Paul's Passing Thoughts

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

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 14, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calvin continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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  1. […] Calvin: Christians Must Keep Their Salvation by Pursuing Perpetual Forgiveness in the “Church”. […]


  2. paulspassingthoughts said, on August 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.


  3. A Mom said, on August 15, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    This is powerful, Paul. Salvation isn’t found in Jesus at all for Calvin’s folk. It’s unattainable, which is why laity can never get past the gospel. And following Jesus? One never gets to that point.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on August 15, 2013 at 6:14 AM


      I think this is Protestantism in general. This explains everything to me. It’s time to bring true sanctification back to the church.


  4. trust4himonly said, on August 15, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Yes, true sanctification where we KNOW that the Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Teacher in ALL things. That is probably the number one thing that I saw amiss in the church was the lack of teaching that the Holy Spirit is the one who works in and with us in sanctification. All the “other necessities” were taught first and foremost – buildings, sacraments, worship and veneration of the pastor, ministries and programs, conferences, self-help books; you name it, they came up with it. All but the Holy Spirit.

    We are to submit and trust the Holy Spirit; with that we then can walk in and with the Holy Spirit without doubt or fear. This is something I knew since my depression 29 years ago; I had no one else to rely on, so I started to trust that God would do something in me. I submitted and trusted in Him alone. This was a CHOICE (free will), however, on my part. I could not just sit around, twiddle my thumbs, and get three wishes granted; I had to move, get up off my hiney, and walk; trusting that the Holy Spirit was working in me and for me. Does not Jesus say He is CO-LABORING with us? Are we not responsible in putting to action what He has laid for us out in Scripture? Does He not say that ALL we need to know is in His Word and He leaves us with a Counselor?

    I get a kick out of the fact that this is the one thing that they miss and it is a BIG one! The gnostics had a desire to know deeper knowledge. I guess to them the Bible was not enough; it was not DEEP enough, not “wise” enough. Yet, they completely failed/fail at realizing that it is the Holy Spirit that gives deeper knowledge as we grow in sanctification. What fools! They do not have patience in waiting. Do you know how many times I have had to wait to see something completely turn around in my life, such as a sin issue or answer?- quite awhile. The whole time, though, the Lord keeps surprising me with new things to learn. We are always learning and growing IN SANCTIFICATION.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on August 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM


      I believe this section of the CI explains every woe that there is in the Protestant church today.


  5. johnimmel said, on August 15, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Thanks Paul for the reference.

    Here is how I said it in the Gospel According to John Immel Chapter 3: 1-3

    All people act logically from their assumptions. 2 ) It does not matter how inconsistent the ideas or insane the rationale, they will act until the logic is fulfilled.3 ) Therefore, when you see masses of people taking the same destructive actions, find the assumptions and you will find the cause.


  6. trust4himonly said, on August 20, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    “And kudos to church historian John Immel, he is right; there is always a logic behind an action.”

    Paul and John, I believe this whole heartedly! There is a logic, a doctrine, a belief system behind any action we do except involuntary actions, such as blinking your eye or a stomach growling. This is what cracks me up about Calvinists (or for that matter anyone who fosters a works based doctrine)- when the push against them gets too strong and they are backed up in a corner, the common response is “Please stop blaming the doctrine for the abuse that is occurring; lets all get along and love each other”.
    Yeh, whatever- thats a cop out…….

    Lets look at everyday life- Suppose your boss has a great work ethic. His belief system; logic will be directed in getting his employees to be there on time and get their work done efficiently and proficiently. If your boss is a lazy bum, well, you probably won’t see that company perform very well or be gone within a few years- why? because his faulty logic determines the outcome of his company. Life works that way- darn it!

    This is where they do not make sense whatsoever for life itself, by natural law (created by God), dictates that it will be so. Where is the logic, for all the puffed up theological seminaries that tout how intellectually brilliant they are?


  7. lydiasellerofpurple said, on August 22, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Oh you see this lack of sanctification played out everywhere in Christendom if you look. Something happened recently in a church where people did not want to deal with facts but keep it all vague and undercover. It was a situation where a staff pastor told someone that some people were saying hateful things about him. (He is YRR at SBTS and in a NON Cal church) He said that some people told him that they hate SBTS.

    So, my friend is telling me this and I asked her…..Did you tell him he must either make it known what exactly what was said was “hateful” and it must be discussed with all parties? Nope. she believed him because he is so nice.

    Well when she finally did press him, guess what was “hateful”? The person told him they could not stand Calvinism or John Piper and was concerned about what was coming out of SBTS. In fact, this person was more concerned about him getting an M.Div from there and being further influenced by this movement!

    That was hateful. Why? Because someone dared to disagree with the movements philosopher king. EVery day I praise God the rack is illegal here now. I am certain these guys would think it godly to use it.


    • paulspassingthoughts said, on August 22, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Oh ya. There is absolutely NO doubt in my mind that these guys would impose force. Most of them have said it outright.


  8. […] Calvin: Christians Must Keep Their Salvation by Pursuing Perpetual Forgiveness in the “Church”. […]


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