Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Historical Survey of the First Century Christian Assembly – Part 3

Posted in Andy Young, TANC 2017 by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 7, 2017

 The following is part three of a four-part series.
Taken from Andy Young’s third session at the 2017 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

< Part 1  •  Part 2  •  Part 4 >


Breaking of Bread and the Lord’s Table

In part two we were talking about what a first century home fellowship might have looked like. I asked the question, what was the purpose of a home fellowship? What was the purpose of the believers assembling together? I made the case that the purpose of fellowship was for the mutual edification of the Body; each believer coming together and using their spiritual gifts with each believer building up the other. This mutual edification was accomplished through four functions:

  1. Through teaching of the apostles’ doctrine
  2. Through fellowship
  3. Through “breaking of bread” (fellowship meals)
  4. Through prayer

In this lesson I want to focus specifically on the function of edification through the “breaking of bread”.   As I pointed out in part two, it is normal for families to share meals whenever they get together. Since believers are part of God’s family, the situation is no different. An integral part of these fellowship meals in the first century would have been observing the “Lord’s Table.”

In 1 Corinthians 11:23-30 we have this familiar account of Paul’s talking about the “Lord’s Table.” Those of you who have grown up in church and still go to church regularly, every time there is a “Communion Sunday” the pastor will read from this passage whenever they hand out the crackers and the grape juice.

23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-30

Side note: Notice that the passing around of the cup did not immediately follow the passing of the bread. The cup came after dinner, “when He had supped.” Jesus passed around the bread, they ate dinner, then He passed around the cup.

Now can I be honest with you? There was a time when those last two verses in the above passage scared the life out of me. I grew up in church. I was saved when I was 7 years old. Any time we’d have communion in church my parents always told me I had to wait until I was old enough to understand it. I think I was 14 or 15 before I finally took communion in church. But ever since then these words in verses 28-30 were always resonating in my mind: “Examine yourself,” “eat and drink unworthily,” “eat and drink damnation.”

Communion service in church is always this somber, solemn event. You have the slow quiet music, every one has their heads down and eye closed cause you’re supposed to be thinking about your sin and the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice. And the whole time I’m replaying all the events in my life since the last time I took communion. “Ok, did I miss any sin? Is there any sin I forgot to confess?”  So, I want to make sure I’m good to go because if I’m not (or I think I’m not) and I let the plates pass, I know someone is watching. Someone is going to notice I didn’t take communion.  And then they’re going to wonder, “Wow what sin does he have in his life?” So now I’m doing it for the wrong reason. I’m doing it just because I’m afraid someone will see if I don’t, and then does that make me unworthy?

So there is this vicious cycle of introspection. I hated communion Sundays because I always felt like I had to carry this burden and play this game of jumping through all these mental and emotional hoops. And then a couple weeks later I might get a bad cold and I wonder, “Oh, is God judging me because I took communion when I wasn’t worthy?” And then you have to pray and ask forgiveness for that. It ties you up in knots.

It is not supposed to be that way. The institutional church has ritualized the Lord’s Table into some mystical experience just like everything else in Protestantism, and they use the Bible to support the tradition. I maintain that the Lord’s Table was not a somber occasion of introspection but rather a time of rejoicing and fellowship.

If our aim is to get at the truth, let us first make sure we begin with the correct assumptions, and the way we do that is to take the time to set the historical context. Let us go back to the very first “Lord’s Table.” No, I don’t mean the one recorded in the gospels.  We have to go back even farther than that to the book of Exodus.

I wonder how many people in church know the real reason Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room that night before He was crucified?  We associate communion with the Last Supper, but I want to stress here that Jesus was not instituting a new ritualistic religious observance. Jesus was there with His disciples to celebrate Passover.

I say “celebrate” because that is exactly what Passover was, a celebration. It was the Jew’s way of remembering and celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt. Yes, there was the whole death angel thing and the blood on the door posts and everything, but the real reason for celebrating Passover was to remember their flight from Egypt.

This is also the reason why the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with people on “Palm Sunday” prior to the crucifixion. The city was swelling with people who had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. In each of the four gospels we see this reference to the Passover immediately before the account of the crucifixion.

“Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified…Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.” ~ Matthew 26:2, 17-19

“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?” ~ Mark 14:12

“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover…Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.” ~ Luke 22:1, 7-8

“Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;” ~ John 13:1-2

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this. All four gospels give an account of the crucifixion. But the gospel of John does not say anything about the last supper. Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 13 contain the only mention of it. There was the Passover, and then after dinner Jesus did such and such. So John doesn’t focus on the last supper at all. He chooses to focus on the things Jesus taught them after supper. You have chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16; four chapters of Jesus giving last minute instructions to the disciples, and then from there you go to chapter 17 and the garden of Gethsemane, and then the soldiers come to arrest Him.

So having said all that, aside from the Passover lamb, what was the other distinguishing part of the Passover? It is referenced in the above verses, but if you go back to Exodus we read this:

“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.” Exodus 12:15

So on day one, before the feast of Passover, they had to get all the leaven out of their house. Now let us not dwell on the supposed symbolism of leaven. It is not important to this discussion. But my point is that we seem to have this idea that the only kind of bread Jews ever ate was unleavened bread. That is simply not true. If that were the case, God would not have commanded them to get rid of it. There is no point in saying “get rid of the leaven” if you are not using leaven in the first place.

What is leaven? Leaven is anything used to make baked good rise. Today we use either yeast or baking soda or baking powder as leavening agents. Yeast is a microbe that eats the sugar in the dough and digests it and produces carbon dioxide gas, and that gas creates little air bubbles between the strands of gluten in the dough and makes bread rise and get big and fluffy. Baking soda and baking powder cause a similar effect by causing a chemical reaction to take place in the batter. Any of you who have ever baked a cake or cookies knows that if you let your cake batter or cookie dough sit around to long before you bake it, they turn out flat because the chemical reaction is all used up.

Now in Old Testament times (and in some other countries they still make bread this same way) families made enough bread to last a whole week, perhaps more.  And they didn’t use yeast, they would use a “starter” lump which was a small amount of dough with some kind of leavening agent in it, and they would store that starter in a clay jar.  They also had these huge wooden kneading troughs that were big enough to make enough bread for a week. When they were ready to make bread they would add the flour and water and salt and sugar and oil, then they would add the starter lump and knead that all together.  When they were done they would take a portion of that dough and put it back in the clay jar and that would become the starter for the next batch they would make next week. So when God told them to get rid of all the leaven, they were to get rid of all the jars of starter they had in their house.

My attempt at Old Testament unleavened bread

What exactly is unleavened bread like?   Is it just regular bread made without leaven? Well not quite. There is actually a recipe for it found in Exodus 29:40 which says one tenth deal of fine flour (about a gallon) and one fourth of a hin of olive oil (about 3/8 of a gallon).  This is approximately 3 parts to 1. Now I remember thinking when I saw that simple recipe that this is the same recipe for pie crust. Same ratio and everything. 1-½ cups of flour and 1 stick (which is a half cup) of butter. You cut the butter into the flour until it is all mixed and then roll it out and bake it. That’s exactly how Israel made unleavened bread. They rolled it out flat into a pan and placed the pan over the fire or baked it in an oven. And what you have is something with the light and flaky texture of pie crust. Some people think of unleavened bread being like a pita or a tortilla, but it’s not. It’s the same texture as pie crust. In a minute I’ll get to why that is significant.

So this is the kind of bread they ate with the Passover meal. Now God told them that they were to eat this bread for seven days. This would seem to suggest that it was a command from God. But in reality, it becomes more a matter of practicality than simply a command from God. In fact, if we were to look at the account we would see that this is not so much a command as it is God simply informing them of what to expect over the next week.

The the very next day after the Passover, Pharaoh is so engraged over the death of his own son that he wants the Jews out of Israel immediately. He can’t get them out of there fast enough. This is why God told Israel that on the night of the Passover they were to have everything ready. They took baths, they got dressed, and they had their shoes on because they had to be ready to flee at a moments notice. And since they put all the leaven out of the house they didn’t have time to make any bread after they left. All they had was this unleavened bread.  They couldn’t make a week’s worth of leavened bread because God told them to put the leaven out of the house.

So along with the celebration of Passover you have this feast of unleavened bread that is incorporated with Passover, and this is all part of this celebration remembering when Israel was freed from Egypt, and they ate unleavened bread for the next six days afterwards because that’s the only kind of bread they had to eat.

Fast-forward a thousand years or more, give or take. We find Jesus in the upper room with his disciples and He passes around bread to them. Can I stress this any more? This was not a new thing to them. For one thing, even if they were eating a regular meal they would have had bread because bread with the meal was part of the culture. Since this was the Passover meal, the bread was unleavened bread.

Now go back to what I said before about the pie crust. What happens when you put your fork through pie crust? It breaks. It is the same with unleavened bread – you can’t tear it or cut it, you have to break it because that’s its texture. So when you hear this expression, “breaking bread together,” this is a reference to the breaking of unleavened bread that was part of this Passover celebration.

I think there is significance to this.  As we saw in part two, when the believers gathered for fellowship one of the functions of edifying each other is the “breaking of bread.” Could it be this is reference is more than just about sharing a meal together?  Could this be a reference to New Testament believers observing the Passover and eating unleavened bread? Certainly in Acts 2 it is since at this point in the early history all the believers are Jews. Notice that they never stopped being Jews. The ceremonial feasts had special significance to them, especially now being disciples of Christ.

Fast-forward once again to our opening text in 1 Corinthians 11. Now we don’t have Jews, we have Gentiles, and quite possibly a mix of Hellenistic Jews as well, all believers, all having fellowship together. There is a strong implication in this text that they still observe Passover. We see no evidence of Jesus ever implementing any new ceremony or tradition. The only thing He said at the last supper was to do this in remembrance of Him.

Jesus’ point was that every time you have this celebration of Passover, when you break the bread, remember my broken body. When you drink the wine, remember my shed blood. So He wasn’t telling them to do anything new. If anything it was a way of saying, remember my last day with you before my death.

And along with that last day, remember everything I taught you that night in the upper room, all 4 chapters-worth in John’s gospel.

Along with that last day, remember that I will not drink this wine with you again until we drink it together in the Kingdom!

So if we are to assume then that the believers in Corinth were in fact observing Passover and eating unleavened bread for that reason, what is the deal with Paul’s rebuke to them? What is  all this talk about damnation and being unworthy?

Again, we need to start with the correct assumption, so let us try to figure out the context.  Rather that starting at verse 23 like most churches do, in an attempt to establish context, let us backup to verse 16.

16But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the assemblies of God. 17Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the assembly, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”

We need to take this apart because there are several key phrases in this passage that give us clues as to what is going on, and I’ve emphasized those phrases above.   Let us start with this word “contentious”. This is the Greek word φιλονεικος (“philoneikos”). It is a compound word. You have “philos” which means “to be fond of” or “love for” (Philadelphia – city of brotherly love. Philanthopy – love for mankind.) The second part is the word “nikos” which means “to conquer or rule over.” So you have one who is fond of ruling over others. One way of translating this is “rivalrous”.

The suggestion here seems to be a class issue where you have some who view themselves to be in a certain social strata. The idea of rivalry or having those who deem themselves better than others because of their social standing runs counter to the reality of the Body of Christ. Paul says that kind of thinking has no place here. We have no such custom. Remember what Jesus said?

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you…’”~ Matthew 20:25-26

So here we are now in this Gentile culture, and this is what Jesus talked about. Paul says that I know you guys have this custom where you think that if you have a certain social status that that gives you the right to rule over others and entitles you to certain privileges (and that is the key word, privilege). You do indeed have a situation in these fellowships where you have people from every social strata.  You have some who are merchants, some who would be considered aristocrats in society, and then you have a large number who are bondservants. So these people are bringing these social divisions into the assembly. But that’s not going to fly here. That’s not how we do things in the assembly. In fact Paul calls it heresy.

19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you”

What is the heresy?  Giving preference and recognition to those with a higher social standing.  Now look at this next part. Because you want to create this hierarchy of importance…

20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:20-21

Paul says, you are not meeting for the right reason. Your motivations are wrong. You’re not here to fellowship with each other and celebrate Passover. You have the socialites getting to the assembly early, and because of their assumed privilege they don’t think they have to wait around for the bondservants to get there. What is supposed to be a time of fellowship and mutual edification has turned into a drunken slosh fest. And then by the time the bondservants and other latecomers get there, there is no food left and they go hungry. Now Paul gets really nasty.

22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the assembly of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:22

Here’s the distinction – those who have houses to eat and drink in, (the privileged, the elite, the rivalrous, those who are fond of ruling over others) and those who have not. The have’s and the have not’s. This is the clear social distinction that they seek to bring into the assembly.

Now when you consider what these home fellowships had turned into, especially when it came to celebrating Passover and Paul’s scathing rebuke of them, these next verses should make abundantly more sense. We have now come back to where we started.  This is really not that difficult to understand when we start with the correct assumption. Let’s begin with verse 27. Paul has just finished reminding them that with the Passover is a remembrance of Jesus’ death. Now he says this:

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:27

Guilty is the key word here. When we hear guilty we immediately think condemnation. And since Protestantism has this focus on the law being the standard for righteousness there remains this notion of still being under law and being under condemnation. So then was it ever any wonder that any of us had this nagging anxiety in the pit of our stomachs every time we took communion? Wondering, “Am I guilty?”

This word translated “guilty” is the Greek word ενοχος (“enochos”). It is derived from a root word that means to hold in or to be liable for. It carries with it a sense of responsibility. It does have a legal usage. When we speak of liability we are talking about legal responsibility.  The law in every state requires drivers at minimum to carry “liability” insurance on their car.  That means that you are legally responsible (liable) for any damage done to someone else’s property in the event you cause an accident.  Liability also has an accounting usage. You have assets and liabilities. Assets are things that add value, liabilities are things that take away value.

Do you see what Paul is saying here? Are you going to take responsibility for your behavior?  When you come together for fellowship are you an asset to the fellowship or are you a liability?  If you start behaving the way these Corinthians were, especially when it comes to the Lord’s Table, you are a liability. Write that word “liability” in the margin of your Bible.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be a liability of the body and blood of the Lord.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:27

You take away the value of it. Furthermore, verse 29.

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:29

For some reason this word is consistently translated “damnation”. The Greek word is κριμα (“kreema”) and it means judgment or the sentence rendered by a judge. It is a legal word. It carries with it no religious connotation. It is the root word in several other familiar words in the NT for example.

κρινω (kreeno) – the process of rendering judgment. Legal proceedings. (“kreema” is the derivative used above in verse 29)

διακρινω (dia-kreeno) – discernment. Judging between.

κατακρινω (kata-kreeno) – to judge against – condemn; condemnation

All of these words appear in some form in this passage in 1 Corinthians 11.

Damnation has a religious connotation and implies eternal condemnation in hell, or Sheol, or ultimately the Lake of Fire. Notice what happens when you talk about damnation in the context of this passage. When you tell people that if they take communion and they are somehow not worthy, they are in danger of damning themselves to hell. Can you see how this can be confusing? It is confusing because you are starting with the wrong assumptions, the wrong premise.

Now without straying too far off track let me put it in these terms. You have people thinking this way because Protestantism is a religion that keeps people under condemnation on purpose. You tell people they need to live by “faith alone.” You tell them Jesus keeps the law for them. You tell them any time they think they’ve done a good work that they put their justification at risk. And now you’ve got this very same kind of perpetual introspection going on during communion when they are supposed to be celebrating and remembering. And now they think, “Wow, if I am unworthy to take communion, maybe I’m not really saved. Maybe I need to ‘get right with the Lord.’ Maybe I need to respond to an alter call. I don’t want to take communion when I shouldn’t be and end up being damned.”

What’s Paul saying? Three words are in play here; judgment, discernment, and condemnation. Let us consider these verses with a better understanding of these three words in their context.

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (kreema – judgment) to himself, not discerning (dia-kreeno) the Lord’s body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:29

“For if we would judge (dia-kreeno, use discernment) ourselves, we should not be judged (kreeno, have the need to be judged, go through legal proceedings).” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:31 

“But when we are judged (kreeno, when we go through legal proceedings), we are chastened (it is for the purpose of Fatherly discipline) of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” – ~ 1 Corinthians 11:32

This is so simple. This is the difference between discipline and condemnation. This is the difference between being under law and not under law. The world is under law. When they are judged, they are condemned because they are under law. But when God “judges” us, it is for the purpose of Fatherly discipline and not condemnation. Can this be any clearer?

Let me make this as simple as possible. Use good discernment.  That is Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians. They were not using good discernment. This drunken fest into which they turned the fellowship and the fellowship meal was not using good discernment. And in the process they became a liability to the Body of Christ. Do I need to go through all the verses about our “conversation,” our way of life, the way we conduct ourselves in this world? Do I need to go through verses about controlling our bodies, controlling ourselves, because this is part of our sanctification?

Do you see the application here? Use good discernment so that you are not a liability to the fellowship. Peter said judgment must begin at the household of God. This is what he means. Use good discernment, and if you don’t there may come a point when discipline and correction is necessary so that you do not become a liability. This is why Paul said what he said in verse 30.

“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:30

This isn’t God striking you dead. Yes, it may be Fatherly chastisement, but this is simply God allowing the natural consequences of your behavior to take its toll. Think about it. If you have this drunken fest going on and people are eating and drinking themselves to excess, what kind of toll is that going to have on the physical body? And if you have others showing up late and there is no food for them, are they going to get nourishment and be healthy and robust? So it affect both groups of people here. It doesn’t just affect the individuals using bad judgment, it affects the whole assembly.

So what was Paul’s solution? Just wait for everyone to get there. Verse 33

“Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation (kreema –judgment). And the rest will I set in order when I come.”
~ 1 Corinthians 11:33-34

Bad word. It is not the word for condemnation. It is the word for “judgment” or “discipline.” The kind of judgment that results from using bad discernment.  Condemnation has to do with sin and eternal damnation.

To be continued…

< Part 1  •  Part 2

No, I Did Not Sin!

Posted in The New Birth by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on December 23, 2015

“Did you sin today?”

We hear this one a lot. What do you say to that?
As a believer, this is what I say:

“No, actually I didn’t!”

Not only does it really torque them off, but it is a metaphysical truth! As far as my justification is concerned, not only did I not sin, but I CANNOT sin! My justification made my old man dead to the law, and there is now no law to condemn me. That was John’s point in 1 John 3:9,

“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.”

Once we are on the other side of justification, any “sin” we may commit is really just a failure to show love. It is failing to use the law to show love to God and others. This DOES NOT CONDEMN (Romans 8:1), but it does welcome God’s chastisement as a father would correct an erring child.

But this is what happens when the religious establishment fails to make that distinction: EVERY sin becomes a condemning sin requiring some perpetual reapplication of Jesus’ “atonement” and obedience to the law (progressive justification). Is there any wonder then why “Christians” live in constant fear of not having assurance of salvation?!


Bible Prophesy is Directly Linked to Assurance of Salvation: Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 5, 2015 contention of part one states that assurance of salvation is contrary to Protestant soteriology because “Christians” remain under the law, or “under the eyes of the law,” and condemnation cannot be separated from being under the law of sin and death.

Also, because all remain under the law of sin and death, final justification must take place at a judgment where the law is present.

A third point that will be added here is also relevant: if we remain under the law of sin and death, Christ could not have come to end the law, but rather fulfill it in our stead as a covering or imputation perpetually obtained by returning to the same gospel that saved us. In our Heidelberg Disputation series, evangelical and John MacArthur associate Phil Johnson is quoted as stating that as the very definition of faith.

Sin is Empowered by Condemnation   

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Both “righteousness” and “justification” come from the same Greek word, dikaiosynē. For all practical purposes, Romans 10:4 can also read, “the end of the law for justification.” The two words, righteousness and justification, mean the same thing.

Nevertheless, Protestant soteriology is predicated on the idea that Christ fulfilled the righteous demands of the law through His own obedience, and Christians must keep the law satisfied by faith alone in what Christ accomplished in His death AND life. Therefore, the Christian “rests and feeds” on Christ in order to keep the righteous demands of the law satisfied. The final judgment determines who rested in Christ’s works well enough to qualify for heaven rather than having a “righteousness of their own.”

In contrast, multiple judgments/resurrections allow for judgment based on something other than condemnation. If Christians are no longer under the law’s condemnation, there is no reason to be present at any judgment where there is law. Our fear is to be judged by the law; it goes without saying that if we will not even be present at such a judgment, assurance is greatly enhanced. There is a resurrection of the “just” and “unjust” because one’s condition when resurrected is already a settled issue. These are two separate resurrections.

What then is the standard for righteousness? Not law, but the new birth. This is a concept that stands in opposition to the status qua of world philosophy; the infusion of the divine into mortal man is not possible. To the contrary, we have this treasure in “clay vessels.” The body is not inherently evil, but weak. A clay vessel is weak—not evil. The new spirit is willing, “but the flesh is weak.”

Sin resides wherever there is mortality, but is empowered by condemnation. If you take away sin’s ability to condemn, it cannot enslave.

1 Corinthians 15:56  – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

A saved person receives a new heart that is no longer indifferent to God’s law, but rather loves God’s law. Psalm 119 is a psalm of the saved person who is truly born again (1John 3) and loves God’s law. The unregenerate are indifferent to God’s law and are condemned by it, and will be judged by it.

Sin makes its appeal to the flesh through desire; believers have the wherewithal to say no for the most part because they are not under law or its condemnation. They have been freed to serve God through love as properly defined by the same law. The believer does not keep the law perfectly because sin still resides in mortality…

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

However, this has no bearing on the believers true state of being, i.e., a true child of God who has a righteous nature by birth.

The Other Salvation and the Other Fear

As discussed in part one, what is Philippians 2:12,13 really talking about?  If you believe in one salvation, one resurrection, and one judgment, this text must be interpreted as pertaining to the salvation of the soul.

Hence, we are working out our salvation while properly motivated by fear of condemnation, a “sanctification” principle wholly endorsed by Luther and Calvin in no uncertain terms, and God actively works through our passive will to accomplish this IF we live by faith alone. The text calls on us to obey, but this is really the “obedience of faith” or “obedient faith” that is performed by God through us as we live by faith alone and progressively accomplishes our salvation.

However, though that seems to fit very well at first, it makes the Spirit a poor communicator and a God of confusion because Paul first tells us to obey, then seems to say that it is God who is really doing the work. Who is obeying, God or us?

A clearer understanding can be demonstrated. There remains a salvation left for the believer which is redemption. Salvation of the soul and redemption are not the same. Redemption is the other salvation; it is the salvation of the body where sin still resides. The apostle Paul asked the rhetorical question: “Who will save me from this body of death?” At some point, Christ will come to claim what He has already purchased with His blood—that’s redemption, and salvation from weakness that makes sin possible in the born again believer.

Redemption: the Other Salvation

This is what Paul is calling on us to work out through obedience: our sanctification or progressive setting apart until God completely finishes the work when we are resurrected. It is us doing the obedience. This does not exclude God working in us as well; it is not one or the other, it is both. As God’s children, He will always make sure we have enough in the tank to obey and work in our sanctification.

But with that comes a great responsibility. Though we are never to fear in regard to our justification, there is a fear in sanctification because “judgment begins in the household of God.” This is present chastisement that can occur in many forms for using our salvation as a cloak for unrighteousness. As believers we are called on to work hard in sanctification, a jurisdiction of love where there is no fear of eternal judgment. However, there is a fear of present chastisement that should be taken seriously.

This is the other fear, but it is NOT fear of condemnation. It is fear of chastisement.

Definitive Assurance

Our assurance comes from the definitive knowledge that we are not under the law, and the law cannot judge us or condemn us. We are not under the bondage of condemnation, nor the fear thereof; there is no fear in love. Consequently, our assurance is enhanced as we actively engage in our calling to love God and others.

Fear has to do with judgment, and the law of sin and death has no jurisdiction over the child of God. This is why John wrote that indeed, we can KNOW we are saved. Moreover, we will not appear at any judgment that involves the law of sin and death. We are not under law, but under grace.


When Church is Spiritual Gangrene: Sanctification by Justification

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 1, 2015

ChandlerWe have recently received our weekly dose of Neo-Calvinist drama. This time, it was Matt Chandler’s turn to give discernment bloggers the gift that just keeps on giving. This recent incident involving Chandler’s Village Church has gone super-viral. Secular news networks are even reporting on the episode resulting in a public outcry.

These incidents are not isolated and will continue to be exposed in both Protestant and Catholic circles because they are the result of a false gospel. As Jesus said, a tree is known by its fruit.

Jordan Root  

Apparently, the constant drama taking place in the evangelical church is not nature’s way of telling us something is wrong. However, the most recent drama concerning former missionary Jordan Root supplies a pretty decent insight into the core problem of progressive justification.

Christ’s called out assembly is a body that depends on individual members. The apostle Paul used a body analogy because it is the perfect analogy of Christ’s called out assembly. Strong individual members make a strong body. Consequently, every member’s role must be identified and nourished. To the degree that members (body parts, not the Salvation Club membership) do not function properly, the body is crippled and falls short of fulfilling Christ’s mandate.

Christ is the only head. The common goal is the one mind in Christ. The advent of Christ’s called out assembly was a monumental event. The monumental event was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a major participant in the plan of salvation. Beware of any doctrine that emphasizes one of the three Trinity persons over the other in the plan of salvation. Salvation is Trinitarian.

the-village-churchThere was a new birth before the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, but until that time, salvation was atonement by the law. In other words, according to Moses, obedience to the law could bring both life and death, but at that time the law was a covering for sin. All sin was imputed to the law and the law held that sin captive along with the believer. The believer was blessed by obedience to the law, and their sins that were a violation of the law were held in escrow until the coming of Christ. Of course, the terms of this particular escrow is an eradication instead of a payment.

On the other hand, the sins of unbelievers were not imputed to the law, but rather the law condemned them for every offence. In both cases, life and death according to the law was experienced, but with different ENDS. Whether believer or unbeliever, degrees of life and death occurred, but salvation determined a life end while being unsaved determined a death end with degree of violation determining the wages of eternal death.

When it was the Spirit’s time for His major event, He resurrected Christ from the grave and gave gifts to Christ’s assembly while baptizing Jews and Gentiles into one body. Christ died to end the law by paying the penalty for ALL sins imputed to it. With the ending of the law, all sins committed against it were ended as well except for those who were not covered by it. For unbelievers, the law was not ended and therefore they remain condemned by it.

Hence, the law is no longer an atonement for believers, but only serves as a means to love God and others. Before the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it served as atonement and a means of love, now it can only serve as a means of loving God and others. However, for unbelievers in this day, the law has a sort of grace to it; in that sin is still imputed to it. If and when they believe in Christ, every sin they committed against the law (all sin is a violation of the law) is ended with the law and now there is no law that can condemn them in the future. Therefore, the Old Testament atonement is still a “ministry of death” that is “passing away” (From an eschatology point of view, this is why believers were in the abode of the dead until Christ died on the cross. During the three days after His crucifixion, he preached to the “captives” and set others free leading them to heaven in a victory procession).

Nevertheless, through ignorance, the believer can experience as much present death, or even more death than unbelievers who will come to realize a death ending. There is a specific dynamic that figures in. The Bible splits this up into “under law” and “under grace.” Under law is the biblical definition of an unregenerate person and possesses a certain metaphysical dynamic, or state of being. Those under law are free to do good but enslaved to sin. This is primarily because they are under the law’s condemnation or judgement. In conjunction with SIN, the law empowers sin. When the law is ended, sin is stripped of its power because there is no condemnation. Sin finds its power in condemnation.

And death finds its sting in sin. The primary root of all fear is fear of judgment, and mankind, having the “works of the law” written on their hearts and administered by the conscience, knows intuitively that future death means future judgement. But “perfect love casts out fear.” What’s that? That’s “under grace” which is now no longer under the condemnation of the law; the law only serves to inform the believer in regard to loving God and others. There is NOW NO condemnation for those in Christ.

Yet, there is still a death/life dynamic going on that is experienced by the believer and unbeliever alike. The end is different, but not necessarily the life experience. Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to sin. They are enslaved to righteousness because of the baptism of the Spirit. Don’t get too hung-up on the “slave” nomenclature. Under law enslaves the unbeliever to the laws condemnation. That is inescapable. They are crippled and enslaved to constant condemnation and the fear of death. This is where it is vital to realize that the baptism of the Spirit is a literal death of the person who is under law and enslaved to it. They are enslaved to its inevitable endgame of death measured by the degree of life choices regarding law—primarily the law of their conscience, but ultimately the full brunt of God’s specific law of which they are indifferent.

Once a person is saved, they are ”free” from the condemnation of the law also known as the “law of sin and death,” and “free to serve another.”

Romans 7:4 – 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.

Note the slave terminology. Through the death of Christ, he purchased all of mankind by ending the law. His death purchased all people from the Sin slave master. Think about that in regard to those under law. Their freedom has been purchased already. If Christ died to end the law, and He did (Romans 10:4), and all unsaved people are under the law, and they are (Romans 8:2, 6:14), those who believe in Christ are now dead to the law and any possible condemnation in the future.

Christ didn’t die for anyone in particular, He died to end the law that all of mankind is under at one time or another. That necessarily demands a conclusion that Christ died for all people unless some are born into the world who are not under law, and that is obviously not the case.

To believe in Christ is to follow Him in the Spirit’s baptism. It is not merely a mental ascent to the facts of the gospel of first importance, it is a decision to follow Christ in that baptism. You recognize that Christ has purchased you from the Sin master, and know that you will not escape if you reject so great a salvation. The judgement is greater in this era because atonement spoke on earth through Moses and none who rejected it escaped, but now the call comes from heaven.

In Romans 7:4, we see both sides of the Spirit’s baptism:

A. Death;

you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another.

B. Resurrection;

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.

This is summarized this way:

Romans 6:3 – Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

We are released from the law (death) in order to be freed to “serve” another (resurrection). The guide for that service is the Spirit’s law. That’s a really good thing to call the Bible: the Spirit’s law; He uses it to convict the world of sin and the judgment to come in regard to those under law, and uses it to sanctify those under grace (John 17:17).

This is all by faith because if we do not live by this dynamic, if we do not take it literally, the metaphysical dynamic of life/death starts to bear unfortunate fruit – the death type. We will practice and apply what we believe to be true. How literally we take this dynamic does not modify the natural effect of the dynamic. If a tree really fell in the forest, that really happened whether we believe it or not. And the life/death dynamic happens whether we believe it or not.

Even though the endgame for every believer is life, they can live a life of death through ignorance. Through ignorance, they can actually be enslaved to the sin they were freed from. How does this happen? The Bible is very clear about how this happens.

It begins with ignorance about desire.

Though the old us/we literally died with Christ, and we are no longer under the law and free to serve Christ rather than serving the law of sin overseen by our old master, our mortal bodies that are not yet redeemed still possess the desires of the old man. The “mind” is redeemed, and we therefore share the same desires of the Spirit, but sin can still harass us through sinful desires. It is important to note that “the flesh” is NOT inherently evil, but rather “weak.” “Sins of the flesh” and “desires of the flesh” refer to when the flesh, or our bodies are succumbing to desires that come from sin via our choices regarding obedience. The body can also be used for holy purposes as well as sinful purposes.

At any rate, one who has died with Christ and has been resurrected to new creaturehood with Christ is able to say “no” to desires that come from sin that still resides in our mortal bodies. One reason among others that we are able to say “no” is due to the fact that sin’s power has been stripped away because it can no longer condemn us (1Corinthians 15:56). Our motives in love are by default pure in regard to justification because we are righteous and justified apart from the law. The law cannot condemn us, so the only venture left is to use the law for loving God and others. Any attempt by a believer to earn justification is completely illogical because that would be an attempt to finish an already finished work (Galatians 3:3 | note the YLT version).

Succumbing to sinful desires as a Christian is a matter of family sin, and not sin that relates to justification in any way. So in regard to justification we are blameless via the new birth that ended the law, but we may be chastised by God in regard to not loving our Father and others as we are called to. Note in the Lord’s Prayer that we ask forgiveness from our Father which is an altogether different matter than seeking salvation from sin that condemns us.

The Bible also teaches us that the intensity of sinful desires is increased if we give “provision” to those desires. In other words, by obeying sinful desires, we increase the intensity of sin’s appeal through the passions and emotions. Furthermore, since we become slaves of the master we obey, Christians can become enslaved “once again” to the demands and desires of the old master. Of course, this is due to extreme ignorance. Nevertheless, obeying sinful desires nourishes the desires, intensifies them, and over time a Christians can be habituated in regard to those desires.

This problem finds its roots in religions that promote progressive justification. Because salvation is supposedly a process that begins at point A and progresses to point B (rather than a onetime, and once-for-all-time transformation that guarantees salvation), the “Christian” life, also known as sanctification, is part of the salvation/justification “progression” from point A to point B. Consequently, the very definition of sanctification, ie., knowing how to “control our own bodies” (1Thessalonians 4:3,4) is egregiously circumvented.

And the idea of being sanctified by justification plays well for existing guilt. True believers feel bad that Christ had to die for our sin, and our lack of ability to grasp the full gravity of Christ’s sacrifice feeds that guilt as well. Far removed from the actual historical event, our lack of identification with Christ’s suffering makes us feel unthankful and indifferent. As a result, we are open to ways that enable us to better identify with Christ’s actual suffering as a way to obtain an acceptable appreciation of our salvation. This idea plays to our natural and logical inclinations.

But there are several problems with this approach. First, the Bible doesn’t call us to continually revisit the same gospel that saved us in order to obtain more and more gratitude for our salvation. This can easily become a way of earning our salvation via acceptable gratitude. Secondly, the guy who would be able to plunge the depths of why Christ had to die for him IS dead. Thirdly, the new creature cannot endeavor to better understand the condemnation that Christ died to end precisely because there is no condemnation. The subject is looking for something that cannot exist apart from the law, and therefore, if he/she finds any, it’s a figment of their misguided imagination.

Unless of course, they are deceived and are actually experiencing real condemnation because belief in a progressive justification gospel did not bring about the baptism of the Spirit. Remaining under law, they are finding ample condemnation that is “making the cross bigger and people smaller.”

In most cases, and due to overall ignorance regarding sanctification because all of the traditional rage is to make sanctification part of the justification process, the new Christian is immediately confused that they are experiencing sinful desires. After 2000 years since the advent of the Spirit’s baptism, EVERY new believer should be able to say:

According to the Bible, I just experienced a sinful desire. God has promised me that I am able to say “no” to that desire, and if I disobey that desire, I am sucking the life out of it more and more and learning to hate it more and more. I am a slave to whatever I obey, and sanctification is putting off the old habits of the old person and putting on the new habits of the new creature. Obedience results in habituation to either godliness or ungodliness.

This dynamic is not operative in those under law because they are not born again and are indifferent to God’s word. Psalm 119 is the heart of a born again individual. Those under law may live a moral life that is part and parcel with being created in the image of God, but every violation of the law is a wage for death. Not being subject to certain desires of the baser sort does not exclude them from being under law—they will just suffer a more tolerable end.

There is something VERY important to understand about the desires that come from sin: they are myriad, of various and sundry stripes, and at times horrifying. They can, and do include a desire to murder people, all kinds of covetousness, and a plethora of unnatural sexual desires.

Nothing is sadder than a Christian who experiences a baser type of sinful desire and doesn’t understand what’s going on. Immediately, in most cases, they will doubt that they were really saved. That will lead to fear of condemnation which is not love. Likewise, a person may profess Christ to escape such a desire, and rightfully so, only to find out that the desire is not gone. Not understanding that the desire is stripped of its power, the individual will be thrown into turmoil because the desire still presents itself. At this point, believing that the sinful desire is still a part of their redeemed being, which it is not, is very unhelpful to the cause of godliness to say the least.

How much better is it that a person follows Christ in death and resurrection, but understands that the desire may present itself after salvation? That should be the case. The individual should be prepared to understand the desire and what to do about it. Believing that sin no longer has “dominion” over the saint is part of believing the truth of the new birth and salvation itself. Others who seek Christ will have lesser struggles and different issues that caused them to seek Christ. Some may be moral persons who put many Christians to shame, but want the hope of eternal life. Even though they are upright persons as far as persons go, they are aware that they still fall short of God’s glory. Such persons will have a lesser struggle in sanctification.

But in all cases, various and sundry desires can be reduced to a whisper through depriving the desire of nutrients (provisions), and practicing selfless love. It’s hard to sin while you are loving God and others.

A sanctification dynamic that is not helpful is the idea of a Christian having “two natures.” No, a Christian only has ONE nature, the new one. The two natures construct gives under law and under grace equal billing, and places them in the ring to duke it out. No, Christian living is not a series of battles lost or won between two natures with equal dominion over the believer. Only one nature has dominion, and love is a choice. James explains the dynamic clearly:

James 1:13 – Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

All sin, even the family sin of saints that does not condemn brings forth some sort of death albeit very subtle in a lot of cases. For the believer, it is the present consequences of sin. ALL sin brings about some sort of death. Again, the death that is often brought about is very subtle. One consequence of sin that is apparent may actually be the culmination of several other sins. A person may look 15 years older than they should, and that can be the result of years of bad thinking, or the culmination of trillions of bad thoughts. This can even be more scientific; researchers have determined, on average, how much each cigarette smoked shortens one’s life. When a person smokes a cigarette, they don’t drop dead on the spot, but the one cigarette has brought forth death. Furthermore, this same analogy can be used to illustrate how obeying the desire to smoke one cigarette leads to being enslaved to the habit of smoking.

Back to Jordan Root

Let’s suppose that as a young man in seminary, Jordan was afflicted with the very unfortunate desire to have sexual relations with children. Horrible. Like most professing Christians in a progressive justification church culture, he would not have had the tools to deal with this affliction. Many in his shoes are afraid to approach individuals privately about the struggle because they are obviously very ashamed and confused that they have this desire. After all, it doesn’t seem to go well with a Christian profession to say the least. Many go to sermon after sermon after sermon in hopes that the issue will be addressed. In the Protestant church—that would be a pipe dream because sanctification is not the focus, returning to the same gospel that saved us in order to keep our justification moving forward is the focus.

That necessarily brings us to the preaching that Root eventually began to sit under: Neo-Calvinism. For Root to make direct efforts to rid himself of the desire through literal biblical instruction would have been “focusing on his own doing instead of what Jesus HAS done.” And you see, the whole problem with desires is that we “desire something more than Jesus.”

This doctrine would have been, and is presently a death sentence for Root. Typical is the creation of such problems by the nonexistent sanctification of Neo-Calvinism followed by their claim to be the cure for what they helped to create.


This is also exactly why the apostle Paul called false doctrine “gangrene” (2Timothy 2:17). My wife Susan contracted gangrene after a motorcycle accident. The doctor discovered it during a routine follow-up examination after the accident. The condition was completely painless and Susan was totally unaware that gangrene was silently and slowly eating away her leg. Fortunately, the condition was discovered before her leg needed to be amputated in order to prevent its spread to the rest of her body resulting in certain death.

There is not a more apt description of sin’s slow death and the false doctrines that promote it.

Progressive justification is driven by a return to the same gospel that saved us because apparently, as Christians, we still need salvation.  And if we still need to be saved as Christians, as plainly stated by Dr. John Piper and many others including Matt Chandler, we abide in death still. In fact, the Neo-Calvinist doctrine of mortification and vivification calls for a meditation on our sin while only EXPERINCING resurrection—not walking in it. By a deeper and deeper realization of how sinful we are, we experience the joy of “future glory.” Sin is our function, while resurrection is not our function—only an EXPERIENCE. Even the experience is a progression towards the ultimate experience of “final justification.”  Neo-Calvinist Paul Washer stated it this way:

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, for he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety” (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

Obviously, in this progressive justification process, “Christians” live for the sole purpose of experiencing joy only through primarily focusing on sin. Note that this joy is accompanied by a progressive “resting.” Clearly, this reduces Christianity to an experience only. Moreover, is this not, for all practical purposes, a rejoicing in evil that the apostle Paul warned about in 1Corintians 13? Is this, in essence, the antithesis of love? I believe it is. Justification is a rest; sanctification is a labor of love more and more as we see the day approaching. If we don’t actually do the work, we are not doing the love.

Progressive justification is a doctrine of death, and there are many Jordan Roots rotting away in the clutches of gangrene. Like Root, they at some point start losing limbs, but return to the source rather than new birth. Their end will be certain death.


All You Need to Debunk Calvinism is the Lord’s Prayer

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

In what is commonly referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” we are instructed by Christ to ask for forgiveness from the Father. Who the prayer is addressed to has profound soteriological implications.

Calvinism, and really Protestantism in general, promotes the idea that sin is sin; there is no other perspective on sin other than it condemns. Clearly, Christ is telling us to seek forgiveness from the Father, but on the other hand, the apostle Paul wrote that where there is no law, there is no sin (Romans 3:19, 4;15, 5;13, 7:8, 10:4), so as children of the Father, what are we asking for?

The prayer addresses the Father from whom there is no condemnation for His children (Romans 8:1,34). For those who are not His children, sin does condemn. For those who are in God’s family and born of Him, there can be chastisement for family sin (Hebrews 12:5ff). But for those not in God’s family, sin condemns and our Father is potentially a God of wrath to them.

You are either God’s child or a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3-5). Obviously, repentance from the sin that condemns can only be a one-time event that cancels out the law’s ability to condemn. You cannot be in God’s family while under condemnation.

These two perspectives on sin are efficacious to a true gospel. One is wrath and condemnation, and the other is love through obedience and possible chastisement for disobedience.

Calvinism clearly teaches a single perspective on the law; the single perspective of condemnation (The Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11). Therefore, supposedly, Christ came to obey the law perfectly so that the law is continually satisfied. Christians are still under the condemnation of the law, but Jesus’ perfect obedience fulfills the law every time we seek forgiveness for “present sin.”

So, do we ask the Father to forgive us for failing Him, or do we ask forgiveness in order to keep our salvation? How we answer that question determines the validity of our gospel.