Paul's Passing Thoughts

John Calvin’s Gospel of Works, Fear, and NO Assurance

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 16, 2016

…Originally published December 13, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“According to Calvin, fear of future judgment is one of the primary motivations for repentance in the Christians life:”

John Calvin was pure heretic. The present-day exaltation of him by the who’s who of evangelicals is an abomination before the Lord. For Calvin, the Christian life is lived out in a progression of justification; viz, justification is not a onetime event that is a finished work by God alone. The Christian life starts with repentance and faith, and that not only justifies us in the beginning, it must continue to justify us throughout the course of our life. “Progressive sanctification” is really progressive justification. The Christian life is not lived out as a result of our salvation; we must live in the progression of salvation and stay in its status through faith and repentance alone. We must keep ourselves saved by perpetual repentance. This is the “P” in TULIP, “perseverance of the saints.” No distinction is made between repentance unto salvation and repentance as a son of God. Calvin evokes all Scriptural calls to repentance for salvation as indicative of the Christian life. Calvin cites biblical salvation verses—as verses pertaining to the Christian life throughout the Calvin Institutes.

Furthermore, Calvin insisted that Christian repentance is motivated by fear, and repentance is active, while the results of repentance, a joyful rebirth experience, is the work of God. It is a perpetual revisiting of the gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. Our only work is repenting of sin while works imputed by God to our Christian life are only experienced, and not performed.

First, Calvin defines repentance in his Institutes. Keep in mind that he is not writing about original salvation, but the Christian life. This will be confirmed after this citation:

Certain learned men, who lived long before the present days and were desirous to speak simply and sincerely according to the rule of Scripture, held that repentance consists of two parts, mortification and quickening. By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment. For when a man is brought to a true knowledge of sin, he begins truly to hate and abominate sin… By quickening they mean, the comfort which is produced by faith, as when a man prostrated by a consciousness of sin, and smitten with the fear of God, afterwards beholding his goodness, and the mercy, grace, and salvation obtained through Christ, looks up, begins to breathe, takes courage, and passes, as it were, from death unto life. I admit that these terms, when rightly interpreted, aptly enough express the power of repentance; only I cannot assent to their using the term quickening, for the joy which the soul feels after being calmed from perturbation and fear. It more properly means, that desire of pious and holy living which springs from the new birth; as if it were said, that the man dies to himself that he may begin to live unto God (CI 3.33).

We must now explain the third part of the definition, and show what is meant when we say that repentance consists of two parts—viz. the mortification of the flesh, and the quickening of the Spirit (CI 3.3.8).

And for how long do we partake in this perpetual repentance (mortification) and rebirth (vivification)?

This renewal, indeed, is not accomplished in a moment, a day, or a year, but by uninterrupted, sometimes even by slow progress God abolishes the remains of carnal corruption in his elect, cleanses them from pollution, and consecrates them as his temples, restoring all their inclinations to real purity, so that during their whole lives they may practice repentance, and know that death is the only termination to this warfare…It is not denied that there is room for improvement; but what I maintain is, that the nearer any one approaches in resemblance to God, the more does the image of God appear in him. That believers may attain to it, God assigns repentance as the goal towards which they must keep running [emphasis added] during the whole course of their lives (CI 3.3.9).

Though Calvin wrote of being transformed into the “image” of God, this is part and parcel with the passive and perpetual rebirth experience by the Christian. This does not denote a change or improvement in the Christian’s nature which would lessen the need for repentance. Obviously, if you look at the chart below, raising the trajectory of repentance makes the cross smaller, so repentance leading to real change is not in focus here. Calvin’s idea of transformation regards the birthing of realms which is experienced by the Christian through joy. Hence, the new birth is perpetual through the Christian’s life and is the result of perpetual repentance. We are to repent and dwell on our own depravity, and leave any quickenings or rebirth experiences to God:

He, however, who has emptied himself (cf. Phil. 2:7) through suffering no longer does works but knows that God works and does all things in him. For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Martin Luther: Heidelberg Disputation, theses 24).

In obedience to God’s word we should fight to walk in the paths where he has promised his blessings. But when and how they come is God’s to decide, not ours. If they delay, we trust the wisdom of our Father’s timing, and we wait. In this way joy remains a gift, while we work patiently in the field of obedience and fight against the weeds and the crows and the rodents. Here is where joy will come. Here is where Christ will reveal himself (John 14:21). But that revelation and that joy will come when and how Christ chooses. It will be a gift… Heaven hangs on having the taste of joy in God. Therefore, it might not be so strange after all to think of fighting for this joy. Our eternal lives depend on it (John Piper: When I Don’t Desire God; p.43, p.34).

It is also important to note that in this construct, for the most part, repentance is something we focus on, and not something we necessarily try to do. The goal is to see our own depravity in a deeper and deeper way, and this results in a joyful rebirth experience that is totally out of our control. But yet, we must fight for this joy, or rebirth experience because “Our eternal lives depend on it.” Not only is this clearly works salvation, but it makes our eternal destiny ambiguous at best. Therefore…

Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, who is kindly offered to us, and comes forth to meet us: he will number us among his flock, and keep us within his fold. But anxiety arises as to our future state. For as Paul teaches, that those are called who were previously elected, so our Savior shows that many are called, but few chosen (Mt. 22:14). Nay, even Paul himself dissuades us from security, when he says, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” (1 Cor. 10:12). And again, “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee,” (Rom. 11:20, 21). In fine, we are sufficiently taught by experience itself, that calling and faith are of little value without perseverance, which, however, is not the gift of all (CI 3.24.6).

There is danger on the way to salvation in heaven. We need ongoing protection after our conversion. Our security does not mean we are home free. There is a battle to be fought (John Piper: Bethlehem Baptist Church Minneapolis, Minnesota; The Elect Are Kept by the Power of God October 17, 1993).

According to Calvin, fear of future judgment is one of the primary motivations for repentance in the Christians life:

By mortification they mean, grief of soul and terror, produced by a conviction of sin and a sense of the divine judgment [sec.3]… it seems to me, that repentance may be not inappropriately defined thus: A real conversion of our life unto God, proceeding from sincere and serious fear of God; and consisting in the mortification of our flesh and the old man, and the quickening of the Spirit. In this sense are to be understood all those addresses in which the prophets first, and the apostles afterwards, exhorted the people of their time to repentance. The great object for which they labored was, to fill them with confusion for their sins and dread of the divine judgment, that they might fall down and humble themselves before him whom they had offended, and, with true repentance, retake themselves to the right path [sec.5]… The second part of our definition is, that repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God. Before the mind of the sinner can be inclined to repentance, he must be aroused by the thought of divine judgment; but when once the thought that God will one day ascend his tribunal to take an account of all words and actions has taken possession of his mind, it will not allow him to rest, or have one moment’s peace, but will perpetually urge him to adopt a different plan of life, that he may be able to stand securely at that judgment-seat. Hence the Scripture, when exhorting to repentance, often introduces the subject of judgment, as in Jeremiah, “Lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings,” (Jer. 4:4)… The stern threatening which God employs are extorted from him by our depraved dispositions [sec.7] [from the CI 3.3.3-7].

Of course, this is all in egregious contradiction to the Scriptures; viz,

1John 4:18 – 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.

Calvin’s false gospel requires us to run a race of perpetual repentance driven by fear of judgment in order to keep ourselves saved. The new birth is not a onetime event known as regeneration, but is only an EXPERIENCE that follows the mortification of repentance. Calvin states that these quickenings that follow mortification are accompanied by joy and subjective manifestations of God’s image. Many are called, but not all have the gift of persevering in the cycle of mortification and vivification. Therefore, assurance of salvation is dubious at best.

Beside the fact that the apostle John wrote the book of 1John so that we can “know” that we are saved, Calvin’s gospel contradicts a mass of holy writ. This subjective gospel also adds a peculiar twist if you consider Calvin’s power of the keys; ie., whatever elders bind on earth will be bound in heaven. While the soteriology lends uncertainty to one’s eternal destiny, is assurance found more in having the elder’s approval? After all, if he states that you are saved, heaven will bind it.

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Revised Vital Union Chart

An Introduction to TANC 2015: Why the Protestant Reformation is a Lie

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 14, 2015

2015 COVER2015.ttanc.com

Protestants don’t know anything. That’s not a derogatory remark, it’s merely a staple of Reformed ideology. It’s who we are supposed to be. Protestantism is predicated on the idea of spiritual caste as an accepted norm. The average Protestant parishioner is not supposed to know anything, and again, this is an accepted norm. In fact, many Protestant laymen who didn’t get the memo will concur; knowing something in the institutional church will usually get you in trouble. If you know something, you lack humbleness, and are trying to undermine… The Pastor.

This should not surprise us at all if we understand our authentic roots and the ideology of our spiritual heroes. Though Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is credited with launching the Reformation, its first and defining doctrinal statement came six months later in the form of the Heidelberg Disputation to the Augustinian Order. In the 22nd thesis of that document, Luther declared knowledge to be a vice that does nothing but puff people up, and like with all lust, it can never be satisfied. Luther’s disdain for reason is well documented, referring to it as…

Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.

Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.

Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.

There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason… Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.

Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.

Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason.

To be a Christian, you must “pluck out the eye of reason.”

In our day, this fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree as reflected in this quote by a pastor sent to our ministry by one of his former parishioners:

Paul told the Corinthian church that “‘knowledge’ puffs up but love builds up” (1Cor 8:1). So, if you love knowledge and look into the word of God to gain mere knowledge and you absolutely love doing it to the exclusion or ignoring of everything else, you may be “puffed up” and indeed not “building up.”…. Puffiness rips and tears. Puffiness pushes people away. Puffiness divides. Perhaps even more critical is the fact that puffiness portrays a small gospel and devastatingly distorts God’s glory.

To the puffy I say, “Stop studying your Bible.” Go on a quest for Jesus.  He is the Word! Study Him, not it.

Studying Jesus and not any knowledge regarding Jesus is the most popular rendering of 1Corithians 2:2 in our day: we are supposed to make every effort to know NOTHING but Christ and him crucified. After all, according to another popular truism in our day, “He is a person—not a precept.”

Of course, most Protestants would deny all of this out of hand when confronted, but the roots and foundation of Protestant ideology has at least resulted in a lax view of knowledge while leaving the thinking to Protestant academia. Some well-known evangelicals such as Dr. Jay Adams have stated the obvious: Protestants are biblically illiterate, and have no wisdom in regard to Christian living other than God-given commonsense and even that is at an all-time low.

Christians, who strive for wisdom and spiritual maturity in the institutional church, if they don’t give up, will eventually find themselves in turmoil and at a crossroads. Striding towards commonsense spiritual objectives will continually put them at odds with the Protestant herd. I was certainly no exception. As someone who was always considered knowledgeable wherever I attended church as a Baptist, in reality, I knew nothing. The knowledge that I had accumulated in various seminaries and Bible colleges was all but worthless. Though I read and studied my Bible more than most, I understood little of it. Most of what I read made no sense at all. Nevertheless, I deemed myself knowledgeable relative to the environment, yet in my heart, I knew the Christian life made no sense and I was for the most part confused. In reality, I was good at constructing Protestant sentences with orthodox bumper stickers and pithy truisms.

So, I set out on a journey eight years ago to search for clarity after 23 years of confusion and strife. The part of my journey that really made everything come together began in 2011 when I embarked on a personal study of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I was determined to make this the time—the endeavor that would reveal once and for all what I was searching for: why my God seemed to be a God of confusion. I prayed earnestly at the beginning of the study that I would just let Paul’s words say what they plainly said. If something he wrote was definitive, I would use that as a building block of understanding.

Though I stayed true to the plan, not much happened until Romans 4:15. That’s the day my life came to a full stop.

For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

What in the world did Paul mean by that?  NO law, NO sin: especially in the context; speaking of Christians. I kept it mind and continued to work through the letter. Then I came to Romans 5:13…

for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

There it was again: no law, no sin. I stopped there in my verse by verse study and read through the rest of the letter and found the following:

Romans 7:6 – 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. 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Apart from the law sin lies dead. There it is again. No law, no sin. Then I read the following as well:

Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Conclusion: Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law, there is no sin. That’s how Christ took my sins away: He died on the cross to end the law. The true Christian is free from any judgement or condemnation—we are not under the jurisdiction of the law.

I wasn’t the least bit sure where this left the law in regard to the Christian life, but pondering the simple fact that we are no longer condemned was exhilarating and freeing. The old self that was under the law of sin and death died with Christ; you can’t indict a dead person, they are no longer under the law. And even if you exhumed my body and presented it in court, the judge has no law in which to convict me (Rom 7:1-6). There is NOW no condemnation for those in Christ (Rom 8:1).

Again, I was not sure where this left the law in regard to the believer’s life, but I had my building block; part of the pieces fit together which would lead to more pieces fitting and an increased understanding of the bigger picture.

Then I came to Romans 8:2.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Remember, I had committed to simply letting the words say what they say. As a result, I saw something in this verse that I had never seen before; clearly, Paul wrote of two separate laws…the law of the Spirit, which I had always thought of as the Spirit’s realm of influence, and the law of sin and death.

“Wait a minute here,” I thought to myself. “If the law of sin and death refers to the written law that condemns mankind, and the two laws spoken of here are the same Greek word, and they are, why would one refer to a realm while the other one referred to a written law? Could it be that this is two perspectives on the same law?” I knew that a literal take on this verse would demand that, and then John 17:17 came to mind:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Then another verse came to mind:

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (Jn 16:8).

That’s when I realized that the law has two different applications/perspectives: one for the lost and one for the saved. But verses were not done coming to mind:

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law (Rom 13:10).

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (Gal 5:6).

So, the Christian is free to aggressively love God and others through obedience without ANY fear of condemnation:

There is no fear in love, but perfect [mature] love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected [matured, or growing] in love (1Jn 4:18).

Therefore, why the Reformation is a lie is not complicated at all. This SIMPLE fact makes Protestant theology a house of cards: it keeps so-called believers under the law of sin and death; its very definition of a Christian is the Bible’s definition of a lost person…under law (Rom 6:14). Protestantism is predicated on a single perspective on the law that Christians remain under; they remain under condemnation. This condemnation is covered by Christ’s righteousness as the “Christian” lives by faith alone. Living by faith alone works (usually some kind of ritual like “preaching the gospel to ourselves everyday”) imputes the obedience of Christ to our Christian lives as a way to keep ourselves justified. The Reformed call this “double imputation.”

Once one gets past all of the theological Protestant-speak, it boils down to extremely simple theological math: a Christian is NOT free to love—Jesus must love for us lest it be works salvation. And it almost goes without saying that there is a love famine in the institutional church for this very reason. The Protestant is not free to love, but must focus on a convoluted life formula that supposedly imputes the righteousness of Christ to our lives and thereby keeps us saved. Yes, this is the dirty little secret: total depravity doesn’t merely apply to the unregenerate, but also to the “saints.”

Yes, yes, many a Protestant doth protest against this accusation because few Protestants know what Protestantism is. Nevertheless, it is a false gospel that denies the new birth and keeps people under law and not under grace—a grace that frees the individual to aggressively love without fear of condemnation and the mire of unhealthy introspection.

We are saved APART from the law of sin and death…period (Rom 3:21), and it does NOT matter who keeps the law, the law of sin and death itself is the issue. Salvation is accomplished by the ENDING of the law of sin and death—not the fulfilling of it. Christ came to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life (and love) through us (Rom 8:4)…NOT the law of sin and death.

That would make the law of sin and death a co-life-giver with Christ. The law cannot give life unto salvation. If Christ fulfilled the law of sin and death with loving obedience to the Father, that law is a co-life-giver. That is Paul’s entire point in Galatians chapter 3. There is only ONE seed. If we are still under the law, the law is an additional seed that can give life…but there is only ONE!

Hence, Protestantism goes the way of most other false religions; some ritual or tradition fulfills the law of sin and death and separates the individual from the freedom to love without condemnation and according to the law of the Spirit of life. Love is replaced by obeying men and faithfulness to their institutions. The law of love is replaced with the traditions of men and their orthodoxy.

Consequently, we are in a Protestant dark age. In the same way that secular America has awakened to the failure of the elitist political class, Christians must awaken to realize the failure of Protestant academia. The assembly of Christ was a laity movement, and only the laity can return God’s people to the truth of the gospel. This is a repeat of history when God’s elect where continually troubled by the 1st century Gnostic elitists. Paul wrote to them…

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

Likewise, the beloved James addressed the problem as well:

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

This is our mission at TANK, to aid the priesthood of believers in rediscovering the truth of the gospel and kingdom living robbed from us by 500 years of Protestant orthodoxy. The light has been covered by the Protestant basket long enough, and this is a matter of simple theological math: the new birth is the standard of righteousness, NOT the law of sin and death, and it matters not who keeps it—it CANNOT give life.

So, the speakers at this year’s conference are partaking in this journey in the arena of ideas. This is an issue that addresses every area of life and culture. Other than the gospel of first importance stated here, everything is being examined and revisited. It’s not group think, it’s collective truth made up of individuals seeking the one mind of Christ, not the traditions of men.

Let all be convinced according to their own conscience.  Protestant elitists will not stand in our stead regardless of their claims, but each person will give an account for the sum and substance of their own lives. Let us do it with trembling and fear; not any fear of condemnation, but a fear of trading the life of Christ for the death of tyranny.

Because only truth sanctifies,

Paul M. Dohse

Five Damning Facts About Calvinism

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 16, 2015

I. It’s daily re-salvation by preaching the gospel to yourself every day.

II. Its progressive justification defines “Christians” as under law—the biblical definition of a lost person.

III. Forgiveness for “present sin” that “removes us from grace” can only be found through membership in a local church under the authority of elders who forgive sin on God’s behalf.

IV. John Calvin’s three categories of elect include those who are temporarily elected and therefore receive a greater damnation. Therefore, entering the “race of faith” gives one a chance that the non-elect do not have, but a double portion of eternal suffering if one is not of the “perseverance” category.

V. Any act of love performed by a “saint” is works salvation. All works must be imputed to the “believer” by faith alone. Moreover, the focus must be living by faith alone well enough in order to “stand in the judgment covered by the righteousness of Christ and not a ‘righteousness of your own.’” That must be the focus, not loving others. Calvin believed all acts of love performed by the “saints” fall short of perfection, and are therefore unacceptable to God.

Calvinists can talk about love all they want to; their soteriology excludes the possibility.

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