Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Church is Not the Love of God, Nor Can Love Be Found in the Church

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 19, 2018

Updated CoverChurch orthodoxy itself excludes the possibility that love can be found in church; lovelessness is in the contract. Of course, like all other words in the dictionary, church redefines all of them because if you control the definition of words you control reality.

Church redefines eight words and two phrases for forming two doctrines that make biblical love impossible; “perfect,” “sin,” “weakness,” “law,” “love,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “antinomianism,” “new birth,” and “under grace.”

Preface: the gospel is both simple and complex. Its complexity is purposeful in confirming its truth while its simplicity doesn’t make it difficult to enter into God’s kingdom. The new birth is a simple concept that is, for the most part, intuitive, while the new birth’s relationship to the law is very complex. However, the truth and reliability of Scripture is confirmed by this complexity and exposes run-of-the mill falsehoods that sound logical. So, the following will take your own thinking and some effort.

Let’s start with law. There are only two people groups in the world in regard to soteriology: “under law,” and “under grace,” viz, lost and saved. Keep in mind: under law is an all-pervasive mindset. Even those under grace must retrain themselves not to perceive reality through the lens of under law.

Church orthodoxy starts with defining law as a single purpose perspective. In other words, the law only has one role in reality: condemnation. Law’s character and purpose in reality is redefined. Law is the linchpin to redefining the other words, so that is why we are starting with law.

Law is defined as perfection’s standard. So, justification is redefined as, perfect law-keeping. Let’s stop for review: church defines law as the standard for perfection and subsequently justification (before God). Therefore, perfect law-keeping is the standard of justification. Please note: the Bible does not define justification as perfect law-keeping. Secondly, if this were true, in regard to humanity, law can ONLY condemn which in fact is the church’s position on the law’s function; it can only condemn because no one can keep it perfectly.

This is in stark contrast to biblical definitions. According to the Bible, the law condemns AND enables people to love. The Bible definition of law defines it as two purposes affected by the Holy Spirit. According to the Bible, the law belongs to the Holy Spirt, and He uses it for two purposes: to condemn those under law, and to sanctify (set apart) those under grace. In other words, being under grace doesn’t mean that you are not under a law, it means you are under the Spirit’s second use of the law. This may be dubbed, “The Spirit’s two uses of the law” which delineates between under law and under grace. Please note Romans 8:2,

because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (NIV).

The word, “law” in this verse, that is, in both cases, is “nomos.” This is key; nomos refers to God’s truth as revealed in the law. Notice that the Spirit is the life-giver, and He uses one use of the law, “through Christ” to set us free from His other use of the law, to convict the world of sin and the judgement to come. His other use of the law aside from the aforementioned use is to “sanctify” or “set apart” (John 17:17).

Church orthodoxy disallows for the Spirit’s two uses of the law, and only recognizes the law’s condemnation. This is foundational to church soteriology; ONE use of the law. AND, justification defined as perfect law-keeping. Church circumvents the true meaning of Romans 8:2 which as we will see makes love in the church impossible. It also makes the church gospel patently false by redefining the new birth.

Now let’s examine the “through Christ” part of this verse. Christ established the new birth when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the grave. This is “the promise” made to Abraham AND Christ (Galatians chapter 3) AND, the promise is COMPLETLEY separate from the law. The promise regards the fact that the Spirit would not leave Christ in the grave but resurrected Him as the “first fruits” of bringing many children to glory. This is the new birth.

Hence, the believer, when baptized by the Spirit (“You must be born again” John chapter 3) literally dies with Christ, and is also literally resurrected with Christ. This is the abolishment of the first law that condemns, that is, all together, and transforms the believer to the Spirit’s second use of the law. This eliminates ALL condemnation under the first law to the point where the Bible frames it this way: “where there is no law there is no sin.” Church orthodoxy defines sin as violating the ONE law (a single perspective on the law), which makes it impossible for a Christian to be without sin. Hence, we are all “sinners saved by grace.” In the Bible, a “sinner” is defined as one under law. And since church disavows two perspectives on the law, EVERYONE must remain under law. This redefines the new birth as well, and…

…how the church defines “perfect.” The church defines perfect as justification through perfect law-keeping as previously stated. Everyone remains under law. “Under grace” is redefined as a status under law, but NOT completely separate with the former being completely eradicated. In contrast, to be biblically transformed from “death to life” means we are transformed from under law to under grace through the new birth resulting in there being “NO condemnation” for those of us “in Christ.”

Why is it so hard for Christians to say that we no longer sin? Answer: the under law mindset. When Christ called on us to be “perfect” like our Father, He wasn’t deliberately challenging us to an impossible standard for purposes of showing us our inability to keep the law perfectly, He was challenging us to LOVE. As an aside, it is interesting to note that in every place “grace” appears in the Bible, “love” can be substituted. Grace is love in action. Under grace can be fairly referred to as “under love.”

The biblical definition of “perfect” follows: one under grace exercising their faith through love. The standard for love is the Spirit’s use of the law under grace. In contrast, the church does not recognize this second use of the law which necessarily leads to a denial of the new birth. The new birth transforms the believer from under law to under grace or from one use of the Spirit’s law to the other.

Christians who claim they no longer sin will be quickly accused of  “perfectionism” and “antinomianism.” They attribute perfectionism to those who claim to keep the law perfectly and thereby earn their own justification. This definition flows from there redefinition of justification: perfect law-keeping.

Let’s pause here to note the biblical definition of justification (righteousness). It is what happens in the second part of the new birth; the believer is born again and is infused with God’s life, or “seed.” THIS ALONE makes us righteous.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (KJV).

Most Christians find this passage in 1John utterly perplexing. Why? Answer: the under law mindset. However, if you look at it from the perspective of what the new birth does, we may read it this way:

Whosoever commits sin transgresses the law: for sin is the transgression of the law of sin and death. And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin (so, if we are in Christ, we have NO SIN). And whosoever is in Christ does not sin because they are under grace, and where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 3:19, 20; 4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8; 10:4): whosoever sins has not seen him, neither know him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he who is under love, and loves accordingly, is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy sin, the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for God’s seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God and not under the law of sin and death. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not love under grace is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Faith works righteousness through love (Galatians 5:6).

God’s indwelling seed, another way of saying we are born of God and permanently indwelled by Christ and the Spirit, is what makes us righteous, NOT perfect law-keeping. By the way, church is in error based on the simplest of points on this wise: perfect law-keeping as the standard for righteousness is not a righteousness “apart from the law.” This would seem evident.

The Bible has another way of driving this point home: those under grace, or the law of the Spirit of life, fulfill the whole law by love (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:10) in the same way those under the law of sin and death violate the whole law with one sin (James 2:10). Therefore, when the Bible seems to refer to Christians sinning, it should be understood in context. Christians fail to love, and can be chastised accordingly by our Father. Family of God sin, stated technically as a failure to love, does not bring condemnation under the law of sin and death. In contrast to church orthodoxy, sin is not defined through a single perspective due to the fact that hundreds of years of orthodoxy has missed Romans 8:2.

But why do Christians fail to love at all times? This is where church redefines “weakness” as synonymous with sin. Weakness is not sin. There were times when Christ was in a state of weakness, but obviously, without sin. The “holy” angels are without sin, but obviously weaker than God. In regard to us, our mind’s LOVE for God’s law/truth/word is what makes us righteous though clothed in weak mortal bodies. The “willing” spirit (“the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”) in our mortal bodies is a characteristic of our righteousness. This is why the Bible calls us “holy” in several places, because we are.

According to Romans chapter seven, our struggle is between the “law in my members,” that is, sin, which resides in our weak mortality and attempts to keep us under the condemnation of the law, and “the law of my mind” which is the regenerated part of us that makes us righteous. Though we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the law of sin and death, sin still attempts to use it for condemnation. This is because sin wants to control people whether they are lost or saved (Genesis 4:6.7), and the control is gained through condemnation. So, regardless of the fact that the new birth strips sin of its power to condemn through the law of sin and death (1Corintians 15:56), the sin in our members still tries to make a case for condemnation. Misinformed soteriology will enable sin to be successful in that effort. The “law of my mind” refers to progressive sanctification that uses the law of the Spirit of life for spiritual growth. That is, the Spirit’s second use of the law.

“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins” (NLT).

Other than the idea of  “we sinners,” this is a good representation of Romans 8:3. We are no longer enslaved by sin and therefore righteous. Though weak, we are free to serve a different Master:

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

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

Because church defines justification/righteousness as perfect law-keeping, and no one can keep the law perfectly, church must redefine the new birth and everything else that defines the new birth. According to church orthodoxy, all the new birth does is opens our eyes to the fact that we can’t keep the law well enough to be justified. That would be true if we were still under the law of sin and death, and the law wasn’t fulfilled by love. What church does, and this speaks specifically to the formal Protestant doctrine of mortification and vivification, it denies the new birth as a onetime final event.

But before we articulate that point, we must ask a question. If perfect law-keeping is the standard for justification, how are churchgoers saved? Well, someone keeps the law for us; namely, Jesus. This is where we will bring the formal church doctrines of “double imputation” and “mortification and vivification” into the conversation.

The Bible states that we are saved by Christ’s death and resurrection. How so? Because His death and resurrection established the new birth. We are saved by believing that, and wanting it for ourselves. If we are going to be in Christ, we must “take up our cross and follow” Him. What does that mean? It means we call out to God to follow Christ in baptism. This is only a work that God can do through the “Spirit who gives life,” but we can believe it and want it for our own lives. Believing, or saving faith, encompasses a desire to be born again; a desire to die to the present life and resurrected to a new one. Of course, we cannot rebirth ourselves, only the Spirit can do that, but we can believe it and call on the Lord for salvation accordingly. “You must be born again.”

This baptism unto salvation makes perfect law-keeping a mute point unless you are Protestant; if you are Protestant, the “righteous demands of the law” must be continually satisfied. In other words, the law of sin and death doesn’t go away; it doesn’t die with Christ. Church denies that the ordinances of the law were “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). The old man doesn’t die with Christ and remains under the jurisdiction of the law of sin and death that the Spirit uses to convict the world of sin and judgment to come. Therefore, this remains as the same purpose for so-called Christians as well.

So, according to the church doctrine of double imputation, Christ came to live a perfect law-keeping life to secure righteousness for humanity, and died to pay the penalty of sin, and was resurrected as a confirmation that His law-keeping was good enough to pay the full penalty of sin. In fact, outrageously, many church scholars claim that Christ gained His own righteousness via a life of perfect law-keeping. Churchgoers who have any commonsense remaining find this utterly shocking and usually refuse to believe it. Nevertheless, it’s a fact. And, again, how is that a righteousness apart from the law? In contrast, the Bible says Christ was resurrected so that we can be resurrected with Him as newly created creatures free to serve the law of the Spirit of life rather than the law of sin and death. That is why Christ was resurrected, NOT to confirm His supposed perfect law-keeping. Christ kept the law perfectly by virtue of who He was and hardly needed to prove anything to the Father. Regardless of church pomp and circumstance amidst glorious infrastructure and religious folklore, its orthodoxy is absurd.

Let’s review the contrast. The Bible teaches that Christ came to end the law of sin and death for the old us through His death, and was resurrected so we can be recreated in His likeness which includes the infusion of righteousness within us and the regeneration of our minds. This makes our bodies, in one sense, a holy temple from which we offer living sacrifices to God though sin still resides in our members. Furthermore, the law is now fulfilled in us through love which is mutually exclusive from any motive to be justified by law-keeping. All that is left is using the law for love while knowing justification by law is impossible; the new birth saves us. We are now free to love aggressively with no fear of condemnation.

This speaks to assurance in a big way. If we are still under law, and see law from a single perspective, there is no possible way to know what our motives are when we attempt to please God by obeying the law. However, if we see justification as a finished work, the only motive left is love. Since church deems all of humanity as still under law, sin is not ended and must be continually covered; in essence, there is no possible way of knowing what your motives are in keeping the law. In fact, church orthodoxy teaches that the likely motive is self-justification which is always a possibility if we are still under the law of sin and death. Hence, the only means of assurance is to abandon any effort at law-keeping. Unwittingly, this cancels out the use of the law for love in sanctification. This is one reason why love in the church is impossible.

Now we will examine how this works for churchgoers. There is only one law, and the perfect keeping of it must be maintained in order for justification/righteousness/salvation to be available. Christ came to do that, and once He accomplished that, saving faith is now defined as a belief that one’s righteousness must be substituted by Christ. Instead of sin being ended, it must be covered. The law and its “righteous demands” must be continually satisfied. How does this happen?

Because churchgoers are unable to keep the law perfectly, the ongoing breaking of the law must be forgiven. That’s first; ongoing forgiveness for “present sin” is required. Secondly, in order to “declare” a believer righteous, that righteousness must be substituted as well and “imputed” to the “believer” perpetually. This is the doctrine of  double imputation.

So, how is ongoing forgiveness of sin obtained? Mortification, that is, of sin, takes place for “present sin” (death) followed by re-justification (resurrection/vivification). Therefore, the new birth is defined by church as a none-experiential repeating of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some church scholars strongly emphasize a joy experience with the vivification part. This is the doctrine of mortification and vivification. It makes the new birth/baptism of the Spirit a perpetual reoccurrence in order for churchgoers to remain saved.  As long as the church “means of grace” are performed by the churchgoer; viz, tithing, sitting under “gospel preaching,” prayer,  participating in the Lord’s Table, confession of sin, etc., mortification and vivification takes place resulting in perpetual re-justification.

Hence, Christ came to establish double imputation because everyone is still under law, both forgiveness and a righteous state of being must be substituted while real righteousness remains “outside of the believer.” This is Martin Luther’s “alien righteousness.” In order for the so-called believer to continually obtain perpetual baptism for re-justification (mortification and vivification, what church scholars call a “reliving of our baptism”), they partake in the “means of grace” found only in formal church membership. Instead of the baptism of the Spirit saving us from one law and making us a servant of love, this doctrine keeps people under the law of sin and death and thus redefines the new birth for purposes of progressive justification culminating in a “final justification.”

This brings us to another reason why love can’t be found in the church, at least true biblical love. Instead of love being the natural result of a truly biblical new birth, all activity is focused on the “means of grace” that keep churchgoers saved. People aren’t coming to love each other, they are coming to church to save themselves from hell. Not only that, love must be defined as congruent with righteousness which boils down to perfect law-keeping as well, and since churchgoers are fond of reminding us that we cannot keep the law perfectly, this also excludes the possibility of love. Any love that can be pointed to is a love performed by Christ and “imputed” to the churchgoer to keep him or her under legal declaration only. The claim by any churchgoers that they love would also be a “righteousness of their own.” In fact, Martin Luther stated in the Heidelberg Disputation that any belief that one can do a good work, which would necessarily include love, is a belief that damns. John Calvin also concurred in 3.14.11 of his Institutes of Christian Religion.

The claim of personal righteousness necessarily claims righteous works by the individual including love. 1John chapter 3 makes the two synonymous. In contrast, a claim that we have no “righteousness of our own” necessarily eliminates the possibly that we can love. Churchgoers cannot have it both ways. Furthermore, a righteousness apart from us is not a righteousness in us which includes God’s seed. You can’t have that both ways either.

Moreover, this would also mean that under grace is not mutually exclusive from under law but a mere subset of under law. In addition, this would make sanctification a subset of justification. In other words, under grace is merely a pardon under law, and sanctification a mere progression of justification.

Lastly, this would redefine antinomianism (anti-law) as a denial of the law as justification’s standard while biblically, antinomianism denies the use of the law to love God and others in sanctification. The truth of the matter therefore follows: church is an antinomian religion.

This is exactly what church orthodoxy does because it makes an impossibility to obey the law perfectly apply to love as well. Here is what 1John says about that:

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.

This is fear of condemnation under the law of sin and death versus one who has been perfected in love—love is defined in the Bible as the “perfect thing.”

1Corinthians 13:1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

There is lots of discussion about how “perfect” should be interpreted in these passages. It can be interpreted as “mature” love or “complete” love, but either way, it is NOT perfect law-keeping. For all practical purposes, those under grace are perfect (holy) because the law can’t condemn them, and they are under the perfect thing which is love. We are perfect because we are under love and not law. The practice of love fulfills the law, so it might as well be perfect law-keeping for all practice purposes.

Before we conclude, it should be mentioned as an aside that the doctrines of double imputation and mortification/vivification steer alarmingly close to what the Hebrew writer fustigated: the practice of ritual atonement for sin re-crucifies Christ and puts Him once again in open shame. Church scholars deny that charge by saying Christ only died once, and these doctrines are only a reapplication of Christ’s onetime finished work. But apart from who the Hebrew writer was addressing, the only difference is method of ritual. The church’s means of grace is merely a different way of serving the Old Covenant while claiming the New.

We struggle with the idea that being born of God makes us holy and righteous despite our weak humanity. Again, because of the under law mindset that saturates reality. However, if not for this weakness, we wouldn’t fail to love.

Redemption is the saving of our bodies, when the partial love hindered by weakness will give way to COMPLETE love. This is when we will fully know God (love) as He has fully known (loved) us from the beginning (1Corinthians chapter 13). But until then, be sure of this: love cannot be found in church and God cannot be known (loved) to any degree through the doctrines of double imputation and mortification/vivification.

And the standard for perfection is not law, it is love, which fulfills the law.

paul

 

 

 

 

3 Responses

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  1. John said, on July 19, 2018 at 5:17 PM

    Take a pineapple and rub my back with it, but for some reason, double imputation makes me think of the “wheel of karma.” Double amputation (of the senses, including the common variety) also makes me see visions of Calvin–peace be upon him–and Herr Luther on surfboards, riding an imaginary wave of cosmic luck.

    If one is born again, eternal life is not a wheel of fortune; it’s not a gamble.

    Like

  2. republican mother said, on July 20, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    Church these days is three songs and a Ted Talk. If you are really into it, then you get to read out of a quarterly together. Yay! This all pretty lame compared to what the church is doing in the Bible, therefore, people innately know something is very off.

    Like

    • John said, on July 20, 2018 at 5:48 PM

      RM, yes, they do know innately that something is rotten in the Garden of Calvin & Co., but I guess it’s hard to admit…it’s called pride, among many other things. These people in Churchland have so much to lose (in their minds); it’s strange that they are missing the obvious. Or is it?

      Like


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