Paul's Passing Thoughts

Like I Said: Protestant Sanctification Requires Remaining Under The Wrath of God

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on November 12, 2022

Throughout my TANC 2022 sessions, I argued that assurance of salvation and Protestant sanctification are mutually exclusive. The Reformers argued that assurance of salvation is counterproductive to sanctification, which they believed to be the progression of salvation. When evangelicalism started to return to authentic Protestantism in the early 70’s, the teaching on this was very subtle and nuanced for a number of years. Now, not so much. The following is not arguable: the Protestant definition of a “saved” person is the biblical definition of a lost person. In fact, the likes of John Piper and others state it openly and often. John Piper has stated in no uncertain terms that Christians still need to be saved. And in light of that and many other outrageous things that he has said, he is openly and fully endorsed by John MacArthur Jr. and many other pastor celebrities. This is because Protestant orthodoxy necessarily requires the so-called Christian to remain under the wrath of God; it is a tenet of Protestant soteriology. So, I stumbled upon this Protestant placard this morning and decided to use it to further the point.

This placard is a prime example of the total lack of understanding that Protestants have concerning salvation. Notice the lack of understanding in regard to transformation from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The focus is darkness, not light. According to Protestantism, sanctification is driven by not only remaining in darkness, but acquiring a deeper and deeper understanding of our darkness in order to have a deeper and deeper understanding of what God actually saved us from. Hence, the primary goal of sanctification, and the very definition of spiritual growth, is a deeper and deeper understanding of God’s mercy. Piper et al often state that this appreciation of God’s mercy, which makes the cross bigger, and man smaller, enables us to…”make it” into heaven. This idea is the premise of Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross, which is the founding principle of the Protestant Reformation. What this brings to mind follows: Jesus said that when the light of the eyes (focus and insight) is darkness, “how deep is that darkness!”

So, if we actually died with Christ, and have been resurrected with him, and as Paul said, “all things are new,” where would our inner source be for discovering this contrast in order to make the cross bigger? Isn’t the primary source for that information, the old us, literally dead? And if we are now slaves of righteousness, wouldn’t the aforementioned endeavor require us to remain slaves of unrighteousness? It just seems to me that a slave to righteousness is going to have difficulty digging up unrighteous fodder. If we are slaves to righteousness, it seems like data for making the cross bigger in our own lives should be harder and harder to find, not easier. And according to this construct, if we are slaves to righteousness, wouldn’t “making it” into heaven be increasingly more difficult?

By the way, why can’t we show our appreciation for being born into God’s family by pleasing our Father, rather than obtaining a deeper and deeper understanding of what we used to be? And if this is the primary endeavor in order to make it into heaven, is time spent loving others diminishing our chances to “make it” into heaven? How does a good slave to righteousness excel at seeing things that are indicative of being enslaved to unrighteousness? It seems to me, on the other hand, that such an emphasis would please our old master, not our new one.

I realize that Martin Luther wanted to make man small and God large through emphasizing the “cross story (glory of God)” versus the “glory story (glory of man),” which encompassed his Theology of the Cross doctrine, but we also need to remember that any kind of striving can be a works salvation; even a striving to make man smaller.


12 Responses

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  1. Joe said, on November 15, 2022 at 10:38 AM

    Interesting take. I would agree that in ourselves “dwells no good thing.” Thus, we do deserve the wrath of God apart from Jesus.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM

      Joe, Joe, Joe. Let me try this again: if we are born again, we are literally God’s children, and are not under wrath. Again, under grace is not a covering for remaining under law (under wrath). One is, one or the other. Jesus is not a covering for sin, he is the ending of sin. If you are born again, the “we” you refer to died with Christ, and regarding the present us, “all things are new.” And…”Thus, we do deserve the wrath of God apart from Jesus.” Joe, Joe, Joe, in the context you speak of, NO ONE has Christ, he only dwells in the living, not the dead. You are among many who yet have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the new birth is, how it changes our relationship to the law, our state of being, a literal kinship with God, and the difference between a failure to love and sin that condemns. You also, obviously, conflate the chastisement of a loving Father with the wrath of God. Jesus is not a wrath-buffer between us and our Father; there is “NOW NO condemnation” because we are no longer under wrath, not because Jesus is a wrath-buffer between us and God. By the way, that is a Gnostic idea to begin with.


      • Anonymous said, on November 16, 2022 at 11:51 AM

        Well brother, I think you misunderstood me. We are born sinners, aren’t we? Do we deserve anything, but God’s wrath BEFORE our salvation? And did we EARN salvation? My only point is that we deserve nothing good from God, but he is merciful to us. Did not Paul say “in my flesh dwells no good thing”? Of course we are not under wrath now that we are saved.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 17, 2022 at 6:05 AM

        No, “we” were NEVER born sinners. No, “we” were NEVER born sinners. No, “we” were NEVER born sinners. The present “we” are born of God. The present “we” has no relationship whatsoever to the old “we.” This is what Paul meant when he said, “All things are new.” “All” means “all.” This is the problem with justification by faith: it conflates the old we with the new we. Hence, the focus is sin and not love. The context of “in my flesh dwells no good thing” is NOT a case for a soteriological connection between the old we and the new we. To further this point, in Ephesians, Paul refers to the “old man,” not the old us. It’s a statement of a totally different state of being, not some kind of half-baked renovation. Besides, if sin is not the issue, the church has no premise to control you. If the premise is love, that casts out all fear and you have to have fear to control people.


  2. Ken B said, on November 18, 2022 at 5:55 PM

    Whatever happened to Jesus being the ‘propitiation’ for our sins, i.e. the wrath of God has been dealt with on the cross in the past? The believer is no longer under wrath – Romans 1 : 18 has been dealt with by Romans 3 : 25.

    As for the future … “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”, … in 1 Thess 5. This verse has been of comfort to me recently, as if you have ever embraced Calvinism (or only tried to) it can take quite a while to get the idea of a condemning and angry God back out of your system, and return to faith in a God who is loving, good, kind and with you rather than against you.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 19, 2022 at 6:54 AM

      Good points, and yes, one does not get rid of the under-law thinking overnight.


  3. jimmy jordan said, on November 21, 2022 at 3:57 PM

    The problem is that without Platonism Christianity is too fanatical. Born damned gotta get saved, one life to do it in, works damn and laziness saves, so be imensly lazy and wait for Jesus to send your spiritual welfare check. Platonism, become better with each suceeding life until you finally becone good enough to ascend up out of the cycle of reincarnation and back to God. Without some amount of that to temper the Jewish fanaticism of one-life-only theology, Christianity just becomes a chain that binds you to a spiritual couch waiting for your welfare check. Spiritual Welfare Queens, all Married to Daddy Government (Jesus) even if it has to be a homosexual marriage. Brides of Christ waiting for Him to ship the cheddar, and if he does they can’t open it lest doing something damn them. To even stand in line waiting for the government cheese would be doing something and therefore damnation!


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on November 22, 2022 at 6:05 AM

      Unfortunately, not too farfetched, and the result of remaining under the condemnation of the law.


  4. Argo said, on December 1, 2022 at 1:05 PM

    My favorite thing you do, Paul, is ask the question “before or after salvation?” when someone declares men evil and deserving of wrath. That question gets to the real heart of their doctrinal error.


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 2, 2022 at 6:52 PM

      Right, remaining under condemnation is necessary for fear, and fear is necessary for control.


      • Argo said, on December 2, 2022 at 7:46 PM

        It goes right to the bull’s eye of their metaphysics. Because the answer is of course, both, and they know it, even if they don’t or don’t want to admit it, and this is rank contradiction, now made easy for all to see. After that, it’s just mopping up their transparent equivocations. Very good.


      • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 3, 2022 at 7:28 AM

        Martin Luther’s “simultaneous saint and sinner” (simul Justus et peccator) is an overt biblical contradiction. The Bible is clear; you are either under grace or under law, you cannot be both. The fact that one of the largest religions in the world is based on this elementary error is, indeed, very scary.


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