Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Power of Christian Living is Found in Family Relationship NOT a “Personal” Relationship

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 19, 2015

Slide 13One of the prevailing pithy truisms of churchianity is that “Christianity” is a “personal relationship” with none other than Jesus Christ. Of course, per the usual, because it sounds spiritual, no one thinks beyond the surface of the truism and questions what that means exactly. Be sure of this: the statement promotes a specific soteriology, worldview, and philosophy of life. If a string of memes replace the meat of Scripture, the latter is effectively replaced, and that is exactly what has happened in our day with the personal relationship with Jesus meme leading the way.

What’s really behind it and why has it sucked the life out of Christianity? First, it denies a biblical definition of the new birth. It replaces a literal family of God reality with ONE pseudo-relationship that is at best ambiguous. Proponents of the truism, when they care to add some sort of substantive mini-treatise to the meme, separate the reasoning of propositional truth expressed in words, even words from Jesus Himself, from this highfalutin “Christianity is a relationship [singular], not a religion.” The supposed antithesis in this case, “religion,” according to the logical conclusion, is propositional truth of some sort expressed in a common understanding of Bible sentences. This is the way it is sometimes expressed: “Jesus is a person, not a precept.” Supposedly, if one attempts to follow Jesus according to a reasonable interpretation of what He said as recorded in Scripture, we miss the point by appealing to reason. Instead, we need to seek a relationship with Jesus that is “more like falling in love” as expressed in two bestselling contemporary works by Jason Gray (a #1 song) and Francis Chan (the book, “Crazy Love.”).

Hence, if salvation is strictly experiential, like being “madly in love” with someone, it’s not works on our part and enables us to live out our “Christian” lives by faith alone, and apart from reason to boot. After all…“we [Christians] live [our Christian lives] by faith [alone] NOT by sight [ie., reason]” as the twisting of 2Corintians 5:7 is often applied. This mystical lovey-dovey Jesus is my boyfriend theology effectively separates professing Christians from a literal true-to-life family of God application via the new birth. It replaces a salvific family relationship with a singular relationship. The differences are ever-so subtle, but catastrophic. Rather than our identity being that of a literal child of God in a family setting, we are “Christ’s bride” whom He has married regardless of our shortcomings. Yes, we are supposedly lowly lovers married to a “friend of sinners” who “bring nothing to the marriage.”1 Yes indeed, the lowly lovers identity versus family children enables the redefinition of the new birth as some sort of ongoing exhilarating experience with our “lover.”2

But what is the new birth from a true biblical perspective? It is “the free gift”3 and “the promise.”4 Salvation is the receiving of the promised Spirit that was even a promise made to Christ Himself.5 Christ made the coming promise of the Spirit possible by dying for our sins and ending the law of sin and death. Prior to the coming of the promised Spirit, Jews and Gentiles were not baptized into one body, but at any rate, this baptism of the Holy Spirit makes a person a literal family member of God. This is a onetime personal event that is irreversible—you cannot unborn someone.

The aversion to biblical new birth finds its roots in Gnosticism which rejects the uniting together of holiness and the material. Even though Christians remain in mortal bodies, they are yet God’s righteous children. 1John ch.3 makes it clear that we are God’s literal offspring and His seed is within us. In contrast, the idea that our relationship is with one person who substitutes everything for us as opposed to a family relationship is the major consideration. Rather than Christ making the onetime baptism of the Spirit possible through His onetime death, He is made to be a salvific avatar that substitutes everything efficacious to salvation through faith in Him alone. This is a denial of the new birth and our true identity as God’s righteous children. Salvation is not a onetime spiritual birth, it is a process through the worship of one person who substitutes a life that we don’t actually possess. Worship is not family life, it is something that we do to keep our salvation by faith alone. Hence, the idea of faith alone actually becomes a work on our part as it evokes the substitutional work of Christ for Christian living. Obviously, therefore, the “Christian’s” true ability to love is circumvented.

When one desires to receive the promise—the free gift, the Holy Spirit falls on them and baptizes them into Christ’s death and resurrection.6 This is the literal new birth. This makes us righteous children of God in the literal sense per Romans ch.6. Why we are literally righteous is explained in Romans ch.7, and our fulfillment of the law to our Father’s pleasure is explained in Romans ch.8.

In other words, the substitution of Christ happened once to make the new birth possible, but the so-called “personal relationship” calls for a continued substitution that negates a literal family relationship which is given mere lip service. Along with the avatar approach, not to mention sub-avatars, is the institutional angle. Institutions go hand in hand with the idea of religious authority and hierarchy. This is where the Christianity brand is found impotent in both reproduction and functionality.

The early church met exclusively in private homes, why? Because they understood that they were a literal family. They also had “all things in common”7 What family builds a separate building and pays to maintain it for the purpose of Thanksgiving dinner and other family get-togethers? How much sense does that make? And how many families organize systems of commerce within the household? If a sibling in a household learns something new about living, does he write a book and sell it to his brothers and sisters? No, he shares it at the dinner table or other like family experiences.

A hierarchical corporate mentality and structure naturally subjugates a literal family system. The two function differently in almost every respect. This is the key to revival—a return to the apostolic assembly of Christ and its literal family construct and function. It is a multifaceted relationship with many, not ONE.

paul

1Paul David Tripp: How People Change, Punch Press 2006

2Francis Chan: Crazy Love

3Romans 5:15,16, 17 “the free gift” stated 5 times.

4Acts 2:39, Ephesians 2:12, Galatians 3; “promises” “the promise,” “by promise” 8 times.

5Galatians 3:16

6Acts 11:15

7Acts 2:44

“God Hates the Sin But Loves the Sinner” And We know This How Exactly?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 10, 2013

ppt-jpeg4“One of the things we learn from the pure milk that is not mixed with orthodoxy is that lying about the truth is not love.”  

There has been a lot going on in the societal realm lately and I haven’t had time to write about it, but the topic of this post pretty well covers it. Idol worship is always formal. Even when parents of ancient paganism sacrificed their children to the Gods, it was according to orthodoxy. The average Joe never devises his own gods and the prescribed worship—he’s not qualified, it is always devised by the religious experts ruling the day. Hence, parents didn’t just sacrifice their children by some flippant self-devised method; it was done according to proper worship.

Historically, there are only two religions; Cult and Word. Cult is the idea that enlightened human mediators rule the unenlightened masses on behalf of God. The truth that they supposedly get directly from God in order to guide the masses is called “orthodoxy.” Orthodoxy has its own metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics. The unenlightened masses sometimes have a choice as to what cult they may choose. Do I believe my infant should be boiled alive in oil to appease the gods, or stabbed through the heart by the High Priest? In contrast, a government will sometimes dictate the cult through the combination of force and faith.

In ancient times, God walked past all of the cults and spoke to his chosen subjects face to face. There were two authorities; one of your own choosing (if you had a choice), and God. Those who chose God are documented in the Bible, and the same also describes the personal interaction that God had with them. In ancient times, cults got a little out of control. Orthodoxy resulted in God being sorry that He created man, so He paid Noah a visit and told Him to build a boat. Not long after the flood waters went away, man once again gravitated to orthodoxy at the Tower of Babble.

Over time, and for His own reasons, God has changed His methods for communicating with His servants. But He has always promised that those seeking His truth would find it. This doesn’t include those seeking orthodoxy of their own desire. Neither does it include those who seek freedom from faith and force so they can choose orthodoxy suited to their own lusts. Those who flee worship with boiling oil for worship with the knife are not heroes. Not in God’s eyes anyway—God is in the truth business.

Orthodoxy and truth. Those are our choices. God’s eyes go to and fro throughout the earth constantly seeking those who worship Him according to spirit and what? TRUTH (JN 4:24). The one who Christ called “the rock” implores us to grow spiritually by feeding on the PURE milk of the what?  WORD (1Peter 2:2). Pure milk is available, and God has made it available to all. He uses leaders, but their authority is bound up in His word as judged by the congregation of the saints. The saints follow leaders as they follow Christ.

One of the things we learn from the pure milk that is not mixed with orthodoxy is that lying about the truth is not love. Truisms and spiritual sound bites are the orthodoxy of the American church. They are cult orthodoxy. American pastors invent them to bring God’s truth down to a level where unenlightened congregants can understand it. The inability of the congregant is assumed and feared if not assumed. Even congregants that know something are believed to be equipped with enough knowledge to be dangerous like a loaded gun in the hands of a child. Therefore, orthodoxy proffers the virtue of “childlike faith” as opposed to hard thinking with the brains that God apparently gave the masses accidently.

“We are all just sinners saved by grace.” “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.” And also popular contemporary “Christian” music: “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” Is Jesus a friend of sinners? Jesus stated that His FRIENDS pattern their lives according to righteousness, not sin. A “sinner” patterns their life after the orthodoxy of choice, and that can be hedonism as well as any other religion.  Who is Mark Hall to redefine who Christ says His friends are?

Only the truth sets us free. If you are a pastor who doesn’t challenge American orthodoxy in the form of spiritual sound bites, you are not a pastor; you are just another everyday cultist bent on having a manageable dumbed-down congregation. You comfort with instruction from the manual published by the Hemlock Society and your “love” is woefully misguided.

paul

The Book Of Psalms Is About The Wicked

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 26, 2011

I always thought of Psalms as a meditation book. For the most part, that’s how it’s always been presented to me. I have never experienced someone teaching the book as a whole, but have heard many sermons focused on small portions. Usually, we look to Psalms for comfort in troubled times.

A couple of days ago, I was using a search tool to find a verse in Psalms. I knew the word “wicked,” was in the verse, so that’s what I entered into the search engine. Surprise! I immediately noticed that the word “wicked” appears in 53 chapters throughout the book beginning with chapter one and ending with chapter 147 (there are 150 chapters in Psalms). Then I said to myself, “Hmmm, I wonder how the book begins?” Answer:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.”

That’s how the book starts, and then the wicked are spoken of in chapters 3,5,7,9,10,11,12,17,21,26,28,31,32,34,36,37(15times),39,43,45,49,50,55,58,59,64,68,71,73,75,82,

84,89,91,92,94,97,101,104,106,107,109,112,119,125,129,139,140,141,145,146,147.

The book is obviously about the wicked. Throughout the book, aspects of the wicked— what they do, and why they do it, is explained. God wants us to know our cuts of wickedness. Furthermore, many of the comfort verses in the book regard King David (and others) needing comfort because of the affliction suffered at the hands of the wicked. Once the theme of the book is understood, even a cursory observation of the book reveals many things; one example is the following: persecution from the wicked can be a source of depression among God’s people. Chapter 42 is often used to teach many things about depression while 42:9,10 are glossed over and disconnected from the major theme of the book:

“I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?’ My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (I realize the prophetic implications of these verses but that doesn’t exclude the application I am making here).

Even the often cited Psalm 23, in context, is about affliction caused by the wicked: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

When mention of “adversaries”(of God or believers),“enemies” (of God or believers), and their evil deeds are also considered, chapters 6,8,13,15,18(7 times), 22,23,25,27,30,35,38,40,41,42,44,51,52,54,56,60,66,69,72,74,78,80,81,83,86,90,99,102,105,108,

110,118,121,127,132,136,143, and 144 can be added, encompassing more than two-thirds of the book. And I might add that my research stopped there. Psalms is not a meditation book—it’s a war manual for understanding the schemes of the wicked against God and his people, and the resources available to God’s people accordingly.

Paul told Timothy that those who live Godly in Christ WILL suffer persecution (2Tim 3:12). But unfortunately, those who come for encouragement and healing from such affliction are usually told that they are the problem: “Now brother, you must be offending them in some way. We recommend that you take a long, deep look at your own heart. If you stop blame shifting, and own your sin in this matter, God will resolve it”

According to Psalms, we should take such claims of persecution seriously, and Psalms should be our counseling manual in instructing the afflicted as to why the wicked behave this way, and how to respond in God-honoring ways.

paul

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Vows, Car Doors, Coats and Chairs

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 13, 2011

You see it every now and then; a husband opening the car door for his wife, or the event at Perkins that prompted this post: an elderly man stood up first to hold up his wife’s open coat for her to fill. After all those years? Then I had a light bulb moment: “Why not? Isn’t one of the ’till death does us part’—also to—’cherish’?” It would seem that us men take the faithfulness and love part of the wedding vow much more serious than we take the “cherish” part.

What does “cherish” mean? Well, it’s actually a little more focused than love. You can love anybody, especially if your a Christian. We are commanded to love our enemies, right? Cherish means: ”To cling fondly or inveterately to: to cherish a memory” (Dictionary.com). Cherishing necessarily requires display; that’s why I like the cited definition. When we cherish a memory, we do what? Usually, we have taken pictures, framed them, and displayed them at home and work. We are never commanded in the Bible to cherish our enemies. To cherish is to set love on fire. Guess what the antonym for cherish is? Answer: “neglect.” That’s key.

As Christians, I believe we have been given all we need for life and godliness. In fact, Ephesians 4:24 indicates that we have been given the full righteousness and holiness of Christ. Therefore, the apostle Paul commands us to “put on the new.” Pity: so much of today’s discussion concerning the law of God is framed around “obligation.” Obligation?—biblical commands are an invitation to appropriate and put on the righteousness given to us by Christ. Biblical commands are an invitation to set love on fire! Pity: many are taught today that Christ not only bankrupted heaven to give us His righteousness, but he also puts on that righteousness for us, and while we wait for Christ to do our part, the love of God is hidden under a bushel basket. To cherish is to display the love already given, IF we believe Ephesians 4:24.

Besides men, we promise, we vow, and before witnesses. I guess the guy that was at Perkins gets that part. God is very serious about vows. He says it’s better not to make any than to make one and not keep it. In fact, Psalms 15:1,4 says that vow-keeping is the mark of a righteous person:

“LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?…. who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;” (NIV@2011).

Want another version?

“….in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change;”(ESV).

As these verses indicate, vow-keeping isn’t always easy, but don’t look at this as an indictment, look at it as an invitation to display love already given. Look at it as an invitation to display the importance of what is important to God. Look at it as an invitation to publicly display that you love your wife like Christ loves the church. Look at it as an invitation to set love on fire, and do so at every opportunity—even using car doors, coats, and chairs.

paul

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The Christmas Gift: Wear it Well

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 25, 2010

Here we are at that time of the year, once again, when we “celebrate” the birth of Christ. We do so (even though Christ has only commanded us to remember his future return, not His birth), by exchanging gifts on a day of which the date is not documented by God’s word, though many other days in the Bible are. And the gift thing: what’s that all about? Most say that the gift-giving represents the ultimate gift given to mankind by God, the baby Jesus, but trust me, that means many different things to many different people.

Most people walking the face of the earth are familiar with the Judeo-Christian representation of the gospel. Christ came to die on the cross to satisfy God’s demand that the penalty of sin be payed for because God is a righteous, holy, judge. But why did Christ come as a baby? Well, lest you see God as judge only, this shows another side of God’s loving character towards mankind. Christ came and first lived among mankind to fully identify with us and our struggles before enduring the incomprehensible shame and suffering of the cross. That’s God. He desires to have fellowship with us, and makes that desire known by coming to us where we dwell. His children will not spend eternity in heaven; God will come and spend eternity with us. Revelation 21:1-4 states it this way:

“I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth were completely gone. There was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. It was *coming down*[emphasis mine] *out of heaven from God.* It was prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be.”

Heaven first came down in the form of “Emmanuel” (God with us), but in the end, heaven will come to us, and dwell with us forever. But Christ came to offer us a gift that will make that eternal dwelling possible: the gift of righteousness; his righteousness, the only righteousness that can dwell with God. We receive this gift by faith alone because there is nothing we can do to earn it. Besides, we have all sinned in the past, and therefore, “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” That’s the issue. What can we do by ourselves to gain the righteousness God requires? I think you know the answer to that.

However, if you have accepted this gift, you have been given the true righteousness of Christ in the truest sense. But like that new sweater grandma gave you for Christmas, will you put it on? “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20-24).

In fact, the Bible says that those who have accepted the gift of righteousness by Christ, will put that gift on: “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” Sure, what still needs to be “put off” will remain in a continual lesser degree until Christ comes to get us; but, because of the day that Christ does say to remember, his return, let us be wearing the Christmas gift, and wearing it well: “And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1John 2:28).

paul

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