Episode One 12/12/2014 link: The Five Solas and Five Points of Calvinism
Episode Two 12/19/2014: The Truth About Predeterminism
Episode Three 12/26/2014: Why Christians Cannot Trust the Biblical Counseling Movement
Episode Four 1/2/2015: Bible Covenants: An Overview and Explanation
Episode Five 1/9/2015: Why Joseph Prince is the King of Calvinists
Episode Six 1/16/2015: Francis Chan’s Antinomian Puppy Love
Episode Seven 1/23/2015: Why are Legalism and Antinomianism the Exact Same Thing?
Episode Eight 1/30/2015: Is America a Secular Nation, and Does Secular Equal “Evil”?
Episode Nine: 2/6/2015: The Truth About “Church Discipline”
Episode Ten: 2/13/2015: The Second Coming of Christ; How Close Are We?
Episode Eleven: 2/20/2015: How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 1
Episode Twelve: 2/27/2015: How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 2
Episode Thirteen: 3/6/2015: Catholicism and Protestantism: Why are Both False Gospels?
Episode Fourteen: 3/13/2015: How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3
Episode Fifteen: 3/20/2015: The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification; Part 1
Episode Sixteen: 3/27/2015: The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification; Part 2
The answer to the Baby’s question, according to Protestantism and all its various and sundry stripes including the Baptists is “yes.” Since the law is the standard for justification and Christians cannot keep the law perfectly, yes, Christ supposedly came to keep the law perfectly in order to fulfil it, and then died for all of our past sins. Instead of the resurrection being a prelude to our own resurrection and a totally different relationship to the law, Christ’s resurrection is said to “confirm that God was satisfied with His sacrifice.”
Hence, if “Christians” live their life by “faith alone in the same gospel that saved them,” the perfect obedience of Jesus will continue to be credited to our account in order to keep the “righteous demands of the law satisfied,” and we will receive continued forgiveness for “present sin” that violates the same law. So, according to Protestantism, Christ didn’t come to end the law for justification, He came to fulfill it through obedience so that His obedience and sacrifice can continue to be applied to our lives by faith alone. Therefore, His justification work is not finished. Yes, they concur that it only happened once, but the one act must be continually reapplied to the “believer’s” life.
Let’s evaluate this according to the new birth since it’s a baby asking the question. In this system, Christ’s resurrection is not imparted to the new believer, but was merely a confirmation that God was satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice. Technically, Christ’s death and obedience continues to be imparted to the “believer” IF they continue to live by faith alone in the same gospel that originally saved them. Now you know why there is so much emphasis on “the gospel” at “church” and why sanctification has always been so weak in the institutional church.
Protestantism is about keeping yourself saved by faith alone in the same gospel that saved you. Rather than honoring God with a mature life as one of His literal children, the attempt is to spend our whole lives honoring God by what He did to save us. It’s all about what “He did, not anything we do.” But not emphasizing what we do is actually denying the new birth and jettisoning our responsibility to love others back onto Christ.
And by the way, this efficacious reapplication of the same gospel that saved us, according to Protestant orthodoxy, can only be found and applied in formal institutional church membership.
What is the true gospel? Christ came to end the law for justification. As the law was increased, more and more sin was imputed to it. Violating the law is the very definition of sin. So, when Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross it also effectively ENDED the law. When a person believes on Christ’s death, they literally die with Him, and all sins they committed against the law are vanquished. They were “under the law” of “sin and death.”
On the other hand, the believer is also resurrected to a completely new life (under grace). Christ was NOT resurrected to validate His sacrifice; He was resurrected so that we could also be resurrected after dying with Him. This is the significance of also believing in His resurrection—not that it was a confirmation, but that we are also resurrected with Him as completely new creatures where “all things are new.”
This now places the resurrected believer under a different relationship to the law. What used to be the “law of sin and death” is now “the law of the Spirit of life.” In other words, instead of the law condemning us, the Spirit of life uses the law to change us (John 17:17). It is our responsibility to obey the law with the aid of the Holy Spirit, and that is the very definition of how we love God and others: “If you love me, keep My commandments.”
To define our obedience as an attempt to “justify ourselves” shirks what should be our natural desire to love God and others through obedience which is a result of the new birth. It is eerily reminiscent of the parable of the talents. The whole convoluted Protestant system that supposedly sanctifies our obedience lest it be works is a denial of the new birth and a false assessment of law/gospel.
When Protestant soteriology is accurately assessed, we should expect to find the following in the institutional church: weak sanctification; an overemphasis on the gospel to the exclusion of personal obedience; convoluted theories on how Christ’s obedience is imputed to our lives; overall doctrinal ignorance in regard to wise and powerful living; poor testimonies; a lack of genuine love; cliques; an overemphasis on following men; total dependence on extra-biblical writings; a laity/clergy caste system, and efforts to protect the institution at all cost.
And that is exactly what we find.
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 49 – Listen Live at 7:00 PM, March 31, 2015
PDF file for printing purposes. No rights reserved. Protestant Tract
“There is an issue that is so important in American politics that frankly I don’t care who gets it whether conservative or liberal, and Powers almost got it right.”
Kirsten Powers is a political pundit and Fox News contributor who appeared on the Sean Hannity show last night. Hannity was having a group discussion with a mixture of conservatives and liberals regarding Paul Harvey’s If I Were the Devil speech.
At some point, one of the conservatives verbally bemoaned the usual “God has been taken out of the schools” mantra. I am 57 years old and have been paying attention to politics since I was 9 when my parents hosted a campaign party for Barry Goldwater, and in reply to the often repeated mantra, liberal Kristen Powers replied with one of the most significant political statements I have ever heard. The following is a paraphrase:
How was it working for us when God was in the schools?
Ultra liberal Judith Miller aped approval adding to the shock value. However, and disappointingly, Powers was only partly right. Was I disappointed because I am a liberal and I want liberals to be right all of the time? Hardly, in fact, I think Ronald Reagan was a conservative sissy compared to Barry Goldwater. There is an issue that is so important in American politics that frankly I don’t care who gets it whether conservative or liberal, and Powers almost got it right.
Her idea was spot on, but she missed the right application by 200 years. She pointed to a time in the 50’s when our public schools were segregated which opened the door for Sean Hannity to make a comparison between the challenges in public schools then versus now. How strange, a conservative such as myself with face in hands, crying out, “She almost nailed it! She almost nailed it!”
Conservatives are completely ignorant about what really matters, and I will use public schools as the primary example. But as an aside: Dr. Ben Carson may be one of the most significant political players since our founding fathers because he states the following (again, this is a paraphrase):
We have to rediscover who we are and educate accordingly [i.e., what is America really about?].
And there you go, and Powers touched on it regarding public schools. The true history of public schools reveals the pervasive ignorance among conservatives and conservative Christians in particular.
This necessarily requires a discussion about the founders of the public school system, the Puritans. “Pilgrims” is a soft term for “Puritans” who are the ones who originally brought Europeanism over the pond and settled on the east coast of the American continent. And they were political refugees, not innocent souls braving the Atlantic to find religious freedom in a new land. Before the American Revolution, politics and religion were of the same soul. To say that the Puritans were religious refugees is not telling…as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
And “Puritan” is a soft term for “Calvinist” as well. The first Bible to ever make landfall in America was the Geneva Bible, as in, John Calvin’s Geneva. Do you want to know what Geneva was like during Calvin’s rule there? See: American colonial history. Things like the Salem witch trials didn’t just happen; such was a European theocratic family tradition.
The American colonies were ruled by a Puritan theocracy completely intolerant of religious and political dissention. Oddly, though it is fairly well known that Puritans hanged Quakers for their beliefs, and partook in superstitious persecution that would shame cannibal witchdoctors, the Puritan as American religious hero continues to be a historical anomaly. Even Rush Limbaugh wrote a children’s book extolling the virtues of the Pilgrims. Good grief!
This brings me to my point. The Puritans founded the American public school system. Yes Kirsten, God, at least the Puritan version of Him, ruled the public schools and the government; now you may ask, “How did that work for us?” Actually, pretty good—the American Revolution, in large part, was a direct pushback to Puritan tyranny. Separation of church and state was not to protect religion from government, the working word here is, SEPERATION. The two need to be kept apart. The founding fathers grew up under the heavy hand of Puritan tyranny, and upon further evaluation of human history concluded the following:
Experience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people.
James Madison: Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments; 1785
The fact of the matter is God Himself has never said that He wanted one of His representatives ruling a government because God knows mankind all too well. In case anybody hasn’t noticed, people can have some misguided ideas about what God wants. There seems to be some confusion here; Christ said His kingdom is not on earth, but many conservative Christians believe they have a mandate to take over the world, starting with the public schools, for God. Yes, the Puritans were in total control of the public schools, and were kicked out after the American Revolution because among many other reasons, the Puritan-controlled public schools were taking children away from parents and boarding them separately. Yes, those were the good ole’ days when “god” was still in the schools.
But unfortunately, liberals have something wrong as well. Unwittingly, they worship the same god as many conservative Christians. Again, Puritans came from a culture where religion and politics were the same soul, and the ideology that drove those politics was belief in the inherent inability of man. The Puritans were driven by the same spiritual, social, and political caste systems that dominated Western culture from ancient times. This is the crux of what the founding fathers rejected; the total depravity of the individual and the assertion that his sole purpose for existing is the ability to contribute to the collective. Dr. Ben Carson gets this, and that’s what makes him invaluable in our day.
If one wants to talk about the Bible, we can do that. Eventually, God is going to come back and raze the whole earth and set up His own kingdom. He hasn’t called conservative Christians to take over the world with their supposed moral superiority and then invite God back for a reunion. God is not in exile, He is simply going to clean house and move here when He chooses. Really, no need to prepare things for Him ahead of time. By the way, that’s Islam’s gig as well. Alarmingly, many political conservatives in our day are of this theological persuasion known as Dominionism.
Carson is right. The Answer is to rediscover America and educate Christians and heathen liberals alike in regard to her founding principles: individualism and separation of church and state. According to Carson, we need to forget about all of the divisions being created and focus on those two principles.
Sure, as a Christian Goldwater conservative, I would that all men be saved, but God still created a capable human race and we will stand before Him individually—no one will stand in for us. We are responsible for the sum and substance of our own lives. Read history, the clergy was not in charge of the Nuremberg trials. Man knows right from wrong as a matter of God-given conscience. When caste systems aren’t crazy enough, just add religion and superstition. That’s when history is like a movie that you could never make up in your wildest imagination.
When it gets right down to it, you can invoke “one nation under God,” but the question quickly becomes, “Which god?” And what does that God believe about man? Is man capable of governing himself, or does he need a government that controls every nuance of his life? Powers is almost right, but Carson has it right, we must reeducate Americans about who we are: a government by the people and for the people.
And how has that worked for not only us, but the world? Very-well-thank-you.
In the video below which promotes a book on the subject, we have another example of this whole idea that God will bless America if “the church” is running the show. I wrote a post on this yesterday and defined what is meant by “the church.” In the video, this very term is used: “the church.” The key to America returning to greatness is “G-o-d, not G-o-v.,” via “the church.”
What is the assumptive presupposition? That, and this even coming from Rush Limbaugh of all people, some “concept of God” is key to strong leadership. What does this assume? It assumes what we swim in daily: God is not concerned with particulars. God is not concerned with the particulars of the Big T, truth.
Get out of bed, get dressed, put your hands over your eyes, walk a couple of steps into the day, and look, and there you will find an example. On Facebook the other day I saw a conversation among women who belong to “the church,” in this case Baptists and Methodists, clamoring about getting a group together to hear Beth Moore speak in Cincinnati, Ohio. Never mind that she flaunts her Eastern mysticism in broad daylight, she is a well-spoken, feel-good expositor that is part of “the church.” Her outfits are also to die for. ‘Nuff said.
This makes the case that mankind is helplessly enslaved to the concept of church state which is founded in the ancient doctrine of the knowledge of good and evil. It is the belief that creation is fundamentally evil and only the invisible is good. Moreover, the invisible is a subjective complex knowledge that takes a spiritual journey that should include everyone, and as many “gifted” teachers as possible. Faith in general, and “Christianity” in particular is a journey in pursuit of the gnosis. All who are on this journey are good and closest to the gnosis that brings wellbeing (utopia), those who are not part of “the church” are confused and cannot discern anything of the gnosis. They are not “spiritually discerning.” They are helplessly enslaved to material absolutes.
This is exactly how “the church” functions. It is an institutional church state wannabe. It is an institution that groans and weeps for the realization of Plato’s Republic. It moans and weeps for philosopher kings to save us from the abyss of people governing themselves.
It took mankind something like 10,000 years to break free from this tyranny and the historical demarcation was the American Revolution. The reason American ideology works so well when properly applied is because it has a biblical metaphysical premise: creation became weak, not inherently evil.
In addition, mankind in general can know things—mankind in general can know reality. Secondly, every person born into the world is responsible to God personally, and God speaks to every human being individually in a way that every person can understand. In other words, people are created free and culpable before God alone for the sum and substance of their own lives. The sole purpose of government is to insure that freedom for each and every person born into the world.
The framers of the American Constitution held that these principles were “self-evident.” Some were Christians, most were deists, some were agnostic if not outright atheist, the principle of individualism versus collectivism was the driving force—NOT where the principle came from! All of them agreed on the principle and the role of government and cared little about where the others thought the principle came from. What we see today is an emphasis on the source, not the principle. And this is the fly in the ointment: some “concept of God” can be interpreted in a variety of ways; in every case, enter tyranny.
Hence, “the church” is a purely Platonist concept propagated by the big three of the Protestant Reformation: Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. A cursory observation of history reveals that all three were murdering despots. Most Christians, really all save a few, are helpless to know the difference because world philosophy is “worldly knowledge.” So, if the premise of what you really believe is unnecessary knowledge, the philosopher kings of “the church” can lead you around like a dog on a leash.
Want an example? Wherever you are, just remove your hands from over your eyes and look.
We hear it constantly, references to “the Church.” When discussing statistics, they are always in reference to “the church.” This is the term used constantly regardless of the fact that “church” can refer to Catholicism and an array of Protestant denominations including Charismatics and a myriad of Baptist stripes.
So, what is meant by “the church”? The concise definition is very obvious: the church is institutional theism. At least in Western culture, that is the starting point of accepted goodness that must prevail for the survival of humanity. In the same way that some parents send their children to Sunday school because “everybody needs some morals,” being a “Christian” is the minimal requirement for being unhazardous to humanity.
Hence, we have another definition: a “Christian” is someone who is identified with institutional theism, or “church.” And again, this is a societal Good Person Seal of Approval. For example, even President Obama claims to be a Christian and is a member of an institutional church. No Presidential candidate would have a prayer of being elected without some sort of religious affiliation whether Catholic or some breed of Protestantism. Quality of faith is far from being the issue, but the minimal requirement is a wink towards “the church.”
Being a Christian in America means you are a member of the institutional church which is anything theism. If you are a member of a theistic institution, you have good intentions and nobody has a right to judge your path to the pearly gates. Go to any Baptist church and start criticizing Catholics and you will quickly hear about all the Catholic friends they have who are saved and loved by God. Go to any of the National Day of Prayer gatherings and you will see that everything but the religious kitchen sink is there.
“The church” is the “Christian” club and means, not atheist, but rather any and all things theistic. Even the umber pragmatic Rush Limbaugh concurs. Just the other day on his radio program he stressed the importance of people, especially political candidates, having some “concept of God.” Bingo. A belief in some sort of deity: good; not believing in some sort of deity: bad. Limbaugh associated atheism (the Greek article “a” which means “anti” prefixed to “theism”) with being deceived about all sorts of things including global warming which he mentioned specifically.
Dr. Jay Adams, in a recent article, assumes that there are enough doctrinally sound churches in a given town or city to prevent “church tramping.” In my book, “church” and “tramp” are mutually inclusive.
When did “church” begin? The etymology of the word is German (kirche), and replaced the Greek word for “assembly” found in the Bible manuscripts (ecclesia). The word “synagogue” also means “assembly” or “congregation.”
The first complete English bible was the Tyndale bible in about 1524, and that bible did not use the word “church” anywhere in its pages, it used the word “congregation.” Sometime after this bible, they started replacing the word “congregation” with the word “church” (Christ’s Ekklesia and The Church Compared: Richard Anthony; http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/ekklesia.html).
However, the concept of church started much earlier in history after the deaths of the twelve apostles. The early church fathers, at least according to the English translations, used the word “church” often. Several of the early church fathers were disciples of the original twelve apostles and deemed authoritative theologians of that era.
Unfortunately, an apostolic succession controversy took place immediately following the passing of the twelve apostles. Regardless of the fact that the twelve established a home fellowship model led by elders and organized by deacons, and predicated by gifts rather than authority, many of the church fathers argued that chaos and doctrinal abyss would ensue unless the authority of the twelve was replaced with a like central authority.
However, even the apostles pointed to Christ as the only head and rarely implemented apostolic authority. The principle protocol was that of persuasion by apt teaching from the Word. Nevertheless, the church fathers insisted on a central hierarchy located in Rome that would rule over what they called “the church.” The first “ruling bishop” of Rome was Linus who was a disciple among the original twelve and an early church father, and for all practical purposes, the first pope. Later, Protestantism came out of the institutional church which originated in Rome.
The home fellowships established by the apostles contended against the institutional church for about 200 years until home fellowships finally began to give way in the 4th century. Unfortunately, the home fellowship model only continues in certain geographies because of necessity, usually economic or governments that prohibit organized religions that follow Christ.
Obviously, “the church” is little concerned with “sound doctrine” emphasized by the original twelve. The focus is some “concept of God” defined by “Christianity.” It is quite enough that the first Republican announcing his candidacy is calling himself a “Christian,” and has included video of his family praying before a meal in a TV ad—no one will ask for any particulars, the main concern is that he’s not an atheist and is a member of formal theism. The main concern is, does he have a “concept of God”?
This is where the home fellowship movement has opportunity. We are NOT “the church.” And by today’s definition, we are NOT “Christian.” And if nothing else, that will spark curiosity. But more than that, when the freedom to pursue sound doctrine is fully exploited, I wonder what the Spirit might do?
Tuesday Night Bible Study – Now LIVE on Blogtalk Radio!
Lesson 48 – March 24, 2015 (click here to listen)
Tonight’s Text – Acts 18:1-17
- Paul arrives at Corinth
- Historical and geographical context
- Aquila and Priscilla
- Similar skills
- Helped with tentmaking.
- “Reasoning” in the synagogue
- πειθω – “peitho” – to convince by argument
- (Hebrews 13:17)
- Silas and Timothy join Paul
- “Pressed in the spirit”
- συνεχω “soon-echo” – moved with the press of a crowd
- Ministry to Jews expands
- Jews’ response to Paul
- They opposed themselves
- αντιτασσομαι (anti-tass-oh-my) – acting riotous
- They blasphemed – spoke evil of Paul
- They opposed themselves
- Paul’s emphatic response
- Shaking his clothes
- symbolic display of shaking off uncleanness
- More intense than just shaking off shoes
- Provoking the Jews to jealousy
- Shaking his clothes
- “Pressed in the spirit”
- The synagogue next door
- Paul comes to stay with Justus
- Crispus becomes a believer
- Leader of the synagogue
- His whole “house”
- The Lord encourages Paul
- Grammatical analysis
- Keep up the good work
- I got your back
- The practical outworking
- Gallio’s keen judgment
- Corinthian’s retaliation against the Jews
- Grammatical analysis
Note the above Tweet I posted today. So true. As Christians, we all need help and a hand up, but because we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit and completely capable as new creatures, our attitude must be, “Gee thanks, now I will take it from here.” If all of your knowledge comes from others, you had better do an emergency evaluation of your present standing.
There are only two individuals that are part of the institutional academia of the church that I have any respect for: Dr. Jay Adams and his associate Donn Arms who I think might have his doctorate by now. Apart from those two, to the best of my remembrance at this time, the whole of Protestant academia makes me sick. For the most part, they are mindless cowardly tyrants ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of truth. Seminaries continually pump men into the institutional church who have no gift for teaching, but have spent money to certify themselves as faithful regurgitators of Protestant orthodoxy.
Mindless followers of orthodoxy (the traditions of medieval tyrants) who do so for some sort of personal gain embody the worst of what humanity has to offer. I do not believe in the saying that evil can only prevail when good men do nothing—there is no such thing as a good man who does nothing—that’s an oxymoron. There is only one thing worse than pure evil: those who watch it and do nothing. Voyeurism is not commendable for any reason.
So here we are, more than 500 years after Calvin’s post tenebras lux, Dr. Jay Adams sees the need to write a recent article on what it means to be saved. And this is by no means unusual; googling “What is the gospel?” will produce a myriad of recent articles that take on the subject. And since Calvin et al propagated a false gospel that has been driven into the psyche of Western culture for more than 500 years, we might suspect that Biblicists must continue to work on using biblically accurate ideas, terminology, and words accordingly, and Dr. J’s article, with all due respect, is no exception.
A little past the introduction, Adams states:
The biblical usage of the word translated “saved” is precisely the same as ours. A newspaper headline that reads “Child Saved From Drowning,” means he was rescued. To be saved is to be rescued—rescued from sin and its consequences. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (that’s what Romans 3:23 has to say about everyone, including you). When God saves someone He rescues him from the penalty of sin, which is eternal punishment in hell. He also gradually rescues him from the power of sin in this life. And, ultimately, He rescues him from the very presence of sin by taking him to heaven. That is what it means to be saved.
My only protest to this definition is the wording in reference to the days we are in. Salvation must be spoken of in hard past-tense terms. Does God “gradually” “save” us from the power of sin? No, there is NO gradual rescue from sin. We are NOT rescued from sin on the installment plan; we are COMPLETELY rescued from sin when we are saved. There is now “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ—condemnation does not gradually decrease, it’s completely gone.
Sin still has the power to bring about death in our lives, but it is our choice to be lazy disciples or diligent ones, but either way, the final culmination is not condemnation nor is condemnation present in the interim. The word “sin” must be defined in reference to both justification and sanctification when presenting the gospel.
The Bible is clearly saying that you must depend upon Jesus Christ. But, what does that mean? It means that you must entrust your entire life, here and hereafter, to Him. It means that you must depend wholly upon what He has done, to be saved.
I must also object to this kind of wording in our day. We live in days that require much more clarification. Familiar terms will not suffice. There is no, I repeat, no future commitment and future dependence on Christ for purposes of salvation. The only requirement is to believe in Christ and what the present consequences are. If a cow wants to become a duck, he need not be concerned with depending on water in the future—being a duck comes with desiring water by virtue of being a duck. Better stated, committing to being Christ’s brother in the future doesn’t save us.
Being a brother isn’t a commitment any more than a future commitment to being born again. The new birth is a one-time event that we have no control over in the future. You cannot make a future commitment to prevent unbirth or debirth via a commitment. The new birth is beyond the realm of any commitment we make. Therefore, future commitment is assumed in the same way we assume that ducks can always be found in a pond. No future commitment to water is necessary for becoming a duck, the former is part of being a duck. You are either a duck or you aren’t.
Believing in Christ is to follow Him in death and resurrection. It is saying goodbye to who you presently are, and becoming whatever Christ chooses to make of you. What we need is biblical language in the gospel that emphasizes the new birth as much as the cross.
Jesus Christ died on the cross, bearing the punishment that was due to all who throughout the ages will believe on Him. He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice. The wrath of God fell on Him instead of them. All who trust Him as Savior have their sins forgiven. This is the “good news” that the apostles proclaimed around the Mediterranean world and that you are now learning in this blog. If you depend upon the saving work of Christ on the cross you will be saved.
The other words aside with no relevant disagreement, I would like to focus on, “He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice,” and offer the following comment: “No! No! No! No! No! No! No!”
Christ did not have to be resurrected in order to prove that he was approved of God—that happened at His baptism and has little relevance to the gospel. Again, we see our penchant for overemphasizing the cross at the expense of the new birth. The resurrection by the Holy Spirit was a promise made to Abraham and Christ, not proof of His approval by God.
Christ died so that we can die with Him and escape the law’s condemnation; Christ was resurrected so that the Spirit can resurrect us as well to serving His law in love. Christ died and was resurrected so that our relationship to the law can be transformed from condemnation to love. That’s the gospel.
Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done. News has to do with something that has already happened; not with something yet to be done. You cannot be saved by depending upon your good works, on ceremonies like baptism, or church membership. Nothing you have done or ever could do will save you. You must look away from yourself and others and look in faith to Christ alone. It is depending on the Lord Jesus Christ alone that saves. You cannot be saved by some vague invitation to “come forward,” or to “let Jesus come into your heart.” There must be an understanding of the good news that Christ died on the cross for guilty, condemned sinners like you, and a willingness to depend on His death and resurrection to save you from your sin.
All of this is true, but again, in our day, the distinction between justification and sanctification must be made in order to not add to the prevailing progressive justification of our day. We MUST ALWAYS delineate between works salvation and new creature love lest we confound the two…
Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done
…is the exact same language used by the progressive justification crowd that is firmly in charge of the American church. With all due respect, the statement separates good deeds (love) from the results of the resurrection (new birth), and that’s an extremely unfortunate result.
Because of prevailing progressive justification in our day, the very things Adams lists are described as the “means of grace” that “impart grace” and “keep us in the love of Jesus.” They are faith alone works that we “depend” on to keep us saved.
“Depend” is a bad word to use in conjunction with the good news of being born again. I was born of my mother and father, but I do not depend on what they did to stay alive. What they did is a finished work. For some time, I depended on them for the necessities of growing up in life, and my birth made that possible, but again, is a finished work, not the progression of growing up which is not yet finished.
Salvation is a finished work and includes regeneration. It is dying with Christ and being quickened by the new birth. It’s two-fold: Christ accomplished the first part and the Holy Spirit accomplishes the second. If you are going to say that a Christian needs to continually “depend” on Christ for salvation, you are wrong, but excluding the Spirit in that dependence is even more wrong and compounds the confusion. It also adds to the Chrsitocentricity of progressive justification. If you are going to be wrong, at least be wrong more accurately and include the Spirit. Salvation is Trinitarian—not Christocentric.
Let’s exclude the “depend” wordage in the gospel and replace it with “believe.” If you would notice, “believe” is the word always used in conjunction with the gospel in the Bible and that is not an accident.
“Depend” implies an ongoing work that should always be qualified as the new Christian life and NOT the finished work of regeneration. And that dependence should always include the Holy Spirit. Be sure of this: neither justification nor sanctification is Christocentric.
The completion of our new life is not salvation, salvation is a finished work—the completion of our new life is redemption. That’s the salvation from the weakness of our mortal bodies—not the salvation of our souls.
Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, we are going to attack and unravel interpretive abuses of 1John, particularly 1John 1:9 and 2:1. There is only one other text twisted for ill use more than these two verses, and that would be Galatians 2:20 and 3:1-3. Later, In part 2, I will toss in an exegesis of those verses as a bonus.
There may be a lot of different religions and even more denominations, but for all practical purposes they all have one thing in common: this whole idea that salvation is a process with a beginning and an end. This makes salvation a process that includes our present life.
So, the argumentation between religions and denominations involves the correct way of getting from point A to point B. But there is no point A and point B. When you believe God unto salvation, you get the complete package and the salvation part of your life is finished. It is an instantaneous quickening of the Spirit that transports you from one kingdom to another, from one master to another, from being under law to being under grace, from the old person to the new person, and from darkness to light. You don’t become a servant of righteousness on the installment plan, and you don’t become a kingdom citizen on an installment plan.
How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. We will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective. If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, email@example.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the show.
Way back at the beginning of this ministry, I had this nailed down. If salvation is a process, and eternal life as opposed to eternal punishment is at stake, the Christian life is really a minefield. The focus isn’t being the best kingdom citizen; the focus is making sure you don’t mess up your salvation. The focus is salvation, not discipleship. The focus is fear of judgement, not love.
I realize many Christians hold to OSAS, once saved always saved, but the problem is how they are led by pastors trained in seminaries deeply grounded in Protestant tradition. That tradition looks to the institutional church as the primary way of getting God’s people from point A to point B in regard to their salvation. Whether OSAS or not, they are led to do the same things week in and week out. Be here at this time or that time; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to announcements; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to the special music presentation; put your tithe in the plate; listen to the sermon (always about the gospel just in case there are lost people present, wink, wink); stand up; sing “Just As I Am” until someone walks the isle so you can stop singing “Just As I Am”; pray; be dismissed; be cordial to people and tell them how much you love them; go home, and come back next week and do it again.
Why? Because all of that ritualism “imparts grace” and enables us to “grow in grace.” It enables us to “grow up in our salvation.” After all, discipleship is the “growing part of our salvation.” We have all said it, but salvation doesn’t grow. While believing in OSAS, most parishioners are led by pastors who believe in progressive salvation/justification which was clearly the foundational premise of Protestantism with the progression being overseen by the Protestant institutional church.
Moreover, let’s face it; while believing in OSAS, there is only one reason people put up with all of the nonsense and drama of the institutional church—OSAS means that if someone leaves the institutional church, they were never saved to begin with. Right? In other words, they function according to the idea that they are led by. It’s OSAS as long as you are “faithful” to the institution. Then each church has its own little “faithfulness” caste system. Those who show up for all of the services are the “core members” that run the church. Those “less faithful” that only come on Sunday mornings are a lower class of member in the caste system.
You have the pastors, staff and deacons, then the “faithful” that attend all of the services and tithe at least 10%, the “casual” attenders that tithe, and then the bottom of the caste strata, even lower than the serfs, the putrid “nonmembers.”
Whether Calvin or Luther, the two icons of Protestantism, these beliefs follow after the doctrine they established for the Protestant institutional church. Access to the institutional church was through water baptism, and the critical need according to the Reformers for formal church membership follows: as Christians, forgiveness for present and future sins can only be found in the institutional church, and those sins condemn us. Forgiveness for all sins does not occur at salvation, but only for past sins. Water baptism initiates us into church membership where forgiveness for present and future sins can be obtained through the sacraments; ie., “gospel preaching,” the Lord’s Table, and anything else deemed as acts of faithfulness to the institutional church not to exclude tithing by any means. Calvin states this explicitly in his institutes, 4.15.1.
All in all, you can say that in Protestantism, the status of sin does not change for the believer—it still condemns requiring perpetual resalvation for every sin committed.
Therefore, 1John 1:9 and 2:1 is interpreted in this light: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1).
These verses seem to bolster the authentic Protestant position on justification. Confession of sin in our Christian lives keeps us saved. And if we confess our sins, Jesus is up in heaven as our advocate with the Father continuing His work as a propitiation for our sins.
The problem is that this interpretation stands in stark contrast to what other Scriptures state about justification. Biblically, sin has a different classification after salvation—it can’t condemn; it can bring chastisement and present consequences, but it can’t condemn—its ability to condemn has been taken away. Hence, there is no need to have some institution that prevents future condemnation.
Nevertheless, it is easy to understand why the institutional church not only gets a pass on outrageous behavior, but the money keeps pouring in. What will people pay for their salvation and décor that glorifies the institution that saves them? Apparently, no price or compromise is too large. One can also appreciate the fear of so-called excommunication because the institutional church is the only place where one can receive continued forgiveness for present and future sins.
Before I move on, I will solidify my present point. Romans 8:1 states that there is presently NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Contrast, Calvin stated that “even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation” (CI 3.14.9, last sentence). Obviously, the focus is going to be avoiding condemnation, not our freedom to pursue aggressive love in discipleship.
So what are these verses in 1John really saying? Let’s begin to unpack that using the historical grammatical approach to interpretation as opposed to the traditional Protestant means of interpretation, the historical redemptive method. Since Protestantism sees salvation as a process, “redemptive” means that the Bible must be approached with a redemptive prism; ie., the Bible is about salvation. Clearly, this is eisegesis; going to the Bible with a presupposition.
In regard to the history part, this is the belief that history is an unfolding drama about salvation. Hence, all of reality is interpreted through salvation. All of history and the Bible continually reveals the one two-fold redemptive truth/reality: the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God. Salvation begins when we see or understand this reality, and the experience of that reality increases until final salvation.
In contrast, the historical grammatical method uses historical facts to bring more meaning to the text, and all truth is determined by what can be concluded by the grammar—this is known as exegesis. All meaning and truth comes out of the text without anything being read into the text except conclusions from other texts.
In fact, Protestant tradition holds to the idea that a historical grammatical approach to the Scriptures invariably leads to works salvation. Protestant tradition insists that the Scriptures must be interpreted through the prism of total depravity. In this year’s TANC conference, this is what I am going to be hitting on. Christians, save a few, have no idea that Protestant pastors that are leading them view reality in a totally different way than most parishioners. And this is why church looks like it does. And there is no salvaging it—it’s a completely broken system.
So, if you interpret said verses in 1John redemptively, it fits right into their narrative, right? You have to continue to repent for new sins in your Christian life in order to not be condemned and to keep your salvation. A good old fashioned Baptist lady who I am sure would hold OSAS stated this to my wife Susan in the grocery store a couple weeks ago. When Susan asked her why Christians need to go forward during alter calls, she answered, “they have sin that needs to be forgiven.” Well, why can’t they get that forgiveness by praying at home? You ought to see the reaction Susan and I get when we suggest her mother was saved even though not a member of a church.
Protestantism and all of its offshoots including the Baptists is nothing more or less than functioning Calvinism. Election isn’t the point, progressive salvation is the point. Protestants think salvation grows—salvation doesn’t grow—you are either forgiven once and for all time or you aren’t. Look, if you are going to stay in the institutional church, it makes absolutely no difference where you go. Please, stop driving 15 miles to the Baptist church when there is a Catholic Church right across the street—it’s a shameful waste of gas. It’s all progressive justification.
In contrast, we have to see 1John in its exegetical historical context. It must be interpreted according to what was going on during the time that prompted this letter. And what was that?
John was pushing back against the number-one nemesis of the assemblies during that time: Gnosticism. Now, there were many, many different veins of Gnosticism during that time, but like denominationalism, there are basics that are fundamentally the same. Denominationalism quibbles about how to get from point A to point B, but it is all progressive salvation.
When you understand the basics of Gnosticism, it is easy to see that John’s first epistle is a point by point rebuttal of Gnosticism, and NOT the proffering of progressive justification. Protestants can bicker with Catholics all they want to about how to get from point A to point B, but again, it’s all progressive justification. If it’s a religious institution, it’s selling final salvation, PERIOD.
If we follow John’s arguments in this epistle, it also apes the fundamental basics of Gnosticism, and that’s what we are going to do:
1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. [KJV].
The Gnostics taught that it really wasn’t the spiritual Christ that died on the cross. Gnosticism holds to the idea that material is evil and only the invisible spiritual world is good. Gnosticism rejected the idea that the spiritual realm, or godhood can be one with the material. You must understand: the biblical concept of Godman is a direct affront to the foundation of all false religions, or the knowledge of good and evil. It is the idea that true knowledge cannot be one with the material. Knowledge is good, material is evil and is only a shadow of true knowledge. Knowledge of the material is enslaved and dependent on the five senses.
Now, stop right there. Let me simplify this for you. All false religion flows from the religion of the knowledge of good and evil presented to Eve in the garden. This is also the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes and all of the Calvin Institutes flow from the foundation of 1.1.1., first sentence, viz, ALL wisdom is the knowledge of man and the knowledge of God; man is inherently evil and God is inherently good.
Also, the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is the primary theses of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which is the Magnum Opus of the Reformation. All fundamentals found in contemporary evangelicalism can be found in the Heidelberg Disputation and flow from it. Calvin’s Institutes further articulated the former. In contemporary evangelicalism, we hear constantly that true biblical knowledge is “the knowledge of our own sinfulness as set against God’s holiness.” This is also the pronounced fundamental foundation of the contemporary biblical counseling movement as constantly stated publically in no uncertain terms.
Why am I interjecting this? Because even though much of our knowledge concerning first century Gnosticism comes from the writings of the early church fathers and while they railed against Gnosticism, they themselves were also Gnostics. However, in the process of railing against Gnosticism, they confirm unequivocally that John’s letter addressed the Gnosticism of their day; it just wasn’t the Gnosticism that they preferred.
And by the way, according to some church fathers, John was addressing a Gnostic named Cerinthus who was a contemporary of John and a personal nemesis.
Cerinthus was a gnostic and to some, an early Christian, who was prominent as a heresiarch in the view of the early Church Fathers. Contrary to proto-orthodox Christianity, Cerinthus’s school followed the Jewish law, used the Gospel according to the Hebrews, denied that the Supreme God had made the physical world, and denied the divinity of Jesus. In Cerinthus’ interpretation, the Christ came to Jesus at baptism, guided him in his ministry, but left him at the crucifixion.
He taught that Jesus would establish a thousand-year reign of sensuous pleasure after the Second Coming but before the General Resurrection, a view that was declared heretical by the Council of Nicaea. Cerinthus used a version of the gospel of Matthew as scripture.
Cerinthus taught at a time when Christianity’s relation to Judaism and to Greek philosophy had not yet been clearly defined. In his association with the Jewish law and his modest assessment of Jesus, he was similar to the Ebionites and to other Jewish Christians. In defining the world’s creator as the demiurge, he emulated Platonic philosophy and anticipated the Gnostics.
Early Christian tradition describes Cerinthus as a contemporary to and opponent of John the Evangelist, who may have written the First Epistle of John and the Second Epistle of John to warn the less mature in faith and doctrine about the changes he was making to the original gospel. All that is known about Cerinthus comes from the writing of his theological opponents (Wikipedia).
At any rate, the teachings of Cerinthus follow the basic fundamentals of 1st century Gnosticism of which there were two schools of thought unchanged from the cradle of society: intuitive knowledge within versus knowledge outside of man. While both schools held to the strict dichotomy of material being evil and the invisible good, and true knowledge being beyond the five senses, they disagreed on where that knowledge is found and whether or not it is intuitive among all men, or a select few preordained by nature or some supreme being.
Cerinthus followed the philosophical school of Idealism which holds to the belief that the one cosmic mind has an intuitive connection within every individual. Finding that knowledge is often a complex mind-numbing epistemology, but curiously, Luther and Calvin had their own angle that built on the Neo-Platonic teachings of St. Augustine.
This Gnostic bent actually allowed for Christ to be human, or at least some form of humanity. Apparently, God became exasperated with man’s penchant for trying to gain knowledge through the material world, and said in essence, “Ok, since you like to think you can know something and try to gain knowledge through the things that are seen, I am going to send my Son to die on the physical cross, and now all knowledge will only be gained through suffering—there mankind, take that!” This is the essence of the Heidelberg Disputation which is a philosophical treatise, not a theological one by any stretch of the imagination. Luther states plainly in the document that ALL knowledge is hidden in the suffering of the cross. Anyone who thinks they can understand Protestantism without a good grasp of world philosophy is sadly misguided. It is one of the historical necessities of historical grammatical hermeneutics.
Hence, in the Gnostic Protestant construct, Christ and His gospel is the only true objective knowledge and is outside of man. Man is not to seek any knowledge within himself, but all knowledge must be sought outside of him in contemplation of the gospel. All of reality is interpreted by the suffering of the cross. The cross is the epistemology from the material to the invisible, or from the evil to the good.
In contrast, other schools believe the epistemology is intuitive within all men because all men have a spiritual being separate from their material being, and the spiritual part of man is nonmaterial and therefore SINLESS. The material body of man is evil because it is material, but his invisible being is good and has a connection to the cosmic spiritual world that must be cultivated by transcending the material. This was key to the drug culture of the 60’s as LSD trips enabled the individual to transcend the five senses and see into the invisible spiritual world. Supposedly.
Other schools of thought believed that even though all men have a material and spiritual aspect, the spiritual anthropology has classifications in regard to who is able to see true knowledge and who isn’t as determined by the cosmos or cosmic mind; ie., determinism. And consequently, if utopia is to ever be achieved, those with the ability to see knowledge must rule over those who have the inability to transcend the material and are enslaved to it. How do you reason with people hopelessly enslaved to the material? They either understand that they can’t know reality and get with the program, or you kill them.
According to the Reformers, utopia is achieved by understanding that all reality is interpreted through the cross of redemption. This concept was established by Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and is known as being a “theologian of the cross.” Theologians of the cross are able to know the “cross story,” or interpret reality through the cross, and all others are enslaved to the “glory story” or the story of man. This is the dichotomy of the knowledge of good and evil, or material versus spiritual.
Furthermore, the Reformers believed that the new birth entailed the gift of outward seeing only. All goodness remains outside of man. This is the pious distinction they claim over their fellow Gnostics. Unlike Cerinthus, who would be the modern equivalence of existentialism, no good can be in man, because that does not limit knowledge to suffering and the cross. Even though the early church fathers believed that material is evil and only the invisible is good like all ancient Gnostics, they labeled those heretics who believed that the invisible spirit within man was a connection to the good. That was heresy in their minds. And if you really understand what John Piper et al believe in our day, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
The true Christians of that day had a different metaphysical take: the material realm is NOT evil, it’s weak. Something that is weak can still be good. The born again Christian struggles with sin because he/she is weak, not because the material realm is inherently evil. Christ really did come adorned in humanity in every since of the meaning because the material is not evil. This understanding of being fits together with the true gospel.
But what Cerinthus et al was teaching speaks directly to what John wrote in his first epistle, and we have addressed some of it in John’s introduction. John, in essence, said the following: Christ was 100% humanity and 100% God. We saw Him, we heard Him, we touched Him, we saw Him die on the cross, there isn’t two Christs, there is only one.
What Cerinthus et al taught explains everything John wrote in this epistle and why he wrote it. It not only explains why John wrote what he wrote in 1:9 and 2:1, it sheds light on why John wrote what he wrote in the rest of the book as well.
And that is what we will look at next week. We will do a point by point fly over of 1John while interpreting it according to this historical context of Gnosticism. John will address the definition of sin in contrast, the definition of knowledge and truth in contrast, the definition of the true gospel in context, the definition of love and hate in contrast, and the definition of the new birth in contrast.
See you next week.
Does Christ continue His work of salvation in heaven to keep us saved? Does sin committed by Christians separate us from grace unless we live by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us? Is our sin ended, or does it need a continuing atonement? Whether people realize it or not, Protestantism’s forensic justification answers all of those questions,”yes,” and 1John is a primary go-to book to make the case. But is this true? Join us tonight at 7PM for this all important gospel discussion.
My, my, how different Clearcreek Chapel of Springboro, Ohio is since a pack of New Calvinist wolves took it over shortly after the departure of the founding pastor. The victorious pack, led by Chad Bresson (who for some reason recently left the KoolAid paradise that he built at his former chapel with a creepy adoration for his supposed theological prowess) began infiltrating the flock a couple of weeks before Dr. John Street’s departure.
The undomesticated canine delegation he brought with him from a Baptist church in Dayton, Ohio seemed to be frustrated with their inability to devour at that location. Really old sheep produce a mutton that is tough to chew, and invariably leaves a bad aftertaste.
As far as the “friends” I knew back in that day and their susceptibility to believe Bresson’s outrageous mythology, I never saw it coming.
Apparently, just about any place a thinking person pokes the Chapel these days produces something utterly bizarre. I say this because of what I accidently stumbled onto today. In a recent sermon by Chapel elder Devon Berry, who is a mental healthcare professional (yikes!), he stated that Jesus keeps the Chapel covenant for the “beloved” members. Let me share an excerpt:
Is the Chapel covenant a call to a certain kind of living in the Church? Yes, it is. But beloved, it is a call to much, much, much more than that and it can never be only that. It is a call to the living Christ, our righteousness, our sin-bearer, our life. When you read the Chapel Covenant, reflect on Christ first for it is meant to point us to him – not to ourselves and our own efforts. Then rejoice. He has obeyed for us. He has suffered and died for us. And, he has also enabled us by grace – something we’ve talked around this morning but not mentioned directly.
Let me close by contradicting myself. Earlier I said that you could not keep the Chapel Covenant. I will end by saying that you can keep the Chapel Covenant. Grace, the enabling power given by God because we are at peace with him through the work of the cross, provides all that we need to obey and overcome sin. Hence, the Chapel Covenant is a call to live in the reality of who we are as believers. There is no better place you could live, no more joyful place you could abide, no more beautiful place you could dwell than in the life-transforming reality of the gospel. Believer, be who you are for Christ has given you all that you need.
Clearly, Berry is putting the Chapel covenant on par with the Scriptures. He states that it is more than a standard, it is a “call to the living Christ.” And, the ability to keep the covenant requires the enabling grace of Christ? This is beyond creepy. Moreover, if 2+2=4, Berry makes living by the Chapel covenant via the grace of Christ synonymous with dwelling in the “life-transforming reality of the gospel.” And according to Berry, there is not a place in the world where they could have more joy.
Sorry I am missing all the fun.
Tuesday Night Bible Study
March 17, 2015
Study of the Book of Acts
Tonight’s Text – Acts 17:22-34
- The “superstitious” Athenians
- Idolatry and “devotions”
- σεβασμα (seh-BAS-ma) – something adored. An object of worship
- “too superstitious”
- δεισιδαιμονεστερος (“dice-ee-dah-ee-mon-ES-ter-os”)
- δειλος (DIE-los) – a sense of dread, timid.
- δαιμον (“dah-EE-mon”) – a demon, a supernatural spirit.
- δεισιδαιμονεστερος (“dice-ee-dah-ee-mon-ES-ter-os”)
- Paul makes a comparison
- The dynamic at work.
- Idolatry and “devotions”
- Making the “Unknown God” known
- God the Creator
- Needs no man-made dwelling
- Not worshiped in a “place”
- “Unity” of man
- “out of one blood” rather than the making of one blood
- The “offspring” of God
- Citation of secular literature
- A philosophical appeal, not theological
- God the Creator
- Paul’s argument for God’s existence
- God is not defined by the material/physical
- because His offspring are not defined that way
- God is aware of man’s ignorance
- God is ready to deal with ALL men EVERYWHERE
- repentance from ignorance
- warning of coming judgment
- Assurance by the testimony of Jesus Christ
- God is not defined by the material/physical
- Results of Paul’s discourse
- Some mocked
- “throw out the lip” – compare with Psalm 22:7
- Some believed
- Dionysius the Areopagite
- Some mocked
Does Christ continue His work of salvation in heaven to keep us saved? Does sin committed by Christians separate us from grace unless we live by faith alone in the same gospel that saved us? Is our sin ended, or does it need a continuing atonement? Whether people realize it or not, Protestantism’s forensic justification answers all of those questions,”yes,” and 1John is a primary go-to book to make the case. But is this true? Join us Friday night at 7PM for this all important gospel discussion.
I was asked recently what I thought the primary key to discernment is. I answered this way: one of the major keys is daily Bible reading. If nothing else, read through the Scriptures and get a general idea of what is going on.
When you do that, you discover that things you hear from the pulpit may need a little bit more consideration and thinking.
We know the Reformed drill. Man is totally depraved. He can’t do anything to merit salvation. You’re either chosen, or not chosen. We can’t do anything to please God—all of our works are as filthy rags before God, and so forth.
So, as you are taking my advice, drinking some morning coffee and reading through Acts 10, you’re stopped dead in your tracks and immediately realize why Luther hated reason so much.
We read the following there:
1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Um, is it just me, or does this kinda throw a monkey wrench in the whole “all of our works are filthy rags before God” routine? Now, heretics like Paul David Tripp would quickly step forward and say, “That text needs to be seen in its gospel context.” Oooookay. So, somehow, in the “gospel context,” “memorial” really means “filthy rags.” Right.
Furthering the complexity leading to a need for more consideration is the question of whether or not Cornelius was officially saved when the angel made this statement.
Watch out for neatly arranged theological systems. Especially Reformed ones.
And read your Bible daily.
By Jay Adams at Institute for Nouthetic Studies blog:
The Lord’s Prayer is confusing. I have understood that once forgiven by Christ, you don’t need to be forgiven again. But in that prayer, we are to pray for forgiveness of our trespasses. And in the footnote to it, we are told that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. How come?
That the prayer is for believers—once-for-all-forgiven people—is clear: they are to pray to God their Father. They are His children.
What’s with this asking for forgiveness, then? Read more
I have been on a spiritual journey for eight years now. It started in 2007, and continues to this day. I was saved in 1983, and by the time 2007 came, I had lost hope that I would ever be part of a church that made a real difference in people’s lives. Indeed, as a new believer who was very zealous, I immediately found myself at odds with the institutional church on many levels. I am far from being part of a few that share this testimony.
The hardest part? Feeling alone amidst the compromise. By 2010, all of my mentors were no longer my mentors. The ones I knew personally threw me under the bus. However, I never lost hope in God. I always knew God wasn’t the problem; I knew church was the problem.
“Church” is a very valuable term. It is the common name of the institutional church which began to emerge in the 4th century. It made a distinction between itself and the Jewish model of home fellowships. Replacement theology not only proffered the idea that the Gentiles had replaced Israel as God’s chosen people, it also proffered the idea that institutions predicated on spiritual caste replaced the home fellowship model. The institutional church, or simply “church,” began with the Roman Catholic Church and its many offshoots including Protestantism.
Ancient paganism and mythological religions have always been temple based and Judaism was always the exception. I know what you are thinking, but please remember that there was always ONE holy temple that was obviously too small for corporate worship purposes. Now, each and every believer is that “temple” in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and there was only one place in the temple where God’s holiness could dwell—in the inner room, the most holy place, the Holy of Holies. God in us, the hope of glory, and if our bodies are God’s temple, then our bodies are the Holy of Holies. That is the only place God dwells in the temple.
Worship is not a place, it’s the person who is God’s temple. The institutional church makes worship a place—this is unavoidable in every regard.
Brick and mortar temple worship has always brought man low and made him the disdain of angry capricious gods, and church is no different. The undisputed hero of Protestantism, John Calvin, stated that men are but worms that crawl upon the earth. Luther and Calvin created the institutional model that thrives today among most denominations. Like all pagan gods before, the Protestant god created man for his self-glory and self-love, a god that created evil in order to glorify himself by contrast.
The most pious of Protestants beg and weep for mercy while not daring to have any promise of eternal life, but only the eternal torment they deserve. Yea, even the Christ who died for certain men will personally torment the ones he did not choose for eternity.
Though not all Protestants embrace this extreme, they pick and choose from the same orthodoxy resulting in lesser fears clothed in confusion and the debating over words.
When one believes that he/she really has the anointing of the Holy Spirit, when one turns off the Christian radio, when one makes the Bible the only authority for truth, as the seeking unfolds, a much different God emerges. What emerges is a God that is near us and in us. What emerges is a God who will leave His home in heaven and dwell among men. He is a God who created man from the dust, but became one with man in order to redeem him. God responded to sin by making man more than a creation—he responded by making man His very own family. He responded by casting our sin away into an infinite distance, and using that same infinite distance to measure His infinite oneness.
To remain a part of church is to trade God’s love for being a worm. It is tantamount to rejecting the new birth that makes God your literal Father. It rejects the gift of holiness for a weeping sinhood that falsely accuses God and appoints him with mythological tyrants.
John Piper once said that God entered history through Jesus Christ. Not so—God entered man through Jesus Christ and made it possible for man to be His literal eternal family in the here and now. We are not sinners, we are brothers with Christ and He is not ashamed to call us such.
Come out from among them and be separate. Seek to please the God who has made us family. Come to the realization of who you are as Christ’s brother and a citizen of God’s kingdom. And your brother is the king of the eternal kingdom, and He is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters.
We are heirs and not worms—come out from among them.
The weak sanctification/kingdom living among Christians is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the new birth. Once again, I was involved in a debate last week with several professing Christians who understand the new birth to be an idiom for our sins being covered rather than ended. Rather than being made, or recreated righteous, we still have sin that separates us from grace and requires an “imputation” of an “alien righteousness.” Our sins are only covered and we remain fundamentally unchanged.
Per the usual, the debate included Baptist pastors and missionaries which of course is completely terrifying. Wonder why your little Baptist church is dying a slow death? A false gospel perhaps?
Ask many professing Christians if Christ died for our present and future sins and they will look at you like it is the stupidest question they have ever heard in their whole life, but this is indicative of the overall ignorance concerning the true gospel among professing Protestants.
Christ came to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin. Christ only died for sins that are under law. When you are saved you are no longer under law—there is no penalty to be paid for any sin that is not under law. That is the legal aspect, but it is also the reality of being.
The new birth puts the old person to death with Christ. A dead person is no longer under law. And where there is no law there is no sin. All sin is against the law; that is, the law of sin and death. That law no longer applies to the believer for two reasons: Christ ended it on the cross, and a dead man is no longer under the law. What happens when the Police find out a suspect is dead? Case closed. This is along the exact same line of argument Paul makes in Romans 7.
But there is also a resurrection. Even though the body of sin has been brought to nothing, and those who have died have ceased from sin, the soul of the believer is quickened (regeneration) and now is free to “serve another.” Who is the new person now free to serve? His/her new master, the law of the Spirit of life. The law is now our guide to love God and others—it cannot condemn us. We were indifferent to the law when we were under it and it was condemning us, but now we love it (see Psalms 119).
If Christ died for our present and future sins, we are still under the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is not ended—we are still under it, and in fact, Christ’s death needs to be applied to any present or future sin we commit—we are therefore not under grace.
This denies the new birth. We have not ceased from sin because we never really died with Christ. The sin we presently commit is not merely family sin that can bring chastisement from our Father—that sin can actually condemn us. There is still condemnation for those who love God.
A verse often quoted to refute the literal new birth and the ending of the law of sin and death is 2Corinthians 5:21.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (KJV).
The idea in citing this verse is that the only righteousness we have is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Christ not only came to die for our sins, but instead of ending the law of sin and death, he came to obey it perfectly so that His obedience (righteousness) can be credited to our account because we are not literally righteous and fall short of obeying the law of sin and death perfectly. 1John 1:9 is often added to 2Corinthians 5:21 to make the case.
Moreover, this perfect obedience and His death must be reapplied to any new sin we commit against the still active law of sin and death. Hence, any obedience to the law done by us can only bring about death—we are not free to serve the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2).
So, we have no righteousness of our own, and are not recreated righteous. We only have the righteousness of God, who is also Christ, so being interpreted: we are not righteous or recreated, but merely covered by the righteousness of Christ. “In Christ” means that the righteousness of God and the righteousness of Christ are the same thing.
This idea not only turns the true gospel completely on its head for a number of reasons, but 2Corithians 5:21 is saying the exact opposite.
“In Christ” means that Christ made it possible for God to recreate believers as truly righteous beings through the baptism of the Spirit. Christ died on the cross so that we could die with Him and no longer be under the law of sin and death. Christ died for us so that we could die with Him. Christ was then resurrected by the Spirit so that we could be resurrected with Him as new creatures that are truly righteous. This is what 2Corithians 5:21 is saying.
The two words translated “made” in said verse are two different Greek words. The first in regard to Christ being made sin is the word poieō which, for the most part is the idea of assignment or appointment. The meaning has a wide use and is ambiguous. Not so much with the word ginomai used in regard to us being made the righteousness of God. The word means to make something, or create something completely. For example, this is how the word is used in Matthew 4:3…
If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.
“Become” is the same word, and how it is used is obvious. Satan wasn’t demanding that Christ declare the stones to be loaves of bread in some kind of forensic declaration, he was demanding that Christ recreate the stones as bread. Nor was this going to be a gradual process of transforming the stones into bread, but would have been a final complete act. Get the picture?
2Corinthians 5:21 is simply stating that Christ made it possible for God to recreate us to be the same righteousness that defines our Father because we are truly born of Him—that’s the gospel.
According to Protestant orthodoxy, God set the plan of salvation in motion to restore the original covenant He had made with Adam. God also, as the story goes, seeks to restore paradise and the former glory of creation.
Once again, the traditions of men obscure our vision in regard to the glory of God and His astounding love for mankind. We do not love a God that merely restores, we love a God that never ceases to amaze. Protestant orthodoxy is full of boring ideas and an underwhelming view of God’s majesty.
God did not send Christ to merely restore mankind; He came to make mankind God’s very family. Stop settling for mere salvation, you have been remade into the very kin of God—you are His literal family member.
I am not sure when the Bible begins to posit the motif of Father and Son, but it is all part of God’s plan to make man His literal family. You are not merely restored, you are family. Christ, the Son of God is your literal brother, and God is your literal Father.
The plan of God made the new birth of man possible. God injected Himself into the procreation process of fallen man. This goes way beyond renovation—this is complete recreation. The seed of Adam could not make mankind a literal member of God’s family—it would take the seed of God through Christ born of a virgin.
Orthodoxy and its errant eschatology has robbed us of the marvelous truth that God will actually move from heaven to earth in order to dwell with mankind. But it doesn’t stop there, it also robs us of the new birth and the fact that we are God’s true children. It makes our kinship a mere idiom.
I used to be in the camp that views “philosophy” as “worldly”, “man-centered”, “evil”; all of those things as juxtaposed with “Biblical wisdom”, or “scriptural”, or “God’s Wisdom”. After all, it seemed to be a reasonable conclusion when confronted with verses of scripture like:
“Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:20-28
What you choose to believe is a philosophical statement about what you believe about reality. Everyone has a philosophy whether they realize it or not. You cannot escape it. So to say that “philosophy is evil” is really a philosophy itself. It therefore unwittingly becomes its own metaphysical statement about man. If philosophy is evil, then man is evil because man has no relevance apart from his beliefs about reality. It should come as no surprise then that reformed theology holds such a metaphysical view of man with regard to its doctrine of total depravity. But that’s another topic altogether.
It is ironic that I had to get out of the church before I finally began to better understand just what the apostle Paul was addressing here with the Corinthians. Religious despots don’t see themselves as having “worldly wisdom”, but yet they are the very ones that Paul is criticizing. Religious orthodoxy is the epitome of “man’s wisdom”; crafted by the scholars and academics and elites who spend their years in seminary and other institutes of religious training for the so-called “right” that they think they have purchased for themselves in order to rule over the unenlightened.
I have come to realize that the notion of philosophy being evil is nothing more that organized religion’s attempt to keep man beholden to it; to keep him enslaved; to keep him from thinking. Those of us who call ourselves “Christians” must begin to shed this false notion of philosophy. Philosophy deals with things such as reality and the nature of existence. To believe God and what He tells us in His word is our own philosophical statement. It stems from our rational, thinking mind; a mind that is part of a creature made in the very image of God, made for the purpose of thinking and reasoning and coming to rational conclusions. I implore believers everywhere to consider what God Himself has told us: “Come, let us reason together.”
The Reformed gospel is really a begging for salvation and then hoping for the best. “Election” only qualifies you for the drawing where “final justification” is determined at a one, final, justification judgment. Calvinist views on assurance are shrouded in an ambiguous “already not yet” terminology. You’re for sure saved, but it will be “confirmed” at the final judgment. By the way, there is clearly more than one judgment and one resurrection in the Bible. This is just another example of Calvinists interpreting the Bible any way they please.
One way of confirming this assertion is an examination of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism theology. In his book Desiring God, Piper makes joy absolutely synonymous with salvation:
“Could it be that today the most straightforward biblical command for conversion is not, ‘Believe in the Lord,’ but, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord’?” (Desiring God page 55).
“The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an ‘extra’ that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith” (Desiring God page 69).
“We are converted when Christ becomes for us a Treasure Chest of holy joy” (Desiring God page 66).
“Something has happened in our hearts before the act of faith. It implies that beneath and behind the act of faith which pleases God, a new taste has been created. A taste for the glory of God and the beauty of Christ. Behold, a joy has been born!” (Desiring God page 67).
But then, Piper continually prefaces that with the idea that joy is strictly a gift from God. He is adamant that we can do nothing to obtain the experience of joy. For those who can’t find joy, all they can do is pray and hope all turns out well because where there is no joy, there is no assurance of salvation. Just one of many examples is in Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God:
In obedience to God’s word we should fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God’s to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father’s timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we work patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (John 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It will be a gift.
Throughout the book, on nearly every page, Piper describes methods for seeking the joy that is in fact our salvation:
Heaven hangs on having the taste of joy in God. Therefore, it might not be so strange after all to think of fighting for this joy. Our eternal lives depend on it.
So, those who want to keep their salvation fight for joy. It is all incredibly ambiguous. In contrast, the apostle John wrote that we can “know” that we are saved. “Fighting for joy” is conspicuously missing in John’s instruction. The good John, not Piper.
“The Under Grace bus going to heaven does not have Under Law as a passenger.”
“A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name.”
I could write a dozen posts about what has transpired in my life and those close to me in the past couple of weeks, but I think I can stay on-topic and write about the primary subject from which all of these events flow.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus didn’t participate in a large field of theological issues? If you examine Christ’s primary concerns, His positive message was the gospel of the kingdom, and His primary negative concerns were two and two only: the traditions of men and lawlessness.
The present-day church is completely indoctrinated and saturated with lawlessness which results from the traditions of men. The stage is set for the exact same play that was taking place when Jesus was ministering—only the props are different because of technology. The institutional church of that day is the exact same institutional church of today—only the names are different.
Yes, in fact, there is a heretic behind every bush. Yes, in fact, the sheep are without valid shepherds. Yes, in fact, the VAST majority of what comes out of the mouths of Christians is mindless dribble leading to death. We are confused, ignorant, failures in life building, without answers, but yet…
… “Christianity” has never been bigger. Christian movies abound in the secular market; Christian musicians abound in the secular top 40; and dynamic Christian teachers are hanging on trees everywhere in a seemingly utopic evangelical Garden of Eden. “Revival” is in the air. Holy hands are lifted up to GeeeeJussss everywhere. When you ask any Christian anything, they look at you with those glazed-over eyes and psychotic grin while saying, “GeeeJussss.”
And so it was when Jesus was ministering. The religious culture was awash in orthodoxy. What is more obvious than the fact that when Jesus showed up, He completely ignored the institutional leaders of that day and went to the common people? His Sermon on the Mount was a shocking indictment of the orthodoxy prevalent in that day: “You have heard it said…but I say….” The orthodoxy of our day is the same lawless orthodoxy of that day, and Christ deconstructed it point by point. The religious leaders of that day had redefined every word used to convey the thoughts of God.
And so it is today: Christians have a fundamental misunderstanding of every word used to convey spiritual truth. We are so mentally handicapped in our thinking that discussion over “What is the gospel?” is just another discussion. We are not completely undone in sackcloth and ashes that we are still asking that question 2000 years later, but we should be. Think about it: though an astute preserving of the law was a Jewish tradition, when Jesus showed up, the people understood little of it. Why? Orthodoxy, that’s why. Please think about what Jesus said to the who’s who of religious leaders in that day: “You do error concerning the Scriptures and the power thereof.” People observed in awe as the deliberately informally educated Jesus publically rebuked the spiritual brain trust of that day.
Hence, Pastor Jesus brought true revival, and true revival in our day will not happen to the glory of God until we stop listening to men and start listening to Jesus. One man, one Bible. It starts there…because the most innocent of those who lead in this day are simply regurgitating the raw sewage flowing from the broken cisterns of orthodoxy.
I suppose now I can keep my sanity by hating the orthodoxy, but loving the lawless sinner. After all, I am guilty myself of propagating its satanic filth as a former Reformed pastor. I myself helped to create the monsters I despise. I myself quoted the heroes of orthodoxy to make myself look smart as the hordes of hell applauded.
As you read all of this, you might think I have had a rough couple of weeks. You might think it has caused me to ponder. And it has. But I am a very busy man, and it behooves me to discuss the least common denominator here. In my stricken soul what are the words that I want to cry out to the world? What do I want to scream out in love to some and defiant rage towards others? Here it is…
Law is love.
Law is not far from us that we must have the arrogant ascend to heaven in a rocket ship built by their own visions of grandeur to bring it down to us. Law is very close to us, it is in our mouths, and we are able to do it. It is life to us, and its justice even holds all of our sin in escrow. The record is cancelled by the cross, and now, closeness is measured by distance: God’s love for us can only be measured by the distance from the east to the west. The departure of our sins are as infinite as the closeness of God’s love. There is no condemnation from the law of justice—only love. In the huge void that was once our guilt we cry out it in desperation: How can we love such a merciful God! Is there now nothing we can do with the burden removed? Please tell us! Is it wrong to try to please you with our whole being? And then the clamorous storm is calmed with these simple words,
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Christ is no longer a Lord of justice to us, He is a Lord that wants His subjects to fulfil His kingdom law of love without condemnation.
Sometime in the cradle of society, the redefining of law by religious minions was hell’s finest hour. They redefined law as having a single dimension, that of justice only. Orthodoxy has but one theme; death. Mankind is enslaved to the condemnation of the law’s perfect standard. The law, for the unbeliever, presently condemns while promising life.
“The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.”
Orthodoxy only tells the story of the law’s death, and conceals its herald of wisdom and life:
“ I set before you this day life and death, choose life!”
Law is justice and death to the unbelieving, but life, blessings, and love to those who rightly believe the gospel. Justice is death to the unbeliever, but to the believer—it is an act of love. One thing we mustn’t forget is that Arminianism is part of the Reformation’s orthodoxy. Therefore, it shares the same Calvinistic belief that “Christians” are still under the possible condemnation of the law. Love becomes tricky. But love isn’t tricky—it’s apart from any possible condemnation whatsoever. The loving Christian now experiences the life that the law promises. If you doubt that, read Psalm 119.
So, how do we minister to a lawless church and society? We start by incessantly defining law to God’s people. That’s where it starts. We must say, “You have heard it said, ‘the law can only condemn,’ but we say, ‘the law is the way of love and gives life.’” We must cry out to professing Christians to remove themselves from being under the law and its condemnation. We must also expose the traditions of men and their orthodoxy that sells a false road to heaven while under law. “Under grace” is not salvation while being under law, the two are mutually exclusive. The Under Grace bus going to heaven does not have Under Law as a passenger. The Under Law passenger trying to get on the Under Grace bus with an orthodoxy ticket is like the man who showed up at Christ’s feast without a wedding coat. Such will be rejected.
A single dimension law is a false gospel. It produces works that are anti-law. It replaces love with the traditions of men in Jesus’ name. The traditions of men, whether religious or secular is the only thing that can fill the void where there is no love. ANY thought that replaces an accurate assessment of God’s law is “anomia” a word often translated “lawlessness” in the Bible.
“BECAUSE of anomia, the love of many will wax cold.”
Though a single dimension law speaks of love and “many wonderful works in Jesus’ name,” they are works proffered by lawless orthodoxy defined by the traditions of men. And on one wise, no more slaughter of men has taken place by any other name than orthodoxy’s use of Jesus’ name, and the full measure of wrath slumbereth not accordingly. Be certain that you do not stand in such a camp actively or passively.
In orthodoxy, condemnation remains with the law. It is not enough to proclaim the law good, we must profess that without it we cannot love God and others. We must embrace it as the sum and substance of our own lives. When our precious Lord of love returns, we must offer Him the Holy sacrifices of our members offered up in love, not the body that cancelled the law of sin and death. Why would we offer back His own body and deny Him the sacrifices that we were purchased to perform? Try to dig His body up from the grave as an offering if you will, but it is not there, HE has risen! And if you have not died with Him and left the law of sin and death behind, and embraced the law of the Spirit of life that is your love…your works, or lack of them, will condemn you. Your love does not save you, and your lack of it does not condemn you, it merely shows that you believe that you are still under the condemnation of the law of sin and death—that’s a false gospel that is defined by a one dimensional view of the law.
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
“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.”
Love is defined one way, and one way only: a grammatical plain sense interpretation of the law and its life application.
We are all guilty, and thereby suffer the torment by those we have helped to create. We have listened to men and offered a confused gospel that will not produce blessed lives. We are heinous cowards who do not really believe that such a man as Noah really existed. We offer fellowship offerings to the god of orthodox majority—his human credentials intimidate us, and thereby show that we spend little time with Jesus. Our cowardly offerings recognize their use of facts in the commission of treason for fear others will think ill of us.
This is where true ministry to a lawless church and society must begin, with one man and one Bible resulting in one love—the love Christ has called you to fulfil.
Will you be that man or not?
One of the most popular truisms in our day is the often-heard “righteousness of Christ” mantra. “We have the righteousness of Christ,” “The imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” etc. The mantra is indicative of the rampant last-day’s false gospel propagated by the institutional church.
The Bible never states that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us or covers us, but rather states that we have the righteousness of God. Why is this seemingly technical difference all-important? Because the notion distorts the identity of the Trinity. God is no longer a father, and Christ is no longer our brother.
Have you ever wondered why God is called the Father? Because a father is able to give life—the same kind of life that makes up his own essence; in this case, righteousness. Because we are fathered by God through the Holy Spirit via the new birth, we are not merely declared righteous, we are MADE righteous. Therefore, the Reformation’s forensic justification gospel denies the Trinity and the new birth.
The idea that we can’t really be righteous and are only declared righteous further denies that God is a true father. How? It denies that we are truly born of God because we fall short of keeping the law perfectly. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul argues that this replaces the seed of God with the law and actually makes the law a life-giving seed. Paul states that only one seed was promised to Abraham and his offspring (Christ), not two, and “God is one.”
The primary point of Galatians 3:10-20 is that God the Father is the only one who gives life, He is the one seed. “The promise” spoken of is the promise of the new birth through the one seed. If you note the passage carefully, “the promise” was made to Abraham and Christ. No law can give life, nor can an “intermediary” (verse 20) which probably speaks to Moses or the angels or both.
Christ’s role was/is that of Brother.
“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (NIV).
“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (ESV).
The “one source” is God the Father, and because of Him, Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. Christ died for us, and God’s promise to Abraham and Christ was that many would be raised to glory with Christ. The impartation of righteousness was not Christ’s role in salvation—His role was to pay the penalty for our sins.
Notice in the aforementioned citations from Hebrews 2:11 that we are “made” holy and “are” holy. If that is negated by an inability to keep the law perfectly, that makes the law a co-life-giver with God the Father. But there is only one God and only one seed.
What makes a believer holy is the regeneration of the heart through the new birth. The saved person is literally born of God’s seed (1John 3:9). Because of our mortal state, this results in a change of direction, not perfection. The Bible describes it as a reversal of slavery and freedom (Romans 6:20). But at any rate, Christ came to end the law for judging our holiness (Romans 10:4). If it wasn’t for the weakness of our mortal bodies, we would not sin and therefore we long for resurrection (Romans 7:23-25).
The idea that Christ kept the law perfectly so His righteousness can be imputed to us makes the law a co-life-giver with God, makes Christ both father and brother, denies that the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead per “the promise,” and makes the law part of the Trinity.
It’s a really, really bad idea and an egregious false gospel. God is one, not many. There is only one life-giver, and that’s why we call Him “Father.”
Listen to audio or download file: How Close Are We? An Apostolic Call to Discernment in the Last Days
Good evening and welcome to False Reformation Blog Talk Radio. I’m your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to join the discussion tonight and add to what we’re learning, as you can see on your screen there, the number is area code (347) 855-8317. And remember to mute the speakers on your laptop or PC so that we don’t get annoying feedback. And, by the way, if you want to ask a question or comment on a previous show, that’s all right. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on point. When I answer, I’ll say, “Hello. You’re on Blog Talk Radio. What is your comment and question?” Just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional. And also, if you want to shoot me an e-mail during the show, I have my e-mail right here in front of me if you want to send me a little message. Maybe a question, maybe you don’t want to call in, but you have a comment or question. That would be firstname.lastname@example.org. And per the usual, we’ll be checking in with Susan towards the end of the show and see what her input is as well.
Well, tonight we’re going to ask the question, “Are we in the last days?” And also an apostolic call to discernment. So that’s what we’re going to look at tonight, a little bit of Bible prophesy, actually a lot. And starting out, let’s talk about the fact that the Christian landscape is indeed pretty interesting, if not confusing. As you’re driving around, you can’t help but to notice all of the different churches everywhere with all kinds of different names. If you’ve ever been in a Christian bookstore, good grief, just a lot of different stuff in there. Summaries and comments of friends of mine on Facebook reflect the kind of confusion and questions bouncing around in our heads. One friend of mine recently posted a note on Facebook that said, “Doesn’t anybody have any discernment anymore?” Another friend of mine wrote an e-mail recently in the same tone of exasperation. I just do not understand why theologians today are always looking for a new twist rather than a true interpretation of each passage, just allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Yet another friend showed frustration at God himself and asked, “Why can’t God make things simple? Why is everything so confused?” So what’s the deal? How can there be so many takes on, as Jude puts it in his letter, the one faith delivered to the saints?
Well, I’m here to tell you that God is not a God of confusion. Perish the thought. Neither does God want us to be confused about the above questions. God doesn’t want us confused. The Reformed crowd, some guy in the Reformed crowd actually wrote a book recently entitled Perplexity, and one of the theses of the book is that we’re just pathetic, totally depraved, confused people, and perplexity is to be expected. In a way in the book he says that us being perplexed gives glory to God because it makes us needy and dependent and always going to him for the answers and not anything we could figure out, God forbid, so our perplexity in essence gives glory to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not a God of confusion. He does not want us confused. And of all books, tonight we’re going to see in the Book of Revelation where that’s verified, in fact, that God is very plain in the Book of Revelation and, in fact, does not want us to be confused about anything.
True, there are things that are just God’s mysteries and I’m not sure if we ever will know them. But the fact is that one of the verses – one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Deuteronomy 29:29. Let me paraphrase it for you. Let me give you the gist of it: Yeah, there are mysteries, and those belong to God, but as far as stuff we can know, which is really the vast majority of Scripture, we’re responsible to learn those things to be good disciples, to be good learners and apply those things to our lives. God doesn’t want us to be confused about not only the questions we just looked at in our introduction. He wants us to understand – oh, and this is a big focus tonight. He wants to understand the landscape that we are dwelling in and why things are the way they are. Tonight we will look at what the Scripture says in regard to these vital questions. But first in order to understand the landscape of our day, we need to understand where we are at in the scheme of history. Why? That is the prism that the Scriptures use to describe what we should expect and look for in this time and therefore not be surprised or confused about it.
Things happen for a reason. This is helpful in figuring out life, and John Immel brought this up in the first conference. Again, let me give you like a thumbnail. In one of John’s talks, he talked about the fact that people don’t just do things. Their actions are driven from their logic. You can push the easy button and say, “Oh, well. They’re just nuts. They’re just crazy.” That’s very rare. When people do things, it flows from something, primarily logic. And, by the way, our Paul’s Passing Thoughts moderator has made a page there on the widget on paulspassingthoughts.com where we have posted John’s first session of the 2012 TANC Conference, and I recommend you go there. It’s real good basic things that Christians need to know in really building a decent foundation for their worldview.
So God doesn’t want us confused about what’s going on in our world and especially the Christian realm. So not only that, the Scriptures also outline a course of action as well. So we’re not only to know what’s going on in our realm, we, you know, he not only wants us to know, understand what’s going on. He also wants us to know what to do about it, and we’re going to talk about that tonight as well.
So let’s start out in Hebrews 9:26, and I’m going to read Hebrews 9:26, and here it goes: “For then he would have had to suffer,” that is Christ, “repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all,” listen, “at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” So let me ask you a question. Are we in the last days, and how do we know? Because of some book someone wrote? No, we know that we are in the last days because Hebrews 9:26 says the last days are marked by the coming of Christ to die for our sins. What we are going to see is that the coming of Christ in the flesh to die for the world plays in a specific time period that has a beginning and an end. Then we are going to look at the characteristics that come with this age.
Before we go on, we see that this age is marked by the first appearance of Christ of as a man. It is the last age among ages since ages is in the plural. All of the major and the most used versions along with the Greek Interlinear reflects this. This is also reflected at the beginning of Hebrews as well in the first chapter, first couple of verses. Here’s how it reads: “Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, and he appointed the heir of all things through whom also he created the world.” The beginning of this specific time period is open for debate. Really, you could make an argument for the beginning of the Lord’s ministry being his baptism by John, the resurrection, the ascension or Pentecost. However, it is clear that the beginning is sometime during the coming of Christ and his ministry through the disciples who later became the apostles. It doesn’t much matter where it begins. We know for certain that we are in that time period.
Now, next, this specific time period has its specific end. Let’s look at that. So first, we’ve looked at the fact that the second coming of Christ marks the last days. So, yes, we know that we’re in the last days. You say, “Well, that’s a long last days. That was like 2,000 years ago.” Well, true. We are in the last days. We just don’t know how long the last days are going to last. And as we’re going to see, what is huge in understanding Bible prophecy and also really a big chunk of justification is the fact that the age that we are in now which is actually the time of the Gentiles and the tribulation period is very distinct.
Okay. Let’s look at the fact that the time period that we’re in now will have a specific end. The end is determined by the total gathering of all those God has foreknown. Actually, long story short, the complete bringing in of gentile believers and Jewish believers during a very specific time period in the Bible called the Times of the Gentiles. So let’s read Second Peter 3:3-10. Here we go. “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.” Stop right there. I wrote a post on this last week. A lot of people distort the Scriptures because – well, see where it says following? That’s probably better “obey.” The Bible has a lot to say about the definition of the flesh and what causes us to sin. It’s sin within the flesh, and as Christians, we have a choice. We can obey what the Bible describes as sinful desires or we can just obey, period, what pleases the Lord. Sometimes desire goes along with that and sometimes it doesn’t, but what’s interesting is – and, by the way, sanctification is just like a wide open frontier for Christianity. It really is. But what’s interesting is the Bible gives us the wisdom for building godly desires into our life. Christians are to learn to love and to learn to hate. We’re to learn to cling to what is good and despise or ignore that which is evil. So basically, it’s like relationships in general. If you want to be indifferent to somebody and don’t really want to care for them that much, what do you do? You ignore them. Christ said where your heart is, your treasure will be there also or your treasure will be where your heart is or vice versa. What we make our treasure, what we make a priority in our life is the beginning or the focal point. Desires will follow. You can phrase it like this if you want to: Right doing leads to right feeling, if we’ll read Philippians chapter 4.
So people twist Scripture. People won’t respond to the truth because they’re obeying their own sinful desires, and if they obey Scripture, that’s going to be an about face from following the sinful desires that they want to follow. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? Forever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. For they…” Look at this. “For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of the water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word, the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,” all right? Note that. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
Notice we have two separate events here: the last days and the day of the Lord. And the day of the Lord isn’t literally one day. The day of the Lord is really the tribulation period. It’s what it is. We’re in the last days now. The tribulation period is the day of the Lord. The present age will continue until all that God foreknew are saved. The way Peter puts it, the Lord is patiently waiting for all of his children to be saved, not willing that any perish. Others mistake this for the Lord being slack or he is not coming back at all because it’s been so long or it’s been such a long time since Christ came.
Another text that speaks the difference between the last days and the day of the Lord is Second Thessalonians 2:1-7, so let’s read that. “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness,” actually that’s the man of anomia or antinomianism in English.” is revealed, the son of destruction.” And what I want to make you note here, when you’re reading your Bible, take notes of phrases like “the rebellion.” Notice the definitive, the rebellion. What’s that? Don’t overlook those phrases, the rebellion, the son of destruction. Those phrases are keys to understanding your Bible.
“So the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? Watch and you know what is restraining him now.” So the Thessalonians had been taught that something is specifically restraining events or else the Antichrist would already be revealed and doing his thing, and the rest of it says, “So that he may be revealed in his time.”
So this is another key that I just want to throw in here as an aside. Predestination in the Bible is really more along the lines of God’s intervention. I’ve come to believe that what a lot of people refer to as predeterminism is really God intervening in free will. God guarantees, God made a plan for the salvation of man and a happy eternal ending. God isn’t the cause of what evil men do, but he does intervene to guarantee a certain ending. So the more I look at these issues and study these issues, really, the more I don’t see very much predeterminism on the part of God. And besides that, predeterminism is just old shoe. We are taught that predeterminism and determinism is a rarity with the Reformers. Not at all. From the cradle of civilization until now, all there has been is determinism. What is actually unique – and this is where we need to change our thinking, what is actually unique is the idea of free will. And that primarily came about not until after the Enlightenment. Before then, determinism either by God or the forces that are was a given.
So what we want to do here is we want to back up a little bit. We want to look at something in this Second Thessalonians 2:1-7. We want to look at this word “temple.” When we see that word – and I did an interesting word study on this today. When we look at that word “temple,” we primarily think the whole big Temple Mount, the second temple and that huge thing, Temple Mount, The Court of the Gentiles, the actual temple itself in the middle of all that. Well, this is a word that’s used widely through the – I think 39 times in the New Testament. But for the most part, the word means the Holy of Holies. For the most part – like, for instance, I remember Zachariah who got struck with blindness and they were wondering what’s taken him so long to come out of the temple. Well, where was Zachariah? He was in the Holy of Holies doing the Day of Atonement thing where I guess they tied a rope around their ankles so if they did something at least a little bit wrong, they would have to them out of there, and they would have to do this certain kind of washing of the whole body and everything before they went in there. But primarily this word refers to the Holy of Holies. Notice you can see that right here in Second Thessalonians 2:1-7, this son of destruction god, the Antichrist who will oppose all and exalt himself against every so-called god or object of worship so that he – listen, he takes his seat in the temple of God proclaiming himself to be God. Well, we know from other Scriptures where specifically does he take his seat. It’s in the Holy of Holies. So you see that? So that refers primarily to the Holy of Holies.
Now, what’s my point in bringing this up? Well, we don’t know how long – we know that we’re in the last days. Fair enough. And what we’re going to look at next is the fact that the return of Christ for us in this time period is marked by an imminent return of which we don’t know the day, and it’s a meeting of Christ in the air, which is totally different from his visible Second Coming. So what’s my part in bringing up the temple? Well, there’s this big question. We know that one of the things that, you know. Okay, there’s really very few signs that we’re near to the end of this age and the day of the Lord. One of the primary signs, of course, needed to be Israel becoming a state again. But then the question becomes how long is Israel a state? So there are very few signs because how long is Israel a state before God actually comes back? I mean, Christ’s return is, you know, the Bible says in a day that we think not. So if you want a valid sign, one of the very few valid signs that there are is look around if there’s a general attitude that the Lord is not coming back, and if he is, it’s going to be a long time. That’s as good a sign as any that we’re near. But at any rate there’s this whole conversation about the building of the third temple because obviously in the Book of Revelation, which is the day of the Lord, obviously, there needs to be this third temple that’s built so everybody is looking for this third temple. And as you know, the Muslims have built this big, gaudy, ugly thing called the Dome of the Rock right on top of where the actual temple was and the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount in the overall Court of the Gentiles.
So how is this all going to take place? We know that Jews are preparing for it, and there’s all of this conversation about, you know, is there going to be an earthquake that’s going to destroy the Dome of the Rock? And, you know, what’s going to happen? Well, this is key. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, and we’re going to be reading – let me see here. We’re going to be reading in Revelation 11 very shortly. Let me start by saying this. When it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, all this temple needs to be is a fancy tent because you remember the tabernacle in the wilderness and how that was all set up to be mobile and everything? This is actually what’s referred to – and as we’re going to see in Revelation 11, we’re going to see the Ark of the Covenant come out of the temple which is more than likely than not the temple in general but the actual Holy of Holies. Well, hold, you know, stop the tape. In the second temple, the Ark of the Covenant wasn’t even in the Holy of Holies to begin with. So look, there doesn’t need to be some big highcaflutin temple built, and the Dome of the Rock doesn’t have to be moved. All it needs to be technically is the Old Testament tabernacle. And guess what? The old covenant tabernacle was what? Mobile. Okay? It wasn’t in any specific place. The Holy of Holies to be the Holy of Holies doesn’t have to be exactly where the Holy of Holies was on the Temple Mount.
And you say, “Well, what about the Court of the Gentiles and all that?” Well, let’s read in the Book of Revelation. “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise up and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there.'” Remember the altar of incense and all of that? The table of shewbread and all of that was outside the Holy of Holies. So measure that. So we’ve got the altar here and those who worship there. Verse 2: “But do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” This whole business with “and they” you’re saying, “Oh, so there won’t be a Court of the Gentiles associated with the temple because the gentiles are going to trample the holy city for 42 months.” No. Remember this encompasses what Jesus called the time of the Gentiles. That’s what that’s referring to.
So what’s my point? There’s not going to be a Court of the Gentiles in the tribulation third temple. Don’t measure it. Leave it out. It’s given to the gentiles. So there isn’t going to be a Court of the Gentiles. I present to you that this temple can be an elaborate tabernacle like was in the wilderness, and they can park that puppy anywhere they want to and do their thing. It may not even be on the Temple Mount. And if you look at all of that, if you look at diagrams and everything, the Court of the Gentiles was huge. Depending on what scholar you talk to, you’ve got Solomon’s porch, and all of that stuff is all around the Court of the Gentiles. So that’s my point there.
Now, I want to make another point in Revelations 11. Okay, to kind of drive a stake in that point, do we need to look for some kind of earth-shaking event where it paves the way for the Jews build this temple? No. I mean, the Jews could be up and running with the tabernacle set up next year. There’s just not much standing in the way. I’m sure if they go that route, it’s going to be a very nice tabernacle, this, that and the other, but with the building capabilities that we have today, they could build a pretty nice tabernacle in a couple of months, that is, if they haven’t already built the parts and they’re laying around somewhere in Israel as we speak. So that’s the point there.
But let’s keep on reading in the Book of Revelations. You note that, but he says, “Do not measure the court outside the temple. Leave it out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city,” watch this, “forty-two months.” That’s three and a half years. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth.” Note, watch what the Holy Spirit does in writing the Scriptures. This is so deliberate. He specifies a three-and-a-half-month period two different ways: 42 months and 1,260 days. Is that clear enough? Any questions?
Then he goes on to say, “These are two olive leaves and the two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth, and if anyone will harm them, fire pours out of their mouth and consumes their foes.” So you’ve got these two witnesses witnessing in Jerusalem in the first three and a half years of this seven-year period. So this desolation of the Holy of Holies takes place right after the end of their ministry. And so basically, at the beginning of the tribulation period; it lasts seven years. But at the very beginning of the tribulation period, first you’ve got the rider on the horse that’s got a bow, no arrows. But what you’ll notice about the opening of the seven seals, what you’re going to notice there is right away it’s a big “Uh-oh.” The world pretty much knows the gig’s up, and then – so right after that it’s a long, terrifying seven years. So these guys are prophesying and preaching in this first three and a half years. And if anybody hassles them, fires comes out of their mouth and consumes their adversaries. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed, pretty plain. They have the power to shut the sky that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they desire. Does all this sound familiar? Very much like the plagues when Moses extracted the people out of Egypt.
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottom of the pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt. So we have symbolically – see – look, you know, when the Bible wants something to be symbolic, notice how the Bible tells you it’s symbolic. See that? The street of the great city. What’s the great city? Well, it’s symbolically called Sodom and Egypt. Okay. It’s symbolically called that, but where is it? Watch the following words. “Where their Lord was crucified.” Any questions?
Look, the Book of Revelation isn’t hard to understand. Don’t let anybody fool you. Read the Book of Revelation and just let the words say what they say. It’s not hard. You don’t need these so-called scholars to tell you what your own Bible says. All of this stuff with Christian academia and the seminaries and all these guys with six [SOUNDS LIKE 0:43:56], several titles after their name, you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of – you watch the State of the Union address, and then you’ve got these talking heads telling you what the President said as if you’re too stinking stupid to know what the guy who just gave the speech was saying. And during the elections when you’re watching the conventions, same thing. Somebody will give a speech, and then the stinking talking heads would tell you what the guy just said. It’s the same thing. Somebody pick up a Bible, read it and just interpret the words. Andy is going to be talking a lot about this in this year’s conference coming up, but I’m really looking forward to all of that.
Now, Verse 9: “For three and a half days, some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze upon their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth.” So these guys are laying down these plagues all over the earth. The whole earth sees them lying in the streets of the Jerusalem, and the [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:45:41] also aware that the water being turned to blood in Georgia is because of these two yayhoos that are wreaking havoc in Jerusalem. There’s only one way all of this can be possible, and that’s satellite technology, satellite TV. So here you have the Bible speaking to future technology.
All right, Verse 11: “But after the three and a half days, a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.” I imagine. And that will be on satellite TV. It will be very interesting to hear what the talking heads and the spin doctors, how they spin all that deal. Yeah, whether it be Tom Brokaw or whoever, right? Yeah, tell us what we just saw there. “Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.” So basically, you have this resurrection of these two guy take place, and the whole world is watching. And if they thought they were in deep doo-doo at the beginning of the day of the Lord, now they know things are really getting intense. “And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell.” So there’s an earthquake. And check this out, 7,000 people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to God in heaven. So there’s this earthquake right after these guys are resurrected, and everybody sees it. There’s this giant earthquake; 7,000 people are killed, and guess what? A whole bunch of people give their life to the Lord.
Okay. So verse 14: “The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.” Verse 15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.'” Stop right there. Susan and I talked about this, Potter’s House, last Sunday, God’s kingdom is not on the earth. Gospel contemplationism is not manifesting a gradual dominion of God’s present kingdom on earth by the Holy Spirit because of collective gospel contemplationism. No, teachings like that are what makes John Piper, et al, the flaming heretics that they are. Notice that the kingdom of God is not presently on earth, and that’s key.
Verse 16: “And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for the rewarding your servants…'” Those two deals right there are critical to understanding justification. You have the dead that are going to be judged, and you have the rewarding of your servants. You got that? For all practical purposes that’s the difference between justification and sanctification. Those who are justified will not be judged. Depending on what they’ve done in their sanctified lives, they will be rewarded.
“The prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the world.” 19: “Then God’s temple,” listen. Check this out, verse 19: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened.” Basically, the front doors of the temple weren’t open or the drapes or whatever. It’s the Holy of Holies that’s open. Then God’s temple right there, the rendering of the temple there refers to God’s Holy of Holies. God’s Holy of Holies in heaven was open and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple or the Holy of Holies. That’s where the Ark of the Covenant was. It wasn’t in the temple proper. It was in the Holy of Holies. So basically, there were flashes of lighting, rumbles, peals of thunder and earthquake and heavy hail.
So why do you see so much symbolism of angels in the tabernacle in the Old Testament? Because again, read the Book of Revelation. So we have God wanting to make Israel back in that day a holy nation of priests, and the Israelites don’t do so well in holding up their end of the bargain, so God makes the new covenant. But what we have here in the Book of Revelation – and this is why there is so much angelology in the Old Testament and the giving of the book of the covenant on Mount Sinai and all that apocalyptic scene there where you have the angels accompanying God when he came down on Mount Sinai because in the Book of Revelation God comes in and he enforces that original covenant that he wanted to with Israel. He enforces it, and in the process a lot of Jews get saved and probably gentiles too. But as mentioned in a few places in the Bible, the angels are the enforcers of the covenant, and that’s what they’re going to do. They come in. The angels come in, and they say, “We’re here to do business, and whether the world likes it or not we’re ushering in God’s kingdom. His covenant with Israel will stand,” and so on and so forth. So that’s Revelation 11. I hope we learned a few things breezing through that chapter, and I hope that I made the points that I wanted to make there.
So let’s move on. So the end of the last days will be preceded by the full gathering of God’s children and precedes the appearance of the antichrist and the day of the Lord according to the apostle Paul. Also, the end of the last days’ time period will end with an unexpected resurrection of many believers that are still alive. So let’s look at this, First Corinthians 15:52: “Paul said, ‘Behold, I tell you a mystery…'”
Oh, and we’re going to get into – okay, one of the points that I didn’t make in Revelation 11, before we move on, is here’s the thing that you want to know in the Book of Revelation. You notice three and a half years this, three and a half years that the antichrist will do what he does right smack dab in the middle of the tribulation period. The first three and a half years are the tribulation. The last three and a half years are the great tribulation. Here’s my point. The time that we’re in now, the return of the Lord is imminent. In the Book of Revelation nothing is imminent. If you aren’t part of the rapture and you’re in the tribulation period, when you see Israel sign their covenant of death, as Isaiah put it, a covenant of death that will not stand, when you see the Antichrist make the covenant with Israel, you will be able to go to your calendar and via your understanding of the Book of Revelation, which will read just like the headlines during that time, you will be able to go to your calendar and mark the very day that Christ splits the sky open and comes down with myriads of warrior angels. You’ll be able to mark the day. We’re not in those days. Christ said that no one knows the day that he will return for his gathering, what the first century saints knew as the gathering. It’s imminent, a time when we think not. Over and over and over again in the New Testament it said that Christ will come like a what? Thief in the night. The difference between the last days that we’re in and a separate tribulation period is as plain as the nose on your face. The Book of Revelation is just time-stamped. Everything is time-stamped. All through the Book of Revelation, it tells you exactly when what is going to happen, specifically how many people die in the events and so on and so forth. So Paul said in First Corinthians 15:51 and 52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” And then we’ve got – so this happens in the twinkling of an eye. We’re not all going to die and we’re, you know, this is the rapture, okay? And this is very different from in the Christ and the second coming splitting the skies open and coming down to earth to subdue the earth with myriads of warrior angels and like one of them slew 20,000 Assyrians. So as far as the earth goes and the army, good luck with that.
Anyway, let’s go on to John 21:18-23. “Christ said to his disciples, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God, talking to Peter. And after saying this, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not going to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?'” This is a reference to the rapture. Peter didn’t like the news that he got from Christ and basically what he’s asking Christ, “Well, what about John? Is he going to die like me, or is he going up in the rapture?” Christ pretty much said, “You worry about your own business that you’re called to do for me and follow me.”
So let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,” so this is a Revelation that they got directly from the Lord, “that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and then the sound, the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” So do I think that when the rapture happens that it will be accompanied by this huge trumpet blast that the world will hear? Probably.
Continuing on: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” You see where this is a sudden catching up of up in the clouds are those who are alive. They’re resurrected up with the Lord. Now, when the Lord returns in the Second Coming, he doesn’t take anybody up with him. He comes down and sets up his kingdom on earth, so nobody goes up. There’s only a coming down. The rapture in the last days, at the end of the last days that we’re in, that’s a going up. When Christ comes and returns to the earth, nothing is going up. It’s all coming down.
Also keep in mind that this resurrection, otherwise known as the rapture, is what we call imminent. I’ve mentioned that several times. In other words, it is likely to occur at any time without warning. Watch this, Acts 16:1, 6 and 7: “So when they had come together, they ask him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?” Now, this right before he ascended and, he had been teaching them for something like 40 days, privately, I believe, something like that. And notice that when they say, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Dude, what did we just get done talking about all these days? What are you talking about?” So he said to them, “It is not for you to know the times of the seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” So the day is not known. In the Book of Revelation, again, the day is known. All through the Book of Revelation, the days are spelled out in no uncertain terms. In case you missed it, the Holy Spirit says three and a half years two different ways–42 months and 1,260 days. He does everything but write it on a chalkboard for you and bring it down.
So the Lord restores the kingdom to Israel at the end of the day of the Lord. The beginning of the day of the Lord marks the end of the last days. Christ also states the following in Matthew 24:36-44: Christ said, “But concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As it were in the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as it was in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away. So will it be, the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
So what we have, we have perfect imagery here. We have the rapture. People are working in the field. One is taken. The other is left. Then we’ve got just like it was in the day of Noah. Life was going on per the normal marrying, giving [UNINTELLIGIBLE 1:07:19], business as usual, life as usual. Then it starts raining, and everybody goes, “Uh-oh.” So it’s the same kind of deal. Everybody knows it’s the beginning of the end. So the whole issue of imminence separates the last days in the day of the Lord and because if I’m a believer in the day of the Lord otherwise known as the tribulation period, I know exactly when the Lord is coming back to the day. And let me demonstrate that. Let’s go to Daniel 9:27, and I’ll read that as well. And it says: “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for a week, a week, seven days, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.” So in Daniel 9:27 what we have here is weeks of years. So one week is actually seven years, and for half of the week, he shall put an end to the sacrifice and offering. So for the second half of the week, he puts an end to the offering. That’s when he goes into the Holy of Holies and proclaims himself as God. “And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
The tribulation period has designated times and not much on the imminent side is going on during this time. If I’m a believer during that time, I know that the Lord’s return is seven years from the date of a treaty made with Israel by the Antichrist and from several other Scriptures and three and a half years from the abomination of desolation spoken of in Second Thessalonians 2:4. So basically, if you’re living during the tribulation period, when you see the abomination of desolation, you can go to your calendar and recalculate and say, “Yup, three and a half years from now is that date right there.” Basically, you’ll be able to mark the very day that the Lord is going to split that sky open and come down with his angels to subdue the earth and do what the disciples asked about before he ascended and once again establish the kingdom of Israel.
Now, we’re not even going to get in tonight how the Lord decided to do a seven-year tribulation that goes back to the Lord warning Israel in the original covenant that they would be punished, I believe, times seven for violations of the Sabbaths. And I believe what they violated was every seven years they were supposed to give the land a rest. They didn’t, so he warned them that if they did that that they would be punished seven times over. Anyway, all of that calculates out to 490 years before the transgression is finished. And if you follow that in the timeline, it’s 490 years from the time that God makes the decree to the time that the Messiah is cut off. Well, if you do the calculation, it’s 483 years. It’s 490 years to “finish the transgression.” You calculate everything out until the beginning of that 490 years to when Messiah is cut off. It’s 483 years. So there are seven years missing. So you can study all of that on your own, or if you want to, I can send you the information email@example.com. Actually, I think we did a Potter’s House on that that I can send you, but listen, here’s the point I want to make. It all fits together. Forty-two different authors, a Scripture that’s written over a collective time period of 1,600 years, and it all fits together perfectly.
So let’s move on, shall we? I’ll try to hurry up and finish up here so we have time to take some calls if there are any and see if Susan has any input on all of this. So there you have it. This is the age that we’re living in, the last days. So what does the Bible say these days will be like? What should we expect?, well let’s go to 2 Timothy 4:2 and 3. Now we’ve talked about the days that we’re in. They’ve been identified. Now we’re going to look at what they’re like and what we should do about it, so Second Timothy 4:2 and 3. This is from the NIV. Paul said to Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit,” their own – what? There it is again, desires. “They will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Men will not only be seekers of a truth rather than the truth. They will not tolerate sound doctrine. When you go into a teaching situation in many cases, they just aren’t going to reject your teaching. They aren’t going to tolerate you, and really some of us here have had our share of the horror stories. Really, in the age we live in, there are three kinds of churches–churches that are driven to follow the truth at all costs, churches that will follow the truth as long as it doesn’t cost them anything, and churches that the apostle Paul said would be indicative of the age. They seek a truth that feeds the evil desires of their heart with a rabid intolerance of truth tellers.
Now, let’s go to 1 John 2:16. Here’s what John said. “Dear children, this is,” what? “This the last hour.” Was he saying it was the last hour they were going to be there way back when he wrote this? Of course not. Again, we see we’re in the last days. And as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. So these last days that we’re in are going to be marked by the Antichrist. Well, you know, what is an Antichrist? Well, 1 John tells us specifically what an Antichrist is. There will be many who deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh or that he was truly man.
Hey, I got an e-mail from a lady who goes to a conservative evangelical church, like all of them are New Calvinist, but she said, “Hey, Paul. The guy was teaching that the flesh that Christ was in was a different kind of flesh that we’re in.” And if you know what New Calvinists believe about justification and what Old Calvinists believes about justification but don’t know that’s what they believe, they don’t know that that’s what their daddy, John Calvin, actually believed, it makes sense that that would be the case. And I’m not going to get down the rabbit track with all of that, but just put it this way. I was not surprised that that was taught in her church.
So primarily, an Antichrist – and remember, the Antichrist is also called the man of Anomia. But apparently, whoever this guy is, he will be antinomian and he’ll also specifically deny that Christ came in the flesh. So those are antichrists. There’s going to be a bunch of those guys around. You see the reference here to the future day that will be the time when the antichrist appears, but the apostle says many of his forerunners will be active in this age. As a matter of fact, it’s how we know that we’re in the last stage. Incredibly, the apostle was saying many antichrists will mark this age.
Now let’s go to 1 John 4:1. I’ll read that for you. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” So now we have many false prophets even way back then when 1 John. So John is running down the list here. First, he says many antichrists. Now he’s saying many false prophets. This is a different group than what John spoke of earlier. There are also many false prophets in our age. Many antichrists and many false prophets will mark the age we live in.
Additionally–we’re not done–there are also many false apostles among them. Turn with me to Second Corinthians 11:13. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Okay. So should we assume that this masquerade is like a really bad acting job? I think we do assume that. I contend that no, these are not bad acting jobs. Christ said that in this age, the deception will be so deep that even God’s elect will be deceived, if that were possible. Revelation 2:2 also speaks of false apostles, and there was even a problem with fictional letters being sent out as if the apostles telling the saints that they missed the rapture. That’s 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. So in the 1st century, there were these guys writing letters. They were even writing letters and saying Paul wrote them. They’re not much different from bogus translations of the Bible like the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation and so on and so forth. It’s kind of the same thing.
So in the New Testament of the 27 books that make up the canon, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 1 Thessalonians, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude deal primarily with error and false teaching as a theme. All other New Testament book contain portions that deal with false or erroneous teachings. In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 of the – about the seven churches, five of the letters contain and tolerate false teachers and are warned by Christ accordingly. So five of the seven letters, there’s a huge problem with heresy being tolerated and heresy being in the churches. As a matter of fact, the specific charge is that they tolerated false teaching. Really, when it gets right down to the nitty-gritty, only one of the seven churches were commended by Christ. The 1st century church, always looked at as the ideal model, was entrenched in constant, vicious warfare to protect the truth. When the disciples asked Jesus what the sign of the end of the age and his coming was going to be, the first thing that he said was what? “Be not deceived.”
Well, maybe things have gotten better since then, right? Not according to the apostle Paul and what he promised Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul said, “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” What are the last days? This time period that we’re in. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful – oh man, Susan and I were talking about this the other day, the ugly spirit of unthankfulness. Unthankfulness is going to mark this age. What else? Unholy. Friends, remember to be thankful. Don’t take God’s graces for granted. Count your blessings one by one. One of the few good sanctification songs that – no matter what’s going on in your life, and I know life can be very hard, but always look for the good in the land. So they’re going to be unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – look at this, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
So there’s going to be many antichrists, many false prophets, many false apostles. They won’t tolerate sound doctrine. They’re going to be self-loving, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. And it’s all going to be wrapped up in this wrapper: having a form of godliness but denying its power.
Listen to these so-called pastors running 99% of the churches out there in our day. We can’t change. We don’t change. “Pastor” James MacDonald wrote a post that went viral on the Internet. He is resigned from fixing people. We hear of this all the time. I get sent articles by my readers all the time where you have these, especially in women’s ministry, people aren’t fixable. Don’t waste your time fixing stuff. Good news for tired mommies: Stop trying to fix yourself. Stop trying to be better. Stop trying to fix your children. Just show them Jesus, and God is going to do whatever he’s going to do. Paul said have nothing to do with them.
Now, again Paul says in Second Timothy 3:13: “While evil men and impostors will grow from bad to worse, deceiving itself.” This was all going on big time in the 1st century. And guess what. That was 2,000 years ago. And the apostle Paul said it’s not going to get better; it’s going to get worse. You got that? So think of this whole package. Do I need to go through this whole big list in this whole show being run by many antichrists, many false prophets, many false apostles? And this has been progressively getting worse for 2,000 years. Now listen to me. Let me throw a shout-out to the few guys I know of out there that have pulled their family out of the institutional church and are teaching their family at home. I know it’s tough, but you’re doing the right thing. What you saw in the institutional church that caused you to do what you did was not your imagination. If we believe Scripture, it was not your imagination.
Once you view the present Christian landscape through Scripture, it’s not very confusing at all. The church was engulfed in warfare for the truth from its conception, and the powers of darkness have had 2,000 years to perfect their schemes. Neither have they retreated. Hardly. However, I am not challenging you to pass judgment on anybody. I am challenging you to be a Berean like those talked about in Acts 17, the ones that the Holy Spirit called honorable. The Bereans would not even give the apostle Paul a pass without searching the Scripture to confirm what he’s teaching.
And let me tell you something. Thinking about tonight, you look at all of this, the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel and all of these New Calvinist networks and all this stuff, these huge conferences that are going on, all of these books that are being written, this whole idea that there are awesome teachers hanging on trees everywhere, not reality. Just not reality, not even close. These are the days of Noah. And what’s glorious, we have the opportunity to find people like-minded who believe and understand what the Bible is saying about the days that we’re in, and we have an opportunity to gather each other together in our homes and fellowship together and have beautiful rich fellowships amongst people who really love the Lord and look forward to his coming as the days grow near and so on and so forth. But somehow, we want to spend all of our time scraping around in the junkyard of the institutional church finding something worth praising. Why do we want to do that? Why do people want to save Augustine’s institutional church? Why do they want to do that? It was hard enough in the 1st century keeping error out of the home fellowships. So we should not give any teacher in this age a pass on what they teach. Christ made it clear that the way of destruction in this age would be a wide road while the way of life would be narrow.
I was once sitting in a Sunday school class where the teacher made this statement: “You need to run to the bookstore and get this book.” And we got way too much of running down to the bookstore to buy this book and the other book and people running down the aisles and doing their Baptist absolution and all this, that and the other, way too much of that going on. Listen, I don’t run to any teaching. I move in slowly with binoculars while hiding behind rocks and trees as I go, and you should too. Why are there so many denominations, as I am closing here, okay? Why are there so many denominations, -isms and teachings represented in these pithy book covers? Because we live in an age that will not tolerate sound doctrine. There is no middle ground in this world. You either stand with darkness or you stand with light. The choice is yours.
Now, with that said, I’m not seeing our Susan calling in, and we have about 25 minutes left in the show. No callers and I don’t see Susan calling in. We do have a pretty hefty listening audience, and I’m thankful for that. I would be probably very nervous to teach a Sunday school that large. And a lot of people are coming to the archives at Blog Talk False Reformation, and I appreciate that as well. If there’s any way that I can do better here or if you have any recommendations at all, again, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And blessings to everybody listening tonight, and go with God and have a wonderful, thankful, God-pleasing week. And we’ll see you next Friday at 7:00. God bless.
TANC Publishing catalog of heterodoxy:
Something has been on my mind for some time that I have never written about. During the 2009 Resolved conference, “Pastor” Steve Lawson preached a sermon on the Great White Throne Judgment. In that message, Lawson claimed that Christ Himself will “be in hell”… “personally inflicting the wrath on unbelievers” for eternity. I know that Calvinism is heavily predicated on fear so I wasn’t surprised that Lawson said it. Rob Bell committed the unpardonable sin among New Calvinists by removing the fear factor in his book “Love Wins.” Calvin himself taught that fear and terror of judgment was efficacious to the mortification and vivification process that enables Christians to stand in the final judgment (CI 3.3.3-7). Bell didn’t merely violate Scripture, he dissed a Reformed mainstay: fear and its kissing cousin control.
Hell, in and of itself, is sobering enough, but apparently Lawson thought the reality of it needed some embellishing. The idea that Christ Himself will be in hell inflicting the punishment personally is a bit unsettling to me. It seems to picture Christ as a hateful God whose wrath never ceases. Instead of punishment being meted out in a hell prepared for the devil and his angels, we have Christ in hell inflicting the torment personally for all of eternity. Christ always spoke of hell as a PLACE of torment, and any idea of Him being the personal tormentor is conspicuously missing. Lawson used the following passage from Revelation for his proof text:
Revelation 14:10 – he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
This is really sloppy hermeneutics for many reasons, but let me discuss a few. The context of Rev 14:10 is the tribulation period. Revelation 14:6ff. predicts the final wrath of God being poured out upon the earth. This is preceded by a final warning heralded via three angels. The first proclaims the gospel; the second announces the final judgment of Babylon the great, and the third announces the primary woe that will befall those living in Babylon—this is specifically what Rev 14:10 is about. That verse describes the specific woe that the inhabitants will suffer in the presence of Christ and the angels; i.e., fire and sulfur.
This is exactly what happens when the judgment is executed upon Babylon:
Revelation 18:9 – And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
…And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?”
In verse 11 of Revelation 14, the angel also warns that the inhabitants of Babylon will seal their eternal fate by accepting the mark of the beast. That verse begins with the transition And which adds information. In the same way they are burned with fire when Christ and the angels execute judgment on Babylon, they will suffer for eternity. But the point is the following:
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”
The judgment in the presence of Christ and the angels regards the judgment on Babylon during the tribulation period, verse 11 speaks of their eternal judgment as a consequence of accepting the mark of the beast. And apparently, they are warned beforehand by the third angel not to do so. This is the theses of the third angel’s message and it has two parts: receiving the mark of the beast will lead to a present judgment by Christ and the angels upon Babylon, and a sealing of their eternal fate:
Revelation 14:9 – And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
Hence, verse 12 calls for the endurance of the saints because not receiving the mark of the beast will cost them their lives. Verse 13 promises a blessing for those who die in the Lord thereafter. Right before the judgment on Babylon, God calls for his people who have not received the mark to come out of Babylon before the judgment (Rev 17:4,5).
Furthermore, the subject is clearly not EVERY person who will be condemned to hell, but rather those who receive the mark of the beast. Any other conclusion from the context is presumptuous at best.
A suggestion: make the Bible your authority and not men. Such a rendering of Revelation 14:10 constructs a certain image of Christ in our minds. And it is not a good idea that such images are founded on iffy interpretations of God’s word.
Moreover, there is no other verse in the Bible that supports this view by Lawson. His manly academic credentials do not trump common sense.
Tonight at 7PM
Link to Radio Show: http://tobtr.com/s/7397239
Here at The Potter’s House we do family readings. Right now, we are reading through the novel The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. The book is what we call a historical novel. These are fictional books that attempt to convey the experience of historical facts. Historical novels attempt to put you into the historical event experientially. So, historical novels aren’t “just facts,” but attempt to enable you to understand how people in said historical event experienced it.
This is done well in Speare’s Blackbird Pond. You feel Kit’s angst as she peruses the Puritan shoreline of America for the first time. She senses the abysmal aura as set against the colorful structures in Barbados. And for anybody who knows Puritan history, Kit’s suspicions that something is culturally array in the new land is truly chilling. You want to say, “Run!” But, of course, it’s just a story. Historical novels “put you in the story.” The counterpart is academic history which focuses on facts and is not concerned with personal experience.
Vestiges of the concept can be found in mythology and Plato’s concept of Genre which Aristotle and others helped him develop. The concept was integrated into biblical hermeneutics circa 180AD. The idea of Bible as historical narrative was eventually dubbed Biblical Theology by Johann Philipp Gabler (circa 1785) and further developed by Geerhardus Vos in the 19th century. It was known as Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics in the Dutch Reformed churches during the 1940’s. In the secular realm the debate rages as to which approach educates more effectively (http://goo.gl/zo7zp).
And here we are today. The propagation of Bible as a history narrative is in Blitzkrieg mode. The Bible is not to be researched grammatically, but is to be approached like a novel; our goal is to enter into the “unfolding drama of God’s redemptive story.” Those are the words that are actually used. With any novel, it is the writer’s burden to draw the reader into the plot; in this case, the Holy Spirit. All that is necessary is to approach the Bible as gospel narrative, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. In fact, many Reformed teachers assert that the Holy Spirit will not teach unless you are reading your Bible as a gospel narrative:
That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit even the letter of Scripture.
I want you to feel the truth and depth and wonder that awaits your lifelong labor of love in pondering the inexhaustible portraits of Jesus given us by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Nothing can raise those who are spiritually dead or continually give life to Christ’s flock but the Spirit working through the gospel. When this happens (not just once, but every time we encounter the gospel afresh), the Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image (Quotations noted by Paul M. Dohse: The Truth About New Calvinism pp. 99, 100).
Recently, I made some observations about Wade Burleson’s blog Istoria Ministries:
“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 next day, Burleson changed the subtitle to the blog as follows:
“I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Greek: istoria) with Cephas.” Paul’s words in Galatians 1:18.
Only thing is, the word is not “istoria,” it is “historeo.” Istoria seems to be a word that, in fact, can be interpreted as story and history both, but is primarily a Greek word of contemporary origin. Not only that, according to Spiros Zodhiates, historeo appears in the Greek New Testament ONCE; specifically, the verse Burleson cites in his revised subtitle. A Strongs number search with Olive Tree software confirms such as well.
We don’t obey novels. We don’t obey narratives. We don’t obey stories. And the Lord wants us to experience what we learn in the Bible by applying it to our lives (James 1:25). Parables in the Bible are teaching tools that aid us in understanding the primary points—a history parable is not the sole interpretive genre that makes the Bible what it is.
You do not build a life on a rock by reading novels—you do it by putting what the Lord teaches into practice (Matthew 7:24). If Christ wanted us to read “these words of mine” as a story why would He have not plainly said so? If we live by the redemption story, why wouldn’t Christ plainly state that instead of, “every word that comes from the mouth of God?” If it’s a story, why would Christ call it “all that I have commanded”?
Have we lost our minds?
Join the discussion at 7PM tomorrow night. The centerpiece of the discussion is this video:
I believe the home fellowship network that we are attempting to start draws a line in the sand between two distinct gospels. I believe it is the difference between a true new birth and progressive justification. I also believe progressive justification is part and parcel with an institution by necessity. Progressive justification has no feet in a New Testament model of fellowship. At issue is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
Home fellowships believe that justification is a finished work and completely separate from the works of the believer in the Christian life. One is a gift, and the other is a reward for diligently exploiting the gifts given to us by God for the building up of the body of believers. We are free to aggressively love without fear of condemnation. We are made just by the new birth which is a onetime event completely separate from the Christian walk of sanctification.
Institutions are framed to oversee passage to heaven on God’s behalf and circumvent the priesthood of all believers. Institutions will always, at least, function like progressive justification while perhaps denying it.
We believe that we are not merely declared righteous, we are righteous, and we are made righteous by the new birth. The new birth is not a status; it makes us the literal offspring of God. We have this treasure in earthen vessels.
We also believe that the laity is the mark of God’s chosen, not academia. The credentials of men invariably rob God of glory (1Cor 1:26).
It is time to stand up for the true gospel of Jesus Christ and rediscover the rich fellowship of God’s holy nation of priests. And this we will do with God’s help.
I came across an “interesting” blog article the other day. It appeared in my Facebook newsfeed because someone on my friend list commented on it when one of his friends shared it. Of course, since I am not friends with the one who originally shared it, I was unable to add my comment, thus the inspiration for this article today.
The title of the blog article in questions is, “If we sin, do we lose our salvation?” That mere fact that such a question is still posed in Christianity is indicative of just how biblically illiterate most Christians are. The fact that authors such as this one still address this question in the manner that he does is even more disturbing.
Before even addressing the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation, the author begins his article by citing Jesus’ example of the two house builders found in Luke chapter 6. Let’s take a look at this passage ourselves before we move on.
47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Clearly, Jesus is using a metaphor, but to properly understand the metaphor we must ask ourselves, what is the context of this passage? It should be apparent that the context is a contrast between two kinds of individuals. One kind is an individual who hears AND does. The second kind is an individual who hears only. The parallel passage in Matthew 7 goes even further in marking this contrast.
24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
The individual who hears AND does is considered wise. The one who hears only is considered foolish. Herein is the point of this whole passage: the emphasis on hearing AND doing, which is considered to be wise. But please notice what the blog author chooses as his focus:
“Building a house is very similar to one’s experience as either a Christian believer or an unsaved nonbeliever. That is why Jesus drew a comparison between the two (Luke 6:47-49). If you start out with a good foundation that is level and built on solid ground, you can confidently add on walls and flooring and a roof and every other component that makes up a house, and be certain that, because the foundation is sound, the house will be sound. But if you lay a poor foundation that is uneven and shaky, the rest of the house will follow and all the components that are built on that poor foundation will be compromised. To have a soundly constructed house, you must have a good foundation; to have a rock-solid Christian faith, you must build it on foundational truth.”
This is one of the most intellectually incompetent and dishonest uses of the two builders that I have ever seen! This example from scripture has nothing to do with “foundations”. It has everything to do with wisdom and sanctification. The author completely ignores the part about wisdom in both hearing and doing and instead engages in what I call “spiritualizing the analogy”, making it about justification instead. He has interpreted this passage in the so-called “proper gospel context”. This is what happens when you interpret scripture using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic. Spiritualizing the analogy makes a false application of a metaphor that was never intended. It is a logical fallacy. Let’s examine what I mean by this.
If I am given the logical premises that A=B and B=C, I can logically conclude that A=C. This is the logic of the example of the two house builders.
A = B Hearing and doing = a wise man
B = C A wise man = building on a rock (a good foundation)
A = C Hearing and doing = building on a rock (will make one strong; i.e. aggressive sanctification)
The same holds true for the foolish man.
A = B Hearing only = a foolish man
B = C A foolish man = building on sand (a poor foundation)
A = C Hearing only = building on sand (will make one weak; i.e. little or no sanctification)
A metaphor makes no sense in and of itself. It has no relevance outside of the initial truth that it represents. If Jesus had only said, “Make sure you build on a rock foundation and not a foundation of sand,” that would have made no sense whatsoever. But Jesus clearly stated that hearing and doing is wise, and He further emphasized that point by using the analogy of building on a rock. Notice also that a correct logical progression in thought results in the proper application of the conclusions. One can reasonably conclude that this not a salvation passage but rather a sanctification passage for believers.
That is the proper meaning and intention of this passage. Contrast that with what the author did in the article. He took the metaphor all by itself and made it say whatever he wanted it to say in order to make his case. And what is his case?
“If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and turn to God in repentance of your sins, then you will be saved… This does not mean that after this occurs, you will never sin again, or even that you will not commit the same sin repeatedly. It means that your heart has been changed toward sin so that you can now see it for what it is… Fortunately, for Paul and for you and for me, that question has a definitively glorious answer: ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’”
Plain and simple, this is progressive justification. Notice it is an ongoing deliverance, not a onetime deliverance. So, then the question remains, what do we have to do to keep the deliverance going? Well, we repent, and that saves us, BUT we still sin. So what? Well, the “so what” is that we need perpetual saving by Jesus. This is what Paul David Tripp and Tim Keller and John Piper call a “daily rescue.” This is Luther’s theology of the cross, a perpetual mortification and vivification.
This is the very reason why the emphasis on the hearing AND doing is ignored. For us “to do” would be works, at least in this construct, if this were a passage on justification and not sanctification. We must live by “faith alone” and not build on the wrong “foundation.” We can only “experience” what it is to have the right foundation, because for us to try and work and build is building on the wrong foundation which is the reformed definition of the “unsaved”. But justification is a finished work. There is nothing we can do to add to it. Because it is finished, we can aggressively “do” the things we “hear” taught to us in the Word. Time and time again, the scriptures equate for us doing good with life and doing evil with death. Good = life = wise. Evil = death = foolish. When it comes right down to it, this really isn’t that hard to figure out.
If you are really a Christian, you are unleavened. In the Bible, leaven is used to demonstrate an influence; sometimes the illustration regards evil and other times some sort of other influence. In 1Corithians 5:6-8, the influence spoken of is evil.
Even though Paul had written to the Corinthians before and emphasized the importance of not fellowshipping with those who lead unruly lives, apparently the message didn’t compute.
1Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The point I want to make here in addition to the myriad of texts in the Bible that state Christians are righteous, not merely declared righteous, this text states that we “really are” unleavened. Paul often made statements like this to deliberately emphasize the fact that Christians are righteous beings, not simply labeled as such. In writing to the Romans and telling them of their goodness, he stated “you yourselves” are full of goodness.
Paul used the Passover feast, which included the Feast of Unleavened Bread to make his point.
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work (Leviticus 23:5-8 KVJ).
In this particular letter to the Corinthians, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is likened to Christian fellowship at least and probably sanctification in general. Both are to be done with “sincerity and truth.” Notice also that Passover was to be a day of rest indicating that the Lamb’s justifying work is complete, but our celebration of the feast looks forward to a rest at the end. The in-between, viz, sanctification, is NOT a rest. In fact, here is how the Passover meal was to be eaten:
Exodus 12:11 – In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.
Lastly, the sanctification feast is to be maximized with purity. Obviously, if we are still leavened, Paul’s warning that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” makes no sense at all. Why would we care about a little leaven if we are not an unleavened lump? Jesus issued the same warning in Matthew 5:19; those who relax the least of all commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
Sanctification is not a rest. Sanctification does not take a relaxed attitude towards sin. We are to continually separate our unleavened selves from the leaven of the world. We are NOT the leavened saved by grace.
Part and parcel with being a cultist is the ability to communicate your false doctrine in a truthful sounding way. Martin Luther and John Calvin were perhaps the best there has ever been at that.
Volume one of The Truth About New Calvinism sought to primarily do one thing: document the contemporary history of New Calvinism and address some of its doctrinal quirks. New Calvinists claim to have rediscovered the authentic Reformation gospel; I didn’t address that question in volume one because much additional research was required to answer that question. Volume two answers that question, and the answer is “yes.” New Calvinists have the authentic Reformed doctrine down pat, and if not for them, we probably would have never known what the Reformers really believed. I believe John MacArthur has adopted New Calvinism because he was rightfully convinced by John Piper and others that this is what the Reformers believed. In other words, MacArthur’s enamoration with the Reformation motif has led him astray.
What makes Calvinism, the articulation of Lutheranism, so deceptive is the emphasis on two metaphysical realities and the interpretation of all reality through that dualism: our sinfulness and God’s holiness. Much can be written and agreed upon in regard to these two points. So, Sunday after Sunday we hear sermons based on these two biblical concepts only, and probably without much complaint and in many cases much praise.
But this isn’t the full counsel of God, and the overemphasis on these two points and the exclusion of all else eventually leads to the unenviable results. The apostle Paul equated teaching the fullness of God from house to house, night and day with not having the blood of men on his hands.
This brings us to the Emphasis hermeneutic. This is THE Reformation epistemology. This is their key to putting the Bible into use. Luther laid the framework in his Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustine Order and Calvin articulated it in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the first sentence of chapter one, Calvin introduces Luther’s dualism, and the rest of the Institutes flow from this concept. All of the Institutes build on the very first sentence that states wisdom is known by knowing us and knowing God more and more. For all practical purposes, the knowledge of good and evil. This is Luther’s Theology of the Cross in his disputation which was written six months after the 95 Theses. The latter was the moral protest; the former is the foundation of Reformation theology. Almost everything that the New Calvinists teach can be found in Luther’s Disputation including John Piper’s Christian Hedonism.
Luther believed that all reality was to be interpreted through the cross story. And by the way, as an aside, this is the first tenet of New Covenant Theology. Luther’s construct was strictly dualist: God’s story, or our story—the cross story or the glory story. A matter of emphasis. Certainly, Luther concurred that many things other than the cross story are TRUE, and to some extent VALUABLE for lesser concerns apart from the Christian faith, but in Luther’s view, any religious matter that distracted from the cross work of Christ diminished God’s glory and in most cases emphasized us instead; i.e., the glory story—our glory, not God’s.
The Emphasis hermeneutic is a Gnostic concept. This shouldn’t surprise us as Augustine’s penchant for Gnosticism is well known and Luther/Calvin were his mentorees. Calvin cites Augustine, on average, every 2.5 pages in the Institutes. Earthly things are a shadow of reality and the “true and the good.” Through education and knowledge one can obtain understanding of the true and the good. In Luther’s construct, Christ was the full representation of the true and the good. Christ is the true and the good; as New Calvinists state it, He is “THE gospel.” The gospel is the true and the good. He is the SUN (Son). The sun/shadows interpretive illustration is key to understanding this Gnostic/Platonist concept.
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished. Let me repeat that, because it is the crux:
This interpretive method enables Calvinists to deem many things true, but to the extent that we allow these things to take away from a laser focus on the source of all wisdom and life, THE SUN, sanctification is diminished.
The diminishing of sanctification: to the extent that we focus on anything else but Christ and the reason for the cross—our wickedness. The focus must be Christ’s crosswork. EVERYTHING points to Christ and interprets Christ. Anything that is true but doesn’t lead to more understanding of Christ casts a SHADOW on reality and wisdom. It is focusing on the shadow caused by whatever is blocking the Sun/Son. Anything that is not seen in a Chrsitocentric reality “ECLIPSES THE SON/SUN.”
Hence, seeing biblical commands in the Scripture as something we should see and do is the what? The glory story. It’s about “what we do, not what Christ has done”, a favorite New Calvinist truism. Therefore, biblical imperatives are to be seen in their “gospel context” as a standard that Christ kept for us and imputed to our sanctification. The cross story is then lifted up because it shows Christ’s holiness as set against our inability to uphold the law in sanctification.
To do otherwise is to “eclipse the Son.” Once you know how to look for this, you can see it everywhere in the American church. John MacArthur wrote the Forward to the Rick Holland book, “Uneclipsing the Son” in which this Gnostic paradigm is the very theses. In the Forward, MacArthur states in no uncertain terms that to emphasize “ANYTHING” or “ANYONE” other than Christ is to diminish sanctification. “Pastor” Steve Lawson, in an address at the 2012 Resolved Conference implored young pastors to “come out from the shadows.” Pseudo biblical counselor Michael Emlet framed it as “CrossTalk” in his book that bears that same title. It is a cute play on words that frames any talk other than Christ’s crosswork as crosstalk, a technical communications term that refers to interference from multiple telephone lines transmitting over each other resulting in many jumbled conversations being heard. In this case, shadows and confusion are the same.
Also, another way that this is framed is in regard to our fruits, or good works. By emphasizing anything we do, we are “making a good thing the best thing” or “making the fruit the root.” In other words, to emphasize fruit obscures the root that gives the tree life: Christ. We should focus on Christ only which results in “transformation.” But “transformation” isn’t personal transformation. If we are transformed, that is the what? Right, the glory story. Here, the Calvinistic lingo is very subtle; instead of us changing via the new creaturehood of the new birth, we are transformed “into the image of Christ.” We don’t change, we experience MANIFESTATIONS.
In the recent 2013 Shepherds’ Conference, MacArthur used John 3:3 to make a case that our good works are like “the wind blowing.” We feel its effects, we see its effects, but of course, we have no control over the wind. Like Luther, and according to authentic Reformed doctrine, MacArthur believes that these experiences of the wind are rebirths experienced by joy. That’s the Reformed definition of the new birth: a joyful experience of the wind accompanied by joy. This is why MacArthur made the absurd statement in the book “Slave” that obedience is never bittersweet, but always sweet. Right, apparently, Abraham was singing praises while on the way to drive a knife through his son.
This doctrine utterly dismisses any and all work, even by Christ, occurring inside the believer. “Faith” is in us, but according to Reformation doctrine, is not a work. Therefore, anything spoken of as being IN US, is actually, BY FAITH. Which is not a work. FAITH is therefore the conduit that makes ALL works taking place outside of us possible. This is why the doctrine is referred to as “The Centrality of the Objective Gospel Outside of Us.” Anything inside of us is subjective, or shadowy, because it involves the glory story.
Moreover, the work that we see outside of us is also subjective because it deals with wind-like occurrences. And because we are a “reflector” of the image, it will be difficult to know whether the occurrences are through our “own efforts” or the wind. This is why Luther stated in his Disputation that Christians should not be concerned with works or their manifestations. Even when it is the wind and not us, we “see through a glass dimly” and the wind is using a “dull instrument.” New Calvinists call this, “the subjective power of an objective gospel.” We focus on the objective through gospel contemplationism, and leave the manifestations to Christ. This is why John MacArthur has stated that it is his job to explain the biblical text, and then leave the results to the Spirit.
But even in regard to the Holy Spirit and God the Father, they are seen as members of the Trinity that better define Christ. To do otherwise would be to “eclipse the Son.” Remember, MacArthur said, “anything” or “ANYBODY.” It means just that, and is indicative of a large body of Reformed thought.
This undermines and denies the full counsel of God, the new birth, and the Trinity.
Forward to Uneclipsing the Son by John MacArthur:
As Christians we have one message to declare: “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14).
Rick Holland understands that truth. This book is an insightful, convicting reminder that no one and nothing other than Christ deserves to be the central theme of the tidings we as Christians proclaim—not only to one another and to the world, but also in the private meditations of our own hearts.
Christ is the perfect image of God (Hebrews 1); the theme of Scripture (Luke 24); the author of salvation (Hebrews 12:2); the one proper object of saving faith (Romans 10:9-10); and the goal of our sanctification (Romans 8:2). No wonder Scripture describes the amazing growth-strategy of the early church in these terms: “They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). That is the only blueprint for church ministry that has any sanction from Scripture.
The pastor who makes anything or anyone other than Christ the focus of his message is actually hindering the sanctification of the flock. Second Corinthians 3:18 describes in simple terms how God conforms us to the image of His Son: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (emphasis added). We don’t “see” Christ literally and physically, of course (1 Peter 1:8). But His glory is on full display in the Word of God, and it is every minister’s duty to make that glory known above all other subjects.
As believers gaze at the glory of their Lord—looking clearly, enduringly, and deeply into the majesty of His person and work—true sanctification takes place as the Holy Spirit takes that believer whose heart is fixed on Christ and elevates him from one level of glory to the next. This is the ever-increasing reality of progressive sanctification; it happens not because believers wish it or want it or work for it in their own energy, but because the glory of Christ captures their hearts and minds. We are transformed by that glory and we begin to reflect it more and more brightly the more clearly we see it. That’s why the true heart and soul of every pastor’s duty is pointing the flock to Christ, the Great Shepherd.
After more than four decades of pastoral ministry, I am still constantly amazed at the power of Christ-centered preaching. It’s the reason I love preaching in the gospels. But I discovered long ago that the glory of Christ dominates Romans, Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, Revelation—and the rest of Scripture as well. Focusing on that theme has led my own soul and our congregation to a fuller, richer knowledge of Christ—loving Him, worshipping Him, serving Him and yearning for the day when we shall be like Him, having seen Him in His glory (1 John 3:2).
Our prayer is that of Paul: “that I may know Him!” (Philippians 3:10). The apostle knew Him well as Savior and Lord (having been privileged to be the last person ever to see the resurrected Christ face to face, according to 1 Corinthians 15:8)—but never could Paul plumb the rich, sweet depths of the glories of Christ, the inexhaustible, infinite Treasure. Far from allowing Christ to be eclipsed—even partially—by any other object or affection, every believer should pursue with relentless zeal the “full knowledge of the glory of God” provided by a fervent concentration “on the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
The Christian life is Christ—knowing Him in the height and breadth of His revelation, loving Him for the greatness of His grace, obeying Him for the blessing of His promises, worshipping Him for the majesty of His glory, and preaching Him for the honor of His Name: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
No greater subject exists than Jesus Christ—no greater gift can be given than uplifting His glory for another soul to see it and be changed by it. This book will be a wonderful help to anyone who senses the need to orient one’s life and message properly with a Christ-centered focus. It is full of fresh, practical, and memorable spiritual insight that will show you how to remove whatever obstacle is blocking your vision of the Son and allow His light to blind you with joy.
Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California
John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Life (pp. 58-59).
The sunbeams of blessing in our lives are bright in and of themselves. They also give light to the ground where we walk. But there is a higher purpose for these blessings. God means for us to do more than stand outside them and admire them for what they are. Even more, he means for us to walk into them and see the sun from which they come. If the beams are beautiful, the sun is even more beautiful. God’s aim is not that we merely admire his gifts, but, even more, his glory.
Now the point is that the glory of Christ, manifest especially in his death and resurrection, is the glory above and behind every blessing we enjoy. He purchased everything that is good for us. His glory is where the quest of our affections must end. Everything else is a pointer – a parable of this beauty. When our hearts run back up along the beam of blessing to the source in the blazing glory of the cross, then the worldliness of the blessing is dead, and Christ crucified is everything.
This is no different than the goal of magnifying the glory of God that we saw in Chapter 2. Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it he bought for us every blessing – temporal an eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, the wrath of God is taken away. Because of his cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Therefore every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ – the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life – the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.