strategy is to preach the gospel to yourself… . John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, p.81, as quoted by Bob Kauflin
I am thoroughly engrossed with Joe Thorn’s personal mediations on preaching the gospel to oneself” Tom J. Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, promoting Joe Thorn’s book, Note to Self: the Discipline of Preaching to Oneself
“In the few months prior to Verge God was really working on me. I’ve been doing a lot of repenting of the idols in my heart. I’ve been preaching the gospel to myself” Steve McCoy, SBC Pastor
“This may sound really selfish, but faithfully preaching the gospel to myself is actually what enables me to share it faithfully to others” Timmy Brister, SBC Associate Pastor.
“I chose not to include the response to the gospel…but just tried to focus on what the gospel actually is. I edit it regularly as I try to grasp and preach the gospel to myself” Ed Stetzer, LifeWay
This isn’t a technique for boosting our spiritual growth; this is a means of re-salvation because we are still technically lost and under law. “Under grace” merely qualifies us for perpetual re-salvation. That’s Protestantism…period!
And the culture that will result is defined in the Bible:
Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 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.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Christ said, “You must be born again.” This is clearly a doctrine that redefines the new birth by defining the “believer” as unchanged and yet under law. Along with that is an unavoidable conclusion that this also includes a fruits unto death existence that is part and parcel with being under law.
This will, and does make sin and condemnation the focus and theme of church while the Bible emphasizes ADDING virtue to our faith in contrast to a continual re-visitation of our supposed depravity.
1Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
2Peter 1:3 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
In the past, Protestants were confused enough about their own soteriological traditions that the fruits unto death were minimal, but during this Neo-Reformed resurgence that we are witnessing presently, such is not the case; the institutional church is a blatant culture of death. And those who would expose their children to it are woefully undiscerning. Ask yourself this simple question: do I leave church better equipped to see something that the Bible states isn’t there or better equipped to love God and others? Am I better at seeing my own depravity, or have I learned new ways to love which covers a multitude of sins anyway?
The remedy for this malady is a return to where the gathering of believers belongs: in home fellowships where believers are equipped to love God and others as a lifestyle, NOT a “lifestyle of repentance.” The institutional church was first called “church” when it was founded in the 4th century, and it was founded on the same idea that believers remain under law. Therefore, an authoritative institution was created that supplied official re-salvation for those under law. The institutional church goes hand in glove with the idea that it supplies a place for re-salvation, i.e., those qualified to receive it by being “under grace.”
To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers” (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).
Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place (Ibid).
Come out from among them and be separate.
Okay, George Santayana is credited with saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How many of you have heard that? It’s very popular catchy phrase has taken on several variations. Now many moons ago when I taught high school history and social studies, I would sometimes introduce the classes by saying my teacher variation of that quote. First day of U.S. History, “Welcome to U.S. History. It is important for you to do well in this class for remember, those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” One particular year, this one poor guy in the back of the room put his head down on his desk and went, “I’m doomed! I’m doomed!” And his friend is faking compassion patted him on the back, “It’s okay, man. She always gives extra credit.” “But you don’t get it. I hate History and Mrs. [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:01:12] is the only history teacher in the school. I’m double doomed!” Not only having to repeat history but having to have me for two years, but he did pass the class, and I do believe he still dislikes history.
But that phrase though, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is impressive, is common and is difficult to disagree with. If it is true and if history is so ugly and objectionable, then this proverbial quote ought to be a guide to public and private policy. For example, couples who do not learn from their fights, break up. People who don’t learn from their mistakes, they don’t mature. Revolutions that give an individual absolute power inevitably end up as brutal dictatorships. After repeated wars between Germany and France, France made harsh demands on Germany and their terms of surrender after World War I, then the Second World War happened. After Stalin’s brutal regime of secret police and leader worship, Cuban revolutionary has allowed their charismatic revolutionary leader to seize absolute power, and Castro still hold the seat of dictatorial power in Cuba today. History shows that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
What about this idea? And what about those who do learn from history? Are they still doomed to repeat it? If the converse is true, then the saying has no power and adds nothing at all to the discussion. What adds power to that quote is the word “learn” because with learning, with knowledge, there’s a hope of change. But will it, can it happen? Will knowledge lead to change? Will learning what history taught us provoke us to make the changes necessary to keep it from being repeated? Can it be that all the good and bad things about people and the way we organize ourselves simply creates patterns as we make history? Could it be that we are given to a certain irrationality which leads us down paths, some disastrous, again and again?
Now consider this different approach. When you look back through history and you see man taking the exact same steps, coming to the exact same conclusions generation after generation, millennia after millennia, what were their root assumptions? “It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas. It doesn’t matter how insane the rationale. They will act until the logic is fulfilled. Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.” That’s the gospel according to John Immel, chapter 3 verses 1 through 3. I did learn something from our first conference.
Knowing the cause should provoke us to take some kind of action, hopefully, preventative action, proactive action, and proactive changes. WXY and Z now I know my ABCs. Tell me what you think of me… Well, I think you know your ABCs. Now tell me what are you going to do with that knowledge? Will you take action and make meaning of the letters, connect them with sounds and letter combinations and create words and words that build sentences and ideas? Will you take your ABCs to that ultimate conclusion and learn to read and write? Will we learn the lessons of the history past and use that knowledge to take action to stay off those irrational and destructive past? Maybe yes maybe no. I do know some children who know their ABCs. Blaine [SOUNDS LIKE 0:06:05] knows his ABCs, but he has not yet learned to read. There are those who know history and are dooming themselves and us by repeating it or causing it to repeat.
So, are we like the Calvinists who believe and hold on so tenaciously to the doctrine that we are predestined to live in this time and space with no choice, no say in the direction we are to take and no say in how we stand, no chance for change. Are we to take up that clarion call, become like the Puritans of old and all things will be set to right? Now why not consider the assumptions and logic and end results of the Puritans? Remember what George said, “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it” because their patterns of irrationality, their faulty root assumptions are leading the institutional church down the same disastrous paths again.
What I’ve been reading from Christian homeschool blogs and from leaders in the homeschool movement, this is what I’ve been reading. Let’s return to the Puritan way and put our children on the road to better education. I’ve read that more than once. A Southern Baptist seminary professor wrote, “We can learn from the old, namely the Puritans, for the doing of theology, for the life and health of the church today,” Stephen J. Wellum, Editorial: “Learning from the Puritans,” Theology Professor at Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. And without some understanding of Puritanism, there’s no solid understanding of dominionism, the patriarchy movement and the downward spiral of our Christian institutions. And without understanding Puritanism, you really have a partial knowledge of New Calvinism. And without understanding Puritanism, there is no solid understanding of America either.
Remember what you learned in U.S. history? The New England colonies were started under austere circumstances. Other colonies with more financial support from their mother country, more material resources, suffered collapse. The Puritans faced severe climate, a howling wilderness, yet they made themselves physically secure and began immediately to lay the foundations of government, education, thought and literature that outdid the achievements of all the other colonies. The Puritans made New England the intellectual leader of the nation at that time. Their belief in God’s sovereignty and of divine predestination provided a measure of comfort and stimulus to these early settlers. Did this consciousness that they were not ultimately responsible but that they were being led by God, have anything to do with their success? It is a shining example of human discipline and energy that in the face of circumstances would have discouraged and ruined most other adventurers. Could it be that holding fast to a doctrine that man is not free, he is a not free agent provided, them with a more powerful stimulus to exert extreme effort and a more moral force than any doctrine of human freedom?
Perhaps this is one of the ironies of history. If you compare Americans of the 18th and 19th century to the Puritans, one would have to say that the Puritans were theology-minded. Now I would say they were Calvin-minded. The doctrines of the fall of man, of sin, of salvation, predestination, election, conversion were their meat and drink. But what distinguished them is they were less interested in theology than in the application of Calvin’s theology to everyday life and especially to society. They became consumed with making the society in America embody the truth that they thought they already knew and less concerned with perfecting how they form truth. So Puritan New England was a grand and noble experiment in applied Calvinism.
A sidebar, the Puritans did not learn from history past. John Calvin tried this noble experiment in Geneva, enforced a theocracy, a holy commonwealth. If you read any part of Calvin’s Geneva experience, they did take Calvin’s faulty assumption. They applied a faulty logic and they tried to enforce their theology of theocracy, a holy commonwealth, and the end result was the same.
New England offered a rare opportunity for the Puritans in the New World. The Calvinistic theology was their point of departure when they left England, and they did not waver from it. Life in this New World was life in the wilderness, away from the great university libraries and the higher institutions of learning of their motherland. Daily threatened by hardships and the perils of a savage America, elaborating a theology and disputing its finer points was not practical. It was not the writing of books that was impossible for New England. New England flowed with an abundance of sermons, textual commentaries, collections of providences, statutes and works of history which were of themselves quite remarkable. Cotton Mather wrote 400 books.
With the exception of Roger Williams, who is not in the stream of New England orthodoxy anyway, Massachusetts Bay did not produce, I’m going to repeat, did not produce a major figure in theology until Jonathan Edwards. And when he arrived on the scene, by then the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritanism was waning. Now during the great days of the New England Puritanism, there was not a single important dispute which was primarily theological. There were arguments over who should rule New England, whether John Winthrop or Thomas Dudley or Harry Vane should be governor, whether the power representation of different classes in the community should be changed, whether the Child Petition Act should be accepted, penalties for crimes by fixed statutes, whether outlying towns should have more representation in the general court. If they were theology-minded, what they argued about was institutions.
Let me do a comparison. At this time in history, the Puritans in England, the mother country, were discussing the fine points of their theory. What was the true nature of liberty? When should a true Puritan resist a corrupt civil government? When should diversity be tolerated? Now the debates of these topics expand the social classes in England for not only the John Miltons but the officers in Cromwell’s Puritan army reveal how different the intellectual atmosphere in England was from that of New England. Soldiers, men of action stopped to debate the theory of revolution and the philosophy of sovereignty. But let’s remember this crucial difference. Puritanism in England was more complex than Puritanism in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Puritans in good old England had representatives from a wide range of doctrines–Presbyterians, Independents, Separatists, Levellers, Millenarians. So, naturally, Puritanism in England was a matter of dispute. But consider this. In England, any community they built would have to find some space for the dozens of sects, from Quakers to Papists, because England was their home, too. Now Massachusetts Bay Colony did not possess this vigor. They possessed orthodoxy. It was organized and ran as a community of self-selected conformists.
In 1637, the general court of Massachusetts passed an order forbidding anyone from settling within the colony without first having his orthodoxy approved by the magistrates. These immigrants were required to be free from contamination. John Winthrop was bold and clear in defending this ruling. This community was formed by free consent of its members. Why should they not exclude dangerous men or men with dangerous thoughts? Now take for example Reverend Wheelwright. His brother-in-law’s wife was Anne Hutchinson. We all read about Anne Hutchinson in our history books. He and Anne accused the majority of the colony’s ministers and their magistrates of preaching a covenant of works. So, both he and Anne were banished from the colony. The Governor John Winthrop said, “If we conceive and find by sad experience that Wheelwright’s opinions are such and by his own profession cannot stand with external peace, may we not provide for our peace by keeping of such as would strengthen him and infect others with such dangerous tenets?” This was a peculiar opportunity for the Puritans of New England. Why not see what true orthodoxy could accomplish? In one unspoiled corner of the world, declare a truce on doubts and on theological debate. Here at last, man could devote their full energy to applying Christianity, not to clarifying doctrine, not to build Zion.” Puritan Nathaniel Ward wrote, “I dare take upon me to be the herald of New England so fair as to proclaim to the world in the name of our colony that all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other enthusiasts shall have free liberty to keep away from us and such as will come be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better,” taken from his pamphlet, Simple Cobbler, 1647.
A dissension in England would have created a new sect of Puritanism. In America, dissension simply produced another colony. In England, the Puritans had to find a way to live with dissenters. In New England, the Puritans found ways to live without them. What truly distinguished Massachusetts Bay was its refusal to develop a practice of toleration. Unlike England of the 17th century, the leaders of Massachusetts enjoyed their pure and simple orthodoxy. And that orthodoxy was conformity with established and accepted Calvinistic standards. Now let’s consider another side of the coin. Intolerance was a source of strength for the New England Puritans. This was not a philosophical enterprise they were engaging in. They were community builders. They were building the New Jerusalem. They were building Zion, a city upon a hill. All the energy their counterparts in England were using to debate and war over compulsive and restrictive powers in religion between matters essential and matters indifferent, these are still being debated today by political science students. The American Puritans put all that energy to mark off boundaries of their new towns, enforce criminal laws and to fight the Indian menace. Theology and metaphysics were not going to distract them because they had no doubt and they had no dissent. Had they spent as much energy debating with each other as their English counterparts, would they have still had the single-mindedness to overcome the perils of the wilderness and build a nation? I hold three things that held Massachusetts Bay Colony together initially made them successful–notice I said initially–no toleration, democracy was of the devil, community and unity over individual freedom.
In England the various sects of Puritanism were daring each other to extend and clarify their doctrines, but there was little of this in America. In New England, the critics, the doubters and dissenters were expelled from the community. Roger Williams, I read a wonderful book about Roger Williams. He was expelled for confronting the leaders about separation of Church and State, not doctrinal issues. He agreed in doctrine point by point by point with Calvinistic doctrine. They did not have a problem with his doctrine, but he was relentless in preaching from the pulpit and talking to the magistrates and the civil leaders in public and in private that the Church had no business in civil government, that there had to be a separation. He was expelled for confronting the leaders about this issue. Later, he established the colony of Rhode Island.
Whereas in England, the Puritans had to find ways to live together, which in turn helped to develop a theory of toleration. In New England, they transcended theological preoccupation because what was it? There were no doubts. They allowed no dissent. They just could not be distracted from these practical tasks of theology and metaphysics. In 1637, the General Court passed an order forbidding anyone from settling within the colony, and I’ve said this without having this orthodoxy approved, okay?
Number two, the goal of creating a democracy in Massachusetts had never stirred the leadership except the opposition. The idea that authority and sovereignty came from below, from the government as opposed to from above, from God was completely foreign. Winthrop believed that the magistrates even though being called freemen, we have our authority from God. And by the way, I was kind of misled in my reading when it said the freemen could vote, the freemen elected their magistrates, and then the next paragraph defined what freeman was, a member of the Puritan church. If you were not a member, you were not a freeman. Therefore, you could not vote. So, the freemen were an elite few, who made the decisions for the entire colony. “Freeman, even though being called by you freeman, we have our authority from God; therefore, they must be obeyed,” Governor John Winthrop. “So, shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority among you.” And he declared, “Democracy amongst civil nations accounted the meanest and worst form of government.” He called it a breach of the Fifth Commandment and noted that history records it has always been of least continuance and fullest of troubles. Now Cotton, John Cotton wrote, “Democracy, I do not conceive that God ever did ordain as a fit government, either for a church or commonwealth. If people be governors, who shall be the governed? As for monarchy and aristocracy, both of them clearly approved and directed by Scripture.”
An example of this lack of tolerance practice is witnessed in the life of Roger Williams. He claimed the people were sovereign. I infer that the sovereign original and foundation of civil power lies in the people. Now these were hardy and rebellious ideas that ended Williams being expelled from the community in the dead of winter during the blizzard, and if it had not been for the Native Americans who rescued him, he would have perished. And he does pay them tribute for aiding him in his time, and he spent the entire winter with them, nursed back to health and taken care of.
Now consider these ideas. The Puritans were concerned with the organization of their New Jerusalem society with making their communities effective. Now three problems which worried them in New England: 1) how to select their leaders and representatives. They had to decide who were the fit rulers and how should they be selected. 2) The proper limit of power: John Cotton said it is therefore more wholesome for magistrates and officers in the church and commonwealth never to afflict more liberty and authority that will do them good and the people good. It is necessary therefore that all power that is on earth be limited. 3) And how power should be distributed between local and central [organs 0:26:21]. Now are not these three problems you hear addressed in the constitution? How to select the leaders and representatives, okay? How much power that they have and how to separate federal and state government?
Though denying democracy is a valid way to address the community’s organizational needs, they unknowingly used democratic ideas to solve these worrisome problems. To the Puritans, the American destiny was inseparable from the mission of community building. It always sounds good to say we need to build a community, you know. What’s her face said a village raises your child, you know. The community is – yeah, it takes a village. It takes a community to raise your child. So to the Puritans, this mission of community building was inseparable from the ongoing relationship among man. Individualism threatened the delicate strings that held the community together. A main component of the emerging American ideology from the Puritan through the Enlightenment was focused on keeping the community united while trying to find some place for individualism.
There was the need for community involvement in the church. They had to show unswerving devotion to the church, perform good works, have unquestioned obedience to the church leaders. Good works and charitable acts would not lead a person to salvation, but was necessary to show their natural grace to prove that they might be considered one of the elect. The concept of unity as a community was communicated, and it was sermonized aboard the Arabella on their way over crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Winthrop: “We must knit together in this work as one man, mourn together, labor, suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body.” John Winthrop: “If one part of the community was ill, then the entire community would suffer. Each individual was responsible for their actions because it would affect the entire community. A person could not do simple things without harming the community.” Well, we know we have examples of this from the Bible. Achan, in the camp of Israelites, when he took spoil from Jericho in disobedience, read the results in Joshua. That action had a devastating community result in the Book of Joshua. They lost the next battle, death, judgment from God in a sense, and then of course they had to put the family on trial, and earthquake and execution and all of that. So individuals do affect the community, but it’s not the sole reason for having a community.
Family, community, and nationalism are principles that we can find in God’s word. No person has ever been commanded to isolate themselves. No person in God’s word has been commanded to pursue total individualism, deny and forsake the community. The entire Book of Genesis shows historically how mankind as individuals they formed families, they formed communities, cities, nations. Danger comes to a community when control becomes punitive, leadership turns into tyranny, and unity, unity becomes total conformity. There’s difference in the meaning of those two words. Unity is not total conformity. The Puritans felt that conformity was essential to keeping the community together. The leaders not only felt, it demanded conformity. The leaders not only felt, it demanded conformity and enforced it. Dissention and divisiveness were silenced. The community could not thrive if too many independent thinkers attempted to change the power structure of the community. Individual beliefs and liberties would have to be sacrificed in order to promote a strongly linked community. Individual beliefs and liberties would have to be sacrificed in order to promote a strongly linked community, according to the Puritans.
Eventually out of necessity, the role of the individual evolved and was seen as an asset and not a threat, not until the Enlightenment and revolutionary eras, that’s the 1700s, was individualism recognized. The emphasis focused on individuals using their unique abilities to better the community. One of the Founding Fathers, James Madison, warned of absolute individualism in his federalist paper. In essence, he wrote that there was a delicate balance between expressing individuality and hurting another member of the community. Now during the Puritan era, individualism was suppressed in order to keep that delicate community balance, and individualism was suppressed to assert the power of the church. As the colonies grew and prospered, new ideas began to arise and some individualistic thoughts and ideas were seen as important and necessary for the growth of the community. The puzzle though, the Puritans had to put together, was how to balance individualistic expression and the welfare of the community. Intolerance grew the nation. Distaste of democracy organized their communities and community building necessitated individualism…
The Bible isn’t complicated; to the contrary, its simplicity often escapes us as we look for something more complicated in the text. The journey in understanding the Bible begins with the stepping stones that you understand. You are simply looking to increase your understanding by building truth with one objective fact at a time. Pieces that fit together in the jigsaw puzzle lead to the fitting of more pieces. For some, the pieces take longer to find, and the journey is longer, but what they really know is more than most Protestant scholars who are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They are blind guides leading the blind.
Be sure of this: scholars make the Bible complicated because they want to control you. When it gets right down to it, “You have no need of anyone to teach you.” Teachers are gifted people who accelerate your learning; they are not seers or mediators between you and truth. If they ask you, “Did God really say…” you are to answer, “Yes, that’s exactly what He said.”
Hence, the simplicity of a very important fundamental truth found in Genesis:
4:6 – The Lord asked Cain, “Why are you angry? Why do you look so unhappy [has your face/countenance fallen; 4:5]? 7 If you do things well [correctly; appropriately], I will [will I not…?] accept you, but if you do not do them well [correctly; appropriately], sin is ready to attack you [crouching at the door]. Sin wants [desires to control; 3:16] you, but you must rule over it” (EXB).
We also know from the New Testament that sin is a master that pays death wages, while Christ came to purchase us with His blood from that master. We are now free to serve another master who only pays life wages. A slave that dies (through the baptism of the Spirit) is no longer under the authority of the sin master, and is a new creature resurrected to life and free to serve another (Rom 7:4).
But lest we are careful, the simple truths of this passage and a wiser life will escape us. Sin is described as an entity that has a desire; specifically, a desire to control others. One of the fundamental characteristics of sin is a desire to control others.
Secondly, in this verse, sin’s means of doing so are also described: sin is crouching at the door waiting for us to fail. Sin then seeks to exploit that sin for purposes of control. At least to some degree, sin seeks to use the failure to destroy a true self-assessment and make a case for needed lordship. Certainly, this is how the serpent approached Eve. He wanted to convince her that she was unable to understand God without a mediator. Has God really said…?
At this point, this truth needs more development, but here is a basic building block that we can be sure of: the sin master uses condemnation to enslave, and pays death wages for one’s work:
1 Corinthians 15:56 – Death’s power to hurt [sting] is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But we thank God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So my dear [beloved] brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you. Always give yourselves fully to [excel in] the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted [not useless/in vain] (EXB).
This is why Christ came to end the law. Sin crouches at the door waiting to seize the opportunity to condemn, and the more law, the better. The “law of sin and death” empowers sin because the power of sin and its ability to pay death wages is condemnation. When Christ died to end the law, He stripped sin of its power to enslave and pay wages.
Don’t misunderstand; being in Christ does NOT mean that we are not under a law, but it is the “law of the Spirit of life.” Why is it called that? Because the new Master pays life wages for the obedience of love, and that has never been any different:
Deuteronomy 30:15 – “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
Nothing has ever been different in regard to the law. When we serve God, it is the law of love that brings life wages; when we “serve other gods” it is the law of sin and death that pays death wages accordingly…
Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
With all of this said, consider the lion’s share of bad marriages. It never fails. Two people, at war, and each with a laundry list of the other’s faults. Check that. Better said, a condemnation list. And of course backed up with many Bible verses; the Bible is either the law of sin and death that condemns, or the law of the Spirit of life that loves.
What’s going on? Answer: sin, and its desire to control using condemnation.
Genesis 3:16 – “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
This is the same exact grammatical construction found in Genesis 4:6 concerning sin’s desire to control Cain. Sin will manifest its desire in marriages by each spouse desiring to control the other, and using failure to do so. When the failure of a spouse presents itself, the other spouse will use it to make a case for ruling over the other spouse. In essence, “Since you are stupid, I should be running the show in this marriage.”
In Reformed circles, elders make a case for being the rulers because we are all…what? Right, “totally depraved.” Same deal.
If you know this simple Bible fact, you know more than most “expert” counselors. In most bad marriages, both spouses need to repent of being tyrants. They need to stop using the Bible to condemn each other, and start using the Bible to love each other. After all, “love covers a multitude of sins.”
Go and do likewise…you are now an expert Bible counselor.
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 61 – August 18, 2015 (click here to listen)
Join us each Tuesday night at 7:00 PM as the host, Andy Young, leads a verse by verse exegetical study of the Book of Acts.
In tonight’s lesson, Paul remains in Roman custody. Facing his accusers once again, he repeats his testimony before the new governor of Judea Province, Porcius Festus.
Acts 24:24 – 25:12
Be Ye Holy for I am Holy
Ok, welcome to Session 1 on Understanding Sanctification.
In my opinion, the hardest part about doing any sort of topical study is finding a starting point. I would much rather take a passage of scripture and teach through that in context, and just let the passage say what it says. What makes a topical study of the Bible so difficult is that there is always a danger of proof-texting. We have to always make sure that we are aware that we unconsciously bring a bias with us, wherever that bias comes from, it could be from our parents, what out parents taught us, could be from a particular church denomination that we grew up attending, or maybe our worldview, whatever influenced that. There are things in our life that shape us and we end up having a particular bias when it comes to interpreting scripture. So when it comes to studying a particular topic or doctrine, we have this tendency to seek out passages that fit in with our bias. This is called proof-texting.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with proof-texting. In fact, many of the scriptural truths we hold dear we can directly site a specific verse or passage that teaches that. For example, if I were to ask you, what must a person do to be saved, what are some verses that immediately come to mind?
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Now these are all good verses, and the reason these are good proof-texts is because the context is pretty straightforward. And the big danger with proof-texting is ignoring the larger context. For example, if someone were to ask me about how to be saved, one verse I would not use as a proof text is Acts 27:31. Anyone know that verse? “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” That’s a good salvation verse, isn’t it? Now I know that’s a silly example, but don’t laugh, I have heard of people teaching on this passage and making all kinds of metaphors out of the ship and trying to turn this into a salvation passage. But I use this to show you how easy it is to take a verse out of context. We have to make sure we are very careful to understand and interpret a verse or passage within the larger context.
So in these sessions dealing with sanctification, we’re going to be turning to a lot of scripture. We’re going to spend a lot of time looking up verses and passages of scripture dealing with sanctification, and I’m going to be very careful and methodical to make sure we keep the context straight, that we understand the larger theme of where these verses fit in with the rest of scripture, and so hopefully we’ll avoid this danger of proof-texting.
In this first session I want to lay the ground work for the other sessions, so I’m going to spend a lot of time defining terms. That will become our premise for the rest of the study on Sanctification. It is important to understand the distinction between Sanctification and Justification. It is important to keep that distinction. Sanctification is an act that happens to those who are already justified; those who are already declared to be righteous. No, not just declared righteous, made righteous by belief in God, belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Biblical standard for righteousness; belief in God. So because Sanctification is subsequent to Justification, I am going to be specifically addressing those who are already saved. If you have already believed in Christ for your salvation, I am speaking to you today. These sessions will apply specifically to you. Nothing I have to say applies to someone who is unsaved. I am speaking directly to believers. In other word, little to nothing I have to speak about applies to Justification. Justification has already been accomplished in your life, now we’re moving on to Sanctification.
So having said all of that, I’m going to use this first session to define our terms. What is Sanctification? More importantly, what is a Biblical definition of Sanctification? Then our second session, we’ll explore sanctification in the Old Testament and it’s relationship to the Law, and I want to consider the idea, that if God wants me to be holy, then why do I still sin? And then in the last session on Sanctification we will examine the question of, is there any merit to good works, and we will even examine the Biblical source of assurance for the believer.
So let’s get started on some terms. What is Sanctification? What does it mean to be Sanctified? Before we can address those questions, we need to understand what Sanctification has to do with relation to holiness. We know that God is holy. The Bible teaches that holiness is one of God’s attributes. So as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit holiness? Are believers really holy? The verse that I’ve chosen to use, sort of as the theme for these sessions on Sanctification is 1 Peter 1:16. Why don’t we start there. Go ahead and turn to 1 Peter. And actually I want to start with verse 14.
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [way of life, how you conduct yourselves]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
And this last part here in verse 16 like I said is what I have chosen as the theme for these sessions. Peter uses the esxpression, “because it is written,” he is actually making reference to the Law. Peter is actually quoting the exact phrase found in Leviticus 11:44, 45.
Now some things I want you to notice about the grammatical structure of this passage here in 1 Peter. Please notice all of the verbs in this passage, all of the action words, they are all in the imperative mood. Imperative mood means it is a command. An order. Holiness is not optional. It is a command.
Secondly, not only are all the verbs, all the actions, not only are they commands, they are in the active voice. Active voice means that the subject performs the action. The opposite of active voice is the passive voice. In passive voice, the subject is the recipient of the action, or the subject has the action performed upon him. Notice the active voice in all of these commands
do not fashion yourselves – you don’t fashion
be ye holy – you be holy
Notice the subject performs the action. You. You are performing the action. This is different from passive voice. If these commands were in the passive voice it would read something like:
do not be fashioned – do not allow yourself to be fashioned. Or;
be made holy – allow yourself to be made holy.
Taking this even one step further, if we look specifically at this phrase, “be ye holy”. This phrase in the Greek looks like this. It’s pronounced:
αγιοιγενεσθε “hag-ee-oy gin-ess-theh”
The word I have underlined here is the imperative form of the word:
γινομαι – “gin-oh-my” – to cause to be; to become (reflexive)
This is a linking verb that is the equivalent to our English word “is”, and all the forms it takes- am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been.
So not only is this verb in the active voice, the word itself is causative in its very meaning. This phrase could actually read, “cause yourself to become holy.” Or, “make yourself holy.”
The third thing I want you to consider from this passage is, who is the audience? Who is to perform this command to be holy? Let your eyes go up to the beginning of the chapter. To whom is Peter addressing this letter? Who is supposed to be holy?
King James says – the strangers scattered throughout all these regions of Asia Minor. Who would that be? In the Greek this would read as pilgrims of the dispersion. That is an expression that is used other places in scripture to describe displaced ethnic Jews. These are Jews who did not return to the land of Israel following the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity. They dispersed, and settled here and there throughout this region. We also know from reading the books of Acts and from Galatians chapter 2 for example, that Paul’s ministry focused on the Gentiles, and Peter’s ministry focused on the Jews. Galatians 2 uses the expression the gospel of the uncircumcision vs. the gospel of the circumcision.
So what we have here is Peter writing this letter addressed to these Jews of the dispersion, but what’s more important is that they are believers. And that is what I really want us to see here. Peter is writing to believers. More than that, these commands here in verses 14-16 are issued to believers. He is exhorting believers to not fashion themselves after their former life. The believer is commanded to be holy. The believer is to cause it to happen, actively, make it happen, not to passively wait for it to happen to him. And I want this to be our underlying theme of these sessions.
As we go through these sessions, keep this in the forefront of your mind at all times, this is what we as believers are commanded to do. We are not to live our lives the way we used to. Not fashioning ourselves after the former life. And by the way, that is the exact same word the apostle Paul uses in Romans 12:2, where he says be not conformed to this world, “soo-scheme-ah-tid-zo”. This is where we get the word “schematic”. You’ve probably heard of a schematic diagram. For electrical engineers a schematic is a pattern to follow. And that’s what the word means, having to do with a pattern. We don’t pattern our lives after this world, we don’t follow the pattern of our old behaviors. As believers we are to be holy as God is holy.
And if God in His word is commanding us to do it, then we must be able to do it, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in a God who would tell us to do something that we can’t do. And if you don’t believe that, then I’m sorry, then you and I don’t believe in the same God.
Believers are called to holiness. Now what is holiness? That’s a word that has a lot of mystique about it. Very ethereal. We hear it, we think we know intrinsically what it means and we throw it around, but we have a hard time explaining it. Well, let’s define these terms. How does the Bible define holiness? Let’s start at the beginning. Surprisingly, the word “holy” doesn’t even appear in the book of Genesis. The first occurrence of the word “holy” in the Bible appears in Exodus 3:5.
“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”
קדשׁ – qôdesh – ko’-desh
Strongs dictionary defines it as a sacred place or thing. Ok, well, that doesn’t tell us very much. There is a parallel word for holy in the New Testament. The first use of the word holy in the NT is
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
A couple more places where this is found, and I’m not going to look all of these up, but
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,”
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
This word in the Greek for holy is
αγιος – “hag-ee-oss” – sacred.
Again, still a pretty abstract concept. Let’s set out to de-mystify these concepts. Bring it from the abstract to the tangible. Let’s see if we can nail it down a little more. To better understand what holiness is, let us examine the opposite of holiness. In scripture, the opposite of holy is profane. Now profane carries with it a different meaning than what we understand in our modern usage of the word. When we hear the word profane we usually think of profanity, like foul language. So in the modern usage of the word, profane has the idea of evil, or foul, or sinful. But that is not what the word means as it’s used in scripture. In scripture profane simply means, common, ordinary, or everyday. Run-of-the-mill. No-frills. Just like all the rest.
Now when you consider profane in this aspect, scripture presents all kinds of contrasts between that which is holy and that which is profane. The Old Testament is full of these contrasts. Here are just a few of them:
Holy vs. Profane
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.
They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.
Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the Lord.
And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord;
Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you,
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference [discernment] between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:
Over and over again we have this contrast presented to us. So if we understand then that profane is that which is common, or ordinary, or just like all the rest, and we understand that holy is the polar opposite of profane, then holy would be that which is not profane; that which is not common, that which is not ordinary, that which is not every-day, that which is not just like all the rest.
God said to Israel, when you profaned My name among the heathen, you made Me to be just like all the other gods. When you profaned my temple, you made it like any other ordinary building. I am no longer holy. You caused me to be patterned after just like everything else. I am no longer in that place where I deserve to be, because I am God, I am Jehovah. I am not like all the rest. I am higher than all the rest. In fact, there are no others. I am the only one. I am that I Am! I am the self-existent One! That’s what My name means. Do not profane it! Do not make it just like all the rest!
This distinction between holy and profane is very helpful when it comes to us understanding why holiness is important in the Christian life. Because if we are believers, then we are the adopted children of God. If we are believers then we have identified with Christ. We are righteous as He is righteous. Sin has been taken away. So then why would we live a life that profanes our Father? Why would we live a life, why would our behavior be common, ordinary, why would our behavior be just like everyone else?
God is out of the ordinary, and He wants His people to be like Him. In fact, He made it possible when He saved us. Sin was taken away. Our old man was crucified with Christ, and now we live in newness of life. Our lives should be out of the ordinary. Our lives should not be characterized by that which is just like everyone else in this world.
So, after we have gone through all of that, do we have a Biblical definition of holiness that we can work with?
Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.
Now those are words we can understand. Those are words we can wrap our minds around and sink our teeth into.
Now that begs the question, what determines if something is holy? What is it that makes something holy? And this is where the relationship with sanctification comes into play. If we as believers are commanded to be holy, our holiness then is effected through the process of sanctification. In fact that could be a good starting place to define Sanctification. We could say that:
Sanctification – the process whereby the holiness in the life of the believer is effected.
But let’s not leave it there. Remember, our goal is to have a Biblical understanding of these concepts. So let’s go back to God’s word and see how the scriptures define Sanctification.
Now while the word holy did not appear until the book of Exodus, the word sanctify appears early on in the book of Genesis. The first instance of “sanctify” appears in
“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
קדשׁ – qâdash – kaw-dash’ – to be clean; to make, pronounce, or declare clean.
Notice that, the basic definition of sanctification has to do with cleansing. If you wanted to substitute the word clean for the word sanctify in Genesis 2:3 it would read:
“And God blessed the seventh day, and cleansed it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
Now let me put our word for holy back up here for a moment.
Holy – ko-desh
Sanctify – kaw-dash
There is a great similarity between these two Hebrew words. In fact they are both taken from the same root word. What we have here is a very close relationship between cleansing and holiness. The fourth commandment is what, remember the Sabbath day to keep it, holy. Remember our definition of Holy? Why was the Sabbath day holy? Why was the Sabbath day distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else? It was holy because God cleansed it.
Ok, how about the New Testament? The first instance of “sanctify” in the NT is found in
“Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”
αγνος – “hag-noss” – clean
Now just like I did in the Hebrew, let me put up the word for holy in the Greek.
Holy – “hag-ee-oss”
Sanctify – “hag-noss”
Again, look at the similarity of the two words. And just like in the Hebrew, these two words in the Greek are taken from the same root. The same relationship appears in the Greek between these ideas of cleansing and holiness.
So now that we understand this relationship between holiness and cleansing, we can take the meaning of the word Sanctify, and combine it with the meaning of holiness, and we can come up with what I believe is an accurate, Biblical definition of Sanctification.
Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else. (or the purpose of making something holy)
So we have our definitions. We’ve established the ground work, the foundation from which we can build.
If you remember at the beginning of this session I asked the question, as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit God’s attribute of holiness? I would say that according to scripture, the answer is a resounding, YES! We are able to. We are able to be distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everyone else. We are able to behave that way. We are able to pattern our lives that way.
So, now that we have a premise to build on, in session two, we’ll take a look at how this all worked out in the Old Testament under the law, and the relationship of Sanctification to the law. We’ll expand on this idea of cleansing and the relationship between cleansing and Sanctification and holiness in the life of a believer.
Do we have time for any questions or comments?
Protestants don’t know anything. That’s not a derogatory remark, it’s merely a staple of Reformed ideology. It’s who we are supposed to be. Protestantism is predicated on the idea of spiritual caste as an accepted norm. The average Protestant parishioner is not supposed to know anything, and again, this is an accepted norm. In fact, many Protestant laymen who didn’t get the memo will concur; knowing something in the institutional church will usually get you in trouble. If you know something, you lack humbleness, and are trying to undermine… The Pastor.
This should not surprise us at all if we understand our authentic roots and the ideology of our spiritual heroes. Though Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is credited with launching the Reformation, its first and defining doctrinal statement came six months later in the form of the Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. In the 22nd thesis of that document, Luther declared knowledge to be a vice that does nothing but puff people up, and like with all lust, it can never be satisfied. Luther’s disdain for reason is well documented, referring to it as…
Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.
Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.
Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.
There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.
Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.
Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.
To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.”
In our day, this fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree as reflected in this quote by a pastor sent to our ministry by one of his former parishioners:
Paul told the Corinthian church that “‘knowledge’ puffs up but love builds up” (1Cor 8:1). So, if you love knowledge and look into the word of God to gain mere knowledge and you absolutely love doing it to the exclusion or ignoring of everything else, you may be “puffed up” and indeed not “building up.”…. Puffiness rips and tears. Puffiness pushes people away. Puffiness divides. Perhaps even more critical is the fact that puffiness portrays a small gospel and devastatingly distorts God’s glory.
To the puffy I say, “Stop studying your Bible.” Go on a quest for Jesus. He is the Word! Study Him, not it.
Studying Jesus and not any knowledge regarding Jesus is the most popular rendering of 1Corithians 2:2 in our day: we are supposed to make every effort to know NOTHING but Christ and him crucified. After all, according to another popular truism in our day, “He is a person—not a precept.”
Of course, most Protestants would deny all of this out of hand when confronted, but the roots and foundation of Protestant ideology has at least resulted in a lax view of knowledge while leaving the thinking to Protestant academia. Some well-known evangelicals such as Dr. Jay Adams have stated the obvious: Protestants are biblically illiterate, and have no wisdom in regard to Christian living other than God-given commonsense and even that is at an all-time low.
Christians, who strive for wisdom and spiritual maturity in the institutional church, if they don’t give up, will eventually find themselves in turmoil and at a crossroads. Striding towards commonsense spiritual objectives will continually put them at odds with the Protestant herd. I was certainly no exception. As someone who was always considered knowledgeable wherever I attended church as a Baptist, in reality, I knew nothing. The knowledge that I had accumulated in various seminaries and Bible colleges was all but worthless. Though I read and studied my Bible more than most, I understood little of it. Most of what I read made no sense at all. Nevertheless, I deemed myself knowledgeable relative to the environment, yet in my heart, I knew the Christian life made no sense and I was for the most part confused. In reality, I was good at constructing Protestant sentences with orthodox bumper stickers and pithy truisms.
So, I set out on a journey eight years ago to search for clarity after 23 years of confusion and strife. The part of my journey that really made everything come together began in 2011 when I embarked on a personal study of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I was determined to make this the time—the endeavor that would reveal once and for all what I was searching for: why my God seemed to be a God of confusion. I prayed earnestly at the beginning of the study that I would just let Paul’s words say what they plainly said. If something he wrote was definitive, I would use that as a building block of understanding.
Though I stayed true to the plan, not much happened until Romans 4:15. That’s the day my life came to a full stop.
For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
What in the world did Paul mean by that? NO law, NO sin: especially in the context; speaking of Christians. I kept it mind and continued to work through the letter. Then I came to Romans 5:13…
for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
There it was again: no law, no sin. I stopped there in my verse by verse study and read through the rest of the letter and found the following:
Romans 7:6 – 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. 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
Apart from the law sin lies dead. There it is again. No law, no sin. Then I read the following as well:
Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Conclusion: Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law, there is no sin. That’s how Christ took my sins away: He died on the cross to end the law. The true Christian is free from any judgement or condemnation—we are not under the jurisdiction of the law.
I wasn’t the least bit sure where this left the law in regard to the Christian life, but pondering the simple fact that we are no longer condemned was exhilarating and freeing. The old self that was under the law of sin and death died with Christ; you can’t indict a dead person, they are no longer under the law. And even if you exhumed my body and presented it in court, the judge has no law in which to convict me (Rom 7:1-6). There is NOW no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom 8:1).
Again, I was not sure where this left the law in regard to the believer’s life, but I had my building block; part of the pieces fit together which would lead to more pieces fitting and an increased understanding of the bigger picture.
Then I came to Romans 8:2.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Remember, I had committed to simply letting the words say what they say. As a result, I saw something in this verse that I had never seen before; clearly, Paul wrote of two separate laws…the law of the Spirit, which I had always thought of as the Spirit’s realm of influence, and the law of sin and death.
“Wait a minute here,” I thought to myself. “If the law of sin and death refers to the written law that condemns mankind, and the two laws spoken of here are the same Greek word, and they are, why would one refer to a realm while the other one referred to a written law? Could it be that this is two perspectives on the same law?” I knew that a literal take on this verse would demand that, and then John 17:17 came to mind:
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Then another verse came to mind:
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (Jn 16:8).
That’s when I realized that the law has two different applications/perspectives: one for the lost and one for the saved. But verses were not done coming to mind:
Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law (Rom 13:10).
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (Gal 5:6).
So, the Christian is free to aggressively love God and others through obedience without ANY fear of condemnation:
There is no fear in love, but perfect [mature] love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected [matured, or growing] in love (1Jn 4:18).
Therefore, why the Reformation is a lie is not complicated at all. This SIMPLE fact makes Protestant theology a house of cards: it keeps so-called believers under the law of sin and death; its very definition of a Christian is the Bible’s definition of a lost person…under law (Rom 6:14). Protestantism is predicated on a single perspective on the law that Christians remain under; they remain under condemnation. This condemnation is covered by Christ’s righteousness as the “Christian” lives by faith alone. Living by faith alone works (usually some kind of ritual like “preaching the gospel to ourselves everyday”) imputes the obedience of Christ to our Christian lives as a way to keep ourselves justified. The Reformed call this “double imputation.”
Once one gets past all of the theological Protestant-speak, it boils down to extremely simple theological math: a Christian is NOT free to love—Jesus must love for us lest it be works salvation. And it almost goes without saying that there is a love famine in the institutional church for this very reason. The Protestant is not free to love, but must focus on a convoluted life formula that supposedly imputes the righteousness of Christ to our lives and thereby keeps us saved. Yes, this is the dirty little secret: total depravity doesn’t merely apply to the unregenerate, but also to the “saints.”
Yes, yes, many a Protestant doth protest against this accusation because few Protestants know what Protestantism is. Nevertheless, it is a false gospel that denies the new birth and keeps people under law and not under grace—a grace that frees the individual to aggressively love without fear of condemnation and the mire of unhealthy introspection.
We are saved APART from the law of sin and death…period (Rom 3:21), and it does NOT matter who keeps the law, the law of sin and death itself is the issue. Salvation is accomplished by the ENDING of the law of sin and death—not the fulfilling of it. Christ came to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life (and love) through us (Rom 8:4)…NOT the law of sin and death.
That would make the law of sin and death a co-life-giver with Christ. The law cannot give life unto salvation. If Christ fulfilled the law of sin and death with loving obedience to the Father, that law is a co-life-giver. That is Paul’s entire point in Galatians chapter 3. There is only ONE seed. If we are still under the law, the law is an additional seed that can give life…but there is only ONE!
Hence, Protestantism goes the way of most other false religions; some ritual or tradition fulfills the law of sin and death and separates the individual from the freedom to love without condemnation and according to the law of the Spirit of life. Love is replaced by obeying men and faithfulness to their institutions. The law of love is replaced with the traditions of men and their orthodoxy.
Consequently, we are in a Protestant dark age. In the same way that secular America has awakened to the failure of the elitist political class, Christians must awaken to realize the failure of Protestant academia. The assembly of Christ was a laity movement, and only the laity can return God’s people to the truth of the gospel. This is a repeat of history when God’s elect where continually troubled by the 1st century Gnostic elitists. Paul wrote to them…
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Likewise, the beloved James addressed the problem as well:
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
This is our mission at TANK, to aid the priesthood of believers in rediscovering the truth of the gospel and kingdom living robbed from us by 500 years of Protestant orthodoxy. The light has been covered by the Protestant basket long enough, and this is a matter of simple theological math: the new birth is the standard of righteousness, NOT the law of sin and death, and it matters not who keeps it—it CANNOT give life.
So, the speakers at this year’s conference are partaking in this journey in the arena of ideas. This is an issue that addresses every area of life and culture. Other than the gospel of first importance stated here, everything is being examined and revisited. It’s not group think, it’s collective truth made up of individuals seeking the one mind of Christ, not the traditions of men.
Let all be convinced according to their own conscience. Protestant elitists will not stand in our stead regardless of their claims, but each person will give an account for the sum and substance of their own lives. Let us do it with trembling and fear; not any fear of condemnation, but a fear of trading the life of Christ for the death of tyranny.
Because only truth sanctifies,
Paul M. Dohse
Barb Orlowski, D.Min, and author of ChurchExiters.com states the following in an introduction to said blog:
Every year dedicated Christian people leave churches because of spiritual abuse [this is epidemic in our day]. What factors contribute to dedicated and active believers in Christ leaving their churches and becoming exiting statistics? The stories of people who left their home church because of a negative and hurtful experience [more often they are shown the front door] paint a picture of a widespread occurrence, which beckons consideration by church leaders and church congregants alike.
John Immel saw the picture that Dr. Orlowski describes and even experienced it firsthand. I don’t know what his experience was exactly, and he doesn’t know much about mine either; as he said to me over dinner: “I think we are both past that now.” Which brings me to something else Orlowski wrote in a recent article:
The church should lead the way in uncovering any of these dark behaviors. The local church has an opportunity to be part of the solution and not part of the problem regarding these covert and dysfunctional issues in the church today.
As more people understand what spiritual abuse is and what it is not, then there can be an army of people who are able to help in clarifying many of the confusing topics that get intertangled with this issue (Dr. Barb Orlowski: What Spiritual Abuse Is and Is Not).
I dare say that John Immel has seen the picture (which is hard to miss in our day), considered it, and discovered the root cause. He has also articulated the cause/root in a way that invokes a Monopoly-like motto: “Do not pass understanding; do not collect 200 issues.” Now all that’s left is to educate and raise the army.
Immel has clarified the issue in, Blight In The Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny (2011 Presage Publishing). Therefore, the solution is easy: promote education that will lead to a rejection of the root cause. Yes, it can be complicated, but it can also be simple; when you follow and support certain philosophies, either “wittingly” or unwittingly— bad things happen. A certain philosophy, or maybe better said, idea, has always spawned the same results from the conception of Western culture. A counter idea has always yielded dramatically different results deemed favorable by those disposed towards happiness. I have come to believe that America was founded on the counter idea. Consider what Immel writes in the introduction to Blight In The Vineyard:
Blogs made it possible for people to compare notes and connect dots. Suddenly, the pixelated events result into high definition and the picture shows a breathtaking consistency. The stories contain striking uniformity in pastoral conversations and actions. They contain profound similarities in the emotional, spiritual, and psychological pain of those who have suffered.
That set me to thinking. How was it possible that from state to state, even country to country, people could recount similar life events with stunningly consistent conversations, outcomes, and backlash? What ideas could produce such underlying fear, anxiety, and spiritual frustration? What ironclad logic could cause masses of people to act out similar conduct that produces such invasive outcomes? What thoughts that lurk under the titles of authority would lead average men to believe they wield unchecked control over people’s lives? How could a denomination reproduce such unswerving reproducibility?
Many today ask the same questions. A reader of my blog named Charles posed the same question this way:
Have noticed this for a great many years, and my wife and I always wondered…. “What text book on abusing the sheep are all these guys reading from,” because they all acted the same.
Right here in this review we see some of what Charles is referring to. Orlowski, Immel, and Charles have never met, but note the similarities in their descriptions and even use of the same words. Nevertheless, here is where I depart for a spell and will return a little later. My perspective has been radically changed by Immel’s book and interacting with him in the arena of ideas. In fact, I have made his book required reading in the Dohse household, and have already led family devotions based on the book’s major theme. I now share my perspective based on additional study/research prompted by Immel’s assertions.
The least common denominator is the debate over the competency of man verses the incompetency of man. I believe the basic philosophy of Plato is vastly relevant to this debate. Plato saw man as utterly incompetent save those who understood that reality must be ascertained by means other than the senses. In other words, reality, goodness, and truth could not be surmised by observation of matter. He believed that the few who are able to see reality should rule over the ignorant masses who are enslaved to mere shadows/forms of the truth. Remember also that Plato lived in a culture inhabited primarily by slaves who served the elite. Some historians estimate that 90% of the Greek citizenship during the time of Plato was slaves.
It is my contention that Augustine (a Catholic Saint) integrated Plato’s ideas with theology and more specifically, Neo-Platonism which later spawned multiple forms of Gnosticism that plagued the 1st century church. The most notable Reformers were followers of Augustine, but the backbone of their theology was the underlying assumption that man was utterly incompetent whether regenerate or unregenerate. I believe that Augustine merely exchanged Plato’s concept of reality with “gospel.” Hence, today we have the elitist gatekeepers of the gospel ruling over the totally depraved.
Now we can return to Charles, and my reply to his comment:
John Immel answers that question in his book, “Blight In The Vineyard.” It’s a philosophy that yields natural results, so it’s like they all read from the same playbook. The basic philosophy sees freedom of ideas as a danger to civilization and the church. Initially, many buy into it for fear of chaos, but the results are always bad according to history. Ideas are very powerful, and almost always tempt the individual to act upon them. Freedom to interpret reality is a kissing cousin to freedom of ideas.
The ideas that rule the day also rule the world. Hence, the Reformation was really a spat between Rome and the Reformers about who was going to control the ideas. Both Rome and the Reformers believed that one’s freedom to interpret reality was nothing that should be tried at home by the common people. When man is seen as utterly incompetent to contribute to his own destiny, love as determinism is the only solution. Visit any of the spiritual abuse expose blogs–the trouble started when people questioned doctrine, or even spoke in way that would enable others to think for themselves. Immel uses happenings at SGM [a denomination of Reformed Charismatics] to illustrate how this philosophy plays out naturally in real life.
Later, John Immel contributed some thoughts to Charles’ comment:
Charles… I think the answer to the question is … yes, they are reading from the same book. Pastors the world over are pulling from the same intellectual traditions. They don’t pastor in a vacuum. They pastor with the whole history of Christianity hanging in their heads like a fog.
Very few people want to reinvent the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or maybe better said very few people have the ability to challenge peanut butter and jelly orthodoxy, so they tend to review what has always been said, and emulate those foggy ideas.
While very, very few people consider themselves Calvinists… (or even know what he really preached, or practiced) with striking consistency they accept many of the Calvinist assumptions, which is to say they accept Augustinian presumptions about life, and spirituality what God intended the “gospel” to mean.
I have said this in many places… for all of Protestantism’s presumption that they are the authentic real version of Christianity that Catholicism screwed up…. at the end of the day, post Reformation Christian doctrine is metaphysically Catholic, which is to say we are foundationally committed to Augustine’s presumptions.
The ‘abuse’ is merely the logical outcomes of those foundations. The reason we are circling back around the tyranny of the ages, is because for the first time in American history, our doctrinal thinkers (en mass) without any hesitation, with full ‘moral’ clarity, are advocating the historic ideas that justified the tyranny.
So yes… they are all reading from the same book…
Today’s church can stop spiritual tyranny. But it will require agreement on the root cause. And the root cause is Reformed theology. Wherever and whenever it has been tried, despotism and despair has followed: in Calvin’s Geneva; in Colonial Calvinism; in Confederate Calvinism; in the empty promises of the SDA 1888 conference and the Awakening Movement of the 70’s; and finally, in the present-day Neo-Calvinism Resurgence—a sectarian beast resurrected by the Reformed theological dream team of the Australian Forum.
Just like its non-religious philosophical counterparts, classic Calvinists (the original article as opposed to my “sanctified Calvinists” and Immel’s “convenient Calvinism”) think it’s a good idea that has never been done the right way. The philosophy of determinism, fatalism, and the incompetence of the common man is foisted upon the unregenerate by irreligious despots, and by Reformed elders among the saved.
Immel’s book puts feet on these generalizations. The solution is to shun the philosophy; bad things happen when bad philosophy is followed. And through education, we can raise up Orlowski’s army.
Whether Geneva Calvinism, Colonial Calvinism, Confederate Calvinism, SDA Calvinism, or Neo-Calvinism, it always has, and always will die a social death due to its gangrenous despotism. We can hasten its rightful death in our day, and prevent future rediscovery movements with the present-day “picture” following. We can give others another way to follow.
If we can face up to the blight in the vineyard.
Paul M. Dohse
Author: The Truth About New Calvinism: Its History, Doctrine, and Character
“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 yeah, 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.
Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.
Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world). He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.
Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.
The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel, ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.
Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics, the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible, ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.
But both constructs have this in common: Pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.
The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding. In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.
Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.
For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:
1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.
Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories: our own subjective story, a self “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms: one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.
Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:
1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.
1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.
Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.
Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).
The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.
1. Total Depravity: Pertains to the saints also.
2. Justification by Faith Alone: Pertains to sanctification also.
3. Mortification and Vivification: Perpetual death and rebirth for living by faith alone in sanctification to maintain justification. The reliving of our baptism “again and again.”
4. Double Imputation: Christ’s passive obedience to the cross for justification, and His active obedience as a substitution for our obedience in sanctification.
5. Deep Repentance (aka Intelligent Repentance): Seeks the death of mortification in re-experiencing our new birth.
6. New Obedience (aka New Fruit): The experience of Christ’s active obedience in sanctification (vivification).
7. The New Birth: Perpetual mortification and vivification.
8. The Objective Gospel: All reality is interpreted through the redemptive works of Christ.
9. Christ for Us: Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life for our sanctification.
10. The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event: Biblical commands show forth what Christ has accomplished for us and what we are unable to do in sanctification. Works are experienced only as they flow from the indicative event of the gospel.
11. Neo-Nomianism (New Law, aka New Legalism): The belief that we can please God by obeying the law in sanctification.
12. Progressive Sanctification: The progression of justification to glorification.
13. Progressive Imputation: Whatever is seen in the gospel narrative and meditated upon is imputed to our sanctification, whether mortification or vivification.
14. The Golden Chain of Salvation: See cut 12.
15. Good Repentance: Repenting of good works.
16. In-Lawed in Christ: Christ fulfilled the law perfectly and imputed it to our sanctification.
17. Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics (the Christocentric Hermeneutic, aka the Apostle’s Hermeneutic): The Bible as historical narrative for the sole purpose of showing forth Christ’s redemptive works.
18. Faith: A neutral entity within us with no intrinsic worth that is able to reflect the object of its focus outside of us. The object of focus can be experienced within, but remains outside of us.
19. The Heart: The residence of evil desires and faith. It can be reoriented (the “reorientation of the heart” or “reorientation of desires”) to reflect Christ via mortification and vivification.
20. Flesh: The world realm where evil is manifested and experienced.
21. Spirit: The Spirit realm where the imputed works of Christ are manifested and experienced (not applied through our actions).
22. Christian Hedonism: Seeks to experience the joy of vivification.
23. Obedience of Faith: New Obedience.
24. Christ in Us: “By faith,” and faith only has substance and reality to the degree of the object it is placed in; i.e., Christ outside of us.
25. Vital Union: Makes experiencing the gospel possible. Makes mortification and vivification possible.
26. Eclipsing the Son (aka the Emphasis Hermeneutic): Focusing on anything other than Christ. Anything that is not seen through a Christocentric prism creates shadows that we live in. The obstacles that create the shadows may be truth, but they aren’t the “best truth.” “They may be good things, but not the best thing.”
27. Sabbath Rest: Sanctification. We are to “rest and feed” on Christ for our Christian life. The primary day this is done is Sunday. Through preaching and the sacraments we “kill” (mortification, or the contemplation of our evil and misery) resulting in vivification throughout the rest of the week.
28. The Subjective Power of the Gospel: The manifestation of the gospel that flows from gospel contemplationism. We never know for certain whether it is a result of our efforts or the Spirit’s work (although the Spirit’s work is always experienced by joy); hence, the power of the objective gospel is subjective (Heidelberg Disputation: Thesis 24).
29. Mortal Sin: Good works by the Christian not attended by fear that they may be of one’s own effort (HD 7).
30. Venial Sin: Good works by the Christian attended with fear (HD 7).
31. Power of the Keys (aka Protestant Absolution): Reformed elders have the authority to bind or loose sin on earth (Calvin Institutes 3.4.12).
32. Redemptive Church Discipline: In all cases to convert one to cuts 1-31. This redeems them to the only one, true faith. This can be a long process, and said person is not free to leave a given church until the elders bind or loose.
33. Preach the Gospel to Yourself: See cuts 1-32.
I believe incredibly exciting times await God’s people as they break free from the Protestant Orthodoxy Dark Ages. The key will be the realization that God wrote the Bible for the average individual. We have an example of this regarding the nature of God; a subject thought to be too deep for the average disciple.
Our only head is Christ who teaches all, and the idea of being taught assumes the ability to understand. God’s people need to simply let the words in the Bible say what they plainly say, and we are individually responsible for doing so. One must free their minds from the tyranny of orthodoxy and journey into the Bible with their own God-given mind, and they will be responsible to God alone for doing so.
What then does the Bible teach us about God’s nature? The Bible states that God is love:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Obtaining God’s Love
Protestant orthodoxy has a peculiar teaching known as the “vital union.” According to Reformed tradition, we maintain this vital union of “Christ in us and us in Christ” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves.” This is done by searching for sin in our lives so that we can return to the cross for forgiveness resulting in increased salvation. The following chart publicized by several Reformed organizations illustrates the process:
In case you think this is a “biblical” process for best results in growing as a disciple expressed in the illustration by “Heart Changed,” think again as illustrated by another chart published by several Reformed organizations as well:
In this chart, what is growing? Us, or our “salvation”? Many Reformed teachers in our day are fond of telling us how to “keep ourselves in the love of God” by “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” In fact, if we change, the following chart from the same camp shows the consequences:
…our salvation gets smaller! In contrast, we obtain God’s love once, and for all time, by believing in His Son, and experience assurance of that love but walking according to our new being.
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him…
But according to Protestant orthodoxy, if we make every effort to love God and others instead making every effort to find more and more sin in our lives, the gospel effect in our lives is diminished.
The Nature of God
How we obtain the love of God as prescribed by Protestant orthodoxy flows from its tenets regarding the nature of God. Primarily, God is defined as sovereign. Rather than sovereignty being an aspect of God’s nature, it is made to be the primary organizing principle—not love. This is an important distinction for those who take part in the exodus from Protestant darkness; will God’s nature be defined by a grammatical and exegetical interpretation of Scripture, or an interpretation based on orthodoxy?
Clearly, the Bible states that God is love. So, how does the Bible define love? Let’s see:
1Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The so-called Reformed gospel of sovereignty calls for the total inability of man to love God even after their definition of conversion. One well known Reformed theologian wrote a book titled One Way Love. This staple Protestant belief is defined in the doctrine of double imputation which calls for the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness to be imputed to our lives apart from anything we do other than preaching the gospel to ourselves. Much is made of living the Christian life by faith alone in order to maintain our “just standing.”
What it boils down to is God creating evil for His own glory. Whether you consider the teachings of Martin Luther or John Calvin, the founding fathers of Protestantism, this is an irrefutable fact. Luther taught that God created mankind with a passive will; in other words, a will that can only act if acted upon from an outside source. This testifies to God’s nature as defined by sovereignty. Hence, certain people are predetermined to suffer for eternity. In regard to this, John Calvin stated,
[God] arranges all things by his sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.
I again ask how is it that the fall of Adam involves so many nations with their infant children in eternal death without remedy, unless it so seemed meet to God?…The decree, I admit, is dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree.
This is contrary to love which is the true nature of God, being “kind,” and “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Reformed even make it a point to say that God did no wrong by creating man in an evil state because the end cause is God’s glory. If God brings good out of something evil, in the final analysis it is good because the end is good. It is also said that God created evil to make good better. However, that still does not dispose of the kindness issue. Love CANNOT be unkind to ANYONE.
Furthermore, it does not seek its own way, and you can insert “its own glory” in that list as well. Moreover, love does not rejoice in evil for any outcome, and always rejoices in truth and not the temporary demise of truth for some kind of better outcome. That notion is absurd.
In the final analysis, one of God’s attributes is sovereignty, but sovereignty is not the organizing principle of his nature because his nature is love.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
However you want to slice or dice justification (dikaiosynē), it is plainly stated by Jesus that His baptism by John “fulfill[ed] all righteousness (also dikaiosynē).” In what way? I think it is safe to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit fulfills all righteousness. In other words, it’s the baptism of the Spirit that makes us righteous new creatures and not an imputed righteousness based on perfect law-keeping. The baptism of the Spirit also includes following Christ in death as well; ie, the death of the old self.
The word baptism (baptizō) means “to immerse,” so what actually happened can be paraphrased in this way:
“John immersed Jesus momentarily under the water; when He came up, behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Right then, the Father proclaimed that He was pleased with Christ which kind of shoots down the idea that a perfect obedience to the law was required by Jesus for purposes of making us righteous via imputation. The only imputation that the Bible speaks of is our sin imputed to Christ, not Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, though that mantra is widely accepted as gospel truth.
In contrast, the righteousness of God made us just through the new birth which makes us God’s literal children. We are righteous because we are literally born of God in His likeness. The new birth, or baptism of the Spirit, creates a new state of being, not a mere imputation of perfect law-keeping by Jesus.
I believe this event connects righteousness to the new birth apart from the law as stated in Romans 6:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We know that the promise of the Spirit was made to Abraham and Christ (Galatians 3:16, Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:27, 13:35), and that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead also raises us to new life as well (Ephesians 1:19,20, Romans 8:11, 2Corinthians 4:14).
I believe John’s baptism of Jesus and what followed took place to establish this truth: it is the new birth that establishes justification apart from the law.
Though the Heidelberg Disputation is the doctrinal foundation of the Reformation and has withstood the test of time, it is an obscure document that few Christians know anything about. Why? Because it reveals the obvious fact that the Protestant Reformation was mostly about philosophy and NOT Scripture. We will see the philosophy behind the theological rhetoric of the five solas, beginning with thesis 19.
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Contemporary evangelicalism is so fraught with heresy and confusion one becomes endeared to those who at least have an accurate understanding of their false gospel. It’s so annoying to me that I am no longer interested in converting people who believe in Luther/Calvin progressive justification, but rather long to see them accurately understand what they profess. I dream of a TANC school of Calvinism where Calvinists are taught what Calvin really believed. For graduation they would receive a T shirt that reads, “Now Jonathan Edwards is really my homeboy.”
That’s why I miss Tullian Tchividjian. That is a man that understands Reformation soteriology. It was too much fun watching him drive John MacArthur et al completely nuts with his un-nuanced articulation of Reformed doctrine. But Tullian screwed up; so disappointing.
So who is the new replacement for proving that MacArthur et al stand for something different? Tullian comrade Elyse Fitzpatrick. The likes of Elyse give fodder for the accusation of antinomianism against the authentic Reformation gospel of progressive justification which is in fact antinomianism. Fitzpatrick, like her bro Tullian, lacks nuance and enables people to connect the dots; that’s why she is a threat and must be neutralized.
So, MacArthur’s camp is blogging about Elyse and her involvement in the “Hypergrace movement.” The series is titled “Abusing Grace.” Look, the fact is: they do not believe anything one whit different than Elyse Fitzpatrick. This is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Who wants specific citations from the mouth of Mac propagating the exact same gospel contemplationism of progressive justification? His best bro is John Piper who states in no uncertain terms that Christians continue to be saved by returning to the same gospel that saved them. Mac minion Phil Johnson defines saving faith as returning to the cross for a fresh set of downs on the way to the goal posts of final justification. They all believe the same thing.
So, in throwing people off track with their new red herring, they of course falsely accuse Fitzpatrick which gives her opportunity to defend herself without getting to the crux of the issue: she teaches an unfettered Reformed gospel and they don’t. Her defense on Facebook follows:
Well, okay, I’m going to say it again:
Do I care about holiness? Yes.
Do I care about our children being holy? Yes. (Ask ’em.)
It is simply my belief that true holiness grows only in the context of love for God and love for God only grows in the context of being reminded of God’s prior love for us in Christ.
Yes, I talk about grace and the gospel a lot. But it’s because I care about holiness, not because I think sin should abound.
Of course, abounding sin is not the issue; the issue is that Luther, in his foundational doctrinal statement of the Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation, proffered the following perspective on active sin: it is our only duty to seek more salvation while obedience manifested by God is completely out of our control and really none of our business. MacArthur has said the same thing on several occasions in this way: it is his job to teach Scripture, but it is up to the Holy Spirit to apply it. He has even suggested that Christians sometimes realize they obeyed after the fact because it was the Holy Spirit who applied the truth and not them. The general idea can be understood via this quote from Reformed guru and Christian counselor Bill Baldwin:
Give me a man who preaches the law with its terror and Christ with his sweetness and forgets to preach the law as a pattern of the fruit of sanctification and what will result? In two months his parishioners will be breaking down his door begging to be told what behavior their renewed, bursting with joy, hearts may best produce. And when he tells them, they will be surprised (and he will not) to discover that by and large they have produced exactly that. And where they haven’t, take them back to Christ again that they may contemplate him in all his glorious perfection so that they may better understand what sort of God and man he was and is.
Likewise, MacArthur often propagates the transformation of believers by gazing at the glory of God in the face of Christ which is also John Piper’s “beholding as a way of becoming.”
Be not deceived; it’s all the same stuff. It’s all progressive justification by returning to the same gospel that saved us for more salvation because Christians supposedly need ongoing salvation.
The contention of part one states that assurance of salvation is contrary to Protestant soteriology because “Christians” remain under the law, or “under the eyes of the law,” and condemnation cannot be separated from being under the law of sin and death.
Also, because all remain under the law of sin and death, final justification must take place at a judgment where the law is present.
A third point that will be added here is also relevant: if we remain under the law of sin and death, Christ could not have come to end the law, but rather fulfill it in our stead as a covering or imputation perpetually obtained by returning to the same gospel that saved us. In our Heidelberg Disputation series, evangelical and John MacArthur associate Phil Johnson is quoted as stating that as the very definition of faith.
Sin is Empowered by Condemnation
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Both “righteousness” and “justification” come from the same Greek word, dikaiosynē. For all practical purposes, Romans 10:4 can also read, “the end of the law for justification.” The two words, righteousness and justification, mean the same thing.
Nevertheless, Protestant soteriology is predicated on the idea that Christ fulfilled the righteous demands of the law through His own obedience, and Christians must keep the law satisfied by faith alone in what Christ accomplished in His death AND life. Therefore, the Christian “rests and feeds” on Christ in order to keep the righteous demands of the law satisfied. The final judgment determines who rested in Christ’s works well enough to qualify for heaven rather than having a “righteousness of their own.”
In contrast, multiple judgments/resurrections allow for judgment based on something other than condemnation. If Christians are no longer under the law’s condemnation, there is no reason to be present at any judgment where there is law. Our fear is to be judged by the law; it goes without saying that if we will not even be present at such a judgment, assurance is greatly enhanced. There is a resurrection of the “just” and “unjust” because one’s condition when resurrected is already a settled issue. These are two separate resurrections.
What then is the standard for righteousness? Not law, but the new birth. This is a concept that stands in opposition to the status qua of world philosophy; the infusion of the divine into mortal man is not possible. To the contrary, we have this treasure in “clay vessels.” The body is not inherently evil, but weak. A clay vessel is weak—not evil. The new spirit is willing, “but the flesh is weak.”
Sin resides wherever there is mortality, but is empowered by condemnation. If you take away sin’s ability to condemn, it cannot enslave.
1 Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A saved person receives a new heart that is no longer indifferent to God’s law, but rather loves God’s law. Psalm 119 is a psalm of the saved person who is truly born again (1John 3) and loves God’s law. The unregenerate are indifferent to God’s law and are condemned by it, and will be judged by it.
Sin makes its appeal to the flesh through desire; believers have the wherewithal to say no for the most part because they are not under law or its condemnation. They have been freed to serve God through love as properly defined by the same law. The believer does not keep the law perfectly because sin still resides in mortality…
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
However, this has no bearing on the believers true state of being, i.e., a true child of God who has a righteous nature by birth.
The Other Salvation and the Other Fear
As discussed in part one, what is Philippians 2:12,13 really talking about? If you believe in one salvation, one resurrection, and one judgment, this text must be interpreted as pertaining to the salvation of the soul.
Hence, we are working out our salvation while properly motivated by fear of condemnation, a “sanctification” principle wholly endorsed by Luther and Calvin in no uncertain terms, and God actively works through our passive will to accomplish this IF we live by faith alone. The text calls on us to obey, but this is really the “obedience of faith” or “obedient faith” that is performed by God through us as we live by faith alone and progressively accomplishes our salvation.
However, though that seems to fit very well at first, it makes the Spirit a poor communicator and a God of confusion because Paul first tells us to obey, then seems to say that it is God who is really doing the work. Who is obeying, God or us?
A clearer understanding can be demonstrated. There remains a salvation left for the believer which is redemption. Salvation of the soul and redemption are not the same. Redemption is the other salvation; it is the salvation of the body where sin still resides. The apostle Paul asked the rhetorical question: “Who will save me from this body of death?” At some point, Christ will come to claim what He has already purchased with His blood—that’s redemption, and salvation from weakness that makes sin possible in the born again believer.
Redemption: the Other Salvation
This is what Paul is calling on us to work out through obedience: our sanctification or progressive setting apart until God completely finishes the work when we are resurrected. It is us doing the obedience. This does not exclude God working in us as well; it is not one or the other, it is both. As God’s children, He will always make sure we have enough in the tank to obey and work in our sanctification.
But with that comes a great responsibility. Though we are never to fear in regard to our justification, there is a fear in sanctification because “judgment begins in the household of God.” This is present chastisement that can occur in many forms for using our salvation as a cloak for unrighteousness. As believers we are called on to work hard in sanctification, a jurisdiction of love where there is no fear of eternal judgment. However, there is a fear of present chastisement that should be taken seriously.
This is the other fear, but it is NOT fear of condemnation. It is fear of chastisement.
Our assurance comes from the definitive knowledge that we are not under the law, and the law cannot judge us or condemn us. We are not under the bondage of condemnation, nor the fear thereof; there is no fear in love. Consequently, our assurance is enhanced as we actively engage in our calling to love God and others.
Fear has to do with judgment, and the law of sin and death has no jurisdiction over the child of God. This is why John wrote that indeed, we can KNOW we are saved. Moreover, we will not appear at any judgment that involves the law of sin and death. We are not under law, but under grace.
An angle rarely thought of; governments killing their citizens through bad economic policies.
Originally posted on The Oligarchy White Paper:
What if the citizens of a particular country were subjected to murder at the hands of their own government? Could there be any form of tyranny or practice of oligarchs worse than the ultimate surrender of rights by citizens than the loss of their very lives? Could it be happening today?
Ancient warrior-conquerors like Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, and Genghis Khan have definitely earned their place in history as some of the most ruthless killers of people, collectively causing many hundreds of thousands or perhaps even millions of people to die in battle or as a result of their wars. More recently, the names of Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler dominate history books as evil tyrants bent on killing others as well as their own citizens in an attempt to achieve their demented objectives. The history of the world contains what seems to be an interminable succession of merciless…
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One of the many Protestant myths that we hear often is that Bible prophesy, otherwise known as eschatology, is “secondary” truth. Yes, having a definitive understanding of its corpus which is about 25% of Scripture is optional.
Among the many disturbing insinuations in regard to this mentality is the idea that God prophesies about things that we can’t really understand. In other words, God is glorified by telling us things we can’t understand to prove some kind of point whatever that might be.
Not unlike many other Protestant mentalities, this particular one is warned against in Scriptures, and to the contrary promises blessings for those who study prophesy which assumes possible understanding.
One of the blessings of studying Bible prophecy and having a proper understanding of it is assurance of salvation. Much could be discussed on this wise, but the focus of this post will be the number of resurrections and judgments.
A Humble Faith is Confused and Uncertain?
There are many confused Protestants in the land because supposedly, being confused gives glory to God. One of myriad examples is a book written by Puritan wannabe Russ Kennedy of Clearcreek Chapel in Springboro, Ohio titled “Perplexity.” The primary thesis of the book is about how unanswered questions are a form of worship. But this is typical: the Bible states that God is not a god of confusion, but Protestant orthodoxy can always be counted on to set the Bible straight. My point here is that there are many Protestants that believe the Bible teaches about multiple resurrections and judgments, But that’s NOT Protestantism. Most Protestants do not know what a Protestant is…which of course in not commendable.
At any rate, confusion never walks with surety.
Justification by Faith: One Resurrection; One Judgment
What is Protestant orthodoxy on this matter? Answer: one resurrection and one judgment immediately following. And why does this matter? It matters because this view of eschatology is tied directly to the Protestant position on justification; or in other words, the essential doctrine of Protestantism known as justification by faith.
In that doctrine of salvation (soteriology), there is no assurance of salvation until your salvation is confirmed at the one final judgment at the end of the ages. In that one final judgment, God “separates the sheep from the goats.” This is the judgment of the nations and NOT the great white throne judgment, but articulating the differences is not the subject of this particular post; our subject is justification by faith and its necessary eschatology that supports its authentic soteriology.
Orthodoxy: Obedient Faith Not OSAS
Most Protestants also believe that once saved always saved (OSAS) is Protestant orthodoxy, but this is something else you can add to the long (very long) list of things that Protestants think Protestants believe. Protestant orthodoxy holds to salvation as a process. It is the idea that the process has a beginning point, a progression, and a final confirmation. A good snapshot of this is how Protestant orthodoxy interprets Philippians 2:12,13.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
First, “obeyed” is the Protestant “obedient faith” or “obedience of faith.” What’s that? It is the idea that Christians only perform one act of obedience, living by faith…alone. How do you live by faith alone? It’s a good question because our culture defines faith as purely mental. Therefore, how do we “live” actively by faith alone? As homo sapiens, we not only sit around and think—we do things.
The answer is in… “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Here, orthodoxy interprets “salvation” as justification, or the saving of the soul by Divine decree. Therefore, salvation needs to be worked out through faith alone.
“The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event”
Also, and this is a BIG also, our working out of our salvation by faith alone, or faith-alone work, should be motivated by the supposed fact that “Christians” remain under the condemnation of the law, and should live in constant fear of condemnation which motivates us to live by faith alone lest we fall into “works righteousness [justification].” Because justification is seen as a process, and its end acquired by faith alone, one must not “jump directly from the command to an act of obedience.” Instead, everything we do must be “grounded in the historical Christ event” via faith alone, or by faith-alone works. This is how orthodoxy categorizes works in the Christian life: works, or a “righteousness of our own,” jumps from the command to obedience which is not of faith while faith-alone works operates on all obedience being grounded in the cross event.
In our Heidelberg Disputation series, mainline Protestant evangelical Phil Johnson is cited in regard to orthodoxy’s very definition of faith: it is returning to the same historical Christ event that saved us over and over again. By doing this, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our Christian life (sanctification, or a process of increased setting apart for God’s purposes), and the justification process continues to move forward. This is important to note because said imputation continues to satisfy the law, and remember, our primary motivation is fear of condemnation from being under law.
So, to clarify, our primary faith-alone work is to continually return to the same gospel that saved us, otherwise known as “preaching the gospel to ourselves” in order to keep the law satisfied. A perfect law-keeping is imputed to us as we live by faith alone in “what Jesus has done, not anything we do.”
The Preeminence of the Law in Protestant Soteriology
Let’s tally all of this up in regard to the subject: Protestant orthodoxy makes law preeminent in salvation, and there is only one judgment that deals with the law; the great white throne judgment at the end of the ages. Orthodoxy rejects any judgment that excludes the condemnation of the law. Their gospel calls for a judgment that confirms those who “live by the gospel” well enough to be covered by Christ’s fulfillment of the law through His perfect law-keeping.
Judgments for rewards apart from the law and its condemnation are rejected by orthodoxy. The reward for living by faith-alone well enough is salvation. Because we are saved by faith alone, we must begin by faith alone, live by faith alone, and will be judged according to how well we did that. When we stand AT the judgment, if God only sees the works of Christ and not anything we did, we will “stand IN the judgment.”
Though Christ is said to have preeminence among Protestants, that’s only because Christ paid the penalty of sin under the law, and supposedly fulfilled its demands in our stead. The law is what really has preeminence in Protestant orthodoxy.
And this is why only one judgment is accepted; because all other judgments are for reward APART from the law’s condemnation.
What Saves a Protestant at the Judgment?
In the rest of Philippians 2:12,13 we read, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” If you have been following our Heidelberg Disputation series, you know that authentic Protestantism interprets this through Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Luther believed that man was created with a passive will. Like water, it is only active when it is acted upon from outside of itself. Water doesn’t move unless gravity pushes it—it doesn’t change temperature unless the environment acts upon it from the outside. Likewise, the Christian does not work, he/she only has the will to act if acted upon from the outside. God is the only one who has an active will, and He created man with a passive will.
Luther framed this in context of death. According to Luther, death is not a nonexistent state, but merely a passive state. The dead exist, but they are in bondage to passivity unless acted upon. Luther also believed that this is illustrative of the Christian life. Christians are still dead in trespasses and sin, and only perform good works when acted upon from the outside by God. This is in fact central to the Protestant ideology that drives its soteriology.
Assurance of salvation cannot be a reality in authentic Protestantism because surety removes the condemnation of the law regardless of anything we do. The goal is not the obedience of love, but the so-called obedience of faith that satisfies the “righteous demands of the law.” If we live by faith alone, the obedience of Christ will be imputed to us. This belief is what saves the Christian at the final judgement.
In part two, we will examine what Philippians 2:12,13 is really stating, and its relationship to eschatology. Moreover, we will examine why Christians can have doubtless assurance of salvation accordingly.
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 60 – August 4, 2015 (Click here to listen)
Join us each Tuesday night at 7:00 PM as the host, Andy Young, leads a verse by verse exegetical study of the Book of Acts.
In tonight’s lesson, Paul faces his accusers and gives his testimony before Felix, the Governor of Judea Province.
Acts 23:31 – 24:23
The Protestant Road to Salvation; Gaining Salvation with More and More Salvation by Using the Bible to be Brought Down to Hell
Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio.com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part 10 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 15 ff. The Protestant Road to Salvation; Gaining Salvation with More Salvation by Using the Bible to be Brought Down to Hell
Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com.
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Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.
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Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD (Heidelberg Disputation) starting with thesis 15. Yes, tonight, we really get into the meat of the Protestant gospel, and it ain’t pretty.
Due to the fact that I can’t decide where to stick this with a fork first tonight, let’s begin by reading the 15th thesis:
Thesis 15: Nor could free will remain in a state of innocence, much less do good, in an active capacity, but only in its passive capacity (subiectiva potentia).
The Master of the Sentences (Peter Lombard), quoting Augustine, states, »By these testimonies it is obviously demonstrated that man received a righteous nature and a good will when he was created, and also the help by means of which he could prevail. Otherwise it would appear as though he had not fallen because of his own fault.« He speaks of the active capacity (potentia activa), which is obviously contrary to Augustine’s opinion in his book ›Concerning Reprimand and Grace‹ (De Correptione et Gratia), where the latter puts it in this way: »He received the ability to act, if he so willed, but he did not have the will by means of which he could act.« By »ability to act« he understands the original capacity (potentia subiectiva), and by »will by means of which he could,« the active capacity (potentia activa).
The second part (of the thesis), however, is sufficiently clear from the same reference to the Master.
We discussed the two primary elements of Martin Luther’s bondage of the will in part 7. They are active will and passive will. Man has no active will, his will is passive. It’s like water; it just sits there until it is acted upon by something from the outside. In Luther’s bondage of the will construct, man is dead as a passive being. We normally think of death as a termination of life, but according to Luther, death is a realm where works can be performed, but they are dead works.
As often pontificated by the Reformed, their favorite illustration in regard to this is the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11. Supposedly, this is illustrative of sanctification (the Christian life). From there, the Reformed put metaphysical feet on it in various and sundry philosophical ways, but the major premise is the same.
A caution when studying Reformed ideology/philosophy: separate the major premises from the various applications or you will drive yourself nuts. The major premises such as the total inability of mankind are consistent, but the so-called life applications are not. Let me give an example.
Some of the Reformed believe that man is not active in any regard as far as the will. Everything that happens is because God acted upon man. Others believe man has a free will to do dead works in the material realm, but all manifestations of good works are the result of God acting upon man’s passive will. So, one view sees all human events as a result of God’s active will while others see the distinction in only good or evil acts. Man is passive in regard to good works, but has an active will in regard to all things evil.
Hence, it’s fine to go about your business and live life as it comes just so you believe that everything you do is evil. That qualifies you to be forgiven on Sunday. In the other application, you have no active will at all, but ALL things are preordained by God for His glory. Your goal is only to SEE and EXPERIENCE what God is doing. In the final analysis, these varying applications are not going to cause much of a rift in Reformed circles; the tie that binds is the total inability of man.
But here is another tie that binds: the idea that God created evil for His own glory. Most Protestants think that Protestants believe that Adam and Eve were sinless/holy/pure before the fall and they are just dead wrong in that idea, no pun intended. Authentic Protestant soteriology holds to the idea that Adam and Eve were created with passive wills as clearly stated by Luther in the thesis at hand. Either they had a propensity to do evil and God acted to prevent it until the appointed time, or God actively incited their fall as well.
It can be demonstrated clearly that the creation of evil by God is a Reformed mainstay, but the various philosophical applications make it possible for the Reformed to play all kinds of metaphysical shell games in order to keep people confused and controlled.
As stated before, the Reformation was first and foremost about philosophy and NOT theology. Clearly, the Reformation was about the integration of Dualism with the Bible. One aspect of Dualism insists that nothing can exist without a counterpart to define it. Without darkness, there can be no light, etc. When we get to thesis 28, we will see that Luther’s counterpart to love is evil. Since God is love, the only logical conclusion, other than the fact that Jonathan Edwards and many others have stated it directly, is that God Himself cannot exist without evil because He is the defining counterpart. Some suggest that God existed, but for all practical purposes was nonexistent until He created evil. This is nothing new. This is a resurgence of the exact same Platonist/Neo-Platonist/Gnostic doctrines that plagued the first century church. Take note of what James was pushing back against in that day:
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.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Of course, the Reformed deny that they teach such things; specifically, that God created evil for His own glory, and dance around the fact with their shell-game communication skills. An example is the following excerpt from an article written by John MacArthur:
Evil originates not from God but from the fallen creature. I agree with John Calvin, who wrote,
. . . the Lord had declared that “everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good” [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity-which is closer to us-rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination. [Institutes, 3:23:8]
~ Is God Responsible for Evil? Grace to You catalogue #A189.
Ok, so it originates from the creature and not God as if that has nothing to do with how God created man. The only alternative is the idea that God created man in His holy image, and with a free will, but don’t hold your breath and wait for them to ever agree to that.
Note Calvin’s language very carefully. It wasn’t one, then another individual deceived by the serpent; it was a propensity inherent in the kind. Also, in the same section of 3.23.8, Calvin attributes the fall to God’s predestination for His glory. It is unclear if Calvin would have agreed with Luther’s bondage of the will via man’s passive will, but Calvin clearly believed that man was created with a level of integrity that could not obtain full fellowship with god even if man had not fallen:
Even If man had remained in his integrity, still his condition was too base for him to attain to God. How much less could he have raised himself so far, after having been plunged by his ruin into death and hell, after staining himself with so many defilements nay, even stinking in his corruption and all overwhelmed with misery?
~The Calvin Institutes 2.12.1. Henry Beveridge translation varies slightly.
Shockingly, the Henry Beveridge translation has it that man’s condition was too base to attain to God “without a Mediator” note capital “M.” Clearly, Calvin is saying that man needed a mediator before the fall.
Thesis 16: The person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.
On the basis of what has been said, the following is clear: While a person is doing what is in him, he sins and seeks himself in everything. But if he should suppose that through sin he would become worthy of or prepared for grace, he would add haughty arrogance to his sin and not believe that sin is sin and evil is evil, which is an exceedingly great sin. As Jer. 2:13 says, »For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water,« that is, through sin they are far from me and yet they presume to do good by their own ability.
Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God »gives grace to the humble« (1 Pet. 5:5), and »whoever humbles himself will be exalted« (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired. Thus an action which is alien to God’s nature (opus alienum dei) results in a deed belonging to his very nature (opus proprium): he makes a person a sinner so that he may make him righteous.
This thesis is a good summary of the Reformation gospel. Man remains unchanged accept for the ability to see how evil he is and his continued need for the same gospel that saved him. Any notion that there is anything in man that could choose God is double sin and hewing out cisterns for himself that cannot hold water.
Also assumed in the rhetoric is efficacious good works to maintain the law as a standard for justification.
Luther then states what “saved” sinning lost people are to do since they can do nothing but sin. One is to focus on their sin as a way to see a continued need for salvation resulting in more grace…for salvation and continued justification. Instead of being indifferent to sin, embrace it as a means of seeing your need for continued “grace,” herein a more nuanced word than outright “justification” or “salvation.” Again, this nuancing of words incessant with the Reformed began right here in the HD. Following is a contemporary example:
In the following video trailer from the 2011 Resolved Conference, Al Mohler states that the only purpose of the law in the life of a believer is to show us our ongoing need for salvation. Of course, he doesn’t word it that way. He states that believers have an ongoing need for Christ (which no Christian would refute), but note carefully: he is speaking in context of our initial salvation. So, instead of saying plainly that Christians need to be continually saved, or continually justified, he replaces that wording with “Christ.” However, again, the context is clearly salvation. He is saying that we need Christ in the same way that we needed Him for salvation.
Mohler is also saying that the law has the same relationship/purpose to unbelievers as it does believers: to show us our need for Christ. So, obviously, this is in contrast to any ability on the part of the believer to keep it. All the law can do is show NEED. Need for what? Well, what’s the context? Mohler also presents an either/or choice in regard to the law: it either shows us our need for Christ (again, what need specifically?), or we are using it to “rescue ourselves from sin.” Hmmm, what does it mean to “rescue ourselves from sin”? I believe Mohler deliberately uses the word “rescue” instead of “save” in order to add nuance to his point. “Rescue” is less direct, and could refer to a believer trying to overcome sin on his own. This is the same reason he replaces “salvation” with “Christ” in his prior point. It’s deliberate deception. Excluded is any mentioning that the law can be used by the believer to please God and glorify Him in all we do by “observing all that I have commanded.”
~Paul’s Passing Thoughts.com: Why Al Mohler is a Heretic; April 10, 2012
Thesis 17: Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.
This is clear from what has been said, for, according to the gospel, the kingdom of heaven is given to children and the humble (Mark 10:14,16), and Christ loves them. They cannot be humble who do not recognize that they are damnable whose sin smells to high heaven. Sin is recognized only through the law. It is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ok, so not much commentary needed here—this is pretty plain. As believers we are still sick, and hey, telling someone that they need a doctor continually is not bad news, but good news. All of the Christian life is seeking to be concerned about “grace.” Again, that means salvation. As we have discussed many times before, “grace” is a biblical word that has broad meaning including, for the most part, “help.” Though Luther calls any assertion that this would instill despair in people “foolish,” historical facts beg to differ.
Thesis 18: It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.
The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength.
Here we have it again. The sole use of the Bible is to show us our worthlessness so as to be brought down to hell in order to prepare ourselves to receive more salvation/justification. As Dr. Michael Horton has said, the sole Purpose of the Bible is to “drive us to despair of self-righteousness.” This is, of course, the mortification part of the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification.
With that, let’s go to the phones.
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Subject of program is this article: What is the difference between Catholics and Protestants_-GRACE VINE
Live: Friday 3/31/2015 @7pm.
Live Program Link: the-heidelberg-disputation-series-part-10
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Whether lost or saved, people in general want to know how to do life. Protestantism has forfeited this angle as a way to recommend God because the Reformation was all about interpreting reality through redemption with very little emphasis on wise living. From a commonsense perspective, lost people assume God knows what makes people tick. So, if Christians don’t know how to do life any better than non-Christians, the latter will be little moved by the gospel.
The Reformed actually address this issue straight away. It goes something like this: being a testimony to the world is futile because on our best day we have shortcomings that the world will see. Therefore, the gospel should be about God and not us—we should point to God and not our own testimonies. Well, trust me, the world ain’t buyin’ it.
One of the things that excites me abundantly about the growing exodus away from the wicked false gospel of justification by faith is the rediscovery of kingdom living. That’s the other good news about life more abundantly in the here and now as we move on from the foot of the cross and the gospel of first order. It’s about having a life built upon a rock through the application of God’s wisdom and glorifying Him accordingly. The world understands that we are not perfect; what they take note of is overall quality of life and life patterns.
People will, and do judge us by our children’s behavior. If you are unable to control your 3-year-old, you are a poor representative of the gospel. Christians should be smarter than a 3-year-old.
The fact that young children are utterly self-centered is not altogether a sin issue. They are in total discovery mode. They have been recently introduced to the world with limited intellectual resources. Their perspective is strictly outward. They have NO conscience and NO concept of right or wrong.
More than likely, what they learn about right and wrong as they grow intellectually will inform their consciences which in turn will accuse or excuse their behavior with bad feelings or good feelings. However, for many different reasons and varying circumstances, children will attempt to manipulate others; an art they possess that is normally underestimated in apocalyptic proportions.
This is one of many categories critical to parenting: knowing WHY children do what they do. Once you know why they do it, you can then communicate that knowledge and instruct them in a better way.
In my own living of life, an excellent example was shared with me today, and therefore I type. It is an example of a 5-year-old rendering two grown adults utterly disarmed and standing speechless, hurt, and dumbfounded. That would include me also, because when I heard the testimony, I was also without answer. Hence, we have 5-year-olds standing triumphantly over adult overseers, a scene far from being uncommon.
What’s going on? This kid is good; I had to think about it long and hard before the lightbulb went on. Then, once I figured it out, I had to think about a proper response. Let’s first examine the verbal judo that was used on the parents. It went, in essence, something like this: “I don’t love you. I know some adults that are good parents and you are not. I wish I could live with them instead of you; that’s why I don’t love you.”
This is pure genius. Can you really punish a kid for saying he/she doesn’t love you? Can you really spank a kid for having an “honest” opinion? Through observing life, the child knows the answer is probably, “no.” What’s going on, and what should the response be? What I am saying is that much of parenting should be twofold: discerning of motives and teaching. Unfortunately, some sort of punishment usually takes the place of discernment because discernment is harder than doling out retribution. ALL, I repeat, ALL parenting shortcuts will NOT end well.
Your response doesn’t have to be immediate. Once you discern the situation and the proper response, you can revisit the issue, ie., “Remember when you said this the other day…” One may also use that time to get counsel.
What would my counsel be? First, like all judo, the goal is to control the opponent and that is what is going on in this case. If you think the mere fact that the child has said such a thing indicates a failure on your part, the child has already flipped you over and pinned you to the ground. The child has attempted to disqualify the parent as a worthy parent, and therefore, disqualifying the parent’s right to tell said child what to do. The goal is to control the parent by dismantling the parent’s confidence as a parent. Parents who think they are unworthy parents will be crippled accordingly and much easier to control.
You could start by informing the child that you know what he/she is up to as a response, but in this case, the child’s use of words can be used to teach. By the way, what this child has done is indicative of what Susan and I see when we counsel adults. All of the same manipulation techniques are taken into adulthood and refined. The key is the child’s definition of “love.” This is an opportunity to correct and teach the child what love really is. If the child accepts the counsel, he/she will respond accordingly. Punishment is primarily for a refusal to respond to counsel. The adult’s response might sound like this:
“Love doesn’t do what it does for the purpose of getting something in return. Whether you love me or not, I am going to be the daddy/mommy that you need because I love you. This is why I don’t give you candy or some other reward for obeying—obeying is an act of love that does not obey to get something in return. I try to do everything with you out of love regardless of whether you love me or not. I am not going to stop loving you just because you don’t love me—that’s not love.”
The child must not be allowed to define love in a way that suits an agenda and efforts to control. This is the exact same techniques that adults use. It also has a blackmail angle. If you don’t do what I want you to do, I won’t love you and that will hurt you because I know you love me. Again, this same technique is commonplace in adult marriages. Correcting the child now has a long-term effect in regard to the future. Likewise, as another example, how a child does a chore is indicative as to what kind of adult employee he or she will be.
Primarily, in this case, the child is seeking to control the parent via a self-serving and erroneous definition of love while holding the parent hostage emotionally. The ransom is the child’s love for the parent. The child is also attempting to disqualify the parent as a way of stripping the parent’s authority.
As in most cases, the why must be discerned and the response must be teaching. Punishment is for a refusal to heed wise counsel resulting in blatant rebellion.
I noticed this announcement and video here with much ado following. Prophecy watchers write post after post about the ins and outs of the prophesied third temple and what to watch for as the second coming of Christ draws near. There is also much discussion about the Dome of the Rock being located over the Holy of Holies of the second temple.
But the Scriptures never call for the temple to be a building in a specific place. The first and second temples were modeled after the tabernacle which was mobile. In fact, what is described in the book of Revelation is the tabernacle.
This is my point: when the right events unfold, an elaborate replica of the original tabernacle can be built and located anywhere in a very short period of time; if nothing else, as a temporary place of worship while the third temple is being constructed.
Christ said that events will unfold quickly in a very short period of time when he returns. More than likely, the “day of the Lord” refers to the seven year tribulation period in which there will be breaking news of the horrific sort unfolding daily. This is the “birth pangs” referred to by Christ.