Paul's Passing Thoughts

Anxiety/Depression and the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 21, 2016

mp3 file download: https://app.box.com/s/zhcluu2goxsbdrfw8h27cjecmvy76ea3

PAUL:  …tonight. We’re going to summarize all the major points of our eight-part series on depression in this conclusionary – is that a word?

SUSAN:  It is now.

PAUL:  It is now. Conclusionary session where we’re going to kind of sum up the points. Now major to that is some correspondence that we had this week. And, really, I’ve got permission to share this correspondence that somebody wrote us about for some information as far as somebody that’s right now dealing with a lot of depression. Or not depression, I’m sorry. At this point, anxiety. And we’ve made this correspondence really the centerpiece of our show tonight. And the reason being is it just speaks to everything concisely. So here is the correspondence. It says, “Hi, Paul. I have been struggling with intense fear about the relationship between justification and good works. I understand that there is no condemnation for me on account of my sins, the sense that I won’t be damned for them, but I still feel like I’m constantly under God’s ‘Fatherly displeasure’ on grounds that none of my works, even my good ones, are free from sin. Do you believe a believer’s good works are still sinful?” Stop right there and let me answer that. No. N-O spells no. No unequivocally. How many different ways can I say this? No, no, no, no, no. Okay? “How about a believer’s heart? Is that still wicked and sinful?” Let me stop and answer that question. No.

SUSAN:  No.

PAUL:  Okay? In fact, when we talk about heart, see, Protestants, they throw around – okay. Look, Protestantism literally redefined every Bible word that there is. They literally redefined every Bible word that there is. So what is heart? All right, let’s talk about a man – this correspondence – pay attention tonight. This correspondence is really the whole enchilada. And this is going to be concise. The way he has asked this question is going to enable us to just label it out, lay it out simply. Now we already made our first point, which is what? Is the believer’s work sinful? Better stated, is the believer’s love sinful? Say, the difference between works of love, pretty major. But anyway, is the believer’s heart still wicked and sinful? No. But what is the heart? The Reformed define heart as the – well, they say “born again believer,” but they also redefined born again. To be born again and to have heart change or what they call heart change is strictly – okay, they use the terms faith, heart, heart change and new birth, all interchangeably, and here’s what it means. It’s strictly an ability to see and perceive only. So what you’re able to perceive is what saves you. Not anything you do. You only experience life, but you don’t do life. Well, you do do life. But whatever you do is sinful. Like the pastor said to us when we were interviewing Calvinists in Louisville. By the way, did we find one Calvinist that knew what a Calvinist was?

SUSAN:  No.

PAUL:  That’s right. You remember well. We interviewed a bunch of Calvinists at a Calvinist conference, and none of them had a clue what Calvinism is.

SUSAN:  And some of them didn’t even know the bare minimum of Calvinism, the T-U-L-I-P.

PAUL:  Right, right. So, okay, what is the heart in the Bible? For the most part in the Bible, the heart is an idiom for the mind. And the mind, if you read Romans 7 and many other places, the mind is the part of man that’s regenerated. Take note of this. I’m making points here. His correspondence is the lesson tonight. And it’s the core thrust of everything we’re teaching about depression. The best cure in preventative medicine for depression is to have the right Gospel, and it’s one of the points that we’ve made in past programs in this series is that you can still help. I mean, a lot of counselors say, “Oh, well, you know, pre-counseling is the Gospel. If they’re not saved, you can’t help them.” No. Yes, you can help them. There are practical things they can do. Listen. And we talked about this. When people follow the wisdom of God that aren’t saved, it doesn’t justify them. It doesn’t add life. It’s just less death. But that can still help them, all right? That can still help them. But the key is in the process of you showing them God’s wisdom and how to live life. They say to themselves, “Hmm, if God knows about life, if God knows how to teach us to live a life more abundantly, well then, he must know how to save us too.” See what we do in Christianity and Protestantism, see what we do? We try to tell people that God – the last church I was a member of is an institutional number of an institutional church. We got into it that I tried to invoke a counseling program in the church and got all kinds of pushback. And my argument is you keep saying you don’t want to do counseling, you want to focus on the gospel, but how are you gonna preach the Gospel to people? They are not going to believe that a God who can’t even save your marriage can save your soul. How does that make any sense?

So, this is what we’re talking about. So, in the Bible, the mind is what’s regenerated. And Paul in Chapter 7 calls that – talks about this battle between the law of sin and death and the law of my mind. What’s he talking about? Well, Paul uses – there are several different law nomenclature in the Bible. Romans 8:2, we have the law of sin and death, and we have the law of the spirit of life. What he is talking about, the law of my mind, is the fact that the regenerated mind, the loves [SOUNDS LIKE 0:09:43], the law of the spirit of life, which is the spirits application of the Bible or the law of God, for purposes of loving God and others. That’s what’s he’s talking about. That’s the part of man that’s regenerated.

Secondly, here you go, the mortal body, the “flesh” is neutral. It’s neutral, okay? Even though sin is broken because the old man who is no longer under the law is dead, the law of sin and death still remains and attempts to condemn you even though you’re a Christian. But its true ability to condemn you is broken because that old man died with Christ, the old you died with Christ in the literal new birth. And because Christ went to the cross, the end of the law, if you go to 1 Corinthians 15, we find out that when sin that is within doesn’t have the ability to condemn through the law, it’s stripped of its power. So, temptation is going to come through sinful desires. And as Born Again true believers, we have the ability to abstain and say no to sinful desires. The Bible tells us – so we get a desire. We’re tempted. And basically as a Christian, we say that’s a sinful desire. And because I’m Born Again and have a regenerated mind, I have the ability to say no to that desire.

So, here’s what the Bible says. As Christians, when we obey sinful desires, we are using the body for sinful purposes. In the Bible, that’s called the sin of the flesh. That doesn’t mean the flesh is inherently evil. That’s Gnosticism. Romans 12:1 and many, many, many other places in the Bible make it absolutely clear that our bodies are the temple of God, and our bodies can be used for holy purposes. So, the flesh, Christ said, is weak. The flesh is weak. Creation is weak. But it’s not inherently sinful. So, sin resides in the body, and in the unbeliever that’s under the law, sin is empowered to enslave because the old man or the old you was under the law, and sin is able to use the law of God to condemn and to entice to sin. When condemnation is gone, sin is stripped of its power, but sin still tries to make an appeal to the Christian to drag him down and to take life from him.

Okay. Now, how do Christians become addicted? Here’s how. They’re ignorant of these facts. And if you go to Romans 6, Paul says, “You become a slave to, to whatever master you obey.” You become a slave to whatever master you obey. So, a Christian, a true Christian that’s ignorant of these facts can habituate themselves by continually obeying sinful desires and not saying no. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, “To give no provision to the flesh.” But see, you got to understand when he’s talking about the flesh in that way, he’s talking about – really what he’s saying is give no provision to sin which then your offering – Romans 12 makes this absolutely clear. You either offer up your body as…

SUSAN:  A living sacrifice.

PAUL:  A living sacrifice for holy purposes, or you offer up your body to sin. So, that’s how this works. Now, let’s go on here, all right? Let’s go on here and see what else he says. Okay. “Do you believe a believer’s good works are still sinful? How about the believer’s heart?” We just answered that. “Is it still wicked and sinful?” Absolutely not. Okay, here we go. How can I know when my works are pleasing to God if they come from a still wicked heart and are tainted with sin in areas I might not even recognize? And then how about motives? How can I know when they’re sufficiently pure?” Oh, so many questions.

Well, here’s the answer to that. You can’t know. And this is what plagued me. Before I became a believer, I know greatly [SOUNDS LIKE 0:15:52] well why I was depressed. In one of the series, we have my testimony there. Man, it’s a wonder I could even function as a human being. I’m incredulous that I could even function. Now, okay, post-Christian, when I fell into the same kind of depression, it was this exact same issue. I doubted my salvation. Why? Because if you’re a Christian, you please God. And how in the world, because of my Protestant understanding of the Gospel, what was that? Jesus died for our sins. End of conversation. That’s it. Jesus died for our sins. Okay, Jesus died for my sins, but all I see is sin. I’m guilt-ridden. There are sins that I can’t overcome. And, man, you hear this testimony from Protestants, “No matter how hard I try, Pastor, I can’t get out of this sin.” Well, yeah, that’s because you’re under law. You are enslaved to that sin. No, you can’t get out of it, okay? Because you’re under law. And the harder you try to get out of that sin, the more it’s probably going to plague you, which adds to more guilt, more condemnation, just lack of assurance to salvation. Look, when the only gospel you have is Christ died for our sins and that’s as far as it goes, you can’t know whether anything you do is pleasing to God. So, I was going all through my Christian life trying to obey God the best I could but never had assurance that what I was doing was actually pleasing God, and it, in fact, did lead to depression. All right?

SUSAN:  It’s the same idea that a lot of ministers still preach from the pulpit today. You have to keep going back to the cross, and you stay at the foot of the cross all your Christian life. There is no moving forward in sanctification, and you’re constantly reminded every Sunday that you’re a sinner. And this is why the altar is full of believers going forward every Sunday because they do not have assurance of salvation because the pastors of their churches have no idea how to explain assurance of salvation because they don’t believe it themselves. They don’t believe that you can have assurance of salvation. If they are Calvinist, there is no assurance of salvation.

PAUL:  Now in this correspondence, right? Well, I mean, Protestant Orthodoxy calls for no assurance, specifically by Orthodoxy. So, how would this person be counseled by 99.999% of the “biblical,” supposedly so-called biblical counselors who are out there? Well, he would be counseled according to the good official news of the Protestant Reparation. No, you’re a lot worse than you think you are. The answer to your question is yeah, your heart’s wicked, and no, you can do no good work. No, no, no. all right? Every motive you have for doing a good work is sinful. Your motives are sinful, every stinking work you do is sinful. You don’t do anything that’s pleasing to God unless it’s by faith alone and draws on a progressive amputation. Remember that,  progressive amputation, progressive amputation. What is that? If you live by the secret Protestant formula, Christ’s passive obedience and active obedience are imputed to you progressively if you live by faith alone.

SUSAN:  So, the more I have and live in faith alone, the more of Christ’s obedience I get.

PAUL:  Right. Now…

SUSAN:  So, if I have a weak faith, then his obedience in my life is weak.

PAUL:  Not necessarily. It all depends on Christ, okay? It all depends on Christ. Now, we cover this in detail in the Heidelberg Disputation.

SUSAN:  The point I’m trying to make is this is as to the confusion and desperation of people, because if they are taught about this progressive justification, this progressive amputation and everything they do has to be by faith alone, when they have periods of time of what they would call weak faith, doubting their salvation or doubting their motives, then they look at themselves and say, “Oh, then Christ’s passive and active obedience that is progressively being imputed to me is now diminished because of my diminished faith.” And it just leads to desperation of I cannot do anything good, there is I cannot please God in any way, I will never have his stamp of approval because my faith is not enough.

PAUL:  For those who are confused.

SUSAN:  For those who are confused.

PAUL:  Now, here is what a good Protestant Reformed pastor would teach this person. Right out of the Heidelberg Disputation, okay, let me start with thus. Now, at the T4G Conference in April…

SUSAN:  Twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth.

PAUL:  Twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth. Luther is held up as the hero of the Protestant faith. Calvin is held up as a hero. And here’s the long and the short of it. The founding document of the Protestant Reformation, the Heidelberg Disputation which came six months after the 95 Theses, which was a moral disputation pleading to reform the Catholic Church. See, the Reformation was about reforming the Catholic Church, and when that didn’t happen, Luther, Calvin and Augustine never repented of being Catholics. And that’s why Protestantism will invariably go back to the horror [SOUNDS LIKE 0:24:32] mommy. Eventually, they’ll go back to mommy.

But at any rate, Luther clearly, in the founding doctrinal statement of the Reformation which is the Heidelberg Disputation, every contemporary Orthodox doctrine, soteriological doctrine of the Reformation, every single one, without exception, can be found in the Heidelberg Disputation. Here’s how Luther framed it, and it’s all through the Disputation. Venial and mortal sin, okay? Of course, mortal sin is damning sin, but it all boils down to the primary theses of Theses 12 in the Heidelberg Disputation. In the sight of God, sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal. So, what’s he saying? And again, we went through this in detail. People e-mailed me who weren’t listening carefully, and I warned everybody, this is fundamental to understanding the Reformation and Protestantism in general and how they function and what they believe. Here’s how Luther framed it. This is the crux. If you believe as a Christian that everything you do, every motive, everything is sinful and vile before God, that’s venial sin. Well, what’s venial sin? You can go to church and get it forgiven through the “means of grace.” Well, what are the means of grace? The Lord’s Table, assembling with other Christians, sitting under the gospel preaching, obedience to the elders.

SUSAN:  Tithing.

PAUL:  Tithing, tithing, yes, okay? Those are the “means of grace.” Well, what’s grace mean in that sentence? What they’re really saying is the means of what?

SUSAN:  Salvation.

PAUL:  Salvation. So, basically, what they would tell the fellow who sends us his correspondence is, “Look, don’t worry about whether or not you can do a good work. You can’t.” In the Protestant construct, according to what Luther taught, if you believe you can do a good work pleasing to God that’s mortal sin. You believe a false gospel. So, they would tell this guy, “Yo, stop struggling with this. Nothing you can do is good. You have no righteousness of your own.” And this is where Calvin and Luther both taught the sanctification is a what?

SUSAN:  Rest.

PAUL:  Rest. Rest. Even though Peter said, “There remains yet a rest for God’s people.” Regardless of what the Apostle Paul said about us being soldiers, farmers, you know, work out our redemption with trembling and fear, “Now that I am gone,” Paul said, “obey even more than you obeyed when I was around,” so on and so forth, okay? And it confounds the difference between gift and reward. See, when Christ says, “Well done, faithful servant,” supposedly, is it going to really mean that we did it? And the Bible just becomes a massive confusion, and people that love the Lord tie their hearts in a knot trying to work this all out. Well, I got good news for you. Protestantism is a lie. Every time you drive past a Protestant church, no matter what the sign is out front, a brick-and-mortar Protestant church, trust me, it’s little more than a Hindu temple, okay? All you’re going to find in there is salvation by working at doing nothing. John Calvin and Martin Luther’s Sabbath rest salvation. Okay?

So, basically, to the person that writes this, the good news to him supposedly is that, “Hey, buddy. If you believe you can do anything good, you believe a false gospel.” “Oh gosh, Paul. So, how did Luther work this out as far as experience in real life? Here it is. Folks, you’ve heard this before. Start paying attention. I work my guts out to teach this stuff, and I get the e-mail, “I don’t understand. What are you talking about?” You hear it all the time. I’m just telling you what these guys mean when they say it from the pulpit. So, how was the Christian life experience? Well, here it is. It is the objective gospel experienced subjectively. You’ve heard these guys say this. Google it. You will get like 500,000 hits. MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Mark Dever, on and on and on and on.

SUSAN:  Chad Bresson.

PAUL:  Yeah, okay. The objective gospel experienced subjectively or how one Pastor put it to me, “I believe in definitive,” here it is, “definitive justification experienced subjectively.” What in the world are they talking about? Well, they’re saying something when they say that. So, here is what Luther said, I am paraphrasing. Okay, do your life thing. Do your life thing. Live your life. Okay, do whatever you want to do as far as worldly knowledge and all this, that and the other. Christ is working and you’re working, but it’s subjective. What’s that mean? Definitively, you don’t know whether you’re doing the work or Christ is doing the work. Christ is, in fact, doing works through you, but it’s experienced subjectively. What’s that mean? You really don’t know whether you’re doing it or you’re only experiencing what Christ is imputing. No. However, the true gospel is you’re a believer. You’re a believer and you believe the true gospel. If you believe that in this life experience every single thing you do is sinful and filthy rags before God, and that’s why Tim Keller created the [UNINTELLIGIBLE 0:33:06] when he preached a lesson saying that Christian needed to repent of their good works. And he got a lot of pushback from that from Calvinists that don’t know what a Calvinist is or Reformed people that don’t know what Reformed is.

But that’s good old-fashioned, authentic Protestant Orthodoxy. Plain and simple. You got to believe that you experience life subjectively, and yeah, there is good works going on, but you don’t know whether it’s the imputed works of Christ that you’re merely experiencing or actually a work that you’re doing. But if you’re doing it, it’s vile. But that’s where you go back to the cross and get your mortification or your forgiveness. And one of the things that you need to ask forgiveness for is any good work that you do just in case it was you doing it. That’s it. That’s it. And it’s okay as long as you obey the elders and partake in the ongoing means of grace. This progressive amputation will continue to be imputed to you, and you will have the righteousness of Christ and none of your own, as the Pastor in Louisville said to us, “You don’t do sanctification. Sanctification is done to you.” Remember when he said that? This is how it all works. So, they would tell this guy that wrote us, they would tell him, “Relax. You’re a vile sinner. You need to rest.” Plus, I’m nervous to stop constantly thinking about my justification before God lest I end up trusting in my works. I realized that it probably wouldn’t happen, but I’ve been hooked on Reformed theology for so long, it’s hard to break my brain patterns away from it.

So, what’s the truth? The truth is that the new birth is literal. And when these guys talk about heart change, they know that it’s deliberate deception. Heart change is strictly a perception. Biblical heart change is the actual putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new. It’s actual transformation, and the new birth is real. The old you literally died, and the new you was resurrected. If you look carefully at your life, you can see signs of the literal new birth. But, Susan, you and I talked about this today, and I had Pastors say this to me at a retreat, “Well, dude, you look like you’re still alive to me.” This was a group of Pastors from conservative Baptist churches, and they scoff at the idea of a literal new birth probably because you look at something like out of Romans 6, okay, Paul’s like, “Don’t you know?” And then he explains what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is. It’s a literal dying in Christ and then resurrected in Christ and becoming a literal number of the family of God. But, as far as the experience of that, let’s look at the pattern throughout all the Bible of miraculous birth. Help me remember some.

SUSAN:  Well, miraculous birth, well, I think Abraham and Sarah.

PAUL:  Abraham and Sarah, Rebecca.

SUSAN:  Yeah. Of course, Mary and Joseph, Mary and the Immaculate Conception. Those are the most popular ones.

PAUL:  Now, when those miraculous births happen, and they were miracles, like when Sarah first conceived, was she aware of it? Was it experiential?

SUSAN:  No.

PAUL:  Probably not. When Mary, her Immaculate Concepcion, at the moment of conception, was it experiential?

SUSAN:  I don’t believe so.

PAUL:  Right. So, basically, the new birth is probably more experiential than those other miraculous births as far as it goes. You know, it’s the pattern all through the Bible. But Paul said that, when he wrote the letters, one of the letters to Thessalonica, he mentioned that salvation came to them with great joy and power. And really, it kind of does. It did for me, okay? When, when I gave my life to the Lord, my whole mindset was different. Well, take this for instance. Look at my new career. I could never see that myself in this career and actually loving it and enjoying it. Why is that? Because I’m a changing person, and it’s radical change. In fact, you can give testimony. People who know me and our family members are like, “What? He’s doing what?” They can’t get their mind around it. But I believe the reason I’ve come to love this new career, and I have clients tell me, “You know, this profession seems really out of character for you. We think you’re good at it, but it seems really out of character for you. You come across as a construction worker.” And I’m like, “Well, that’s because I was. I was a builder for years. I owned a construction company and then was an alarm technician for years and years.” Why is that? Because I’m truly changing as a person and radically so to the point where your interests can change to things, and you can come to love things that are totally out of character for you to love. So, I hope that there was a lot more correspondence here.

So, basically, let me summarize with the truth, and the truth is that Christ, you know, Christ died for our sins is only half of it. But the new birth, you know, this whole business or righteousness of your own, well, if righteousness is a gift, when you’ve been given a gift, you own it. It is a righteousness of your own because you’re a new creature, you know. See how they play the word shell game? He asked a question that many asked and 1 John 1:18 is cited. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” and so on and so forth. Well, are you saying then that as Christians we have no sin? And, you know, I guess what we’ve got to start doing to make the point is yes, that’s exactly what I am saying, okay? Well, how can we say that? Well, do we have a Bible handy?

SUSAN:  I can get you one. Is not one over there on the shelf?

PAUL:  Yeah. I wasn’t ready for this, but let me grab a Bible and go to 1 John 3:9, okay? All right. They want to throw 1 John 3:8 at you – or I’m sorry, 1 John 1:8. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Truth is not in us.” Okay. So are you saying that we have no sin? Okay. Well, let’s go to 1 John, same book, 3:9. “Whoever is born of God does not commit sin. For his seed remaineth in him.” What seed is that talking about? That’s literal new birth, okay? “For his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” So, you know what? You’ve got a choice. Either the Bible contradicts itself or it doesn’t. Which is it? Well, the Bible doesn’t contradict itself. Well, then reconcile 1 John 1:8 and 1 John 3:9. Reconcile it. Well, you know, the Reformed camp, the Protestants’ camp, with their doctrine, this whole Christ died for our sins stuff is being the five-word gospel. Those two verses can’t be reconciled. Well, John didn’t literally mean that we don’t sin. Well, then how do you know he literally meant what he said in 1 John 1:8? You’ve got a dilemma, pal. It’s up to those bozos to reconcile those two verses. So, you know, the approach that Andy kind of takes is, “No, we don’t sin.” “Well, what do you mean we don’t sin’?” Go figure it out on your own. 1 John 3:9 says we don’t sin. Go figure it out. What’s John saying? John’s saying that Christ went to the cross to end sin, and here’s the crux. It’s impossible to attempt to justify ourselves in our Christian life through our good works because this is so simple. Paul says it over and over again. You’re not justified by the law. But Jesus keeps it for us. That’s still justification by the law. Who keeps it isn’t the point. The law is the point. Justification is apart from the law. And if you remember one caller we had into the show, he says, the law is a standard for justification. I said no, it isn’t. The law and justification are mutually exclusive. And, man, that statement blew him away. Well, then what is the standard for righteousness? And you know what? Actually, at that time I didn’t know how to answer that. I said, “You know, at this time I don’t know, but it’s not the law. That’s clear.” Well, now I know what the answer is through further learning and growing in these things. The standard for justification is the what? It’s in there. 1 John 3:9, it’s right in there.

SUSAN:  Yeah. That’s right.

PAUL:  No? Let me read John – the standard for justification is right in 1 John 39. Let me read it again. “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin.” In other words, he is justified. He is perfect, okay? So what’s the standard for being born again – or no – okay, you could take that phrase there, “does not commit sin.” What is that? That’s justification. And by the way, when you use the word justification biblically, justification and righteousness are the same word, same meaning. They’re used interchangeably. So let me rephrase it. “Whoever is born of God is righteous, okay? So what’s the standard for justification/righteousness?

SUSAN:  New birth.

PAUL:  The new birth. And it even goes on and said he can’t sin because God’s seed is in him. You’re born again. You can’t sin because Christ died then the law. In other words, he died to end the law’s condemnation for you. You’re no longer under law. And see, Christians are so ignorant about this because everything has been about justification in so many years. People, we have a lot to learn yet about all of this stuff. We have a lot to learn about all of this, okay? And it needs to be done together. No, no, no, no, stop. No. Get off the computer. Get off of Google right now. I didn’t say to go look for a book somebody wrote, okay? Get one of the ten Bibles you have lying around your house and get in it and start studying for yourself. Stop buying Protestant books. Al Mohler and all these bozos have enough money, trust me, okay? Quit reading books. This is the only book we need, the Bible. You’ve got ten of them lying around your house. Nine of them got dust all over them. Dust that copy off and you’ve got the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You don’t need Al Mohler. You don’t need John Piper. You have the Holy Spirit. And guess what? He’s smarter than them, okay? Believe it or not, the Holy Spirit is smarter than John Piper, okay? And he’s in you, and he has sealed you to the day of redemption. And that’s also what why you can do good works. Your turn to talk.

SUSAN:  I think you’ve said it all. From personal experience and having been born again out of early age, I went through a time as a teenager, this typical going forward at church and getting saved repeatedly because it wasn’t that I didn’t have assurance of salvation. It was that every time I committed a sin, I thought I was condemned and needed to be – needed to go back to the foot of the cross and…

PAUL:  Where did you get that?

SUSAN:  From the pulpit, that – and from all of these different evangelists that I had been attending their crusades-

PAUL:  But time out. I have a question for you. If somebody had cornered you and asked you whether you were forgiven of all your sins past, present and future by Christ’s death on the cross, you would have said…?

SUSAN:  Yes.

PAUL:  Yes. Emphatically you would have said yes. But how were you functioning?

SUSAN:  I was functioning as if I were not forgiven.

PAUL:  Right out of the Heidelberg Disputation.

SUSAN:  Yes, under judgment all the time. One of the phases I went through as a teenager was I really struggled because being born again at a very early age and wanting to please the Lord from the very beginning, I did not get involved in all of the sins of rebellion that a lot of teenagers did. I was sexually pure. I didn’t do drugs. I didn’t cuss or swear. I didn’t attend movies. I was modest in my dress. I obeyed my parents. I loved going to church. I read my Bible every day. And it wasn’t that I was stacking up good work. It’s that those were the desires of my heart. But I would go to these evangelistic crusades and, of course, the person standing up there holding the crusade would give this graphic novel of their past and how they had been saved out of this evil, evil past and the glorious salvation that occurred and then as a result of that new birth, what they were doing for the Lord now. And I began to doubt whether or not I was a believer because I did not have an evil path to be converted out of, you know. I wasn’t in the mob. I wasn’t a street prostitute, you know, drug dealer or anything like that. And then in our youth group, the youth leader gave his testimony, and his testimony was very similar to mine. He was raised in Christian home, born again at an early age, desired to serve the Lord and proceeded that way, and he did not have a path of horrible sin like two weeks before that evangelist that I heard, had so eloquently described. And he stood up there, and I noticed that afterward some of the teenagers were making fun of his testimony. And then it dawned on me, something that he said that was so significant: The same grace that saved this evangelist that we had just gone to hear the weekend before from the horrible life of sin is the same grace that saved him when he was a young child. No more, no less. God doesn’t dole out more grace for the more wicked sinner or the less wicked sinner. It is the same grace, and I got to thinking about that, that I was saved by grace through faith, just like what the verse in Ephesians says. It wasn’t less grace because I was saved at an early age before I had to experience sin, the sinful lifestyle that some of these evangelists described. And then it dawned on me too. A lot of these people spend more time glorifying their wicked path in order to evangelize than to talk about their sanctified life afterward and how their changed life made life better now because they were saved and they are experiencing daily – living the life of sanctification. And my pastor cautioned all of us teenagers not to dwell in the glory of somebody’s wicked past because that is when I started doubting whether or not I had been saved because I wasn’t as wicked as other people, and I was so grateful my youth director explained that God doesn’t increase the amount of saving grace because you were more wicked or less wicked. It is the same grace, not measured out, but it is his all sufficient grace that brings about salvation and that we really do need to have this forward motion in our thinking and not keep going back to the foot of the cross and dwelling on the sins that we confessed back there when we were getting saved, that we get up and move away from that into sanctification and being a disciple and discipling others into his word and studying to show ourselves approved unto God workmen that aren’t ashamed. And the churches that I have been to over the past few years before I met you, I often wondered why the same people were going forward every Sunday for prayer. And even after we got married, we went to a church where the same four five people every week, and we didn’t know if they were up there praying for others or praying for themselves or what, but I thought, “Well, something’s not permanent. The salvation experience isn’t permanent.” So we go forward, and we get our little blessing on Sunday. We go out and live like the devil and then come back…

PAUL:  Well, we ran into a lady at the – or you ran into a lady in the grocery store where you questioned and somebody you used to go to church with and you’re like, you know, “What’s all of this with people who is going down to the altar anyway?” And she said, “Well, I suppose they have sins that need to be forgiven.” Okay. All right. So, you know, Lord’s prayer, we do ask for forgiveness, but who do we ask?

SUSAN:  The Father.

PAUL:  The Father. So I’m not saying that – I like how Andy frames it. It’s not sin per se. It’s failure to love, okay? Really, more than anything, it’s failure to love. No, Christians don’t sin because we’re no longer under the law, and where – Paul says it, where there is no law, there is no sin. Really, the turning point in my life in this ministry was when it dawned on me that there was simply no law to condemn me.

SUSAN:  And I think this is where we can elaborate a little more when we say that we don’t sin. We could add the extra word that we don’t sin unto condemnation. You’ve  explained it before us. We sin against the family, and it’s a family sin and that yes, we have to make it right, yes, we have to ask for forgiveness for that, but it is not a sin under condemnation where we lose our salvation or we are condemned to hell or – but it is – we go to the Father and ask for forgiveness because we have offended him. And this is the precious part of being a believer. It is a family relationship and…

PAUL:  So David said, “You, Lord, only you have I sinned against.” Okay? If you put that in context to the law, what he said there makes perfect sense. Of course, he sinned against whoever he was when he sent him to the frontlines.

SUSAN:  Uriah.

PAUL:  Uriah. Of course he sinned against that guy and also the guy’s wife, okay? Of course, you know. So what was King David saying when he said that he only sinned against God alone, okay? If you put that in context of the law, it’s a possible way to look at that verse, okay? So with that, we’ll kind of wrap up and with some quick reminders, a quick summary before we sign off. It doesn’t look like we’re going to have any callers tonight, and if they do want to call in, they need to do it in a hurry. No comments or questions on the e-mail and so forth. But this whole thing with not knowing definitively whether we’re really pleasing God with our life and all this doubt surrounding our obedience in pleasing God creates anxiety, creates a lot of anxiety, okay? The person who wrote this even said that he’s having panic attacks. I also take you back to one of the things that we mentioned in the series of how the 12-year-old girl who went to that Reformed service and was upset that she heard the pastor say that nothing she did pleased God, okay? So with hell hanging in the balance, you can understand why this causes a lot of anxiety on people. And as we taught in the series, anxiety and fear is the gateway to depression. In the same way marijuana is a gateway drug, anxiety is a gateway to not only depression but every mental illness that there is. We talked about that. Even psychologists definitively state that anxiety has been present in every mental illness that there is, okay?

SUSAN:  But as a believer – I’ve been mulling over this as I’ve been preparing and all the reading that I’ve been doing for the conference. As a believer who wants to please the Lord and serve him, when we do good things for the Lord, when we know that it is a pleasing – a sacrifice of praise, an offering from our heart of our time, whatever we are doing for the Lord that is – if it pleases you and gives you joy and satisfaction and a sense of rightness and accomplishment, I believe that’s God’s way of assuring you that he is pleased because God does not want us to always live in this fear that what we are doing may or may not please him. He is pleased with us as we please him with our service and our love, and our motive come out of that love. So if it gives you joy to – I love to cook. If it gives me joy to cook a meal for someone and take it to them, then it pleases God for me to do that. I love to give gifts to the people I love. If it pleases me to show my affection for somebody by giving them something, it pleases the Lord as well because he knows my heart and I’m not doing it in a selfish or wanting something in return. I’m doing it to please him. It pleases me to please him.

PAUL:  All right. So if the Bible says that the only way we can have joy is to obey God and please God and love God and others, do you see what this doctrine has effectively done? It sucks true biblical joy out of your life and causes you to only experience a joy given to you as a gift in sanctification on God’s whim. And this is – if you read the book When I Don’t Desire God, or whatever it is written by John Piper, this is exactly what he says. The only time you have joy is in the vivification process when it’s a gift of God. John Piper said it. And, in fact, that is Protestant orthodoxy. Gift…

SUSAN:  I’m sorry. That is not an original thought with John Piper.

PAUL:  Well, of course not.

SUSAN:  That is Jonathan Edwards’ belief in teaching, and John Piper plagiarized it from Jonathan Edwards.

PAUL:  And I need to add that Jonathan Edwards got it from Martin Luther, okay? And that’s where it came from. All of this flows out of the Heidelberg Disputation yet the series – you can go to the blog and the whole series of the theological disputations is on the right widget, and you can listen to the whole series. Yeah, I get a lot of complaints. A lot of it is redundant, but it breaks all of this down to a T, okay? And so it sucks the joy out of our life and causes us to not seek joy at all. To not seek joy at all because basically to believe that joy is a cause and effect is worse. You focus on your sin, and whenever you get joy, it’s a gift from God. That’s what Piper said straight up in that book. I’ve written several articles on that.

So are we surprised that there isn’t more depression in the church? And so basically what the church is doing is creating the problem and then proffering themselves as the solution and turning people into stoics as the cure, and then you’ve got all these people going out and saying, “The counseling works. I have peace now.” Well, the reason that they have peace is that they’ve been made indifferent to life in general. And these people don’t have joy. They have an indifferent calm. They have an indifference to life. They’re indifferent. When I went to a pastor friend’s funeral that’s from that thing, and I was learning more and more, I told you before I went to the funeral, “You wait, Susan. It’s going to be very stoic. There isn’t going to be with wet eye in the place.” And it was. The guy’s son got up in front of the hundreds of people that were at that funeral and said, “I just want to tell you that my father was a wicked sinner.” That was his testimony to everybody that was there, and the whole place amened and, you know, thought it was great. Well, guess what? I hope he’s wrong because the Bible is clear what the fate of wicked sinners are. So it’s no wonder that the church is a brood of misfits due to this doctrine.

Now, we’re not going to be able to get in to summarizing a lot of the things. People can go back and – but you know, I really think we’ve hit on the crux of it tonight. I really do. And with that, if you don’t have anything else to add, you know, the Bible says clearly that mature love cast out fear, because fear has to do with judgment. That’s pretty clear. So if you focus on love, fear is going to diminish, and in you have no fear, you’re in good shape. The less fear you have, the better you are. And I have come to believe through these studies that unhealthy, all unhealthy fear flows out of fear of condemnation. I also have come to believe that self-tormenting thoughts that depressed people experience, horrible self-tormenting thoughts that people experience in depression flows from self-condemnation. Get rid of the condemnation, you get rid of those thoughts. You help people to grasp the truth that they are no longer under condemnation and that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. You need to help them grasp hold of the fact that they don’t have to question their motives for their love and sanctification because trying to justify yourself in sanctification is an impossibility. It’s just impossible. You can’t do it. It’s a moot [SOUNDS LIKE 1:13:00] issue. So forget all of that unhealthy introspection and just go out and start loving people.

SUSAN:  I think this is a big – you keep reminding me as I’m doing research. I have piles and piles of books in there that I’m reading, both secular by secular authors and Christian authors, on marriage and relationship, and you keep telling me that I need to quit reading the book. And in a sense I understand what you’re saying, and I encourage people when – your theology needs to come from the one and only theology text that’s reliable, and that’s God’s word. It’s just like that’s your marriage manual. And this the whole point of me scanning through these books. What are they saying about marriage and relationships? Well, I’m not going to use that as a marriage counseling text. I was just wanting to know what these people are saying about how to fix your marriage, and I just shake my head. The best marriage manual, the best courtship manual, the best single – if you’re single and not married, the best manual for your life is right before you, and it’s the word of God, and that’s the best theology and doctrine that you can study. We just don’t want to because at times it is difficult. God wants us to dig and study and dig out these truths sometimes just like you dig a deep root out of the ground when you’re trying to make for beautiful landscapes, but once you dig it out, the landscape is gorgeous. And I just want to encourage people. We are commanded in God’s word to study. We are not commanded to be sponges in the pew. We are to hold teachers accountable to the word of God, and we can’t do that unless we study the word ourselves and can identify truth from falsehood. So that’s all I have to say, is just as an educator of almost 45 years, study, that’s what I told all of my students for years, and I’m still telling the babies that I work [SOUNDS LIKE 1:15:50] with…

PAUL:  Right. And you know what? Our ministry focuses on just setting people in the right direction. People need to teach us. God’s people in general need get in the word and start putting these truths all together. Sanctification in our day and age has been barely scratched, and so a lot of work needs to be done, and we need to collectively do that. And so with that, we will sign off tonight, and I think it’s been a pretty decent study tonight, and, you know, we would encourage you to go out and aggressively love God and others this week without any fear of condemnation. And God bless you. And we will see you back here, hopefully, and you’ll be hearing us back here hopefully next Friday, same time, same place, and remember to check out this year’s conference, and e-mail us in regard to coming down or over or whatever it is and having fellowship with us. And with that, we’ll go ahead and sign off and see you next week.

 

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