Paul's Passing Thoughts

“You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away….but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.” James 4:14, Hebrews 10:25

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on October 7, 2013





                                                                    Link to TANC Catalog

Index of Essays on Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on October 6, 2013

Originally posted on Essays on Calvinism:

This is a work in progress. This blog is indexing over 1000 articles on Calvinism from Paul’s Passing Thoughts .com

This is in preparation for several upcoming writing projects for TANC Publishing.

View original

PPT Introduces “Gnostic Watch Weekly”, Fridays 7pm

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on October 5, 2013

As reflected in Paul’s inbox, it’s evident that the TANC conferences have played a pivotal role toward educating believers on the Platonic philosophy driving the Protestant bus.  Therefore, PPT is introducing a weekly video segment called “Gnostic Watch Weekly” wherein Paul and Susan discuss and decipher readers’ contributions of the many examples plaguing Christianity of every denominational stripe.  We welcome contributions from any denomination and all nationalities!  Please send articles, posts, and sermon examples to, then tune-in to “Gnostic Watch Weekly” every Friday at 7pm.

Gnostic Watch Weekly Archives

LIVE @ 7PM 11/14/14

Program 12: 

Krauthammer_ Gruber Is ‘True Voice Of Liberal Arrogance’ _ The Daily Caller

Gruber_ Stupidity of Americans Would Have Killed Obamacare _ The Daily Caller

Program 13:

Hey gang, still too sick to do the program tonight. We will resume next week 11/28/2014 @ 7PM.  The prep is below:




The 2015 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on October 4, 2013 

2015 conference flyer


Is Calvinism the Same Kind of False Gospel that Plagued the Hebrews?

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 24, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published December 6, 2013

Calvinism is the “golden chain of salvation.” Justification by faith alone, one of the five solas, means that we are justified by faith alone, but Calvin taught that justification is a PROCESS that extends from when we were saved until final justification at the resurrection where the sons of God will be “made manifest.” This is opposed to seeing justification as a finished work, a onetime factual declaration. We are practically just because we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit via the new birth which is also a onetime final work. A birth is a onetime event.

However, if you see justification as a PROCESS from salvation to glorification, the Christian life must be lived by…what? Right, faith alone. This is just another dirty little secret behind the Reformed bumper sticker. Justification by faith alone also means sanctification by faith alone. And since justification is not a onetime finished work, we can never be worthy of not needing justification; hence, total depravity also pertains to the saints—another devil in the detail of a Reformed bumper sticker.

Furthermore, if justification is a process, we need to stay in that process till the end, right? How? Well, the same way we have always been justified, by faith and repentance alone for justification. If we are in the justification process, we need to live by the same repentance and faith that saved us—alone. This is how Calvin stated it:

Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation;

Hence, it stands to reason that new sins separate us from justification, and the perpetual need for Christ’s mediation is needed:

…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.

Calvinists call this “deep repentance.” So, the Christian life, according to Calvinism, focuses on a “lifestyle of repentance and faith” (Paul David Tripp).

Now consider Hebrews 6:1-6. The Hebrew writer seems to be introducing this same idea of revisiting the doctrine of our original salvation rather than moving on to something else:

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit.

The Hebrew writer says to not lay again the “foundation” of faith and repentance. This is in direct contradiction to Calvinism and its “lifestyle of faith and repentance” within the PROCESS of justification. But what the Hebrew writer says after that is even more interesting:

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Note: the Hebrew writer is saying that it is impossible to return to the same repentance that saved us. Again, this is in direct contradiction to Calvinism. Also, Calvinism teaches that when one re-repents (mortification), they experience “vivification.” The specific Reformed theological term is mortification and vivification. Vivification can certainly be classified as a “heavenly gift… and the powers of the world to come.” New Calvinists refer to it as a “treasure trove of joy” (John Piper). It is “living out our baptism” (Michael Horton). But the Hebrew writer is clearly saying: that is impossible if one falls into a state where the same repentance that saved us is needed again. This is a contradiction to mortification and vivification.

And lastly, even if it were possible: “seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Remember, Calvin said that the death of Christ continues to be a mediation and perpetual ablution (washing).

Is Calvinism a return to the same heresy that plagued the Hebrews? It sure looks like it.


Colonial Puritanism was Commonly Known as “Platonic Christianity”

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 22, 2014

Originally published November 5, 2013

Excerpted from

In their new home, the Puritans implemented many of the same onerous legal restrictions upon religious liberty that had vexed them while living in England. For example, John Cotton, a leading Massachusetts cleric, implemented a law that no man could vote unless he was both a Puritan church member and a property owner (non-Puritans were dispossessed of their private property). Additionally, all colonists were legally required to attend austere Puritan church services. If the Church Warden caught any person truant from church services without illness or permissible excuse, the truant was pilloried and the truant’s ear was nailed to the wood. This approach was widespread and long-lasting in Puritan society. The Plymouth court of 1752 convicted defendant Joseph Boardman of “unnecessary absence from [Puritan] worship” and “not frequenting the publick worship of God.” In short, Puritan salvation was to be achieved through compulsory social engineering of the community, rather than voluntary individual piety.

The Puritans implemented a form of Platonic Christian Socialism, which was based upon an ideological synthesis of such influences as 1) Plato’s Republic, 2) a utopian interpretation of the New Testament (especially Acts 2:44-46), 3) a joint-stock agreement between colonial shareholders and the London-based John Peirce & Associates company, 4) a Continental European cultural attitude toward education (acquired during Pilgrim settlement in Holland), and 5) especially close economic and cultural bonds between Boston’s elite and the ruling class of England. During their first three years in the New World, the Puritans abolished private property and declared all land and produce to be owned in common (a commonwealth).

In Plymouth over half the colonists promptly died from starvation. Governor William Bradford observed that the collectivist approach “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” He lamented the “vanity of that conceit of Plato’s . . . that the taking away of property and bringing community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Governor Bradford implemented private ownership of property, but Platonic Christianity continued to dominate other aspects of regional social policy.

For his part, John Winthrop delivered a famous speech in 1630 that articulated the prevailing contemporary Bay Colony ethic of social collectivism:

[W]e must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly Affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities for the supply of others’ necessities, we must uphold a familiar Commerce together . . . [and] make others’ Conditions our own, . . . always having before our eyes our . . . Community in the work, our Community as members of the same body[.] . . . [W]e shall find that . . . when [God] shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the Lord make it like that of New England: for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill.

Winthrop’s words were not mere inspirational rhetoric. Each statement reflected an expansive element of social policy, pressed to its logical end and enforced by the Puritans with deadly seriousness.

The leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony openly espoused rule by the elite. “If we should change from a mixed aristocracy to mere democracy,” Winthrop once explained, “we should have no warrant in scripture for it: for there was no such government in Israel . . . A democracy is, amongst civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government.” John Cotton wrote: “I do not conceive that ever God did ordeyne [democracy] as a fit government eyther for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors who shall be governed?”

Despite utopian aspirations, the Massachusetts colonies were quickly beset with political and religious division. Internally, the Puritans persecuted and even tortured non-conforming Christians. In Boston Common, dissenters were hung or buried alive. In 1636, Roger Williams, who became a Baptist, was banished in the dead of winter and led some religious dissidents away to found Rhode Island. The same year, Thomas Hooker, another preacher at odds with the Bay Puritans, founded Connecticut with a separate breakaway group.

The Massachusetts Bay Colony attempted to curtail further dissent by utilizing a tightly-controlled system of schooling and neighborhood monitoring. In 1635, the first “public school” was established in 1635. In 1636, by general vote of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Puritans established what was then termed “the School of the Prophets.” This divinity school, which grew into Harvard College and then Harvard University, was meant to superintend the lives of the colonists and prevent any further deviations from proper doctrine.

With Harvard established as the capstone of their system of social control, the Puritans then set about to construct supporting strictures. The Puritan paradigm utilized certain aspects of the Platonic paradigm of community child raising, including indentured servitude:

[There was a] practice common among English Puritans of “putting out” children–placing them at an early age in other homes where they were treated partly as foster children and partly as apprentices or farm-hands. One of the motivations underlying the maintenance of this custom seems to have been the parents’ desire to avoid the formation of strong emotional bonds with their offspring–bonds that might temper the strictness of the children’s discipline or interfere with their own piety.

A controlling, punitive culture gradually emerged. The Puritans enacted laws that curtailed parental rights, created community schools, established Puritan precepts as a civic requirement, imposed community taxation for majoritarian schooling, and encouraged citizens to report upon non-conforming relatives and neighbors. By separating children from their parents, community leaders could monitor all family members. No family member could rebel against the community scheme or the official dogma without putting other family members at risk of reprisal. Children became more vulnerable to various forms of abuse.

The Massachusetts Education Law of 1642 (re-enacted with a preamble and local taxation features in 1648) was a natural extension of the Puritan requirement that all citizens had to attend Puritan church services. School was, like church, an institution designed to inculcate a particular world view. Puritans thought that their world view should be sanctioned and disseminated under government auspices. This same precept necessarily underpins the enactment of every compulsory education statute, Puritan or otherwise.

In Connecticut, Yale filled the same role as Harvard did for Massachusetts. Much later in time, Congregational Reverend Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor’s Charity School in Connecticut to “civilize” Native Americans. In 1769, Wheelock moved the institution to Hanover, New Hampshire, and renamed it Dartmouth College. During the Framers’ Era, the Baptists complained vociferously about the oppression they experienced as a religious minority in Connecticut.

As the Massachusetts Puritan society became more overbearing, it developed a psychotic quality. Children committed suicide. Furtive adults coped with an environment in which due process and freedom of expression were denied. A dark era of suspicion and fear took hold, culminating most famously in the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 — 1 2. (Salem is located near present-day Boston). The aim of the trials was to eliminate individuals with “heretical” views or conduct. In practice, heresy included political criticism of the colonial government, eccentric personal behavior, and criticism of the witchhunt itself.

During the purge, nineteen men and women were executed as witches (along with two dogs thought to be accomplices). About two hundred other nonconformists were imprisoned, and four accused witches died in prison. One man who refused to submit to trial was killed using an European torture technique, peine forte et dure, whereby heavy stones are placed upon a man until he is crushed and suffocated. (Plymouth held witchcraft trials as well, but the defendants were acquitted.)

As the bloodlust ebbed, a general sense emerged amongst colonial leaders that their entire community had gone terribly awry. To their credit, judges and jurors issued public apologies for their errors in judgment. Reverend Samuel Parris was replaced as minister after reluctantly admitting to some mistakes. Unfortunately, Chief Justice William Stoughton, the most culpable actor in the bloodfest, refused to apologize. He was subsequently elected to be the next governor of Massachusetts (a feat emulated by Earl Warren, who was elected governor of California after the internment of Japanese Americans).

Fortunately, the lessons of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not lost upon the Framers of the United States Constitution. For example, home-educated Benjamin Franklin, one of the most influential Framers, frequently clashed with the officials and clerics in Boston. As a youth, Franklin bridled under the Puritan strictures in Boston, defied the Puritan culture of indentured servitude, fled to make his home in Quaker-dominated Philadelphia, and published criticisms of perceived Puritan bigotry.

Franklin also wrote a scathing criticism of Harvard. Writing under the “Mrs. Silence Dogood” pseudonym, he recounted her fictional deliberation about whether to send her son to Harvard. In the process, Dogood fell asleep and began to dream that she was journeying toward Harvard. Its gate was guarded by “two sturdy porters named Riches and Poverty,” and students were approved only by Riches. Once admitted, the students “learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a room genteelly (which might as well be acquired at a dancing school), and from thence they return, after abundance of trouble and charge, as great blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.” Franklin founded the University of Pennsylvania with a very different educational mandate.

After Franklin invented the lightning rod, many of the Puritans effectively accused him of sorcery. Reverend Thomas Prince, a prominent Congregationalist Puritan pastor of Boston’s Old South Church and a graduate of Harvard, led the the charge. Franklin, Prince decreed, had defied the will of God, the “Prince of the Power of the Air,” by interfering with His heavenly manifestation. Prince also asserted that Franklin’s rods had caused God to strike Boston with the earthquake of 1755. Franklin used his pithy wit to defang the campaign against his invention. Surely, Franklin observed, if interference with lightening was prohibited, roofs also defied God’s will by allowing people to stay dry in the face of His rain. Resistance to Franklin’s lightening rod subsided when it was discovered that his innovation prevented many churches from burning to the ground.

As another example, John Adams expressed concern about Puritan discrimination against Jews. Much of the discrimination was accomplished through Massachusetts’ imposed system of state-mandated religious observance and government-sponsored schooling. Harvard, for instance, implemented policies and quotas which were designed to curtail enrollment of meritorious Jewish students. John Adams unsuccessfully recommended revisions of the state constitution which would have enhanced free exercise of religion. Adams further urged that slavery be prohibited, darkly predicting it would lead to eventual civil war if uncurtailed.

Colonials living in the southern United States were equally wary of Massachusetts practices. In stark contrast to the Massachusetts model of public education, leading Southerners preferred apprenticeship and home education (a lifestyle that predominated until Reconstruction). Tutors and private schooling supplemented the educations of wealthy Southern children. James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, all Virginians, experienced the same general regime of home-education and apprenticeship known to Benjamin Franklin.

In perhaps the most critical indication of all, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams spoke forcefully against the Platonic model of governance by Philosopher-Kings. Jefferson reflected the contemporary sentiment of many of the Framers and Founders when he stated in his letter to Levi Lincoln of January 1, 1802, that “I know it will give great offense to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious liberty is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.” Jefferson made other comments at odds with the Puritan approach to education, parental liberty, and religious pluralism, including oppression of the Quakers by the Anglican sects. Notwithstanding Winthrop’s aspirations in 1630, statements such as “Lord make our Virginian colony like that of Massachusetts” were conspicuously sparse during the Revolutionary Era.

While it is true that Madison, Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson urged their communities to support education and morality in a general way, they pointedly refrained from endorsing Puritan-style compulsory education or compulsory attendance at school/church. Indeed, compulsory education for government schools did not exist during the Framer’s time. In the civic scheme envisioned by the preeminent Framers, community schools were to function much like public libraries. Some Framers encouraged communities to fund libraries and establish a system for purchasing books, but few legal scholars would suggest that the Framers were thereby endorsing a state power to compel use of library premises or materials. In the absence of conviction for a crime, such a constraint of liberty would clearly have run afoul of numerous Constitutional protections.

The Framers and Founders left no doubt that their Constitutional system of Ordered Liberty, which protected parental rights in so many complementary ways, was incompatible with the Platonic model for an Ideal Commonwealth. In Federalist Paper No. 49, a work promulgated by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, it is written:

The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the number with which it is associated. . . . In a nation of philosophers, this consideration ought to be disregarded. A reverence for the laws would be sufficiently inculcated by the voice of an enlightened reason. But a nation of philosophers is as little to be expected as the philosophical race of kings wished for by Plato. And in every other nation, the most rational government will not find it a superfluous advantage to have the prejudices of the community on its side.

In a letter to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson observed:

I amused myself with reading seriously Plato’s republic. . . . While wading thro’ the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of this work, I laid it down so often to ask myself how it could have been that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this? . . . Education is chiefly in the hands of persons who, from their profession, have an interest in the reputation and dreams of Plato. . . . But fashion and authority apart, and bringing Plato to the test of reason . . . he is one of the race of genuine Sophists, who has escaped . . . by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies onto the body of artificial Christianity. His foggy mind, is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen thro’ a mist, can be defined neither in form or dimension. . . . It is fortunate for us that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living, men, women, and children, pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest. . . . [I]n truth [Plato's] dialogues are libels on Socrates.

. . . When sobered by experience, I hope that our successors will turn their attention to the advantage of education on the broad scale, and not of the petty academies . . . which are starting up in every neighborhood . . .

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Adams (July 5, 1814), in 2 The Adams-Jefferson Letters, at 432-34 (Lestor J. Cappon ed., 1959)(hereinafter “Letters”).

In reciprocal letters to Jefferson, John Adams was equally critical. He said the “philosophy” of Plato was “absurd,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (June 28, 1812), in Letters, at 308, berated Plato’s concept of “a Community of Wives, a confusion of Families, a total extinction of all Relations of Father, Son and Brother,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (September 15, 1813), in Letters, at 377, and observed that “Plato calls ['Love'] a demon,” Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (October 10, 1817), in Letters, at 522.

In his most telling observations, Adams described his meticulous study of Plato’s writings, expressed delight at knowing that Jefferson shared the same “Astonishment,” “disappointment,” and “disgust” with Plato, and then concluded as follows:

Some Parts of [his writings] . . . are entertaining . . . but his Laws and his Republick from which I expected the most, disappointed me most. I could scarcely exclude the suspicion that he intended the latter as a bitter Satyr upon all Republican Government . . . . Nothing can be conceived more destructive of human happiness; more infallibly contrived to transform Men and Women into Brutes, Yahoos, or Daemons than a Community of Wives and Property . . .

After all; as long as marriage exists, Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families.

Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (July 16, 1814), in Letters, at 437.

The Lamb’s Wife, Part 2 by Andy Young

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 21, 2014

andy-profile-1In part one of this series, we examined the notion of the “church” being the “bride of Christ” and how this is a false doctrine.  We examined from scripture that the “Lamb” does indeed have a “wife”, but the “wife” is actually the New Jerusalem come down from heaven, according to Revelation 21.  We also compared two parables which portrayed elements of a traditional Jewish wedding.  These parables reveal that the assembly, which is made up of converted Jews as well as Gentiles from every nation, is not the “bride”, but they are the “guests” at the wedding.

This would seem pretty straightforward.  Despite the fact that a simple search of scripture reveals that the expression “bride of Christ” is nowhere to be found, this doctrine continues to breathe life.  Contributing to this is the existence of several New Testament passages that seem to refer to the “church” in “spousal” terms.

I’ll tackle the easy one first. But this one also requires the most exegesis and so it will require the most space in this article.  It is probably also the most familiar and widely used to support the “bride of Christ” doctrine.

Ephesians 5:22-33

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Now, the first thing I want us to do is for us to read this passage with the correct terms.  So, read through that passage again, and in each place where you see the word “church”, replace it with “assembly”.  Believe me, this will have a tremendous impact on the way you understand this passage.  “Church” connotes building, place, institution.  “Assembly” connotes “body”, for that is the meaning of the word.  It is a “called out” body of individuals.  It is also a secular, political term.  A political body of individuals called together to accomplish a specific task.  Moreover, this assembly is the “Body of Christ”, and that is especially significant in this passage.

Paul reinforces this idea at the end of verse 23 when he says “and he is the saviour of the body.”  This is not a stand-alone statement.  And it is not a reference to your physical body or mine.  It is a parenthetical clause that further establishes the main clause just prior to it.  Notice the colon that appears at the end of the previous clause.

“Christ is the head of the [assembly, ‘called-out ones’]:”

 The very next clause modifies this statement.

 “- and he is the saviour of the body”

This is the actual Greek word for “body”, σωμα (“soma”).  The structure of the end of this verse is interesting.  The word “and” is the Greek word και (“kai”), and it is used as a joining word, just like a conjunction creates a list or connects words or clauses or ideas.  It is also used to show equivalence or parallel thought.  This kind of writing style is common in Hebrew writing, especially in poetry, this parallelism.  And you can see Paul’s Hebraic style of writing in the parallelism in this verse. Paul is stating that Christ is the head of the assembly, and furthermore, not only is He the head, He is the Savior of the whole body of the assembly.  In this one verse, Paul has established that the assembly is the body and Christ is the head.  Paul is not establishing a husband/wife relationship, he is establishing a head/body relationship.  Keep this relationship in your mind because I’ll say more on this in a bit.

Now, when someone wants to make the case that the “church” is the “bride of Christ”, they usually go right to verse 24 and pull this one particular phrase out of context:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,…” 

Their reasoning goes something like this:

“Husband” is to “wife” as “Christ” is to “church”


Christ = husband

church = wife


The church is the bride (wife) of Christ.

And while that may seem to be a reasonable logical conclusion, it fails because it is beginning with the wrong premise which results from failing to understand the context of the entire passage.  Paul is instructing men on how to love their wives, but he is not using a metaphor of a husband/wife relationship.  He is using the metaphor of a head/body relationship.  The reasoning of the metaphor is better understood like this:

Husbands are to love their wives

- How do they do that?

Well, no man hates his own body.

Man loves himself (i.e. his body).

Therefore, love your wife in the same way you love your own body.

This is the context of the entire passage.  Period.  Nothing more.  It’s that simple.  Now Paul goes on to elaborate on that point by giving examples of how one loves their own body.  He says that man shows that he loves his body because he feeds it and nourishes it and cherishes it.  Thus, men thus show love to their wives by treating them just as they would their own body, by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing.  Obviously he means from an emotional standpoint.

To further emphasize his point about loving one’s own body, Paul draws a comparison to Christ and the assembly.  Christ is the head, and the assembly is the body.  Just as a man loves his own body, Christ also loves His own body, which is the assembly.  Christ also shows his love towards His body/assembly by feeding, nourishing, and cherishing it.  And Paul is also quick to point out that Christ gave himself for His body/assembly.  More than that, He also sanctified and cleansed it.  How?  With the washing of water by the word.  These are the very same words that Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth!” once again showing that the believer is sanctified by the law.

This whole portion of the passage regarding Christ and the assembly is actually a parenthetical thought apart from the main thought.  The main thought of the passage, as already pointed out, is about how men are to love their wives.  But Paul digresses into this parenthetical aside as an illustration- man loves his own physical body; Christ also loves His body, the assembly of believers.  It appears that Paul even recognizes that he has digressed from his main point.  At the end of verse 32 there is one particular clause that sticks out,

“but I speak concerning Christ and the assembly,”

and in the very next verse we read,

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so [thus, in this manner] love his wife even as himself;”

Here in verse 33 Paul brings his readers back to his main point by offering a final summarizing statement: love your wife as you love your own body.  To take this passage and make it a treatise on how the assembly is the “bride of Christ” is reading more into the illustration (eisegesis) than Paul intended.

There are a few other passages in the New Testament that need to be dealt with where the writer seems to be addressing the assembly in “spousal” terms, such as Romans 7:4 and 2 Corinthians 11:2, but for the sake of time, I will deal with those in part 3.


“< Tweet, Tweet @ Tony Miano

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Godly Life

Why Calvinists Need to be Saved

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Calvin: Christians Must Keep Their Salvation by Pursuing Perpetual Forgiveness in the “Church”

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 20, 2014

Originally published August 14, 2013

PPT Handle“Why does American Protestantism have such weak sanctification? Calvin taught that the apostle Paul went from house to house preaching about the same gospel that saved us rather than teaching the full counsel of God, that’s why.”

I can see clearly now; it all finally makes sense. As a young Scriptural zealot, many things in the Protestant church confused me. I was the Baptist stripe of Protestant. And kudos to church historian John Immel, he is right; there is always a logic behind an action.

Why so much emphasis on the same gospel that saved us? Why were we constantly calling on people to be saved in the church? Why don’t we have any more answers to life’s difficult problems than the world? Why so much fuss over the buildings? Why is the Lord’s Table such an uppity pious affair when it seems to have been inaugurated during a casual dinner? Why have I always struggled to be wowed by that “ordinance”? Why all the crosses all over the place? On the church, in the church, around people’s necks. Geez. And why is the same bad behavior that is in the Catholic Church also in the Protestant church?

Fact is, American religion was founded on the Pilgrims who are not very often called what they really were: Calvinistic Puritans armed with the first Bible to ever arrive on American soil; The Geneva Bible which was John Calvin’s commentary on the Bible.

Talk abounds concerning the foremost figures of the Reformation, John Calvin and Martin Luther. Many opinions abound, but everybody agrees that they are the fathers of the Protestant Reformation and spiritual heroes. They are the George Washington and James Madison of our faith.

New Calvinism is a return to the purest form of the Reformation found in the John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion. And there is a reason New Calvinism is taking over Protestantism by storm: Protestantism originally came from Calvinism and is well primed to be retrofitted with the original. Forget doctrine, that’s the same thing as football fans talking about stats. It’s interesting, but it doesn’t matter, the game is played on the field. Calvinism is a tradition that has little to do with the election versus freewill issue as well, that’s just a family quarrel about which sibling gets to use the bathroom next. There are two kinds of Protestants in the world: staunch doctrinal Calvinists and those who function like Calvinists. Today, that translates into New Calvinists and everybody else that’s left. New Calvinists strive to continually define the logic that drives their actions; everyone else is just coasting on the basics, but are well primed to step over to the wild side.

Why is this? We find some answers in the Calvin Institutes; specifically, 4.1.21,22. Therein we read:

Wherefore, our initiation into the fellowship of the church is, by the symbol of ablution, to teach us that we have no admission into the family of God, unless by his goodness our impurities are previously washed away (20).

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them.

This is a startling statement for any Christian paying attention. But it is also a grand example of talking about stats; i.e., Christ died once, for all of our sins and that is imputed, in totality one time, at our conversion for all past and future sins, versus how Protestants really function: a weekly focus on the gospel. Why? That’s how we keep our salvation, that’s why. New Calvinists say, “amen.” Baptists protest, but that’s how they function. I have watched it for 30+ years.

Calvin continues:

On the other hand, the Lord has called his people to eternal salvation, and therefore they ought to consider that pardon for their sins is always ready. Hence let us surely hold that if we are admitted and ingrafted into the body of the Church, the forgiveness of sins has been bestowed, and is daily bestowed on us, in divine liberality, through the intervention of Christ’s merits, and the sanctification of the Spirit.

22. To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers. This Paul teaches, when he says that the embassy of reconciliation has been committed to the ministers of the Church, that they may ever and anon in the name of Christ exhort the people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). Therefore, in the communion of saints our sins are constantly forgiven by the ministry of the Church, when presbyters or bishops, to whom the office has been committed, confirm pious consciences, in the hope of pardon and forgiveness by the promises of the gospel, and that as well in public as in private, as the case requires. For there are many who, from their infirmity, stand in need of special pacification, and Paul declares that he testified of the grace of Christ not only in the public assembly, but from house to house, reminding each individually of the doctrine of salvation (Acts 20:20, 21). Three things are here to be observed. First, Whatever be the holiness which the children of God possess, it is always under the condition, that so long as they dwell in a mortal body, they cannot stand before God without forgiveness of sins. Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place.

Why so much emphasis on the same gospel that saved us? Because it keeps saving us. Why so much fuss about buildings? Those are the temples where we find our need for perpetual salvation and forgiveness for sins that would circumvent our justification. Why are pastors put on a pedestal and allowed to rape, pillage, and steal? In them we have our absolution. Why so much fuss about the Lord’s Table and quarreling over real wine or grape juice? There is additional salvation in the sacraments. Why all of the crosses? Same thing: more gospel; more salvation. Why do we sweep scandal under the rug? It is a threat to the institution, and that’s where we find our salvation. Why does American Protestantism have such weak sanctification? Calvin taught that the apostle Paul went from house to house preaching about the same gospel that saved us rather than teaching the full counsel of God, that’s why.

Calvin’s statement about being “engrafted” into the “church” is interesting. The Potter’s House has just adopted Remnant Theology as opposed to Covenant Theology, New Covenant Theology, or Dispensationism. Are we engrafted into a “church” or an “olive tree”? In Romans 9-11, what does that olive tree symbolize? Something to think about.

John Immel is right, action is always driven by logic. In our present day, doctrine is getting lip service while Calvin’s logic is driving the actions. That is why nothing going on in the church makes any sense right now.

And I doubt it ever will until God’s people come out from among them.


Know Your Cuts of Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 19, 2014

Originally posted July 2, 2013

1. Total Depravity: Pertains to the saints also.

2. Justification by Faith Alone: Pertains to sanctification also.

3. Mortification and Vivification: Perpetual death and rebirth for living by faith alone in sanctification to maintain justification. The reliving of our baptism “again and again.”

4. Double Imputation: Christ’s passive obedience to the cross for justification, and His active obedience as a substitution for our obedience in sanctification.

5. Deep Repentance (aka Intelligent Repentance): Seeks the death of mortification in re-experiencing our new birth.

6. New Obedience (aka New Fruit): The experience of Christ’s active obedience in sanctification (vivification).

7. The New Birth: Perpetual mortification and vivification.

8. The Objective Gospel: All reality is interpreted through the redemptive works of Christ.

9. Christ for Us: Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life for our sanctification.

10. The Imperative Command is Grounded in the Indicative Event: Biblical commands show forth what Christ has accomplished for us and what we are unable to do in sanctification. Works are experienced only as they flow from the indicative event of the gospel.

11. Neo-Nomianism (New Law, aka New Legalism): The belief that we can please God by obeying the law in sanctification.

12. Progressive Sanctification: The progression of justification to glorification.

13. Progressive Imputation: Whatever is seen in the gospel narrative and meditated upon is imputed to our sanctification, whether mortification or vivification.

14. The Golden Chain of Salvation: See cut 12.

15. Good Repentance: Repenting of good works.

16. In-Lawed in Christ: Christ fulfilled the law perfectly and imputed it to our sanctification.

17. Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics (the Christocentric Hermeneutic, aka the Apostle’s Hermeneutic): The Bible as historical narrative for the sole purpose of showing forth Christ’s redemptive works.

18. Faith: A neutral entity within us with no intrinsic worth that is able to reflect the object of its focus outside of us. The object of focus can be experienced within, but remains outside of us.

19. The Heart: The residence of evil desires and faith. It can be reoriented (the “reorientation of the heart” or “reorientation of desires”) to reflect Christ via mortification and vivification.

20. Flesh: The world realm where evil is manifested and experienced.

21. Spirit: The Spirit realm where the imputed works of Christ are manifested and experienced (not applied through our actions).

22. Christian Hedonism: Seeks to experience the joy of vivification.

23. Obedience of Faith: New Obedience.

24. Christ in Us: “By faith,” and faith only has substance and reality to the degree of the object it is placed in; i.e., Christ outside of us.

25. Vital Union: Makes experiencing the gospel possible. Makes mortification and vivification possible.

26. Eclipsing the Son (aka the Emphasis Hermeneutic): Focusing on anything other than Christ. Anything that is not seen through a Christocentric prism creates shadows that we live in. The obstacles that create the shadows may be truth, but they aren’t the “best truth.” “They may be good things, but not the best thing.”

27. Sabbath Rest: Sanctification. We are to “rest and feed” on Christ for our Christian life. The primary day this is done is Sunday. Through preaching and the sacraments we “kill” (mortification, or the contemplation of our evil and misery) resulting in vivification throughout the rest of the week.

28. The Subjective Power of the Gospel: The manifestation of the gospel that flows from gospel contemplationism. We never know for certain whether it is a result of our efforts or the Spirit’s work (although the Spirit’s work is always experienced by joy); hence, the power of the objective gospel is subjective (Heidelberg Disputation: Thesis 24).

29. Mortal Sin: Good works by the Christian not attended by fear that they may be of one’s own effort (HD 7).

30. Venial Sin: Good works by the Christian attended with fear (HD 7).

31. Power of the Keys (aka Protestant Absolution): Reformed elders have the authority to bind or loose sin on earth (Calvin Institutes 3.4.12).

32. Redemptive Church Discipline: In all cases to convert one to cuts 1-31. This redeems them to the only one, true faith. This can be a long process, and said person is not free to leave a given church until the elders bind or loose.

33. Preach the Gospel to Yourself: See cuts 1-32.

New Calvinism’s Contribution to the Church: It Reveals What Calvin Really Believed

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 19, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published August 24, 2013

“A question we often hear is, ‘What is the difference between an Old Calvinist and a New Calvinist?’ The answer: maybe the music style and dress code, but that’s about it, Old Calvinists that don’t know what Calvin really believed about soteriology notwithstanding.…. This is the one area where New Calvinists can recommend themselves: they have a firm handle on Calvinology.”

Once upon a time, there was a family in Christianville that was highly respected among all of the town’s people. They owned the town’s water purification plant and purified the town’s water with a formula that had been in their family for centuries.

Then a distant relative of the family moved into town. He was obviously a fellow of the baser sort. “Well, every family has a black sheep” the town’s people reasoned. But then they found out this relative had also purified water in other towns with the same family formula resulting in the death of thousands. Apparently, for the first few years, the formula appears to improve the health of people, but ill effects follow in the long term.

The prestigious family objected and insisted that the family member had tampered with the original formula. What will Christianville do now?

No doubt, New Calvinism must be exposed and stopped, but its unwitting service to the church should not go unmentioned: it has exposed the original family formula, the same formula that evangelicals have fustigated the Catholic Church for over the years. For some reason, we are willing to buy into the idea that three Catholics founded an anti-Catholic movement and never stopped being Catholics. Truly, our Enlightenment forefathers would be ashamed of us for believing such.

Supposedly, the “Reformers” modified the original formula enough to bring life out of death. Now there is debate between the New Calvinists and the Old Calvinists in regard to the originality of that formula. Old Calvinists say the New Calvinists modified the formula. That’s not the case. A question we often hear is, “What is the difference between an Old Calvinist and a New Calvinist?” The answer: maybe the music style and dress code, but that’s about it, Old Calvinists that don’t know what Calvin really believed about soteriology notwithstanding. This is the one area where New Calvinists can recommend themselves: they have a firm handle on Calvinology.

Old Calvinists are obviously very threatened by what the New Calvinists have brought to light. Those who proudly label themselves with something that they misunderstood to begin with fall significantly short of being impressive. But their dilemma is understandable to a point. The Reformers interpreted all reality through Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross. This seeks to use the Bible as a tool for gospel contemplationism only. The sole purpose of the Bible is to show us our sin (mortification), and God’s holiness, leading to a gospel visitation afresh (vivification). The Bible aids us in perpetual rebirth experiences. This is known as the Redemptive Historical use of the Bible.

But that is not the normative in regard to how people interpret literature or reality. Naturally, we interpret literature grammatically. Intuitively, we are exegetical beings. The way words are arranged in a sentence interprets our realty. Until Adam named the animals, they had no part in reality. You say, “Yes they did, even though they were unidentified, they were there—they had presence.” No, the word “unidentified” gives them their meaning in reality. Words interpret our reality. In the Redemptive Historical construct, all the words in the Bible must serve to show us our need to be saved perpetually—those words must continually show us our ruined state so that we can experience salvation (vivification) rather than being a participant in it via sanctification. That would be works salvation according to the Reformers.

To simplify this, it is fair to say that the Reformers brought an Eastern way of interpreting reality into the Western religious world. So, as Christians throughout the centuries read their Bibles, they are/were naturally drawn away from the original Reformed epistemology. The New Calvinists basically rediscovered the original epistemology of the Reformers. Their interpretive construct is critical for living by faith alone in sanctification as a way to maintain justification.

The proof in the pudding is interaction with Old Calvinists who scoff at the idea that New Calvinism is the same thing as their vaunted Reformed heritage. I cite here a debate I recently had with Calvinistic pastor Bret L. McAtee on a social network. The debate represents something that the laity must overcome in regard to seeking out truth and standing for it: academic antagonism. This is a Reformed mainstay. Much of the populous is eliminated from the debate because of a standard set up by the Reformers themselves. This was borrowed from the Eastern concept of social caste. The Reformers established a whole other standard of truth through councils, creeds, and catechisms attended by, “Divines.” Notably, those who drafted the Westminster Confession of Faith are known as the “Westminster Divines.” This is no more or no less than the Hindu Sage. True, Hinduism looks inward to interpret reality beyond the five senses while Reformed theology looks outward. But both interpret reality through an anti-grammatical construct. New Calvinists state implicitly that a literal, grammatical interpretation must bow to the redemptive interpretive process and its mortification /vivification experience.

Point being, throughout my debate with Pastor Bret L. MacAtee, he resorts to this, you’re a peasant and I am a sage communication technique.  He also tried to use the Reformed debate technique of assumptive metaphysics. What’s that? That is the assumption that the reality established by the Reformers is truth because they state it so. And this has worked well. Most Christians associate truth with “orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy is a truth established by men. The Reformers play word games here by calling documents such as the Westminster Confession, “subordinate truth,” but that is disingenuous. In fact, those who reject orthodoxy are referred to as “heterodox,” and as we shall see, MacAtee makes that synonymous with rejecting the gospel itself. Part and parcel with debating a Calvinist is their attempt to set the metaphysical parameters of the debate. I did not allow this to happen.

Let’s review these important points: a debate with a Calvinist will always involve academic antagonism and metaphysical assumption.

Note: Posts on social internet threads don’t always appear in the intended order because of varied response times to particular points. Also, it was a lengthy thread, and only the posts that articulate my summation here are included, and in the order that best clarifies the points that are being made.

McAtee  got the ball rolling by using academic antagonism right out of the gate:

BM: And that New Calvinism is authentic Calvinism is a howler of a statement.

PD: Bret, It’s a “howler” because you get your information from men. I get my information from 6 years of research on the Reformation and the Calvin institutes. You are clueless.

BM: LOL … Your indicting the wrong Chap Paul. Want to compare our reading over the years in Calvin and Calvin studies?

You’d lose.

And … I’ve read your books as well.

Those well versed in Reformed theology need not bow to this antagonism. We are in the truth business and are not bound by the musings of men. One must bring the debate to one or more subjects where Calvinism is vulnerable; in this case, progressive justification:

PD: Oh, so you believe in Progressive Justification?

BM: Nope … I believe in eternal justification, objective justification and then subjective justification … rightly explained and understood.

PD: “Nope”? Really? So tell me what book and chapter in the Calvin Institutes where Calvin talks about Progressive Justification.

PD: You there Brett?

BM: Yes yes Paul … I’ve read your open letter. An open letter that suggests you don’t know what you’re talking about and are a theological novice.

Two things here. First, his description of what he believes about justification is in fact New Calvinism to a “T.” New Calvinists, like Calvin, believed that grace remains completely outside of the believer and is only objective truth outside of us. Justification during our Christian life continues and is experienced subjectively. “Eternal justification” could refer to election or final justification which he seems to have left out. Nevertheless, note his description in relationship to the New Calvinist mantras, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us and the subjective power of the objective gospel. The illustration below shows the kinship between New Calvinism and what McAtee stated:

Reformed Chain 2

One Achilles’ heel for Calvinists is while denying that they believe in progressive justification, the title of book three and the fourteenth chapter of the Calvin Institutes is, “The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive.” This is what I was trying to get McAtee to explain. He once again resorted to academic antagonism by calling me a “theological novice” while this is one of several questions that he wouldn’t answer.

PD: So, when Calvin said that justification is progressive, he really didn’t mean that justification is progressive. Is that what you are saying?

BM: I’m saying you don’t know the difference between progressive and perpetual.

PD: Both move forward in time.

PD: No? Am I missing the definition in its “gospel context”?

PD: Both move forward in time—yes or no big guy.

This is the whole motif that Calvinists are on some higher plane of understanding to the point where what seems obvious to the peasantry really isn’t realty. Hence, “progressive” and “perpetual” are supposedly different concepts that the common man is unable to understand. Again, I ignored the academic antagonism and asked him if both words have the idea of moving forward in time. He wouldn’t answer the question; instead, he posed a question based on Reformed pseudo-church history:

BM: Only an idiot could believe that Cardinal Sadolet and Rome hated Calvin because he agreed with them on Justification.

This response combines academic antagonism and metaphysical assumption. The assumption is that, according to the Reformed motif, there was a great gulf in the view on justification between Rome and the Reformers, and the only reason Rome hated the Reformers is because of their diametrically opposed views on justification. This is not reality at all for a couple of reasons. First, Calvin got his theology from St. Augustine who is a celebrated spiritual hero in the Catholic Church till this day. Secondly, Augustine, Luther, nor Calvin ever renounced their own membership in the Catholic Church. Here is how I sated it further along in the debate:

PD: Bret, let me also say that a cursory observation of church history shows that Augustine, Calvin, and Luther never left the Catholic Church. Yet, you are incredulous that their take on justification would be basically the same. So is it, A. You just don’t know any better, or B. You know, but you are deliberately keeping your flock dumbed down? Augustine was a die-hard Catholic till the end while Calvin cites him more than 400 times in the Institutes. And the idea that they had the same basic approach to justification as Rome is an over the top idea?

McAtee continued to bear down with heavy doses of academic antagonism and metaphysical assumptions with this statement:

BM: Like all idiots you are reading Calvin through a keyhole and then reinterpreting him through the Keyhole instead of letting his whole corpus of thought inform you. You are an example of someone that got in way over his head into areas he was not yet ready to think about. You may yet return to Biblical Christianity Paul and leave your heterodox ways and thinking.

Please remember at this point that he refused to answer the simplest of questions: did Calvin mean progressive by “progressive,” and does both perpetual and progressive have the idea of moving forward in time? Instead, he suggests that all of Calvin’s massive literary droning would have to be read and studied to properly understand what Calvin meant by the very use of specific words. Of course, that is a ridiculous notion, but not a rare argument among the Reformed. The same argument is often used to defend John Piper who has also written a huge mass of literary droning. Note also that my “heterodox” (other than orthodoxy) is likened to a departure from “Biblical Christianity.”  The mode of operation is to demean and argue from a reality that results in the desired outcome.

McAtee then introduces another Reformed technique of debate that we will call, drowning by orthodoxy. He then began to copy and paste a mass of Reformed orthodoxy that would take two days to read. The assumption is that I am not familiar with what he pasted into the stream. It assumes the response, “Oh my! I don’t understand any of this deep orthodoxy! And there is so much of it! Hark, I know nothing! What to do? His mind is so far above me!” Actually, I am very familiar with the information posted, especially his references to articles in the Trinity Review. Ironically, if that is a strong enough word, the founder of the Trinity Review bought into New Calvinism during the 90’s. I stated the following later in the thread:

PD: Furthermore Bret, you said you read my book, but yet you quote John W. Robbins’ Trinity Review above to make your point. As clearly documented in my book on pages 63-65, I show that Robbins bought into the Forum’s teachings via the SDA theologian Robert Brinsmead in 1995. As you know, New Calvinism came out of the Forum and Graeme Goldsworthy is popular in the movement till this day. Robbins reprinted Brinsmead’s magnum opus on justification in the Trinity Review, yet, you cite The Trinity Review as proof that Calvinists are not New Calvinists. Now if anything is funny, that is.

One of his several references to the Trinity Review follows:

The Trinity Foundation – Calvin on the “Pernicious Hypocrisy” of Justification by Faith and Works

That some serious slippage has occurred away from the classical Protestant doctrine of justification sola fide has been well documented in many religious publications. Certain teachers – Douglas Wilson.

Furthermore, his excerpts copied and pasted from the Calvin Institutes contained things like the following:

…a great part of mankind imagine that righteousness is composed of faith and works [but according to Philippians 3:8-9] a man who wishes to obtain Christ’s righteousness must abandon his own righteousness…. From this it follows that so long as any particle of works-righteousness remains some occasion for boasting remains with us [Institutes, 3.11.13].

This is yet another technique used by Calvinists to confuse those who are trying to nail their false doctrine by making distinctions between justification and sanctification—they continually refer back to justification and Sola Fide. Any attempt to make theological distinctions between the two is answered with more and more Reformed sanctification by justification orthodoxy.  Even his Institute pasting was in context of what the Trinity Review said about it. This elicited the following responses from me:

PD: Brett, smothering me in all of this orthodox propaganda isn’t answering my question. Have you read CI 3.14 on what Calvin said about progressive justification or not? Why are you citing other people? I asked you as someone who says he reads the CI. You deny that your information comes from men, and then you cite a bunch of men. I want to know your specific evaluation of CI 3.14

[Note: all of his citations avoided the aforementioned title of CI 3.14 which resulted in the following reply: “I’m citing Calvin Paul. Read the quotes from the Institutes. You can’t make CI 3.14 disagree with the rest of what Calvin said on the subject. Good grief man … this is elementary hermeneutics” ( i.e., progressive doesn’t mean “progressive” because of other things Calvin wrote)].

PD: Right, he is applying justification truth to sanctification, so what’s your point?

PD: No Bret, I am not confused by your discussion of sanctification in a justification way.

I will shortly pause here and introduce yet another debate tactic of the Calvinist: the divine unction by a philosopher king declaring me to be unregenerate. Simply pronouncing a curse on your opponent has to be the quintessential easy button:

O Foolish Dohse … who has bewitched you?

Like all good Calvinists, McAtee believes in Calvin’s “power of the keys” that gives Reformed elders the power to loose or bind sin on earth. I have received several veiled threats by Reformed elders to bind my sin on earth. Some not so veiled.

McAtee’s comment about “elementary hermeneutics” was also addressed:

PD: “Elementary hermeneutics” ? Which hermeneutic? You act like there is only one.

BM: I’m talking about the place of Hermeneutics in interpreting literature. You’re hermeneutic on Calvin sucks.

PD: Redemptive or Grammatical Bret? Which one?

BM: Paul … I’m not talking about hermeneutics in terms of reading Scripture. I’m talking about hermeneutics in terms of reading Calvin which should be Historical Grammatical.

Here, McAtee seems to infer that there is a different hermeneutic for interpreting literature, and a different hermeneutic for interpreting the Bible. I will let that statement stand on its own and move on to the part of the debate where McAfee concedes that perpetual forgiveness, the same kind of forgiveness that saved us, needs continued application in the church:

PD: (Quoting BM) “Do you really want to advance the idea that Calvin and Rome agreed on Justification? Is that really your position Paul?” (Answer) Both held to a linear gospel which is progressive justification. They disagreed on how to get from justification to glorification.

But when it gets right down to it, BOTH by ecclesiastical absolution. Citations from CI available upon request.


PM: Bret, may I list the very fair questions you have not answered yet?

BM: Paul … purple.

BM: Paul … should I post again the very fair quotes from Calvin’s own pen indicating that he did not believe in progressive justification and so did not believe that one had to be sanctified before one could be justified?

PD: Of course not, he believed sanctification was progressive justification. But here is the better question: Why did he believe a justifying forgiveness of sins needed to be continually sought IN the church?

After all of his vehement denial that Calvin believed in a progressive justification, he begins to concede that a perpetual forgiveness for sin in the church for the purpose of keeping us justified is needed:

BM: “Not by righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us”; that being justified by his grace, we might become the heirs of everlasting life, (2Ti 1: 9; Tit 3: 4, 5). By this confession we strip man of every particle of righteous, until by mere mercy he is regenerated unto the hope of eternal life, since it is not true to say we are justified by grace, if works contribute in any degree to our justification. The apostle undoubtedly had not forgotten himself in declaring that justification is gratuitous, seeing he argues in another place, that if works are of any avail, “grace is no more grace,”

(Rom 11: 6). And what else does our Lord mean, when he declares, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance?” (Mat 9: 13). If sinners alone are admitted, why do we seek admission by means of fictitious righteousness?

BM: Why do we expect corn plants to be irrigated outside a corn field?

PD: So, the point you are making here agrees with Calvin in context of sanctification. Justification must continually be sought in sanctification to retain a just standing before God.

BM: Section 11. In addition to the two former arguments, a third adduced against the Sophists, to show that whatever be the works of the regenerate, they are justified solely by faith and the free imputation of Christ’s righteousness….[Finally, BM quotes from the infamous 14th chapter of book three from the Institutes. Curiously, he only cites the section. Calvin’s point in sections 9-11 (BM’s long copy and paste is omitted here) is that Christians are not capable of doing any meritorious work before God. Therefore, they need “perpetual reconciliation” in the church. BM cites theses sections from the Calvin Institutes to make the very point that he denied throughout the whole debate].

PM: Bret, why did Calvin believe that a justifying forgiveness had to be continually sought in the church?

BM:  The Church is the body of Christ where Christ is proclaimed. Where else would one go to be reminded that they are forgiven? [Do Christians need to be “reminded” that they have been forgiven? Peter said that we only forget that we are forgiven when we fail to ADD works to our faith (2PET 1:5-11)].

PD: Bret, he wasn’t talking about being “reminded” he was talking about perpetual “reconciliation.”

PD: What does “reconciliation” mean Bret?

PD: Do we need continual reconciliation?

BM: Paul … does Christ ever live to intercede for us?


PD: So, you are saying that is to keep us justified?

BM: Are you saying that we could be justified without His ongoing Intercession? Could we be justified by a Christ who was not at the right hand of the Father as our continual advocate? If Justification is merely in the death of Christ then there was no reason for Him to have been resurrected, ascended and set apart for the continual Priestly work of Intercession.

PD: Then why did Calvin teach that we have to continually seek that forgiveness in the church? If Christ is doing all of the work in heaven?

BM: Why do we expect corn plants to be irrigated outside a corn field?

[Note: We have to keep ourselves justified by staying in the cornfield of justification. He is conceding what he denied throughout the whole debate].

BM: The Church is the body of Christ. The minister the voice of Christ pronouncing the reminder of sins forgiven.

[Note: We have to be continually reminded that we are forgiven in order to stay justified].

PD: So, there is a continued need for forgiveness of sins to remain justified?

BM: Ask Jesus,

5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.

PD: You make my point for me. Calvin clearly said the whole washing of the body is continually needed.

PD: Jesus said it isn’t needed, Calvin said it is. That is, “the washing” which Calvin called “ablution.”

McAtee unwittingly cited John 13:5-10 in an effort to make his point. Jesus’ point in the passage is that once a person is washed (justified: 1COR 6:11) they are clean and have no further need of washing. There is a need to seek forgiveness for daily sin that disrupts our family relationship with God. That is probably what Christ is talking about in regard to the washing of feet. I would probably include 1John 1:9 here as well. This is further seen in what Christ told the woman at the well. When one drinks the water of salvation, they will never thirst again. In other words, there is no need for a perpetual returning to the well of salvation/justification.


Why Church Can’t Help People

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 18, 2014

My daughter sends me some articles from time to time written by Reformed academics who have completely taken over the institutional church in this country. What’s left of the church doesn’t possess any discernment and feeds off the who’s who of Christian academia. Historically, there have been about five Reformed resurgences like the one we are presently experiencing that always die out, and the reason they die out is very simple: it’s a false gospel. This post addresses the article because it is indicative of why Protestantism is a false gospel, and since authentic Protestantism presently dominates the American institutional church, there is no help to be found in it. To the contrary, it will rob hurting people of any hope they had left because many believe church is Christianity. Church is not Christianity.

Protestantism was founded on the false gospel of progressive justification. That false gospel produced a tradition of worship practices that survived a purist Protestant doctrine, but invariably paved the way for a return to the original article. In other words, Protestants come to a better understanding of the gospel, but continue to practice the traditions that came from the original article, which feeds the weakness of the original back into the church. So, Protestant Light gets blamed for the mundane, and the solution is to “return to our original roots that we have strayed from.” The original article dies out, but again, the traditions that came from the original continue; i.e., solemn observance of the Lord’s Table, alter calls (Absolution Light), “gospel” everything, ungifted pastors who buy their pastorate from institutional seminaries, heretics vaunted as spiritual heroes, the perpetual regurgitation of Reformed orthodoxy as truth, weak sanctification, avoidance of the difficult issues of life, canned worship services, an institution focus, canned gospel presentations, a program for everything, endless committees, little emphasis on individual gifts, the making of saved people and not disciples, doctrinal illiteracy of shameful proportions, etc.,  etc., etc.

In said article from The Gospel Coalition blog, the author proffers a solution for helping Christians who struggle with homosexuality. It is fairly easy to see that his solutions flow from the original Protestant gospel of progressive justification. Salvation has a beginning, a progression, and a “final justification.” Since salvation progresses, what they deceptively call “progressive sanctification,” we must supposedly progress in our salvation in the same way we were saved, by faith alone.

Hence, “desires” like homosexuality are completely out of our control. God may eradicate the desire, and then again, He may not because sanctification is of faith alone just like our salvation. To say that we have a role in change is the same as saying we have a role in our salvation according to the Reformed viewpoint. Remember, according to Reformed thought, the Christian life is a continuation of our original salvation; as we often hear, “Salvation is of grace from beginning to end.” This makes the Christian life part of the salvation process. However, salvation is not a process; it is a onetime event—the Christian life is completely separate.

Therefore, the author’s solution is a community that embraces a “theology of  unfillment.”

This is the normative Christian experience— to live with incompletion, unfulfillment, and an awareness that the gospel’s imperatives will challenge and frustrate our natural impulses in many ways.

If we’re going to summon people to sexual chastity, we should be welcoming one another into a community in which we are all wrestling with unsatisfied desires that will only fully and finally be met in Christ. Such a community will help create a plausibility structure in which our same-sex attracted friends living with daily unfulfillment see that they are not the only ones.

Of course, this contradicts the biblical promise that God will give us the desires of our heart if we put Him first. But moreover, it follows the Reformed tradition of denying the new birth. The gospel is not a mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel, it is following Christ in death and resurrection. The old self dies, and is resurrected as a new creature, “behold, all things are new.” The new Christian will have new desires. Sometimes, the old desires will die off quickly and will be replaced with new desires, while in other cases the old ways will linger.

But, the Bible is clear, if remaining sin provokes us with desires that oppose the Spirit, we are not enslaved to those desires even though it may feel like it. The born again Christian is able to say “no” to those desires. Also, saying no to errant desires will rob the same desires of “provisions.” Obedience to sinful desires will enslave us to those desires, and for the Christian, that is totally unnecessary. In contrast, our inclinations as Christians will be enslavement to righteousness:

Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

This is true because…

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

If a professing Christian has conflicting desires, or a desire to overcome passions that are contrary to God’s will according to the Bible, that is a very good sign, and he/she can do it—it’s a promise from God.  This is why the institutional church cannot help people; it denies the new birth and disregards the Bible’s role in sanctification.


Freewriting Notes for “Against Church”: The Problem with Church; Salvation Does NOT Sanctify

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 18, 2014

Against Church CoverWhat’s wrong with church? Every honest longtime confessing evangelical will testify to the same experience; we have all been longing and searching for that elusive “revival.” Where is the power of Christ’s resurrection that the apostle Paul wrote of? Evangelicals spend their whole lives looking for the newest program that will usher in revival after the last one failed. Some programs offer a hope of revival, but soon burn out like a comet.

“Revivals” come and go. Church history is full of them. Christian scholars study them in order to “rediscover” the secret to escaping this mundane repetition we call church. We show up at a certain time, we are told when to stand, when to sing, when to sit down, when to raise our hand, what to think, when to put our money in the plate, when to leave, and when to come back. Our children cynically refer to the mandatory routine as “doing church.” Every now and then we recognize that we bring our Bibles with us to church, but really don’t need them, and wonder why; an unasked question that our children stopped asking themselves long ago. In most cases, Bibles are unopened during the week and church lost and found boxes are full of unclaimed Bibles. Precious few are excited about witnessing, and the vast majority of evangelicals have never led another person to the Lord.

Let’s be honest: church is boring except when it is controversial. We are so desperate for some spiritual excitement that we have our own Christian versions of Entertainment Tonight and The National Enquirer, and frankly, the church excels at supplying fodder for such. Sadly, the unchurched that have not yet been duped by the pitch, “We are different at Community Different Church, come visit and see for yourself” are now few and far between. The so-called New Calvinist revival of our day is really just a redistribution of sheep from smaller institutions to bigger institutions that offer more bells and whistles.

In all of this, no one asks if church might be the problem with church. While confessing, “The church is not a building; it’s the people,” emphasis on the institutional aspects of church dwarf any consideration of individuals. Committees abound for the sake of the institution while individuals are “left in the hands of God and His unfailing mercies.” If the church needs a coat of paint, you can bet a work day will be scheduled to get it done. But when a life needs renovation, Christians are utterly powerless to do anything about it. Pastors routinely farm-out serious life problems to the “experts.” The Bible is adequate for run of the mill problems, but the experts are needed for the “deeper” problems of life; besides, “at least they are saved.” Because He lives, you can face tomorrow because you are going to heaven anyway. Little of Christianity is about offering present hope and is mere fire insurance. When our children see this, they assume at least two things: God doesn’t have answers, and if He really created us, why not?

Could it be that the whole problem is profoundly simple? Could it be that the church is trying to live out the power of Christ’s resurrection through His death? And if so, why is that the problem?

It is the problem because Christ’s death is a onetime past event that is finished while the power of His resurrection is present continuance by virtue of the fact that it is power. Christ never needed a death or resurrection; He did that for us because we needed it, and many still do. Christ’s death and resurrection is a gift to us—the “good news.” One is a finished work, but the other is alive, and where there is life, growth is assumed. Life is not powered from death, life is powered from life.

The purpose of Christ’s death was to get rid of the old us, and for the new us to experience the power of His resurrection. Do we accomplish that through His death, or His resurrection? Did the old us really die, and is the new us really a completely new person endowed with the life and power of Christ’s resurrection? If that’s the case, why is the experience of Christ’s resurrection so elusive?

The problem follows: a literal resurrection of the individual empowers the individual and not the institution. The American church is comprised of splendid buildings full of broken people. In fact, at a conference in Columbus, Ohio Calvinist DA Carson stated that Christians are “broken people.” Well, look around, the mega-church buildings are not broken—far from it as they invoke awe in those who look upon them. More and more evangelical pastors are proudly coming out of the ecclesiastical closet and “resigning from the job of trying to fix people” because they can’t be fixed. Recently, Calvinist James MacDonald triumphantly proclaimed such while overseeing a multimillion dollar institutional church campus network.  However, far be it from the church to resign from fixing the church building or in any way hinder the operation of the institution.

There is only one reason why the visible facilities of the church deserve so much honor, and by no means excluding things like four million dollar aquariums in the foyers: salvation by institution. However, the biblical emphasis is on the individual as a vital part of the body of Christ, and the temples being the very bodies of the believers:

1 Corinthians 3:6 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 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.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1Corinthians 12:12 – For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

This is why it is critical that God’s people disciple each other in private homes and not institutions; invariably the focus becomes the institution and not the individual member. The institution becomes the temple  to the exclusion of the temples. Not only is it not God’s intention that His people meet corporately in a large central location, but it never was the model until it was introduced  in the 4th century. Synagogues operated in private homes and were separate from temple worship and priests. Synagogues, which later became the home fellowships of the 1st century Christian assemblies, were operated by the laity. Though priests were treated with honor when they visited, they had no authority in the local synagogues. The only exception was Philo’s Hellenistic influence on Jewish culture which led to institutionalized synagogues. Even the priesthood of the temple was redefined as a holy nation of royal priests, originally in reference to individual believers (1Peter 2:9).

Adding to the misplaced emphasis on church as institution is the idea that God’s kingdom is presently on earth. The good news of the kingdom means that God’s kingdom is presently on earth and seeking to eventually take dominion over all things. Of course, this fuels the concept of institution dramatically. In contrast, believers are “aliens,” “sojourners,” and “ambassadors” here on earth.

1Peter 2:11 – Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

2Corinthians 5:20 – Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Symptoms of salvation by institution can be seen everywhere in contemporary evangelicalism. A minority of truth-loving Christians are often dumbfounded by the mysterious behavior of Christianity at large in the institutional church. Nevertheless, most of this behavior can be explained via salvation by institution. If God appointed a glorious institution to usher people into heaven, we can expect the buildings to reflect God’s glory while the inner rooms are full of wickedness, and if not wickedness, compromise.

How this concept crept into the church historically encompasses the subject of ancient philosophy that will be addressed later; this chapter focuses on the necessary gospel that flowed from the philosophical concept of salvation by institution. Salvation by institution is church, and church therefore needed its own gospel that functions in an institutional construct. This is a gospel that necessarily focuses on the wellbeing of the institution and not the individual. If individuals have all they need to be a temple in and of themselves—they don’t need an institution. That’s a problem for institutions. Therefore, the individual must be stripped of all ability, and must be completely dependent on the institution for…spiritual growth? Hardly.  Those stakes are not high enough to sufficiently support the institution; the individual must trust the institution for their very salvation.

Therefore, salvation cannot be a finished work. Salvation must be progressive. If the individual is saved and secure, they have need of little including some sort of institution. If NOTHING can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39), what do we need an institution for?

Consequently, the institution must be the temple and not the believers, and when believers assemble together, it is in a temple and not the gathering together of a body. The biblical distinctions between body and temple are very deliberate. Christians are to view saved individuals as functioning body parts. The apostle Paul stated clearly that there is no spiritual caste system in a body. Body parts are categorized as visible/nonvisible, but obviously, the nonvisible parts are just as important as the visible parts. In a home fellowship construct, the focus is body parts, in the institutional church the focus is the temple. The New Testament invests in this distinction considerably. Christ doesn’t want centralized worship—He wants a fluid mass of body parts worshiping in spirit and truth. Christianity doesn’t need temples; the individual Christians are temples that are home to the Holy Spirit, and the focus is that the Holy Spirit is at peace in His dwelling.

Why then do many pastors farm-out Christians who have no peace in their temples to “experts”? Because they are seen as a drag on the institutional machine. They are not seen as part of the body, they are seen as a mere recipient of institutional salvation. Likewise, sin is swept under the rug to preserve the institution because it is a conduit from beginning salvation to final salvation, and the gospel of church will serve that purpose and that purpose alone. Threats of any sort to the institution must be neutralized.

The institutional gospel must endorse the institutional church as a conduit to heaven. That necessarily requires that salvation is not finished. If salvation is finished, the institutional church is not needed; therefore, the church must have its own gospel. The institutional church cannot be supported by the low stakes of quality Christian living—the stakes must be higher to support what some call a “vast evangelical industrial complex.” That would be salvation itself—the consequences must be eternal.

The simplest way to differentiate the home fellowship gospel from the church gospel is “law.” In the Bible, “law” is a word that refers to the full counsel of God. It is also referred to as “Scripture,” “holy writ,” “the law and the prophets,” “the gospel,” “the word,” “the law of liberty,” or simply, “the law.” The Bible explains how people are saved, and guides believers according to the issues of life and life more abundantly. Unbelievers will be judged by the Bible if they refuse to be reconciled to God; in that sense the Bible condemns. But believers learn and apply the wisdom of the Bible to their lives leading to a life “built on a rock.”

Matthew 7:24 – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Wise obedience to God’s law also leads to a blessed life:

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.

Likewise, doing the word leads to peace:

Philippians 4: 8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

To the unbeliever, the law is death, but to the believer the law is life. This has never changed from the time Moses exhorted the Israelites to choose between life and death until now. In regard to salvation, the unbeliever must have the law’s ability to condemn cancelled which leads to a new life in the Spirit guided by God’s law. When someone is saved, they pass from death to life; that is, from the law’s condemnation to life in the law. The law’s ability to condemn is cancelled. Now, the same law gives life—it’s the full counsel of God for life and godliness (2Peter 1:3).

This takes place when a candidate for salvation realizes that salvation is not a mere mental ascent to the facts of the gospel, it is a decision to follow Christ in death and resurrection. The person desires to die with Christ for the purpose of eradicating the old self that was under the condemnation of the law, and wishes to be resurrected with Christ as a new creature who loves His law. The new creature should not see obedience as a requirement for anything, but rather a privilege to love God and others. He/she has chosen life over death. Obedience is not a requirement of any sort, it is the way of wisdom and life.

If the Christian is permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption, is able to understand the full counsel of God independently (and that counsel is the final word on truth), cannot be condemned by the law, and cannot be separated from the love of God by anyone or anything, then the institutional church is not efficacious for eternal life. Nothing is needed to finalize salvation; and in regard to living a life that glorifies God, an organization is not needed, only the body of Christ is needed. The key is mutual edification—not institutional authority.

As God’s supposed overseer of salvation, the church proffers a gospel that restricts the law to a single dimension of condemnation.  In other words, the law can only condemn, and cannot liberate, bless, or sanctify. “Sanctification” is the setting apart of one’s life for holy purposes. “Justification” is the impartation of God’s righteousness to the believer through the quickening of the Holy Spirit. This is the new birth in which a person is born anew by the seed of God (1John 3:8-10). The new birth makes the believer righteous. This is because they are born of God, and their desires are turned towards fulfilling the law which once condemned them. Prior to salvation there is no love for God’s law, but now…

Psalm 119:97 – Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Nun 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.

Also prior to salvation, all the law could do was condemn—this is the apostle Paul’s “under law” versus “under grace” distinction between the saved and the unsaved.

In regard to the institutional church in our Western culture, this book primarily addresses the Reformation which was founded as an institutional model from its conception, and needed a gospel suited for such.

The Reformation gospel makes no distinction between the law’s role for the unsaved and saved; in both cases, the law can only condemn. The most basic problem arising out of this is the law becomes the standard for justification when in fact God makes believers righteous “apart from the law” (Romans 3:21). There is NO law in justification. Christ went to the cross to end the law for justification (Romans 10:4). Those under grace nevertheless now love God’s law. What the Reformers did in essence said…

“You love the law, fine and dandy, but a perfect keeping of the law must be maintained in order for you to be justified and remain justified, so any attempt to keep the law as a Christian is the same as trying to keep the law in order to justify yourself.”

This premise of the Reformation gospel, the crux of it, is well articulated by the late Reformed think tank, the Australian Forum:

After a man hears the conditions of acceptance with God and eternal life, and is made sensible of his inability to meet those conditions, the Word of God comes to him in the gospel. He hears that Christ stood in his place and kept the law of God for him. By dying on the cross, Christ satisfied all the law’s demands. The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

We say again, only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

On the other hand, the law is dishonored by the man who presumes to bring to it his own life of obedience. The fact that he thinks the law will be satisfied with his “rotten stubble and straw” (Luther) shows what a low estimate he has of the holiness of God and what a high estimate he has of his own righteousness. Only in Jesus Christ is there an obedience with which the law is well pleased. Because faith brings only what Jesus has done, it is the highest honor that can be paid to the law (Rom. 3:31). [The Forum’s theological journal, Present Truth: “Law and Gospel,” Volume 7, Article 2, Part 2; also see the Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11].

This is what makes the Reformation gospel patently false. The law is not Justification’s standard. If there is any standard at all, it is a love for the law, not a perfect keeping of it. Christ ended the law for justification, and the law is now the standard of love for sanctification. The Christian’s motives for obedience are pure because he/she knows the law has NO bearing on their justified state. The only motive for obedience is love, but the law is now the standard for what love is in sanctification.

The crux for the Reformed gospel now becomes how one obtains a perfect keeping of the law apart from any obedience of the “believer.” This is a system where perfect obedience must be continually imputed to the believer in order to satisfy the law. It boils down to a system where perfect obedience satisfies the law through faith alone in whatever that system is. In the Reformed construct, that necessarily requires that Jesus not only died for our sins, but also lived a life of perfect obedience to the law while He was ministering on earth. This is called “double imputation.” Our sins were imputed to Christ, and then He died to pay the penalty thereof, and His perfect obedience to the law is also imputed to us so that the law, being the standard of justification, is satisfied.

This is not a new approach; this whole idea of justification’s standard being a perfect keeping of the law. The apostle Paul argued against this universal anti-gospel in his letter to the Galatians in the following way:

Galatians 3:15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

What is Paul saying? He is speaking from the perspective of offspring and the offspring that gives eternal life according to “the promise.” Salvation is based on the covenant God made with Abraham based on promise alone. The promise involved ONE offspring, NOT more than one. If law is a standard for justification, it is in fact an additional offspring—that’s Paul’s point exactly.

This is where the concept of covenant comes in. To say that all sin was imputed to Christ is not exactly right. Actually, all sin is imputed to the Old Covenant law, and then Christ came to end the law and all of the sin imputed to it. Sin is defined by breaking the law (1John 3:4). All sin is imputed to the Old Covenant law until faith comes. That’s why Christ came to end the law for righteousness. In regard to justification, the law and all of our sins imputed to it are cast away as far as the east is from the west. That’s the function of the New Covenant in this age: it ends sin while the Old Covenant only covered sin. That’s why the New Covenant is a “better” covenant; it doesn’t just cover sin, it ends sin. The coming of the Old Covenant did not replace the Abrahamic covenant because it was ratified according to the promise of the one seed 430 years prior. The Old Covenant was a “guardian” or protector until Christ came to end the law.

Hence, to say that the law is the standard for righteousness is to also say that it was part of the promise and is an additional seed that can give life—no, only Christ can give life.  Who keeps the law is irrelevant, it cannot give life in regard to justification—there is only ONE SEED.  Christ didn’t come to keep the Old Testament law for us—He came to end the law for us. The New Covenant is not a covering of sin—it is an ending of sin.

On this wise, the Old Covenant still has a function presently; unbelievers are still under it. Every sin they commit is against that law and imputed to it. When they believe on Christ, that law, the “law of sin and death” is ended along with all sins they ever committed. One reason for this ending is because they die with Christ, and are no longer under that covenant:

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? 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. 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.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Indeed, the Old Covenant law was “served,” but now the law that kept our sins “captive” is ended by Christ, and we “serve” in the new way of the Spirit, BUT that does not mean that there is not a written law that we “UPHOLD” (Romans 3:31). This same law which includes both covenants is now the sword of the Spirit and our guide for loving God and others. We not only died with Christ to end our sins, but we were resurrected with Him in order to uphold the law for the sake of love. Our NEW desire is to love God and others through obedience to the law. It was the same, as we have seen in Psalms 119 for those under the Old covenant, but at that time their sins were only covered by the law and not ended. This makes the New covenant “better.”

We are saved (justified) by faith alone, but in sanctification, our faith WORKS through love:

Galatians 5:2 – Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love [“If you love me, keep my commandments”].

And what about future sin after salvation?

Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 7:8…Apart from the law, sin lies dead.

However, the universal anti-gospel of the ages retains the law as a covering and the very standard of justification. It makes the law a co-heir with Christ. This necessary separation of law from the believer because he/she cannot keep it perfectly circumvents any ability to love God and others (“If you love me, keep my commandments”), separates law from sanctification, and is the very definition of antinomianism. In the Bible, antinomianism is stated as the antithesis of love (Psalm 119:70, Matthew 24:11, John 14:15).

Consequently, the vast majority of denominations that came out of the Protestant Reformation came up with their own systems that impute a satisfaction of the law to the “believer” who must appropriate this satisfaction by faith alone in whatever that system may be. However, most systems followed the basic principles of the most notable Reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin. Also, it stands to reason that these systems are encompassed within the authority of an institution because of the complexity of such systems, but also the simplicity as well.  Because a perfect keeping of the law must be satisfied in order to justify, and no one can keep the law perfectly, there must be a way for the “believer” to have a perfect keeping of the law credited to their account. When figuring that out from Scripture, it seems complex, but institutions endowed with God’s authority are supposedly vested with the responsibility to make the application simple for the great unwashed masses via orthodoxy. Said another way; ritual, or the “traditions of men.”  Note once again Galatians 5:2ff., the Judaizes proffered the ritual of circumcision as a fulfillment of the law for justification. Paul said no; ritual cannot replace a fulfillment of the law for justification unless you keep the whole law perfectly. The law must be ended.

In the final analysis, most religions and denominations that comprise them, bridge a particular standard of righteousness with a ritual system based on a mediation authority between the common people and God. This is always a temple focused institution. God’s system has no standard for righteousness, but only a standard that defines love. When it gets right down to it, what standard could ever adequately define God’s righteousness? The apostle John stated that the world was not big enough to hold a book that would record the good works Christ did while He ministered on earth; so, we are to believe that Christ fulfilled all righteousness in our stead by obeying the Old Testament perfectly? In addition to this problematic question, the New Testament had not yet been written, and many prophecies in both the Old and New testaments are not yet fulfilled.

These substitute systems that errantly seek to satisfy a law by proxy offer the masses a simplistic ritual or tradition that shows their faith in whatever system that credits perfection to their account. This is always done via an institution. The institution is supposedly the God-ordained authority to usher the masses into an eternal utopia of some sort. People then pick the institution of their choice generally assuming that their good intentions and willingness to humbly submit to an authority will get them into heaven.

In the Protestant construct, that is defined as present and future sins removing us from grace which requires perpetual atonement. This is achieved by continually returning to the same gospel that saved us. “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” is even a well-traveled mantra among the Neo-Calvinists of our day. This perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us is only sanctioned in the institutional church overseen by Reformed elders:

Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death—viz. ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered (The Calvin Institutes: 3.14.11).

Nor by remission of sins does the Lord only once for all elect and admit us into the Church, but by the same means he preserves and defends us in it. For what would it avail us to receive a pardon of which we were afterwards to have no use? That the mercy of the Lord would be vain and delusive if only granted once, all the godly can bear witness; for there is none who is not conscious, during his whole life, of many infirmities which stand in need of divine mercy. And truly it is not without cause that the Lord promises this gift specially to his own household, nor in vain that he orders the same message of reconciliation to be daily delivered to them (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.21).

To impart this blessing to us, the keys have been given to the Church (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). For when Christ gave the command to the apostles, and conferred the power of forgiving sins, he not merely intended that they should loose the sins of those who should be converted from impiety to the faith of Christ; but, moreover, that they should perpetually perform this office among believers (The Calvin Institutes: 4.1.22).

Secondly, This benefit is so peculiar to the Church, that we cannot enjoy it unless we continue in the communion of the Church. Thirdly, It is dispensed to us by the ministers and pastors of the Church, either in the preaching of the Gospel or the administration of the Sacraments, and herein is especially manifested the power of the keys, which the Lord has bestowed on the company of the faithful. Accordingly, let each of us consider it to be his duty to seek forgiveness of sins only where the Lord has placed it. Of the public reconciliation which relates to discipline, we shall speak at the proper place (Ibid).

…by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (John Calvin: Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles; The Calvin Translation Society 1855. Editor: John Owen, p. 165 ¶4).

This is why Christ primarily limited His apologetic concerns to the traditions of men and antinomianism. Almost without exception, the traditions of men, bolstered by intimidating authoritative institutions, make the lives of “Christians” a segue from beginning salvation to final salvation. The institution is trusted to manage the Christian’s life in a way that they will be able to “stand in the final judgment.” Invariably, almost all religious institutions focus on preparing people for some kind of final judgment.

But Christ came to set people free from judgment, and into freedom to love. The Bible was written to individuals. The Bible always addresses particular individuals or an assembly/group. The Bible never addresses an hierarchy; NEVER. The Bible is written to Spirit-filled individuals called to fulfill their individual and unique callings. The emphasis is not making sure you get to heaven via a preordained institution. That concept circumvents love because the focus is making sure you can “stand in judgment” according to what the institution says will accomplish that.

Salvation doesn’t grow. Sanctification is not the “growing part” of salvation. Salvation is a conception of life that is a onetime event that creates a new creature. The creature grows, but not the conception. The conception is completed. The baby has been born. A baby cannot bring themselves into the world, but in due time they can take the gift of life and participate in it. Their birth is a finished work that makes growing in life possible, but in no way perpetually contributes to it. Likewise, salvation does not sanctify.

Keeping people under the law keeps them saved by keeping them from any attempt to love because that would be works salvation. Christians need to grow in an environment where the individual calling to love and good works is the emphasis, not salvation by faith in an institution. Even in cases where the latter is professed, the fruit of tradition that came from the roots of the Protestant tree is the actual function. Therefore, function mimics slavery to the law while proclaiming freedom. No, true freedom from the law is the only salvation that will yield abundant love in sanctification.

Salvation Does NOT Sanctify.


The Lamb’s Wife, Part 1 by Andy Young

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 17, 2014


A few weeks ago my family sat down together and watched Fiddler on the Roof.  It is a rather long movie for young children to sit through (there were several “potty breaks”), but the little ones enjoyed the songs, and the older ones gained an appreciation for the historical context.  One scene in particular depicts a traditional Jewish wedding.  Please take a moment and watch the brief clip below:

Traditionally, Jewish weddings were arranged between the fathers of the proposed couple.  Keep in mind, there are many details here that I am leaving out because I am trying to be brief.  After the parents have come to an agreement to the marriage, the couple is considered “espoused”.  This is a formal legal contract into which the couple has entered, and for all intents and purposes, the couple is considered “married” even though the marriage has not yet been consummated.  This espousal period can last for up to a year.  During this time, the man returns home to make preparations for his bride, and the bride-to-be prepares herself for becoming a wife.  Her fidelity to her bridegroom is on display during this period as well.

On the actual wedding day, the bridegroom leads a procession of his friends through the streets of the village to go and meet the bride. This usually occurs between sunset and midnight. There is much pomp and celebration that occurs along the way, and as the procession continues, people exit their homes, bringing a torch or lamp along with them to help light the way, and so the “wedding party” grows larger and larger as more and more “guests” join in celebration with the bridegroom. The bridegroom then receives his bride, and the two, along with the entire party of friends and guests return to the bridegroom’s house where the wedding ceremony occurs with a grand feast and celebration following.

One of the major tenets of Protestant/Reformed/Catholic orthodoxy is that the “church” is the “bride of Christ”.  This doctrine can be traced as far back as Augustine.  But while originally a Catholic doctrine, evangelicals and fundamentalists still cling to this teaching to this day.  You cannot go into any institutional church of any denomination where you won’t hear this taught or not find it in its “statement of faith”.  However, what they fail to conveniently mention is that the phrase “bride of Christ” is found nowhere in the Bible.  Let me repeat that – the phrase “bride of Christ” is found NOWHERE in the Bible!

This brings me to the point of this article: the doctrine of the “church” being the “bride of Christ” is a FALSE doctrine.  Why is that?  Because the Bible tells us who the Bride is specifically, and it is not the church!  A plain grammatical interpretation of Revelation 21 reveals exactly who the Bride is.

Revelation 21:2, 9-10

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, ‘Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…”

Here in plain terms, the Bride is clearly and explicitly shown to be the New Jerusalem.   The angel says, “I will show you the Bride”, and he shows John, not a body of people, but the New Jerusalem.  The remaining verses of chapter 21 go on to give in great detail a description of what this city looks like.  Notice that nothing is said about the inhabitants of the city.  The focus of the chapter is the actual city itself.  Not only does the angel tell John that this city is the Bride, but in case there was any doubt, he reinforces that fact by stating plainly that this city is the “Lamb’s wife”.   So while the Bible never uses the expression, “bride of Christ”, it does use the terms “the Bride, the Lamb’s wife”.  But that title is clearly given to the New Jerusalem and not the “church”.

Moreover, even the nation of Israel is not referred to as the “bride”.  So if the “church” is not the “bride”, and Israel is not the “bride”, there where exactly does the church and Israel fit in to all of this?  Again, scripture tells us plainly.  Elements of the Jewish wedding tradition are clearly visualized when Jesus described the “Kingdom of Heaven” in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22), and the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25).  Let’s begin with the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22.

Matthew 22:1-10

“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.’ ”

It should be fairly obvious that, as Jesus points out right at the beginning, this parable is used to describe a particular aspect of the Kingdom.  In this parable, He is using the metaphor of the traditional Jewish wedding, with the wedding feast being the focus.  Of course, this would have been a familiar metaphor to His audience since they were all Jews.

The theme of this parable revolves around two particular groups of people.  The first group is made of those who already had invitations to participate in the wedding feast.  These were the King’s special invited guests.  They received their invitations first.  One would think that since these people have been given such a special invitation from the King that they would not hesitate to respond.  But notice what happens.  On the day of the feast, none of them show up.  They reject the gracious invitation.  They view it with an attitude of indifference and make all kinds of excuses why they cannot attend.  Some even killed the servants who were sent to them to tell them that everything was ready for them to attend the feast.

This first group is a description of national Israel.  This is the very nation whose God was Jehovah, but who rejected every prophet that God sent unto them to bring them unto Himself.  Stephen accused them in Acts 7:52 when he said, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers?” accusing them of killing Jesus, their Messiah.  And for this God judged them with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  And in His wrath, God will pour out His judgment upon national Israel during the period of the Great Tribulation.

But there is a second group mentioned in this parable.  Since the King made all these preparations, it was his desire to have the feast furnished with guests.  So he instructed his servants to go out and issue an invitation to anyone, as many as they could find.  This second group represents the nations of the world, or the Gentiles, those whom God would redeem by the blood of the Lamb out of “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Revelation 5:9, 14:6)  I think it is important to note that this second group would also include repentant individuals from the first group, or converted Jews.

Nevertheless, the point to take from all of this is that neither of the two groups in this parable are the bride.  They are guests, and this is important.  What we have is a body of individuals that make up the “church”, or using the correct Biblical term, the εκκλησια (“ekklaysia”), the “called out” (invited) assembly that makes up the Body of Christ.  In this parable they are not the bride, but they are clearly the guests at the wedding.

Take a look at the second parable in Matthew 25.

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

Now the point to make here with this parable is not to determine who the foolish virgins represent and who the wise virgins represent.  The point is to show that all of these “virgins” represent those who would go out to join the procession of the wedding party as the bridegroom goes to meet his bride and return with her to his father’s house for the wedding feast.  Refer to the video clip at the beginning of this article and you will notice all of the people who accompany the groom on his way to pick up his bride.  As the procession goes through the streets of the village, more and more people come out of their houses carrying a candle or “lamp” and join the procession.  Notice that this happens at “midnight” or more literally, sunset, as portrayed in the video clip.  The young girls in the parable are not going to the wedding to marry the bridegroom.  The bridegroom already has a bride.  The young girls are simply guests at the wedding.

This is not the first instance that scripture posits this notion of wedding guests.  Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, and Luke 5:34 use the term “children of the bridechamber”, referring to Jesus’ disciples – those who were called by Christ to follow Him.  That would include not only the twelve, but all those who would be saved by faith in Christ, the “ekklaysia”.  In John 3:29, John the Baptist referred to himself and any others “which standeth and heareth Him as a “friend of the bridegroom”.

So in terms of the picture of a traditional Jewish wedding, all believers, members of the Body of Christ, are referred to as “guests” and “friends of the bridegroom”, but they are NOT the bride.  They go out joyfully with the Bridegroom as He goes to receive His Bride.  But clearly from a scriptural standpoint, the wedding guests cannot be the Bride.

Now there are questions that remain.  For example, how can Christ “marry” a city?  And if the “church” is not the Bride, then what about all those New Testament passages that seem to refer to the “church” in “spousal” terms?  These are all valid questions, and I will seek to address them in part 2.


Romans 13:14B; Part 2, “Overcoming Sin and Living Righteously, a Righteous Life of Real and Lasting Change”

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 16, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

In part one we looked at condemnation and how it empowers sin. Christ went to the cross and ended the law’s condemnation. Fear of death is primarily driven by condemnation and the fear of judgment. One of the most important parts of a Christian’s identity is to know that we are no longer under condemnation.

However, in our day there is a return to authentic Reformed soteriology that actually posits fear of condemnation as the primary motivator in sanctification. In Reformed soteriology, sanctification is seen as a conduit to final justification. In order to remain in the conduit that gives us our best chance to “stand in the judgment,” we must relive our original salvation by faith alone in sanctification. How is that accomplished? By reliving the same gospel that saved us over and over again. This is done through what the Reformers called mortification and vivification. Mortification is something we can do, vivification is only a future glory experience. When you see a Charismatic-like Reformed worship service, what John Piper calls exultation worship, they believe they are experiencing the joy of “future glory.” Really, this is probably the New Calvinist claim to fame: they put feet on the vivification part of mortification and vivification through a more contemporary form of worship. Hence, the “Reformed Charismatic” movement shouldn’t surprise us.

The “mortification of the flesh” part of this doctrine is a return to the fear of judgment, the same fear of judgment that originally saved us. Said John Calvin:

By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment [sec.3]… it seems to me, that repentance may be not inappropriately defined thus: A real conversion of our life unto God, proceeding from sincere and serious fear of God; and consisting in the mortification of our flesh and the old man, and the quickening of the Spirit. In this sense are to be understood all those addresses in which the prophets first, and the apostles afterwards, exhorted the people of their time to repentance. The great object for which they labored was, to fill them with confusion for their sins and dread of the divine judgment, that they might fall down and humble themselves before him whom they had offended, and, with true repentance, retake themselves to the right path [sec.5]… The second part of our definition is, that repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God. Before the mind of the sinner can be inclined to repentance, he must be aroused by the thought of divine judgment; but when once the thought that God will one day ascend his tribunal to take an account of all words and actions has taken possession of his mind, it will not allow him to rest, or have one moment’s peace, but will perpetually urge him to adopt a different plan of life, that he may be able to stand securely at that judgment-seat. Hence the Scripture, when exhorting to repentance, often introduces the subject of judgment, as in Jeremiah, “Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer. 4:4)… The stern threatening which God employs are extorted from him by our depraved dispositions [sec.7] [from the CI 3.3.3-7].

Susan and I sat in a Pentecostal service and listened to the pastor say in no uncertain terms that one is not really saved till they experience the “second blessing” usually manifested by speaking in tongues. Services from the Charismatic camps are predicated by these second blessing experiences such as speaking in tongues, Holy Spirit laughter, and “dancing in the Lord.” Though Charismatics emphasize mortification far less than the Reformed, it’s the same basic idea. The vast majority of all denominations in our day flowed out of the Reformation and are predicated by progressive justification; viz, keeping ourselves saved by the same gospel that originally saved us.

The result is a proper biblical definition of antinomianism: some sort of doctrine that separates the law from sanctification. The “Christian” remains under condemnation, and must prepare to “stand in the judgment” by other means apart from loving God and others through obedience to the law. But there is no future judgment for Christians to stand in that has to do with justification. Antinomianism, when it boils right down to it, is the fusion of justification and sanctification together. In any doctrinal construct where sanctification is the progression of justification—that’s antinomianism because the law must be separated from sanctification lest it be justification by works. This is probably the key to ecumenicalism because the primary religion of the last days, according to the Bible, will be antinomianism.

To the contrary, why is it critical that Christians know they are no longer under the condemnation of the law?

1John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

The word translated “perfect” in the English is τέλειος (teleios), and is translated “mature” in many other passages of the New Testament. The word means “maturity,” or possessing everything one needs to be mature. Mature love is the idea here, not a “perfect” love.

So, what do we need to understand if we are to be mature in love, overcoming sin, and living righteously? We need to understand that there is no condemnation for us and no need to fear judgment, and we need to understand how sin works against us.

We need to understand that sin is a stand-alone element. It was sin that was found in Satan at some point in time (Ezekiel 28:15). Sin, whatever it is exactly, wages war against righteousness. The location of sin is in the body, and it uses desire to tempt individuals against righteousness. So, the four elements to understand are sin, righteousness, body, and desire. Sin is the problem; its enemy is righteousness; its location is the body, and it uses desire to tempt people to wage war against righteousness.

Let’s begin by looking at how these four elements operate in an unbeliever. Every person born into the world has the works of God’s law written on their hearts. Also within every person born into the world is a conscience that uses this law to either accuse or excuse behavior. So, every person born into the world has an intuitive law and judge within as part of their being. In the final judgment of condemnation at the end of the ages, those who have never been exposed to God’s written law will be judged and condemned because they violated their consciences on many occasions. As a cosmic principle, where there is no law there is no sin, so all babies go to heaven because they do not have a developed conscience. This would also apply to mental disabilities where a conscience is not present.

The Bible also states that repeated rebellion against one’s conscience can sear it like a hot iron. A refusal to obey conscience can reduce a person’s ability to feel guilt.

1Timothy 4:1 – 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.

Sear: g2743. from a derivative of 2545; to brand (“cauterize”), i. e. (by implication) to render unsensitive (figuratively):— sear with a hot iron.

Those who lack a conscience or moral compass are referred to as sociopaths in our culture. Sin uses desire to tempt, so a person with a seared conscience will most likely follow every desire that sin uses to wage war against righteousness. Police are sometimes stunned that murderers confess to their crime and state the following motive: “I wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.” So, the murder was committed to satisfy the murderer’s curiosity.

Civil and criminal law restrains evil when fear of punishment outweighs the desire to commit a certain act. If a person thinks they can outwit law enforcement they will be inclined to obey the desire that sin is tempting them with. They don’t see the desire as evil; they have a stronger desire to avoid punishment. Nevertheless, the desire can be strong enough that any kind of logic or self-preservation is abandoned.

Sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. The question is whether or not we will obey the desire just because it is a desire. Sin is opposed to any kind of law and is empowered by condemnation. Sin is an entity that seeks to bring death through the condemnation of conscience and bad desires. It is a complex death system. Those who are under law are constantly bearing fruits for death although they are able to do good works. In fact, their consciences will reward them with good feelings when they do good, but they are still under condemnation and sin’s constant harassment.

In regard to the believer, sin still resides in the body, but it has been stripped of its power due to Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Sin is empowered by its ability to condemn. I can’t say that I completely understand this, but nevertheless, it is what the Bible states:

1Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sin brings about some sort of temporary death, physical death, and ultimately eternal death. Sin is in the sowing and reaping business, and the sowing of sin is often interpreted as “getting away with it” because there has not yet been a reaping. But the point here is that sin is empowered by the condemnation of law. When Christ died on the cross to end the law, it stripped sin of its power. Hence, when a Christian is confronted with a sinful desire, they are not only able to say no to that desire, but do so for the proper motives; i.e., love for God and others.

James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin resides in the body, but even though the body is weak, it is neutral. When the Bible authors speak of the “body of sin,” “desires of the flesh,” etc., they are speaking of when the body is being used by the individual to do the bidding of sin. In the case of an unbeliever, they are under law and sin can provoke them to yield their members up for unrighteousness to the point of slavery while the power of sin has been broken within the believer and they have a choice:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore, let me comment on this passage:

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The “desires of the flesh” are really sinful desires spoken of in context of yielding up our members in service to sinful desires. At least for the believer, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit:

1Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

So, even among Christians, if they “Let…sin…reign in [their] mortal bod[ies], it can lead to fruits unto death, or destruction. Not eternally, but present miseries of all sort.

Through learning God’s full counsel and applying it to one’s life, Christians can learn to say no to sinful desires and live according to the desires of the Spirit. The unregenerate do not possess the desires of the Spirit because they are not born of God. There is not a war between sin and the desires of the Spirit raging within the unbeliever, only a battle between the conscience and sin, and the motives for saying yes to the conscience involve motives other than those of a kingdom citizen. The battle is a single dimension. However, here is where the importance of evangelism comes in: the Holy Spirit convicts the world of unrighteousness, and the word of God is the sword of the Spirit. Evangelism adds another dimension in regard to showing people their need for a savior.

For the Christian, they have the testimony of conscience and the Holy Spirit. The New Testament has much to say about utilizing conscience in our fight against sin. The apostle Paul instructed us to keep a clear conscience before God. This also has much to do with assurance of salvation. Even though we know intellectually that the law has been ended by Christ and we are never condemned, sin nevertheless invokes feelings of condemnation and shakes our confidence.

In the final analysis, sanctification is the growing art of knowing how to control our bodies:

1Thessalonians 4:3 – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Potter H. 1

Justification is NOT a Declaration of Righteousness; The Christian is Made Personally Righteous

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 15, 2014

PPT HandleIt begs the question: has the institutional church ever taught us anything at all that is true? Here we go again; have we all not heard all of our Christian lives that justification is “a legal pardon/declaration in which the Christian is declared righteous”? It is usually explained like this:

“When we believe in Jesus, it is just like we never sinned.”

Excuse me, but if you are presently a Christian, it is NOT “just like you never sinned,” you in fact have never sinned, nor will you ever sin in the future.


We are talking about JUSTIFICATION, right? Two things happen when we are justified, or… “saved.” The law is ended/cancelled for us when we believe because Christ nailed the law and all of its condemnation to the cross. And, where there is no law, there is no sin. We are not talking about sin as God’s children that grieves the Holy Spirit who seals us until the day of redemption, we are talking about sin that would condemn us eternally.

This is where the logical jump from the ending of the law to justification is defined as a mere legal pardon. The Bible gives tacit recognition to that, kind of, but the primary definition of justification in the Bible is being made personally righteous through the new birth. God’s children are justified because they are made personally righteous. We are not just declared righteous, we are righteous. The nomenclature “duck” does not make a duck a duck, his duckness makes him a duck. Likewise, Christians are justified because they are in fact righteous.

Christians do not bear sin that is covered by God’s righteousness (often erroneously dubbed, “the righteousness of Christ”), our sin is ENDED, and God’s righteousness is infused into us via the new birth—we are literally born of God. Granted, sin still dwells in our mortal bodies, but it cannot condemn us because Christ ended the law on the cross. God now deals with us as children, because we really ARE his children and have his seed (DNA) within us. We may be chastised by God from time to time, but NOT condemned.

Christianity is not a mere mental ascent to the facts of the gospel; it is a literal following of Christ in death and resurrection. You are not “asking Jesus into your heart,” you are accepting God’s invitation to die with Christ and be resurrected with Him. The old you that was under the law literally dies, and you are born again as a literal child of God. Regardless of the fact that you are in a mortal body, you are God’s child and have His seed (σπέρμα sperma; seed of offspring) within you. The issue of the flesh’s weakness is resolved at redemption, but has nothing to do with your present righteousness.

This is why the Christian walk is so important; it testifies to the new birth. Be sure of this: truisms like, “We are all just sinners saved by grace” reveal a fundamental lack of understanding in regard to the gospel. Justification is not a covering, it is an ending of sin/condemnation and the walk of the new creature. I will close with this passage to make my final point:

1John 3:1 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 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.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

TANC 2014 Andy Young, Session 3: Practical Applications of Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 14, 2014

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Practical Applications of Sanctification

Alright, welcome to our last session on Sanctification.

It’s been a day and a half since I last had the opportunity to speak to you, so very quickly I want to do a review to bring us back up to speed on where we are with this subject.  Session 1, we defined our terms and we explored the relationship between holiness and sanctification.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

This is our foundation for this subject matter.  Everything we discuss on this matter is based off of these two definitions.  And these definitions don’t belong to me.  This is how the Bible defines these terms.  That is what we spent our time in Session 1 doing, going through scripture, examining how these terms are used in scripture, and then based on their usage, we arrived at these definitions.

And then Friday evening, in Session 2, we examined this concept of cleansing and sanctification a little deeper, going back to the Old Testament and looking at how something was sanctified.  We explored the importance of washing with regard to sanctification and how the idea of baptism mentioned in the New Testament was a familiar concept to the Jewish culture because it was an integral part of the Law with regard to sanctification.  We finished session 2 looking at the account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and we saw how this was to be a metaphor for sanctification.  There were two different Greek words used for wash, in that account.  Jesus had told Peter, you don’t need a bath, you don’t need cleansed head to foot, because you are already completely clean.  You are already justified.  That part is finished.  You just need your feet washed every now and then.  Moreover, you need to wash each other’s feet.

So what we saw there was that not only is sanctification something that God does to us, as well as something that we are to strive to do ourselves, but we are instructed to participate in the sanctification of other believers.  We are to sanctify each other.  We are to be distinct and have God’s identifying character upon us and within us.  And that brings us to Session 3, and this afternoon I want to get real practical here.  I want to give us some tools to really understand the why and the how of sanctification in our lives.

I want to tie up some loose ends on some other things I alluded to in the previous sessions.  I made mention to this question of why believers still sin, and so I hope to tackle that and wrap that up, but there is also this question of is there any merit to good works.  You know we’ve all heard quoted the scripture about all our righteousness is as filthy rags, and we get constantly beat over the head with the notion of total depravity.  So I want to address this in the time I have left here.

You know I grew up going to church.  I’ve been saved ever since I was 7 years old.  I was blessed to have parents who were believers who taught me God’s word, and taught me at a young age that I was a sinner and I needed to be reconciled to God, and the only way that was possible was by believing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And my parents were old fashioned.  I think everyone thinks that about their parents, they’re just so old-fashioned.  They taught me, as a Christian you don’t do this, you don’t do that, you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, you don’t dance, you don’t listen to bad music, you don’t swear.  Of course I went along with all of that.  I figured they must know better than me.

But you know as I got older and started reading more of the Bible, I had a hard time finding a lot of these things in the Bible.  I went to a Christian school in my high-school years, and these questions kept coming up in Bible classes, and no one could ever really adequately answer these questions.  And I think this is where this concept of “legalism” really stems from.  Legalism is a made-up term.  It’s not found in scripture anywhere.  But we end up labeling things a legalistic I think when we fail to understand the principles behind them.  And that was really the problem, these teachers I had kept failing to apply sound Biblical principles that, when it comes right down to it, have everything to do with Sanctification.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I started attending what was at the time a very sound fundamentalist church.  And the pastor there had such a wonderful gift for teaching.  He wasn’t just lecturing you.  He actually taught, line upon line, precept upon precept.  I had never heard the Bible taught like this before.  I had never had so much truth so skillfully expounded to me before.  And during this time, the light when on in my head, and all of a sudden it was like – Oh!  So that’s why we’re not supposed to do all those things!  And that is when I first started to grasp this concept of Sanctification.  God is Holy.  I am his child.  He made me righteous, and because I am righteous, He wants me to continually strive to be like that which He has made me to be, because that pleases Him!

So I went on like that for 16 or 17 years.  But it is more recently, I have found myself driven deeper into God’s word, reading it, studying it, and I’m finding that the things I read in scripture don’t line up with what is being taught in churches, or has been taught for, yes, hundreds of years.  Orthodoxy has been substituted for doctrine.  And so I had another one of those light bulb moments, and I discovered this to be true.  The majority of the New Testament was written to believers.  Now that sounds real profound, doesn’t it.  But think about this for a moment.  The New Testament was written to believers.  It was written to people already saved.  Already Justified.

Now if you start from that premise, if the New Testament is written for people who are already Justified, then everything that is written is in fact an instruction manual for life.  It is not written to tell people how to maintain their Justification.  If you are a believer, your justification is already done.  It is written to teach justified people how God wants them to live their lives as His children.

Now granted, there are many passages that teach Justification, for example Romans, or Galatians.  And an unsaved person can certainly read those parts of the Bible and come to the knowledge of God and learn how to become saved.  But that doesn’t change the fact that these books were written to believers – written for the purpose to teach them to better understand God’s truth and how to discern false teaching regarding Justification, but more specifically, how to live their lives, not so that they could merit Justification, but so that they could please their God in Sanctification.  When we understand that the Bible is God’s instruction book to believers, that puts every doctrine we’ve ever been taught in a church all of our lives in a totally different perspective.

What is God’s goal for His children?  It is a theme that you find repeated over and over not just in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament as well.  We spent 2 whole sessions looking at that on Friday.  It is Sanctification.  It is for His children to be cleansed for the purpose of making them distinct from everyone else.  If you had to single out one verse out of all 66 books of the Bible, there is one verse that could not unequivocally state it any better or more succinctly that this:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…”

There it is. That’s not me saying it. That’s God’s word saying it. Now deal with that. You cannot deny it. Paul is writing to believers. And look at the words he uses. We beseech you, we exhort you, we strongly encourage you. You already know the commandments we gave you. You know the imperatives. Do them. YOU do them. Why, so that you can merit righteousness? No, don’t you get it, you’re already saved, your justification is finished, you’re already righteous. You need to do this because it is pleasing to your Father!

Why do you have to exhort someone?  The word exhort in the Greek is the word παρακαλεω -  “para-ka-leh-oh”.  It means to call beside.  Picture that.  If our children are struggling with something, what to we do?  We say, come on over here next to me.  Why do we do that?  We don’t get in their face and talk at them.  And chew them out.  We call them beside us, and we put our arm around them.  What does that do?  Doesn’t that give them the sense that we are on their side?  That we are right there with them?  And when we do that we can encourage them to do whatever they know they should be doing already.  You already know this.  I know you have struggles.  I do, too.  You need to do this.  And that is what Paul is saying here to the Thessalonians.  He is pleading with them, begging them.  We beseech you.  This is so important for you to do this.  And consider this, if we have to be exhorted to do something, does that not suggest that first of all we don’t always do it, and secondly, that we are indeed able to do it?

Let’s explore this a little more.  Can we as believers please God?  Does God take pleasure in good works?

Let’s go to Colossians 1.  I’m going to comment on this passage as I read so that we get the context.

Colossians 1:1-10

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ …to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse…We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth…For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Clearly a sanctification passage.  Clearly teaching that we can please God by performing good works.  Not to merit righteousness.  Paul already established that they are justified.  He knows he’s writing to saved people who are already righteous. But for the purpose of bearing fruit, growing in wisdom and the knowledge of God, and please God all the while that is happening.

Here’s another good one. Also in the book of Colossians.

Colossians 3:20-24

“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord…Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Here we have the idea of fear.  And this is actual fear, the Greek word is “phobos”.  Pleasing God because we fear Him.  We don’t fear judgment, but we fear the loss of rewards that come with our inheritance.  Our inheritance is salvation, eternal life.  We can’t lose that, but we can suffer loss of rewards if we fail to live our lives in such a way that is pleasing to God.  And while we are on that subject, we should talk about that, because this is really the motivation for Sanctification, pleasing God because there are eternal rewards at stake.  Let’s turn over to 1 Corinthians 3:12.

Now let me put this in context for you.  Paul is addressing the Corinthians regarding the sectarianism that had developed among the assemblies there.  Basically what was happening is that rather than clinging to the truth of God’s word, they were showing devotion to a particular teacher.  They were saying, well Paul teaches this, or Apollos teaches this, or Peter teaches this.  And so these rifts had formed between the believers.  And so what Paul is trying to communicate here is that, look, all of these teachers build upon each other.  We don’t fight over it.  God is using each of these teachers to build you up so that you can go out and do good works in Sanctification.  So then we pick up in verse 12, and Paul says:

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

So we have works that are of value verses works that are of no value, or even no works at all. The works that we do in sanctification that edify ourselves and others, that make us more distinct and allow us to bear more fruit, verses those things that don’t edify or if we fail to aggressively pursue the things that do.

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,…

This is the day that we stand before the Bema.  The judgment seat.  This is not the Great White Throne judgement.  That is God’s judgment on the unsaved.  The Bema is the judgment seat of Christ where rewards are given to believers for how they lived their lives in Sanctification while still on earth.  Now I have no idea how this actually works, but we are told here that the Bema is a test of fire.  Somehow the believers works in Sanctification are tested by fire,

  …because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

 whether it is of value or not.  Whether it is durable enough to stand the test of fire.

If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

So there is the motivation in Sanctification.  This is why we strive to please God, because one day rewards will be given for how well we worked in Sanctification.  If we didn’t work at all, or if our works were of no value, they will be burned up by the fire, and there will be nothing left, and there will be no reward.  We still have eternal life.  That’s because Justification is already done.  What is at stake is not our justification, not salvation, not eternal life, but the rewards in the life to come.

Now if we understand that, then that puts an entirely different spin on another familiar passage, and it is one we looked at in Session 2.  Turn back to John 15.  Once again, this is the account of the vine and the branches.  In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage, and Jesus was talking to believers.  Now, take what we have just looked at regarding the test of fire, regarding works, regarding fruit in the life of the believer, regarding eternal rewards, and look at John 15 once more.

In Session 2 we said this was a Sanctification passage because it involves cleansing the branches.  Pruning them back so that they can produce more fruit.  Now, despite the vinedressers best efforts to get a branch to produce fruit, despite God’s efforts to get us to work Sanctification in our lives so that we will be distinct for Him, look at what happens to the branch that fails to produce fruit.

John 15:6

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Now be careful with this and don’t misunderstand.  What Jesus is telling his disciples is not a test of whether or not you are justified.  He is pointing out the necessity for believers to abide.  He is pointing out why it is necessary for believers to pursue Sanctification.  Because if you don’t pursue sanctification, if you don’t strive to please God by living lives in obedience to His commandments, you are going to whither away as a believer, and you won’t produce fruit, and if you don’t produce fruit, then you are not going to be useful for God.  You’ll still have your salvation, you still have eternal life, but there will be no rewards.

There are serious consequences for failure to pursue Sanctification.  One is failure to receive rewards.  We see the fire mentioned here in John 15:6, the fire is the test that determines our rewards for our works.  We saw that in 1 Corinthians 3.  But what Jesus is telling us here is that sometimes, God has to deal harshly with believers.  If someone is not producing fruit and is withered and is of no longer useful to God, sometimes God takes the life of that believer.  He is still justified, he still has eternal life, but he’ll stand before the Bema, and the fire will come, and will burn away everything he had, and he’ll be left with nothing.  His salvation, but no rewards.

We’ve seen examples of that in scripture.  Ananias and Sapphira come to mind.  In Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira conspired together to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding he sale of their property.  And that was such a serious matter to God, it had such potential to do great harm to the spread of the Gospel, that God dealt very harshly with them.  He took their lives.  They were saved.  They were justified, but God had to deal harshly with them for what they did.

So why does this happen?  Why do we need to be exhorted to pursue Sanctification?  Why do we need to be reminded to obey?  God gave us an instruction manual for how He wants us to live our lives, but we don’t do that all the time, do we?  We don’t do it perfectly.  But we are still commanded to do it.  And if we don’t, that’s ok, because our justification is based on how well we obey, it is based on the fact that we believed God.  The standard for righteousness has nothing to do with obedience.  The standard for righteousness is belief in God.

And because we believe God, and because we have been Justified, because He has made us righteous, we are new creatures, we have God’s seed in us that cannot sin, we are His Children, He is our Father, we have been adopted into His family, and He loves us as His children and we love Him as we love our Father.  And because we love Him, we have this desire to please him.  Again, I’m going to say this over and over until it finally sinks in, so that there is no misunderstanding, we want to please Him not to merit righteousness – say it with me, we already ARE righteous – we want to please Him because we love Him.  Jesus said in John 14:15, if you love me, keep my commandments.  That’s not a forgone conclusion, that is a command.  That is not an inevitability, that is something we must strive for.

Why must we be commanded to do it?  Because, unfortunately, we have this new creature existing in a body of flesh that is contaminated by sin.  Turn with me to a familiar passage.  Romans 7.  Paul is in the middle of presenting this great conflict he continually find himself in, despite the fact that he is a Justified believer.  Let’s pick this up in verse 18.

Romans 7:18

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Try to understand the significance of what Paul is saying here.  What is comes down to is, this body is not who we are.  The body is not us.  The us is something else.  Something spiritual.  There used to be an old us.  When we believed God and were Justifed, the old us died.  That old us is gone.  It was crucified and buried with Christ.  And a new us was created.  A perfect, righteous creature now exists where the old us used to be.  That is the new man.  The one that delights in the law of God, and wants to please Him!  But this new man is still stuck in this old body.  And this old body is corrupted by sin, and it wars against the new man.  And it tries to get me to obey it.  So when we sin, it’s not the new us doing it.  The new us can’t sin.  1 John 3:9.  It is born of God, it is God’s seed, it is perfectly righteous, it can’t sin.  It’s the flesh doing it.  And Paul concludes by saying basically, Oh get me out of this body so I don’t have to fight with this any more!

And so basically what it comes down to is that part of the Christian life is this endeavor to bring this body under submission.

Paul describes it this way,

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

We are to do it.  We have the ability to do it.  Be in control of our bodies.  Be in control of how we live our lives.  Because the body is what the world sees.  What we do with this body determines what the word sees.  How the world sees us is how the world sees God.  And if the world sees someone who is distinct from everyone and everything else, then God is pleased.  Because we represent God, and we show that God is distinct.

Now you take that principle, and you apply that to your own life, however that works itself out.  I’m not going to stand here and tell you, you have to stop doing this or you have to stop doing that.  That’s between you and God.  That’s a matter of maturity.  And as you read and study God’s word, as you mature, as you grow in knowledge and wisdom, as God’s word Sanctifies you, what happens, it cleanses you.  And as it cleanses you, you become more and more distinct.  This is a maturity issue.  We don’t all mature at the same rate.  We’re not all at same place in our sanctification.  And that’s ok.  We don’t have to be.  Because we are still Justified.  We are already righteous.  Just because you’re a little father along in your sanctification than I am doesn’t make you or me any more or less righteous.  And that is tremendous assurance.  I don’t have to be at the same place you are spiritually to know that I am saved.  I know that I am saved because at some point in my life, I repented of my unbelief, and I believed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you see now how a proper understanding of Sanctification give us assurance?  If salvation is based on performance, then we can never be sure if we’re saved.  And that’s what happens if you tie Sanctification to Justification.  But when you keep the separate, and understand that sanctification is not about righteousness but about holiness, about being distinct, then even at the times when I fail, I can just say, you know, I messed up that time, but thank God I am still His child.  I’m sorry I failed that time, Lord.  I’ll try harder next time.  Help me to do better.  Help me to spend more time in your word, so that I may be Sanctified by it, so that I may be more distinct for you.

I started off Session 1 with this verse, and I said that this was going to be the recurring theme throughout all 3 sessions.  1 Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”  I know that this study on Sanctification has been by no means comprehensive.  I know I barely scratched the surface.  But I trust that you have been edified.  I trust that God’s word is powerful enough that the Holy Spirit can do infinitely more than any words I could ever say.  I thank you so much for your attention, for bearing with me as I went though this.  I want to thank Paul and Susan for their hospitality this weekend.  And I am humbled by the opportunity they gave me to present a topic that is dear to my heart.  I somehow don’t feel qualified enough to do this, but I am just glad that I was able to share with you some of the things that God has taught me in my own personal study of these issues.

 Do we have time for questions or comments?

TANC 2014 Andy Young, Session 2: Understanding Sanctification

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 14, 2014

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Sanctification in the Old Testament

Ok, welcome back. This is session 2 on the topic Understanding Sanctification. We’ve got a lot to cover and I want to make sure I leave time at the end for questions of discussion. So let’s take a minute or two just to review where we’ve been so far. We have begun this study on Sanctification by first defining some terms We did that in session 1. This is going to be the premise from which we will develop the rest of our study on this topic.

There were two terms we defined. and they are words we’re familiar with, but it seems as believers we have a hard time really nailing down an understanding of those words. Organized religion has taught us, orthodoxy has taught us what we are supposed to think about these words, and we sort of define it in those terms and supposedly live our lives accordingly. And as such, Christians become lazy and fail to compare those terms against what scripture says. How the Bible uses those terms. Because usage determines meaning. We don’t want to come up with a meaning that suits us and then force that meaning upon a word when it appears in scripture and say, look see, it says right here…So what we did last session was take these two terms, look at how they were used in scripture, and from the usage attempt to construct a definition. So I’ll put these up again. Here are the two terms we defined.

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else; or the purpose of making something holy.

So we have our foundation, now let’s build on that.  We ended the last session with this idea of the relationship between Sanctification and cleansing, so we’re going to develop that a little bit more, this idea of cleansing.  So to start with, since this is a session on Sanctification, let’s take a closer look at this word and see how it’s used.

Sanctification – Sanctify – verb form – to cleanse for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary or just like everything else.

The command to sanctify occurs 103 times in the Old Testament.

49 Times in the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy)

32 Times in the books of History (Joshua – Esther)

Once in the books of Wisdom/Poetry (Job – Song of Solomon)

19 times in the major prophets (Isaiah – Daniel)

Twice in the minor prophets (Hosea – Malachi)

Majority of the usage of the command to sanctify appears in the Law.

Let’s consider this by breaking it down a little further.

Who sanctifies?  (who is to perform the sanctifying?)

God – Exodus 31:13

“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.”

So God does sanctification.  But notice also, that man sanctifies as well.


Moses – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

People – Leviticus 20:7

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”

Notice in that verse we see the relationship that we talked about last session, you can see the purpose of sanctification is to make something holy.

So there is the who.  The next question we could ask is, what?

What is to be sanctified?

Days – Genesis 2:3

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

We even looked at the 4th commanment in the last session.  The reason the Sabbath was holy was because God had sanctified it, He had cleansed it.

People – Exodus 19:10

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes”

Priests – Exodus 19:22

“And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.”

Offerings – Exodus 29:27

“And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:”

Tabernacle – Exodus 29:44

“And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.”

How is something sanctified?

By anointing

If you have your Bibles, go ahead and turn to Exodus 30.  God gave Moses the recipe for a special anointing oil, Exodus 30:22-33:

22Moreover the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23‘Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, 24and of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: 25and thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. 26And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, 27and the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, 28and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. 29And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy. 30And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate [kaw-dash – “sanctify”] them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office. 31And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. 32Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. 33Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.”

Now, I have you read all of that, but the relevant part of this is the anointing oil, made after the art of the apothecary, those are the people skilled in the art of making perfume.  So this anointing oil is actually a very sweet-smelling perfume.  You’ve been around someone who’d put on too much perfume, right?  You can smell them coming before they even enter the room.  In fact, if you close your eyes, and that person walks into the room, you can tell they are there because you can smell their perfume or cologne.  And for some people, their perfume is Ben-gay.  Right?  Or Old Spice.  English Leather.  That was what my Dad always used.  I loved that smell, cause it was my Dad.  But you identify them by the smell of their perfume.

The items that were anointed with this oil were made holy.  They were made distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.  How did you know they were distinct, because they had the smell of this oil on them.  And this oil was not to be used for anything else.  So even the oil was holy because it was distinct, so anything anointed with this oil was holy because it had this distinct smell, and you could identify it, and you knew, those items were distinct from everything else.

Not only that, you couldn’t take this oil and copy the recipe and make a bottle of perfume to give to your wife to use.  It was forbidden.  The oil was reserved for only specific things.  If other people used it for other purposes, then it would no longer be distinct would it?

Something else about anointing oil.  Certain oils themselves had special properties.  What else were oils used for?  The apothecary was the art of making perfume, but from this art form came the study of medicines.  Pharmaceuticals.  Pharmaceuticals had their origins in the apothecary, and some oils were used for medicinal purposes.  Most often oils were put on wounds, get this, to cleanse them and prevent infection so that they would heal faster.

So the use of this anointing oil sanctifies because of its cleansing or healing properties and because of the distinctiveness of the smell.  It identifies.  So we have sanctification by anointing.

The other method of Sanctification is by washing, and this concept of washing is where I want to focus because this is a theme that is repeated over and over in scripture, as we’ll see.

By washing, Exodus 19:10:

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,…”

And we could look up dozens of other verses where the people are told to wash.  They washed themselves, their clothes, their houses, their children, their animals.  There were requirements for washing before going to the tabernacle, before offering sacrifices, after handling dead animals, after a woman’s menstrual cycle, after illnesses – especially leprosy, after childbirth, before meals, after sexual relations.  The people of Israel were a clean nation.  God wanted His children to be clean.  Now of course, there were obviously hygienic benefits to all of this.  If you are conscientious about keeping clean, the less likely you are to get sick.  You’ll be healthier.

So God provided a means for His people to stay strong and robust.  He implemented these very strict guidelines for washing.  But it wasn’t all about being clean just for the sake of being clean.  This reputation for cleanliness made them, get this, distinct from all the other nations around them.  Taking a bath was not a common occurrence in all of the other cultures of this time.  God wanted His people to be clean because that would make them distinct from all the other cultures around them.  And if they were distinct, if they were Holy, then their God whom they served would be identified with them, and all the nations everywhere would know that He alone is God, He alone is distinct.  There is none other like Him.

Now there was a method for washing.  And this became a very important part of Israel’s culture.  To understand this we need to go way back to the very beginning.  And I mean the very beginning.  Turn in your Bibles all the way back to Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1:9-10

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.  And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”

מקוה – “mik-veh” – a gathering together of water.

This is an important concept to understand.  This word “mik-veh” used here in scripture eventually took on the meaning to describe any collection of some large mass of water.  So, that could be a pond, a stream, a lake, a river.  Anywhere there was a sufficient amount of water.  It was in these large masses of water where the people were to bathe.  Now what do you do if you didn’t live nearby a river or stream or pond or lake?  Well, then you built a “mik-veh”.   In fact, Solomon built a “mik-veh”.  Look at 1 Kings chapter 7.

1 Kings chapter 7, Solomon is building the temple.  Remember David wanted to build God a house, but God said, no, I don’t need a house, all of creation is mine, what kind of house could you possible build for me?  I will build you a house, and your son Solomon will build a house for me.  You just gather all the materials so he can build it.  So in 1 Kings Solomon is building the temple, and then in chapter 7 verse 23 we read this:

1 Kings 7:23- 26

“And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.”

A bath is a unit of liquid measure. 2000 baths would be the equivalent of about 11,000 gallons. So this is about the size of a small swimming pool.

What this was, was a “mik-veh”.  This was the equivalent of the laver that was used in the tabernacle, only on a much much larger scale!  The priests used this to wash their hands and feet as they were required for whatever particular service they had to perform in the temple.

These washings not only carried with them a hygienic benefit, but there was a spiritual aspect to it as well.  It was to symbolize God cleansing them.  It was to symbolize them making themselves clean before presenting themselves to God.  The people washing themselves was a symbol of their need to be clean before God, to show that they were made distinct.  Sometimes they only needed to wash their hands and feet.  Sometimes they had to wash their whole bodies, requiring them to completely immerse themselves in he “mik-veh” and pour the water over their heads.  There were some washing requirements that mandated that the waters be constantly refreshed from a fresh source.  In other words, it could not be a stagnant pool of water, it had to have a fresh source constantly turning the water over to keep it fresh.  This was referred to as, get this, “living water.”

Over time, this word “mik-veh” eventually would take on two particular aspects.  It was first used to refer to a gathering of water, but it also came to refer to the actual process of the washing itself.  So as you can see, the process of washing and the “mik-veh” was a very integral part of the Jewish culture, and not just from a cultural standpoint, but concerning the Law as well.

Now fast forward a few centuries, and now we come to New Testament times.  Knowing what we know about the importance of washing and this word “mik-veh”, there is a Greek equivalent for this in the New Testament.  Anyone want to take a guess at what it is?  Baptism!  Right.

βαπτζω – “bap-tid-zoh” – to immerse or submerge.  To make fully wet.  This same word is actually taken from the textile industry meaning, to dip, where they would take fabric and dip it in a vat of dye.  But baptism as it’s used in the Greek refers to taking something and fully immersing it in water.  Ok, this is the equivalent of the Hebrew “mik-veh”.  Now, in the New Testament, we have this individual named John.  He comes on the scene, and he’s out in the wilderness, eating honey and locust, and what is he doing?  He’s baptizing people. Why was he baptizing?  Was this something new God had him do?  We have been taught that, though, haven’t we?  That this was some precedent concerning the initiation of the church age.

The gospels tell us though that John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance.  Now have you ever stopped to ask yourself what that means?  See this takes on a whole new meaning, there are serious implications to this when we consider that what John was actually doing was performing a Jewish “mik-veh”.  This was a ceremonial washing that was required of people before they could go and worship in the temple.

Now this is important to understand.  We’re making this connection between the Old and New Testaments, and what I’m trying to get you to see is that baptism was not a new concept.  The Jews were very familiar with baptism.  They called it a “mik-veh”, but in the New Testament it’s called baptism because that’s the Greek word for the exact same thing as a “mik-veh”, and the New Testament was written in Greek, not Hebrew.  So whenever you see the word “baptism” or “baptize” in the New Testament, please keep this in mind, this was no new concept, the Jews in general, and Jewish believers in particular already understood what baptism was all about.  It was already part of their culture going all the way back to Moses and the Law.  It was an integral part of the washing requirements of the Law.

Now what does all of this have to do with Sanctification?  Well, the very definition of Sanctification involves cleansing, and we saw earlier that one of the ways you sanctify something is to wash it.  So here we are.  We’re in the New Testament.  What significance does this all have in the New Testament?  Well, as I’ve already stated, this was a concept already familiar to the Jews.  The Jews understood sanctification as cleansing to make holy.  How does this apply to the New Testament?  What difference does this make to believers who are not under the Law?  Well, if we understand that the real purpose of the law was for Sanctification and not Justification it makes a big difference.  The first believers were Jews, so I think they perfectly understood this connection with the Law.  How do we understand it?

Well lets start with a few passages.  Let’s start with John 15, so it you have your Bibles go ahead and turn to John 15.

John 15:1-3

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

There are two words I want you to pay special attention to here.  The first word is “purgeth”.


καθαιρω – “kath-ahee-rho” – (verb); to cleanse, or specifically to prune.

Now I did some cursory research on caring for grapevines.  I actually found some really great information in the Farmer’s Almanac.  When caring for a grapevine, pruning is the single-most important step in getting a grapevine to produce the greatest amount of fruit.  As a vine grows, you have the main trunk of the vine and then you have branches coming off the main vine.  The branches produce canes, and it is from the canes that the fruit grows and develops.  Once those canes have fruited, they are done.  They wont produce any more fruit.  So you have to cut back those canes so that the branches will grow new canes to produce new fruit.

A if vinedresser wants his vines to produce the most grapes, he prunes the vines very aggressively during the vines’ dormant period, usually cutting away up to 90% of the previous season’s growth.  The plant is then able to put all its strength back into producing new canes that will produce more fruit that year.  The more you prune, the more fruit you get.  So when you prune a grapevine, you are in fact literally “cleansing” the branches.  And this is exactly what Jesus means when he uses this metaphor of the vine with His disciples.  He is talking about cleansing them.  In fact, He reiterates that point in verse 3 when he tells them you are clean.


καθαρος – “kath-ah-rohs” – (adjective); clean

Notice, it the same root word that was used in verse 2.  Same word, only in verse 2 it is a verb, and in verse 3 it is an adjective.  It’s talking about cleansing.  Cleansing them through the word.  And this is not the only time that Jesus has used this expression.  If you flip ahead 2 chapters, to chapter 17, here we have Jesus, the night before His crucifixion, in the garden of Gethsemane, praying to the Father.  And notice one of the specific things He prays for in verse 17.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”

Cleanse them through thy truth.  Make them clean through thy truth.  Thy word is truth.  God sanctifies us with His word.  Just as the vine branches are cleansed, we are cleansed by God’s word so that we may be distinct for Him, and in being distinct we produce more fruit.  God’s word does that.

Now one more passage I want us to look at and then we’ll make this practical.  One more passage related to cleansing.  Turn back to John 13.  And we’ll start with verse 3.

John 13:3-15

“3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash [underline that] the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed [circle that] needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

νιπτω – “nip-toh” – to cleanse, specifically the hands and feet.

λουω – “loo-oh” – To bathe. To cleanse the whole person from head to foot.

Now this is going to get a little tricky here, so lets go through this carefully. We all understand the culture of foot-washing, we’ve heard it explained to us many times. This was customary to do because their feet would get dirty from wearing sandals. Ok. Now notice Peter doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he thinks such a menial task is beneath Jesus. It’s humiliating. He doesn’t want to humiliate Jesus, so he refuses to let him do it. Jesus tells him, I am doing this as an object lesson, but you’re not going to get it right now, but you will later on.

See Peter is confused because Jesus said that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet then he has no part with him. So in Peter’s mind, he misunderstands the washing involved with the Law. His mind goes back to the “mik-veh”. Peter’s line of reasoning is, well if it’s going to be that kind of washing, then you need to wash my whole body. We need to perform a “mik-veh” kind of washing. We need to wash me head to foot. But Jesus immediately corrects him. He says, no, you don’t need that kind of washing. That is why the Greek uses a different word for wash in this one instance. The word “loo-oh” instead of “nip-to”. No, Peter. We don’t need to wash you head to foot because you are already clean completely. We just need to wash your feet every now and then.

Ok, now this is where it gets tricky, so we need to keep this straight when we say not just clean, but clean completely. Stay with me on this as I try to explain this. Because in this one statement Jesus begins to give a new meaning pertaining to baptism. They already understood baptism, the “mik-veh” as it pertains to cleansing regarding the Law and sanctification. But right here Jesus alludes to the fact that there is an even more complete cleansing. A different kind of cleansing. A cleansing not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. A washing of regeneration, that is, the new birth. A washing that results in a completely clean and righteous individual. That is Justification. Jesus told Peter, you are already justified, you are already clean, you just need your feet washed every now and then. The foot washing was the metaphor for Sanctification. It is significant that two different words are used here for “wash”. Because one is referring to justification which is a completed act, and the other refers Sanctification which is on-going. And Jesus even told his disciples in verse 14, this is an example. You are to do this to each other. Do you get that? We are involved in each other’s sanctification. We not only need our own feet washed, we help wash each other’s feet.

Why do we need our feet washed every now and then? Because they get dirty. That’s really the simple answer. We have a tendency to get dirty. Why do we get dirty? Because even though we are a new creature, even though the new birth has happened, and God’s righteous seed is in us, we still dwell in this body of flesh with is corrupted by sin. By the curse. And God wants us to bring that body under submission. Not for justification. That has already happened. But it is God’s desire for His people to be holy like Him. To be distinct, because if we identify with Him as a child of God, we should be like Him in all that we do. And that happens through Sanctification. The process by which we become more distinct from that which is like all the rest, and in doing so we produce more fruit, and all of this is well-pleasing to God. This is where we bring Him glory. Not in dwelling on our so-called wretchedness or depravity, but in aggressively striving to obey Him and be more like him.

Now that was a quick summary. In session 3, I hope to get into the more practical application of all of this, how this all works itself out in our day to day lives. And I want to get more into this question of why do we sin if we are righteous. And more importantly, how can we have assurance of salvation. Sanctification plays a big part of that. If we really understand the purpose of Sanctification, assurance of salvation isn’t even an issue.

Reflection on the “Chameleon” Post

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 13, 2014

10398469_1057314164900_7208696_nAges ago, as a blogger rookie, this was one of my first posts. I wrote mostly about symptoms back then, and would like to add an addendum to the end that answers the “why?” question in regard to what I have perceived for years in the institutional church…

[Begin transcript]

Wikipedia has this definition of the Chameleon Lizard: “All chameleon species are able to change their skin colors. Different chameleon species are able to change different colors which can include pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, yellow and turquoise. Recent research indicates that they do not typically change their color for reasons of camouflage, but instead use color changes as a method of communication, including making themselves more attractive to potential mates.”

Over the years, I have observed the “Chameleon Christian,” and like the lizard, they seem to be the most common form of Christian species these days, as Wikipedia later states concerning the Chameleon. Also like the lizard, they change colors to communicate favorably and appear attractive. To be more specific, they follow whatever teaching happens to be in front of them at the time. This is a phenomenon that has always been hard for me to comprehend, but no less true. You put John MacAuthor in their church one day, they will follow him. Put Joel Osteen in there the next day, they will follow him and adapt accordingly. Compare this to what Scripture says about the Christians at Berea: “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily {to see} whether these things were so.”

The Bereans wouldn’t even give the Apostle Paul a pass on what he taught. So what are you? Are you a Chameleon Christian, or a Berean?

[End transcript]

I see now that the reason for this is simple; it matters little about the truth within the institutional church, salvation comes by being faithful to the institution itself. In many cases,  new leadership will posit doctrine that turns what prior leaders took 20 years to establish completely upside down. Nevertheless, people will remain faithful to that particular church without a whimper. Why?

Because it’s the institution that saves, not the truth taught within the institution.


TANC 2014 Andy Young, Session 1: Anybody Remember Grammatical Historical Teaching?

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 13, 2014

Power Points 

Be Ye Holy for I am Holy

Ok, welcome to Session 1 on Understanding Sanctification.

In my opinion, the hardest part about doing any sort of topical study is finding a starting point.  I would much rather take a passage of scripture and teach through that in context, and just let the passage say what it says.  What makes a topical study of the Bible so difficult is that there is always a danger of proof-texting.  We have to always make sure that we are aware that we unconsciously bring a bias with us, wherever that bias comes from, it could be from our parents, what out parents taught us, could be from a particular church denomination that we grew up attending, or maybe our worldview, whatever influenced that.  There are things in our life that shape us and we end up having a particular bias when it comes to interpreting scripture.  So when it comes to studying a particular topic or doctrine, we have this tendency to seek out passages that fit in with our bias.  This is called proof-texting.

Now there is nothing inherently wrong with proof-texting.  In fact, many of the scriptural truths we hold dear we can directly site a specific verse or passage that teaches that.  For example, if I were to ask you, what must a person do to be saved, what are some verses that immediately come to mind?

Acts 16:31

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Romans 10:13

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Romans 10:9-10

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

John 3:14-18

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Now these are all good verses, and the reason these are good proof-texts is because the context is pretty straightforward.  And the big danger with proof-texting is ignoring the larger context.  For example, if someone were to ask me about how to be saved, one verse I would not use as a proof text is Acts 27:31.  Anyone know that verse?  “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” That’s a good salvation verse, isn’t it?  Now I know that’s a silly example, but don’t laugh, I have heard of people teaching on this passage and making all kinds of metaphors out of the ship and trying to turn this into a salvation passage.  But I use this to show you how easy it is to take a verse out of context.  We have to make sure we are very careful to understand and interpret a verse or passage within the larger context.

So in these sessions dealing with sanctification, we’re going to be turning to a lot of scripture.  We’re going to spend a lot of time looking up verses and passages of scripture dealing with sanctification, and I’m going to be very careful and methodical to make sure we keep the context straight, that we understand the larger theme of where these verses fit in with the rest of scripture, and so hopefully we’ll avoid this danger of proof-texting.

In this first session I want to lay the ground work for the other sessions, so I’m going to spend a lot of time defining terms.  That will become our premise for the rest of the study on Sanctification.  It is important to understand the distinction between Sanctification and Justification.  It is important to keep that distinction.  Sanctification is an act that happens to those who are already justified; those who are already declared to be righteous.  No, not just declared righteous, made righteous by belief in God, belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is the Biblical standard for righteousness; belief in God.  So because Sanctification is subsequent to Justification, I am going to be specifically addressing those who are already saved.  If you have already believed in Christ for your salvation, I am speaking to you today.  These sessions will apply specifically to you.  Nothing I have to say applies to someone who is unsaved.  I am speaking directly to believers.  In other word, little to nothing I have to speak about applies to Justification.  Justification has already been accomplished in your life, now we’re moving on to Sanctification.

So having said all of that, I’m going to use this first session to define our terms.  What is Sanctification?  More importantly, what is a Biblical definition of Sanctification?  Then our second session, we’ll explore sanctification in the Old Testament and it’s relationship to the Law, and I want to consider the idea, that if God wants me to be holy, then why do I still sin?  And then in the last session on Sanctification we will examine the question of, is there any merit to good works, and we will even examine the Biblical source of assurance for the believer.

So let’s get started on some terms.  What is Sanctification?  What does it mean to be Sanctified?  Before we can address those questions, we need to understand what Sanctification has to do with relation to holiness.  We know that God is holy.  The Bible teaches that holiness is one of God’s attributes.  So as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit holiness?  Are believers really holy?  The verse that I’ve chosen to use, sort of as the theme for these sessions on Sanctification is 1 Peter 1:16.  Why don’t we start there.  Go ahead and turn to 1 Peter.  And actually I want to start with verse 14.

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [way of life, how you conduct yourselves]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

And this last part here in verse 16 like I said is what I have chosen as the theme for these sessions.  Peter uses the esxpression, “because it is written,” he is actually making reference to the Law.  Peter is actually quoting the exact phrase found in Leviticus 11:44, 45.

Now some things I want you to notice about the grammatical structure of this passage here in 1 Peter.  Please notice all of the verbs in this passage, all of the action words, they are all in the imperative mood.  Imperative mood means it is a command.  An order.  Holiness is not optional.  It is a command.

Secondly, not only are all the verbs, all the actions, not only are they commands, they are in the active voice.  Active voice means that the subject performs the action.  The opposite of active voice is the passive voice.  In passive voice, the subject is the recipient of the action, or the subject has the action performed upon him.  Notice the active voice in all of these commands

do not fashion yourselves – you don’t fashion

be ye holy – you be holy

Notice the subject performs the action.  You.  You are performing the action.  This is different from passive voice.  If these commands were in the passive voice it would read something like:

do not be fashioned – do not allow yourself to be fashioned. Or;

be made holy – allow yourself to be made holy.

Taking this even one step further, if we look specifically at this phrase, “be ye holy”.  This phrase in the Greek looks like this.  It’s pronounced:

αγιοιγενεσθε “hag-ee-oy gin-ess-theh”

The word I have underlined here is the imperative form of the word:

γινομαι – “gin-oh-my” -  to cause to be; to become (reflexive)

This is a linking verb that is the equivalent to our English word “is”, and all the forms it takes- am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been.

So not only is this verb in the active voice, the word itself is causative in its very meaning.  This phrase could actually read, “cause yourself to become holy.”  Or, “make yourself holy.”

The third thing I want you to consider from this passage is, who is the audience?  Who is to perform this command to be holy?  Let your eyes go up to the beginning of the chapter.  To whom is Peter addressing this letter?  Who is supposed to be holy?

King James says – the strangers scattered throughout all these regions of Asia Minor.  Who would that be?  In the Greek this would read as pilgrims of the dispersion.  That is an expression that is used other places in scripture to describe displaced ethnic Jews.  These are Jews who did not return to the land of Israel following the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity.  They dispersed, and settled here and there throughout this region.  We also know from reading the books of Acts and from Galatians chapter 2 for example, that Paul’s ministry focused on the Gentiles, and Peter’s ministry focused on the Jews.  Galatians 2 uses the expression the gospel of the uncircumcision vs. the gospel of the circumcision.

So what we have here is Peter writing this letter addressed to these Jews of the dispersion, but what’s more important is that they are believers.  And that is what I really want us to see here.  Peter is writing to believers.  More than that, these commands here in verses 14-16 are issued to believers.  He is exhorting believers to not fashion themselves after their former life.  The believer is commanded to be holy.  The believer is to cause it to happen, actively, make it happen, not to passively wait for it to happen to him.  And I want this to be our underlying theme of these sessions.

As we go through these sessions, keep this in the forefront of your mind at all times, this is what we as believers are commanded to do.  We are not to live our lives the way we used to.  Not fashioning ourselves after the former life.  And by the way, that is the exact same word the apostle Paul uses in Romans 12:2, where he says be not conformed to this world, “soo-scheme-ah-tid-zo”.  This is where we get the word “schematic”.  You’ve probably heard of a schematic diagram.  For electrical engineers a schematic is a pattern to follow.  And that’s what the word means, having to do with a pattern.  We don’t pattern our lives after this world, we don’t follow the pattern of our old behaviors.  As believers we are to be holy as God is holy.

And if God in His word is commanding us to do it, then we must be able to do it, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in a God who would tell us to do something that we can’t do.  And if you don’t believe that, then I’m sorry, then you and I don’t believe in the same God.

Believers are called to holiness.  Now what is holiness?  That’s a word that has a lot of mystique about it.  Very ethereal.  We hear it, we think we know intrinsically what it means and we throw it around, but we have a hard time explaining it.  Well, let’s define these terms.  How does the Bible define holiness?  Let’s start at the beginning.  Surprisingly, the word “holy” doesn’t even appear in the book of Genesis.  The first occurrence of the word “holy” in the Bible appears in Exodus 3:5.

Exodus 3:5

“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”

קדשׁ – qôdesh – ko’-desh

Strongs dictionary defines it as a sacred place or thing.  Ok, well, that doesn’t tell us very much.  There is a parallel word for holy in the New Testament.  The first use of the word holy in the NT is

Matt 1:18

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

A couple more places where this is found, and I’m not going to look all of these up, but

Matthew 4:5

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,”

Matthew 7:6

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

This word in the Greek for holy is

αγιος – “hag-ee-oss” – sacred.

Again, still a pretty abstract concept.  Let’s set out to de-mystify these concepts.  Bring it from the abstract to the tangible.   Let’s see if we can nail it down a little more.  To better understand what holiness is, let us examine the opposite of holiness.  In scripture, the opposite of holy is profane.  Now profane carries with it a different meaning than what we understand in our modern usage of the word.  When we hear the word profane we usually think of profanity, like foul language.  So in the modern usage of the word, profane has the idea of evil, or foul, or sinful.  But that is not what the word means as it’s used in scripture.  In scripture profane simply means, common, ordinary, or everyday.  Run-of-the-mill.  No-frills.  Just like all the rest.

Now when you consider profane in this aspect, scripture presents all kinds of contrasts between that which is holy and that which is profane. The Old Testament is full of these contrasts.  Here are just a few of them:

Holy vs. Profane

Leviticus 20:3

And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.

Leviticus 21:6

They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.

Leviticus 21:7

They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.

Leviticus 22:2

Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 22:15

And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord;

Leviticus 22:32

Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you,

Ezekiel 22:26

Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference [discernment] between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.

Ezekiel 44:23

And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Amos 2:7

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:

Over and over again we have this contrast presented to us.  So if we understand then that profane is that which is common, or ordinary, or just like all the rest, and we understand that holy is the polar opposite of profane, then holy would be that which is not profane; that which is not common, that which is not ordinary, that which is not every-day, that which is not just like all the rest.

God said to Israel, when you profaned My name among the heathen, you made Me to be just like all the other gods.  When you profaned my temple, you made it like any other ordinary building.  I am no longer holy.  You caused me to be patterned after just like everything else.  I am no longer in that place where I deserve to be, because I am God, I am Jehovah.  I am not like all the rest.  I am higher than all the rest.  In fact, there are no others.  I am the only one.  I am that I Am!  I am the self-existent One!  That’s what My name means.  Do not profane it!  Do not make it just like all the rest!

This distinction between holy and profane is very helpful when it comes to us understanding why holiness is important in the Christian life.  Because if we are believers, then we are the adopted children of God.  If we are believers then we have identified with Christ.  We are righteous as He is righteous.  Sin has been taken away.  So then why would we live a life that profanes our Father?  Why would we live a life, why would our behavior be common, ordinary, why would our behavior be just like everyone else?

God is out of the ordinary, and He wants His people to be like Him.  In fact, He made it possible when He saved us.  Sin was taken away.  Our old man was crucified with Christ, and now we live in newness of life.  Our lives should be out of the ordinary.  Our lives should not be characterized by that which is just like everyone else in this world.

So, after we have gone through all of that, do we have a Biblical definition of holiness that we can work with?

Holy – a place or thing which is distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else.

Now those are words we can understand.  Those are words we can wrap our minds around and sink our teeth into.

Now that begs the question, what determines if something is holy?  What is it that makes something holy?  And this is where the relationship with sanctification comes into play.  If we as believers are commanded to be holy, our holiness then is effected through the process of sanctification.  In fact that could be a good starting place to define Sanctification.  We could say that:

Sanctification – the process whereby the holiness in the life of the believer is effected.

But let’s not leave it there.  Remember, our goal is to have a Biblical understanding of these concepts.  So let’s go back to God’s word and see how the scriptures define Sanctification.

Now while the word holy did not appear until the book of Exodus, the word sanctify appears early on in the book of Genesis.  The first instance of “sanctify” appears in

Genesis 2:3

“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

קדשׁ – qâdash – kaw-dash’ – to be clean; to make, pronounce, or declare clean.

Notice that, the basic definition of sanctification has to do with cleansing.  If you wanted to substitute the word clean for the word sanctify in Genesis 2:3 it would read:

“And God blessed the seventh day, and cleansed it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Now let me put our word for holy back up here for a moment.

Holy – ko-desh

Sanctify – kaw-dash

There is a great similarity between these two Hebrew words.  In fact they are both taken from the same root word.  What we have here is a very close relationship between cleansing and holiness.  The fourth commandment is what, remember the Sabbath day to keep it, holy.  Remember our definition of Holy?  Why was the Sabbath day holy?  Why was the Sabbath day distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else?  It was holy because God cleansed it.

Ok, how about the New Testament?  The first instance of “sanctify” in the NT is found in

Matthew 23:17

“Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?”

αγνος – “hag-noss” – clean

Now just like I did in the Hebrew, let me put up the word for holy in the Greek.

Holy – “hag-ee-oss”

Sanctify – “hag-noss”

Again, look at the similarity of the two words.  And just like in the Hebrew, these two words in the Greek are taken from the same root.  The same relationship appears in the Greek between these ideas of cleansing and holiness.

So now that we understand this relationship between holiness and cleansing, we can take the meaning of the word Sanctify, and combine it with the meaning of holiness, and we can come up with what I believe is an accurate, Biblical definition of Sanctification.

Sanctification – the process of cleansing for the purpose of making a place or thing distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everything else. (or the purpose of making something holy)

So we have our definitions.  We’ve established the ground work, the foundation from which we can build.

If you remember at the beginning of this session I asked the question, as creatures made in the image of God, can we exhibit God’s attribute of holiness?  I would say that according to scripture, the answer is a resounding, YES!  We are able to.  We are able to be distinct from that which is common, ordinary, or just like everyone else.  We are able to behave that way.  We are able to pattern our lives that way.

So, now that we have a premise to build on, in session two, we’ll take a look at how this all worked out in the Old Testament under the law, and the relationship of Sanctification to the law.  We’ll expand on this idea of cleansing and the relationship between cleansing and Sanctification and holiness in the life of a believer.

Do we have time for any questions or comments?

Prep For Gnostic Watch Weekly: Friday 11/14/2014

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 13, 2014

Gnostic Nation cut

What does the recent Obama Care scandal have to do with Gnosticism and the institutional church? Everything.

Show Prep:

Every Friday at 7:00 PM

How Calvinism Turns Brave Hearts into Cold Hearts

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 12, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally posted April 29, 2013

I will post a video at the end of this article that elicited the following response from those who posted it on the social network where I watched it:

“Not sure what one could add to or take away from what we have just seen. I am reminded of Matt. 24 when Jesus says that because of lawlessness the hearts of many will grow cold. “Just do it” and laughter throughout the time is just beyond me. Heather was in tears. I wanted to throw up. Beyond disgusting.”

The key to understanding the cold-bloodedness that they observed is in their mention of Matthew 24:12, and the two key words are BECAUSE and LAWLESSNESS. Christ said that “because” of “lawlessness,” love would “grow cold.” The source of this lawlessness is described by Jesus in the previous verse: “many false prophets.”

Now we would do well to examine what Christ meant by the word often translated “lawlessness” and “wickedness” in our English Bibles. These words posit the idea of bad behavior, but that’s not what the actual word that is used by Christ means at all. The word is “anomia.” The “a” is a negative article prefix that means “anti” and “nomia” or nomos, refers to God’s law specifically. The idea of sinful behavior is an entirely different word altogether. Among many used is “hamartia,” or “sin” and these two words are specifically contrasted in 1John 3:4. Sin is defined by any aberration of God’s standard.

In Matthew 24:12, as well as many other passages, an anti-Bible agenda is in view propagated by false prophets.

The world in general becomes cold-hearted by rejecting the law of God written on their hearts and administered by the conscience—either excusing or accusing their actions (ROM 2:15,16). The conscience can eventually be seared if continually violated and ignored (1TIM 4:2). Christians are to keep a clear conscience before God (Acts 24,16 1Peter 3:16, 1TIM 1:5, 3:9, 2TIM 1:3). Keeping a clear conscience before God is obviously behavior focused as judged by the Bible.

One of the monumental misnomers of all time is the idea of “legalism.” This term was formulated by false prophets who really want to steer us away from nomos. Misguided obedience has never been the church’s primary nemesis; it has always been anti-word of God. When the apostle Paul warned those who wanted to be justified by the law, “law,” is in a manner of speaking; Paul was referring to what false teachers purport to be the law, not an actual sincere love for truth and a desire to live by it. This is why James stated that anyone who wanted to be justified by the law had to keep all of it, not a standard of their own choosing (James 2:10). Supposed law-keeping is also often connected to salvation by mere ritual as well. This point cannot be better made than to cite what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.

We see here, clearly, that Paul was confronting a belief that being circumcised according to law excused them from a truthful obedience to the law. In other words, justification by law-keeping is ALWAYS a dumbed-down version of the law to make adherence for salvation feasible. Paul contrasts this with true obedience to the law in sanctification:

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Justification by law-keeping is NEVER an endeavor to obey the truth; it is ALWAYS the replacement of God’s law with the traditions of men—making the law of God “void.” The Pharisees, the supposed poster children for “legalism,” or “living by the law,” were not guilty of trying to obtain salvation by a sincere obedience to the truth, but rather replaced the law of God with their traditions and made that the standard for salvation (which has no law standard to begin with):

Matthew15:1 – Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

Matthew 23:16 – “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. 23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

And what were the Pharisees full of “within”? “[L]awlessness” which is the word “anomia.” The English translation is “anti-law” or “antinomianism.” That’s what the Pharisees were full of within—not “legalism” which is a concept not found in the Bible anywhere by idea or word. There is obedience to truth or anti-truth—no in-between.

“Legalism” fosters the idea that Christians can unwittingly try to please God by obeying the truth as a way to earn their justification. The idea was hatched by the Reformers and is a Neo-Calvinist doctrinal mainstay in our day. The favorite illustration is the Pharisees who supposedly were really, really good at keeping the law and obeying the Bible in an attempt to earn their justification. This is a ploy to create confusion in regard to the law’s relationship to justification and sanctification. The Reformers created immense fear among Christians by making the law’s relationship to justification the same as sanctification. In justification, law has no jurisdiction in regard to the Christian. The Christian is transformed from a status where the law is the standard to be justified (and impossible) to a status where the law informs our sanctification totally separate from justification. So, the law is a standard for sanctification, but in regard to the Christian, the law no longer has jurisdiction over his/her salvation. In Calvinism, the law remains a standard for justification IN salvation that must be maintained until the final judgment.

Because man is created to do works, this makes sanctification very tricky with our eternal destiny hanging in the balance. Calvinists therefore assure Christians that if they live their Christian lives by faith alone—they are playing it safe. As one New Calvinist told me: “If I let Jesus do all the work, He can’t fault me for anything when I stand before Him.”  Of course, living in a way that imputes the works of Christ to our Christian walk is very complicated, but be assured: New Calvinists will teach us how to “practice obedient faith” so we can arrive at the final judgment covered by “what Jesus has done, not anything we do”….in our Christian walk. This confounding of the law’s relationship to justification and sanctification makes the Christian walk a minefield with constant danger of  “making sanctification the ground of our justification.” We must therefore seek out the Reformed for their secret formula for living the Christian life by faith alone. “Sola Fide” is for justification and sanctification both—that’s the dirty little secret. The Reformed couch the language in terms like “obedient faith.” The Reformers saw faith as a neutral conduit that God uses to impute the perpetual works of Christ to the believer. In other words, Christ’s atoning work is not yet finished for salvation: though accomplished in one period of time, it must be continually appropriated to maintain our just standing. The maintenance of our salvation is in view. Hence, we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

But this brings us from fearful hearts to cold hearts. Reformed theology will heap its share of cold-hearted mentality on humanity “because of anomia.” It’s just more anomia dressed in religious garb. This brings my point back to the video that was posted. It is cold-heartedness on steroids regarding the abortion issue. Therefore, the following should make perfect sense to us:

According to the National Right to Life, the total number of abortions in the US is down-33% from its peak in 1980/81- and the greatest decrease is among adolescent girls and young women. Good News!

But if we look further into these statistics, we find disconcerting news for the Church: The abortion rates among professing Christians are commensurate with the rest of the population!

Approx. 560,000 for Protestants (43%)

Approx. 350,000 per year for Catholics (27%)

13% of abortions (approx. 170,000 per year) are performed on self-described “Born Again” or Evangelical Christians (Alan Guttmacher Institute and Physicians for Reproductive Choice, “An Overview of Abortion in the United States,” 2003 and 2008)

Even more disturbing is the fact that these percentages have NOT dropped, even though the number of abortions have in recent years!

These statistics reveal that actually MORE women who profess Christianity are having abortions.

This is what Reformed theology has always done to society. Despite the traditions of men that claim otherwise, the Reformation did not bring light to darkness, it brought more darkness. Post Reformation brought little more than chaos and turmoil to Europe—more than it had ever seen before. It brought tyranny to America in the form of the Salem witch trials, and its contemporary resurgence has resulted in an unprecedented level of abuses in the American church.

It is the epitome of a primary concern of Christ during His ministry: the replacement of the law by the traditions of men resulting in anomia. While waxing eloquent about the Pharisees, Neo-Calvinism is in fact a return to what plagued the apostolic church. To say that Calvinists vaunt the opinions of a litany of past Reformers as authority is an understatement of the most dramatic sort. Even Charles Spurgeon, “the prince of preachers” did little more than regurgitate Reformed tradition. Recently, one Reformed conference was based on the writings of twenty-five Reformed icons. The popular Resolved conferences hosted by John MacArthur highlighted the traditional teachings and legacies of Reformed men of years gone by.

With all of the harping about the Pharisees by Calvinists—they are the Pharisees, and they propagate the same kind of cold-heartedness with it.

Their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.

~Psalm 119:70


Mark Driscoll Did NOT Resign Because He Abused Parishioners

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 12, 2014
Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll

Sigh. Does anybody have any idea how many “Lessons Learned from Mark Driscoll’s Resignation” posts have been written? How do you write a post on that when the fundamental premise is dead wrong?

Mark Driscoll did not have to step down because he abused people. That was the excuse to get rid of him, but not the reason. We will probably never know what he really did to turn the other institutional church power brokers against him, but it had absolutely NOTHING to do with abusing people.

Abuse in the institutional church is rampant and completely condoned. James MacDonald, a friend of Driscoll’s, is guilty of the EXACT same behavior, actually worse; so, why is he still around? Because he plays well with the power brokers—that’s why. I am incredulous that anyone would believe that he was forced out of ministry for mistreating parishioners. That’s a laugher.

Let’s take Clearcreek Chapel of Springboro, Ohio for instance. The elder board there has a long history of abuse. Former members have fled the state of Ohio to get as far away from that church as possible, literally east coast and west coast, while others have sought psychiatric care after tangling with said elder board. This is an elder board that has a very long list of unresolved conflict with many, many Christians including myself.

Nevertheless, they have the full endorsement of the Reformed counseling community along with their own training center for counselors endorsed by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The director of John MacArthur’s counseling program at Master’s Seminary, Dr. John Street, will be speaking there in January 2015. And of course, few need to be brought up to speed on the continued endorsement of CJ Mahaney despite overt criminal behavior.

In regard to Driscoll, the institutional church power brokers took the opportunity to appear principled, but in reality Driscoll crossed some sort of inner circle code of conduct. Sometimes we can know the real reason, but in Driscoll’s case it is doubtful.

Rob Bell is a case where we can know. The inner circle kicked him to the curb for writing the book Love Wins. In the book, Bell proffered universal salvation. Ouch. You can do many, many naughty things as a New Calvinist celebrity, but you may never, never, never remove the fear factor from being a Protestant. Bell messed with the control/fear factor—that’s a no, no. That’s messing with the mutton bigtime.

However, Francis Chan did the same thing in a book he wrote that was supposedly an answer to Bell’s book, and got away with it though he was much more ambiguous about it.  How? Chan has way more star power than Bell had, and only implied that we can’t know for certain what God means by the term “hell,” but it’s probably a bummer. At any rate, Chan’s book was far from a literal, grammatical statement on hell.

It’s all about politics and the power brokers of what many well respected Christian journalists call the “evangelical industrial complex” (or google “John Calvin’s Geneva Theocracy”). We live in America where the institutional church is not backed by the government; the only thing that the institutional church has to fall back on is salvation by institution, and that has been sold masterfully to God’s people and was a staple of the Reformation. The Protestant institutional church is clearly a corporate man-following popery.

No? With the demise of Driscoll, the Mars Hill empire with multiple campuses nationwide completely collapsed overnight. It’s completely gone. The ministry stood on the feet of the corporate pope and nothing else. This is exactly why James MacDonald is able to extort outrageous salary increases from his own campus empire. If he goes, the whole enchilada goes and everyone knows it. That’s also why MacDonald was able to excommunicate one of the campuses because the elders of that particular campus dared question him. Think about it, he declared every member of that campus unbelieving and condemned just because their elders had questions. MacDonald has also expressed the desire to have the authority to execute parishioners who disagree with him. Again, Driscoll could not even begin to hold a candle to MacDonald’s despotism.

There is one other possibility: Driscoll might have done something really stupid that will come out later, and the rats are jumping ship, but again, we will probably never know the real reason.

Perhaps everyone wants to believe that Driscoll was thrown under the bus because the first pope of New Calvinism, John Piper and the other power brokers really care about the spiritually abused, but it’s not reality by any stretch of the imagination.


New Calvinists: Unregenerate and Singing Joyfully About It

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 11, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published March 13, 2013

“But our ongoing Potter’s House studies in the book of Romans reveals something else even more incredulous: the song is a self-described depiction, according to the apostle Paul, of the unregenerate response to the law.”

One of the more popular songs in our New Calvinist nation is “More Like Falling in Love” by antinomian heartthrob Jason Gray. Like all anti-law proponents of our day, he has been allowed to own the dialogue which usually results in winning the argument. In his own bio about the song, he states the following:

Is it weird to anyone else that we’ve made salvation a matter of who has the best information?

Notice how Gray trades the word “truth” for “information.” Switch the words in his sentence, reread, and he is exposed for the wretch that he is. When heretics are allowed to own the dialogue, they can write their own metaphysics. Here are the lyrics to the song:

“More Like Falling In Love”

Give me rules

I will break them

Show me lines

I will cross them

I need more than

A truth to believe

I need a truth that lives

Moves and breathes

To sweep me off my feet, it’s gotta be

More like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out

Come take a look at me now

It’s like I’m falling, oh

It’s like I’m falling in love

Give me words

I’ll misuse them


I’ll misplace them

‘Cause all religion

Ever made of me

Was just a sinner

With a stone tied to my feet

It never set me free, it’s gotta be

More like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out

Come take a look at me now

It’s like I’m falling, oh

It’s like I’m falling in

Love, love, love

Deeper and deeper, it was

Love that made me a believer

In more than a name

A faith, a creed

Falling in love with Jesus brought

The change in me

More like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out

Come take a look at me now

It’s like I’m falling, oh

It’s like I’m falling

More like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

Caught up, called out

Come take a look at me now

It’s like I’m falling, oh

It’s like I’m falling in love

It’s like I’m falling

(Falling in love)

It’s like I’m falling

Much could be contested here once you get past the initial shock of the song’s brazen anti-truth stance, especially the idea that love-feelings verify authentic truth. But our ongoing Potter’s House studies in the book of Romans reveals something else even more incredulous: the song is a self-described depiction, according to the apostle Paul, of the unregenerate response to the law. In the song, Gray posits the idea that the law merely provokes sin. For the lost person that’s true:

Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 7:7 – What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

Notice Paul is speaking in the past tense. Before he was saved, the sin that he was enslaved to utilized the law to provoke sinful reactions. And like Jason Gray states in his song,

Give me rules

I will break them

Show me lines

I will cross them….

Give me words

I’ll misuse them [right, like switching “truth” with “information”]


I’ll misplace them

Throughout Romans, Paul describes this state as being “under the law” as opposed to being “under grace”:

Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

You are either “under law” or “under grace.” When you are under law, sin has “dominion over you,” κυριευω (kyrieuo) has both the idea of lordship and control. Paul further explains in Romans 8:7-9:

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Again, exactly as Gray proudly boasts:

Give me rules

I will break them

Show me lines

I will cross them….

Give me words

I’ll misuse them


I’ll misplace them

However, when one is “under grace,” their minds are enslaved to the law:

Romans 7:25 – Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

The word for “serve” is “δουλευω (douleuo),  a verb form of doulos which is a bond slave. Hence, as believers, our minds are enslaved to the law though we don’t keep it perfectly. Nevertheless, the law is now inclined to incite us to obedience rather than disobedience. Paul states it this way in Romans 8:3-4:

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Furthermore, when we don’t seek to love God by learning and doing, we become ignorant in regard to the law and the likes of Jason Gray can propagate this New Calvinist antinomianism unfettered. And again, the dialogue is not challenged as well. Paul stated,

Romans 6:17 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

But Jason Gray states:

More like falling in love

Than something to believe in

More like losing my heart

Than giving my allegiance

“Allegiance”? Paul called it a commitment to a “standard of teaching.” We are now slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification (ROM 6:18-19).

That’s New Calvinism: singing praises to Jesus as they draw nearer and nearer to a day of reckoning where they will give an account for their false gospel.


The Elephant in the Room: The Historical-Redemptive Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 11, 2014

ELEPHANTOriginally published September 3, 2013

How Should We Read Our Bibles?

There isn’t a bigger elephant in the Sunday school room or the sanctuary than the issue of Bible interpretation. The reason for this follows: the method of interpretation that comes natural to us is assumed.

What is that method? This gets into an area of study called hermeneutics (the theory of interpretation), and the two primary theories thereof are exegesis and eisegesis. These are big theological words that the average Protestant is not supposed to know. This is because the Protestant interpretation of the Scriptures is based on authority.

We will get to exegesis and eisegesis, but the crux of the issue is authority. The Reformers came from Romanism and clearly, their interpretive construct was based on authority; i.e., the average parishioner was not free to interpret the Bible and follow it according to one’s own conscience:

Rightfully and nobly did the Protestant Reformers claim religious liberty for themselves; but they resolutely refused to concede it to others. [1]

The very foundation of Protestant interpretation is based on authority; that is, the leaders dictate meaning. Therefore, traditionally, the need for Protestants in general to understand interpretive principles would be unnecessary, and as a result, Protestantism functions that way till this very day. In the early days of the Reformation, private interpretation was outlawed [2]; in our day, education regarding the tools needed to interpret the Bible are merely excluded.

This fact brings us to an interesting word, “orthodoxy.” Traditionally, this word is associated with “truth” as a synonym. This is not the case at all. Orthodoxy is the authority of truth based on counsels of any given sect. [3] The opinions of these counsels regarding the meaning of “truth” are known as “creeds” and “confessions.” These are “truths” (actually, opinions concerning the meaning of any given subject) repackaged for those who have limited understanding, and usually recited and learned through catechisms [4].

Authority Versus Individual Interpretation

Hence, Protestant interpretation is based on authority and not individual interpretation. The structure of this interpretive process is orthodoxy formed through counsels, distributed by creeds/confessions, and practiced through catechisms. In Europe and early Colonial America, it was a matter of civil law, in our day the process is tempered by the freedom to choose your own orthodoxy, but it is still orthodoxy. Once a typical American parishioner chooses who they want to believe, they will follow that leader as an authority. A like tendency caused the Apostle Paul to confront the believers at Corinth (1COR 3:1-9).

Of course, the authoritative method of interpretation is at the root of every cult. Traditionally, when people seek to find God, they begin by finding an authority that they are comfortable with. This is why many people prefer authoritative interpretation in a free society: it allows them to choose their own general truth while leaving the hard task of thinking to others. The Apostle Paul said this would be particularly problematic in the last days (2TIM 4:3-5).

The visible authority structure within the church is known as “church polity” or church government. [5] Again, the whole construct is based on authority. If authority is the interpretive prism, roles in the church are going to be seen as positions of authority rather than gifts. When Christ ministered here on earth, disciples were free to follow Him or not follow Him under their own free volition (JN 6:66-69). Christ made it clear to the disciples that their roles in the kingdom were not that of authority (Matthew 20:20-28).

The word “office” inserted in the English translations when associated with “bishop” or “deacon” were added in to the translations and do not appear in the Greek manuscripts while in other places these roles are spoken of as gifts (EPH 4:11-16). We have been given authority to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom on earth, but that is a vertical authority and not horizontal. Those who protest the gift idea versus the authority idea often cite the following text:

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The word for “obey” in this verse is πείθω (peithō) which means to persuade by argument. The word “submit” is ὑπείκω (hypeikō) which means “to surrender.”  Here is the best rendering according to a heavy paraphrase:

Be persuaded by your leaders’ arguments from Scripture and don’t be stubborn in regard to the truth for this is no advantage to your own spiritual wellbeing. Besides, they have to give an account for how they led you, and let that account be a joyful recital to the Lord rather than a sorrowful report.

Why is this important? Because every person is personally culpable before God for following the truth, not men. Paul was an apostle, yet the Bereans verified what he taught according to their own understanding of Scripture (Acts 17:11). Paul told the Corinthians that he should only be followed as he followed Christ (1COR 11:1). Every individual will stand before God to give an account of the sum and substance of their own lives, not who they followed among mortals.

The Exegesis and Eisegesis of Hermeneutics

The theological word for the science of biblical interpretation is hermeneutics. The first consideration of hermeneutics must be exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis draws conclusions from written text depending on the grammatical meaning and arrangement of words. Eisegesis approaches the text with an interpretive prism. One who uses the exegetical approach will even approach the text to learn how the text itself should be interpreted. Eisegesis assumes one must approach the text with a proper presupposition in order to properly understand it.

Therefore, this takes us right back to the basic question of authority versus the freedom of individual interpretation. Eisegesis will approach the text with a prescribed method of interpretation while exegesis will look for the best way to interpret the text from the text itself. The interpretive prism for eisegesis comes from an authority. The common contention from those of the authority camp is that everybody approaches the Bible with presuppositions, and this is unavoidable; so, it is important to use the right interpretive prism. Since we are supposedly incapable of approaching the Bible objectively, we should bow to their authority in regard to the proper interpretive prism.

Historical-Grammatical Versus Historical Redemptive: The Elephant in the Room

Eisegesis and exegesis really boils down to authority versus individualism, and so does the two major methods of interpretation in the church: historical-grammatical method and the historical-redemptive method. This is where we get into discussion about the elephant in the room. These two devices of interpretation yield completely different results. When we sit under any given teacher, he/she will be using one of these hermeneutics. The two different approaches will sound the same because each uses all of the familiar terms, “gospel,” “justification,” etc., but the terms mean different things in each construct. This is the elephant in the sanctuary and the Sunday school room that no one is talking about.

As suggested by the terms themselves, one interprets the Bible grammatically, and the other interprets the Bible through a Redemptive prism. The latter seems perfectly reasonable: “Isn’t the Bible primarily about Redemption?” The former would judge that assertion by a grammatical evaluation of the text. In other words, conclusions are drawn by the arrangement of words, their meaning, and what those words meant to people in that historical context. This is exegesis.

The redemptive method presupposes that the Bible is a gospel narrative about the works and personhood of Christ. It presupposes that this is the dominate theme of the Bible and everything else in the Bible is secondary and points back to Christ. For example, biblical commands aren’t really meant for us to obey, but rather illustrate the works that Christ has accomplished for us and illustrative of what we are unable to do. This bypasses the normal grammatical interpretation of an imperative expectation, and interprets it as a finished work that God in fact does not want us to do. This is assumed because of the redemptive presupposition. As Neo-Calvinist Paul David Tripp has said, biblical commands must be seen in their “gospel context.” [6]

The Gospel Transformation Study Bible and the Redemptive-Historical Gospel

Dr. Kathleen Nielson, in a promotional video for the Gospel Transformation study Bible, stated that the historical-redemptive theme is not imposed on the text, “it’s actually in there!” This, we by no means deny, but are the works of Christ and His personhood something that every verse in the Bible points to? Nielson, like many from the redemptive-historical camp, use the grammatical approach to determine that something is in the text, and then make that an authoritative interpretive prism.

I have talked face to face with pastors who use this hermeneutic. As one stated to me, “You might have to cover multiple chapters in one sermon in order to see the Christocentric theme God is showing you at the time.”  Others are even more direct:

At this time, resist the temptation to utilize subsequent passages to validate the meaning or to move out from the immediate context. Remembering that all exegesis must finally be a Christocentric exegesis.

Look for Christ even if He isn’t there directly. It is better to see Christ in a text even if He isn’t, than to miss Him where He is. [7]

Again, we see that a “Christocentric exegesis,” something that is in the text grammatically, becomes the authoritative eisegesis. And this elephant is a big one, because interpreting the Bible this way is intrinsically tied to the gospel that comes part and parcel with the redemptive method. The historical-redemptive method is a tool for enabling the believer to live by faith alone in their Christian walk. The historical-redemptive method is actually a gospel in and of itself.  To interpret the Bible grammatically is to conclude that God actually wants us to exert our own will in response to commands in the Bible. To proponents of the redemptive-historical method, this is works salvation because Christ is not obeying for us in our Christian life. This is what the Reformation motto, “Christ for us” means. The Neo-Calvinist John Piper has stated it this way, “[Christ] 100% for us.” [8] Piper has also said that “necessary sanctification” comes from faith alone in the Christian life (Ibid).

Therefore, according to proponents of the redemptive model, a historical-grammatical interpretation of Scripture necessarily leads to works salvation and making what we do in the Christian life “the ground of our justification” (Ibid). For all practical purposes, Paul David Tripp has stated such:

….and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things. But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior. Instead, it reduces our relationship to Christ to “think his thoughts” and “act the way Jesus would act.” [9]

Here, Tripp concedes that the Bible can be interpreted grammatically, “and the Bible does call us to change the way we think about things.” Grammatically, one assumes the commandments are to us and that we are called to do them. Again, Tripp clearly recognizes this fact. But what does he say the results are?

But this approach again omits the person and work of Christ as Savior.

What happens if we “omit” Christ as “Savior”? Clearly, Tripp is stating that if we interpret the Bible literally and obey it, we are circumventing Christ’s salvific work. Much more than mere semantics are at stake here. The elephant in the room is absolutely huge! This is about the gospel.

The historical-redemptive method of interpretation is all the rage in contemporary Christianity. Projects and programs that promote this method of interpretation and target all age groups abound. Almost all Christian publishers are on board with the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. The latest project that has been unveiled towards this endeavor is Crossway Publishers’ The Gospel Transformation Bible. It will be available 10/19/13.

The subtitle is, “Christ in all of Scripture, Grace for all of Life.” This is typical of those who promote this method of interpretation and its gospel. Christians will assume that the title only pertains to justification by faith alone, but it doesn’t. “Transformation” or change has to do with the Christian life, and in the subtitle, “Grace” replaces “gospel” to veil the real crux of this doctrine. Basically, it teaches that Christians are transformed by continually revisiting the same gospel that saved them. Not only that, we keep ourselves saved by doing such. This is what is behind the Neo-Calvinist mantra, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” John Piper has said that the question is not only how one gets saved, but how one must use the same gospel that saved him/her to keep themselves saved. [10] Piper has also said that we must “see” the same gospel that saved us over and over again as a requirement to enter heaven. [11]

Note: This is what’s so critical about the Reformed historical-redemptive interpretative model according to many Calvinists, it enables us to fulfill what is “required of us” to enter heaven (Ibid). In essence, once saved, how we read our Bible determines whether we keep our salvation or not. So therefore, those who promote The Gospel Transformation Bible actually see it as a resource for maintaining one’s salvation.

The “Gospel-Driven” Life

The question that is invariably raised is, “How do proponents of the historical-redemptive model explain obedience and the Christian life?” Primarily, they say Christians must “experience” obedience, but must not be the ones who perform it in the Christian life. By revisiting the gospel afresh, the works of Christ are “manifested” in our lives. When this happens, the obedience is experienced by a willing, joyful spirit. As we use the historical-redemptive model to see how sinful we are (a deeper realization of our sin, the realization that originally saved us), and thereby gaining a greater appreciation for what Jesus did for us, we experience “vivification.” This is some sort of joyful rebirth. Proponents of this hermeneutic, primarily those of Reformed theology, refer to this as “mortification and vivification.”  A “daily dying and rising,” a “living out of our baptism.” [12] [13]

The Origin of the Historical-Redemptive Hermeneutic

Where did this hermeneutic originate? Even though Martin Luther’s 95 Theses launched the Reformation, the framework of the Reformation’s doctrine and gospel was articulated by Martin Luther six months later. Essentially, Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order in 1518 is the heart and soul of the Reformation. Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is a greatly expanded treatise of Luther’s framework. However, every fundamental element of Reformation doctrine can be found in Luther’s Disputation, and this by no means excludes the historical-redemptive hermeneutic. [14]

The primary theme of Luther’s Disputation is known as The Theology of the Cross. It was comprised of the glory story and the cross story. Luther believed that salvation must be maintained by an incessant emptying of self. One’s focus must be OUTWARD only. Any semblance of an inward look was the “glory story.” The outward focus on Christ and His works, and nothing about us whatsoever is the “cross story.” A beginning focus on the cross saves us, and a continued focus on the cross story keeps us saved the same way we were originally saved: by faith alone. Sola Fide also pertains to the Christian walk/life. The historical-redemptive model came from Luther’s Theology of the Cross.

Luther believed the outward focus and utter eradication of self leads to a subjective power displayed by the Holy Spirit that we experience. However, we are not to be concerned with it because there is no way for us to distinguish between our own efforts and those of the Spirit. [15] Mortification and vivification can be ascertained in Theses’ 16 and 17 of the Disputation.

Never have Christians been so oblivious to such a critical issue. What we believe about the gospel and how we convey it to the world is at stake. Every Sunday in America, historical-grammatical parents deliver their children to historical-redemptive teachers while clueless in regard to the ramifications. This reality actually creates mixed families and marriages via two different gospels. One spouse buys into sanctification by faith alone while the other one doesn’t. Eventually, you have a mixed marriage.

The issue with these two hermeneutics is not a matter of semantics and preference—these are two different gospels. This issue is the elephant in the sanctuary and the Sunday school room.


1. Nabu Public Domain Reprints: The Principles of the Westminster Standards Persecuting; William Marshall, D.D., Coupar – Angus. Edinburgh, William Oliphant & Co. 1873, p. 13.

2. Ibid., pp. 19-22, 28.

3. Bruce Overton: MacMillan’s Modern Dictionary; The Macmillan Co. New York 1943.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid. designated as synonymous with “politic” : the science of government.

6. Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch press 2006, p. 26.

7. The Biblical Theological Study Center: A Christo-Presuppositional Approach to the Entire Scriptures; Max Strange. Online source:

8. John Piper: Desiring God .org blog: Video, If you had 2 minutes with the Pope, what would you say?

9. Paul David Tripp: How People Change; Punch press 2006, p. 27.

10. John Piper: Desiring God .org blog; How Does The Gospel Save Believers? Part 2. August 23, 1998 Bethlehem Baptist Church.

11. Ibid, Part 3.

12. Michael Horton: The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way; Zondervan 2011, p. 661.

13. Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance.

14. In its fundamental elements. It was not referred to as the historical-redemptive hermeneutic for many years afterward.

15. Heidelberg Disputation: Theses 24.

Calvin’s False Gospel: On the Wrong Side of the Law; Galatians 3:15-25

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 11, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published March 1, 2014

“If Christ had to keep the law perfectly, or if you will, fulfill it, the inheritance no longer depends on The Promise, but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through The Promise.”

“In a manner of speaking, Moses’ law was useless until Christ died. It was a will that promised an inheritance, but without the death of its testator, there is no inheritance; namely, eternal life. So why would Christ have to fulfill the law through obedience? His death alone resulted in the inheritance. Obedience to a will does not fulfil it, only death fulfills it. A will is a promise fulfilled by death only.”

The reason Calvinism is a false gospel is simple and glaring; Calvin was on the wrong side of the law. In fact, Calvin constructed the exact soteriology that the apostle Paul continually railed against. Simply stated, Paul sought to separate law from justification while Calvin sought to fuse law with justification.

Calvin condoned this by making Christ’s perfect obedience to the law part of the “atonement.” This is another caveat we will be discussing: Calvin also misused the word “atonement” and seems to have had a fundamental misunderstanding about what it is. As good Protestants we think of atonement as being central to the cross, and indeed it is VERY important, but not central. I will explain this further along—how Calvin’s understanding of atonement makes the L in TULIP an oxymoron.

Calvin made perfect law-keeping justification’s standard; Paul said, NO! law has nothing to do with being justified whatsoever! Calvin said Christ fulfilled the law for us, and His perfect obedience was imputed to us along with His personal righteousness. Hence, we are righteous positionally, and also righteous factually. Therefore, the “atonement” is a “covering”—no matter what the Christian does, when the father of wrath looks at us, He only sees Christ’s “doing and dying” and not anything we do. This is part and parcel with Martin Luther’s alien righteousness construct as well. It seems logical until you start reading the Bible. But this makes the concept of “covering” very important to the Reformation.

Also, this construct leads to various and sundry formulas for sanctification in which we conduct ourselves in a way that continually reapplies the “doing and dying” of Christ to our lives as opposed to “anything that we do”…and a lot of confusion following. And unfortunately, the elder’s soft whispering in our ear that says, “just trust us” as well. That’s not a good idea.

Let us now examine Galatians 3:15-25 to make these points:

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case (NIV).

Really, the crux of Christianity is the covenant God made with Abraham. EVERYTHING goes back to that. God’s complete plan for the ages is bound up in “The Promise.” That is another name, really the formal one, for the Abrahamic Covenant: “The Promise.” One must understand that Reformed theology and Calvinism in particular, is a complete deconstruction of biblical truth and the gospel. Reformed theology holds to the idea that The Promise was conditional. The idea, especially among renowned Southern Baptists, that common ground can be found with Calvinism is the epitome of biblical illiteracy, and this is just one point among many: Paul makes it clear in verse 15 that The Promise cannot be changed or annulled. Furthermore, it does not depend on anything that man does as demonstrated by the fact that God put Abraham in a deep sleep during the ceremony that consummated this covenant.

16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ (NIV).

Verse 16 is very helpful in understanding something basic about all biblical covenants, here referred to by Paul as “promises.” In the Bible, “promise” is an idiom for “covenant.” The two words are used interchangeably. All of the “promises,” plural, are built upon the one “promise,” singular. All of the covenants build one big historical picture, much of it future, but all based on the one Promise. It is interesting to note that Paul identifies the formally unregenerate Gentiles of his day as alienated from the Promises (plural) of Israel (Eph 2:12).

Verse 16 also makes a distinction in Abraham’s national descendants and spiritual descendants. Abraham is the father of Israel, but not all descendants of Israel are of the “seed of the woman” which is Abraham’s spiritual seed. But be sure of this: that does not negate the promises to national Israel (see Jer 31:31ff.) and those who are of “faith” within national Israel. The point of verse 16 is that belief in Christ denotes the only seed that can give life by “faith” alone apart from anything else. That’s why Paul continues in this way:

17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise (Ibid).

The Promise is by faith alone and is the only seed that can give life. The law, which came 430 years later, does not CHANGE anything in regard to The Promise. ALL life is in faith alone, or the seed of faith. One must simply believe. Faith gives life completely separate from the law. Let us expedite the point with verse 21:

… For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law (Id).

You may argue that law can further define righteousness after the fact, but it cannot give life. The law is completely separate from justification/righteousness. The fulfillment of the law by anybody, including Christ, does not impart life—only faith imparts life. A keeping of the law for “atonement” changes the promise:

18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise (Id).

If Christ had to keep the law perfectly, or if you will, fulfill it, the inheritance no longer depends on The Promise, but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through The Promise. So, why the law? Paul will tell us:

19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one (Id).

Moses was the mediator of the covenant of the law given at Mt. Sinai, and the angels enforced its inauguration. This was the unimaginable apocalyptic scene that guaranteed lack of interference from the forces of darkness. In the book of Revelation, we have a description of how angels will be used of God to once again enforce this covenant. Even though the law was added, this was not the addition of another seed of faith; ie., Moses, but there is only one seed that signifies The Promise and the only seed that can give life. Moses’ covenant cannot give life.

So why the law? Now we can talk about, “atonement,” well, sort of. The law was a covering of sorts by way of a will. Under the Old Covenant, if you believed God, you were in the will and guaranteed the inheritance. Remember what Paul said in verse 18?

For if the inheritance depends on the law…

The Old Testament law was a will that protected believers until Christ came and died for our sins. In that sense, they were “covered” until Christ came. Christ is the mediator of a “better” covenant because Moses’ covenant only protected believers from the consequences of sin until Christ came. Moses was the mediator of the will, but Christ is the testator:

22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe [Note what we have discussed in prior essays: “Scripture” and “law” are synonyms].

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

Hebrews 9:15 – For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

16 – In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Id).

In a manner of speaking, Moses’ law was useless until Christ died. It was a will that promised an inheritance, but without the death of its testator, there is no inheritance; namely, eternal life. So why would Christ have to fulfill the law through obedience? His death alone resulted in the inheritance. Obedience to a will does not fulfil it, only death fulfills it. A will is a promise fulfilled by death only.

Moreover, in regard to justification, it would seem that the point of the Old Testament law was the temporary imputation of sin, and not the need for a righteous fulfillment. The law imputes NO righteousness, but in regard to justification was a “covenant of death” (2Cor 2:12, 3:6,7). More than likely, the idea is a will of death because it required a death, and can only bring death to those who attempt to be justified by it.  Therefore, Christ was the “end of the law for righteousness.” If the definition of “sin” is lawlessness (and it is, see 1John), Christ didn’t merely cover sin—He ended it.

This brings us to “atonement” and the whole “covering” idea. First of all, it is likely that Christ was not crucified on the Day of Atonement because that day has exclusive Jewish cogitations for the future. It’s Jewish eschatology. It is the day when the sins of Israel are cleansed and they are restored as a nation:


(Online source: )

Secondly, atonement doesn’t allude primarily to “covering,” but rather an exchange:

Atone 2


Therefore, the idea of a “limited atonement” makes no sense at all. First of all, the limitation would only pertain to Israel. Secondly, in regard to Calvin’s overall soteriology, “covering” is only a plausible rendering of atonement; covering versus exchange must be weighed in the balance. In Calvinism, a covering over of our wickedness by the righteousness of Christ is feasible, but what about an exchange of death for life, and sin for righteousness? In the end, what is the passing from death to life? (1Jn 3:14). If we are only covered and not changed, that must be interpreted as mere realm transformation that is only experienced, or the allegory of choice that fits a preferred presupposition.

It’s ironic, even camps that reject the Calvinist label buy into the Calvinist idea of atonement.  More buy into the idea that Christ had to keep the law for us. Even more buy into the idea that we are merely covered and not changed: “We are all just sinners saved by grace.” “When God looks at us, He only sees Christ.” We have all said these things.

This is a fundamental misinterpretation of the law’s relationship to grace. And that must change; we mustn’t be on the wrong side of the law.


The Gospel Theology Project

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 10, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

You have heard of Covenant Theology and New Covenant Theology which are theological frameworks that organize Scripture. They supply interpretive presuppositions that clearly lead to certain outcomes. I would argue that these Protestant constructs demand that the Bible is approached with a particular worldview in mind. In other words, it is believed that the average Christian cannot ascertain a proper worldview from which to interpret reality via the Scriptures.

One of the most often heard opinions in Reformed circles is that, “Everyone approaches the Bible with a presupposition and it is impossible to do otherwise.” The insinuation is that Christians are enslaved to their own reasoning and are unable to be objective. This is why the Reformers believed reason was like, to put it in modern terms, handing a child a loaded gun to play with. This outlook comes from a spiritual caste system where academic elitists instruct the laity on how to think and interpret reality.

This past Saturday, my wife Susan and I attended a conference in Columbus, Ohio where DA Carson taught three sessions on suffering. He openly stated that the purpose of the first session was to establish a proper worldview from which to interpret Scripture and life. The following two sessions then affirmed the worldview with Scripture; i.e., the worldview was presented, and then Scripture was used to prove the worldview. We call this eisegesis which comes from a word meaning “into.”

The conference inspired me to formulate an exegetical theology for the home fellowship movement that forms a theological framework FROM the Bible. Exegetical comes from a word meaning, “from” or “out from.” While at the conference I perused through the book store located in the lobby of the host church. I was tempted to buy a particular book and stopped myself by thinking,

“No, if I want to learn about that subject, I will let the Holy Spirit and other run of the mill believers teach me through independent Bible study—enough with orthodoxy already!”

Why do Spirit filled believers equipped with the best study resources ever amassed in human history continue to pay money for experts to think for them? In that spirit, I am starting a project for everyday Christians to work together in the development of an alternative exegetical theological framework. I would like to call it “Biblical Theology,” but that term has already been hijacked. Therefore, I have selected, “Gospel Theology.”

What is the goal, and how will the project work?    

I have constructed a blogsite that will only have this project as its single post, and have started the ball rolling with 37 tenets. I have not had time to cite specific Bible verses in support of each tenet, but I will do so as I get time. The goal is to formulate an alternative theology to orthodoxy with the aid of the laity. Merely add to the discussion/debate in the comment section of the post. The site is Depending on the discussion, tenets will be added or taken away. This is also a great opportunity for anybody to begin learning the weightier aspects of theology through participation.

The fact that I haven’t added the Bible verses at this point should make it fun. Suggest the verses that you think support or refute a particular tenet. Below, at yesterday’s Potter’s House meeting, Susan and I discuss the beginning tenets. The tenets will also be organized into categories later on.

Paul M. Dohse Sr.

Calvinism and the Problem with Perfection

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 10, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published November 7, 2013

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were first and foremost Platonists. They integrated the Bible with Platonism. Plato’s theory of forms posits the idea of two worlds; the mutable material world of illusion where reality can only be partially known, and another world where the immutable objective true forms exist. This material world is a shadow world; everything is shadows of the true forms. Therefore, man can only interpret and experience this world subjectively. The tendency is to interpret reality by observing the shadows. To the degree that mankind thinks the material world is reality according to the five senses, subjectivity and chaos will abound.

Therefore, Plato’s ethic was to improve the subjective experience of this life by accessing the true forms through ideas and mathematics—things that transcend the five senses (he believed math was an unchangeable rule and therefore not part of the shadow world).   He believed that those who have the capability and willingness to bring more understanding of the objective into the subjective to be an elite minority. These were Plato’s philosopher kings whom he thought should rule society in order to decrease chaos as much as possible. Without philosopher kings, the world would be awash in a sea of subjectivity, everyone living by their own subjective presuppositions based on the shadows of this world. Hence, the arch enemy of the Platonic ideal is individualism.

Plato’s world of true objective forms was his trinity of the true, good, and beautiful. Experiencing the pure form of goodness in this world is impossible—only a shadow of good can be experienced subjectively. Plato’s social engineering has a doctrine, and to the degree that doctrine is applied, a higher quality of subjective existence occurs.

The Reformers put a slightly different twist on this construct. There is no doctrine to apply, only an orthodoxy that focuses on seeing and experiencing. Their version of Plato’s philosopher kings are pastors who possess the power of the keys. Orthodoxy is mediated truth determined by “Divines,” and passed down to the masses for the purpose of experiencing the objective power of the gospel subjectively. The Reformers made the true forms “the gospel,” and reality itself the gospel; ie., the work and personhood of Jesus Christ in particular.

Therefore, in the same way Plato envisioned a society that experiences the power of the true forms subjectively through ideas and immutable disciplines like mathematics; the Reformers sought a heightened subjective experience through a deeper and deeper knowledge of their own true, good, and beautiful—the gospel. And more specifically, instead of the gateway of understanding being reason, ideas, and immutable disciplines, they made the gospel itself the interpretive prism. So: life, history, the Bible; ie., everything, is a tool for experiencing true reality (the gospel) in a higher quality subjectivity. The Bible and all life events are a gospel hermeneutic. Salvation itself is the interpretive prism. All of reality is about redemption. Salvation itself is the universal hermeneutic.

But both constructs have this in common: pure goodness and perfection cannot exist objectively in the material world. This is where Calvinism and Platonism kiss. The Bible only agrees with this if it is a “gospel narrative.” But if it is God’s full orbed philosophical statement to all men to be interpreted grammatically and exegetically, contradictions abound. To wit, if man possesses goodness and the ability to interpret reality objectively, Platonism and its Reformed children are found wanting. If Reformation orthodoxy is not evaluated biblically with the very theses of its own orthodoxy as a hermeneutic, even more wantonness is found.

The Apostles rejected Platonism because they believed goodness and perfection could indeed be found in this material world. There is no question of the quality of goodness inside of man that enables mankind to interpret reality objectively, the quantity of goodness notwithstanding.  In contrast, a dominate theme in the Calvin Institutes is the idea that no person lost or saved can perform a good work. Like Plato’s geometric hermeneutics, the Reformers believed the Law lends understanding to man’s inability to do good because eternal perfection is the standard. The best of man’s works are tainted with sin to some degree, and therefore imperfect. Even if man could perform one perfect work, one sin makes mankind a violator of the whole law. The Reformers were adamant that no person could do any good work whether saved or lost.

Why all the fuss over this point? Why was Calvin dogmatic about this idea to the point of annoyance? Because he was first and foremost a Platonist. The idea that a pure form of good could be found within mankind was metaphysical heresy. Because such contradicts every page of the Bible, the Reformers’ Platonist theology was made the hermeneutic as well. Instead of the interpretation method producing the theology, they made the theology the method of interpretation. If all of reality is redemptive, it must be interpreted the same way.

For the Platonist, the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh poses a huge problem. He is the truth. He came to the material world in a material body. Platonism  became Gnosticism and wreaked havoc on the 1st century church. Notice how the first sentences of 1John are a direct pushback against the Gnosticism of that day:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Christ is the true, good, and beautiful, and He was touched, felt, seen, heard, and understood. Game over. This is the paramount melding of Plato’s two worlds resulting in a plenary decimation of his philosophy. Nevertheless, Calvin et al got around that by keeping mankind in a subjective realm while making the material world a gospel hermeneutic. Reality still cannot be understood unless it is interpreted by the gospel—everything else is shadows.

Martin Luther took Plato’s two worlds and made them two stories; our own subjective story, a self  “glory story” that leads to a labyrinth of subjectivism, or the “cross story” which is the objective gospel. Luther made Plato’s two worlds two stories, but still, they are two realms; one objective and one subjective. In the final analysis mankind is still incompetent, and void of any good whether saved or lost.

Whether the Reformed gospel or Platonism, the infusion of objective goodness is the heresy. Man cannot have any righteousness in and of himself, whether lost or saved. The pushback against this idea can be seen throughout the New Testament. A few examples follow:

1John 2:4 – Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

1John 2:20 – But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

1John 2:26 – I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1John 2:29 – If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1John 3:2 – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Christians can know goodness, and perform righteousness objectively. This speaks to the quality of the righteousness when it is performed—it is perfect and acceptable to God. We are not limited to a mere subjective experience in regard to righteousness. When we are resurrected, the quantity thereafter will be 100%, but our present righteousness is acceptable to God when it is performed by us. If it is accepted by God, it is perfect.

Even the unregenerate know good, and can perform it. The works of the law are written on their hearts, and their consciences either accuse or excuse them (Romans 2:12-15). Though enslaved to unrighteousness, they are free to perform righteousness (Romans 6:20). The very goodness of God can be understood from observing creation as well (Romans 1:20).

The only way the Reformers can make all goodness outside of man is to make the Bible a salvation hermeneutic. It is the only way they could integrate the Bible with their Platonist philosophy.

Why New Calvinist Church Discipline is Against American Laws

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 8, 2014

HF Potters House (2)Originally published August 17, 2013

There is something that everybody is missing in regard to so-called “Redemptive Church Discipline.” The New Calvinist movement is a return to authentic Calvinism. I read the Calvin Institutes almost daily, and I can tell you that the New Calvinists are making every effort to conform to every detail thereof. It is almost as if the Calvin Institutes are a higher authority than the Bible.

But there is a problem. Whether the Calvin Institutes or the Westminster Confession, those documents were prepared for a church/state venue. American laws are based on the separation of church and state. During the time that European government was in bed with the Reformation, the church could compel individuals to do certain things under threat of government force.

While seeking to have that same authority in the lives of American parishioners without government force, they are improvising through other means resulting in the violation of American civil liberties. When it gets right down to it, according to American law, you can’t restrict a person from the commission of a legal act by threatening to defame them publically. Church covenants with articles stating that parishioners cannot leave a church without the permission of the elders may be a violation of the law in and of itself. It’s a threat regarding loss of reputation if you exercise your legal right to leave a church. New Calvinist elders routinely tell parishioners that they cannot leave a church for doctrinal reasons. That’s against the law.

Furthermore, the so-called “Matthew 18 process” almost always ends up in excommunication if someone vacates their membership in-between one of the steps. I understand that they may be avoiding the issue in that way, but you absolutely can’t humiliate them publically for refusing to stay in the process. Leaving a church is not illegal; therefore, you can’t disparage them publically. Threatening to publically humiliate a person if they vacate membership (or any other legal act) is considered to be coercion under the kidnapping statute in most states.

I am presently doing research in preparation for a home church model. I am amazed to see how the New Testament model has a peaceful solution for almost every scenario. But in regard to this subject, the crux is fellowship versus authority. If a person leaves a church in the midst of a church discipline issue (for lack of a better term), they have merely vacated fellowship with the assembly on their own. That’s the only end result anyway if you’re in America, no? Trying to have authority over that person without government backing is where things get iffy.

Moreover, in many situations, the elders of a church really have no legal authority to ban a person from church property unless they are causing a disturbance. This has led to many ugly confrontations and legal challenges. A private home is different. If a home fellowship doesn’t want a person there for whatever reason, the homeowner can have the person removed by the local police if necessary. This is just one of many examples where home fellowships don’t find themselves in legal dilemmas.

The primary reason is that home fellowships are based on, well, fellowship and not authority. Breaking fellowship versus having some sort of authority over the person are two very different things, and the former circumvents a lot of unnecessary drama.



“Telling it to the church” would only involve telling it to the home fellowship of maybe 20 people. Somebody showing up at another home in that network is probably going to incite a phone call to the original fellowship anyway. Secondly, it cannot be restated enough that if a “member” leaves in the middle of the Matthew 18 process, the same result of no fellowship is accomplished anyway. The institutional church creates a bunch of unnecessary drama because of its penchant for authority.

The Declaration of Independence From Reformed Elders

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 8, 2014

Originally published August 7, 2012

PPT Declaration:pdf file

Click to enlarge.

A Doctrinal Evaluation of the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement: Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 7, 2014

Originally published August 15, 2014

Do Christians Have Two Natures?

My belief strata is probably similar to most Christians: A. Dogma, firm on that fact; B. Not dogmatic, sounds logical, going with that for now; C. That’s a bunch of boloney. The idea that Christians have two natures has always been categorized under B for me.

Where do I think a stake needs to be driven most in the arena of Christianity right now? Who we are. We are righteous. We are able. We are good. We are not just righteous positionally, we are in fact righteous in and of ourselves. Righteousness is a gift from God, we cannot earn it, but once we have accepted the gift, we possess it. I fear that most gospels in our day propagate a rejection of the righteousness gift, and I strongly suspect that this is the point of the Parable of the Talents. Clearly, the paramount gospels of our day promote a meditation on the gift in order to keep our salvation. To put the gift into practice is to make His story our own story exclusively.

What is the gift? Is the gift just a gift, or is it also a calling? The “church” is a “called out assembly.” Is answering the call works salvation? And what are we called to? We are called to holiness. In part 2 we have looked at the primary problem with anti-Lordship Salvation. They make answering the call works salvation. How do they rationalize this? As we have discussed, it is the age-old Protestant golden chain gospel. Because justification and sanctification are not separate, a calling to holiness is a declaration that progresses in sanctification; if we commit to holiness in order to be saved, we now have to participate in that progression by obedience to the law.

ALS solves that problem by eliminating the commitment all together and making obedience in sanctification optional—a nice gesture unto the Lord, and it will kinda make your life better. If we doubt our salvation because of behavior, it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of grace; so, the solution is to return to the same gospel that saved us and re-preach it to ourselves. Both ALS and the Calvinists they despise proffer this same construct.

Calvinists deal with the progression of justification in sanctification a different way: by all means we are saved by making a commitment to obedience, but the commitment we are making is a commitment to living by faith alone in sanctification which results in the commitment being fulfilled by Christ. In fact, both camps speak of experiential sanctification; viz, we only experience the works of the Spirit being done through us and we kinda really aren’t doing the work. In Reformed circles, even our “good” works are sin, and our demeanor in obedience gives a clue that the work may be executed by the Lord in that instance, but we don’t know for certain. They call this the “subjective nature of sanctification.” It is manifested in Arminian camps via, “I didn’t do it—it was the Holy Spirit doing it through me.” Really, in all Protestant camps, accomplishment and meekness are mutually exclusive; you can’t have both.

And with ALS as well as Calvinism, righteousness is defined by perfect law-keeping. When their fusion of justification and sanctification is challenged, both camps retort, “Did you sin today?” In BOTH cases, they make no distinction between sin against the law of sin and death, and sin against the law of the Spirit of life in sanctification—violations that grieve the Spirit. That’s because they see justification and sanctification as the same (though both camps are outraged in regard to the accusation).

Because ALS, like Calvinism, makes perfect law-keeping the essence of righteousness, they cannot not deem the Christian perfect in regard to justification. They posit the idea that the Christian is only positionally righteous and not practically righteous. Unfortunately, that same view of our righteousness is then juxtaposed into sanctification because they fuse the two together. To not continually drive home the idea that we are just “sinners saved by grace” is to suggest that we can keep the law perfectly. But the question is… “What law?” There is no law in justification, and where there is no law there is no sin (Rom. 4:15).

Christ primarily died on the cross to end the law of sin and death. Now there is no law to judge us, and that can be coupled with the fact that we are born again of the Spirit and have the seed of God within us (1Jn. 3:9). The new birth is a reversal of slavery resulting in a change of direction. We were once enslaved to sin and free to do good, resulting in a direction away from God (under law Rom. 6:14), but now are enslaved to righteousness and free to sin (Rom. 6:20). As we will see in Romans 7, we were once enslaved to the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2), but now we are enslaved to the law of the Spirit of life. In both cases, there is a reverse freedom as well. Unfortunately, the Christian is still harassed by the law of sin and death, which is a law standard by the way, and free to sin against it. We will discuss exactly how this happens.

 But, because ALS, like the Reformed only see one nomos (law), and Christians obviously sin, the Christian must be both saint and sinner in sanctification. This is Martin Luther’s Simul iustus et peccator—at the same time righteous and a sinner. But, this means saint by declaration and position only while the Christian remains in the same state. The only change is the recognition of his vileness—this defines faith according to Reformed ideology.

Likewise, since the Christian cannot keep the law of sin and death perfectly, and that is justification’s standard, the ALS has its own version of the Simul iustus et peccator: the two natures. Sure, it’s soft Simul iustus et peccator, or Simul iustus et peccator Light, but it’s the same concept. I am not going to take time here to articulate all of the versions, but suffice to say all denominations are spawned by the question of how we do justification in sanctification. There are only two religions in the world: Progressive Sanctification and Progressive Justification. One is a call to holiness and you get justification in the bargain. The other is a call to be declared righteous while remaining a sinner. The former is a call to be made righteous. Answering the call saves you, following the call sanctifies you, but the two are separate with the demarcation being the new birth—following the call does not justify you. Accepting the gift justifies you—but the gift is a calling to holiness. Seeing the gift and the execution of the gift as being the same is the monster of confusion known as Protestantism.

The idea of two natures is contradictory to the new birth.

There is only one us. The other guy is dead. His nature is not hanging around with us. He is not sort of dead, and we are not sort of under the law. We are not under the law at all. The guy’s death did not merely weaken him, it utterly slaughtered him. You are not kinda the old you, there is no old you, that person is not you at all, he is dead.

So what’s going on? I am going to pull the theses out of the barn from the get-go. Think, “sin.” This all starts with a very simple word that has very deep metaphysical ramifications that will not be investigated here, but it all begins with sin as a master. Sin was originally found in God’s most magnificent angel, Lucifer, “son of the morning.” How did sin get there? Far be it from us to discuss that here, but there are theories.

Secondly, a law that should promise life, but sin uses the law to create sinful DESIRES within the individual.

Thirdly, this is daring, but it is best to think of the “flesh,” also, “members” as neutral. Our members can be used for both good and evil. The “flesh” IS NOT the old nature.

Fourthly, fruits unto death and fruits unto life.

The Theses Articulated

Much more study needs to be done in this area; this study is designed to get the ball rolling, but you could spend a lifetime articulating it.

When man is born into the world, sin is within him and sin is a master. When people are born into the world, they are sold into slavery:

Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

Paul is not saying that flesh =’s evil, he is saying that sin resides in our mortal members. He is saying our birth sold us under sin. Sin is a master. According to the New Testament, this is synonymous with being born “under law” as in… “the law of sin and death.” Christ was the only man ever born under that law who could keep it perfectly. All others are condemned by it.

Let’s look at sin as master:

Genesis 4:6 – The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Sin is a master who desires to rule over the individual. Sin is the problem. This does not mean mankind is totally depraved and his will is in complete bondage to sin, he/she is still free to do good and obey the conscience, but the overall direction is away from God and to sin.

Sin resides in the mortal body, but the mortal body, as we shall see, is somewhat neutral. I am not going to get into anthropological dichotomies and theories, but the Bible seems to say that the mind within the body is what’s redeemed when we are saved. Our thesis here contends that the battle within is between our redeemed righteous minds and SIN, not the old us that is dead. However, we are using the same body that the old man (the former us) used and the body can be habituated to some degree. We are to put off those habits and build new ones into our lives:

Ephesians 4:17 – Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

The putting off of the old self is the likeness of the old self, not the literal old self. The body is habituated by the old ways, and we can bring those same habits into the Christian life with the same ill results. Note that the mind is being renewed, and we are putting off the old ways and putting on new ways. We are not “sinners” just because we fall short of perfect putting off and putting on, we are righteous persons in the process of renovation. The flesh is not inherently evil because it can be used for righteousness:

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 6:19 – I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

The flesh is weak, sin resides there, and our bodies will be redeemed; in that sense, “nothing good dwells in me,” but our members are to be used as instruments for righteousness nevertheless. Let me caution in regard to this study. This is not a study that should be approached with sloppy research. For instance, consider Romans 7:24:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

We now hear, “See! See! Paul stated that we are still wretched sinners!” Problem is, the Greek word translated “wretched” in this verse means to persevere in affliction. Paul is longing to be saved from his mortal body where the conflict rages. He is not saying that Christians remain as wretched sinners. Likewise, was Paul really saying elsewhere that at the time of his writing that he was the premier sinner in the entire world at that time? The “chief” of sinners? I doubt it. One may ponder the idea that…it’s obviously not true. Paul was making some other point that will not be addressed here.

So, what is the dynamic that we are really fighting against? We are set free from the law of sin and death because Christ purchased us on the cross:

1 Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

When we are saved, ownership is transferred to another master. We are no longer enslaved to Master Sin. Let’s look at what that slavery looked like:

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

As Christians, we are no longer enslaved to sin which used our passions aroused by the law to provoke us to sin. Apparently, the cancelation of the law’s ability to condemn us comes into play here. If we cannot be condemned by the law, sin’s motivation is gone. Being condemned by the law is how sin enslaved us. If Christ died for sin, and the penalty is paid, and there is no condemnation in regard to the Christian, sin is robbed of its power. In addition, I assume it goes much deeper than this, but that is another study. We may assume that the intrinsic power of sin over us was broken as well.

Sin was able to produce sinful desires within us that provoked us to break God’s law; we were enslaved to a lawless master. Hence, and this is VERY important, phrases like, “For while we were living in the flesh” should not be interpreted as flesh=evil; it means that the unbeliever was living in a mortal body that was controlled by the Master Sin dynamic that used the law to condemn us and control us, and destroy us. No doubt, sin uses sinful desires to get even unbelievers to violate their consciences against the works of the law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:12-16).

This is why many unbelievers will obey their passions in things that are in the process of destroying them. They are enslaved by passions that Sin uses to get them to violate their consciences. In this sense, we were living according to the flesh—our flesh was controlled by the triad dynamic of sin, sinful desire, and the law of sin and death. Now we are controlled by a different triad dynamic: the Holy Spirit, His law, and godly desires. To insinuate in any way that a believer remains the same as before or is in some way marginally different borderlines on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and troddens underfoot the blood of Christ.

We will look at another text to build on our point:

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A problem arises when we interpret “flesh” without the full corpus of the subject. When we “walk” we are using the flesh. When we walk according to the Spirit, we are using our flesh (members/body) for holy purposes. The full dynamic of sin’s mastery is then interpreted by one word used in various and sundry ways to make any number of points. And, any idea that the Christian is still under the law of sin and death is particularly egregious. Worse yet, if one believes that the law still condemns them as most teach today, this empowers the Sin Master. The word of God can now be used to provoke even Christians with sinful desires.

Furthermore, since sin still remains in the body, it still attempts to use the law to provoke us with evil desires. I imagine that ignorance of the Scriptures supplies a field day for sin in the life of believers accordingly:

James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The desire James is talking about are sinful desires provoked by sin. When we are tempted by a sinful desire, we should know exactly where that is coming from; sin is still trying to master us by using the former scheme. A Christian can produce fruits of death in this life by succumbing to those desires. These are temporary death fruits, not eternal. The former you could generate fruits of death in both this life and the life to come, but the believer can only generate temporary fruits of death. Peter referred to it this way: suffering as an unbeliever.

With all of this in mind, let’s look at some verses from Romans 7:

Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Precisely. But note, when Paul writes, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin,” he is not saying that we are still enslaved to the same master or dynamic, he is saying the dynamic is still at work in us, but we are obviously no longer enslaved to it. Hence…

16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So, “Did you sin today?” Well, what sayeth Paul? Unless you take all that we observed in these three parts, this statement by Paul would seem outrageous, but we know what he is saying, and no, we are NOT “sinners.” Note as well, the law is not sinful, our flesh is “weak,” but it is sin itself that causes us to sin. Before we were saved, we desired sin and were ruled by it, but now, we have the desires of the Spirit and love His law…

For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.


Romans 7:21 – So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There remains a rest for God’s people, but it is not now. This is war, but we must know who the enemy is and how he works. Let me also add that simplicity is not the duty of the “learner,” aka disciple. Christians are to study in order to show themselves an approved “worker.” Lazy thinkers make for poor disciples and are the fodder for the wicked. The final analysis is this:

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

We are enslaved to the law of the Spirit of life, and fight against the law of sin and death that sin uses to provoke us with evil desires.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

We are not fighting against the old us. We are fighting the sin within that is no longer our master. In addition, our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but rather principalities.

We only have ONE nature, the new one.

“< Tweet, Tweet: Worship

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 7, 2014

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“< Tweet, Tweet: New Calvinism and Islam

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 7, 2014

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Why Young People Leave Church

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 7, 2014

Young people stop going to church because it’s church. There is a reason church is not in the New Testament. There is a reason church does not show up until the 4th century. People have been trying to fix church for 500 years now; how are we doing? Christianity and church are two different things. Christianity was NEVER an institution with an authority structure. Please do not confuse leadership and fellowship with authority and orthodoxy. Please do not confuse individual temples where the Holy Spirit dwells with an institutional temple of refuge from the wrath of God. The church is a separate model of institutional authority with a gospel that serves that authority. ALL spiritual abuse, I repeat, ALL spiritual abuse flows from the presuppositions of the church’s institutional gospel of perpetual justification.

Church is the problem with church.


A Doctrinal Evaluation of the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement: Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 7, 2014

Originally published August 14, 2014

The root of all controversy: the golden chain of salvation. 

Before we start part 2, we have a little unfinished business from part 1. The astute observer will ask, “If Jay Adams had the right idea about sanctification while misunderstanding what Calvin really believed, what of his biblical counseling movement that moved from mere generalities to the finer points of Christian living?” Answer: it WAS a revival…probably the only real revival the church has seen since the previous focus on practical application of the Scriptures versus redemptive focus/meditation. And when was that? I have no idea.

You remember my mention of the John “Jack” Miller disciple David Powlison. He started a contra biblical counseling movement against the Jay Adams movement. This is often referred to as first generation biblical counseling versus second generation biblical counseling. The second generation effectively wiped out the first. The crux of that civil war is relevant to this study. One model sees salvation and sanctification as separate. Salvation is completely vertical, but sanctification is mostly horizontal. Jay Adams argued in his aforementioned book against Sonship theology that the source of power in the Christian life is not salvation, but regeneration. In other words, justification is a finished work and a static declaration while the Christian life flows from the “quickening” of the new birth. We don’t return to the cross for power in the Christian life, we learn and obey the Spirit’s instrument for changing us, the law of the Spirit of life. What Adams didn’t realize is that this whole idea of life coming from a perpetual revisitation of our justification is in fact authentic Reformed dogma (see the Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11).

Every Christian controversy from the Reformation till the present finds its roots in the golden chain. Reformed pastors wax eloquent in regard to who builds the links in the chain between justification and glorification: it’s either us, or the Holy Spirit using “what Jesus has done, not anything we do.”

From the latter 40’s to 1970, the first gospel wave (Billy Graham et al) ruled the Christian scene via EB. Cogous pushed back with a vengeance from 1970 till the present with the second gospel wave. The first wave saw a commitment to obedience as synonymous with keeping yourself saved because of the golden chain idea. To say that they overemphasized the gospel would be a gargantuan understatement. Obviously, they saw a commitment to obedience as transposed upon the Christian life. The second gospel wave demanded a commitment, and recognition of Christ as Lord, but also demanded a life of faith alone to keep the law satisfied with Christ’s perfect obedience. Again, the ALS camp misunderstands the Reformed on this point. Both camps hold to sanctification by faith alone. This is the very idea that James rudely pushed back against in his epistle.

Golden Chain 2

The issue made simple: Romans 8:30.

In Romans 8:30 we read the following:

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Notice that sanctification is missing from this verse even though the context spans the beginning of our salvation to our resurrection. This is the distinction between all golden chain gospels and the real gospel, the kingdom gospel. Jesus came preaching the “gospel of the kingdom.” Hereafter, KG. The golden chain gospel says that sanctification is missing from this verse because justification and sanctification are the same thing. The KG says that sanctification is missing from this verse because justification and sanctification are mutually exclusive. The context is assurance of salvation (see verses 31ff.).

Curiously, the golden chain gospel which includes both ALS and LS/Calvinism, teaches us to remind ourselves of God’s grace alone regardless of anything we do. If our behavior brings doubt, this is evidence of a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s grace and we should therefore remind ourselves of such. ALS says that concern over behavior suggests that you believe behavior finishes justification and not grace alone. With the KG, that consideration is not even on the radar screen because justification and sanctification are completely separate; finishing a finished work is impossible. You can’t have that mentality if you understand it to be an impossible reality. I might also add that simply returning to the same gospel that saved us to cure a troubled conscience instead of changing behavior sears the consequence over time. This is ill advised.

In other words, the KG says it is impossible to unwittingly attempt to please God to gain justification because that work is finished. One is free to aggressively obey God without any fear that they are unwittingly attempting to earn their justification. ALS and LS/Calvinism do not have this convenience because justification is both finished and not finished. The Reformed, already, but not yet construct that relates to predestination cannot be discussed here for lack of room and fear of confusion, but suffice to say for this study that the convenience is not there for either ALS or LS because justification is not finished. You must continue to remind yourself of free grace because you are in a continuum where unwitting works salvation can take place, and the only solution is to disavow good behavior as an evidence of conversion. Obedience must be completely optional. This used to be criticized as “Let go and let God” theology.  According to the KG, such a continuum is impossible and not reality.

Consider some dialogue I have had recently with ALS proponents:

Paul, While you ponder my answer, I’d like to ask you, if you’d identify what you believe you must do, before, during and after, in order to be given eternal life. Thank you, In Him, Holly

“Before, during, and after”? to… “be given eternal life.”? The implied answer is: nothing in justification; nothing in sanctification; and nothing in glorification. But again “during” shouldn’t even be deemed possible.

LS in Cogous form already states that perpetual double imputation is needed, so bad behavior is actually a good thing because it “shows forth the gospel.” In contrast, advocates of the KG are concerned with evidence of the new birth, not the overcoming of a propensity to misunderstand the grace of God because all doing in the Christian life is attached to justification somehow. Advocates of the KG understand that nothing they do in the Christian life has anything at all to do with justification. Much assurance comes from that. However, lazy discipleship forfeits assurance because it violates the conscience, and judgment begins in the household of God regarding consequences for bad behavior in this life. The fear generated from that can get confused with fear of eternal judgment.

But don’t miss my main point here: the solution for a lack of assurance in both ALS and LS are the same: preach the gospel to yourself. Remind yourself that works done by us are completely irrelevant to our salvation which also includes sanctification (the Christian life). Both camps woefully devalue the new birth and its expectations. In effect, we have no righteousness and obedience is not really performed by us, but performed by the Holy Spirit if we are “abiding” in Christ. This is a passive sanctification of our works in sanctification in order to categorize them as living by faith alone. ANY work we do is accredited to the justification process, so it must be sanctified by the right process. In the final analysis, Christians must only EXPERIENCE an obedience imputed to us by Christ. Citations by the Reformed abound, and I can cite one from the aforementioned conversation with advocates of ALS:

We can have righteousness of our own, that is self-righteousness. I didn’t notice, did you answer any of the questions? Do you sin? How much? Or not? Are you sinless?

Park on the fact that both camps assert that the Christian has no righteousness. To have any righteousness is a “righteousness of our own.” It’s either ALL us or ALL Christ. Therefore, we can only EXPERIENCE righteousness imputed to us, but it really isn’t us performing it; hence, in relationship to the same conversation:

This passage has nothing to do with becoming saved or providing evidence through our works that we are saved. The passage is about living experientially in a manner that is consistent with our position on [sic] Christ.

Notice that the Christian lives “experientially” according to “our position [i]n Christ.” In other words, Christians only experience their position, they don’t actually perform obedience themselves. In addition, when talking to either camp, one is challenged with the question, “Did you sin today?” And in both cases, when you qualify the question with, “In justification or sanctification?”…without exception they are thrown for a loop. Why? Because they see sin in justification as no different than sin in sanctification—that’s why they ask the question in the first place. If you believe the Christian is personally righteous as well as positionally righteous, you are immediately challenged by both camps with, “Did you sin today?” Why? Because the same assumption is that righteousness and sin are mutually exclusive. For the world, this is true, but not for Christians.

Another fact of the Reformation gospel is “righteousness” is defined as a perfect keeping of the law. To remove the law’s perfect standard, and its demands for perfection from justification is the very definition of antinomianism according to the Reformers. A perfect law keeping must be maintained for each believer if they are to remain justification.

If you remember, this is a direct quote from part one. ALS and LS/Calvinism both define righteousness by perfect law keeping. Again, why the air of profundity in the terse rhetorical question designed to end the argument on the spot by coup de grace? The very essence of the question reveals a profound misunderstanding of law and grace.

Let’s get a little more full circle now with part one. Because the Christian, according to both camps, cannot be righteous if he/she sins even once (“Do you sin? How much? Or not? Are you sinless?”), the good old Reformed mainstay of double imputation is needed for both of these applications of the same golden chain gospel. From part one:

Thirdly, this requires what is known as double imputation. Christ not only died for our sins so that our sins could be imputed to Him, He lived a life of perfect obedience to the law so that His obedience could be imputed to our sanctification.

The windsock of double imputation is the idea that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our sanctification. He died for our justification, and His perfect obedience to the law was imputed to our sanctification to keep justification rolling forward:

Model A asserts that since we cannot keep the law perfectly, we must invoke the double imputation of Christ by faith alone in order to be saved and stay saved (part 1).

Now let’s look again at the same recent conversation with ALS proponents:

Thanks Mark, I agree. We are qualified as saints, because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, but we still sin,..

Therefore, we only “qualify” as saints because we still sin, in order to keep our sainthood the righteousness of Christ must be imputed to us daily. Yes, that would be daily salvation. In the quote immediately prior, “Holly” was responding to this statement:

Hope you don’t mind me adding a thought, I think Paul is saying we were sinners but we are now saints (forgive me if I am wrong), it is true of course that we are saints but I believe it is also still true that we are sinners saved by grace because the Apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”, present tense.

So, if Christians are still sinners, because we sin, and Christ came to save sinners, it would only make since that our need for salvation is still ongoing. Direct citations that agree with that point by John Calvin and Martin Luther is abundant low hanging fruit, but granted, such statements from the ALS camp are somewhat surprising. To further the point, I might add that “Holly” referred me to a message taught by a notable figure in the ALS movement who interpreted Romans 7:24 as a daily salvation. This is a very common rendering of that verse by the Reformed as well. The verse obviously refers to the redemption of the body and not a daily salvation.

Both are guilty of the same thing: a false double imputation construct must be applied to the Christian life by faith alone and the subjective experience thereof is optional. Like ALS—like Calvinism.

What is wrong with this gospel?

The golden chain gospel misrepresents the Trinity. The Father is removed from His role in salvation because it is His righteousness imputed to the believer before the foundation of the world. According to Romans 8:30, this guarantees glorification. The Holy Spirit is also misrepresented in regard to His role in salvation. His setting us apart before the foundation of the world is confused with His work in regeneration. Christ’s role is redefined beyond His death for our sins as a onetime act that ended sin. This is not a covering—it’s an ending. Even though the Reformed and ALS both concur that Christ died once, His death is perpetually reapplied to sins we commit as Christians when there is no such need. Neither is there a need to impute Christ’s righteousness to us perpetually. At the Bema event, it will not be God the Father looking at us and only seeing Jesus, it will be Jesus Himself judging His righteous followers. He will not be judging His own righteousness. The golden chain gospel is an egregious distortion of the Trinity.

True double imputation is our sins being imputed to Christ, and the Father’s righteousness imputed to us apart from the law. Christ came to end the law. It is because of this, and the new birth, that we are truly righteous in and of ourselves, but of course not apart from God’s power and plan of salvation. We have God’s seed in us, are no longer under any law that can judge us, and are able to please God with our lives. We are new creatures who are sinless according to justification because even if the old us that died with Christ was exhumed and brought into court, there would be no law to condemn us.

This gospel not only distorts the Trinity, rejects the new birth, and distorts double imputation, it misrepresents sonship. The sins we commit as a family member are considered to be sin against justification: “Did you sin today?” Again, if you ask them, “Sin in justification or sanctification?” all you will here is crickets, or the babblings of confused narcissists.

The golden chain gospel also strips the Christian of ability to love Christ and others by keeping Christians under the law of sin and death that Christ came to end. Said gospel makes that law the standard for righteousness. However, there is no law standard in justification, it is APART from any law—it is God’s righteousness imputed to us. Those under grace serve the law of the Spirit of life which is fulfilled by loving Christ and others:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

It is impossible to love Christ by keeping the law of sin and death. Besides, that law is ended when we believe. All of our sins committed before faith were against that law and in essence imputed to it. Before we were saved, we were enslaved to that law and it provoked us to sin. Consider two spouses: we were the spouse that was under the law of sin and death until we died with Christ, now we are free to serve another. Sins we now commit are against family relationship, not sins that fall short of the law of sin and death.

Said gospel prevents us from making a commitment to God’s kingdom because the commitment would have to be executed perfectly in kingdom living to maintain our citizenship. Said gospel demands that we only recognize Christ in a one-way relation while ignoring His kingdom, its law, and the king. Yea, we can only accept Him as savior in a one-way relationship. This assumes that a decision to flee the present kingdom of darkness for the kingdom of light cannot be a commitment totally separate from the kingdom citizenship. If we make a commitment, the commitment must be executed perfectly in order to remain a citizen. No, the commitment is totally separate from our citizenship in the same way justification is totally separate from sanctification.

I realize that only repentance was emphasized to the Jews, but they were already saturated with the concept of God’s kingdom. From the beginning, Abraham looked for a city built by God. As we see Gentiles coming into the church, they must be brought up to speed on their new Jewishness. We should read the Bible with this in mind and the way it affected the presentation of the gospel, and the very definition of the word “gospel” itself.

The golden chain gospel rejects the new birth by ignoring the difference in slavery between two different laws: the law of sin and death that will condemn the world, and the law of the kingdom; the law of the Spirit of life. It makes the law of the Spirit of life a fulfilment of the law of sin and death that is in fact ended. In essence we remain enslaved to a law of condemnation as “sinners.” This is a rejection of the new birth.

It also adds another seed to the covenant of promise. If the law of sin and death could impart life, it would be a second seed from which life would come to the world. It doesn’t matter who obeys it, it cannot impart life.

The golden chain gospel distorts the Trinity, distorts double imputation, misrepresents sonship, strips the Christian of ability to love Christ and others, rejects a biblical definition of the new birth, keeps Christians under the law of sin and death, distorts the atonement, perpetually reapplies the death of Christ to salvation, replaces the righteousness of God with a law standard, propagates a one-way relationship with God, makes sin as a kingdom citizen the same as condemning sin, enslaves us as a spouse still under the law of sin and death, calls for us to accept Christ as savior in a one-way relationship while ignoring His Lordship.

Do Christians have two natures? This will be examined in part 3.


A Doctrinal Evaluation of the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement: Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 7, 2014

Originally published August 13, 2014

Introduction and Historical Background Leading up to the Anti-Lordship Salvation Movement

Not long after I became a Christian in 1983, the Lordship Salvation (hereafter LS) controversy arose. This was a movement against “easy believism” (hereafter EB). The climate was ripe for the controversy because churches were full of professing Christians who demonstrated little if any life change. Members in good standing could be living together out of wedlock, wife abusing drunks, and shysters to name a few categories among many. Sin was not confronted in the church.

Of course, no cycle of Protestant civil war is complete without dueling book publications. Without naming all of them, the major theme was that of faith and works. John MacArthur Jr. threw gasoline on the fire with The Gospel According to Jesus published in 1988. This resulted in MacArthur being the primary target among the so-called EB crowd.

During that time as a new believer, I was heavily focused on the issue, but was like many others: I rejected outright sinful lifestyles among professing Christians while living a life of biblical generalities. In other words, like most, I was ignorant in regard to the finer points of Christian living. I resisted blatant sin, and in fact was freed from some serious temptations of the prior life, but had little wisdom in regard to successful application.

We must now pause to consider what was going in the 80’s. Christianity was characterized by two groups: the grace crowd that contended against any assessment of one’s standing with God based on behavior (EB), and the LS crowd. But, the LS group lived by biblical generalities. Hence, in general, both groups farmed out serious life problems to the secular experts. This also led to Christian Psychologist  careerism.

This led to yet another controversy among American Christians during the same time period, the sufficiency of Scripture debate. Is the Bible sufficient for life’s deepest problems? Again, MacArthur was at the forefront of the controversy with his publication of Our Sufficiency in Christ published in 1991. Between 1990-1995, the anti-Christian Psychology movement raged (ACS). The primary lightening rod during that time was a book published by Dave Hunt: The Seduction of Christianity (1985).

In circa 1965, a young Presbyterian minister named Jay E. Adams was moved by the reality of a church living by biblical generalities. The idea that the church could not help people with serious problems like schizophrenia bothered him. He was greatly influenced by the renowned secular psychologist O. Hobart Mower who fustigated institutional psychiatry as bogus. An unbeliever, Mower was critical of Christianity for not taking more of a role in helping people with serious mental problems.

Mower believed that mental illness is primarily caused by the violation of conscience and unhealthy thinking. His premise has helped more people by far than any other psychological discipline and Adams witnessed this first hand. Mower’s influence provoked Adams to look into the Scriptures more deeply for God’s counsel regarding the deeper problems of life. This resulted in the publication of Competent to Counsel in 1970, and launched what is known today as the biblical counseling movement (BCM). Please note that this movement was picking up significant steam in the latter 80’s and early 90’s.

In 1970, the same year that the BCM was born, an extraordinary Reformed think tank was established by the name of The Australian Forum Project (AFP). Its theological journal, Present Truth, had a readership that exceeded all other theological journals in the English speaking world by the latter 70’s. Though the project died out in the early 80’s, it spawned a huge grassroots movement known as the “quiet revolution” of the “gospel resurgence.” The movement believed that it had recovered the true Reformation gospel that had been lost in Western culture over time, and frankly, they were absolutely correct about that.

The movement was covert, but spawned notable personalities such as John Piper over time. Piper exploded onto to the scene in 1986 with his book The Pleasures of God which promoted his Christian Hedonism theology. Unbeknown to most, this did not make Piper unique, the book is based on the same Martin Luther metaphysics that the AFP had rediscovered; he got it from them. At this point, the official contemporary name for the rediscovered Reformation gospel, the centrality of the objective gospel outside of us (Cogous), was taking a severe beating in Reformed circles. This is because contemporary Calvinists didn’t understand what Luther and Calvin really believed about the gospel.

John Piper looked to emerge from the movement as a legend because he had no direct ties to the AFP, but during the same time frame of his emergence, Cogous was also repackaged by a professor of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. His name was John “Jack” Miller. Using the same doctrine, the authentic gospel of the Reformation, Miller developed the Sonship discipleship program. This also took a severe beating in Presbyterian circles. In fact, Jay Adams wrote a book against the movement in 1999. This was a debate between Calvinists in regard to what real Calvinism is. At any rate, Sonship changed its nomenclature to “Gospel Transformation” and went underground (2000). This started the gospel-everything movement. Sonship was saturated with the word “gospel” as an adjective for just about every word in the English language (“gospel centered this, gospel-driven that,” etc.). If anyone refuted what was being taught, they were speaking against the gospel; this was very effective.

If not for this change in strategy, John Piper would have been the only survivor of Cogous. Instead, with the help of two disciples of John Miller, David Powlison and Tim Keller, the Gospel Transformation movement gave birth to World Harvest Missions and the Acts 29 Network. It also injected life into the Emergent Church movement. Meanwhile, most thought the Sonship movement had been eliminated, but this was not the case at all. In 2006, a group of pastors that included this author tried to get a handle on a doctrine that was wreaking havoc on churches in the U.S. and spreading like wildfire. The doctrine had no name, so we dubbed it, “Gospel Sanctification.” In 2008, the same movement was dubbed, “New Calvinism” by society at large. In 2009, spiritual abuse blogs exploded in church culture as a direct cause of New Calvinism. We know now that the present-day New Calvinism movement was birthed by the AFP.

The Protestant Legacy of Weak Sanctification 

The anti-Lordship Salvation movement came out of the controversy era of the 80’s. The following is the theses, parts 2 and 3 will articulate the theses. The theses could very well be dubbed, The Denomination Myth. All of the camps involved in these Protestant debates share the same gospel, but differ on the application. The idea that the debate involves different gospels is a misnomer.

The Protestant Reformation gospel was predicated on the idea that the Christian life is used by God to finish our salvation. The official Protestant gospel is known as justification by faith. This is one of the most misunderstood terms in human history. Justification refers to God imputing His righteousness to those whom He saves. Many call this a forensic declaration by God. At this time, I am more comfortable saying that it is the imputation of God’s righteousness to the saved person as the idea of it being forensic; it’s something I have not investigated on my own albeit it’s a popular way of stating it. This is salvation…a righteous standing before God.

Sanctification, a setting apart for God’s holy purposes, is the Christian life. The Reformers saw sanctification as the progression of justification to a final justification. In Reformed circles, this is known as the “golden chain of salvation.” So, the Christian is saved, is being saved, and will be finally saved. Christians often say, “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation.” But really it isn’t, salvation doesn’t grow, this is a Protestant idea. The Christian life grows in wisdom and stature, but our salvation doesn’t grow, the two are totally separate. One is a finished work, and the other is a progression of personal maturity.

The Reformers were steeped in the ancient philosophy of the day that propagated the idea that the common man cannot properly understand reality, and this clearly reflected on their theology. The idea that grace is infused into man and enables him to properly understand reality would have been anathema according to their spiritual caste system of Platonist origins. This resulted in their progressive justification gospel. Justification by faith is a justification process by faith alone.

Every splinter group that came out of the Reformation founded their gospel on this premise. John Calvin believed that salvation was entering into a rest from works. He believed that sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest (The Calvin Institutes 2.8.29). Hence, the Christian life is a rest from works. The Christian life must be lived the same way we were saved: by faith alone. Part 2 will explain why we are called to work in sanctification, and why it is not working for justification.

Another fact of the Reformation gospel is “righteousness” is defined as a perfect keeping of the law. To remove the law’s perfect standard, and its demands for perfection from justification is the very definition of antinomianism according to the Reformers. A perfect law-keeping must be maintained for each believer if they are to remain justified. Thirdly, this requires what is known as double imputation. Christ not only died for our sins so that our sins could be imputed to Him, He lived a life of perfect obedience to the law so that His obedience could be imputed to our sanctification. So, if we live our Christian life according to faith alone, justification will be finished the same way it started; hence, justification by faith. For purposes of this series, these will be the three pillars of the Reformed gospel that we will consider:

1. An unfinished justification.

2. Sabbath rest sanctification.

3. Double imputation.

As a result of this construct, Protestant sanctification has always been passive…and confused. Why? Humans are created to work, but work in sanctification is deemed to be working for justification because sanctification is the “growing part” of justification. Reformed academics like to say, “Justification and sanctification are never separate, but distinct.” Right, they are the same with the distinction being that one is the growing of the other. A baby who has grown into an adult is not separate from what he/she once was, but distinct from being a baby. Reformed academics constantly warn Christians to not live in a way that “makes the fruit of sanctification the root of justification.” John Piper warns us that the fruits of sanctification are the fruits of justification—all works in sanctification must flow from justification. Justification is a tree; justification is the roots, and sanctification is the fruits of justification. We are warned that working in sanctification can make “the fruit the root.” In essence, we are replacing the fruits of justification with our own fruit. This is sometimes referred to as “fruit stapling.”

How was the Reformation gospel lost?

To go along with its progressive justification, the Reformers also developed an interpretation method. The sole purpose of the Bible was to show us our constant need to have the perfect works of Jesus imputed to our lives by faith alone. The purpose of Scripture reading was to gain a deeper and deeper knowledge of our original need of salvation, i.e. “You need the gospel today as much as you needed it the day you were saved.” Indeed, so that the perfect obedience of Christ will continue to be applied to the law. This also applies to new sins we commit in the Christian life as well. Since we “sin in time,” we must also continue to receive forgiveness of new sins that we commit as Christians. So, the double imputation must be perpetually applied to the Christian life by faith alone. John Piper often speaks of how Christians continue to be saved by the gospel. This is in fact the Reformation gospel.

But over time, humanity’s natural bent to interpret the Scriptures grammatically instead of redemptively resulted in looking at justification and sanctification as being more separate, and spiritual growth being more connected to obedience. This created a hybrid Protestantism even among Calvinists. Nevertheless, the best results were the aforementioned living by biblical generalities. Yes, we “should” obey, but it’s optional. A popular idea in past years was a bi-level discipleship which was also optional.

This brings us to the crux of the issue.

Since the vast majority of Protestants see justification as a golden chain of salvation, two primary camps emerged:

A. Christ obeys the law for us.

B. Salvation cannot be based on a commitment—obedience must be optional.

Model A asserts that since we cannot keep the law perfectly, we must invoke the double imputation of Christ by faith alone in order to be saved and stay saved. Model B asserts that since the same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us, any commitment included in the gospel presentation must then be executed in sanctification to keep the process of justification moving forward. Therefore, obedience in sanctification must be completely optional. A consideration of works is just fruit stapling. If the Holy Spirit decides to do a work through someone, that’s His business and none of ours, “who are we to judge?”

This is simply two different executions of the same gospel. Model A does demand obedience because it assumes that Christians have faith, and that will result in manifestations of Christ’s obedience being imputed to our lives. Because this is mixed with our sinfulness, it is “subjective.” The actual term is “justification experienced subjectively”; objective justification, subjective justification, final justification (redefined justification, sanctification, and glorification). However, model B then interprets  that as commitment that must be executed in the progressive part of salvation.

This is where the EB versus LS debate comes into play. This is a debate regarding execution of the same gospel while making the applications differing gospels. Out of this misunderstanding which came to a head in the 80’s, comes the anti-Lordship Salvation movement (ALS). Conversations with proponents of ALS reveal all of the same tenets of Cogous. First, there is the same idea of a final judgment in which sins committed by Christians will be covered by Jesus’ righteousness; “When God looks at us, all he will see is Jesus.” Secondly, there is the same idea of one law. Thirdly, there is the idea that our sins are covered and not ended.

They do differ on the “two natures.” Model A holds to the idea that Christians have the same totally depraved nature that they had when they were saved. Model B thinks the new birth supplies an additional Christ-like nature that fights with the old nature. Model A, aka Calvinists, actually think this is Romanism/Arminianism. Indeed, authentic Protestantism rejects the idea that any work of the Spirit is done IN the believer. Model B has several different takes on this including the idea that Christians are still dead, but the life of Jesus inside of them enables them to obey.

In part 2, we will examine why this construct is a false gospel, and why both parties are guilty. In part 3, we will examine the new birth and the idea that Christians have two natures.


Death to Mommy Perfection?

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 6, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published May 10, 2012

Yet another book from the enlightened Christian class for us totally depraved zombie sheep. What’s the difference between a pope interpreting the Bible for us verses a steady diet of books from the enlightened class? None: the way of the noble Berean is fading fast.  The newest is Amy Spiegel’s Letting Go of Perfection. Snippets from the Christianity Today review will give you the gist:

Why author Amy Spiegel wants us to let go of perfection, whatever that is, in favor of Providence.

As Christian women, have we set the bar too high for ourselves? Are we striving to achieve our own version of the American dream, some sort of Focus on the Family all-star clan where the kids all love each other, while also reading above grade level and excelling in at least two extracurricular activities?

This is an easy post. Would you hire a contractor to build your house who wrote a book entitled Letting Go of Perfection? Imagine finding out a few minutes before being wheeled into surgery that your surgeon wrote a book entitled Letting Go of Perfection. Yikes! As a former contractor who framed houses, we knew the framing was not going to be absolutely perfect, but was that our goal? Of course it was, and much to the delight of the client.

It can all be summed up by the beloved apostle regarding the enlightened spiritual class of our day: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Ya, do that: teach the ones that are raising the future leaders, surgeons, and builders of our day that perfection shouldn’t be our goal. Brilliant. Ya, hurry and buy that book as quickly as you can.

These same brainiacs interpret things that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount this way:

Jesus told us to be perfect like God so that we would go and try to be perfect, and then discover that it’s not possible—leading to us crying out, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! Someone must do it for me!” [ie., Jesus].

No, Jesus warned us to not “relax” the standard of the law; in fact, the least of any commandment contained therein. And whoever does so will be least in the kingdom of heaven. We are not justified by keeping the law, but the new birth does not produce a relaxed attitude towards its standards of love, equity, and justice. That is why Jesus said that our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees. They actually revised the law of God with their own traditions in an attempt to make it easier to keep. That’s what you have to do when you think sanctification maintains justification (like John Piper et al). The Pharisees revised it with tradition, the New Calvinists do away with it altogether by teaching that Jesus keeps it for us.

Popes and books from the enlightened ones (like antinomian Elyse Fitzpatrick), Pharisees and New Calvinists—all the same difference.


Pondering the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 6, 2014

PPT HandleAfter counseling nearly all day with a longtime professing believer about his life and the gospel, I would like to share the thoughts I am pondering afterward:

You are not saved without your own death and resurrection after that of Christ. Believing on Christ unto salvation is not a mere mental ascent to the facts of the gospel; it is a decision to follow Christ in His death and resurrection. This means you have died to the law able to condemn you and now love the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit is the commandments of Christ that formally condemned you. You have passed from death to life, and from condemnation to loving God and others according to the law. Your motives are indeed pure for the law can no longer condemn you, the only motive that is left is love.

To love God is to love the law of the Spirit of life: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

Salvation involves your own literal death and resurrection after Christ…

“You must be born again.”


Law/Gospel Made Easy: A Slide Show

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 6, 2014

Calvinist Catholicism, Denial of Sanctification, Denial of the New Birth, and Distortion of the Trinity Through “Emphasis”

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 6, 2014

PPT HandleOriginally published January 3, 2013

“Those of Reformed theology are not under grace. How do we know that? Because they say Christians are still under the dominion of sin. And plainly, according to the Bible, that equals being under the law and not under grace.”

The mystery of why sanctification is so anemic today is no longer a mystery. Traditionally, this has been the case for a long time in the Western church because the fathers of the Reformation discounted sanctification all together. Sure, they used the term, but it was disingenuous then, and continues to be such with those who use the term today. Weak sanctification leads to very unexciting lives which are no incentive to share the “new life” with others. We share what we are excited about, and being no better than what we were before our “conversion” is neither good news nor worth sharing. It seems the only thing we have to share is, “We are more humble than you because we know that we are empty vessels waiting to be filled and maybe the Lord will fill us and maybe he won’t.” Such a message just doesn’t set the world on fire.

The more I learn, the more I am convinced that there is really no difference between Catholicism and Protestantism: both are “under the law.” One is Jesus plus ritual to complete your justification and the other is Jesus plus making sure you do nothing in your sanctification to complete your justification (because the “just” shall live by faith [ALONE]). And in both cases, being faithful to the authority of the church secures your salvation. Calvin believed that we stay saved through daily repentance for daily salvation, and that forgiveness can only be found in Reformed churches:

Secondly, this passage shows that the gratuitous pardon of sins is given us not only once, but that it is a benefit perpetually residing in the Church, and daily offered to the faithful. For the Apostle here addresses the faithful; as doubtless no man has ever been, nor ever will be, who can otherwise please God, since all are guilty before him; for however strong a desire there may be in us of acting rightly, we always go haltingly to God. Yet what is half done obtains no approval with God. In the meantime, by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God. Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles).

And, Calvin’s homeboy, Luther, believed that Reformed elders have the authority to forgive sins:

Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive the absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God himself and by no means doubt but firmly believe that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven (Timothy J. Wengert: A Contemporary Translation of Luther’s Small Catechism; Augsburg Fortress PUB 1994, p.49).

And on page 35….

Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give me and all believers in Christ eternal life.

The granting of eternal life is future, and is based on faithfulness to the established church. Look, I have been a pastor long enough to know that many Baptists associate their salvation with church membership. I have suggested cleaning up the roles in a few churches, and the response is always one that hints of this being synonymous with taking away one’s salvation. Where did they get that idea? Whether Catholic or Protestant, you can get your absolution in a booth or an alter call—there is no difference.

Calvinism, and the Reformed gospel in general, is “under the law.” In the Scriptures, being under the law equals being under the dominion of sin:

Romans 6:14—For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 2:12—For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:15—For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Those of Reformed theology are not under grace. How do we know that? Because they say Christians are still under the dominion of sin. And plainly, according to the Bible, that equals being under the law and not under grace. Quotes from the Reformed that establish this are myriad, I will note one:

We are enemies of God. We are God ignoring. We are God defying. We hate God. (CJ Mahaney: Resolved Conference 2008).

Comments by Reformed pastor Matt Chandler speaking of Christians as being “wicked sinners” have apparently been scrubbed from the internet (see here, and here), but nonetheless are indicative of the Reformed position.

This simply equals nothing less than, from the biblical perspective, Christians remaining in an unregenerate state though they call it regeneration. And this, they in fact do:

Bavinck too, wrote in connection with the regenerating work of the Spirit: “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration” (G. C. Berkouwer: Faith and Sanctification, p. 87).

Unchanging regeneration: such oxymorons are not few in Reformed writings. And though they would deny it, sanctification and the new birth are rejected as a matter logical conclusion. There can be no sanctification or new creaturehood where we are still under the bondage and dominion of sin. This is antithetical to being under grace. The Reformed think tank that launched the present-day New Calvinist movement which is a resurgence of authentic Calvinism, wrote an article in their theological journal entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” The article can be read here.

The argument that is used is one of emphasis which is Gnostic epistemology: sure, stars are true, but they only shine because of the Sun. Sure, shadows are true, but they wouldn’t exist without the Sun either. Sure, flowers are true, but they wouldn’t be able to grow without the Sun as well. What we want to do is focus on what really gives life: the Sun. To emphasize stars, shadows, or flowers over the thing that actually supplies the life will diminish life to whatever degree that the “good thing” is emphasized over the “best thing.”


Beginning to get the picture? It enables them to acknowledge the truth of sanctification and the new birth while deemphasizing them into oblivion. Out of sight; out of mind. To say that the new birth and our ability in sanctification are deemphasized in today’s church is certainly an understatement.

Said think tank, The Australian Forum, used the same argument to emphasize Christ over the Father and the Holy Spirit as well. Christocentricity is very important to Reformed theology. The core four of this think tank was Geoffrey Paxton, Jon Zens, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Robert Brinsmead. In a book where Paxton documents the Reformed heritage of Seventh-Day Adventism, he stated the following:

Luther and Calvin did not simply stress Christ alone over against the Roman Catholic emphasis on works-righteousness. The Reformers also stressed Christ alone over against all—be they Roman Catholics or Protestants (29) — who would point to the inside of the believer as the place where justifying righteousness dwells. Christ alone means literally Christ alone, and not the believer. And for that matter, it does not even mean any other member of the Trinity! (The Shaking of Adventism: p. 41).

Likewise, the same argument is made in regard to sanctification:

The distinction between the two types of righteousness will make the final emphasis of the Reformation easier to understand. The Reformers contended that the believer is righteous in this life only by faith. In saying this, they were not denying either the necessity or the reality of sanctification in all true believers. Rather, they were asserting that in this life sanctification is never good enough to stand in the judgment. The believer must look only to the righteousness of faith (the righteousness of the God-man) for his acceptance with God.

The inadequacy of sanctificational renewal was an integral part of Reformation teaching. Its corollary was the Reformers’ steadfast gaze at the righteousness of faith—namely, the doing and dying of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. Though the believer fights against sin and seeks to be a faithful law-keeper, sin nevertheless remains until his dying day Luther put it forcefully:

Paul, good man that he was, longed to be without sin, but to it he was chained. I too, in common with many others, long to stand outside it, but this cannot be. We belch forth the vapours of sin; we fall into it, rise up again, buffet and torment ourselves night and day; but, since we are confined in this flesh, since we have to bear about with us everywhere this stinking sack, we cannot rid ourselves completely of it, or even knock it senseless. We make vigorous attempts to do so, but the old Adam retains his power until he is deposited in the grave. The Kingdom of God is a foreign country, so foreign that even the saints must pray: ‘Almighty God, I acknowledge my sin unto thee. Reckon not unto me my guiltiness, O Lord.’ There is no sinless Christian. If thou chancest upon such a man, he is no Christian, but an anti-Christ. Sin stands in the midst of the Kingdom of Christ, and wherever the Kingdom is, there is sin; for Christ has set sin in the House of David.

(Ibid pp. 46,47).

Hence, at least Reformed theology is consistent in regard to Christians being under the law and also still under sin’s dominion. We must live by faith alone because we will supposedly stand in a future judgment that will determine righteousness by a perfect keeping of the law. And it’s true, those under the law will stand in such a judgment. But will we? The heart of the Reformation posited the idea that if we live by faith alone in sanctification, Christ will stand in the judgment for us.

But we know well what James thought of sanctification by faith alone.


Acts 15:7-35: Lesson 39

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 5, 2014


Tuesday Night Bible Study

November 4, 2014

Study of the Book of Acts

Tonight’s Text – Acts 15:7-35Brief review

  1. Peter speaks at the council
  2. Reminds them about Cornelius

-Faith cometh by hearing

-God bore witness of their faith

-Sign of the Holy Spirit authenticated their       conversion


  1. “put no difference”

      διακρινω (dee-ah-kree-noh)

- Compare with Acts 10:20

to judge thoroughly – prejudice


- Peter accuses them of prejudice towards the       Gentiles

- same lesson he had to learn in Acts 10


- Prejudice by imposing presumptuous                   standard

- Prejudice in hypocrisy/orthodoxy


  1. Why tempt ye God?

      πειραζω (peer-ad-zoh)

to test, particularly with the idea of piercing


  1. Paul and Barnabas give report

- Compare with Peter’s report in Acts 11


  1. James’ conclusion
  2. Acknowledges consistency with scriptures

- Quotes Amos 9:11-12


  1. Requirement of 4 “necessary things” – vs. 28

- Not for justification

- So as not to be a stumbling block to the Jews

- Liberty (knowledge) vs. love

- For the purpose of sanctification


III. Reviewing the letter to the Gentiles



Does a Calvinist Know What a Calvinist Is?

Posted in Uncategorized by paulspassingthoughts on November 5, 2014

7 Questions .org

The “Cross Story” and Sanctified Rape in the Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 5, 2014

Originally published January 21, 2013

PPT Handle

“Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think; this is their worldview.”

 “Don’t misunderstand: the problem of  ‘victim mentality’  is not even on the radar screen — they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary.”

 Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story.”

Martin Luther had more on his mind than silly Popes when he nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That protest launched the Reformation, but six months later Luther presented the systematic theology of the Reformation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg. Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundation, and John Calvin later articulated and applied its basic principles to the full spectrum of life in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The Cross Story and the Glory Story

Luther’s cross story, or theology of the cross is the crux of the Heidelberg Disputation and introduced in the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes:

Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.

That’s Luther’s theology of the cross: a deeper and deeper knowledge of our putrid humanity as set against God’s holiness. And NOTHING in-between. All of creation, all events, and all reality contribute to deeper knowledge of one of these two, and then both as a deeper knowledge of each gives more understanding to the other; knowledge of both, and the experience of both. Hence, every blessing, including our good works which are done by the Holy Spirit to begin with, lends more understanding of God’s glory. Every evil event, sin, and tragedy lends deeper understanding in regard to our total depravity and worthlessness. But of course your mother is dying of cancer; I am amazed that God would give anyone as many years as He has given her. Who are we to think we deserve even one year of life? And what a wonderful opportunity for her to suffer the way Jesus suffered for us!

This is the cross story. See the illustration below. This is a contemporary depiction from that camp—this is their assessment:


Anything else at all that gives any credit to humanity—Christian or non-Christian is the “glory story.” That would be our glory specifically, and not Christ’s. To the degree that humanity is considered, the glory of Christ is “ECLIPSED.” This is the theses of a book written by John MacArthur associate Rick Holland: Uneclipsing The Son. Everything is perceived as speaking through one of these two perspectives. ANYTHING coming from what is perceived as the “glory story” is summarily dismissed. Be sure of it: this is how Calvinists think. This is their worldview.

In one of the former Resolved Conferences sponsored by John MacArthur and Holland, in one of his messages, Holland extols a letter written to Puritan Christopher Love by his wife as he awaited execution. Holland forgot to mention to those listening that Love was executed for espionage against the English government while letting the audience assume he was executed for loftier spiritual-like reasons. The following is excerpts from the letter:

O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ…. I dare not speak to thee, nor have a thought within my own heart of my own unspeakable loss, but wholly keep my eye fixed upon thy inexpressible and inconceivable gain. Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory…. Thou dost but leave earth for heaven and changest a prison for a palace. And if natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that the spirit of grace that is within thee will quell them, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above. I know thou keepest thine eye fixed on the hope of glory, which makes thy feet trample on the loss of earth.

Justice? That implies that humanity has some sort of value. That implies that life itself  has some sort of value. That implies that humanity should be protected through threat of punishment. That’s the glory story. Therefore, Calvin stated the following:

Those who, as in the presence of God, inquire seriously into the true standard of righteousness, will certainly find that all the works of men, if estimated by their own worth, are nothing but vileness and pollution, that what is commonly deemed justice is with God mere iniquity; what is deemed integrity is pollution; what is deemed glory is ignominy (CI 3.12.4).

Death by Biblical Counseling

The church must face up to a sobering reality in our day. The vast majority of biblical counseling that goes on in our day is based on this construct—you will be counseled from the perspective of the cross story, and anything that smacks of the glory story will be snubbed. You are not a victim. There is no such thing as a victim. Christ was the only true victim in all of history. Don’t misunderstand: the problem of “victim mentality” is not even on the radar screen—they have removed the word “victim” from their metaphysical dictionary. “Victim” is part of the glory story; Christ as the only victim is the cross story. I am not a victim. That’s impossible because my sin nailed Christ to the cross. Thank you oh Lord that I was raped. Thank you for this opportunity to suffer for you. Thank you for the strength to forgive the one who raped me in the same way you forgave me. What a wonderful opportunity to show forth your gospel!

Hence, when the leaders of a Reformed church came to inform parents that a young man in that church had molested their toddler, this was the opening statement:

Today, we have before us an opportunity to forgive.

The parents were then counseled to not contact the authorities. Those who do are often brought up on church discipline. Justice necessarily implies victim. Victim necessarily implies worth. All three are conspirators with the glory story. And be not deceived: this is the logic that drives Reformed organizations that are supposed to be mediators in the church; specifically, Peacemaker Ministries and G.R.A.C.E. A major player in the Biblical Counseling Movement is Paul David Tripp. In 2006, he wrote a book that articulates the horizontal application of Luther’s theology of the cross: “How people Change.” Of course, the title is a lie; if he really believed people change, that would be the glory story. Notice also that it is, “How People Change” and not, “How Christians Change.” That’s because this bunch see no difference in the transforming power of the new birth and ordinary Christ-rejecting people.

In the book, Tripp, like all who propagate Luther’s theology of the cross, posits the Bible as a “big picture” narrative of our redemptive life. The Bible is a mere tool for one thing only: leading us more and more into the cross story and away from the glory story. This is accomplished by using the Bible to enter into the cross narrative and thereby seeing our preordained part in the “big picture” narrative of redemptive history. Though Tripp is not forthright about it in the book, this is known as the Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic. By seeing our life through the cross story, we are empowered to live life for God’s glory. This is done by seeing ALL circumstances in life (Heat) as preordained in order to show our sinfulness (Thorns) and God’s goodness (Fruit) for the purposes of having a deeper understanding of both resulting in spiritual wellbeing. In other words, all of life’s circumstances are designed to give us a deeper understanding of the cross story: God’s holiness, and our sinfulness. I have taken his primary visual illustration from the book and drawn lines to the cross story illustration to demonstrate the relationship (click on image to enlarge):

Scott Illustration

Understanding this lends insight to Tripp citations on the Peacekeepers Ministries website:

Paul Trip wrote a great post over at The Gospel Coalition blog all about the need for pastors to pursue a culture of forgiveness in their ministry. Pastors (and anyone serving Christ) have a choice:

“You can choose for disappointment to become distance, for affection to become dislike, and for a ministry partnership to morph into a search for an escape. You can taste the sad harvest of relational détente that so many church staffs live in, or you can plant better seeds and celebrate a much better harvest. The harvest of forgiveness, rooted in God’s forgiveness of you, is the kind of ministry relationship everyone wants.”

Then he describes three ways forgiveness can shape your ministry. I’ve listed them, but you can read how he explains them in detail.

“1. Forgiveness stimulates appreciation and affection.

2. Forgiveness produces patience.

3. Forgiveness is the fertile soil in which unity in relationships grows.”

He closes with this exhortation:

“So we learn to make war, but no longer with one another. Together we battle the one Enemy who is after us and our ministries. As we do this, we all become thankful that grace has freed us from the war with one another that we used to be so good at making.”

And concerning another author, they also stated:

Last week, Steve Cornell at The Gospel Coalition blog posted some really great insight into the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. They also offered up some excellent and biblically sound steps in dealing with a situation where an offending party is hesitant to reconcile.

Here he summarizes a key distinction:

“It’s possible to forgive someone without offering immediate reconciliation. It’s possible for forgiveness to occur in the context of one’s relationship with God apart from contact with her offender. But reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships. And where trust is deeply broken, restoration is a process—sometimes, a lengthy one”…. His ten guidelines for those hesitant to reconcile are rooted in scripture and, I think, incredibly helpful.

1. Be honest about your motives.

2. Be humble in your attitude.

3. Be prayerful about the one who hurt you.

4. Be willing to admit ways you might have contributed to the problem.

5. Be honest with the offender.

6. Be objective about your hesitancy.

7. Be clear about the guidelines for restoration.

8. Be alert to Satan’s schemes.

9. Be mindful of God’s control.

10. Be realistic about the process.

Notice the overall blurring of distinction between the offended and offender with the subject of forgiveness.

The Cross-centered Anti-justice Pandemic is No longer Exclusively a Reformed Thing

Apart from Calvinism, the redemptive historical cross-centered approach is crossing denominational lines en masse. We at TANC see doctrines that were born of Luther’s theology of the cross in non-Reformed circles constantly; specifically, heart theology (deep repentance), exclusive interpretation of the Scriptures through a redemptive prism, Gospel Sanctification, and John Piper’s Christian hedonism. And we also see the same results. It is not beyond the pale for a pastor who has raped a parishioner to be the one counseling the victim sinner. You know, the “sinner saved by grace.”

God is a God of justice, and throughout the Scriptures He demands that we be people of justice. He demands that we come to the defense of the victim. I close with fitting words from church historian John Immel:

And this is the challenge. This is the challenge that I have as a man who is passionate about thinking: to inspire people to engage in complex ideas that drive tyranny. So here’s my challenge to those who are listening.

Do not be seduced into believing that righteousness is retreat from the world.

Do not be seduced into believing that spirituality is defined by weakness and that timid caution for fear of committing potential error is a reason to be quiet.

Do not be intimidated by vague, hazy threats of failure.

Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality. I’m going to say that again to you. This is good. Do not let yourself believe that faith is a license to irrationality.

Do not mistake the simple nature of God’s love for a justification for simple-mindedness.

Do not deceive yourself with the polite notion that you are above the fray, that your right to believe is sufficient to the cause of righteousness. There is no more stunning conceit.

Do not pretend that your unwillingness to argue is the validation of truth.

Know this: Virtue in a vacuum is like the proverbial sound in the forest–irrelevant without a witness. Character is no private deed. To retreat is nothing more than a man closing his eyes and shutting his mouth to injustice.

Virtues are not estimates to be lofted gently against evil.

Virtues are not to be withheld from view in the name of grace.

Virtues are not to be politely swallowed in humble realization that we are all just sinners anyway.

Love is not a moral blank check against the endless tide of indulgent action.

Love is not blind to the cause and effect of reality.

Love is not indifference to plunder and injustice and servitude.

The time is now, you men of private virtue, to emerge from your fortress of solitude and demonstrate that you are worthy of a life that bears your name. The time is now, you men of private virtue, to answer Mick Jagger and all the nihilists that insist we are living on the edge and we cannot help but fall. It is time for you men of private virtue to take up the cause of human existence and think.

~TANC 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny: John Immel; session 1, “Assumptions + Logic = Action.”


Yes, In Fact, the Law does have the Power to Change Us: Romans 8:2

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 5, 2014

Originally published May 25, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

The confusion concerning sanctification in our day is totally over the top. Sanctification is the Christian life in which we are set apart for God’s purposes. The Bible has been around for a long time; yet, the debate rages. Those who would dare suggest that the Christian can change through obedience to God’s word are quickly muzzled by being accused of “suggesting the law has the power to change people” or “the law of God provides the power to produce what it commands.” These accusations send people running for cover for fear of being labeled a “legalist”, “Pharisee,” or worse.

In all of the discussion, it is assumed that the law has one dimension: that of exposing sin and death. Also, the discussion centers around an ambiguous understanding of what we mean exactly by the term, “law.” The word “law” for all practical purposes refers to the Bible, or the “Scriptures,” or the “law and the prophets,” or merely “law.”

In Matthew 5:17,18, Christ refers to all Scripture canonized at that time as “the law or the prophets.” But then in verse 18, he refers to everything as “the law.” In Luke 24, we have “the prophets” (v.25), “Moses and all the prophets” (v.27), “the Scriptures” (v.32), “the law of Moses, …the prophets…the psalms” (v.44), “the Scriptures” (v.45), “the writings” (v.46),  all used interchangeably in this chapter.

In fact, verse 27 officially calls the whole cannon of that time, i.e., the Old Testament, “the Scriptures.” In the first part of verse 27, Christ refers to the Scriptures as “Moses and all of the prophets.” In the second part of the verse, He calls Moses and all of the prophets “the Scriptures.” It’s all the same . It’s all the “law.”

There is no way you can take the Decalogue (a theological term for the Ten Commandments), the prophets, the psalms, the writings of Moses, or any other segment-like portions of Scripture and relegate it to less significance for faith and order. I even take exception to a present uselessness for parts of the law. Though we would not stone rebellious children in our day, the fact that God at one time commanded his people to do so should teach us how much God loathes rebellion in any form.

Other laws that declared things unclean for that time, but not now; such as, for example, Gentiles, should be instructive as well. Certainly, we are not obligated to the Old Testament Law that commands us to let the poor glean what’s left of our harvested fields, but does it teach us what God expects concerning our attitude towards the poor? Absolutely. Scripture has specific application, general application, and different purposes for different times.

It’s all the same. It’s all “Scripture” with equal authority. According to Matthew, 22:23-33 Jesus argued with the Sadducee’s from the writings of Moses and called it “Scripture.” He even based his argument on the present tense verb “am” to argue for a resurrection. Obviously therefore, technical arguments in regard to truth can be made from the Old Testament alone. Scripture is also called the “law” in Psalms 1:2 and James 1:25. Christ called Scripture “all that I have commanded you” in Matthew 28:20. The apostle Paul proclaimed his writings to be “the commands of the Lord” in 1Corinthians 14:37.

Therefore, “All Scripture” is profitable for the things that make a person of God equipped for every good work (2Timothy 3:16). And Christ said that we don’t live by bread alone, but every word that comes forth from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). When we use the term ‘law” we are really talking about the Bible.

The Bible has two different purposes, or applications: one for the lost, and one for the saved. It has two dynamics in this regard, and that is completely absent from the present-day discussion on sanctification. Your relationship to the law determines your spiritual state before God. By the way, the fact that the law is only discussed from the perspective of a single dynamic should be alarming to us. Let’s begin our study by examining Romans 8:2,

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

If the law does not have the power to change us, we are not free from the law of sin and death. Both words for “law” in this verse are the same:

g3551. νόμος nomos; from a primary νέμω nemō (to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), genitive case (regulation), specially, (of Moses (including the volume); also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle):— law.

It is this law in Christ that sets us free, that is why James calls it the “law of liberty.”

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.

James also stated the practical use of this law as well:

1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

As did Christ:

Matthew 7:24 – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Clearly, in any discussion these days about sanctification, only our relationship to “the law of sin and death” is discussed as if that is the only law; this is very telling. This defines Christians as yet being under that law and not free from it. Hence, lots of verbal wrangling about how Christians make some sort of a relationship with that law and sanctification. Ironically, being under that law is the very definition of a lost person:

Romans 6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

The problem with only recognizing one law is invariably, in one way or the other, “Christians” remain under law and not under grace. You have to be under one or the other. Clearly, the Reformers kept Christians under the law, and concocted a formula that fulfilled the demands of the law of sin and death through faith only in the idea that Christ fulfilled it. They say themselves that the law is God’s “standard of righteousness.” This is otherwise known as the “third use of the law.” Not so, the law of the Spirit of life is the standard of righteousness, which by the way is love, and also known as the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). To be under grace is to be under the law of Christ and fulfilling it.

This is the law that Christ came to fulfill, NOT the law of sin and death. He came to fulfill the law of love through us (compare Matt 5:17 and Rom 8:4). It’s peculiar; the Reformed ESV translation adds the word “requirement” to Romans 8:4. Why? Because they assert that there is only one law and that it “requires” perfection as a standard for righteousness. This is only true for those who are under it. For those under grace, that law is ended (Rom 10:4). Many assert that the law of sin and death is not ended and must be fulfilled by Christ for us through faith in the cross alone. As I have said before, this idea asserts that there is life in the law of sin and death if it is kept perfectly; viz, “fulfilled.” Galatians 3:21makes it clear that there is not a law that can give life regardless of who keeps it.

But as we shall see, “walking in the Spirit” does give life, and that is obedience to the law of the Spirit of life. We may aggressively pursue obedience to this law, which is the Spirit’s counseling book, because it has nothing to do with our justification. We are sanctified with the word of truth (John 17:17). What is that? That is the law of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Yes, disobedience brings present consequences, but our sins are not increasing an eternal judgment because we are no longer under that law. Hence, this is why Paul states in our verse at hand, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Be sure of this: making the Bible ONE law is at the core of ALL the confusion over sanctification in our day, and yes, it has gospel consequences. UNDER LAW is under law no matter who keeps it. This is Galatians 5. In the early 70’s when the Australian Forum was reeducating the church in regard to what the Reformers really believed about the law, Jon Zens contacted Robert Brinsmead, the brainchild of the Forum, and warned him that the new resurgence was in jeopardy because of this flawed theological math. Together, they came up with what is known today as New Covenant Theology. Seeing the problem with Christians still being under law, and only under grace because Jesus keeps the law for us, known as the active obedience of Christ, or double imputation, NCT concurs that the law is ended, and replaced with the “single law of love” determined and ruled by one’s conscience.

This is an attempt to take the apostle Paul’s concept of the biblically trained conscience according to rules and make it a law unto itself. In the final analysis, the standard of love is what everyone sees as right in their own eyes. But actually, not any different than authentic Reformed doctrine, NCT makes pastors the final authority on what the right application of love is in any given situation. I have seen this in action in real life and in real time. In arguing for a right position on a certain topic, Reformed pastors who hold to NCT have said to me, my conscience and that of the elder board are clear on this matter. Remember that we learn from the apostle Paul that a clear conscience does not always mean we are right.

You might say that NCT is closer to the truth because it endorses an ending of the law of sin and death as opposed to a fulfillment of it, but the application is an ambiguous standard in regard to what walking in the Spirit is. Rather than a grammatical obedience to the law as acts of love towards God and others, it is a “guiding” of the Spirit according to how one feels.

Therefore, actual guidelines, or a grammatical interpretation does not transcend the ending of the one law to the other. In fact, both camps hold to a redemptive interpretation rather than a grammatical one resulting in even more confusion! In the one camp, we must live by faith alone in our Christian life so that Christ will continue to fulfill the law of sin and death for us in order to keep us justified. In the other camp, we must be “led by the Spirit” apart from a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Either way, the means is the same: every verse in the Bible is about the cross, and the meditation thereof yields the results of the Spirits work completely apart from anything we do.

Please note that one of the most popular applications is the view that the two “laws” in Romans 8:2 are two laws of nature or two realms. The very definition of salvation is positional only in regard to one of these two realms. If you are unsaved, you are only pressured by the “law of sin” that is like the law of gravity. If you are saved, you feel the force of both realm and at any given time “yield” to one or the other. This is determined by the degree of grace given to us by the Spirit at any given time. In essence, he determines whether we obey or not, and thus, “the Christian life is as much of grace as our original salvation.” Please understand that this view is VERY popular in both camps.

While the propagators claim that those who disagree with them are guilty of being the Judaizers that Paul argues against in Galatians, the extreme opposite is true. The prevailing gospel of our day is the Galatian problem all over again with Galatians 5 being paramount and 5:7 being the crux:

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

If you look to what Paul said prior to this statement, it makes my point, but note that living by the law of the Spirit of life involves an obedience to a truth.

Nothing is changed in our day—the goal is to separate us from running well in obeying the law of the Spirit of life.

A related conversation: 

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Potters House logo 2


Romans 13:11 | What’s in the Word “Saved” Part 2: The Other Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Pearl, PPT Moderator on November 4, 2014

Originally posted March 23, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

Last week we laid a foundation critical for understanding the Bible: the dichotomy of justification and sanctification. Justification is a finished work; sanctification is not a finished work. If this is not understood, a biblical dichotomy is contradiction. Furthermore, sanctification is not a matter of being empowered, or God working “through us” alone, but our new creaturehood  makes our colaboring with God possible. In fact, we will be judged according to how we participate in kingdom living:

1 Corinthians 3:1 – But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 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.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

This is a long passage, but it speaks much to our subject, especially the other salvation. As discussed last week, there is still a salvation left for God’s people—the salvation from mortally that was previously under law. Though the old us died with Christ, as long as we are mortal, the flesh that once enslaved us can wage war against our minds that are now enslaved to righteousness. Unfortunately, by and large, Christianity defines itself as still enslaved to the flesh—this is perceived everywhere you look as testified to by the following popular Christian placard.


So, as Christians, we are still a “mess.” The only difference is the Jesus label. We were a mess, and we are a mess. Not only does this stand in stark contrast to the corpus of Holy Writ, but it is far from being good news to the world who would normally have one eye towards escaping a world that they know is a mess—why would they want to trade one mess for another one?

Last week, we discussed the fact that Paul made it plain in Romans 7:25 that Christians await a salvation from the weakness of the flesh. Again, in the passage we are starting with today, we see that Christians will stand in a judgment that will determine rewards, and even though we will suffer loss of rewards to some degree, we will be saved “by fire.” There are two different salvations: one from eternal judgment, and a second one for Christians in regard to mortality, or the “flesh.” Let’s establish the fact that two separate judgments coincide with two different salvations:

Revelation 20:4 – 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 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.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 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.

These are two different resurrections, and two different judgments. Those in the first resurrection are “holy” and the “second death” has no power over them. The great white throne judgment concerns those who will be condemned under the law. I believe the “first resurrection” spoken of here concerns those who die during the tribulation period. Notice that there will be multiple judges; I believe these are the apostles and this judgment concerns Israel:

Matthew 19:28 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

I believe the judgment that Paul wrote of in 1Cor 3, what we are presently examining, speaks to what is commonly known as the Bema Seat of Christ. This follows the “resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14) at the end of the “church” age and will be immediately followed by the rapture of the assemblies or “church” (1Cor 15:51,52, 1Thess 4:15-18). It is clear that the next coming of Christ is imminent and will occur at a time when people least expect it—this is hardly the case during the tribulation period. I suppose the Bema Seat of Christ and the first resurrection could be one and the same, but with certainty we can ascertain that the great white throne judgment is a separate event. So therefore, we are saved from the final judgment and also saved from the warfare with the flesh. The Bible must be interpreted in that context.

Justification necessarily encompasses the prophecy issue—it reflects the true gospel and this kind of continuity in the Bible shouldn’t surprise us: separate judgments and resurrections in regard to the finished work of justification versus kingdom living. In both cases we are judged by our works, but Christians escape the judgment of condemnation. As strange as it seems, what we do in our Christian lives will determine what we do for God in eternity (Matt 25;23). Christianity lacks a biblical informed vision of what we will be doing in eternity. Such a study is a wide-open frontier of knowledge. This shouldn’t surprise us either if the main focus of the Christian life is being ready for a judgment that determines our eternal destiny.

In all probability, there are three resurrections and four judgments: a resurrection and judgment at the end of this age regarding believers and including the rapture; a judgment of the nations at the end of the tribulation period; the first resurrection, and the second resurrection which have their own judgments associated with them. There will necessarily be a judgment of the living at the end of the tribulation period because the millennial kingdom will be inhabited by mortals who are left alive at the end of the tribulation period. Many will be those who heed the instruction of Matthew 10:23. Prophecy must be understood in the light of a proper soteriology. It all fits together.

So, we are looking this week at a biblically developed argument for more than one type of salvation that allows for our eternal salvation to be a finished work while the other salvation waits for redemption, or salvation from our mortality. This brings us back to 1 Corinthians: Paul addresses the problem of man-following in the Corinthian church at that time. The assembly at Corinth would have been like most New Testament assemblies at that time, the single assembly was made up of several home fellowships, and some of those fellowships were made up of families only. In Jewish tradition, “small sanctuary” was another term for synagogue, and many were merely extended families that met together for the breaking of bread and Bible study. The primary tenets of a synagogue follow:

• A Jewish “church” is called a synagogue, shul or temple

• A synagogue is a place of worship and study, and a “town hall”

• Synagogues are run by laypeople and financed by membership dues

• There are several important ritual items found in the synagogue

• Non-Jews may visit a synagogue, but dress and should behave appropriately

• The Temple is the ancient center of Jewish worship where sacrifices were performed

This pattern goes all the way back to the exodus, and when the Temple was destroyed, all that remained was the synagogues. This pattern carried over to the New Testament Jewish church. At Corinth, home fellowships that were not following the misguided behavior of the other fellowships reported to Paul what was going on (1Cor 1:11; best translated, a group associated with Chloe or “Chloe’s people” ESV).

Let’s first note that Christians can behave according to the old us that died with Christ, otherwise known as “the flesh” which is the weakness of mortality (Matt 26:41, 1Cor 15:50-58). Paul accuses them of acting like “mere mortals” (NET). We have the treasure of the new birth, the seed of God (1Jn 3:4-9) in jars of clay (2Cor 4:7). Because we are born of God, we are in fact holy, our mortality notwithstanding. Hence, Christ came to do two things through us: fulfill the law and put an end to the works of the devil (Matt 5:17-20, Rom 8:1-4, 1Jn 3:8) Why would Christ come to fulfill a law that empowers sin? (1Cor 15:56). Christ came to end the law (Rom 10:4) so that he could fulfill its righteous requirements with us and in us. Christ didn’t come to fulfil the law FOR us, He came to end the law so that He could fulfill it with us and in us. The institutional church doesn’t get this; therefore, the institutional church is a plenary waste of God-given time.

In verses 6-9, Paul explains our role clearly in the sanctification process; it’s no different from farming. The farmer plants and waters, but who is responsible for the miracle of a dead seed bringing forth life? Ultimately, God gets the glory, but we will be judged according to how we plant and water. But Paul also states that we will receive a “wage” for our planting and watering. This couldn’t be talking about justification!  Clearly, this must be talking about reward for how we build on the foundation which is Christ. The “foundation” is the gospel of first order (1Cor 15:3-6).

We will clearly “suffer loss” because of “wood, hay, and stubble” (bad behavior), but yet we will be saved in this judgment by “fire.” Debate rages among theologians about what that means exactly, but the definitive point here is that there remains a salvation for Christians that has nothing to do with justification. It is a salvation from mortality, and in both cases, whether the resurrection with Christ via the new birth for our justification, or the resurrection unto immortality, both are a work of God alone. Even when we choose God, the sending of the Holy Spirit to regenerate us in obviously ordered by God Himself and totally out of our control, albeit a promise if we believe.

And this is how the word “salvation” must be discerned in the Scriptures.


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