As reflected in Paul’s inbox, it’s evident that the TANC conferences have played a pivotal role toward educating believers on the Platonic philosophy driving the Protestant bus. Therefore, PPT is introducing a weekly video segment called “Gnostic Watch Weekly” wherein Paul and Susan discuss and decipher readers’ contributions of the many examples plaguing Christianity of every denominational stripe. We welcome contributions from any denomination and all nationalities! Please send articles, posts, and sermon examples to email@example.com, then tune-in to “Gnostic Watch Weekly” every Friday at 7pm.
LIVE @ 7PM 9/26/14. A HD recording will be posted after the live viewing.
This week we discuss the authority of institutional pastors and the connection to Gnostic caste elitism. The primary focus is the article found at this link: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/09/why-we-dont-allow-comments.php
“Now we must consider the huge problem with Reformed theology and a tradition of deathbed terror among them—especially the Puritans…The Bible is not flipped by the new birth from death to love. There is only ONE law of condemnation.”
The Bible states that the source of death’s fear is judgment.
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.
Hebrews 10:19 – Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
The big contrast here is love and judgment: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love….” The Christian life is all about love. The Bible is the law of the Spirit that teaches us, counsels us, and instructs us on how to love God and others. Christ died on the cross for one primary purpose: TO END THE LAW. Same law, but until we trust in Christ’s death on the cross, we are “under law” and not “under grace” (Rom 6:14).
Christians do not sin in respect to justification because there is NO law to judge us, and the old us who was formally under the law died with Christ. Our major concern is love, NOT judgment. Christians should totally associate fear of death with being under the law and judgment. Fearing judgment in this life as a consequence for sin is another consideration altogether.
1Corithians 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.
Christ ended the law for righteousness on the cross, and where there is no law there is no sin, and where there is no sin, there is NO sting of death, and where there is no law, sin has no power over us.
Now we must consider the huge problem with Reformed theology and a tradition of deathbed terror among them—especially the Puritans. It’s not complicated: the Reformed gospel keeps “Christians” under the law. This is why Calvinism needs to be totally rejected out of hand as an egregious false gospel. The Bible is not flipped by the new birth from death to love. There is only ONE law of condemnation.
The Reformed notion of double imputation keeps people under law with the selfsame need for ambiguous absolution found in the Catholic Church…there is no difference, and lots of fear.
My friends, it’s not about election, Calvinism is a false gospel and the reason is very simple—we are not under law, but under grace.
The Utter Folly and Anti-Gospel of Bible as Story/Narrative: Christian Academia is Making Fools of the Laity
All of the rage in our day is Bible as redemptive narrative. Yes, the story, or narrative that gives us the “big picture” of God’s redemptive story. This concept is packaged in feel-good truisms like “History is ‘His story.’” The Bible is about a person, Jesus Christ; so, would you make an instruction manual out of a person’s life story? Would you systematize a person’s life story? The idea is to be wowed by who God is personally, and He invites you into His story. “It’s a person—not a precept.”
This is all disingenuous because we are still dealing with hermeneutics. We are still dealing with exegesis verses eisegesis. The question of the day is still epistemology: how we know what we know. For you who want to romanticize our faith—it doesn’t work.
If the Bible is God’s revelation to man, and it is, be sure that he will also reveal how he wants his word to be interpreted. Fact is, the Bible has built-in rules for interpretation throughout. ANY rules of interpretation for a text must be validated by the Bible itself. So, what about Bible as story or narrative? After an exhaustive study on what the Bible would state about this interpretive model, it begs the question: where is it?
On that note, let’s start with a blog named “Istoria Ministries” by Reformed teacher/pastor Wade Burleson. The subtitle reads as follows:
Istoria is a Greek word that can be translated as both story and history. Istoria Ministries, led by Wade and Rachelle Burleson, helps people experience the life transforming power of Jesus Christ so that their story may become part of His story.
Burleson is right, it is a Greek word, but is it in the Greek New Testament? After hours of research, I cannot find it anywhere. In fact, Hebrew or Greek canon words that project the English idea of history, narrative, or story are either extremely scarce or nonexistent. The closest idea is the word “parable” which is a story that helps define truth. It’s a teaching tool. But in every case where a parable is implemented as a teaching method, the Bible plainly introduces it as such beforehand. It doesn’t appear that parables in the Bible are meant to be stories that explain the story.
The Greek word historia came about around 500 BC and means, “Inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation.” Prior to that, mythology ruled the day. Mythology is “Ideology in narrative form.” The word, “historia” was introduced into the English language as “story” in 1390 AD and had the same meaning as its Greek origin. But prior to that between 180 AD and 553 AD, particularly among European theologians, the concept of mythology as sacred narrative/novel was integrated into the concept of historia for the purposes of interpreting the Bible:
Melitios of Sardis who died in 180AD read the Old Testament as a typology – it is a preparation for the Messiah in a similar way that a sketch or a model is the preparation that an artist, sculpture or architect does before making the reality represented in the preliminary sketch or work. Theodore of Mopsuestia who died in 428AD gives us some sense about how Christians in the 5th Century approached the Scriptures. For though Theodore was condemned for his teachings long after his death by the 5th Ecumenical Council in 553, his methods in interpreting Scriptures were shared by St. John Chrysostom and others in the Antiochian tradition of interpretation.
“In this work (Commentary on the Psalms) it is evident, first, that Theodore is almost entirely concerned with the istoria of the biblical text rather than its theoria. By istoria I mean the narrative meaning of the text, not its literal or historical meaning. On the other hand, theoria refers to the spiritual meaning of the Scripture in Antiochene theological circles. Thus the istoria of any given text may also provide the theoria, since the narrative meaning on occasion can and does supply the spiritual sense.” (Harry Pappas in SACRED TEXT AND INTERPRETATION, Ed. Theodore Stylianopoulos, p 59-60).
Later in history, istoria became a term that referred to story painting or history painting:
History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, such as a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, and essentially means “story painting”, rather than the painting of scenes from history in its narrower sense in modern English, for which the term historical painting may be used, especially for 19th century art. Paintings almost always contain a number of figures, often a large number. The genre includes depictions of moments in religious narratives, above all the Life of Christ, as well as narrative scenes from mythology, and also allegorical scenes. These groups were for long the most frequently painted; works such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling are therefore history paintings, as are most very large paintings before the 19th century. The term covers large paintings in oil on canvas or fresco produced between the Renaissance and the late 19th century, after which the term is generally not used even for the many works that still meet the basic definition.
All in all, istoria is the integration of mythology and history as a way to interpret and communicate truth.
At the very least, to accept istoria in our day, one must assert that a Greek hermeneutic was accepted into an interpretive method grounded in Hebraic roots: this is extremely unlikely. But beyond that, the notion that the Bible should be interpreted in narrative form, even partially, eradicates the significance of the gospel. Throughout Scripture, the Bible is presented as LAW, and this is critical to the gospel. “Law,” “gospel,” “word,” “law and the prophets,” “Scripture,” “holy writ,” etc. are all used interchangeably to refer to the full counsel of God; ie., His full philosophical statement to man including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics.
The objective law of God is intrinsic to gospel and eternal life. This is because eternal life and death are defined by being under the law or under grace. The linchpin of this is obedience. In an Old Testament passage that Peter alludes to (1Peter1:1, 2 → Exodus 24:7, 8) we read the following:
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Based on a commitment to understand and obey God’s law, they were sprinkled (splattered) with blood. The apostle Paul then explains what the results of that are:
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.
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul describes two relationships to the law: under the law in regard to those who are hostile to it, but while under it see their need for Christ constantly. They see objectively where they fall short of the law. On the other hand, those who are under grace delight in the law and are able to please God by obeying it.
To take away from this construct by making the Bible a narrative rather than objective law is to drive a stake through the essence of the gospel. To put ourselves into a narrative rather than a seeking to understand God’s word for life application, and to beckon the lost to enter into a narrative rather than to repent and obey the gospel is antithetical to the true gospel.
When the “elder statesman” of New Calvinism, John Piper, announced his retirement from Bethlehem Baptist Church as the “pastor of spiritual vision,” he spent hard-earned laity money to announce his post-retirement plans from Geneva, Switzerland where John Calvin reined as Protestant Pope. Piper proclaimed in the video, against all historical commonsense, that wherever the gospel of the Protestant Reformation is announced, light shines forth out of darkness. Of course, a cursory observation of church history exposes this statement as utter nonsense.
Furthermore, ever since the movement was born in 1970, the perpetual message year after year is that the movement is a recovery of the long-lost Reformation gospel. In other words, it’s been sold as a new revival every year since 1970. It’s been “new” for a very, very long time.
However, please note: New Calvinism grew like a wildfire from 1970 to 2005, and has totally dominated the evangelical church since 2006. So, where is all of the light out of darkness? Take note of this recent article from TownHall.com: http://townhall.com/columnists/starparker/2014/09/29/americans-concerned-about-declining-influence-of-religion-n1897237
Over the last 12 years, the percentage of Americans that think religion is losing influence in American life has increased dramatically. In 2002, 52 percent of those surveyed said religion is losing influence. In 2014, 72 percent of Americans said religion is losing influence.
However, while increasing numbers of Americans feel religion is losing influence, most feel this is a bad thing.
Fifty-six percent say that the waning influence of religion is a bad thing compared to 12 percent that say it is a good thing.
In a survey done by Pew in 2012, 58 percent of Americans said religion is “very important” and only 18 percent said it is not “too important” or “not important at all.”
In other words, it is not too late to reverse course by returning to the original model set forth by Christ: laity home fellowships with a focus on individual gifts driven by fellowship and not authority beyond that of Christ and his word.
58% of Americans still think religion is important, they are merely looking for the right expression of it. New Calvinism has been totally running the show since 2006, so where is the beef? They are pointing to the very decline that has occurred during their watch, and are recommending themselves as the cure because they are supposedly the new kids in town—every year since 1970.
Moreover, New Calvinism represents orthodoxy which has had more than 500 years to perform its “light out of darkness” routine and the results speak for themselves. Their version of the good news isn’t being bought.
They have NO authority, and their orthodoxy is shown to be without power. Come out from among them.
Nothing wreaks more havoc on society in general and the family unit in particular than little Johnny as god. The only justice in the sordid affair is that it will eventually kill Johnny as well, but rarely until Johnny has left his unique brand of scorched earth on his sphere of existence. In many instances, it is a silent killer of marriages because both spouses are equally invested in the worship. They wrongly interpret their misguided priorities as a good marriage. Johnny is the only tie that binds. Even in the bedroom, does the good sex flow from an intimate friendship, or because Johnny won the spelling bee?
Things happen for a reason, and people do what they do for a reason; always. Whenever you hear of a couple getting divorced after say, 35 years of marriage, it will almost always be in conjunction with empty nest syndrome. Both spouses will end up knowing little about each other, but will be experts on Johnny’s every want and need. Is your dinner with the Johnsons awkwardly silent? Start a conversation about little Johnny and the dinner will soon take on the excitement of a drunken orgy.
One of the most errant ideologies known to man is the idea that children “complete a marriage.” In contrast, it is the marriage that is to be “one flesh” between two people, not three, four, five, and for damn certain, not 19! Dominion theology doesn’t make a biblical marriage—that is completely messed up. Little Johnny is to “leave and cleave” when the time comes, and unfortunately, many marriages are a Three’s Company sitcom between newlyweds and mommy.
So, child centeredness is a major cause of dysfunction within the family, and will spread throughout the family tree like gangrene, and also affect society at large. Two parents who have made a child the center of their life send a clear message to that child that he/she is also the center of the world. They have grown up in a sphere where they are the center of all priorities, and when they go out into the world, they will assume the same. We have all worked and gone to church with such. And nothing pictures a doomed marriage destined for divorce or mere coexistence more than four or five miniature narcissists sitting between a husband and wife on a church pew.
Strong marriages make a strong family and strong contributors to society at large. This is a short food for thought post, but let me close with some basics. You should NEVER know your child better than you know your spouse. NEVER invest more in your children than your spouse. If you do, as you grow further apart from your spouse, the children themselves will fill the void and a downward spiral of marriage-death will occur.
You should NEVER model anything in the home that represents a flawed view of how society works. Child-centered parents will often display a propensity for not holding their children accountable. I can also tell you this if I know nothing else: the primary cause of teenage rebellion is the realization by the teen that they are able to drive a wedge of disagreement between parents. The teenager recognizes that he/she can obtain a perceived want by pitting one parent against the other. This in and of itself often leads to divorce, and then the child actually uses the parental guilt in regard to the divorce to further the same agenda. I have seen this at work firsthand.
Children must see an ironclad marriage that is the primary priority. I understand that this is a vast body of applicable wisdom, but are there some simple principles that can help us stay in a mindset that will continually cultivate a marriage-first environment? Yes.
One time, I was invited to a Southern Baptist pot luck dinner. When it came time to get in line for the buffet, the front of the line was populated with the children, followed by the dutiful parents, and the back of the line was populated with seniors, many donning walkers and canes. Need I say more? Are we so saturated with a child-centered culture that I would have to expound on this picture further? I hope not. I will only say this: the clueless seniors in the rear, smiling, were the parents of the clueless parents behind the homegrown narcissists in the front of the line.
All in all, marriages don’t have a life of their own, you must feed them. Family relationships must be in proper perspective in order to have a healthy family.
1. The New Calvinist movement is a lean, mean dominion machine. The Calvin Institutes are the primary authority. If you are one who reads the Calvin Institutes daily, you know that it is their modus operandi. It is clearly their authority, and their authority is granted from such along with the historic precedent that the Reformers concocted. They have always sought to rewrite the rules from which reality is interpreted. If you control how Christians interpret history and reality, you control the result.
2. New Calvinist national leaders see themselves in the big picture. Their vision is a Calvinistic world theocracy. They not only desire this, they are actively involved in an attempt to make it happen. Pastors are merely Kool-Aid drinking followers who serve the big picture.
3. New Calvinist national leaders are involved in the political process. Their political agenda is against any construct that does not facilitate the union of church and state. While John Piper has said that he is against the union of church and state, he stated the opposite in a video promotion filmed in Geneva.
4, 6. New Calvinist organizations target pastors. Conferences are indoctrination sessions. And the parishioners blindly pay for it. The PRIMARY role for national leaders is the indoctrination of pastors.
5. Seminaries are targeted and have become, for the most part, pre-indoctrination. Pastor’s conferences are post-indoctrination.
7. This results in covert and hostile takeovers of local churches. Protestants are doctrinally ignorant to begin by ecclesiastical design. This is a tradition that goes back to the Reformation. Hence, most churches have no defense except those who are too doctrinally ignorant to be deceived. There are also books/manuals written on how to take over evangelical churches covertly. New Calvinists have dubbed this, “The Quiet Revolution.”
8. “Ministries” like Peacemaker Ministries are New Calvinist organizations that indoctrinate pastors and make damage control possible. Chilling, is the “peacemaker teams” that are forming in churches, and are trained by Ken Sande’s organization. Sande’s European oligarchy mindset will make the hair stand up on your head. While at times I struggle to take most of these guys seriously, Sande actually frightens me. I consider him to be one of the most formidable threats to the church in our day.
9. “Nicolaitan” means power over the laity. This was a huge Gnostic movement that wreaked havoc on the apostolic church. The roots of this movement are easily traced back from the Reformers to Plato and his Republic construct. To see present-day control structure within the local assemblies as designed by the “Quiet Revolution,” go here: http://paulspassingthoughts.com/2013/03/01/new-calvinist-procedure-for-controlling-parishioners/
10. As New Calvinist Doug Wilson said, it is the agenda of Calvinism to take over every inch of the world. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
“Therefore, Hebrews does violence to the Reformed notion of a ‘lifestyle of repentance’ (Paul David Tripp). The lifestyle of a true believer is a lifestyle of aggressive love without fear of judgment while a ‘lifestyle of repentance’ is ‘crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.’”
Many false religions perpetually reapply the crucifixion of Christ in an atonement colaboring. They acknowledge that Christ only died once, but propagate a needed reapplication of that death and resurrection in order to keep ourselves saved by “faith alone.” Yes, the cross-work of Christ is “finished,” but the APPLICATION of the work is NOT. And since we believe in the death and resurrection by faith alone, and since our ongoing faith is a gift, the reapplication of Christ’s atonement for sin is an act of FAITH ALONE, not works.
And that’s Calvinism in a nutshell. We keep ourselves saved by faith alone which is defined by a perpetual re-visitation of the same gospel that saved us. Hence, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” Hence, “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us.” Though they deny it, this makes sanctification a progression of justification. Reformed theology has a large corpus of lofty doublespeak that attempts to get around this foregone conclusion. My favorite is already, but not yet. Yes, you are already justified, IF you are justified, and you won’t know for certain until the final judgment; so, not yet. However, there is a trump card: Calvin’s power of the keys; if your local Reformed elders like you, and they say you are in, you are in.
But, more than likely, the elders are not going to proclaim you justified unless you partake in the Reformed…Vital Union. What’s that? That’s staying connected “to the vine” (Christ) by faith alone. How do you do that? Well, first, they would correct us on our use of verbs here; it’s not a doing because it’s of faith alone. The list of what you do to stay connected to the vine, what the Reformed call, “new obedience,” and “obedient faith” (obedience to faith acts is not really obedience because it focuses on the one act of faith) follows:
- Faithfulness to the institutional church.
- Regular partaking of the sacraments which “impart grace.”
- Sitting under the preaching of preordained elders which also “imparts grace.”
- Putting yourself under the authority of the institutional church.
- Reading the Scriptures with “an eye for all of the saving works (plural) of Jesus in all of the Scriptures” (gospel contemplationism).
- Partaking in “deep repentance” which results in “new obedience.” A deeper realization of how sinful we are results in a re-experience of the “joy of our salvation.” This is the Reformed doctrine of mortification and vivification which is “reliving our original baptism.”
This list is not comprehensive, and for all practical purposes would include anything added to it by the authority of local Reformed elders. Many Calvinists such as John Piper have stated on numerous occasions in no uncertain terms that the gospel did not just save us once, but continues to save us. Most stripes of Protestants would scream in protest against this idea, but the fruit doesn’t fall far from the Protestant tree; the same will often be heard saying, “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation” [salvation does NOT grow], “We are all just sinners saved by grace” etc. Others promote the idea that Christ was raised form the dead to confirm that He was the suitable sacrifice for sin which has connections to the Reformed idea of double imputation.
What’s that? In short, Jesus died for our justification and lived for our sanctification. When we “revisit the gospel afresh,” we are once again forgiven for NEW sins committed in our Christian life, and Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law is imputed to our Christian life thus keeping us justified. We keep ourselves saved by revisiting the same gospel that saved us. The Reformed get cover for this because it is assumed by many that they are merely stating that we are best sanctified by appreciating the sacrifice of Christ, and indeed, that is how it is often framed by the Reformed, but in fact, it is a construct that is a prescription for “keeping ourselves in the love of God” (CJ Mahaney). Many assume that this means, “keeping ourselves in the experience of God’s love while we grow as Christians.” No, this is keeping yourself justified by revisiting the gospel.
As an aside, let me quickly mention how the Reformed use all of this to avoid the accusation of antinomianism. They define antinomianism as rejecting all use of the law (the Bible). Because they believe the Bible has a use, viz, gospel contemplationism, they aren’t antinomians. Biblicists define antinomianism as a rejection of the Bible for instruction in righteousness and the many-faceted applications thereof in the Christian life. In short, Biblicists define antinomianism as the fusion of justification and sanctification which distorts the true application of the Bible’s imperatives to life. Biblicists define antinomianism as any distortion of the Bible’s general application to justification and sanctification, and those specific distinctions. Biblicists object to any doctrine that obscures an aggressive obedience to Scripture without fear of condemnation, and would deem it antinomian. This is obedience unto salvation versus obedience unto love. Justification versus sanctification. Antinomianism makes obedience unto salvation the same thing as obedience unto love, and makes Christ the only one performing any act of love. Hence, a commandment to love is not really anything we do, but we only experience the love Christ performed in our stead as we contemplate His salvific acts in “all of the Bible.” ALL of the Bible is about justification, and ALL of the acts of God through Christ for that purpose. Yet, Ephesians 1:3ff. states the following:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Antinomianism denies the purpose of God that we ourselves will be righteous according to a proper understanding of the Bible’s (law) relationship to justification and sanctification. Herein is another possible definition of antinomianism:
Antinomianism misrepresents the law’s proper relationship to justification and sanctification according to God.
With all of this said, we will now examine how Calvinism, in essence, re-crucifies Christ and exposes Him to open shame. This is done by acknowledging that Christ only died once, while stating that the onetime death must now be continually re-applied to keep ourselves saved. The Bible is merely a tool for that return, and not instruction for loving God and others, and discerning good from evil and truth from error. Let us proceed:
Hebrews 5:11 – About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 6:1 – Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
There is no new thing under the sun. What the Hebrew writer was railing against is present-day Calvinism and Catholicism to a “T.” We could spend a year examining this text, and it would be a joy to do it, but for purposes of this post, we will only address the major points that serve our subject at hand.
The Hebrews being addressed were guilty of parking on, or revisiting the basic fundamentals of justification. This resulted in them being undiscerning, and in general, spiritual infants. They didn’t leave the basics and move on to the “meat.” TANC, as an educational institution has operated fulltime for about four years, but the fact of the matter is, we are still laying doctrinal foundations—the meat of true biblical doctrine is a wide-open frontier. What the Hebrew writer explained is exactly what has been going on in Protestantism for more than 500 years, and they got it from the Catholics. We are in a Protestant Dark Age, and it will take a rising up of what the called out assembly of Christ was from the beginning: a laity movement. This doesn’t exclude academia, but they should definitely be the tail and not the head. Christ, His word, and the Spirit should be the head. Academia in our day has led to a woefully dumbed down assembly, and in Christ’s day, “sheep without a shepherd,” and backdoor “hirelings” that abandon sheep who don’t feed their gluttony.
What were the basics that they had not left?
- Repentance from dead works: this is a return to the original state of repenting of works that cannot please God. The works of the “believer” are still dead. It is a focus on repentance from fruits of death. The “believer” must continue to repent of the only thing they can do: dead works. This requires a continued covering of “new sins” committed by the Christian. In order to stay saved, a reapplication of Christ’s death must be applied via ongoing repentance for “new” sins committed.
- Faith towards God: faith without works because works in the Christian life are no different from works under the law.
- Instruction about washings: the idea that justification requires more than ONE washing.
- The laying on of hands: probably refers to rituals that transfer the sins of “believers” to something else, such as an animal that was set loose or sacrificed. It could also signify the laying on of hands by someone who supposedly has the authority to forgive sins.
- The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment: fear of possible eternal judgment. The idea that “believers” will be present at one massive judgment following one massive resurrection that confirms the eternal fate of all people. Christians are not to fear a final judgment that determines one’s eternal destiny. That fate has already been determined and settled:
Ephesians 1:13 – In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
If I may have one more aside, I am slowly, but surely getting my mind around the concept of God’s purposes for a group being elected, and not individuals. Individuals become part of the elected purpose for a group or classification by believing. “Us” does not mean “you” specifically as far as election goes. If you believe on Christ, you become part of the elected group and its predetermined destiny. Hence, by believing, your destiny is predetermined. In that sense you are among the elect chosen for specific purposes. This may be so obvious that we miss it. When I became a Christian, I assumed that I was going to heaven. What would make me assume such? Because God has predetermined that all Christians go to heaven. This doesn’t mean that he chose each Christian individually; it means that he chose the means of salvation and the destiny of those who believe. Part of the “good news” is that the group you are joining has a predetermined destiny. We see a hint of this in the following passage:
Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Notice that being separated from Christ is tantamount to being “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.” The means of salvation, the purposes of salvation, and the promises (covenants) of salvation have a predetermined outcome which benefit those who believe. By believing, our fate and purpose is predetermined and sealed. In contrast, the idea that God preselects individuals for salvation and damnation creates massive confusion in regard to understanding the rest of the Bible.
These thoughts of mine are definitely transitional at this point and not dogmatic as more study is needed. But with that said, we do well to note that the source of deterministic orthodoxy; i.e., Calvinists, are definitively wrong in regard to justification and the gospel. This demands a complete rethinking of election with the complete disqualification of Christian academia as they have had 500 years to make their case and have failed. This is the sum of the matter: the gatekeepers of predeterminism have been found as propagators of a blatant false gospel and completely wanting.
Now, in regard to the Calvinist construct, I believe that we can apply the principles proposed by the Hebrew writer to refute the notion of a continued repentance and forgiveness for “new” sins committed by “believers.” Note what the Hebrew writer stated:
4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance,
If Christians fall away via “new” sins committed “in time,” it is “impossible” for them to partake in a VALID saving repentance—that kind of repentance is impossible because…
since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Yet, this ministry has documented numerous quotations by Calvinists, and John Calvin himself that state in no uncertain terms that new sins committed by Christians must be forgiven in order to maintain salvation. The Hebrew writer stated that as “impossible” because a redundant repentance cannot save. Why? It infers that the person has not really experienced the sealing of the Holy Spirit and the power of the age to come. This particular repentance of the justification class can only happen once and must be differentiated from sonship repentance. The latter restores a sense of joy and peace when the relationship between a father and son has no unresolved issues.
Therefore, Hebrews does violence to the Reformed notion of a “lifestyle of repentance” (Paul David Tripp). The lifestyle of a true believer is a lifestyle of aggressive love without fear of judgment while a “lifestyle of repentance” is “crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
Also stated as impossible by the Hebrew writer is the possibility that a continued return to the basics of salvation can produce life:
7 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
One last point before we close this post. In verse 10, the author states the following: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” This is an astounding statement. It is saying that God would be “unjust” to overlook our “work” and “love.” If that would make God “unjust,” that means these works are both righteous and earned by us. Our works of love in kingdom living deserve some sort of recognition by God. This could NOT be speaking to justification.
And that’s why we must move on from that which justified us to that which sanctifies us. We must move on to maturity and love.
Fundamentally, there is no difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. Both see salvation as linear. In other words, sanctification finishes justification. The Reformers were hell-bent on seeing salvation as linear—probably because of the Romanism that gave birth to them.
Therefore, the Reformers accused Rome of “infusing grace” into the believer which made them, in the linear gospel construct, a participant in building the road from justification to final justification named Sanctification. Rome’s “infusion of grace” (the new birth) “enabled” believers to participate in the finalization of our just state. Gee whiz, that’s not “justification by faith alone.”
So, the Reformers had to come up with something different: Jesus does all the paving of the road named Sanctification as long as we live our Christian life the same way we were saved; by faith alone. Hence, this required an “alien” righteousness that is in heaven, NOT IN US. A Reformed think tank devised the following illustration to demonstrate this idea:
The true gospel sees justification as a finished work and completely separate from sanctification. We are free to aggressively pursue fruit in sanctification because our justification is a settled issue. The infusion of grace within us does not contribute to the finished work of justification, only the progressive work of sanctification. Sanctification is progressive because it involves us—justification is by God alone and not confined to time, mortality, or any kind of weakness. That’s why it was completed before the foundation of the Earth and guarantees glorification. This is a parallel gospel. Our progress in the Christian life and the completed work of justification are separate.
The Reformers believed in an “objective gospel completely outside of us.” Anything inside of us always leads to subjectivism. Supposedly. This wasn’t even true in the Old Testament. This is what Moses preached to the Israelites:
Deuteronomy 30:11- “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
Not only did Luther say that keeping the commands is too hard for us to do as believers, he stated that it was impossible. So did Calvin. “It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’” In fact, that’s exactly what Luther did say: God’s righteousness is an alien righteousness that is in heaven.
And the crux—Moses taught an infused grace: “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Choose ye this day who you will follow, Moses or the Reformed crowd. Moses or Luther? Moses or Calvin? An easy choice for me.
We live in a unique era marked in its beginning by Christ paying the penalty for our sin (HEB 1:2). We are in the last days. We know that because it’s post cross. We live in this specific era which is also biblically described as a time of unprecedented deception (MATT 24:3,4; 2THESS 2:10-12).
Therefore, we must be careful to use specific biblical words in our communication of the truth. Those who define the language win the argument. Redefining the meaning of words to deceive is literally the oldest trick in the book; e.g., Satan redefined what God meant by death. “Surely, you will not die.” Depending on your definition of death, that was true—Eve didn’t die on the spot.
“Legalism” is a word that is not in the Bible anywhere. The concept/term was made popular by Martin Luther’s interpretation of law and grace. The term, “legalism” lends strong foundation to authentic Reformed doctrine. If you use the term, you are being a good Calvinist whether you know it or not. The Reformers were anti-sanctification because it suggests enablement and some room for self-esteem. The Bible does not call us to eradicate all concept of self for the sole purpose of the group, it calls us to evaluate ourselves truthfully (ROM 12:3). That’s why there is a severe lack of sanctification in the church today—we are all just good Protestants.
So, legalism is in, but the word for the primary nemeses of righteousness throughout the ages is out: “anomia.” The English word is, “antinomianism.” It means, anti (a) – law (nomia). And I assure you that manmade law is not in view. Ignorantly, Christians deem the word as just another 50-cent theological term even though it appears throughout the New Testament and defines the core of human woes. While anomia is ignored, a word that doesn’t even exist in the Bible is thrown around more often than we change clothes.
Because the ramifications of anomia pushback against Luther’s law/gospel theology, the word is translated in English Bibles as “wickedness” and “lawlessness” giving the idea of general bad behavior. The real idea is anti-truth, anti-God’s full counsel, anti-God’s wisdom, anti-sanctification, anti-kingdom living, anti-clear conscience, anti-life, anti-goodness, etc., etc. Christ points to it as the primary cause of lovelessness and cold-heartedness (MATT 24:12; PS 119:70). John indicts it as the very definition of sin (1JN 3:4).
Perhaps the greatest deception in all of this is the Reformed motif that the Pharisees are the poster children for “legalism.” Supposedly, they strived to keep God’s law as a way of earning His favor for both justification and sanctification of which are the same to the Reformers. The opposite is true; the Pharisees were full of anomia and voided the law with their anti-truth (MATT 15:1-9; 23:23-28). The Pharisees were not “legalists,” that’s a lie, they were antinomians.
Nothing cripples sanctification more than the Reformed idea that Christians can sincerely seek to obey God by following their born again new desire for the law and thereby unwittingly partaking in works righteousness. There is no more detestable evil under the sun because it causes a conflict between the new desire God has put in our hearts (ROM 7:25; PS 119:1ff.) and instruction that propagates a relaxed view of the law (MATT 5:19). This is why Calvinism has crippled the American church. They propagate a doctrine that sets us against the very desire that God has put in our new hearts.
Satan did not come to Eve in the garden as a “legalist.” He came to her as an antinomian. In regard to the time of the end, the apostle Paul refers to the antichrist as the man of anomia at least four times in his letter to the Thessalonians. From the beginning, and through the middle embodied in the likes of Baalam’s error and Korah’s rebellion, and culminating in the end, the doctrine of anomia is the primary beast that devours the souls of men. But yet, New Calvinist queen Elyse Fitzpatrick likens anomia to the Loch Ness Monster, and is celebrated accordingly for her supposed biblical insight.
It’s time to eradicate “legalism” from our Christian vocabulary and replace it with a description of the New Calvinist breed of beasts among us: Antinomians.
Why are we commanded to love others in the Bible? Why are we commanded to be the masters of our emotions? Because love is a choice and right feelings follow right doing. That also gives hope.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Let love be without deceit. Be haters of what is evil; keep your minds fixed on what is good.
These are the words that we do not want to hear from any doctor at any time: “There is nothing we can do.” Why would life be any different?
In a conversation with the father of the contemporary biblical counseling movement, he stated that as he traveled the country speaking in various churches, his assertion that Christians can actually do something was responded to like a “strange new doctrine.”
This is where Christians should come to grips with THE two prisms that interpret reality in today’s evangelicalism. The primary prism is…
The imperative command is grounded in the indicative event.
This method of interpreting the Bible which is uniquely of the Reformed tradition posits the following interpretive method: the Bible is made up of an interpretive duo from beginning to end. The first part of any given body of text describes the salvific works of God, and is followed by the fruits of those salvific works. Hence, the primary purpose of the Bible is to meditate on what God has done, and the fruits that we merely experience that flow from God’s salvific works. Reformed teachers like John Piper have described the Bible as a record of God’s “saving acts” [plural] from beginning to end. As we meditate on those acts, using the Bible, fruits that flow from that mediation are described via biblical imperatives (commands).
So, biblical commands demonstrate what flows from justification, and are meant to demonstrate to us what we cannot do—Christ has already done it for us. Christ died for our justification, and lived for our sanctification. Therefore, according to this tradition, biblical commands are justification’s “fruit catalog” (Paul David Tripp), and must be seen in their “gospel context” (Id). To “jump from the imperative directly to obedience” (Reformed mystic and NCT guru Chad Bresson), is to circumvent the saving works (again, plural) of Jesus. Stated plainly, works salvation.
How does this work according to the Reformed crowd? For example, note that Romans 12:1 states “therefore,” followed by a string of imperatives. Supposedly, the first 11 chapters show God’s saving works (the indicative), and 12:1 following shows the manifestation of works that we should expect to see in our lives as a “mere natural flow” (Id) from the indicative. These manifestations are a subjective experience that give us as much cause for assurance as possible because we are actually experiencing a small portion of the exact same glory that we will experience in heaven.
Know this: 80% of all pastors in the U.S. interpret Scripture in this way, and another 15% function this way without realizing it. This method of interpretation fits with two other doctrines of formal orthodoxy; double imputation, and mortification and vivification.
In other words, the antithesis of cause and effect; in more words, the idea that God will keep promises to us if we do certain things first, is indicted as works salvation. The indicative must always precede the imperative to demonstrate that the obedience is not ours, but a fulfillment of Christ’s righteousness and not our own—that would be works salvation. “What does that look like?” (lest we go to hell for living according to a verb): any obedience that we “experience” is assumed to be flowing from some exposure to the indicative. The primary endeavor for the Christian is to stay connected to the “vital union” through gospel contemplationism; this will result in the righteousness (obedience) of Christ being imputed to our Christian life in order to keep us saved.
By the way, observe a Catholic Mass sometime, it’s the exact same principle.
When it gets right down to the nitty gritty, the vast majority of religions and denominations function on this principle. Hence, choice must be necessarily exchanged for determinism. If we can’t do anything, lest it be works, that only leaves one doer. Moreover, HOPE must then be defined as something that God may or may not do for you. Likewise, PROMISE cannot be contingent on anything we do, it must be qualified by a different “if.” Not “if” you will do this, that, or the other, but rather “if” God has decided to do it for you.
So, our only hope is in what God might do for you or someone else. A “sure” promise or “certain” promise is something that God will certainly do, but as far as you…maybe, maybe not, regardless of anything you do—you have no ability to choose, and if you do, it’s works salvation.
Where there is no real choice there is no real hope. Hope is redefined as a promise that you can only hope was made to you because what you choose has no bearing on receiving the promise. “Reward” must also be redefined as a “prize” that you get for winning a cosmic lottery because God decided to call your number. You do not know for certain that you were picked until the “final tribunal.” The best assurance you can have is experiences that God may, or may not have decided to give you in your Christian life.
But let’s close with one last thought on our subject at hand: interpretation. If God really meant something totally different from how we normally interpret “choice,” “hope,” “promise,” “reward,” “command,” etc., why wouldn’t He simply state it plainly?
“Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the tacit admissions that Calvinism has a history that makes some Calvinists, ‘uncomfortable.’”
There are a lot of Presbyterian pastors that I have much respect for. And I understand their dilemma: Lutheran = Luther, Methodist = Wesley, etc., and Presbyterian = John Calvin. I mean, this is tough: “Hi, my name is Fred. I have been a Presbyterian all of my life, which is a denomination founded on a murdering mystic despot.” Geez, I feel for them—I really do.
Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the tacit admissions that Calvinism has a history that makes some Calvinists, “uncomfortable.” This is where New Calvinism is like a distinguished family getting a visitation from a long lost relative with a long dark past. It’s like already having several dinner parties planned in a small town where a past relative is new in town, and meaner than a junkyard dog, and starts blabbing about family roots. That’s when you cancel the dinner parties or preplan your responses: “Well, many of our relatives are uncomfortable with that part of our family tree.” It is then hoped the guests will be polite and not mention that it is the root of the tree.
As will be thoroughly documented in The Truth About New Calvinism: Volume 2, New Calvinism has the history, doctrine, and character of authentic Calvinism down pat—they are the incarnation of the original article to a “T.” This is a simple thing; the present-day church being awash in spiritual abuse is merely Calvin’s Geneva: act 2. It is what it is. And thanks to the Australian Forum, all of the heavy lifting in regard to the research has been done.
These thoughts bring me to an article that was sent to me by a reader. It was from The Aquila Report which is “Your independent source for news and commentary from and about conservative, orthodox evangelicals in the Reformed and Presbyterian family of churches.” Recently, Aquila reported on a family forum held (I think) in Dallas TX where the Reformed family tried to get some understanding between them and the part of the family tree that showed up again in 1970—wreaking havoc on the rest of the family in the form of Sonship Theology and New Calvinism. Unfortunately, in regard to Powlison, Keller, and Duncan, et al, these are your daddy’s Presbyterians. Presbyterians that have truly grown in grace, but kept the name, are in a quandary to say the least.
The article was reposted on The Aquila Report by Matt Tuininga, a blogger of the United Reformed stripe. It is a commentary on an article written by sociologist Phillip Jenkins who, in the original article written by him, states uncanny parallels between early Reformed clans and Islam. Tuininga begins his post this way:
In a fascinating column in RealClearReligion the famous sociologist of religion Philip Jenkins compares the radical Islam of figures like Sayyid Qutb (author of Milestones and an intellectual father of modern day Islamism) with 16th Century Calvinism.
Well, that’s not good!
But then Tuininga adds this:
Jenkins’s overall point is to demonstrate that a religion often evolves in positive ways only by first passing through dark times.
I’m not sure that’s Jenkins’ overall point, but hey, let’s roll with it. This would then indicate that the “dark” side of the family tree is back with a vengeance in the form of New Calvinism. And be sure of this: the only difference between the behaviors is the filter of American jurisprudence. I have dealt with New Calvinists first hand (some well-known), and trust me, they would light me up with the green wood in a heartbeat if they could get away with it. What they actually did wasn’t much less.
Incredibly, Tuininga then makes the exact same point that author John Immel has been making for years and propagated on Spiritual Tyranny .com and in his book, Blight In The Vineyard. Tuininga quotes Jenkins with conspicuous undisagreement:
In the case of the West, he suggests, the Enlightenment followed the radicalism and iconoclasm of the Reformation; Protestants had to destroy much of what came before them in medieval Christianity in order to forge new ways to the future.
The fact that America’s founding fathers were children of the Enlightenment which was a pushback against European spiritual despotism was a major theme of our 2012 TANC conference. Immel presented the thesis brilliantly, and left little room for denial in regard to the fact that the Reformers were separated from Rome on doctrine (both false, by the way), but not the underlying philosophy that leads to spiritual tyranny. Overall, knowing beforehand that people are not lining up to hear this proposition, we are happy with how the conference turned out and are looking forward to next year.
Hence, “Protestants had to destroy much of what came before them in medieval Christianity in order to forge new ways to the future” focuses on iconic superstition and conveniently leaves out superstitions like the truth test to determine if someone was a witch: if you can swim, you get hung or burned at the stake; if you can’t swim—you drown. Suspicion equaled certain death, so I imagine woman of that era were particularly well behaved. The present-day replacement is the Patriarchy Movement.
In the process of making this argument Jenkins accurately portrays a side of 17th Century Calvinism that most present-day Calvinists would find troubling. Speaking of the Dutch Reformed iconoclasts of the 1560s, he writes,
“Beyond smashing images, the insurgents had other ideas that look strikingly familiar to anyone familiar with radical Islam today, with thinkers like Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Mawdudi.
The Calvinists of the 1560s sought to remodel society on the basis of theocratic Old Testament law strictly interpreted, with the role of the sovereign measured by how far he or she submitted to God’s will. Some thinkers devised a pioneering theory of tyrannicide, justifying the removal of any allegedly Christian ruler who betrayed Christ’s true church. Protestant radicals pursued a harsh policy of reading rival believers out of the faith, defining the followers of images as utterly anti-Christian, deadly enemies of God.…
In the English-speaking world, the heirs of 1566 were the Puritans, the radicals who dreamed of an austere New England. When Puritans seized power in England itself in the 1640s, their agents toured the country, smashing statues and windows in every parish church they could find. By the 1640s, at the height of Europe’s death struggle between Protestants and Catholics, Calvinist ideas that to us seem intolerably theocratic dominated not just the Netherlands, but also New England, Switzerland and Scotland, and were struggling for ascendancy in the whole British Isles. Religious zeal often expressed itself through witchcraft persecutions.”
….To be sure, what Jenkins describes here was not true of all Calvinists. John Calvin himself, living in an earlier century, explicitly rejected the sort of strict allegiance to the Old Testament civil law that Jenkins here describes, and he absolutely rejected the theories of tyrannicide and rebellion articulated by some of his followers. But Jenkins nevertheless accurately describes a strand of Calvinism, and his description of the violence and disorder that was sparked by radical Calvinist notions of what allegiance to God in the public square demanded is truthful, if not representative of the whole tradition.
In regard to Calvin himself, this is blatant denial in the face of historical fact that is not even difficult to find, but he finishes with this head-scratcher:
But Jenkins nevertheless accurately describes a strand of Calvinism, and his description of the violence and disorder that was sparked by radical Calvinist notions of what allegiance to God in the public square demanded is truthful, if not representative of the whole tradition.
The “whole tradition”? Is it a “strand” or the “whole tradition”?
THE DINNER PARTY
….One question we might ask here is to what extent was this old militant Calvinism different from the Islamism with which our nation is in conflict today. If Calvinists today were advocating theories of resistance and revolution, or if they were suggesting that the current U.S. government of Barack Obama is illegitimate such that Christians do not owe it allegiance, would the state have to launch a campaign against them as well? What if they were defending tyrannicide, based on the belief that Barack Obama is a tyrant?
Actually, this is not so theoretical. If there is one thing I have learned since starting this blog, it is that there are a number of Calvinists out there today who would espouse virtually all of these views (perhaps even tyrannicide? I’m not sure …). I don’t think most Reformed Christians give the time of day to these thinkers, but there is a minority that is with them all the way…. But I would like to ask those who find these arguments persuasive, do you really want to go back to the heyday of Calvinist revolution and theocracy? Is it the American project that you reject – with its commitment to religious liberty and the separation of church and state? And if so, how do you distinguish your own cause from that of the Islamists, especially the more respectable groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, or the intellectual followers of Sayyid Qutb? To those who, like me, find this brand of Calvinism profoundly troubling, how do you reject it without some sort of distinction between the two kingdoms, between the kingdom of Jesus, and the political institutions of this age?
Well, obviously, Tuininga has no intentions of cancelling his dinner parties. And hopefully, the guests won’t bring up the new family in town who claims kinship: while the children of other families build snowmen and sandcastles, the children of the new family in town build guillotines and gallows. And the New Calvinist’s constant haranguing of the “American dream” has become a constant drumbeat. The particular video of a New Calvinist stating that “every corner of the Earth belongs to us” is also particularity chilling. Just two weeks ago, Susan and I sat under the teaching of a well-known college professor at a Christian University (who is a New Calvinist). His message was absolutely nothing short of a Communist manifesto. Recently, I have received emails from people who attend a Southern Baptist church that is strongly influenced by David Platt. His social socialist gospel is beginning to give people the creeps big-time.
John Immel is way ahead of the curve on this stuff. I recently heard John Piper say that he didn’t believe in a marriage between church and state; I DON’T BELIEVE HIM. In fact, I am going to attempt to meet with people who have information on this for my upcoming book project. More and more, a formula is emerging that seems to explain everything: a united front of denominations (think: John MacArthur hanging with CJ Mahaney etc) who can all agree on a central theme/doctrine: the total depravity of all mankind including Christians, and the need for philosopher kings to save humanity from themselves with the use of the sword if necessary. And by the way, agreement with a knowing nod from Communists and Muslims lingers not far behind. This formula begins to make sense of perplexing love affairs; such as, MacArthur/Mahaney, Horton/ Warren, Piper/Warren, Piper/Wilson, Obama/Warren, Mohler/United Nations, Dever/United Nations, etc., etc., ect., add cold chills.
A SORT-OF ADMISSION
But lastly, to bolster this point, Tuininga’s conclusion is to die for:
Jenkins appreciates the fact that the violence and revolution associated with early Calvinism was an important part of the story of how the democratic liberties and political structures that we take for granted came to exist. Calvinism had its own growing pains, and the best political theological insights from its earlier years need to be extracted from a number of assumptions and applications that were inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. But not every Calvinist views things this way. That’s why we need to keep making the point.
Can we say, I-m-m-e-l? John has shared something with me that I agree with: in my own words; America’s founding fathers were humming Willy Nelson’s “You Were Always on My Mind” while framing the Constitution, and the “you” pertained to John Calvin in particular. While I think that Tuininga would give tacit merit to that assertion….
The Dinner Party:
….Calvinism had its own growing pains, and the best political theological insights from its earlier years need to be extracted from a number of assumptions and applications that were inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture. But not every Calvinist views things this way. That’s why we need to keep making the point.
Guest: (Polite silence)
You can’t make this stuff up. RC Sproul’s Ligonier ministry is sponsoring a Caribbean study cruise and guess what the theme is?
Our theme will be “Christ’s call to endure persecution and suffering faithfully.”
That is, according to emails I have received, before Julie Anne Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board.com and others began mocking Sproul et al on Twitter. The post was then changed to…
Our theme will be “Persevering in the Christian Life,”
If one signs up for the cruise in which the depths of suffering will be plunged, admission to the 2015 Ligonier National Conference is free and features the usual who’s who of the Neo-Calvinist movement. The theme there is…
We live in a day of darkness, when the gospel and the church are under attack on every front.
I sent my own tweet to one of the speakers in regard to that theme.
And when are these guys ever home pasturing their own churches? Let me get this straight: you can pastor a church, be a conference superstar, and supply the spiritual needs of your own family as well? Wow, I guess that’s why they make the big bucks.
I can only compare the mass mindlessness that we are witnessing today to Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler. It’s the same kind of mindless following on a mass scale.
Originally posted on Paul's Passing Thoughts:
New Calvinism will die again. For the fifth time in church history. There has been five resurgences and four deaths. That is why the primary agenda of TANC is to educate the church concerning every nuance. Lack of information is what enables this evil beast to come back into the church from time to time. The goal is to educate as many Christians as possible who will hopefully see this coming the next time. The following is an excerpt from the upcoming 2013 TANC Conference. In this first session, the five reasons New Calvinism will die are stated.
Perpetual Death and Resurgence of the Authentic Reformation Gospel
As we have noted, as the Reformation moved forward in history, many did not realize that it spoke from its own reality. As Christians read their Bibles from the normative reality, the true gist of the Reformation gospel is lost over time. The Reformers were mostly responsible for the printing…
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Words mean things. Christians should be careful that they know what words mean in the biblical sense. Protestants misunderstand the biblical definitions of many key words; really, almost all of them. This is because orthodoxy has redefined all of them. The more we see the proper definitions of key biblical words, the more we see a beautiful continuity in the truth that gives us life, and life more abundantly.
John 8:34-36 is part of what Jesus said in a debate with the religious leaders of that day, and is not only the crux of salvation, but Pauline soteriology to a “T.” Let’s look at it:
John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (ESV).
Verse 34 is a theme that Jesus focuses on in the surrounding text. Nothing that we do can make us righteous, but what we do shows who we are. Why? Because we are new creatures; we are born from above. Jesus emphasizes fruits, but the apostle Paul articulates the doctrine in his letters. What Jesus states here, and what Paul states in his epistles, is exactly the same.
The key words we must understand are: sin; son; Son; slave, and free. The word “practice” in the ESV is a good translation because it denotes the idea of a life pattern. Perfection is not in mind here. The Principle is described by Paul in Romans:
Romans 6:20 – 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.
The new birth is a reversal of slavery and freedom leading to a different life direction. Though an unbeliever is free to righteousness, ultimately, he/she is indifferent to the freedom of God’s truth. Certainly, an unbeliever can do righteous works because the works of God’s law are written upon the heart (Rom 2:14).
I will also agree with the ESV differentiating between “son” in verse 35 and “Son” in verse 36 via capitalization. The son in verse 35 is not the same Son in verse 36. Verse 35 speaks of the sonship of a son to the master of the house. The slave (bond servant) is not part of the family and has an uncertain length of occupancy while the son of the master will always be the master’s son.
“Slave” has three meanings here: slave to a master; slave to a law, and a slave to death. Let’s look at the first one: it is a slave to a particular master; sin. Throughout the whole Bible, sin is defined as a master.
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,
Genesis 4:5 – So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 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 an entity that desires to rule over humanity, and primarily utilizes desire to do so.
James 1:14 – 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 6:12 – 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 contrary master is righteousness, and this is to whom the son is enslaved. The Son has set the household slave free to be enslaved to righteousness as the son of the master.
Romans 6:18 – and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
This is also slavery to a law. Sin has its own law (Scripture). This is a law appointed to the Sin slave master by God. Only this law can define sin. No sin has been committed that is not imputed to this law and recorded as a violation against it. Sin designs its desires to refute the law. Sin uses the law of God to provoke people to sin through contrary desires.
Romans 7:5 – For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Romans 7:8 – But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.
The Son came to die on the cross to make slaves into sons. He did this by ending the law and its condemnation. Sin can no longer condemn us.
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. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
The Son came to end the law, that is, the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2), so that sin can no longer condemn us through the law.
Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 5:13 – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Romans 7:8 – …For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
Therefore, those who sin are under the law (“everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin”), but Christ came to end the law, so a son cannot sin against the law. He is now under grace and NOT under law:
Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
God lent His law to sin as a covenant that would imprison all sins committed therein. It’s like a will written to all unbelievers. All sins are imputed to it until faith comes, and the inheritance is eternal life.
Galatians 3:21 – 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.
Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
This is where a slave becomes a son, in order to be set free from the master who has owned him since birth (Rom 7:14). Like Christ, a death must occur to free the son from the old covenant that imprisons sin, death, and condemnation.
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.
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.
The son is now free without fear of condemnation to obey the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant law of sin and death by paying the wages of sin—death, and was raised from the dead in order to conquer death as well. There is no law to condemn us, and no wage of sin to be paid. We have been bought with this price from the Sin master, and now belong to Master Righteousness.
1Corintians 6:20 – for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Being sons, purchased by the Son, and under grace, we are now free to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life by obeying Christ the righteous one:
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.
“The application of the gospel in regard to the saints is clearly stated here. It is a ministry of reconciliation that we preach to the world, not to ourselves. We are already reconciled. This would seem evident.”
It was maybe a year ago in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I showed up for morning service to find a huge cross assembled at the altar with a couple of hundred white ribbons draped across the horizontals. At the beginning of the service, red ribbons were passed out to all those in attendance. The message was on Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
As the pastor preached a gospel-centered message on “Though Your Sins are as Scarlet,” everyone was holding those red ribbons, a great reflective tool while listening to the message. At the end of the message, everyone went up front and exchanged their red ribbon for a white ribbon, laying their red ribbon on the cross and taking a white ribbon. The sight of hundreds of people doing that was very moving. As we then held our white ribbons, he closed.
Till this day, I still have that white ribbon in my Bible. Though I had already decided I was going to start visiting other churches, and I knew where the message was coming from in the whole scheme of that particular church’s doctrine (gospel sanctification), I was extremely glad for the message. Why? Because I love the gospel and grieve the fact that the mantle of its splendor often fades as I wade through the milieu of life.
How could I not be continually exhilarated by this unfathomable sacrifice? The message left me with an awesome feeling. I felt very close to the Lord and was full of joy. When I stopped for gas on the way home, did the clerk not see the very joy of the gospel on my face? In such a state is one not ready and willing to serve the Lord with joy and without a moment of hesitation? Who then would dare say that we should not continually dwell on the message of the gospel?!
Well, among many: Christ, the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter, and the Hebrew writer. I’m right there with you, having that experience makes you feel pretty darn spiritual. Who wouldn’t want that every day? That day I was glad for the reminder of what Christ had done for me, but the apostle’s question should always be before us: “What does the Scripture say?”
Hang on as you read the following run-on sentence, it’s a long one:
Of course to some the following argument is dead on arrival because every verse in the Bible is about the gospel and you have to see all Scripture through that prism and therefore everything must come out gospel and by the way that should be great news for me because if I find the gospel in every verse I can have the same experience I had that day in Fort Wayne and obey the Lord without effort and with joy so what’s my stinking problem and why am I writing this essay?
Does the “Gospel” Need the Truth?
…….because I love something more than my own experience; even the one of that day in regard to the gospel, the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10).
One day Peter experienced the glory of God through Christ and went on to say that we have a “more sure” testimony. Namely, the word of God (2 Peter 1:16-21). I must pause here to make a point before I move on to answer the primary question of the title and some closing comments about the gospel. All of the contemporary mantras speaking of worshiping Christ as a person with the gospel being synonymous with his personhood, rather than through objective truth, is an affront to our Holy God. Why? Because all knowledge of Him goes through what He says, period! To bypass what He says specifically and objectively for a subjective worship of his “personhood” via an eisegetical interpretation of the Scriptures, is grave error. Christ had a run-in with a person who should be the poster child for subjective worship. He threw a bucket of cold water on her worship of Him, right there in front of everybody:
“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’” (Luke 11:27,28).
When it came to the worship of Christ as a person, He pointed the woman right back to what He says, and insisted that it be obeyed. That’s where the blessings are (“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it”). All roads go through what God says about Himself, and many in our day should take caution as to whether presuppositions of any sort have usurped that process. Besides, in obedience to His word is where blessings reside (James 1:25 also).
Does True Worship Need Instruction?
In Psalm 138:2, King David says the following:
“I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word” (emphasis mine).
God is well aware of how majestic He is and doesn’t need us to remind Him of it. Our worship of Him is in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23). All of the talk about “gazing” on His glory “through the gospel” is all well and good, but it had better be an objective gazing and studious thinking on His truth with application accordingly. So says God Himself. King David received good life lessons in regard to this as recorded in chapters 7-12 of 2 Samuel. David’s propensity for subjective worship caused him trouble more than once. As a matter of fact, many today would say that his desires were “properly oriented.” Nobody possessed a stronger desire to worship God than King David and this was often expressed through singing, dancing and exalted praise. But in chapter seven, David went to Nathan and complained that God lived in a tent while he lived in a cedar house. Basically, he was looking for Nathan’s approval and got it. Later in the same day, God came to Nathan and said the following:
“Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”
There is only one way God could ask such a rhetorical question of David using the history of Israel; He was referring to the written revelation available at that time. In essence, He was saying this: “David, where do you find it in Scripture that I want a house built for myself?”
In the following verses, we have God reminding David of where He brought him from and where he is going to take his descendants (also known as the Davidic Covenant), all without David’s help. David’s subjective love for God was steeped in arrogance. When it’s not based on truth, our own flesh will most certainly fill the void.
David gets the message and begins his responsive prayer with the following in 2 Samuel 7:18:
“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
Subjective love usually leads to arrogance and sometimes worse. Let me share what God said was at the heart of David’s murderous adultery with Bathsheba:
“Why did you despise the word [emphasis mine] of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites” (2 Samuel 12:9).
God knew David did not despise Him personally, but a lack of attention to the word (what God says) led to sin against God Himself. The constant mantra we hear today, “Christ is a person and not a precept” (or the negative synonyms they choose to make a point: “rules, do’s and dont’s,” etc. etc.), is a subjective mentality that will lead to arrogance or worse.
Where would one even stop to comprehensively compile all there is in Scripture to further this point? In 1 Samuel, chapter 15, every indication points to the fact that King Saul’s attempt to worship God had good intentions except for one thing:
“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice [emphasis mine] of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’”
Of course the Lord delights in our worship. But what did Samuel say God delights in more? It’s not His personhood, It’s the following of His voice: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
What is the Gospel, and Do We really live By It Every Day?
The word means “good news.” There is much talk concerning a definition of the gospel. Every time I turn around in Reformed circles you read or hear that question. My missionary son-in-law says it’s because Reformed theologians spend all their time torturing simplicity instead of sharing the gospel they are always researching and debating. He may have a point. However, the question itself has always confounded me because the good news seems to be expressed in a many faceted way (in the Bible) while being one central truth. Basically, my answer is the following: “The gospel is the good news concerning how God reconciled man to Himself.” How God did that and why He decided to is kind of a long story. Study all the various presentations of the gospel in the Bible; they are far from cookie cutter. I am going to use one biblical definition by the apostle Paul in regard to the gospel being called “reconciliation.” It is from 2 Corinthians 5:18-21;
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
The gospel’s relationship to the saints is clearly stated here. It is a ministry of reconciliation that we preach to the world, not to ourselves. Obviously, we are already reconciled. We are not ambassadors to our own country, but rather ambassadors to the world. This would seem evident. Also, “good news” implies something not heard before. You know, the “news” part. It seems somewhat oxymoronic for daily use in regard to Christians.
Was Christ and the Apostles Poor Communicators?
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:19,20).
This is our Lord’s mandate to the church. Making disciples and baptizing them is the ministry of reconciliation. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded” is obviously our role in the sanctification process. If living by the gospel every day is our paramount role in the sanctification process, how could this passage be constructed or worded in this way? Certainly, for Christ to instruct obedience to all that He commanded, implies a variety of information as opposed to the single good news of the gospel. Why would Christ not rather say, “Teaching them to observe the gospel”? If Christ wanted the gospel observed every day, why would He not simply state that accordingly? Also, if Christ “is the gospel” and the gospel is He, why did He command baptism in the name of all three? If all of Scripture is about Christ and His gospel, here is a grand opportunity to drive that point home. Furthermore, if we are to live by the gospel every day, why not baptize everyday as well? Why not? It’s a New Testament picture of the gospel. If all of Scripture is about the gospel, what verse would exclude this notion? (Mark my words, this will soon be coming to a church near you).
Furthermore, John chapter 13 (note verses 9 and 10 specifically) contains the account of Christ washing Peter’s feet. Peter at first declines until Jesus tells him to agree in order to have a relationship with Him. Peter then tells Christ to wash his whole body. In return, Christ tells Peter that he who has bathed, only needs to have his feet washed. All the major Bible commentators agree that this refers to the salvation / sanctification relationship in regard to forgiveness of sins. Why would Christ use that example if we need the full effect of the gospel every day?
Was Peter a Poor Communicator?
If we are to live by the gospel every day, Peter did not get the memo in the worst way. 2Peter 1: 3-17 encompasses a teaching Peter thought was most important before his departure from this world (see verses 14 and 15) and it wasn’t the gospel. What was that message? The message was a call to diligently add eight practices to the foundation of our faith (see verses 5-8). Peter then says adding these virtues to our faith results in assurance of salvation:
“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” (verse 10).
To the contrary, proponents of living by the gospel everyday teach that assurance comes from “preaching the gospel to ourselves every day.” That is clearly contrary to what Peter said.
In verse 3, Peter says that God’s power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Why wouldn’t he rather say that God’s power has given us all things that pertain to the gospel? Or better yet, why would he not say that we have all things that we need for life and godliness through the gospel? In verses 12-15, Peter expresses his concern that they may forget to diligently add these qualities after he was gone. This is an unreasonable disconnect if in fact the paramount role of the believer is to live by the gospel every day. It just doesn’t make sense!
Was Paul a Poor Communicator?
In 1Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul says that we build upon the foundation of Christ. He even says that we will be judged by Christ according to how we build. Therefore, living by the gospel (and Christ being the gospel according to advocates of GS) daily would then be a rebuilding of the foundation every day. It turns Paul’s metaphor completely upside down.
Furthermore, in Romans 15:20, Paul makes it clear that the gospel is a “foundation,” and said he would not go where Christ had already been named because that would be building on the foundation of others.
Was the Hebrew Writer a Poor Communicator?
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” (Hebrews 5:11- 6:3).
The Hebrew writer says that spiritual immaturity is the result of not putting God’s word into practice, not a failure to live by the gospel every day. Again, somebody didn’t get the memo. Also, even though 6:2 most certainly refers to Old Testament practices, a reference to doctrines of Christ in 6:1 is irrefutable. Therefore, it seems to be in direct contradiction to a living daily by the gospel approach. An exclusive, daily focus on the glorious, but foundational gospel, is antithetical to what the Hebrew writer is prescribing.
I contend that I am in good company here. Jay Adams uses this same argument from Hebrews 5:11-6:2 (as I do) to refute Biblical Sonship (pages 38-41 “Biblical Sonship,” Timeless Texts 1999). Biblical Sonship, like gospel sanctification, advocates an everyday living by the gospel:
“Certainly all of us may frequently look back to the time when we became sons and rejoice in the fact, but there is no directive to do so for growth, or even of an example of this practice, in the New Testament. And surely there is nothing to support the ritual act of repeatedly doing so as a technique of growth! Something so prominent as the prime practice in the Sonship movement ought to have a corresponding prominent place in the Bible. The true reminder of the good news about Jesus’ death for our sins is the one that He left for us to observe, the Lord’s supper (‘Do this in remembrance of Me’).” ( Jay Adams, page 41, “Biblical Sonship,” Timeless Texts 1999).
Living By the Gospel.
We should most certainly live out the gospel each day by being faithful to our call as ministers to the “ministry of reconciliation.” However, we are ambassadors to the world, not ourselves. Sure, in some respects, we mirror the gospel with our lives every day. We should forgive like Christ forgave us. We should sacrifice self as Christ did, and daily. We also still repent and do so daily. But it is clear that we are to continue to build on our faith from the word of God. Gospel Sanctification is a nebulous concept that focuses on subjective worship and disregards the plain sense of biblical mandates.
At the beginning of this essay, I supplied a good look into the mentality of Gospel Sanctification; every sermon, every Bible lesson, and every daily reading of the Bible should focus on the gospel. In doing so, we are changed from glory to glory, supposedly. Experiential sermons like the one I attended in Fort Wayne sells the theory well, as does John Piper’s emphasis on “exultation” during his sermons. Basically, it makes everything about what God did, instead of what God says. Buyer beware, God has not only exalted His name above all, but His word as well (again, Psalms 138:2).
Go figure, another confusing controversial social issue is now upon us. Apparently, if you pay attention to sports, football players are particularly confused about this issue as well. What issue? In the heat of the moment, when a girl says “no,” does she really mean “no,” or is it just part of the foreplay? Does “no” really mean, “I know we shouldn’t, but I want to anyway.”
I’ll attempt to comment on the societal insanity trying to temper the controversies flowing from this issue; namely, rape scandals, because the girl really meant “no,” and the star quarterback didn’t think so, where even the master of words Rush Limbaugh has stepped in it, followed by an outcry that he be taken off the radio airwaves. His unpardonable sin? He did not affirm that “No ALWAYS means ‘no’”.
As a Christian, it would seem to be a mute issue to me because I believe Christians should not be in such situations to begin with, but yet, if we are children of the Creator who has wired mankind, we should be able and willing to offer wisdom regarding any life controversy. If we are children of the Creator, we should know what makes mankind tic. Besides, much of Christianity has bought into the idea that we have no real control over the reality that we find ourselves in, so indeed that breed of Christian may need this advice as well.
Apparently, Ohio State has created a heat of the moment student policy that attempts to guide students on this issue. Some portions of the policy even suggest that the absence of “no” doesn’t mean “yes.” The student, at least according to my understanding, is instructed to get step-by-step permission during the, uh, process (chuckle timeout).
Biblically speaking, what’s up with all of this? Let’s first look at the biblical understanding of how all people are wired concerning moral issues.
Romans 1:14 – For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.
All human beings are created with the law of right and wrong written on their hearts (minds). They are also created with a conscience which either excuses or accuses them according to their actions. I am not going to cite all of the various Scriptures, but the other dynamics are feelings and desires. The conscience doesn’t speak to us in a voice, but it uses feelings to either reward or condemn. Desires are totally different, though they use feelings as well. ALL human beings experience the inward tension between conscience and desires. For instance, a person may want something (desire), but doesn’t have the money to buy it. The law of right and wrong tells them that it would be wrong to steal it, so they don’t. But if they go against their conscience, the conscience will more than likely punish them with bad feelings.
Granted, there are a vast number of other metaphysical considerations here such as psychopaths etc.; that’s another post, but you get the general idea.
What is therefore going on in the heat of the moment situation? Not marriage, and there is a reason for that. When the wife or husband says “no,” there are no questions. So why all of the confusion in hanky-panky land? Because in many cases, the girl knows it is wrong, and the female is more sensitive to that because of that added societal caveat known grammatically as, “whore,” “slut,” etc. In most cases, “no” means, “My desires are saying yes, but my conscience is saying no.” As an aside, the world’s dictionary even has a word for those who cannot say no to their desires: hedonist.
When a girl listens to her desires as opposed to her conscience, the conscience, depending on her social conditioning, may punish her severely with bad feelings. This is where the rape charges come in: “I SAID NO! IT’S HIS FAULT THAT I FEEL THIS WAY!” And indeed she did say “no.” And indeed, desire is not the judge, the conscience is. Desires merely lead you places, but do not judge.
The fact that this subject is major in regard to the gospel and salvation aside, it is fundamentally unhealthy to violate your conscience whether you are a Christian or not. Hence, the Ohio State policy only needs the following words,
“’No’ always means ‘no’ because it’s the judge talking, and the ‘yes’ of desire does not speak for the conscience.”
Piper to Fallen R.W.Glenn Congregation: If You Don’t Embrace the Darkness, You are a Spiritual Loser; 3 minutes
Quotations from the foundational document of Reformed thought: The Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order by Martin Luther; 1518, about 6 months after he penned the 95 Thesis.
Theses 3: The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous.
These 4: [Keep in mind he is talking about Christians here] This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell,…that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope…Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity.
Theses 6: however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble?
Theses 7: But this is completely wrong, namely to please oneself, to enjoy oneself in one’s works, and to adore oneself as an idol. He who is self-confident and without fear of God, however, acts entirely in this manner. For if he had fear he would not be self-confident, and for this reason he would not be pleased with himself, but he would be pleased with God.
Theses 10: For the grammarians call a mortal work one which kills,…Second, the will must do something with respect to such a dead work, namely, either love or hate it. The will cannot hate a dead work since the will is evil. Consequently the will loves a dead work, and therefore it loves something dead. In that act itself it thus induces an evil work of the will against God whom it should love and honor in this and in every deed.
Theses 11: Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work…Since there is no person who has this pure hope, as we said above, and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God. Thus arrogance must be avoided, not only in the work, but in the inclination also, that is, it must displease us still to have confidence in the creature.
Theses 16: Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace.
Theses 17: [Again, keep in mind that Luther is talking about Christians] it is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These 18: [Again, Luther is referring to Christian living] The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength.
Theses 20: [Reality is interpreted through suffering] He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross…[All material reality is evil] The manifest and visible things of God are placed in opposition to the invisible, namely, his human nature, weakness, foolishness…Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross.
Theses 21: This is clear: He who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers ,works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls »enemies of the cross of Christ…God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the »old Adam«, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his »good works« unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.
Theses 22: [It is evil to believe God can be understood by anything that is material] That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened…This has already been said. Because men do not know the cross and hate it, they necessarily love the opposite, namely, wisdom, glory, power, and so on. Therefore they become increasingly blinded and hardened by such love, for desire cannot be satisfied by the acquisition of those things which it desires. Just as the love of money grows in proportion to the increase of the money itself, so the dropsy of the soul becomes thirstier the more it drinks,…Thus also the desire for knowledge is not satisfied by the acquisition of wisdom but is stimulated that much more. Likewise the desire for glory is not satisfied by the acquisition of glory, nor is the desire to rule satisfied by power and authority, nor is the desire for praise satisfied by praise, and so on,
Theses 24: He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand.
These 25: Therefore man knows that works which he does by such faith are not his but God’s. For this reason he does not seek to become justified or glorified through them, but seeks God. His justification by faith in Christ is sufficient to him. Christ is his wisdom, righteousness, etc., as 1 Cor 1:30 has it, that he himself may be Christ’s vessel and instrument (operatio seu instrumentum).
The False Reformation Gospel: 25 minutes
The Gospel and Eschatology: 10 minutes
Why New Calvinists Had to Neutralize Jay Adams: 10 minutes
John Piper’s False Gospel in 6 minutes
New Calvinism is Not the Gospel: 5 minutes
Seventh Day Adventists and Calvinism: 10 minutes
TANC 2012: Horton, Calvin, Progressive Justification: 12 minutes
I have been listening to frustrated saints asking that question since 1983, myself included. The following statement I recently observed on Facebook is an excellent sample:
Much of the American church is delusional, paralyzed, and perhaps even impotent. We are not prepared to receive those who desire truth nor do we even want them. If we did, things would be different. We have a religion of convenience, void of passion and sacrifice; we serve a God invented by our own devices and happy not to be disturbed.
The answer is simple: Protestantism is a false gospel, and its temple is the institutional church, its supported seminaries, and missionary networks. The above description just doesn’t happen on its own, something causes it; specifically, a false gospel.
Apparently, some are surprised that I haven’t written a post in response to mega-heretic David Platt being appointed to president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. I did answer one email that questioned me about this, and I hereby copy and paste my answer to the question:
No, I do not plan on writing a response to the Platt appointment for the following reason: after eight years of researching Neo-Calvinism (four years full time), I am underwelmed by the news. What happens in the present-day Neo-Calvinist church culture is deemed as expected behavior by me. Neo-Calvinism is a return to the exact same Gnosticism that saturated first century culture and wreaked havoc on the apostolic church. Most evangelicals are outright Gnostics, or unwittingly function as Gnostics. Platt’s appointment is a mere appointment of a Gnostic priest to a Gnostic institution. I have also come to believe that “church” as an institution is a Gnostic concept. True revival will only take place if Christians return to the intended model of home fellowship networks.
~ Penned and researched by Brian Jonson, West Chester, Ohio
Heart Versus Flesh
There are hundreds of passages that use the term “heart” to describe the seat of human emotion, intelligence, morality, volition and religious life in general. However, most often, “heart” is used in Scripture as an idiom for the mind.
There is also present in scripture the heart of the unredeemed and the heart of the redeemed. Oftentimes the characteristics of the unredeemed heart are applied to the redeemed. I believe this is a critical error. The chart below shows the context of the unredeemed versus the redeemed and how the term “heart” is applied. It is by no means exhaustive, but certainly is representative of all passages. Notice, the application of the description of the unredeemed heart is never applied to the redeemed.
Characteristics of the Heart of the Saved and Lost
|Ge 6:5 – Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Ge 6:6 – The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Ge 8:21 – The LORD smelled the soothing aroma ; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never * again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
Ex 4:21- The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
De 5:29 – ‘Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always *, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!
De 8:14 – then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
1Sa 7:3 – Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
2Ch 12:14 – He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.
2Ch 25:2 – He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.
2Ch 26:16 – But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !
Ps 78:8 – And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Jer 5:23 – ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.
Jer 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Eze 14:4 – “Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,
Eze 20:16 – because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their idols.
Mr 7:21 – “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Ac 8:21 – “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
Ro 1:21 – For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Ro 2:5 – But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Eph 4:18 – being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
|Ge 20:5 – “Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”
Ge 20:6 – Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore * I did not let you touch her.
2Ch 16:9 – “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”
Ps 7:10 – My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart.
Ps 66:18 – If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;
Ps 73:1 – Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !
Ps 86:12 – I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.
Jer 24:7 – ‘I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people , and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
Jer 31:33 – “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people .
Jer 32:39 – and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always *, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.
Eze 11:19 – “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Eze 36:26 – “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Mt 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Mt 12:34 – “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good ? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.
Mt 15:18 – “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
Lu 6:45 – “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Ro 2:29 – But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Ro 6:17 – But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Heb 10:22 – let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
1Pe 1:22 – Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1Jo 3:21 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
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.
Hebrews 10:22 – let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
As you look at the references above, you’ll easily see that the Bible never applies the ugly characteristics of an unregenerate heart to a redeemed person. Why then, should we? God has renewed the heart of a believer and it is unbiblical to accuse the Body of Christ of having hearts that are unregenerated.
Where then, is the battle? The Bible teaches that the battle against sin is in the flesh, NOT the heart. Notice, please:
Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Jesus is speaking to a redeemed person. He shows them that the danger is in the flesh, not the heart (perhaps synonymous with spirit in this passage).
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Paul teaches here that our sinful passions are from the flesh.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
A critical passage! We know the Bible teaches that our flesh was not redeemed at salvation and, in fact, awaits the glorification described so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15. Therefore, we have a “redeemed heart” incarcerated in “unredeemed flesh.” This is exactly why we struggle. Notice:
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
and those who are in the flesh cannot * please God.
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh –
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The heart is not mentioned anywhere in this key teaching. Romans 6 through 8 contain the key teaching on our struggle against sin. And, it is clear; the struggle is centered on the flesh, not the heart.
Further evidence of this:
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
How do we cleanse ourselves and appear holy before the Lord?
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
One reason, among many, that I delight in not being a part of the institutional church is I am no longer a serf to American Christian academia. Did I really “tithe” to God in the past? No, I paid taxes to a multi-billion dollar corporation that is in the salvation by membership business. As an elder of a fairly large Evangelical church that was on the cutting edge of doctrinal conservatism, I created somewhat of a stir by recommending that the church start a benevolence fund. I found these types of confrontations surreal and confusing, until I grew up. But even before I grew up, I at least knew that recommending a widows list would be dead on arrival. What jumps out of the passages like an A-Bomb when you read the Bible for yourself is the fact that all giving is need-based, not institutional based.
Like government institutions, there is a separate standard for leaders and serfs. Christians often find themselves in double serfism accordingly, and this is completely unnecessary. Besides, it hinders real ministry. Like government—like church, and this week we have an excellent example accordingly.
The Obamas, for some time, have been attempting to legislate what Americans eat, for our own good of course. Specifically, the First Lady has been in charge of two programs that dictate what we are allowed to feed our children. However, TPNN reports that an upcoming White House dinner boasts a menu that has 1000 more calories than a meal one can order from an establishment of Big Fast Food which is among many capitalistic evils like Big Oil.
That’s the point: the standard is always double. You see, the enlightened can handle life-stuff like food and guns, but such things must be kept from the great unwashed masses because of our unrestrained appetites. This is a simple metaphysical construct that was up and running as soon as God blocked entry back into the garden with the baddest angel in the universe. This herd mentality eventually led to the flood. Even then, God had to later do the confusion of languages thing because men insist on letting others think for them and following bad ideas.
Like government—like church. What do we do when we want to “start a ministry”? We ask the elders for permission. While attending the aforementioned church, still as an elder, I was contacted by an inner city church that simply wanted us to come in and take them over. I thought it was an excellent opportunity for many in our church to serve God in the inner city. The opportunity met with stiff resistance. One man told me that he wouldn’t dream of participating in such a ministry without at least a Master’s degree. Others said that our church already supported a ministry that did the same kind of inner city work. By accepting the offer, we would have been usurping them in some way.
We don’t think of the institutional church as something that hinders ministry because of its huge programs and infrastructure, but let me remind you that those programs are limited to institutionally approved workers while the primary expectation of the Christian serf is to work a job, keep their mouth shut, and tithe at least 10%. In fact, many churches are disciplining members for not tithing. And why is there so much fear among Christians in regard to “church discipline”? Obviously, Christian serfs believe that the institutional church has the authority to declare them unbelievers. Scoff at membership by salvation if you must, but it is clearly how the institutional church functions.
And what is more obvious than the double standard? In the midst of the “church discipline” craze, where is 1Timothy 5:20?
But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.
Members being disciplined/excommunicated is an epidemic while the former is rarer than fine gold; also, rampant fear of elders is ever so evident and can only be chalked up to the belief that salvation is found in the institutional church.
Christian serfism is a plague that can only be cured by a New Testament model of worship.
The Embarrassing, Bizarre Results of Calvinism: John Piper Suggests that the Holy Spirit Leads Us to Go to Bed Early
Sigh. My friends, when justification/salvation is not a finished work, when salvation is a “golden chain,” when we must figure out how to work by faith alone in our Christian life because “justification is running in the background,” the following video demonstrates the kind of confusion that follows.
Come now fellow Christians, let’s look in the mirror and be honest; we are a joke. Why? Because a third of us fawn over this utter silliness that would even make a child blush, and another third will not stand against it, and the remaining third do not know why it’s wrong even though it reeks of silliness.
God appointed these bozos to have authority over us? Really? God tells you in the last day, “Well done faithful servant” because the Holy Spirt went to bed early for you? Are you really going to continue to give these people your hard-earned money? Are you really going to continue to believe that these witless, false teachers have authority over you?
Please, just say “NO!”
Calvinists, Arminians, and Discernment Bloggers: Why They Will Not Accept the Truth About John Calvin
The Christian community continues to belabor the symptoms resulting from the false gospel of Calvinism. This is a doctrine that is no different from any other works salvation and should be categorized with Adventism, Mormonism, and all of the other isms. Election isn’t the issue; the 5 points are not the issue; at issue is another gospel. A couple of articles written this week are good examples. Dr. Jay Adams wrote a good article about the pervasive lack of practical application in contemporary preaching. But that is a symptom of the problem: Calvin believed that Christian living is the New Testament expression of the Old Testament Sabbath. Hence, to do works in the Christian life is the same as violating the Old Testament Sabbath by working. According to authentic Calvinism, we are saved by faith alone, but since salvation is not a finished work in the believer, we must continue to live by faith alone to keep ourselves saved. Therefore, authentic Calvinism expressed in New Calvinism is a complicated theology that enables us to live the Christian life by faith alone. This is nothing new. James had to refute it and it is why Martin Luther rejected the book of James.
That’s why there is no practical application in today’s preaching: it is deemed as works salvation. I have cited John MacArthur in previous articles who has repented of preaching practical application and has stated such plainly. He has stated that we do not apply Scripture to our lives—the Holy Spirit applies it and in most cases we do not even realize that we are obeying. Why? Because it is not us doing the work. He has plainly stated his belief on this. This is the mysticism of realm manifestation that is part and parcel with authentic Calvinism. It enables the living by faith alone in the Christian life by replacing our works with gospel manifestations of good works.
In another post this week, Joel Taylor of 5Point Salt suggested that Christians should show New Calvinist Mark Driscoll more mercy because we all “make mistakes.” Mistakes? Driscoll preaches another gospel. The apostle Paul proclaimed a curse on those who preach another gospel. Why is Christianity refusing to deal with this problem? The reasons follow: 1. Calvinists are in-between a rock and a hard place because the resurgence of authentic Calvinism in the form of New Calvinism has brought to light what Calvin really believed. They don’t want to look stupid because they have been calling themselves Calvinists all of these years and didn’t know what he really believed. 2. Arminians are in-between a rock and a hard place because they have been preaching for all of these years that the issue with Calvinism is the election issue. They, too, do not want to look stupid because the real issue all along has been a fundamentally false gospel. 3. Discernment bloggers want to deal with the behavior (the symptoms) and not the gospel because they are Protestants, and by design, they are theologically dumbed down. They are the least guilty of the three. They are attempting to do something about the problem via what they can understand: behavior, but in doing so, they are focusing on symptoms and not the disease. They need to get beyond Hospice care and find the cure. Unfortunately, and perhaps wisely, they treat the New Calvinists as misguided because they don’t have the theological wherewithal to make the case for a false gospel. But again, it is kinda not their fault as they have been deliberately dumbed down by Protestant ecclesia.
This has been a Reformed tradition for more than 500 years and is grounded in Augustinian Neo-Platonism. But, looking stupid shouldn’t be the issue; a love for the truth should be the issue; the eternal future of people should be the issue. What a difference it would make if notable Calvinists would admit that they missed it. What a difference it would make if Seminaries would preach the truth about New Calvinism.
For almost eight years I have been on this journey that led to the TANC research organization. I have been researching and exposing the truth about Calvinism for around four years now in a fulltime capacity, and never has there been a research gift given to me like the following video that will be the topic of tonight’s discussion.
Apparently, this video is viral among Christians in many nations as a positive depiction of the gospel…and that my friends, is stunning.
Also stunning: this video skit is popular among Calvinists and Arminians alike when in fact it represents Calvinist soteriology to a “T.” I have stated many times that there are two kinds of Christians in the institutional church: Calvinists and Arminians who function as Calvinists.
In her book, Quitting Church, Julia Duin states that she has sensed for years that something is seriously wrong with the American evangelical church. We at TANC would suggest that the problem is the false gospel of progressive justification. It was Calvin’s false gospel, but while the election debate rages, in reality, Arminians function by the same false gospel.
And I have never seen anything that illustrates that better than this precious video.
We will be joined in our discussion by teacher Andy Young. See you at 7! If you have streaming problems, the HD video will probably be posted by 8:30 pm. If you would like to ask questions or comment during the discussion, simply post your comments in the comment section of the post.
John Immel makes one particular statement at every TANC conference each year: Calvinism is the most disastrous body of doctrine ever perpetrated on mankind. He speaks primarily from a societal viewpoint, I speak primarily from a theological viewpoint, and Susan speaks primarily from a life experience viewpoint. That’s how our roles in the TANC endeavor operate. We now have Andy as well who represents a grammatical life application of the theological ramifications, and to a point, the societal implications as well. If you don’t attend the conferences—you are missing out.
But back to John. The yearly statement which is now a tradition is unlike many traditions, in that one’s understanding of the statement grows every year. So, when John makes that statement, there is a marked, deeper refection than the year prior.
When I initially received Christ, the music of the gospel made me cry. Then I became acquainted with the only thing one can be acquainted with in the institutional church: orthodoxy. When orthodoxy became synonymous with truth in my mind, that’s the day the music died. Think what you may of John Immel, but his first series of talks at TANC 2012 introduced me to a unique challenge: orthodoxy as intermediate truth, and church polity as a soft term for the fusion of faith and force. That challenge led me on a journey that has resulted in the enablement to hear the sweet music of the gospel once again.
A combination of circumstances, including my marriage to Susan, enabled me to say to God, “No more listening to men, help me to take these words in Romans at face value. You are not a God of confusion, what is Paul plainly saying?” Pray tell: how do we make two laws, plainly stated as such, two realms? Answer: orthodoxy.
The music is back. My sins are not merely covered, they are ended. My salvation has no judgment. There is no law to be found. There is no condemnation. All I can see now in regard to condemnation is our loving Lord hanging on that cross in unimaginable suffering saying, “It is finished.” We are untouchable. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Christ came to end the law of sin and death for those who believe, and set them free to obey the law of the Spirit of life without fear of condemnation.
When one stops listening to experts and really believes that God rewards those who seek Him, a particular God emerges from the truth: a God who predetermined a means for reconciliation, and pronounced it irrevocable, an irrevocable calling that will stand till all things are new. It’s called, “hope.” It is knowing that a good ending is predetermined. No one can take it from us. We also see a God that seeks man in his weakness and sin, shoving him to the precipice of His kingdom, but stopping short of making the decision for him. Certainly, when Adam sinned, he did not immediately seek God out for a solution—he hid. But God sought him out and reasoned with him, and so it goes in history.
God ordained the means of salvation; put His law on every man’s heart with an internal judge; sent His son to die, and thereby drawing all men to Him; sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin; imputes all sin to the law of sin and death that has already been ended and awaits those who want to be free of sin’s condemnation; and mandates His kingdom citizens to implore all to join God’s kingdom as well. “TURN AWAY! TURN AWAY! WHY WILL YOU DIE?” Moreover, Christ did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. Hell was not created for man, but for the kingdom of darkness. Consider…
And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Note that an unregenerate person can have wisdom. Note that they are drawn to the kingdom’s door. The unregenerate can know truth. The unregenerate can be persuaded. They have the law written on their hearts. They have an internal convicter, an outside convicter, the love of a Savior, the witness of love among His followers, and the testimony of creation.
We are told that God does all of this, but is just sporting with man, for in the final analysis, it is His choice alone. God is within His right, because of His righteousness, to send all to hell. Yet, in contrast, the Bible states that His righteousness is manifested by supplying a way of salvation. Christ didn’t come to obey the law perfectly to display the righteousness of God. Men were declared righteous apart from the law well before the first coming of Christ. Supplying a way to be reconciled with man put His righteousness on display. Christ did not come to condemn, and God desires that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
At the 2008 T4G pastors’ conference, John MacArthur Jr. took opportunity to announce to the Reformed community that he was one of them in the truest sense. He asserted that total inability has always been the dominate teaching of the church from the very beginning. This, of course, is an outright, blatant lie and an attempt to rewrite church history. Free will was the position of many church fathers and theologians of the post apostolic church. But either orthodoxy can be bad and we need neither.
There will be weeping in eternal hell because they will know they had a choice; they “neglected the great salvation.” They said “no” in the face of a God who bankrupted heaven to call them. They will not be weeping because they had no choice. To believe that you have no choice is a choice.
The strongest indictment against predestination of individuals is the source itself, the Reformers…of the Catholic Church. Calvin, in league with the Eastern transcendental meditation that Reformed theology is predicated on, believed that there are three classes of elect: the non-elect; the partially elected; and those given the gift of perseverance. Yes, Calvin taught that some people are temporarily illumined, but God, apparently in conjunction with what He has predetermined, takes away their election and condemns them to a greater damnation. Only those “given the gift of perseverance” are the truly elected. This coincides with Eastern religion and the idea that some are hopelessly enslaved to the shadow material world (and enslaved to empirical reason) while some are partially able to see beyond the material. The third class is completely free from interpreting reality in the shadowy material world.
Because of the kinship that the Reformers had with Eastern mysticism, they were hard pressed to explain how Christ came to earth as a man in the flesh. I have received reports from some in Reformed churches that pastors are teaching the following: Christ did not have the same kind of flesh that we have. This should be of no surprise if you understand the true roots of the Reformation. Martin Luther taught that Christ came as a man to supply an epistemological gateway of understanding into the invisible. He equated ALL works with the material world, and insisted that Christ came to replace all works with suffering. Hence, Luther defined the essence of the Christian life as an endeavor to escape the material world through suffering and a deeper knowledge of Christ’s suffering in life and on the cross. The kinship to Eastern thought here is evident. This led to the cross being the paramount icon of Christianity.
The point here is that part and parcel with these ancient and Eastern ideas from the cradle of civilization is the concept of predeterminism. Predeterminism dominates Eastern thought and is very prevalent in Islam. Yet, in the same message at T4G 2008, MacArthur propagated the well-traveled idea among the Reformed that predetermism is unique to the Reformation. This is a blatant aberration from true history; to the contrary, predetermist ideology saturates human history and has been the fabric of the vast majority of religious and secular movements throughout history.
What has always been rare, and unique to the point of extinction is the idea that man is able. America is unique in history because it is founded on the insane idea that man is able to govern himself. This so grates against the mentality that has dominated world history that America is despised regardless of the steroidal goodness produced by her. In reality, the world lusts to see the American experiment fail, and this by no means excludes the present-day Neo-Calvinist movement. The Reformers, past and present, have sold their package well: the idea that freewill is the common mentality of humanity is perhaps the greatest myth that has ever been propagated upon mankind.
How can a loving God send people to an eternal hell? He doesn’t. They choose to go to a place that was never created for them, but rather for the Devil and his angels. They choose between two kingdoms.
Sin was “found” in Lucifer, either because God was complicit in the creation of sin, or because freewill is a righteous element of His creation power. But if freewill existed before man’s fall, and obviously it did, nothing in Scripture indicates that freewill no longer exists.
I understand that isolated Bible verses seem to propagate predeterminism, but that doesn’t equal plenary determinism, nor are ignorant Protestants qualified to draw conclusions from orthodoxy. The jury is still out because the fruits are from a poisonous tree. To what degree does God intervene and predetermine, and how much does the historic predeterminism running in the background reflect on certain statements in the Bible? For instance, God talking to the disciples in parables so that others could not understand…
“See, that’s because He didn’t elect the others that were listening.”
Then why any fear of them understanding something? Jesus was pushing back against the Gnosticism of that day which propagated the idea that religious leaders only had saving knowledge. He spoke in parables in front of them, and then reveled the meaning of the parables to His disciples later. This was a direct, in-your-face push-back to the Gnosticism of that day, and taught the disciples to stop taking the religious leaders of their day seriously. We would do well to follow that lesson in our own day.
But in the final analysis, this post points to our freedom in Christ. Christ died to purchase all men from the slavery of sin that rules the kingdom of darkness. They are under a law that condemns them, but also protects them in case one day they would follow Christ. The heavy load of law breaking on their shoulders is a law that has been ended if they would only believe in Christ. They are purchased slaves remaining under the dominion of their present master by their own choice. They are also written in a book of life from which God does not desire to blot them out.
If we are in Christ we are free indeed. We are free from condemnation. We must not only tell the world that they serve the master of sin, its king, and its kingdom, but that they have been purchased by the king of glory. They are slaves by choice. This is where Calvinism must claim limited atonement; the idea that Christ only purchased the chosen with His death. The idea that Christ purchased all men from the slavery of sin brings much question upon the idea of individual election. Yet,
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
God prepared the means of salvation and predetermined that the application of it would be undeterred. Mankind is convicted in regard to sin and the judgment to come from within and without. Within by conscience, a judge that administers the law written on their hearts, and without by the Holy Spirit. Christ came to save the world, not condemn it, and to draw all men to Himself. He seeks after all men, initially writes them in the Book of Life, and has purchased them from the master of this world. Even the law that condemns them imprisons their sin until faith comes. It is a law that leads them to Christ, but will indeed condemn them if they do not repent. He also calls on His church to implore all men to be “reconciled to God.”
He does everything but make the choice for us. This is far more compelling than the worn-out un-novel idea of determinism used by every sect and band of religious gypsies that have ever come down the pike. It sets us free from confusion and compels us to glorify God by sharing our life of joy that is able to love God and please Him. It rejoices in the freedom of loving God by loving others without fear of condemnation.
Calvinists only rob us of our freedom in Christ to love by warning us that such zeal could be a mere attempt at self-righteousness. But we know that righteousness is a finished work, and we will not submit ourselves again to the fear of condemnation…
…for there is no fear in love.
Tuesday Night Bible Study
September 9, 2014
Study of the Book of Acts
|Tonight’s Text – Acts 13:48 – 14:7 Brief review
- The word was published
διαφερω – “dee-ah-fer-oh”
To carry through
- Acts 13:6-8
- Acts 6:9-12
- Matthew 27:16-20
- Paul and Barnabas expelled
– εχβαλλω – “ek-ball-oh” – to throw out
- A practice of devout Jews
- Symbolic gesture of derision towards Gentiles
- Used by Jesus to mock the religious elite
- Gesture of judgment upon the Jews
III. Spirit-filled disciples of Antioch
πληροω – “play-ro-oh” –
To make replete; to cram
- Imperfect tense indicates an ongoing occurrence.
- Compare with Galatians 5:13-16
- Bold speaking
- Signs and wonders
- Violent impulses
Used synonymously with “righteousness.” It is the declaration and imputation of righteousness to the believer. This is the very righteousness of God. This is also the salvation of the soul. God NEVER declares anyone righteous unless He makes them righteous. This is not a position only, the person is actually made righteous.
2. The New Birth
Normally, sanctification would be discussed next, but it is important to understand how we are truly righteous—yet we still fall short of God’s standards in this life. The new birth takes place in time when we believe, and is a spiritual reality which lacks the experiential evidence we would expect, yet the Bible is explicit about what takes place. Our old spiritual self dies a literal death “with Christ,” and we are born again with an incorruptible seed. This is pictured in water baptism. We are new creatures. We do NOT have two natures, we only have one nature.
It is the human body. It is not inherently evil, what God created that was good originally became weak in the fall, like creation, but is not inherently evil. This is why we are actually righteous, but fall short of God’s glory: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Sin was found in Lucifer, an angel created by God. It is described in the Bible as a master. Sin masters those who are not saved, but is hindered by the conscience God created in every being. God also wrote His character traits on the hearts of all people because we are born in His image. Unbelievers are not completely mastered by sin because they are born in God’s image. Unfortunately, unbelievers often confuse the image of God with their own righteousness.
When a believer sins, it is a violation of the Bible, but is considered to be sin against God and His family, directly or indirectly, by bringing shame on God’s name. For the unbeliever, violation of the law leads to eternal condemnation while sin for the believer can lead to chastisement and loss of reward.
It means to be set apart for God’s purposes. The gospel is really a call to kingdom living. Escape from eternal judgment is a positive by-product. See Andy Young’s TANC 2014 sessions on sanctification.
The earth is presently ruled by Satan. It is the kingdom of darkness. God’s kingdom is NOT on earth nor is the earth being gradually transformed from one kingdom realm to another via the collective Christocentric psyche of the church. We are ambassadors of God’s heavenly kingdom. Christ will return, destroy Satan’s kingdom, and set up His own. Christians are to make as many disciples as possible until that day. The church has no task in bringing forth God’s kingdom on earth. We display the will of the kingdom, and call people to it, but have NO task in bringing it to earth.
Hell was not created for man, but for Satan and the demons who were never offered salvation. A loving God sends no one to hell, people merely choose what kingdom they want to belong to. The gospel is a call to escape the earthly kingdom and its slavery to sin, and be transformed into God’s kingdom of light.
8. The Bible
“Law,” “scripture,” “holy writ,” “the law and the prophets,” “the word,” “the law,” etc., are all interchangeable terms for the closed canon of scripture. The Bible is God’s law and wisdom for life and godliness. It is also a full-orbed metaphysical treatise. It defines reality.
9. The Law of Sin and Death
It’s the Bible’s relationship to unbelievers. It describes how the unbeliever will be judged in the last day for every violation of conscience.
10. The Law of the Spirit of Life
It describes the believer’s relationship to the Bible. The transformed heart of the believer now desires to obey God, is no longer enslaved to sin, and cannot be condemned by the law. The Bible is a manual for our kingdom citizenship.
There are two: one of condemnation for those who chose the kingdom of darkness, known as the Great White Throne Judgment, and a separate one for eternal rewards known as the Bema Judgment.
This is the other salvation. It is the redemption of the body at resurrection. This salvation is often confused with justification, or the salvation of the soul.
Justice is of paramount importance to God and He is angered when it is not practiced by people whether lost or saved. Fairness matters to God.
The Christian life is NOT a rest. John Calvin believed sanctification is the New Testament version of the Old Testament Sabbath rest. Because Protestantism only sees ONE application of the law, to judge/condemn, Christians must supposedly rest while Jesus fulfills the law for us.
Unwittingly, this defines Christians as “under law.” Who keeps the law is irrelevant, it can’t give life, and it can’t justify. Protestants must wrongly assert this because they reject the two applications of the law and make it strictly for condemnation only. In contrast, Christians can use the law lawfully because it can no longer condemn them. In Protestantism, the condemnation of the law is not removed for the Christian.