Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Potter’s House: Romans 14:13-23; Having Unity with Liberty Minus Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on April 3, 2015

Originally published December 28, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

Last week, we once again reminded ourselves of the importance of interpreting the book of Romans via the “mystery of the gospel.” This is the full revelation concerning God’s plan to make the Gentiles part of the commonwealth of Israel. This unification of diverse cultures with the Jews puts the power of God on display, so we should pursue unity vigorously. Certainly, a diverse group of people working in unity for a common cause, the gospel, is a powerful message in our day. If diversity will come together for that cause, it is assumed that the cause is of paramount importance.

If putting unity on display is of paramount importance, we concluded that using home fellowships to evangelize is a really bad idea. Unity can be difficult enough among believers without adding unbelievers into the mix. Believers should be equipped to evangelize outside the fellowship of believers.

We also looked at the Jewish tendency to judge because the Jews were the keepers of the law, and the idea that Christ came to end the law was a difficult transition for them. There is NO law in justification—the law cannot justify—it can only condemn—that’s why Christ came to end the law…for justification.

But the role of the law in regard to the born again believer is another matter.  Love, obedience, and faith are now fused together. We will soon see this in the text this morning. In the Christian life, the law is not only the Spirit’s sword, it is HIS law. He is the Spirit of life, and He uses the law to sanctify, and that law is TRUTH (John 17:17). In the Bible, as we will see, love, obedience, and faith are synonymous.

Last week, we also learned the importance of clarifying the gospel of first importance as a basis for fellowship. Past that, opinions about the law can cause fellow believers to “stumble.” This is where we will pick up in verse 13:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (ESV).

Actually, I prefer the KJV interpretation of this:

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Remember from last week, we all serve under one master, and he will judge what we have done in the body individually. This is a judgment for reward, not condemnation. Presently, there are only two types of judgment in the church: self-judgment (1Cor 11:31,32), and the Lord’s discipline (Heb 12:5ff, Prov 3:11). There is no such thing as the church judging a believer. Christians enjoy protection from the world while in a fellowship of believers, but if fellowship is broken because of sin, God may use the world to correct the believer. We must remember that in the only actual example we have of so-called “church discipline” in the Bible, the apostle Paul assumed the individual to be saved (1Cor 5:4).

In situations that turn out bad according to Matthew 18:15ff, we are to “treat” such an individual “like” an unbeliever, actually, “Gentile and a tax collector.”  The Jews did not associate with Gentiles, and had a steroidal disdain for tax collectors who were usually Jews in league with the Roman government. But keep in mind, there were saved Gentiles and tax collectors. This is a matter of fellowship, NOT “declaring someone an unbeliever.” My three favorite questions in regard to Matthew 18 are, “Where does it say “discipline?” and “Where does it say “unbeliever?” and “Where does it talk about elders declaring someone as unbelieving?” It is remarkable to me how all of these are assumed.

So, Paul writes in verse 13 that all judgment is to cease except a judgment concerning what might make a fellow Christian “stumble.” Paul begins to develop that in verse 14:

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Christians come into fellowship with all kinds of baggage, especially in our day because Christians are doctrinally dumbed down regardless of the information age. Rome kept the Bible away from people; Protestantism has merely mandated interpretation via orthodoxy which has become synonymous with truth.

Heterodoxy means you disagree with some counsel where “Divines” dictate interpretation making heterodoxy synonymous with heresy. In the same way, Jewish Christians were dragging orthodoxy into the home fellowships, and judging the Gentiles which resulted in the Gentiles despising the Jews.

But aside from orthodoxy, good old fashioned family tradition can play into this as well. Also, for example, a converted Adventist may be newly convinced of the true gospel, but is in the habit of abstaining from pork and caffeine. We are creatures of habit, and such a person may not be ready to just jump into their new found freedom where, as Paul stated, “nothing is unclean in itself”

Let me just cut to the chase here: there needs to be agreement on the gospel of first order, but past that we need to do three things: 1. Emphasize teaching and rightly dividing the word 2. Let each be what? Remember from last week? Right, let each be CONVINCED in their own minds 3. DON’T JUDGE.

Why is it extremely important that one be convinced in their own mind, and not hit over the head with the fact that Christ ended the law, and therefore everything is clean? Because many different things in life inform the conscience of an individual and though it would be mighty convenient if all Christians had a biblically informed conscience—that’s not reality. We are to teach, not judge, and let each person be convinced in their own minds.

The primary crux follows: if that person thinks it is sin, even if it isn’t, “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Why? Because the person thinks in their own mind that he/she is sinning. The fact that it is not technically a sin is neither here nor there; the person thinks it is a sin. So, this also means that the person will also violate their conscience when in fact it is against the law—in their own minds they think they are disobeying. This speaks to motive.

In contrast, if they obey their conscience, their motive is to please the Lord. This was Paul’s exact point from last week:

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (verse 6).

The motive is to please God either way. Yet, if we insist that the one who is unconvinced get with the law program, this is where we cause stumbling. Paul taught the importance of keeping a clear conscience throughout the New Testament while also warning about a pattern of violating conscience. This results in searing the conscience and making it indifferent to sin.

On the other hand, guilt can be a very destructive emotion. O. Hobart Mower, president of the American Psychological Association in 1954, attributed most mental illness to the violation of conscience, and started therapy groups that inspired AA. Hobart’s therapy has probably helped more people than any other discipline, as witness by the success of those who follow his principles of therapy such as Dr. Laura Slezinger and Dr. Phil McGraw. If this approach is effective among unbelievers, it is more so among believers.

I can offer an example here from real life. After being consulted by a Christian lady regarding a situation in her marriage, I advised her that she was free to divorce according to Scripture.  She informed me that her convictions would prevent her from doing so. In other words, it would have been a violation of her conscience.  To that I replied that she indeed should obey her conscience. As Christians, we never cause another Christian to violate their conscience.

Also, we should be willing to prefer the unconvinced by abstaining from what offends others while fellowshipping together:

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died (verse 15).

There is no law in justification, and as Andy Young said in last year’s conference, the law is really for sanctification as far as the Christian is concerned. However, the express purpose of the law in sanctification is love. If a Christian flaunts their liberty before Christians who are not yet convinced in their own mind, that Christian, while understanding the law of liberty, is violating the primary purpose of the law which is love. Paul states that this kind of flaunting of liberty can actually “destroy” the one that Christ died for. That’s a pretty strong emphasis. And more than likely, Christ had young believers in mind when He said this:

Luke 17:2 – It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

As the apostle John said, there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear. Though we as Christians have no fear of eternal condemnation, there is plenty to fear for those Christians who walk like fools and not according to love—let us take heed.

16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1Timothy 4:1-5 is a striking, thought provoking text:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Note verse 16 in context of 1Timothy 1-5. Flaunting of liberty can actually cause the good things created by God to be spoken of as evil. And in fact, if you make the good things of God controversial, you are paving the way for that to happen. Hence, in the company of the unconvinced,

22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

Yes, liberty can become reason for self-condemnation—this should be avoided at all cost. Also, the primary work of the kingdom is much more than a matter of what we eat and drink. Of course, there are many other issues that can be added to this issue. I recently heard about a church split over the recognition of Halloween, and whether or not the church would display what some refer to as a “Baal tree” during Christmas. Remember verse 5 from last week and contentions over…

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Again, as stated in verse 18, both parties serve God, and therefore, verse 19, both should seek what edifies and builds up. Controversy over opinions does not build up. There needs to be room given for everyone to be convinced in their own mind and reinforced with a clear conscience.

 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Verses 20-22 make a nice summary that we have no need to expound on further, but a point needs to be made on verse 23. Those who succumb to peer-pressure and eat when they have doubt as to whether it is sin or not have in fact sinned. Actions that don’t come from a convinced mind free from doubt do not proceed from faith. I think this is the double minded person that James wrote about.

This is an interesting definition of faith; apparently, faith is what we are convinced of. When in doubt, it is probably best to error on the side of safety and wait until we are convinced with a clear conscience. We see the connection now between faith, love, and obedience.

And, the importance of sound teaching. Faith is founded on the things we become sure of in Scripture, and obedience/love flow from that.

Next week, on to verse one of chapter 15.

Mom Wants to Know: Why I Don’t Like Mike Huckabee (and Other Adorable People)

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 6, 2015

PPT HandleOriginally published February 10, 2014

I am very busy and need to combine eight posts into one which is not difficult because it’s all related. I need to write about Mike Huckabee, Joni Eareckson Tada, Boz Tchividjian, K-Love, stuff happens theology, plumbing, Communism, and of course John Calvin, but not necessarily in that order.

Let’s start with a conversation that occurred over at my mom’s house about former Governor Mike Huckabee. Susan and I were over at her house overseeing the repair of her furnace. My study of medieval religion has given me a robust appreciation in regard to American ingenuity and technology. A working furnace is critical for someone my mom’s age in sub-zero weather. The furnace was repaired by a competent young man within hours of us calling, and let me add that he also laughed at my jokes.

Plumbing

When all was accomplished, Susan and I said farewell to mom and then received a call on my cellphone about four miles from her house; she reported a funny hissing sound in the kitchen. We returned, and concluded that a frozen water pipe had broken under the kitchen floor. This was totally unrelated to the furnace repair. There we were, the day well spent, and a broken water pipe shooting out gallons of water by the minute underneath the shallow crawl space of the kitchen.

Another competent repair man to the rescue, even at that hour? Maybe, but my mom is long retired and lives on a limited income. I went down to the basement and turned off the main water supply to the house and also observed the following: much cost was spared in installing shutoff valves, but the kitchen was an isolated run of two copper pipes easily accessible before entering the long and shallow crawl space under the kitchen. It became apparent that those two pipes could be sealed off and the rest of the house would have water until the broken pipe was fixed. The trade of a dishwasher and one faucet for flushing toilets etc. in the rest of the house would be a good trade indeed.

I have some past limited background in plumbing, so Susan and I drove to the nearest Lowes to buy sand paper, a propane torch, two copper end-caps, solder, flux, a small brush, a hack saw, and inner pipe brush. Then we talked to a delightful young man that informed me that American plumbing had indeed changed since fifteen years ago when I was dabbling in it here and there as a builder. He informed us that we would only need two “push fittings” and a mini pipe cutter, and about five minutes.

“Uh, let me get this straight. I just cut the pipe, and push this thing on the end of it, and I am done? ‘Right.’”

Now visualize me looking at the guy like he is the Lowes version of John Calvin as he explained how the simple contraption worked. Remember those weaved tubes that we used to put on our friends’ finger when we were kids back in the days of extreme political incorrectness? The tightness of the device around the finger increased with pull. It was the initiation ceremony of choice for all neighborhood club houses. In this case, the pipe is the finger and the water pressure is the sadistic adolescent.

Huckabee

All of this is why I don’t like Mike Huckabee. After the plumbing repair, we hung around awhile and watched the Mike Huckabee show on the Fox News channel. I informed mom and Susan that I don’t like the guy. Like many, they were astounded that anyone of Christian stripe could dislike that cornball.

“Why don’t you like Huckabee?!”

I really didn’t have an answer at the time. But I thought about it all night and realized that the answer was right under my nose the whole time—so I hereby write.

Tada

Huckabee had the mega storied Joni Eareckson Tada on his show. Both of these people are impressive and adorable. Tada has been a paraplegic since her teen years, but her life accomplishments are over the top. Both are the epitome of American pie and conservative Christianity. The reason Huckabee had Tada on his show was to discuss the “Academy’s rescinding of its Oscar nomination for ‘Best Original Song,’ which appeared in the inspirational American colonial epic, ‘Alone Yet Not Alone,’ when it was discovered that the composer, Bruce Broughton, had sent a short email bringing the song to the attention of Oscar voters.” Tada was the vocalist.

Christians en masse stand in awe of Tada, and Huckabee added to her mystique with his mainstream Christian appeal. And this is the problem with Huckabee: he doesn’t get it. Huckabee is the poster child for the Christian metaphysical treadmill. Tada is very much a part of the New Calvinism movement which is a return to authentic Reformation ideology.

Communism   

It is nothing more or less than Communism dressed in Bible verses. This is where the Huck doesn’t get it; as a political/religious conservative, he is representative of many in Christianity who allow their principles to fornicate with contrary ideology. This leads to a never ending endeavor to change society while unwittingly giving credence to the very ideologies that are the source of the problem.

In the same show, Huckabee, prior to Tada’s segment, criticized the opening ceremonies at this year’s winter Olympics in Moscow which promoted the virtues of Communism. He commented that Lenin’s murderous legacy was conveniently left out. Meanwhile, in the next segment, here comes Joni Eareckson Tada who represents a return to John Calvin purism. Granted, Tada’s extensive education came from seminaries that don’t teach the significance of how philosophy progressed through history and how that applies to the doctrine she embraces. Long story short, this leads to a contradictory motif in her own life as she benefits from an array of technological advances that has made much of her success possible (more on that later), but the larger point is that Reformation theology and Communism came from the exact same ideological source along with its presuppositions concerning mankind.

Hence, Huckabee partakes in the same hypocrisy that he criticizes. The Reformers were NO LESS murdering despots than Lenin—that’s conspicuous history plain and simple. In fact, in most cases, Lenin had people shot in the head while the Reformers wouldn’t have tolerated such a quick and painless departure by those whom they disagreed with. Huckabee is the epitome of the well-polished American do-gooder that refuses to come to terms with the fact that the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Reformers are not part of the ideology that made America; they are in fact part and parcel with Communist ideology. Putin needs ratings no less than Huckabee does.

The progression of philosophy and how it affects humanity is magnified in the differences between America and Russia. Huckabee, again, in the same show, pointed to the poor quality of life in Russia that is hindering the Olympics. What he doesn’t realize is that it would be much worse if it wasn’t for America. You have to have technology to eventually destroy the Great Satan, but if Russia ever succeeds, technology goes bye-bye, and the mass graves become filled with the Joni Eareckson Tada’s of the world because they can’t “contribute to the greater good of the group.” This is why Russia’s technology will never rival that of American ingenuity: Communists see technology as a necessary evil, Americans see technology as a means to accomplish good.

Really, this can be summarized in the living contradiction that is Joni Eareckson Tada. While promoting Luther’s worm theology and making one statement by God to the apostle Paul the whole enchilada, she continually pontificates, “God’s power always shows up best in weakness.” Communism asserts that the masses are hapless and incompetent; Reformation theology asserts that man defaces the glory of God through his own accomplishments. Both share the same presuppositions in regard to mankind. Tada points to her disability as set against her accomplishments as proof of Reformed doctrine while completely dismissing God’s use of technology invented by those who in many cases could care less about God. Tada has a lot of education in regard to what others told her is in the Calvin Institutes, and conveniently missing are Calvin’s vast discussions of Plato and Aristotle. I dare say that the Reformation had more to do with those two men than “justification by faith alone.”

And by the way, the Reformation wasn’t about that either; it was about cutting man completely out of the salvation process because of Plato’s philosophical presuppositions concerning mankind. This later morphed into Gnosticism.

Stuff Happens Theology

Can we summarize this dilemma with T-shirt theology? “S— Happens.” No, stuff doesn’t just happen (there is a logic that drives everything). And that’s how Huckabee functions because of his metaphysics: stuff happens and you have to relentlessly address that stuff until all of the stuff has been refuted. No, you have to stop fornicating with the logic that creates the stuff. The apostle Paul stated it this way: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” If Huckabee wants unleavened bread, he needs to take some culinary philosophy classes. And if you don’t like what you learn, stop criticizing the Communists for editing history.

And by the way, what scares the bejeebers out of me is that the average Communist on the street understands these issues as opposed to American Christians. They know exactly why their country stinks; because mankind and life stinks. Get with the caste program or it will stink even worse. It’s about the best world hospice care possible. The fray between Americanism and Communism really began when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. That’s where the rewriting of history for us began as well; “Pilgrim” is a soft term for “Puritan.” These are people who saw the likes of Benjamin Franklin as troublers who stir up the anger of the gods with their big ideas. Now they have to use those same ideas to put an end to the egregious idea that man has worth. That’s Joni Eareckson Tada metaphysics.

Hence, supposedly, technology doesn’t enable us to do more ministry. It would have been better to replace my mother’s furnace with a wood burning stove. It would have been better if my mother would have had to write me a letter about the broken water pipe instead of calling me on my cellphone. See, if we were like the Russians, we wouldn’t need plumbing anyway. For Tada, technology is a necessary evil to spread the word that we all suck. If she thinks that is an absurd evaluation of her metaphysics, she should stop promoting men who believe just that in no uncertain terms. She would know this if her reality wasn’t completely formed by the likes of John MacArthur Jr.

The Republican Party and Mike Huckabee in particular need to wake up to a new reality: New Calvinism has made the American church the New Communist Party. Again, stuff doesn’t just happen; there is a reason why many well-known New Calvinist pastors voted for Obama. Sure, they don’t agree with his stance on abortion and other issues, but there is agreement on the bigger issue at hand: mankind needs the best hospice care possible; unfortunate collateral damage can be dealt with when Calvinism is back in bed with the state. This is why the institutional church is the institutional church and partakes in many things institutional like movie production, formal education etc., etc., ect. The state gave it birth, and it will always gravitate back to its mother. This is why Christ’s assembly was never an institution.

The Boz

Let’s continue now with stuff happens theology and the adorable Boz Tchividjian aka the Boz. The Boz is another impressive guy. How can we criticize the Boz? For crying out loud, he left his station as a district attorney who prosecuted child abusers to start G.R.A.C.E, an acronym for, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. The Boz bemoans “the continued culture of silence and protection [for child abusers] in American Evangelicalism.” This is a reality—stuff happens. No, stuff doesn’t just happen. Read the history for yourself. Seriously, people have actually written this ministry and stated, “Evangelicalism is beginning to look like Catholicism in regard to child abuse.” This is stuff happens theology.

Catholicism was founded on Platonism, and Protestantism came from Catholicism, and never left it. Augustine, an avowed Neo-Platonist, is both the father of Reformed theology and a Doctor of Grace in the Catholic Church. Later, Baptists became Protestants when the issue of infant baptism became a “secondary” issue. Apparently, after all of the Anabaptists of the home church variety were executed by a joint effort of Catholics and Protestants, the institutional breed of Baptist was accepted. After all, they paid the tithe tax. In regard to Catholics and their bastard children, there is no heresy more egregious than tax evasion. Evangelicalism became a necessary addition to Protestantism when people could no longer be compelled by force to attend church and tithe.

Again, we criticize the Communists for propaganda, but yet colonial America was a Puritan theocracy that executed people for being theologically incorrect and jailed people for not attending church and tithing. The Puritans were the first to bring slaves to America at Jamestown. The American Revolution was a pushback against colonial tyranny. While the Boz seeks to rectify the child abuse stuff in “Evangelicalism,” he holds fast to the same presuppositions concerning mankind and the divine right of kings that flows from it. He wants to rid “Evangelicalism” of the behavior, but continues to fornicate with the ideology that produces it.

This ministry, which understands Reformed ideology, has therefore continually stated that G.R.A.C.E. cannot help victims of child abuse in the church. This is because the Boz, like all of those in a Calvinist mindset, sees all of humanity as being in the same boat. Peruse if you will all of the G.R.A.C.E . literature, I was not able to find the word “justice” anywhere. And yet, didn’t the Boz come from a justice system? Though God himself demands justice for the maltreated, Calvinism holds justice in contempt because it assumes humanity deserves NOTHING more than eternity in hell.

I have written extensively on the problem of dealing with abuse in the church with Reformed ideology. The difference is the mindset that puts as much value on one life as it does all of life versus collectivism which sees the individual as expendable for the benefit of the group. This is known as collectivism. This is a big player in the Reformation’s Platonist roots. This is about philosophical metaphysics—not the Bible. While the Boz deplores the behavior of child abuse, his remedy requires that the victim and the abuser both recognize that we are all just “sinners saved by grace.” In at least one sense, he believes that the abusers would repent if the victims would admit that they are no better than their abusers. Example: while the Wartburg Watch blog portends to be an advocacy for the spiritual abused, they partner with Pastor Wade Burleson, a Calvinist, who suggested that abuse would be greatly reduced if the church was not guilty of failing to pray for abusers. Here we have yet another example of attempting to bake unleavened bread while adding leaven to the dough.

Furthermore, discernment blogs, like the Boz, have a common goal of purifying the institutional church. This gets right back to collectivism which is always dependent on the state. Plato’s Republic was about the best hospice care for humanity: government must own man and truth so that humanity can be as comfortable as possible while dying. To the contrary, Christ said He came to give eternal life and life more abundantly in the here and now. And the Christian has no fight with those who believe in a limited government that assures humanity’s right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This is closer to the priesthood of believers that devalues church as an institution. This is why the New Testament church was primarily home based before being driven underground in oppressive countries by necessity. To the contrary, the American church functions primarily in institutional venues: higher learning; corporate expression; missionary organizations; political organizations; and even movie making. Discipleship and citizenship to the glory of God is barely on the radar screen.

Therefore, the institutional church will always be one step away from a liaison with state. The institution is what the institution does—it collects taxes and tithes, and doesn’t much care for those who don’t contribute to the group.

Yes, all of the above is why I was able to predict the inevitable outcome of G.R.A.C.E.’s involvement in the Bob Jones University abuse scandal months beforehand. It’s a Reformed institution investigating a Reformed institution. Don’t be fooled by the good cop bad cop routine. They are all cops when it is all said and done. BJU’s final sentence of their statement in regard to firing G.R.A.C.E. after the smoke was clear says it all:

We grieve with those who have suffered abuse in their past, and we desire to minister the grace of Christ to them. Our prayer for the abused is that God will be their refuge and strength.

Yes, they ministered G.R.A.C.E. to them alright, and that message is loud and clear lest the discernment bloggers and victims cannot yet see it:

Justice isn’t the issue; who in the hell do you think you are? You think you deserve justice? If you had a smidgen of spirituality you would seek refuge in God and not the justice of men! How dare you threaten the institution wherein salvation is found because you will not accept the will of God! You were raped, big deal! Jesus hung on the cross for your sins! You are the unmerciful servant who received forgiveness but will not forgive!

K-Love

 …is a radio station that plays contemporary Gnostic Christian music. Here is what my missionary son in law posted on Facebook a couple of days ago:

We have been listening to the newest Christian music on K-Love as we travel and I am noticing an odd trend: there are several songs that ask for God to break someone or make them lonely with the expected result of being a better person. Having been broken and very lonely a couple times in life I am pretty sure they are not really aware of what they are asking for. You don’t have to be broken in order to listen to God’s voice and indeed if you learn to listen to His voice you will not break or be broken even when you do face difficult times.

It’s not odd really, but is part of the whole all reality than can be perceived with the five senses (which of course includes us) is evil and only the invisible spirit realm is good metaphysics dressed up in Bible verses. We have to understand the ideology that drives all of this stuff and stop focusing on the stuff. It explains the madness behind the music, why a pastor would vote for Obama, why someone like Tada endowed with all sorts of technical power and influence would glory in her “weakness” while being far more empowered than most Americans, and for that matter, why a Buddhist monk would set himself on fire just to make a statement.

John Calvin

…is the epicenter of all that is going on in Christianity right now, and the key to understanding the significance of Calvin and his cultural impact has little to do with the Bible and everything to do with the fact that his ideology is the premise that drives a lot of stuff across the spectrum of life and society.  Focusing on the stuff will only delay the inevitable. And per the usual, people will continue to focus on the stuff, because stuff happens, and we like to talk about it—it’s like rubber necking to get the best view that we can of a traffic accident—it’s like flirting with the voluptuous vampiress that just might bite our necks and suck all of our blood. There is no thrill in solutions like traffic safety or a silver bullet.

And what would Mike Huckabee talk about on his show? But others have a choice; we don’t have to strive in baking unleavened bread while allowing leaven. We don’t have to give mere platitudes to the suffering…

we can set them free with real truth, and be a blessing in our own little corner of the world. And when you stand before Jesus, as we all will, it’s better that way. Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of the little ones we do unto Him. With Jesus, love is about the individual—not the collective good.

paul

The Potter’s House: Romans 14:13-23; Having Unity with Liberty Minus Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 28, 2014

Last week, we once again reminded ourselves of the importance of interpreting the book of Romans via the “mystery of the gospel.” This is the full revelation concerning God’s plan to make the Gentiles part of the commonwealth of Israel. This unification of diverse cultures with the Jews puts the power of God on display, so we should pursue unity vigorously. Certainly, a diverse group of people working in unity for a common cause, the gospel, is a powerful message in our day. If diversity will come together for that cause, it is assumed that the cause is of paramount importance.

If putting unity on display is of paramount importance, we concluded that using home fellowships to evangelize is a really bad idea. Unity can be difficult enough among believers without adding unbelievers into the mix. Believers should be equipped to evangelize outside the fellowship of believers.

We also looked at the Jewish tendency to judge because the Jews were the keepers of the law, and the idea that Christ came to end the law was a difficult transition for them. There is NO law in justification—the law cannot justify—it can only condemn—that’s why Christ came to end the law…for justification.

But the role of the law in regard to the born again believer is another matter.  Love, obedience, and faith are now fused together. We will soon see this in the text this morning. In the Christian life, the law is not only the Spirit’s sword, it is HIS law. He is the Spirit of life, and He uses the law to sanctify, and that law is TRUTH (John 17:17). In the Bible, as we will see, love, obedience, and faith are synonymous.

Last week, we also learned the importance of clarifying the gospel of first importance as a basis for fellowship. Past that, opinions about the law can cause fellow believers to “stumble.” This is where we will pick up in verse 13:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (ESV).

Actually, I prefer the KJV interpretation of this:

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Remember from last week, we all serve under one master, and he will judge what we have done in the body individually. This is a judgment for reward, not condemnation. Presently, there are only two types of judgment in the church: self-judgment (1Cor 11:31,32), and the Lord’s discipline (Heb 12:5ff, Prov 3:11). There is no such thing as the church judging a believer. Christians enjoy protection from the world while in a fellowship of believers, but if fellowship is broken because of sin, God may use the world to correct the believer. We must remember that in the only actual example we have of so-called “church discipline” in the Bible, the apostle Paul assumed the individual to be saved (1Cor 5:4).

In situations that turn out bad according to Matthew 18:15ff, we are to “treat” such an individual “like” an unbeliever, actually, “Gentile and a tax collector.”  The Jews did not associate with Gentiles, and had a steroidal disdain for tax collectors who were usually Jews in league with the Roman government. But keep in mind, there were saved Gentiles and tax collectors. This is a matter of fellowship, NOT “declaring someone an unbeliever.” My three favorite questions in regard to Matthew 18 are, “Where does it say “discipline?” and “Where does it say “unbeliever?” and “Where does it talk about elders declaring someone as unbelieving?” It is remarkable to me how all of these are assumed.

So, Paul writes in verse 13 that all judgment is to cease except a judgment concerning what might make a fellow Christian “stumble.” Paul begins to develop that in verse 14:

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Christians come into fellowship with all kinds of baggage, especially in our day because Christians are doctrinally dumbed down regardless of the information age. Rome kept the Bible away from people; Protestantism has merely mandated interpretation via orthodoxy which has become synonymous with truth.

Heterodoxy means you disagree with some counsel where “Divines” dictate interpretation making heterodoxy synonymous with heresy. In the same way, Jewish Christians were dragging orthodoxy into the home fellowships, and judging the Gentiles which resulted in the Gentiles despising the Jews.

But aside from orthodoxy, good old fashioned family tradition can play into this as well. Also, for example, a converted Adventist may be newly convinced of the true gospel, but is in the habit of abstaining from pork and caffeine. We are creatures of habit, and such a person may not be ready to just jump into their new found freedom where, as Paul stated, “nothing is unclean in itself”

Let me just cut to the chase here: there needs to be agreement on the gospel of first order, but past that we need to do three things: 1. Emphasize teaching and rightly dividing the word 2. Let each be what? Remember from last week? Right, let each be CONVINCED in their own minds 3. DON’T JUDGE.

Why is it extremely important that one be convinced in their own mind, and not hit over the head with the fact that Christ ended the law, and therefore everything is clean? Because many different things in life inform the conscience of an individual and though it would be mighty convenient if all Christians had a biblically informed conscience—that’s not reality. We are to teach, not judge, and let each person be convinced in their own minds.

The primary crux follows: if that person thinks it is sin, even if it isn’t, “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Why? Because the person thinks in their own mind that he/she is sinning. The fact that it is not technically a sin is neither here nor there; the person thinks it is a sin. So, this also means that the person will also violate their conscience when in fact it is against the law—in their own minds they think they are disobeying. This speaks to motive.

In contrast, if they obey their conscience, their motive is to please the Lord. This was Paul’s exact point from last week:

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (verse 6).

The motive is to please God either way. Yet, if we insist that the one who is unconvinced get with the law program, this is where we cause stumbling. Paul taught the importance of keeping a clear conscience throughout the New Testament while also warning about a pattern of violating conscience. This results in searing the conscience and making it indifferent to sin.

On the other hand, guilt can be a very destructive emotion. O. Hobart Mower, president of the American Psychological Association in 1954, attributed most mental illness to the violation of conscience, and started therapy groups that inspired AA. Hobart’s therapy has probably helped more people than any other discipline, as witness by the success of those who follow his principles of therapy such as Dr. Laura Slezinger and Dr. Phil McGraw. If this approach is effective among unbelievers, it is more so among believers.

I can offer an example here from real life. After being consulted by a Christian lady regarding a situation in her marriage, I advised her that she was free to divorce according to Scripture.  She informed me that her convictions would prevent her from doing so. In other words, it would have been a violation of her conscience.  To that I replied that she indeed should obey her conscience. As Christians, we never cause another Christian to violate their conscience.

Also, we should be willing to prefer the unconvinced by abstaining from what offends others while fellowshipping together:

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died (verse 15).

There is no law in justification, and as Andy Young said in last year’s conference, the law is really for sanctification as far as the Christian is concerned. However, the express purpose of the law in sanctification is love. If a Christian flaunts their liberty before Christians who are not yet convinced in their own mind, that Christian, while understanding the law of liberty, is violating the primary purpose of the law which is love. Paul states that this kind of flaunting of liberty can actually “destroy” the one that Christ died for. That’s a pretty strong emphasis. And more than likely, Christ had young believers in mind when He said this:

Luke 17:2 – It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

As the apostle John said, there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear. Though we as Christians have no fear of eternal condemnation, there is plenty to fear for those Christians who walk like fools and not according to love—let us take heed.

16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1Timothy 4:1-5 is a striking, thought provoking text:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Note verse 16 in context of 1Timothy 1-5. Flaunting of liberty can actually cause the good things created by God to be spoken of as evil. And in fact, if you make the good things of God controversial, you are paving the way for that to happen. Hence, in the company of the unconvinced,

22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

Yes, liberty can become reason for self-condemnation—this should be avoided at all cost. Also, the primary work of the kingdom is much more than a matter of what we eat and drink. Of course, there are many other issues that can be added to this issue. I recently heard about a church split over the recognition of Halloween, and whether or not the church would display what some refer to as a “Baal tree” during Christmas. Remember verse 5 from last week and contentions over…

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Again, as stated in verse 18, both parties serve God, and therefore, verse 19, both should seek what edifies and builds up. Controversy over opinions does not build up. There needs to be room given for everyone to be convinced in their own mind and reinforced with a clear conscience.

 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Verses 20-22 make a nice summary that we have no need to expound on further, but a point needs to be made on verse 23. Those who succumb to peer-pressure and eat when they have doubt as to whether it is sin or not have in fact sinned. Actions that don’t come from a convinced mind free from doubt do not proceed from faith. I think this is the double minded person that James wrote about.

This is an interesting definition of faith; apparently, faith is what we are convinced of. When in doubt, it is probably best to error on the side of safety and wait until we are convinced with a clear conscience. We see the connection now between faith, love, and obedience.

And, the importance of sound teaching. Faith is founded on the things we become sure of in Scripture, and obedience/love flow from that.

Next week, on to verse one of chapter 15.

Where Do Truth Lovers Go from Here in the Days of Noah?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 10, 2014

PPT HandleSo, the cat is out of the bag. Our Protestant church culture is no different than Rome. Salvation is found in the Protestant caste institution and its supposed “power of the keys.” The Protestant church emperor has no clothes. Now we know why there is a church that can be seen from the highway every two miles with an average $500,000 annual budget: people will pay big money for salvation. These buildings are nothing more or less than Catholic temples.

If you get, if you realize that Christ is the only one who has authority over you and no one else, you are feeling pretty lonely, and wonder where we go from here.

We go to very exciting places, after all, for the first time in your Christian life you are free. The baggage of the institutional church is no longer on your shoulders. And in time, you will be joined by others. In fact, I have to believe that this will be a huge movement if it is truly a return to what Christ wants, and I think it is.

But be sure of this: this isn’t a half-pregnant home fellowship movement that is part home and part institution, this is ALL OUT.

And, just think about it: the Protestant monstrosity is only part of our mission field white unto harvest. And, our message is theological math that people can understand. Two literal different relationships between two literal written laws is NOT hard to understand. Protestants have to make “nomos” a realm and not a written law. This is NOT complicated.

Let’s face it, in the institutional church, evangelism has always been strained. Since I left the institutional church, evangelizing is like a mere natural flow for me. Also, the church does not dictate what I learn this week—I am totally free to learn anything from the Scriptures that God would show me.

Starting a loving assembly of Christ is easy. You are the pastor of your own home. Read Ephesians 5:25-33; where do you see elders in there? You don’t. Every Sunday, gather your family together, read the word and discuss it, have a meal together and recognize the Lord’s table, have prayer, and use your money to help people. Why are you placing yourselves under the authority of people who could care less about the priesthood Christ has assigned you to? Start there and support the movement—the rest will happen.

This is the way to go, and as Christian’s intentionally network together and work this all out, we will be living large in Christ. These are not only perilous times—they are very exciting times.

paul

Jesus and Paul: The Dynamics of True Salvation: John 8:34-36

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 20, 2014

PPT HandleWords mean things. Christians should be careful that they know what words mean in the biblical sense. Protestants misunderstand the biblical definitions of many key words; really, almost all of them. This is because orthodoxy has redefined all of them. The more we see the proper definitions of key biblical words, the more we see a beautiful continuity in the truth that gives us life, and life more abundantly.

John 8:34-36 is part of what Jesus said in a debate with the religious leaders of that day, and is not only the crux of salvation, but Pauline soteriology to a “T.” Let’s look at it:

John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (ESV).

Verse 34 is a theme that Jesus focuses on in the surrounding text. Nothing that we do can make us righteous, but what we do shows who we are. Why? Because we are new creatures; we are born from above. Jesus emphasizes fruits, but the apostle Paul articulates the doctrine in his letters. What Jesus states here, and what Paul states in his epistles, is exactly the same.

The key words we must understand are: sin; son; Son; slave, and free. The word “practice” in the ESV is a good translation because it denotes the idea of a life pattern. Perfection is not in mind here. The Principle is described by Paul in Romans:

Romans 6:20 – For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The new birth is a reversal of slavery and freedom leading to a different life direction. Though an unbeliever is free to righteousness, ultimately, he/she is indifferent to the freedom of God’s truth. Certainly, an unbeliever can do righteous works because the works of God’s law are written upon the heart (Rom 2:14).

I will also agree with the ESV differentiating between “son” in verse 35 and “Son” in verse 36 via capitalization. The son in verse 35 is not the same Son in verse 36. Verse 35 speaks of the sonship of a son to the master of the house. The slave (bond servant) is not part of the family and has an uncertain length of occupancy while the son of the master will always be the master’s son.

“Slave” has three meanings here: slave to a master; slave to a law, and a slave to death. Let’s look at the first one: it is a slave to a particular master; sin. Throughout the whole Bible, sin is defined as a master.

Romans 6:17 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

Genesis 4:5 – So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Sin is an entity that desires to rule over humanity, and primarily utilizes desire to do so.

James 1:14 – 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.

Romans 6:12 – 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.

The contrary master is righteousness, and this is to whom the son is enslaved. The Son has set the household slave free to be enslaved to righteousness as the son of the master.

Romans 6:18 – and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

This is also slavery to a law. Sin has its own law (Scripture). This is a law appointed to the Sin slave master by God. Only this law can define sin. No sin has been committed that is not imputed to this law and recorded as a violation against it. Sin designs its desires to refute the law. Sin uses the law of God to provoke people to sin through contrary desires.

Romans 7:5 – 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.

Romans 7:8 – But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.

The Son came to die on the cross to make slaves into sons. He did this by ending the law and its condemnation. Sin can no longer condemn us.

1Corinthians 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. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Son came to end the law, that is, the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2), so that sin can no longer condemn us through the law.

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

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.

Romans 7:8 – …For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Therefore, those who sin are under the law (“everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin”), but Christ came to end the law, so a son cannot sin against the law. He is now under grace and NOT under law:

Romans 6:14 – For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

God lent His law to sin as a covenant that would imprison all sins committed therein. It’s like a will written to all unbelievers. All sins are imputed to it until faith comes, and the inheritance is eternal life.

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.

This is where a slave becomes a son, in order to be set free from the master who has owned him since birth (Rom 7:14). Like Christ, a death must occur to free the son from the old covenant that imprisons sin, death, and condemnation.

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

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.

The son is now free without fear of condemnation to obey the law of the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant law of sin and death by paying the wages of sin—death, and was raised from the dead in order to conquer death as well. There is no law to condemn us, and no wage of sin to be paid. We have been bought with this price from the Sin master, and now belong to Master Righteousness.

1Corintians 6:20 – for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Being sons, purchased by the Son, and under grace, we are now free to fulfill the law of the Spirit of life by obeying Christ the righteous one:

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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