12/12/2014 link: The Five Solas and Five Points of Calvinism
12/19/2014: The Truth About Predeterminism
1/16/2015: Francis Chan’s Antinomian Puppy Love
2/6/2015: The Truth About “Church Discipline”
Friday 4/17/2015 @ 7pm: The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification; Part 4, Obedience is Love Because of the New Birth
“The first man was a created being. God did not decide to save man by restoring a covenant of works, or restoring man’s image created in the likeness of God, or to restore paradise lost, He decided to save man by making him His literal family. The gospel isn’t about restoring things; it’s about making all things new.”
Suffice it to say that I have many Facebook “friends” who are unabashedly reformed in their theology. As a result I am constantly bombarded with status updates in my newsfeed like this one:
Blech! This is so dripping with syruppy arrogance it makes me sick.
See, there are two things about posts like this that just irritate me to no end. Aside from the tacit tip of the the hat to the doctrine of total depravity, it is just outright self-promotion under a very poorly-executed pretense of self-deprecation.
And Christians wonder why the unsaved find Christians so offensive…
Evil ideology is a tree that produces evil fruit according to its roots. The branches are not identical and do not always give full bloom to the tree’s fruit. Nevertheless, inconsistency in the branches should not judge the tree; the ever-present possibly of a bountiful harvest of evil should judge the tree.
In the same way, the remission of cancer doesn’t make cancer good or any less evil. The potential of utter destruction lingers because the cancer is still there.
Likewise, docile Calvinism and Reformed ideology in general is not commendable because it is in remission.
The whole notion of likable Calvinists versus “aggressive Calvinism” is egregiously naïve; like some undomesticated pets, though adorable, they can become aggressive at any moment.
Is it wise to have dinner with a disciple of Hannibal Lecter because “he doesn’t agree with everything Dr. lecter teaches”? I think not.
Calvinism, and really Protestantism in general, promotes the idea that sin is sin; there is no other perspective on sin other than it condemns. Clearly, Christ is telling us to seek forgiveness from the Father, but on the other hand, the apostle Paul wrote that where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 3:19, 4;15, 5;13, 7:8, 10:4), so as children of the Father, what are we asking for?
The prayer addresses the Father from whom there is no condemnation for His children (Romans 8:1,34). For those who are not His children, sin does condemn. For those who are in God’s family and born of Him, there can be chastisement for family sin (Hebrews 12:5ff). But for those not in God’s family, sin condemns and our Father is potentially a God of wrath to them.
You are either God’s child or a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3-5). Obviously, repentance from the sin that condemns can only be a one-time event that cancels out the law’s ability to condemn. You cannot be in God’s family while under condemnation.
These two perspectives on sin are efficacious to a true gospel. One is wrath and condemnation, and the other is love through obedience and possible chastisement for disobedience.
Calvinism clearly teaches a single perspective on the law; the single perspective of condemnation (The Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11). Therefore, supposedly, Christ came to obey the law perfectly so that the law is continually satisfied. Christians are still under the condemnation of the law, but Jesus’ perfect obedience fulfills the law every time we seek forgiveness for “present sin.”
So, do we ask the Father to forgive us for failing Him, or do we ask forgiveness in order to keep our salvation? How we answer that question determines the validity of our gospel.
So much ideology is packed into your often-used 5-word Reformed statement: “You are a bitter man.” Like the other Reformed 5-word bumper sticker, “Jesus died for our sins,” it encompasses a whole body of philosophy. The thrust of these statements follows: excluding what doesn’t exist according to the ideology. I am either bitter or not bitter. Why? Because the only cause of bitterness is a lie and doesn’t exist according Reformed ideology: oppression.
There is no such thing as oppression according to Reformed theology, only grace. Grace is defined by the reality of existence that never receives what it fully deserves; therefore, no matter what people do to you, it falls short of what you fully deserve, therefore, all abuse should be received with thankfulness.
Hence, the Reformed definition of a bitter man or woman: one who doesn’t understand grace.
So, what you are saying is that I don’t understand grace. People are either bitter or not bitter–they either understand grace or don’t understand grace. They either understand that the sum total of life is zero making justice a myth or they don’t.
Hence, to put value on life is synonymous with bitterness because justice puts a value on life. Justice restrains those who refuse to treat others as they would want to be treated. According to Reformed philosophy, grace and justice are mutually exclusive and Calvin/Luther both stated that explicitly.
This is fundamentality what put me at odds with the Clearcreek elders though I was a long way from knowing it at the time (by the way, I noticed that your IP address is from Springboro), which is why I am not bitter. I was so blinded by Reformed ideology that it took the full wrath of their fundamental wickedness to wake me from my slumber. I could still be there learning to disassociate myself from reality more and more.
What does that look like? It can be defined by two sons who lost their fathers. When I lost my father whom I led to the Lord one day before his death, I cried out to God in mourning that cannot be described with words proclaiming, “You will take care of him now, you will take care of him now!” By the way, I was informed by elder Devon Berry before I left Clearcreek Chapel that God using me to lead my dad to the Lord, as well as everything else I had done at Clearcreek Chapel for 20 years was “walking in darkness.” Why? Because my worldview does not profess “Perplexity” in knowing anything other than “Christ and Him crucified,” viz, ALL wisdom is hidden in suffering (Luther).
Now let’s compare my worldview with the stoic public testimony of Pastor Rick Wilson’s son at Rick’s funeral: “My dad was a wicked sinner.”
Eric, Eric, Eric, do you really think I am bitter because I can longer hang with you guys? Really? What is the fundamental difference between you and ISIS? Nothing, because the fundamental worldview is exactly the same. In both cases, horizontal justice is a metaphysical concept rejected as true reality. How scary is that?
Eric, I am not bitter towards the Clearcreek caliphate, I am terrified that others will become members there. My duty to warn others about you is a joy, not a bitterness by any means.
But I understand what you are saying: grace and horizontal justice are mutually exclusive making justice a myth. Well, I’m sorry, I disagree, but you seem a little bitter about my bitterness.
And Eric, just a heads up, you could be brought up on church discipline for coming to my blog per the Clearcreek elders, but I won’t tell.
“The elements of the institutional church follow a logical progression: presuppositions concerning mankind; sub-mediation; orthodoxy or sub-truth; the gospel of progressive justification; church government (polity) because authority trumps fellowship; political activism because God’s kingdom is supposedly on earth (if it wasn’t authority would be absent), and the subsequent bad behavior ordinarily exhibited by the divine right of kings, mind control cults, and institutional ownership of truth.”
If a pastor of any church is said to have “authority,” that church by definition is a cult. If a pastor has authority, where does that authority begin and end? While the idea of elder authority is common, any discussion of the parameters is extremely uncommon and such ambiguity can lead anywhere, and does. Why are patterns of abuse across denominational lines identical? What is the difference between leadership and authority? Will the marriage of faith and authority in the church always yield the same results as the marriage of faith and force among governments? What does it mean to say “Kings are leaders, but leaders in the church are not kings”? And what is “well-behaved tyranny”? What is the biblical model for organized ministry among God’s people? Does ministry need authority, or cooperation? Join us this Friday at 7:00 pm and join the discussion. Here is the show link: Blogtalk Radio 4/10/2015 @ 7pm
~ Penned and researched by Brian Jonson, West Chester, Ohio
Heart Versus Flesh
There are hundreds of passages that use the term “heart” to describe the seat of human emotion, intelligence, morality, volition and religious life in general. However, most often, “heart” is used in Scripture as an idiom for the mind.
There is also present in scripture the heart of the unredeemed and the heart of the redeemed. Oftentimes the characteristics of the unredeemed heart are applied to the redeemed. I believe this is a critical error. The chart below shows the context of the unredeemed versus the redeemed and how the term “heart” is applied. It is by no means exhaustive, but certainly is representative of all passages. Notice, the application of the description of the unredeemed heart is never applied to the redeemed.
Characteristics of the Heart of the Saved and Lost
|Ge 6:5 – Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Ge 6:6 – The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Ge 8:21 – The LORD smelled the soothing aroma ; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never * again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
Ex 4:21- The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
De 5:29 – ‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always *, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!
De 8:14 – then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
1Sa 7:3 – Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
2Ch 12:14 – He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.
2Ch 25:2 – He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.
2Ch 26:16 – But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !
Ps 78:8 – And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Jer 5:23 – ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.
Jer 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Eze 14:4 – “Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,
Eze 20:16 – because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their idols.
Mr 7:21 – “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Ac 8:21 – “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
Ro 1:21 – For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Ro 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Eph 4:18 – being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
|Ge 20:5 – “Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”
Ge 20:6 – Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore * I did not let you touch her.
2Ch 16:9 – “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”
Ps 7:10 – My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart.
Ps 66:18 – If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;
Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!
Ps 86:12 – I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.
Jer 24:7 – ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people , and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
Jer 31:33 – “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people .
Jer 32:39 – and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always *, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.
Eze 11:19 – “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Eze 36:26 – “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Mt 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Mt 12:34 – “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good ? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
Mt 15:18 – “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Ro 2:29 – But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Ro 6:17 – – But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Heb 10:22 – let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
1Pe 1:22 – Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1Jo 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
As you look at the references above, you’ll easily see that the Bible never applies the ugly characteristics of an unregenerate heart to a redeemed person. Why then, should we? God has renewed the heart of a believer and it is unbiblical to accuse the Body of Christ of having hearts that are unregenerated.
Where then, is the battle? The Bible teaches that the battle against sin is in the flesh, NOT the heart. Notice, please:
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Jesus is speaking to a redeemed person. He shows them that the danger is in the flesh, not the heart (perhaps synonymous with spirit in this passage).
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Paul teaches here that our sinful passions are from the flesh.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
A critical passage! We know the Bible teaches that our flesh was not redeemed at salvation and, in fact, awaits the glorification described so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15. Therefore, we have a “redeemed heart” incarcerated in “unredeemed flesh.” This is exactly why we struggle. Notice:
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
and those who are in the flesh cannot * please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh —
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The heart is not mentioned anywhere in this key teaching. Romans 6 through 8 contain the key teaching on our struggle against sin. And, it is clear; the struggle is centered on the flesh, not the heart.
Further evidence of this:
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
How do we cleanse ourselves and appear holy before the Lord?
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 50 – April 7, 2015 (click here to listen on-demand)
Tonight’s Text – Acts 19:1-10
- Concluding thoughts on Apollos
- He was disposed
- βουλομαι – (BOO-lo-my). To will (reflexively).
- Decision to go to Corinth did not originate with Apollos
- Who is being “encouraged”?
- προτρεπομαι “pro-TREP-oh-my” – to turn forward for oneself
“And with him (Apollos) being willing to go to Achaia, the brethren (in Ephesus) having been motivated to proceed, wrote to the disciples (in Corinth) advising them to welcome him (Apollos).”
- He was disposed
- Paul and the other disciples
- John’s baptism
- Disciples of Apollos
- An incomplete knowledge
- Holy Spirit baptism
- Baptized in the name of Jesus
- Receiving of gifts
- John’s baptism
- Paul’s on-going ministry in Ephesus
- Speaking boldly in the synagogue
- Paul’s normal, daily manner.
- Continuous, on-going
- Disputing and persuading
- Be ye separate.
- The school of Tyrannus
- A center for Paul’s ministry
- All of Asia hears the word.
- Speaking boldly in the synagogue
Last week, we once again reminded ourselves of the importance of interpreting the book of Romans via the “mystery of the gospel.” This is the full revelation concerning God’s plan to make the Gentiles part of the commonwealth of Israel. This unification of diverse cultures with the Jews puts the power of God on display, so we should pursue unity vigorously. Certainly, a diverse group of people working in unity for a common cause, the gospel, is a powerful message in our day. If diversity will come together for that cause, it is assumed that the cause is of paramount importance.
If putting unity on display is of paramount importance, we concluded that using home fellowships to evangelize is a really bad idea. Unity can be difficult enough among believers without adding unbelievers into the mix. Believers should be equipped to evangelize outside the fellowship of believers.
We also looked at the Jewish tendency to judge because the Jews were the keepers of the law, and the idea that Christ came to end the law was a difficult transition for them. There is NO law in justification—the law cannot justify—it can only condemn—that’s why Christ came to end the law…for justification.
But the role of the law in regard to the born again believer is another matter. Love, obedience, and faith are now fused together. We will soon see this in the text this morning. In the Christian life, the law is not only the Spirit’s sword, it is HIS law. He is the Spirit of life, and He uses the law to sanctify, and that law is TRUTH (John 17:17). In the Bible, as we will see, love, obedience, and faith are synonymous.
Last week, we also learned the importance of clarifying the gospel of first importance as a basis for fellowship. Past that, opinions about the law can cause fellow believers to “stumble.” This is where we will pick up in verse 13:
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (ESV).
Actually, I prefer the KJV interpretation of this:
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
Remember from last week, we all serve under one master, and he will judge what we have done in the body individually. This is a judgment for reward, not condemnation. Presently, there are only two types of judgment in the church: self-judgment (1Cor 11:31,32), and the Lord’s discipline (Heb 12:5ff, Prov 3:11). There is no such thing as the church judging a believer. Christians enjoy protection from the world while in a fellowship of believers, but if fellowship is broken because of sin, God may use the world to correct the believer. We must remember that in the only actual example we have of so-called “church discipline” in the Bible, the apostle Paul assumed the individual to be saved (1Cor 5:4).
In situations that turn out bad according to Matthew 18:15ff, we are to “treat” such an individual “like” an unbeliever, actually, “Gentile and a tax collector.” The Jews did not associate with Gentiles, and had a steroidal disdain for tax collectors who were usually Jews in league with the Roman government. But keep in mind, there were saved Gentiles and tax collectors. This is a matter of fellowship, NOT “declaring someone an unbeliever.” My three favorite questions in regard to Matthew 18 are, “Where does it say “discipline?” and “Where does it say “unbeliever?” and “Where does it talk about elders declaring someone as unbelieving?” It is remarkable to me how all of these are assumed.
So, Paul writes in verse 13 that all judgment is to cease except a judgment concerning what might make a fellow Christian “stumble.” Paul begins to develop that in verse 14:
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.
Christians come into fellowship with all kinds of baggage, especially in our day because Christians are doctrinally dumbed down regardless of the information age. Rome kept the Bible away from people; Protestantism has merely mandated interpretation via orthodoxy which has become synonymous with truth.
Heterodoxy means you disagree with some counsel where “Divines” dictate interpretation making heterodoxy synonymous with heresy. In the same way, Jewish Christians were dragging orthodoxy into the home fellowships, and judging the Gentiles which resulted in the Gentiles despising the Jews.
But aside from orthodoxy, good old fashioned family tradition can play into this as well. Also, for example, a converted Adventist may be newly convinced of the true gospel, but is in the habit of abstaining from pork and caffeine. We are creatures of habit, and such a person may not be ready to just jump into their new found freedom where, as Paul stated, “nothing is unclean in itself”
Let me just cut to the chase here: there needs to be agreement on the gospel of first order, but past that we need to do three things: 1. Emphasize teaching and rightly dividing the word 2. Let each be what? Remember from last week? Right, let each be CONVINCED in their own minds 3. DON’T JUDGE.
Why is it extremely important that one be convinced in their own mind, and not hit over the head with the fact that Christ ended the law, and therefore everything is clean? Because many different things in life inform the conscience of an individual and though it would be mighty convenient if all Christians had a biblically informed conscience—that’s not reality. We are to teach, not judge, and let each person be convinced in their own minds.
The primary crux follows: if that person thinks it is sin, even if it isn’t, “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Why? Because the person thinks in their own mind that he/she is sinning. The fact that it is not technically a sin is neither here nor there; the person thinks it is a sin. So, this also means that the person will also violate their conscience when in fact it is against the law—in their own minds they think they are disobeying. This speaks to motive.
In contrast, if they obey their conscience, their motive is to please the Lord. This was Paul’s exact point from last week:
The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (verse 6).
The motive is to please God either way. Yet, if we insist that the one who is unconvinced get with the law program, this is where we cause stumbling. Paul taught the importance of keeping a clear conscience throughout the New Testament while also warning about a pattern of violating conscience. This results in searing the conscience and making it indifferent to sin.
On the other hand, guilt can be a very destructive emotion. O. Hobart Mower, president of the American Psychological Association in 1954, attributed most mental illness to the violation of conscience, and started therapy groups that inspired AA. Hobart’s therapy has probably helped more people than any other discipline, as witness by the success of those who follow his principles of therapy such as Dr. Laura Slezinger and Dr. Phil McGraw. If this approach is effective among unbelievers, it is more so among believers.
I can offer an example here from real life. After being consulted by a Christian lady regarding a situation in her marriage, I advised her that she was free to divorce according to Scripture. She informed me that her convictions would prevent her from doing so. In other words, it would have been a violation of her conscience. To that I replied that she indeed should obey her conscience. As Christians, we never cause another Christian to violate their conscience.
Also, we should be willing to prefer the unconvinced by abstaining from what offends others while fellowshipping together:
For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died (verse 15).
There is no law in justification, and as Andy Young said in last year’s conference, the law is really for sanctification as far as the Christian is concerned. However, the express purpose of the law in sanctification is love. If a Christian flaunts their liberty before Christians who are not yet convinced in their own mind, that Christian, while understanding the law of liberty, is violating the primary purpose of the law which is love. Paul states that this kind of flaunting of liberty can actually “destroy” the one that Christ died for. That’s a pretty strong emphasis. And more than likely, Christ had young believers in mind when He said this:
Luke 17:2 – It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
As the apostle John said, there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear. Though we as Christians have no fear of eternal condemnation, there is plenty to fear for those Christians who walk like fools and not according to love—let us take heed.
16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
1Timothy 4:1-5 is a striking, thought provoking text:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
Note verse 16 in context of 1Timothy 1-5. Flaunting of liberty can actually cause the good things created by God to be spoken of as evil. And in fact, if you make the good things of God controversial, you are paving the way for that to happen. Hence, in the company of the unconvinced,
22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
Yes, liberty can become reason for self-condemnation—this should be avoided at all cost. Also, the primary work of the kingdom is much more than a matter of what we eat and drink. Of course, there are many other issues that can be added to this issue. I recently heard about a church split over the recognition of Halloween, and whether or not the church would display what some refer to as a “Baal tree” during Christmas. Remember verse 5 from last week and contentions over…
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Again, as stated in verse 18, both parties serve God, and therefore, verse 19, both should seek what edifies and builds up. Controversy over opinions does not build up. There needs to be room given for everyone to be convinced in their own mind and reinforced with a clear conscience.
20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Verses 20-22 make a nice summary that we have no need to expound on further, but a point needs to be made on verse 23. Those who succumb to peer-pressure and eat when they have doubt as to whether it is sin or not have in fact sinned. Actions that don’t come from a convinced mind free from doubt do not proceed from faith. I think this is the double minded person that James wrote about.
This is an interesting definition of faith; apparently, faith is what we are convinced of. When in doubt, it is probably best to error on the side of safety and wait until we are convinced with a clear conscience. We see the connection now between faith, love, and obedience.
And, the importance of sound teaching. Faith is founded on the things we become sure of in Scripture, and obedience/love flow from that.
Next week, on to verse one of chapter 15.
If every verse in the Bible is not about justification, but Protestants believe that, and they do, this will redefine the Bible from cover to cover, and it does. The result is a completely upside down gospel.
For example, the internet placard that inspired this post. How does it define “grace”? Obviously, it defines grace as Christians not getting the punishment they deserve from the “righteous demands of the law.” This “mercy” “guides” you to obedience. But what “obedience”? Well, let me quote the pastor of the person who posted the placard: “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”
“You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.” What does that mean in conjunction with “mercy” leading us to this “obedience.” And, do Christians still need “mercy”? According to Protestantism, “yes.” I understand that some Protestants understand this to mean that we are motivated by God’s mercy when we don’t get the punishment that we deserve, but that is a watered down version of the authentic Protestant gospel. And anyway, true Christians no longer need mercy because we are no longer under condemnation; there is “no condemnation” for Christians. But more on the significance of that later.
The crux of the placard and the idea that Christians still need grace is well defined by some comments that were posted in regard to the placard. It starts with the idea that “grace” is synonymous with biblical justification or salvation. And since we still need “mercy” from the law as Christians, we must know how to obtain this mercy leading to keeping the law by not keeping the law. The endeavor is twofold, and exemplified in the following aforementioned comments:
MERCY is when judgement is constrained, and hence is what is being illustrated in this story by the officer letting you off the hook. But GRACE is not that judgement was constrained, but that it was conferred! It’s the picture of the officer, though acknowledging that you were guilty of trespassing the speed limit, determines that he’ll let you go on the premise that he PAID the ticket for you!
What if the police officer decided to jump in the car with you. So every time you drove he’s sitting next to you and just keeps saying don’t worry about speeding I have fulfilled that law. [Viz, I kept the law for you] I’ll whisper to your heart and let you know if you are heading towards the speed limit. I just want to sit and chat with you and get to know you so well that you never ever want to speed again. Because you are forgiven and I love you.
If you think these are armchair theologians, think again. What they are saying is a mirror image of how two heavyweight Protestant theologians stated it in the following video:
What’s the idea here? Since Christians still need mercy from the righteous demands of the law, they must continually receive it by returning to the same gospel that saved them. “Grace” is defined as justification/salvation, so obviously, we must continually return to the same gospel that saved us. To most professing Christians in our day, the idea that Christians still need grace and mercy is a no-brainer and is pontificated with the often-heard, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”
What is that gospel? It is twofold as exhibited by the two comments. Christ died for our sins which takes care of the penalty of sin (first comment), and then He kept the law perfectly so that His righteousness (perfect obedience) can be imputed to our Christian life. Therefore, as Christians, we continually go back to the salvation well for forgiveness and a righteousness that is not our own. That’s how we keep the law by not keeping the law: Jesus keeps it/kept it for us. The same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you.
Why is this an egregious false gospel? First, we are not under the law for justification. There is no law for Jesus to keep for us. Jesus didn’t come to keep the law for us, He came to end the law… for Justification (Romans 10:4). The fulfilling of the law by Christ does not refer to Him keeping the law perfectly so that His obedience can be imputed to our sanctification.
And “grace” is NOT justification or salvation. “Grace” defines why God saved man; it’s an act of love that expects nothing in return, and of course, we need this same kind of love in our Christian lives, but that doesn’t make our sanctification a progression or specific expression of justification. The love of God is not applied to justification in the exact same way it is applied to our Christian lives (sanctification). Grace, as the reason God justified us (His unmerited love) expects nothing in return because man is utterly unable to justify himself.
However, God also displays His love (“grace” also means “help”) in regard to the purpose for which he saved us: good works…that we actually do in order to please Him. God doesn’t love Himself through us—we are not mere conduits from which God loves Himself; we in fact love God or we do not belong to Him. God’s love towards man in justification has a different application in sanctification. In the former man is completely helpless, in the latter man needs help. Both expressions of love are “grace.”
This is demonstrated by Ephesians 2:8-10…
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Grace, or charis, is a Greek word that means “a joyful benevolence.” Actually, the word has a wide variance of applications including, “favor,” “love,” “help,” “dignity,” etc. To define “grace” as synonymous with salvation is inaccurate; grace is the reason God saves, but it is also the reason God does many other things as well. Grace is also the reason that God is our advocate, comforter, co-laborer, and helper in our Christian life. In regard to our Christian life (sanctification), these words are used interchangeably (Heb 13:6, Jn 14:16 Rom 8:26).
Note verse 8: grace is the reason God saved us (John 3:16), but salvation is “the gift.” It is not the result of “works” (v.9), but the result of grace. This is where we have a radical dichotomy between justification (gift) and sanctification (reward). The two are mutually exclusive, and “grace” does not bridge the two. Gift and reward are mutually exclusive. In fact, Hebrews 6:10 says that God would be “unjust” to forget our works in sanctification. Why? Because our works in sanctification is an earned reward that deserves to be recognized. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from that passage.
The word for “works” in verse 9 is ergon which according to Greek scholar Spiros Zodhiates “stands in direct antithesis” to charis (grace) and the two words are “mutually exclusive” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMG Int. 1992, p.1469). Yet, verse 10 indicates that good “ergon” or works is the purpose of salvation. Salvation is caused by grace, but works is the purpose of salvation. This is why justification and sanctification are mutually exclusive and not bridged by grace. One result of grace is the gift of salvation while the result of the other is reward. Gift and reward cannot be intermingled.
The type and kind of works were predetermined, but we are responsible to “walk” in them with God’s help. In justification, God is a savior; in sanctification, God is a “helper.”
Notice how the professing Christians of our day are obsessed with SIN. Because we are still supposedly under law and need the same “grace” that saved us, our Christianity is obsessed with failure and our dire need for more and more mercy. Life is lived under the cloud of the law, and the focus is how often the holy policemen in the sky does not write a ticket of condemnation.
A pity, because we are not under law and are rather under grace which means we seek to obey God’s law in love. The focus isn’t failure so that we can supposedly glorify God by returning to the foot of the cross, the focus is love which “covers a multitude of sin” (1Pet 4:8). We would sin a lot less if our focus was love, not the expectation of failure under the heavy burden of the law. We are not under the law of sin and death, we are under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). We strive to obey that law in love as the primary focus of our life; we dwell on love, not sin.
Moreover, if we glory in more and more mercy that saves us from the law that we are supposedly still under, that will result in a relaxing (lyō) of the law in sanctification that Christ warned us about (Matt 5:19) because after all, we can’t keep it perfectly anyway.
As Christians, our sin is family sin against our Father and can bring chastisement, but it is not sin under the condemnation of the law that requires a return to the same “grace” that saved us. That’s a false gospel. That’s under law, NOT under grace.
So, you do in fact keep the law by keeping the law, because that’s love.
The begging of the question has a sound Scriptural argument.
This ministry has made much of the critical importance of separating justification (salvation) and sanctification (growth in holiness, or kingdom living). The Reformed (Calvin/Luther Reformation doctrine/gospel) “never separate, but distinct” doublespeak doesn’t cut it in the arena of truth, and we will see why. “Never separate” =’s false gospel. If you get a little lost in the first part of my argument which gives the lay of the land, don’t worry, when I get into the specific Scriptural argument, it will clear things up and make it all come together for you. It must delight the ghosts of the Reformation that the argument has always been in the arena of freewill verses predestination. It’s the primary thrust of this ministry to change that argument. This isn’t a quibbling about semantics in the mainstream—this is about the truth of the gospel. As New Calvinist Russ Kennedy once thundered from the pulpit in his mousy voice: “Any separation of justification and sanctification is an abomination!” I have often argued from the standpoint of this issue. If sanctification is the middle of the Reformed “golden chain of salvation” then sanctification is part of finishing justification. This means that what happens in sanctification determines whether or not justification is properly finished. What’s a chain? John Piper even preached a message about the eternal importance of our contribution to the “links” in just the right way. In essence, sanctification becomes a spiritual minefield. This is exactly the same thing that the Reformed crowd has always accused Rome of: the fusing together of justification and sanctification. However, as we shall see, they are both guilty of the exact same heresy/false gospel. As we shall see, both teach that sanctification finishes justification. This is a linear gospel (one unified chain from salvation to resurrection (glorification) versus a parallel gospel with salvation on one plane as a finished work before the foundation of the world, and kingdom living that runs parallel with the finished work and reflects the reality of our salvation until glorification. Typical in the linear gospel is the idea that Christ died for all of our past sins, but we must now finish the work (with the Holy Spirit’s help [sanctified works salvation]) until glorification when we are completely transformed into complete holiness. This is the often-heard bemoaning of “Christ PLUS something.” An excellent example is some strains of Freewill Baptists who teach that Christ died for all of our past sins, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we must confess and repent of every sin we commit until the resurrection, e.g., Christ plus salvation by repentant prayer for sins committed after we are “saved.” My grandparents were saved out of this tradition. When my grandfather asked my grandmother if she thought that God could ever forgive him of all the sins he committed, she answered: “Yes, but you are going to have to pray awful hard!” Praise God that through the ministry of several individuals my grandparents eventually abandoned that gospel for the true one of salvation by faith alone as a finished work. Likewise, Rome teaches that you must let the Catholic Church finish your justification through ritual, e.g., Christ plus Catholic ritual. The Reformation gospel is also Christ plus something else, but the something else is ever-so-subtle. In both cases, sin must be dealt with in sanctification in order for the saint to remain justified until the final judgment. In other words, the righteous standard of justification must be maintained on our behalf. Like all other proponents of a linear gospel, the Reformed crowd contends that anything less than the perfection demanded of the law (“all sin is transgression of the law”) is “legal fiction.” So both Rome and the Reformers agree: justification must be maintained by sanctification, and in the case of the Reformers specifically, they believe that the perfect standard of the law must be maintained until glorification; otherwise, our justification is “legal fiction.” Here is where Reformed subtlety is uncanny: Christ keeps the law for us in sanctification. He maintains the perfect standard. All the fruit of sanctification (obedience/good works) flows from the life He lived on Earth and His death on the cross. Christ plus the works of Christ to finish salvation. “But Paul, what in the world is wrong with that?!” Here is what is wrong with it: works are still required to maintain justification. That is a huge problem, even if it is Christ doing the work. What did the Hebrew writer say about Christ’s work for justification not being complete? And even more subtle is the following Reformed idea: believing that the law is no longer a standard for maintaining justification is antinomianism. Antinomianism =’s legal fiction. Their definition of antinomianism is the removal of the law from justification as the standard for maintaining it. Traditionally, among Biblicists, antinomianism is the removal of the law from sanctification, and herein lays even further steroidal subtlety: the Reformed theologians would refute a removal of the law from sanctification as well, not only because they think justification and sanctification are the same thing, but because its perfect keeping is required to maintain a true declaration of the just that is not “legal fiction.” However, the Biblicist believes that the law is a standard for kingdom living and is no longer a standard for justification. Therefore, if we attempt to obey it with the Holy Spirit’s help, and to please/serve the Lord, it can have no bearing on our just state. While the Biblicists think they are therefore joint contenders with the Reformers against antinomianism, such is far from the truth. The Reformed mind believes the Biblicist is either a legalist or an antinomian, or both. The Biblicist is supposedly an antinomian because he/she has removed the law from justification as a just standard, or is a legalist because they think they should strive to keep the law in sanctification. Since sanctification finishes justification’s perfect standard of law keeping, our “own” attempts to keep the law in sanctification is an attempt to finish justification. Hence, what the Biblicist fails to understand is the Reformers belief that Christ must maintain the law for us in sanctification because justification and sanctification are not separate. Anything more or less is supposedly works salvation. On the other hand, because it is vital that Christ obeys the law for us in sanctification, the likes of John Piper and Tullian Tchividjian contend that those who are really preaching the Reformed gospel will indeed be accused of antinomianism. All in all, their position is easy to see if you pay attention. John Piper and many other Calvinists often state that, “Good works are the fruit of justification.” And, “Justification is the root, and sanctification is the fruit.” Well, the average Biblicist then thinks, “Yes, but of course, our salvation makes good works in sanctification possible.” But that’s not what they are saying. If you pay closer attention, they are saying that justification is a tree that produces its own fruit. Justification is the root, and whatever happens in true sanctification is the fruit of the root of the justification tree. Problem is, justification doesn’t grow. Justification is a finished work. What Calvinists refer to as “progressive sanctification” is really the fruit of the root: progressive justification. Another name for this that they throw around is “definitive sanctification.” The word “definitive” refers back to the definite completion of justification. Revision: this ministry now rejects the idea that orthodoxy is truth; orthodoxy is the traditions of men. Never in Scripture do we find premise for a body of teaching that explains the teaching. The above illustration is valuable for demonstrating that the fruit of justification is glorification, NOT sanctification. This brings us to the Scriptural argument which begins with a question I asked myself just this morning: “Paul, you are always harping about the crucial importance of the separation of justification and sanctification—a parallel gospel versus a linear one. But where does the Bible say specifically that this is critical?” First, the very definition of a lost person in the Bible is one who is “under the law”:
Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 1 Corinthians 9:20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? Romans 7:2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Romans 7:3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
The unsaved are “under the law” and will be judged by it in the end. This is the very definition of the unsaved. Calvinists define Christians the same way—we are supposedly still under the law and will be judged by it in the end. That’s why Christ must keep the law for us—because we are still under it. If not this position, why do many in the Reformed tradition hold to the idea that Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to our sanctification? His death justifies us, and His perfect life sanctifies us. Hence, His death pays the penalty for past sins, and then His perfect life imputed to our sanctification keeps us justified. Why would an imputation to our sanctification be necessary if we are no longer under the law? This is known as the Reformed view of “double imputation” and has been called out as heresy by many respected theologians for this very reason: it implies that Christians are still under the law. In regard to sustaining the law in our stead, why? It has been totally abolished in regard to our just standing:
Romans 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
The keeping of the law by anybody DOES NOT do anything to justify mankind:
Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Here is where the separation of justification and sanctification is vital on this first point: we ARE NOT under the law for justification, but rather UPHOLD THE LAW in sanctification. The two must be separate because of the differing relationships to the law:
Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Furthermore, if we are still under the law (whether or not Christ obeys it for us to keep us in a just standing), this means we are still under the power of sin. Being under the law and also under its spell to provoke sin in the unregenerate is spoken of as being synonymous in the Bible. Those who are “under the law” are also under the power of sin and enslaved to it:
Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. Romans 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 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. Romans 7:8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
If we are still under the law, and will be judged by it, whether or not Christ stands in the judgment for us with His own works, we are still enslaved to sin by virtue of being under the law…. for justification. And Calvinists know this to be true, that’s why they say we are still…. what? Right, even as Christians, “totally depraved.” And, “enemies of God.” Of course, throughout the Bible, Christians are spoken of as being friends of God and no longer His enemies. Our status as enemies of God is stated in the past tense. But the Reformed crew continually state that Christians are vile enemies of God and are enslaved to sin. They realize that this goes hand in hand with being under the law. To the contrary, dying to the law in the death of Christ….for justification—sets us free to be enslaved to the righteousness that is defined by the law. We are dead to the law for justification and alive to obey truth….for sanctification:
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. Romans 8:3,4 [emphasis by author] For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,….in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Romans 9:31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. James 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
So, that is the separation that must be for the true Christian: Justification has no law for which we are judged, and we live by the law of blessings in sanctification. This brings us to another important separation in the two: the judgments. Those under the law and sin will stand in a final judgment which will be according to the law. Again, because Calvinists believe that we are still under the law, albeit that Christ obeyed/obeys it for us, Christians will supposedly stand in the same judgment as the damned who are under the law and enslaved to it. At that time, the children of God, according to Calvinists, will be “made manifest.” But because Christians are not under the law and cannot be judged by it, they will stand in a judgment for rewards and not a judgment that determines a perfect keeping of the law by Christ in our stead. Hence, there will be two different resurrections: one for those under the law and another for those under grace, and two different judgments for the same two groups. One for rewards, and one to determine if those under the law kept it perfectly. The latter judgment doesn’t go well for any standing in it.
Luke 14:12-14 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” [Notice that this is a resurrection for the “just.” They are already determined to be just before they are resurrected]. 2Corinthians 5:9,10 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 1Corintians 3:11-15 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Don’t let anyone tell you that eschatology is a “secondary” or “nonessential” consideration. Your eschatology is your gospel. It will state your position regarding whether or not you fuse justification and sanctification together; ie, likening Christians to those under the law.
Yet another vital difference in sanctification and justification is repentance. Repentance for salvation (when you are justified) is different from our repentance in sanctification. Among many in the Reformed tradition where the “same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you,” the repentance is the same. Repentance unto salvation is not a onetime “washing,” but rather a means to continue “in the gospel” through what they call “deep repentance.” Biblicism holds to repentance in sanctification that restores his/her fellowship and communion with God as His children. They would see repentance unto salvation as differing, and only necessary for salvation—a onetime decision to take one’s life in a new direction by following Christ, and believing in his death, burial, and resurrection. Reformed repentance, according to the likes of Paul David Tripp and others is a “daily rescue.” Our original repentance was for rescue, and we need rescue today as much as we needed rescue when we were saved. Again, this indicates their belief that we are still under the curse of the law and need to be continually rescued from it while remaining under the bondage of sin. However, Christ made it clear to Peter (John 13:6-11) that those who have been washed (1Corinthians 6:11, Romans 8:30) do not need another washing. Those who drink of the living water do not thirst again (John 4:13,14). Lastly, though many other separations could be discussed, why saints can be considered just while they still sin at times is of paramount importance. There is no sin in our justification because there is no law, and where there is no law, there is no sin. Though unfortunate, there can be sin in our sanctification because it is totally separate from justification and can’t affect our just standing with God. Basically, all of the aforementioned makes it of necessity to deny the new birth. If we have God’s seed in us, and we do (1John 3:9), that dispels total depravity, and without total depravity, justification and sanctification cannot be fused together. The new birth is a huge problem for Reformed theology. If the old man that was under the law is dead (Romans 7:1ff), and the seed of God is in the saved person, and the sin due to our weakness in the flesh cannot be laid to our account for justification, then our justification is not “legal fiction” because we do not exhibit perfect obedience to the law. This is another grave consideration because Christ said, “You must be born again.” Obviously, despite their denials that they deny the new birth—you can’t be both totally depraved and born again. Reformation doctrine is clearly a false gospel. Its version of justification does not void the law, and denies the new birth while distorting everything in-between. Freewill verses predestination is hardly the issue, the very gospel itself is the issue.
As one crawling out of the present Protestant Dark Age, a focus on sanctification rather than keeping myself saved by not working has revealed a disease that infects all Protestants: Noanswerosis (pronounced no-anser-osis).
This is a word that joins, no—answer—osis. When a Protestant is “saved,” their brain is immediately infected with this disease. In fact, contemporary terms that refer to the Protestant gospel state such explicitly.
The subjective power of an objective gospel.
The objective gospel.
The centrality of the objective gospel outside of us.
Definitive justification experienced subjectively.
What are these terms saying? Well, these are contemporary terms that define the foundational document of the Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order (1518). Luther’s 95 Theses was a moral disputation, his Heidelberg Disputation defined the worldview of the Reformation and was penned about 6 months after the 95 Theses. John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion further defines Luther’s foundational premise.
What’s the gist of it all? First, God is completely sovereign over everything. Reality is a movie produced and scripted by God. History is a meta-narrative, or metaphysical narrative prewritten by God. Also, this movie (reality) is a 3D movie and requires special glasses in order to see it.
In other words, without the 3D glasses the movie (reality) will be blurred and distorted. And, the 3D glasses are…the gospel. All of reality, according to authentic Reformed ideology, is a gospel story. Seeing yourself in the role of how it all plays out as a mere character in a prewritten play is a matter of faith. If you see yourself as in control of anything, you are making yourself God and attempting to write your own reality.
Therefore, the gospel is the only reality that is…objective. EVERYTHING in life that happens is part of the gospel narrative, or… “his-story” (history).
So, how in the world does this supposedly work in real life? Before we get to that, let’s discuss the immense benefits from seeing reality in this way. Basically, there is no use in getting stressed out about anything because it is just all a prewritten narrative by God that you have no control over. In some sense, more accurately, in a big way, you can step back and separate yourself from what is going on in the world. Don’t worry—be happy. There is no need to get upset about an event, it’s all part of God’s gospel narrative that helps us in seeing reality more clearly.
Stop right there. That’s key. The goal is more seeing. There is a reason for this madness; what else but the primary goal of all philosophies? Happiness or joy or wellbeing or peace or however else you want to frame it. “Faith” is defined as SEEING ONLY. In Luther’s construct, ALL doing is part of the material world and inherently evil. If you can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it, or DO it—it’s evil, period.
Seeing life more and more as a prewritten narrative that glorifies the gospel that you have no role in leads to more and more wellbeing. Hey, no matter what happens, to God be the glory. Every life event says something about the gospel. Actually, there is a specific interpretive paradigm, or if you will, the 3D glasses: “The holiness of God as set against the sinfulness of man.” Every life event lends more understanding to the depths of our own depravity versus the holiness of God. When something good happens to us “worms crawling upon the earth” (Calvin), that’s grace, that’s astounding mercy. When something bad happens, we are merely getting what we deserve.
That’s life, but what about the Bible? The Bible is an aid in seeing our depravity more and more and God’s holiness more and more. The Bible is the script of the gospel narrative. According to the Reformed academics that really understand Reformed ideology, the Bible is a gospel narrative that displays the fundamental narratives that play out in life. When you read the Bible, it is therefore your story also as seen in narrative archetypes.
So, a life of faith is really about seeing only, all of the doing has been predetermined by God. This is how we live our lives by faith alone; life is seeing and not doing. The doing is ONLY EXPERIENCED.
Now we are getting into how this philosophy actually functions in real life, supposedly that is. Pretty much, go ahead and live out your life… and here it comes… “subjectively.” This is an affirmation that everything you do is evil, even your good works, and you really have no way of knowing whether it is you doing the work or God. Take note: in understanding this philosophy, it is important to distinguish between personal works and what happens in reality. Everything that happens is predetermined by God as part of His prewritten historical narrative. But, how we see or perceive life events determines whether we are living by faith or not. There must be a distinction between actual events and perception.
Bible study, or teaching in general is focused on perception, and then we go about living our lives subjectively. Yes, we make an effort to live life, but in our effort to live life we confess that it is a subjective experience. What does that mean? Luther split subjective life into two categories: venial sin and mortal sin. If we believe that we can do a good work, that’s mortal sin. If we confess that even our good works are evil, that’s venial sin. Life is subjective because when we see our works in the world, we have no way of knowing whether it is God doing the work through us or ourselves doing a work…and you hear this often… “in our own efforts.” All of the incessant moaning you hear in church over “works done in our own efforts” is right out of the Heidelberg Disputation.
The Reformed have three schools of thought in regard to how the subjective life works. Theory one states that the subjective life of faith is a combination of manifestation and our actual works. Manifestation is realm manifestation. This is when the invisible realm births an event in the material realm. It is like the rain. You feel the rain, you experience the rain, but you have no control over the rain. The rain comes from heaven—you didn’t make it rain, you only experience the rain. This school holds to the idea that it is impossible to distinguish between our actual efforts and realm birthing, or realm manifestation. As long as the person believes that everything that he/she does is evil, and anything good that happened came from God—that’s venial sin and will be forgiven IF we confess that our good works are evil. It is a subjective life because we have no way of knowing what our works are and what the Spirit’s works are. We only confess that if anything we experience is actually a good work, we didn’t do it.
The second school is John Calvin’s Sabbath Rest Sanctification paradigm. If all of our works are sanctified by contemplation on the gospel, ie., our sinfulness as set against God’s holiness, we will be less tempted by our “good” works. In other words, we will be less tempted towards mortal sin—the belief that we actually did a good work. This is closely related to the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. The more we contemplate the gospel, the more we are able to see that anything in our life that appears to be a good work is a work that flows from the gospel event. This is also connected to the Reformed doctrine of double imputation. Christ came to fulfil the law so that His obedience to the law during the time He lived on earth can be imputed to our lives by faith alone. So, if we experience any good work in our life and believe it is a manifestation of Christ’s obedience imputed to us—we are under venial sin and not mortal sin.
Venial sin is forgivable, but we must be faithful to the institutional church and return to the same gospel that saved us in order to receive a reapplication of Christ’s penal substitution and righteous obedience. They use 1John 1:9 and other Scriptures as a proof text for this doctrine. A perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us keeps us in the “vital union” with Christ which is yet another Reformed soteriological doctrine.
The third school emphasizes the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification. This doctrine encompasses the other two schools as well. Its contemporary expression is John Piper’s Christian Hedonism. This is also the official Reformed definition of the new birth. The new birth is mortification and vivification. Mortification entails a focus on our sinfulness and wormism. This is the death part of our baptism. This results in resurrection, or vivification. This is the resurrection part of our baptism. As we see the gospel narrative more deeply, we experience the joy of vivification in a deeper and deeper way. Seeing the depths of our sinfulness as set against God’s holiness (mortification) leads to a deeper and deeper experience of joy in our Christian lives (vivification). Hence, the new birth is not a onetime event in the Christians life, the Christian must continually return to the new birth process that leads to the ultimate goal of a joyful Christian life. Question. In the final analysis, is this not a rejoicing in evil that Paul stated as an antithesis of love?
Therefore, believing that the new birth is a onetime event assumes Christians move on to something else other than the gospel which also assumes Christians can do good works. That’s mortal sin. Also, a literal interpretation of the Bible assumes that biblical commands can be obeyed by the believer, that is also mortal sin according to Reformed ideology. This means that a grammatical historical view of the Bible is conducive to mortal sin while the historical redemptive view of Scripture keeps the “believer” under the auspices of forgivable venial sin.
This all translates into a dramatic devaluing of wisdom for living life in an effective way. This is what has been going on for hundreds of years. Obviously, answers are not the point or anywhere in the ballpark of life. Answers are not merely in the back seat—they aren’t even in the car. The only answer for an unfixable life is to be “joyful no matter what your circumstances are.”
This is where Noanswerosis comes from. What are the symptoms? When you counsel someone and give them solid answers from the Scriptures, they just sit there and look at you dumfounded. They will actually depart without acknowledging that the conversation actually happened. As Protestants, we are so accustomed to not having answers that the answers are now paralyzing us. It’s Noanswerosis.
Noanswerosis is caused by believing that having answers is mortal sin and applying the answers will condemn you to hell. Now you better understand where the Bible is coming from. Faith is not just seeing—it’s doing (see James). Happiness does not come from mere seeing—the blessing is IN the doing (James 1:25). Seeing only is a life built upon sand, a life of having answers and applying them is a life built upon a rock.
We have the answers, let’s keep learning and putting what we learn into practice while it is still daylight for the darkness is coming when no man can work.
Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.”
How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.
If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, email@example.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson.
Ok, so this whole idea that is very Protestant that we must keep going back to the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. But, it’s all good because we are going back to the “gospel” and the “gospel” is by faith alone so going back to the gospel is a faith alone work which isn’t really a work. So, it’s ok to do something to keep ourselves saved as long as it’s a faith alone work.
As we discussed last week, here is where the home fellowship movement stands apart from the institutional church: salvation is a finished work; salvation is NOT a progression from point A to point B. The new birth is a onetime instantaneous quickening of the believer. The believer then in fact does move on to something completely different—kingdom living, or discipleship. Central to Protestantism is the idea that moving on from the gospel to doctrinal maturity is an abomination. The who’s who of Protestantism can be cited many times in stating this in no uncertain terms.
The home fellowship movement is not a mere preference over the institutional church—it is an anti-progressive justification movement. It is a return to the true gospel of Christ. All of the institutional church either embraces progressive justification or is willing to fellowship with it and is therefore altogether guilty.
Last week, we also introduced the fact that 1John must be interpreted according to its historical context. The number one nemesis of the 1st century assemblies was Gnosticism and 1John is a treatise against it. We covered John’s introduction which was a direct pushback against the Gnostic idea that the spiritual Christ did not die on the cross. We believe that John was specifically addressing the Gnostic teachings of Cerinthus. He taught that there was more than one Christ; one born naturally of human parents that will be resurrected with all other men in the last days, and the spiritual Christ who dwells in heaven. Elsewhere, John wrote:
1John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
The very definition of antichrist teachings is the denial that the true Christ (Messiah) was part of the material world, or actually came in the flesh. Gnostic systems of thought are very complex, but the cardinal principle is that material is evil and the spiritual or invisible is good.
The important distinction is that biblically, the material creation is not inherently evil, but weak. This is an important distinction because Christ coming as man makes it possible for men to be literally recreated and part of God’s literal family. The teaching that “denies Jesus is the Christ” (Messiah: 1Jn 2:22) circumvents the new birth. Throughout this epistle, John refers to the recipients as “little offsprings”(teknion; little children). I want to dig into this a little deeper; the new birth and its relationship to apostolic succession, but first, let me address the crux issue here.
John was also addressing an aspect of Gnosticism that believed the following: sin only resides in the material, and the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned. In essence, it doesn’t matter what we do in the body because the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned, and that is the only part of man that is eternal anyway. Many scholars concur that this was a common form of Gnosticism. Of course, this disavows any need for Christ to die on the cross and makes the knowledge of this supposed lie salvation itself. Salvation by being made into something new is out—coming to grips with the gnosis regarding man’s inner spark of divinity is in. This backdrop now explains exactly what John was getting at in 1John 1:7-10 and 2:1,2.
1John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1John 2:1 – My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
“We” in these verses should be viewed as speaking to mankind in general while including both saved and unsaved individuals. Recognizing that Christ came to deal with man’s sin problem is efficacious to the gospel.
John is NOT stating the Protestant gospel of “deep repentance” which teaches that we keep ourselves saved (or washed) via a “lifestyle of repentance.” That would be a perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us for relief from “present sin.” That flies in the face of biblical justification. This makes “if” in these verses a conditional conjunction. That would mean that our sins continue to be forgiven, or washed, or cleansed “if” we “walk in the light” and continue to repent. That’s clearly works salvation, and clearly a reapplication of Christ’s sacrifice to present sin. As actually taught in Protestant circles, the sacrifice only happened once, but the remembrance of it continues to cleanse present and future sins.
This is the whole deal behind, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” and the vital union doctrine. Living a “lifestyle of repentance” or deep repentance “keeps us in the love of Jesus.” This is salvation by Jesus + deep repentance to keep ourselves saved. The Reformed say, “No, it’s not works because repentance is a faith alone work,” but not even a so-called faith alone work can keep you born again—you can’t unborn yourself by not doing something. Look, here is the money point on all of this: the needed present and future forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant institutional church via baptism/formal membership. And we will be addressing that a little further along.
One of the many problems with this is, in regard to believers, follows: in order for present sin to exist, there has to be a law, and the blood of Christ ended the law—it’s a onetime cleansing. To have some need to reapply the blood of Christ to present sin implies that there is still sin, and there is not because where there is no law—there is no sin, and Christ died on the cross to end the law. This fact is found in Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:8, 10:4.
Some insist that John’s context here is fellowship, and since fellowship is the context, John is writing about repentance that is necessary to keep us in proper family relationship with God, and not a repentance that keeps us in the family of God; ie., John is talking about sanctification and not justification. Frankly, that’s the view that I used to hold to as well.
But John is talking about the onetime cleansing that justifies. Note that throughout these verses that it is a forgiveness that cleanses from “all sin” and “all unrighteousness.” That has to be justification. What John is saying is that no matter who you are in humanity, you have need to be forgiven of sin by believing that Jesus is the Christ and died for you. Note the subjects of these verses: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
However, John is also saying that this fact doesn’t give us a license to sin any more than the Gnostics, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But watch this: “But if anyone does sin, we [everyone] have an advocate with the Father.” Ok John, an advocate for what purpose? Answer: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Who are the subjects? It’s obvious who the subjects are.
If this isn’t speaking to a onetime cleansing of sin, the world doesn’t need the new birth any more than Christians—they only need to ask forgiveness so the blood of Christ will be applied to the particular sin. Not only that, the new birth is also disavowed through the denial of a new creaturehood displayed by people who have passed from death to life. And John is speaking directly towards this issue as well. You see, who the “we” are and what the “if” is—is critical to interpreting these verses properly. The “we” are the “anyone.” The “if” is a cause and effect conjunction and not a conditional conjunction.
And let me tell you something, Protestant theologians rarely have any qualms about saying that God’s promises are conditional. I mean, what’s the paramount example? Replacement theology/supersessionism, right? This whole idea that Israel’s election was conditional on them holding up their end of the covenant. I just don’t know what can be more obvious, and this is their exact take on justification as well.
This is the crux. John is saying that if we walk in the light, it’s because we have been born again, not that we keep ourselves born again if we do our part by walking in the light. Walking in the light is not our part of the so-called vital union, we walk in the light because that’s what new creatures do; cows like hay and ducks like water—it’s a cause and effect conjunction not a conditional conjunction.
Now, here is where we really struggle with these verses: in verse 7, the English word in the plural strongly suggests a present continuous action. Verse 9 really isn’t that much of a problem as it’s merely saying that anyone that confesses their sin is cleansed of all unrighteousness. Note the following verse 10 that can be rendered this way: “If we say we have not [never] sinned.” The English “ed’ on the end of sin indicates past tense like, “I sinned.” That’s past tense. If John is speaking to the present continuance, why would he have not written, “if we say that we do not sin.” Right? Verse 9 simply fits into the Gnostic motif that John was arguing against.
Neither is 1John 2:1, 2 a problem. John is simply stating that anyone who recognizes their sin and wants to do something about it has an advocate in Christ who cleanses all sin. And by the way, the rest of John’s letter backs up my Pauline argument to the hilt. Just, all over the place in the rest of the letter, for example,
1John 3:3 – 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.
He came to “take away sin,” not to cover it with His own righteousness and to continue to forgive it. Christ came to end sin altogether. Are we “in Christ”? Well, in Him there is NO sin. So if we are in Him, why would we need forgiveness for present or future sin in regard to justification? In 1John 2:12-14, forgiveness of sin and overcoming the evil one is spoken of in the past tense.
The only matter at hand is the word “cleanses” in verse 7. Let me point something out to you. Most of the English translations that we have come out of the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, and there are myriads of examples of this, the translations are tainted with progressive justification presuppositions. And unfortunately, this includes the Greek word-study helps. Here is something I read in one:
Every encounter with a command to obey, is our opportunity to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural commands from the supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don’t let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His help is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of a little “push” so to speak.
See the problem? You can know the Greek backwards and forwards, but what good does it do if “help” doesn’t mean “help”? Look, what good have all of the Protestant Greek scholars done for us? I came to realize the problem of progressive justification by my own independent study in Romans. The basic concept easily understood regardless of the language, “where there is no law there is no sin.” That statement astounded me, but was the key to unraveling the whole mystery. Once you understand that fundamental, the rest of the Bible, when taken in context, fits together perfectly in every way. How much did any knowledge of Greek aid me in this understanding? Nada. Goose egg. Zilch. Loco zippo.
Greek can be confirming, and helpful, but the Bible is written in definitive structures that mean the same thing in all languages and that is no accident. You can translate the fact that Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin, any way you want to—it’s going to mean the same thing in any language. Then you start seeing where the concept fits together with everything else in the Bible which enables you to nail down what the anomalies are. And a lot of the anomalies are bias towards a certain worldview.
Notice in the example I gave there is no room given for an authentic colaboring between us and the Holy Spirit. It is either all us or all of the Holy Spirit. My friends, that is the Protestant redemptive-historical worldview to a T and it is fundamentally Gnostic in its premise. Hence, when you use Greek word-study helps, you are often dealing with the same bias. This is why I eventually threw away my Kenneth Wuest expanded New Testament translation. I started seeing clear bias in how he processed the Greek verbs and I was totally done with him at that point.
I spent the better part of yesterday researching 1John 1:7 and the word “cleanses” therein. We know from biblical context that this verse cannot be saying that the one sacrifice of Christ continues to rewash us IF we continue to walk in the light; ie., Protestantism. And let me give you the thumbnail: if you remain faithful to the institutional church and its sacraments/ordinances, that keeps you saved. Even if the Greek usage indicates a present continual action there is no way to distinguish that from the simple reality of being washed once and remaining clean thereafter. In other words, there is no way to definitively distinguish between two intents: a required reapplication to reinstate a status or an unchanged status that continues in the same state without any further action.
Though “cleanses” appears to be some kind of continuing action in the ESV version of 1John 1:7 as well as many other versions, we know that this same cleansing of regeneration is clearly stated as a onetime final act in many, many other Bible passages. For example,
1Corinthians 6:11- And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Ok, you have “were” in there four times with sinful lifestyles being in the past tense, and sanctified, justified, and “washed” being in the present tense. It is one event that happens one time and transforms us into an immutable state. Period. This is irrefutable. And by the way, if you do a New Testament word search on the exact form of the Greek word “cleanses” (other translations “cleanseth”) in 1John 1:7, it is almost always used as a onetime ceremonial cleansing.
Matthew 8:2 – And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ” Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. [Here in Mathew 8:2, the same exact form of the Greek word is used for past, present, and future tense. “Ed” is added to the English word “cleansed” to indicate past tense].
Note how Young’s Literal Translation has 1John 1:7.
and if in the light we may walk, as He is in the light — we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son doth cleanse us from every sin;
Now, not only does this simply state the fact that the blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin with a much less conditional translation, it’s interesting that the YLT picks up on something that Andy related to me yesterday in regard to the word “may”:
What is interesting is that all of the examples that John uses where he says “if” are all 3rd class conditions. All the key verbs are in the subjunctive mood.
Here is an excerpt regarding 3rd class conditions…
“The third class condition often presents the condition as uncertain of fulfillment, but still likely. There are, however, many exceptions to this…The third class condition encompasses a broad range of potentialities in Koine Greek. It depicts what is likely to occur in the future, what could possibly occur, or even what is only hypothetical and will not occur” (Wallace, p. 696).
So John is really posing a series of future hypothetical situations. Any place where it says “if” you should read it as “if ever in the future…” or “if at any time in the future…”
It would appear that this seems to be an exercise in reason using hypothetical examples to refute the gnostics that were among them in those assemblies. Notice that the present tense verbs are present tense because they are in the conclusion (apodosis) to the proposed hypothetical conditional premise (protasis). But the verbs in the premise (protasis) are in the subjunctive mood.
Also, you cannot read verse 7 without verse 6. Verse 7 is an antithetical conclusion of verse 6. In other words, you can’t properly interpret vs 7 without vs 6. In fact, notice how 7 contrasts 6, AND vs 9 contrasts vs 8 also! They are parallel arguments, and then vs 10 kind of sums it up.
This bolsters my contention that John is addressing people in general regarding the ramifications of their beliefs about sin in contrast to Gnosticism. That’s the crux here: the backdrop is the Gnosticism John is addressing. If you say that you have no sin, for whatever reason, you are making God out to be a liar. But if you confess your sin, God will cleanse you from all unrightousness. And, that will have an effect on your life because you have been cleansed. John does not hone-in on the new birth right here, but does so in chapter 3 bigtime. Really, chapter 3 clarifies exactly what is being stated in the first two chapters.
In addition, John is saying that even though those who confess their sin are cleansed of all sin, that is not a different kind of license to sin without ramifications. Hence, “…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But if you do recognize that you have sin, we have an advocate with the Father that is a propitiation for all sin, those who confess that they have sin, and those who may in the future confess that they have sin—this is what is going on in this passage. And by the way, this is another refutation of limited atonement as well.
Let me give another example that might help clarify all of this. One Reformed fellow (a disciple of Paul David Tripp) arguing against me in regard to all of this stated the following:
In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually. The substance that refreshes is the same (Christ’s salvation, in an ongoing manner)…For Calvin, the cleaning is ongoing, because there WILL be new sins, and 1 John tells us there are new sins. WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.
See the problem with not interpreting this passage in its historical context? John isn’t talking about “new sins,” he is talking about SIN period. Where is there anything stated in this passage in regard to “new sins”? What relevance does “new sins” have with the unsaved world that is one of the subjects of this passage? The unsaved have “new sins”?
Also, Christians do not have “new sins” because Christ ended the law and where there is no law there is no sin. This is exactly why the Protestant gospel keeps people under law—the whole concept of “new sin.”
In addition, notice what he states about John 4 that is a common Reformed position:
In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually.
This statement is a common smoking gun that damns Protestantism. In that passage, Jesus said that those who drink of the water will never… (what?) again? Right, they will NEVER “thirst” again. Christians may need refreshment against the weakness of the flesh, but we never need our justification to be refreshed—that’s just a blatant false gospel.
Moreover, note, “WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.” This is where the “if(s)” of 1John totally shoot Protestantism in its gospel foot. If you take this approach, the if(s) of 1John 1:7-2:2 are conditional upon confessing “new sins.” This clearly makes the cleansing of sin that makes us part of God’s family conditional. It makes the new birth conditional. “If” we don’t confess, we can be unborn.
Doesn’t it make much more sense if John is saying that we (people in general) have to recognize that men have sin in order to receive a cleansing from it? Sure it does. John is pushing back against a philosophy that taught the following: man is spirit and therefore without sin; only the material world has sin. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what people do in the body, it’s all just part of the material world that is passing away. This also rejects the new birth and its righteous lifestyle that walks in the light as Christ is in the light and there is no darkness in Him. Those who walk in the light are born of the light and they are of the light because they recognized the need to confess their sin in order to be cleansed. Hence…
John 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 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.
Next week, we are going to look at how the rest of the book of 1John fits into this Pauline soteriological schema perfectly. Why does John follow our passage at hand with a discussion of love and then the new birth? How do we get from the gospel anomaly of “new sins” to “love,” and what does that have to do with the new birth? How does all of this make walking in the light synonymous with the new birth?
See you next, and now let’s go to the phones.
In our vision for a return to the way Judeo-Christian assemblies were done for about the first 300 years, let’s look at why home fellowships can help abused women and the institutional church cannot.
I would like to use this article as a catalyst for argumentation. The article was posted (author is not clearly stated) by Anna Wood who co-authored a book with Jeff Crippen, a Reformed pastor. The book can be found here.
The post is titled, What domestic abuse victims need from the church. My contention is that abused women cannot get what they need from “the church” as demonstrated over and over and over again. In fact, clearly, as also demonstrated over and over and over again as well, the institutional church adds to the abuse and becomes a co-abuser.
Why is this? The article offers a perspective from which to answer. This issue also speaks to the differences between home fellowships and the institutional church, hereafter “the church.” In an institution, it is easy to sign on the dotted line, give at the office, and pretend. Pastors can bark from Calvin’s Geneva pulpit all they want to; all folks have to say is, “Hey, I am a member in good standing, and as often heard, humble and incompetent—it’s not my gift and I am not qualified.” Likewise, in said article, the author’s call to “get involved” is going nowhere in the church in case anyone hasn’t noticed.
To the contrary, home fellowships are comprised of people who are sick of playing church, are weary of being mere spectators, and are not looking to walk into an arena with hungry lions, but know it could lead to that. They are also confident in the Spirit-filled laity and recognize where 500 years of academic popeism has brought us. In addition, they have a literal view of reality versus the functional dualism that drives orthodoxy. What am I saying? I am saying that home fellowships have a radically different worldview than orthodoxy and this will lead to aggressive participation in all kinds of needs.
Let me further this point by using the article at hand:
Statistics say that one out of four women in the United States experience domestic abuse of some form in their lifetime. Men can also be victims of domestic abuse. When those who have suffered are members of the Lord’s church, the faithful among them have an obligation to help them. And, if we know of someone in the community who is being abused, I also believe we have an obligation to help if we can. When, for whatever reason, we shy away from this obligation, either through ignorance or willful refusal to get involved, we lay waste to the Gospel we claim to believe. Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.
What abuse victims need from their fellow Christians is pretty simple and straightforward. We need you to be Jesus to us. Do what He would do, say what He would say, were He the One ministering to us. Isn’t that what we all need from each other, anyway? Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ here on the earth and be His representative and do the works He would do. To fail in this is to fail in serving Christ.
Whoa, what a minute here! This is entirely unrealistic because of the message constantly drilled into the heads of Protestants. We are “all just sinners saved by grace.” We are, according to one prominent evangelical, “enemies of God.” According to yet another, “we hate God.” On the one hand, it is constantly drilled into the heads of those in the church that “when you are dead, you can do nothing,” but on the other hand we really think that parishioners shouldn’t think twice about getting involved in a domestic abuse situation?
First of all, getting involved in domestic violence is not “pretty simple.” Actually, it can get you killed by someone who doesn’t much appreciate your intervention. Moreover, getting the facts and evaluating the situation biblically is far from simple. Now couple that with the constant total depravity of the saints mantra heard in the church and it is little wonder that few will get involved in domestic abuse needs. The completely upside down worldview of the church makes laity involvement in domestic abuse nothing more than a pipe dream.
And, “Christians are called to defend the oppressed yet when it comes to domestic violence, so few do.” This complaint is not only a mere symptom, but is not even a symptom of the real problem. Congregants not only fail to defend the oppressed, they either turn a blind eye or defend the defender of the abusers—the church. Ever heard of SGM? Ever heard of ABWE? Ever heard of the SBC? In case you haven’t noticed, they are not only still in business, but business is booming! Why? Because regardless of what happens in the church, it is the only ticket to heaven. “What? so billions of people should go to hell because some bad things happen in the church that is made up of sinners? Well, get a grip—where there are people, there is sin!” That is in quotations because this is exactly what we hear in response to a “cry for justice.”
So far, if you are keeping notes, we have two reasons the church cannot help abused women: 1. The total depravity of the saints resulting in a few “experts” attempting to minister to a massive throng 2. Salvation is found in the institution, and therefore the institution will be defended at all cost. Better that a few suffer by themselves rather than all of humanity being sent to hell.
Before we move on to the next points, a little more clarification: why does the church defend abusers? It starts with its worldview. Without going into a lot of detail, we must first recognize that Calvin and Luther are the church’s heroes, and then recognize what their “theology of the cross” was all about. This is a philosophy that interprets all reality via the suffering of the cross. As Luther stated, “all wisdom is hidden in suffering.” Luther, as well as Calvin, split reality into two epistemologies: the cross story and the glory story. Only preordained leaders can lead the great unwashed masses in the cross story—only the preordained can save humanity from the story of man, or the glory story. As Al Mohler once said, “pastors are preordained to save God’s people from ignorance.”
However, theologians of the cross and the spiritual peasantry have something in common: we are all just sinners saved by grace. So, everything going on in the material realm is fairly insignificant—it’s just the same old sin and dance anyway. But by the same token, theologians of the cross are preordained of God and invaluable. And besides, many are icons of the institution that keep the money rolling in. Sure, you can reject this theory and opt for another one, but in the process you will drive yourself nuts trying to figure out why ABWE defended and protected Donn Ketcham until the bitter end.
Need another example among myriads? What about Jack Hyles? The guy was a mafia don dressed in Bible verses and is still a spiritual hero among many Baptists. David Hyles, Jack’s son, was also a well-respected pastor in the church who had affairs with at least 19 women and is a suspect in an unsolved murder. Yet, to the best of my knowledge to date, David Hyles is still invited to speak at Baptist conferences/churches and receives robust ovations. Jack Hyles remained in the pulpit until his death in 2001 and was succeeded by his son in law Jack Schaap who is presently in prison for statutory rape. Jack Hyles is notorious for his quip, “If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” and is still revered among many Baptists as the best preacher since the apostle Paul.
The article continues with its list of things abuse victims need from “the church.” But the thesis of this article is that the church is not only unable to supply these things, but becomes a co-abuser. In contrast, the original Christian model for fellowship is well able to help and more likely to do just that.
First on the list is “The Pure Gospel.”
The church long ago got away from the pure gospel. We water it down, mix it up and serve it with a side of fun. No wonder it doesn’t save. It can’t save. It’s poison. We need preachers dedicated to the truth of God’s Word who are willing to stand up and preach that truth without changing it one iota. We need Christians who long after righteousness. When we have that–the pure Gospel preached and lived–we’ll see more Christians helping abuse victims and we’ll see less abusers masquerading as Christians.
Uh, ok, not sure how to add to this. It’s a stunning admission while calling on the same church to do something about the problem it has created. We don’t need “preachers” to do anything. Preachers have been preaching long and hard for thousands of years and the results are evident. We need God’s people to stand up and get back to the first works of home fellowship. The laity waiting on the experts is long traveled and worthless. More of what is beginning to happen needs to happen more and more. Ordinary Spirit-filled Christians are meeting together around the word and fellowship, and seeking God’s face in this whole matter about how church is traditionally practiced. And the fact that the church is grounded in a false gospel is something I addressed in another article posted today and Friday.
Without addressing every single point in the article other than those mentioned already, let me move on to this one:
Someone to care for their needs
Do you know what keeps a lot of abused women and children with their abusers? The lack of money to leave. If a woman is trying to get herself and her children to safety, don’t spend time telling her why she’s wrong, what you think about her decision or trying to talk her out of it. She knows what it’s like to live in abuse and you don’t. Even if she stays, chances are great that she and her children need something or maybe a lot of things. Financial abuse often accompanies other types of abuse. Instead of lecturing, get busy serving and help them.
According to the first-century model, a home fellowship network would be several small groups meeting in several homes in the same geographical area. And because of freedom from massive infrastructure cost and “tithing” versus New Testament giving based on NEED only funds and resources to help the abused would be ample. In fact, I could share an example from our very own home fellowship. We have a young lady living with us, and other people connected to our fellowship contribute financially to her needs. She is fully supported independently from anybody who might be a problem in her life. And when people live with you, trust me, you know the facts and you do a lot of listening. She will be completely self-reliant this month after living with us for about two years.
In regard to a different kind of abuse, a home fellowship network that I know of in Africa operates in the following way: the network assimilates street orphans from Nairobi into their fellowships. There is a leader from the network, equipped with the latest information about funds and availability that goes into Nairobi searching for orphans, and upon finding some, brings them back to the fellowship network where they will have a home, food, protection, and education. Let’s say that our home fellowships are connected with theirs; many of these children could be brought stateside and assimilated into fellowship here as well.
In addition to being freed from the bondage of infrastructure expense, the authority of the church’s clergy is suffocating. Clergy, more times than not, are control freaks obsessed with keeping the herd calm. They are spiritual cowboys constantly concerned with the herd being spooked. This speaks to the rest of the concerns in the post being considered here. More times than not, the laity are kept in the dark concerning the needs of those abused. There is a wall of confidentiality between the church’s “trained” counselors and the parishioners who fund the whole mess. When red flags are raised in regard to how certain situations are handled, we are told that “we should trust the elders who are closest to the situation and know all of the details.” This continually proves to be a recipe for disaster, and elders are granted NO such authority via the Scriptures.
Small groups in private homes offer intimate support and confidentiality from the other home fellowships. It is a perfect balance of intimate care and financial support if needed. All of the different gifts and experiences of Christ’s body are brought to bear on the situation.
Also, we must remember that the home fellowship movement is comprised of people from all walks of life: policemen, mental health professionals, etc., etc. These people or their areas of expertise are not separated from any situation by the professional clergy for inappropriate reasons.
The answer to the Baby’s question, according to Protestantism and all its various and sundry stripes including the Baptists is “yes.” Since the law is the standard for justification and Christians cannot keep the law perfectly, yes, Christ supposedly came to keep the law perfectly in order to fulfil it, and then died for all of our past sins. Instead of the resurrection being a prelude to our own resurrection and a totally different relationship to the law, Christ’s resurrection is said to “confirm that God was satisfied with His sacrifice.”
Hence, if “Christians” live their life by “faith alone in the same gospel that saved them,” the perfect obedience of Jesus will continue to be credited to our account in order to keep the “righteous demands of the law satisfied,” and we will receive continued forgiveness for “present sin” that violates the same law. So, according to Protestantism, Christ didn’t come to end the law for justification, He came to fulfill it through obedience so that His obedience and sacrifice can continue to be applied to our lives by faith alone. Therefore, His justification work is not finished. Yes, they concur that it only happened once, but the one act must be continually reapplied to the “believer’s” life.
Let’s evaluate this according to the new birth since it’s a baby asking the question. In this system, Christ’s resurrection is not imparted to the new believer, but was merely a confirmation that God was satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice. Technically, Christ’s death and obedience continues to be imparted to the “believer” IF they continue to live by faith alone in the same gospel that originally saved them. Now you know why there is so much emphasis on “the gospel” at “church” and why sanctification has always been so weak in the institutional church.
Protestantism is about keeping yourself saved by faith alone in the same gospel that saved you. Rather than honoring God with a mature life as one of His literal children, the attempt is to spend our whole lives honoring God by what He did to save us. It’s all about what “He did, not anything we do.” But not emphasizing what we do is actually denying the new birth and jettisoning our responsibility to love others back onto Christ.
And by the way, this efficacious reapplication of the same gospel that saved us, according to Protestant orthodoxy, can only be found and applied in formal institutional church membership.
What is the true gospel? Christ came to end the law for justification. As the law was increased, more and more sin was imputed to it. Violating the law is the very definition of sin. So, when Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross it also effectively ENDED the law. When a person believes on Christ’s death, they literally die with Him, and all sins they committed against the law are vanquished. They were “under the law” of “sin and death.”
On the other hand, the believer is also resurrected to a completely new life (under grace). Christ was NOT resurrected to validate His sacrifice; He was resurrected so that we could also be resurrected after dying with Him. This is the significance of also believing in His resurrection—not that it was a confirmation, but that we are also resurrected with Him as completely new creatures where “all things are new.”
This now places the resurrected believer under a different relationship to the law. What used to be the “law of sin and death” is now “the law of the Spirit of life.” In other words, instead of the law condemning us, the Spirit of life uses the law to change us (John 17:17). It is our responsibility to obey the law with the aid of the Holy Spirit, and that is the very definition of how we love God and others: “If you love me, keep My commandments.”
To define our obedience as an attempt to “justify ourselves” shirks what should be our natural desire to love God and others through obedience which is a result of the new birth. It is eerily reminiscent of the parable of the talents. The whole convoluted Protestant system that supposedly sanctifies our obedience lest it be works is a denial of the new birth and a false assessment of law/gospel.
When Protestant soteriology is accurately assessed, we should expect to find the following in the institutional church: weak sanctification; an overemphasis on the gospel to the exclusion of personal obedience; convoluted theories on how Christ’s obedience is imputed to our lives; overall doctrinal ignorance in regard to wise and powerful living; poor testimonies; a lack of genuine love; cliques; an overemphasis on following men; total dependence on extra-biblical writings; a laity/clergy caste system, and efforts to protect the institution at all cost.
And that is exactly what we find.
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 49 – March 31, 2015 (click here to listen)
Tonight’s Text – Acts 18:18-28
- A work begins in Ephesus
- Paul’s vow
- Imperfect verb tense indicates it is on-going
- Clue found in verse 21
- Desire to keep a feast
- Aquila and Priscilla accompany Paul
- Paul does not abandon the Jews
- He finds a synagogue
- Positive response
- They want Paul to stay longer
- Aquila and Priscilla entrusted to finish the work.
- Become key figures in NT assemblies
- (1 Corinthians 16:19, 2 Timothy 4:19)
- Paul’s vow
- One journey ends, another begins
- Arrival in Caesarea and ascent to Jerusalem
- Paul greets the “assembly”
- not just the “important” ones
- ασπαζομαι (ah-SPAD-zoh-my) – to enfold in the arms.
- Paul greets the “assembly”
- Arrival in Antioch signifies the end of the 2nd missionary journey.
- Visiting the regions of Galatia and Phrygia.
- Hindered by the Spirit the first time.
- επιστηριζω (epi-stay-RID-zo) – To establish further.
- Compare with Acts 14:22, 15:32, and 15:41.
- Arrival in Caesarea and ascent to Jerusalem
- An introduction to Apollos
- Important to know
- Jew – born in Alexandria
- λογιος (log-EE-os) Full of words.
- Mighty in the scriptures
- δυνατος (doo-NA-tos) – Powerful. To have the ability.
- Instructed in the way of the Lord
- κατηχεω (kah-tay-KEH-oh) – To sound down into the ears
- Knowing only John’s baptism
- Fervent in spirit
- ζεω (DZEH-oh) To be hot, or boiling.
- Spoke boldly with the religious leaders
- He taught accurately.
- Intimate knowledge of scripture
- Aquila and Priscilla fill in the gaps.
- Important to know
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“There is an issue that is so important in American politics that frankly I don’t care who gets it whether conservative or liberal, and Powers almost got it right.”
Kirsten Powers is a political pundit and Fox News contributor who appeared on the Sean Hannity show last night. Hannity was having a group discussion with a mixture of conservatives and liberals regarding Paul Harvey’s If I Were the Devil speech.
At some point, one of the conservatives verbally bemoaned the usual “God has been taken out of the schools” mantra. I am 57 years old and have been paying attention to politics since I was 9 when my parents hosted a campaign party for Barry Goldwater, and in reply to the often repeated mantra, liberal Kristen Powers replied with one of the most significant political statements I have ever heard. The following is a paraphrase:
How was it working for us when God was in the schools?
Ultra liberal Judith Miller aped approval adding to the shock value. However, and disappointingly, Powers was only partly right. Was I disappointed because I am a liberal and I want liberals to be right all of the time? Hardly, in fact, I think Ronald Reagan was a conservative sissy compared to Barry Goldwater. There is an issue that is so important in American politics that frankly I don’t care who gets it whether conservative or liberal, and Powers almost got it right.
Her idea was spot on, but she missed the right application by 200 years. She pointed to a time in the 50’s when our public schools were segregated which opened the door for Sean Hannity to make a comparison between the challenges in public schools then versus now. How strange, a conservative such as myself with face in hands, crying out, “She almost nailed it! She almost nailed it!”
Conservatives are completely ignorant about what really matters, and I will use public schools as the primary example. But as an aside: Dr. Ben Carson may be one of the most significant political players since our founding fathers because he states the following (again, this is a paraphrase):
We have to rediscover who we are and educate accordingly [i.e., what is America really about?].
And there you go, and Powers touched on it regarding public schools. The true history of public schools reveals the pervasive ignorance among conservatives and conservative Christians in particular.
This necessarily requires a discussion about the founders of the public school system, the Puritans. “Pilgrims” is a soft term for “Puritans” who are the ones who originally brought Europeanism over the pond and settled on the east coast of the American continent. And they were political refugees, not innocent souls braving the Atlantic to find religious freedom in a new land. Before the American Revolution, politics and religion were of the same soul. To say that the Puritans were religious refugees is not telling…as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
And “Puritan” is a soft term for “Calvinist” as well. The first Bible to ever make landfall in America was the Geneva Bible, as in, John Calvin’s Geneva. Do you want to know what Geneva was like during Calvin’s rule there? See: American colonial history. Things like the Salem witch trials didn’t just happen; such was a European theocratic family tradition.
The American colonies were ruled by a Puritan theocracy completely intolerant of religious and political dissention. Oddly, though it is fairly well known that Puritans hanged Quakers for their beliefs, and partook in superstitious persecution that would shame cannibal witchdoctors, the Puritan as American religious hero continues to be a historical anomaly. Even Rush Limbaugh wrote a children’s book extolling the virtues of the Pilgrims. Good grief!
This brings me to my point. The Puritans founded the American public school system. Yes Kirsten, God, at least the Puritan version of Him, ruled the public schools and the government; now you may ask, “How did that work for us?” Actually, pretty good—the American Revolution, in large part, was a direct pushback to Puritan tyranny. Separation of church and state was not to protect religion from government, the working word here is, SEPERATION. The two need to be kept apart. The founding fathers grew up under the heavy hand of Puritan tyranny, and upon further evaluation of human history concluded the following:
Experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people.
James Madison: Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments; 1785
The fact of the matter is God Himself has never said that He wanted one of His representatives ruling a government because God knows mankind all too well. In case anybody hasn’t noticed, people can have some misguided ideas about what God wants. There seems to be some confusion here; Christ said His kingdom is not on earth, but many conservative Christians believe they have a mandate to take over the world, starting with the public schools, for God. Yes, the Puritans were in total control of the public schools, and were kicked out after the American Revolution because among many other reasons, the Puritan-controlled public schools were taking children away from parents and boarding them separately. Yes, those were the good ole’ days when “god” was still in the schools.
But unfortunately, liberals have something wrong as well. Unwittingly, they worship the same god as many conservative Christians. Again, Puritans came from a culture where religion and politics were the same soul, and the ideology that drove those politics was belief in the inherent inability of man. The Puritans were driven by the same spiritual, social, and political caste systems that dominated Western culture from ancient times. This is the crux of what the founding fathers rejected; the total depravity of the individual and the assertion that his sole purpose for existing is the ability to contribute to the collective. Dr. Ben Carson gets this, and that’s what makes him invaluable in our day.
If one wants to talk about the Bible, we can do that. Eventually, God is going to come back and raze the whole earth and set up His own kingdom. He hasn’t called conservative Christians to take over the world with their supposed moral superiority and then invite God back for a reunion. God is not in exile, He is simply going to clean house and move here when He chooses. Really, no need to prepare things for Him ahead of time. By the way, that’s Islam’s gig as well. Alarmingly, many political conservatives in our day are of this theological persuasion known as Dominionism.
Carson is right. The Answer is to rediscover America and educate Christians and heathen liberals alike in regard to her founding principles: individualism and separation of church and state. According to Carson, we need to forget about all of the divisions being created and focus on those two principles.
Sure, as a Christian Goldwater conservative, I would that all men be saved, but God still created a capable human race and we will stand before Him individually—no one will stand in for us. We are responsible for the sum and substance of our own lives. Read history, the clergy was not in charge of the Nuremberg trials. Man knows right from wrong as a matter of God-given conscience. When caste systems aren’t crazy enough, just add religion and superstition. That’s when history is like a movie that you could never make up in your wildest imagination.
When it gets right down to it, you can invoke “one nation under God,” but the question quickly becomes, “Which god?” And what does that God believe about man? Is man capable of governing himself, or does he need a government that controls every nuance of his life? Powers is almost right, but Carson has it right, we must reeducate Americans about who we are: a government by the people and for the people.
And how has that worked for not only us, but the world? Very-well-thank-you.
In the video below which promotes a book on the subject, we have another example of this whole idea that God will bless America if “the church” is running the show. I wrote a post on this yesterday and defined what is meant by “the church.” In the video, this very term is used: “the church.” The key to America returning to greatness is “G-o-d, not G-o-v.,” via “the church.”
What is the assumptive presupposition? That, and this even coming from Rush Limbaugh of all people, some “concept of God” is key to strong leadership. What does this assume? It assumes what we swim in daily: God is not concerned with particulars. God is not concerned with the particulars of the Big T, truth.
Get out of bed, get dressed, put your hands over your eyes, walk a couple of steps into the day, and look, and there you will find an example. On Facebook the other day I saw a conversation among women who belong to “the church,” in this case Baptists and Methodists, clamoring about getting a group together to hear Beth Moore speak in Cincinnati, Ohio. Never mind that she flaunts her Eastern mysticism in broad daylight, she is a well-spoken, feel-good expositor that is part of “the church.” Her outfits are also to die for. ‘Nuff said.
This makes the case that mankind is helplessly enslaved to the concept of church state which is founded in the ancient doctrine of the knowledge of good and evil. It is the belief that creation is fundamentally evil and only the invisible is good. Moreover, the invisible is a subjective complex knowledge that takes a spiritual journey that should include everyone, and as many “gifted” teachers as possible. Faith in general, and “Christianity” in particular is a journey in pursuit of the gnosis. All who are on this journey are good and closest to the gnosis that brings wellbeing (utopia), those who are not part of “the church” are confused and cannot discern anything of the gnosis. They are not “spiritually discerning.” They are helplessly enslaved to material absolutes.
This is exactly how “the church” functions. It is an institutional church state wannabe. It is an institution that groans and weeps for the realization of Plato’s Republic. It moans and weeps for philosopher kings to save us from the abyss of people governing themselves.
It took mankind something like 10,000 years to break free from this tyranny and the historical demarcation was the American Revolution. The reason American ideology works so well when properly applied is because it has a biblical metaphysical premise: creation became weak, not inherently evil.
In addition, mankind in general can know things—mankind in general can know reality. Secondly, every person born into the world is responsible to God personally, and God speaks to every human being individually in a way that every person can understand. In other words, people are created free and culpable before God alone for the sum and substance of their own lives. The sole purpose of government is to insure that freedom for each and every person born into the world.
The framers of the American Constitution held that these principles were “self-evident.” Some were Christians, most were deists, some were agnostic if not outright atheist, the principle of individualism versus collectivism was the driving force—NOT where the principle came from! All of them agreed on the principle and the role of government and cared little about where the others thought the principle came from. What we see today is an emphasis on the source, not the principle. And this is the fly in the ointment: some “concept of God” can be interpreted in a variety of ways; in every case, enter tyranny.
Hence, “the church” is a purely Platonist concept propagated by the big three of the Protestant Reformation: Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. A cursory observation of history reveals that all three were murdering despots. Most Christians, really all save a few, are helpless to know the difference because world philosophy is “worldly knowledge.” So, if the premise of what you really believe is unnecessary knowledge, the philosopher kings of “the church” can lead you around like a dog on a leash.
Want an example? Wherever you are, just remove your hands from over your eyes and look.
We hear it constantly, references to “the Church.” When discussing statistics, they are always in reference to “the church.” This is the term used constantly regardless of the fact that “church” can refer to Catholicism and an array of Protestant denominations including Charismatics and a myriad of Baptist stripes.
So, what is meant by “the church”? The concise definition is very obvious: the church is institutional theism. At least in Western culture, that is the starting point of accepted goodness that must prevail for the survival of humanity. In the same way that some parents send their children to Sunday school because “everybody needs some morals,” being a “Christian” is the minimal requirement for being unhazardous to humanity.
Hence, we have another definition: a “Christian” is someone who is identified with institutional theism, or “church.” And again, this is a societal Good Person Seal of Approval. For example, even President Obama claims to be a Christian and is a member of an institutional church. No Presidential candidate would have a prayer of being elected without some sort of religious affiliation whether Catholic or some breed of Protestantism. Quality of faith is far from being the issue, but the minimal requirement is a wink towards “the church.”
Being a Christian in America means you are a member of the institutional church which is anything theism. If you are a member of a theistic institution, you have good intentions and nobody has a right to judge your path to the pearly gates. Go to any Baptist church and start criticizing Catholics and you will quickly hear about all the Catholic friends they have who are saved and loved by God. Go to any of the National Day of Prayer gatherings and you will see that everything but the religious kitchen sink is there.
“The church” is the “Christian” club and means, not atheist, but rather any and all things theistic. Even the umber pragmatic Rush Limbaugh concurs. Just the other day on his radio program he stressed the importance of people, especially political candidates, having some “concept of God.” Bingo. A belief in some sort of deity: good; not believing in some sort of deity: bad. Limbaugh associated atheism (the Greek article “a” which means “anti” prefixed to “theism”) with being deceived about all sorts of things including global warming which he mentioned specifically.
Dr. Jay Adams, in a recent article, assumes that there are enough doctrinally sound churches in a given town or city to prevent “church tramping.” In my book, “church” and “tramp” are mutually inclusive.
When did “church” begin? The etymology of the word is German (kirche), and replaced the Greek word for “assembly” found in the Bible manuscripts (ecclesia). The word “synagogue” also means “assembly” or “congregation.”
The first complete English bible was the Tyndale bible in about 1524, and that bible did not use the word “church” anywhere in its pages, it used the word “congregation.” Sometime after this bible, they started replacing the word “congregation” with the word “church” (Christ’s Ekklesia and The Church Compared: Richard Anthony; http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/ekklesia.html).
However, the concept of church started much earlier in history after the deaths of the twelve apostles. The early church fathers, at least according to the English translations, used the word “church” often. Several of the early church fathers were disciples of the original twelve apostles and deemed authoritative theologians of that era.
Unfortunately, an apostolic succession controversy took place immediately following the passing of the twelve apostles. Regardless of the fact that the twelve established a home fellowship model led by elders and organized by deacons, and predicated by gifts rather than authority, many of the church fathers argued that chaos and doctrinal abyss would ensue unless the authority of the twelve was replaced with a like central authority.
However, even the apostles pointed to Christ as the only head and rarely implemented apostolic authority. The principle protocol was that of persuasion by apt teaching from the Word. Nevertheless, the church fathers insisted on a central hierarchy located in Rome that would rule over what they called “the church.” The first “ruling bishop” of Rome was Linus who was a disciple among the original twelve and an early church father, and for all practical purposes, the first pope. Later, Protestantism came out of the institutional church which originated in Rome.
The home fellowships established by the apostles contended against the institutional church for about 200 years until home fellowships finally began to give way in the 4th century. Unfortunately, the home fellowship model only continues in certain geographies because of necessity, usually economic or governments that prohibit organized religions that follow Christ.
Obviously, “the church” is little concerned with “sound doctrine” emphasized by the original twelve. The focus is some “concept of God” defined by “Christianity.” It is quite enough that the first Republican announcing his candidacy is calling himself a “Christian,” and has included video of his family praying before a meal in a TV ad—no one will ask for any particulars, the main concern is that he’s not an atheist and is a member of formal theism. The main concern is, does he have a “concept of God”?
This is where the home fellowship movement has opportunity. We are NOT “the church.” And by today’s definition, we are NOT “Christian.” And if nothing else, that will spark curiosity. But more than that, when the freedom to pursue sound doctrine is fully exploited, I wonder what the Spirit might do?
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 48 – March 24, 2015 (click here to listen)
Tonight’s Text – Acts 18:1-17
- Paul arrives at Corinth
- Historical and geographical context
- Aquila and Priscilla
- Similar skills
- Helped with tentmaking.
- “Reasoning” in the synagogue
- πειθω – “peitho” – to convince by argument
- (Hebrews 13:17)
- Silas and Timothy join Paul
- “Pressed in the spirit”
- συνεχω “soon-echo” – moved with the press of a crowd
- Ministry to Jews expands
- Jews’ response to Paul
- They opposed themselves
- αντιτασσομαι (anti-tass-oh-my) – acting riotous
- They blasphemed – spoke evil of Paul
- They opposed themselves
- Paul’s emphatic response
- Shaking his clothes
- symbolic display of shaking off uncleanness
- More intense than just shaking off shoes
- Provoking the Jews to jealousy
- Shaking his clothes
- “Pressed in the spirit”
- The synagogue next door
- Paul comes to stay with Justus
- Crispus becomes a believer
- Leader of the synagogue
- His whole “house”
- The Lord encourages Paul
- Grammatical analysis
- Keep up the good work
- I got your back
- The practical outworking
- Gallio’s keen judgment
- Corinthian’s retaliation against the Jews
- Grammatical analysis