Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Does It Mean To Be A “Christian”?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 2, 2017

I don’t consider myself a “christian”. That word is thrown about so carelessly these days. Anybody and everybody seems to call themselves a “christian”, and the result is that the word has lost its meaning.

In addition, the term “christian” shares an intimate association with the institutional church. When you consider the scope of spiritual tyranny, abuse, and scandal that exists in the church, the last thing I want is to be labeled as “one of those people.”

There are far more distinct labels that I could use to identify myself such as “child of God”, “child of the Kingdom”, or just simply a “believer”.

Perhaps we need to take back the “Christian” moniker. Since words define reality, why don’t we take a moment and consider just what it means to be a “Christian” rather than just accept how the institutional church has unwittingly redefined it for all of us.

“Christian” – noun

Constructed from the word “Christ”…
(from the Greek word χριστος (chris-tos) meaning “an anointed one”; the title given to Jesus of Nazareth; equivalent to the Hebrew word for “Messiah”)

…and the suffix “ian” (meaning one from, belonging to, related to, or like)

“Christ-one”, “Christ-like”

The etymology of the word is traced back to the city of Antioch in the Roman province of Syria in the 1st Century, probably around 45-50 CE. It was originally used as a derogatory term for those who were disciples of Jesus, or “followers of ‘The Way’”

But even though it was intended to be a pejorative, consider the richness of the Biblical meaning of the word “Christian”:

• One Who Is From Christ
A Christian is an ambassador. He is God’s emissary left here on earth to take the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom to those who are lost so that they may be reconciled to God through the New Birth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation…Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” ~ Romans 10:14-15

• One Who Belongs to Christ
Christ’s death on the cross redeemed all men. He purchased mankind with his shed blood. His death ended sin by ending the law and takes away sin for all those who are born again through belief in Him. Furthermore, every born again believer is a member of the Body of Christ, and Christ is the Head of the Body. So not only did Christ purchase us, but we belong to Him as a member of His Body.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the assembly of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”~ Acts 20:28

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” ~ Galatians 3:13

“Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” ~ Ephesians 1:14


• One Who is Related to Christ
A Christian is made a part of the family of God by virtue of the New Birth. He is the literal offspring of God the Father. That means that Jesus is the Big Brother of every believer!

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”~ Romans 8:29

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” ~ Galatians 3:26

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” ~ Romans 8:16-17

• One Who is Like Christ
Because a believer is the literal offspring of God, he bears the Father’s righteousness just as Christ does. His new nature also gives him a zeal and a love for the Law. His desire is to show love to God and others through obedience to the Law. The believer cooperates with the in-dwelling Holy Spirit in sanctification in order to bring the believer to maturity. Seeking to bring one’s body under control of is part of sanctification.

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” ~ Romans 6:4

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”~ Romans 8:29

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth…Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry…But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” ~ Colossians 3:1-2, 5, 8-10

“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour…For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7

• One Who Is a Follower of Christ
To follow Christ means to follow His teaching and to follow His example of how to conduct one’s life and show love to God and others. But many of Jesus’ disciples followed Him to the fullest extreme, for many of them were put to death because of their faith.

“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” ~ John 10:27

“If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”~ John 12:26

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” ~ Hebrews 6:12

~ Andy

Andy Williams to Protestants: Godly Living is Possible

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 26, 2015

TANC 2015 Conference: Paul Dohse Sessions

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 28, 2015

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 3, Doing the Christian Walk

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

Blog Radio LogoGood evening, everyone. Welcome to Blog Talk Radio False Reformation. This is your host, Paul Dohse. If you would like to call in and add to the lesson tonight, the number is 347-855-8317. You will hear me say, “You are on the air. This is your host, Paul. What is your question or comment?” and just start talking. Identifying yourself is optional.

Per the usual, we’ll be checking in towards the end of the conclusion of our presentation and try to get a conversation going with Susan about the topic at hand to kind of round everything out.

This is our third part in the series, “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification.” In the first part we defined the enemy; in the second part we defined the Christian, and now we are getting into the actual nuts and bolts of Christian living. How, yes, how do we walk in the Spirit or according to the will and desires of the Spirit? These are also our desires because we are born of God.

Again, this series is designed to address the core basics of sanctification and we trust that folks will add to their understanding through independent Bible study. We must remember, for more than 500 years, Protestantism has focused on justification while making sanctification a subjective outflow of salvation. Christian living is therefore a vast untapped knowledge.

Taking the first two parts together, we understand that the Christian is not only declared righteous by God, we are in fact new creatures who are holy. Perfect sinlessness is not the issue, change of direction is the issue. We have examined why sin in the Christian life does not exempt the Christian from being truly righteous and why that is not “legal fiction.”

This is important: the only soteriological imputation spoken of in the Bible is our sins to Jesus. Righteousness is not imputed to the Christian nor does the Bible state that anywhere. Christians are MADE righteous by the new birth. There is no so-called “double imputation.”

Romans 6:4 – 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.

The righteousness of God is not merely imputed to us, the new birth has made us the righteousness of God because we are His literal offspring. This is important to know if we are to live a sanctified life as kingdom citizens.

In order to adequately tap into the vast riches of sanctification via the Scriptures, it is essential that justification and sanctification not be confused. Regardless of what English translations seem to say, “gift” and “reward” cannot be confused. Salvation is a gift, sanctification, or the Christian walk involves rewards. Anything spoken of in the Bible as a reward CANNOT refer to salvation.

This part is going to be a summary on some of the methods of change for Chrsitians. Let’s start with the basic ones and move on from there. First of all, we are disciples, or learners. Gaining wisdom in sanctification is critical.

It is also critical that Scripture is your authority. Therefore, for all practical purposes, that means independent study and not a total dependence on teachers who are a help, NOT an authority. The only authority is Scripture (Acts 17:11).

Also, the method of interpretation should be grammatical historical as illustrated by the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus prescribed a learning and applying in order to have a life built upon on a rock. The audience was the uneducated peasantry of that day. The Bible is to be interpreted according to its plain sense of the words and how they are arranged in sentences. Historical context and rules of grammar should be observed as well.

Never forget this: all rules for interpreting the Bible are found within the Bible itself. Also, always remember to interpret a passage in context of justification or sanctification.

Do you know who you are as a Christian other than a holy one? You are a disciple, or learner. One of your primary objectives is to continually gain wisdom for Christian living. That’s sanctification.

1Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

In the first two studies, we looked at how sin uses desire to make its appeal. Sin’s goal is to sell you on obeying its desires. Unbelievers, as we just read, are marked by obeying their desires.

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.

As born again believers, we are going to have desires like those of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 Again, our members, or mortality is not inherently evil. When Paul wrote “the desires of the flesh” that refers to when the flesh is being used in service to sinful desires. We have firmly established that our members can also be used for holy purposes. We also looked at the fact that our bodies are the Holy of Holies where the Holy Spirit resides. When we were “under law” we were enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good, but as ones “under grace” we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

It’s a reversal of overall direction predicated mostly by a love for God’s truth versus indifference to God’s law. That’s the glaring difference between a lost person and a saved person; though the unregenerate might be moral and practically wise in many areas of life, there will be a marked indifference to God’s opinion about things. People under grace love the truth:

2Thessolonians 2:9 – The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Wisdom teaches that Christians must discern between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of sin. I assume sinful desires will usually have pleasure as their goal, while godly desires will often look beyond pleasure to some higher goal. This can get pretty complex and would be a vast field of study in and of itself. Greed, taking shortcuts in dealing with life, and many other considerations would come into play.

At any rate, we learn of an extremely important principle in Romans 6. We become slaves to whatever desires we obey.

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 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, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

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.

When someone comes to you with an addiction, they have become addicted because they have become enslaved to that desire by obeying it over and over again. Whether believer or unbeliever, we become enslaved to what we obey. When we don’t feel like doing something that perhaps is an obligation like going to work, and we obey that feeling, the feeling becomes stronger and stronger to the point where it dominates us.

People who are lazy are enslaved to a certain feeling. And feelings talk, right? In this case, the feeling is saying, “I don’t want to go to work.” A lazy person must stop obeying that feeling.

Then you have stuff like pornography. People can be what we call “attractive.” So, whether men or women, we want to avoid soft porn. If you begin by obeying a desire to view soft porn, it’s just going to escalate from there. This is why I stay away from the magazine racks at grocery stores. It’s saying no to soft porn. If you say no to soft porn and set boundaries, it will always be easy to say no—the desire is weak. Saying yes makes you a slave to whatever you need to be saying no to.

And porn is dangerous because it can intermingle with the reality of an innocent recognition that there is attractiveness among people. Some people are easy on the eyes, other people not so much. This is reality. But wisdom comes into play here as well. There is an inner beauty and outer beauty which is a subject worthy of a whole book in and of itself.

Another thing we learn from Scripture is the principle of life and death. This is an active principle in both the believer and unbeliever. People either choose life or death. What we obey in life either brings about death or life. When we obey a sinful desire, it brings about some sort of death which in many cases is an extremely subtle form of death. In the life of an unbeliever, the overall direction in various degrees is death leading to ultimate death. That’s why there are degrees of eternal punishment. The end of a believer’s life is going to be eternal life, but that can look pretty sad in many cases.

More on this later, but it is clear in Scripture that a believer wallowing in anemic sanctification can sin unto death. I don’t think Ananias and Sapphire were struck dead because of their onetime act of hypocrisy, I think it was the final straw in a long succession of choices leading to death.

This is where we might plug in another sanctification dynamic. In regard to justification, we should have no fear. There is no condemnation for those who believe in Christ. But, we are commanded to have fear in sanctification throughout the New Testament. Why? This life and death dynamic in regard to what we obey. This is heavily emphasized throughout the New Testament.

1Peter 4:17 – For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Before we build on this life and death construct, let’s look more at desires. It is important for Christians to know that they can put sinful desires to death in their lives. And sinful desires can take on all sorts of forms. Among unbelievers who are under law, you name it: a desire to murder. What happens when someone obeys that desire? They become a what? Right, serial killer. What about a desire to have sex with animals? What about thrill-seeking which can take on all kinds of manifestations? See, believers don’t understand these dynamics. Sin manifests itself differently in different people through different desires. Unbelievers can only be freed from these desires by dying:

Romans 6:6 – 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.

Oh my, what a wonderful evangelism tool! Offering the good news to people that they can die with Christ and be resurrected with Him in Spirit baptism which will free them from sinful desires. Homosexuals do not have to be hounded by that desire the rest of their lives. They may also learn they are called to singleness. Because of lack of wisdom, I think some unbelievers reason that if they don’t desire the opposite sex, they must be homosexual. Also, be sure of this: not saying no to sexual desire might lead anywhere. Most homosexuality begins with unfettered sexual desires with the same sex as well as sexual fantasies of all sorts. In a passage we read, it speaks of drunken orgies that would have involved group sex fueled by alcohol, and undoubtedly, anything goes in those settings. Point being: obeying sexual desires of all sorts can lead to anything and the slavery thereof.

Those desires can be put to death.

Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[d] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Sinful desires can be put to death. How? By disobeying the desire, and robbing the desire of provisions:

Romans 13:14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word for “provision” is pronoia; it means to give forethought in caring for something. We are to cut off anything that gives a thought to the desire. No, if you are a former homosexual, you don’t associate with homosexuals. No, if you are a former alcoholic, you don’t associate with people who drink. And no, you don’t keep alcohol in the house for any reason.

If you have repented of gluttony, you don’t keep excess amounts of food in the house, and if you are on a diet, you keep certain foods out of the house. Many more examples could be used—you get the picture. You don’t feed the desire because desire is what sin uses to make its appeal, and strong appeals make it harder to say no.

As we look at this further, INCENTIVE is so huge in all of this. Note 2Timothy 2:15.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Note the use of the word “worker.” The same Greek word is mostly translated “laborer” elsewhere. This couldn’t be talking about salvation. Paul isn’t telling Timothy to earn his salvation. This not only means that a Christian can be ashamed, but that their entry into heaven can be a foggy and fearful affair:

2Peter 1:5 – For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If adding these things listed to our lives can result in a rich entry into heaven, I have to believe that a not-so-rich entry is also possible. Every indication here is that one can go to heaven shrouded in doubt. Peter could not be telling Christians to make every effort to finish their salvation—that’s not what is in view here. Paul described his own rich entry:

2Timothy 4:5 – As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Key to the rich entry is “fulfill your ministry.” As we read in one of the many passages cited here tonight, EVERY Christian has been granted gifts for the purpose of the ministry they are called to. Fulfill that ministry. At least for Paul, the ability to stare death in the face without even flinching is tied to the fact that he fulfilled his ministry, and I strongly suspect it is no different for us. And let’s face it, we know how much emphasis there is on individual gifts in the institutional church.

Not only that, the only ministry that is taken seriously is performed by those who purchased a degree from a seminary. In a home fellowship, the gifts of the individuals in that small group are right in front of you every week. Individual service is the focus—not all of the distractions of an institution bewitched by authority. Leaders of a home fellowship are focused on individual gifts—not all of the drama that goes along with an institution.

Wise sanctification is rewarded richly in this life and the life to come. You can have eternal life, and be miserable in this life. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Hey, you’re here, while you are it you might as well love life.

1Peter 3:10 – For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (Psalms 34:12).

Is it fair to say that depressed people don’t love life? Is it fair to say that depression is a form of death? Remember when I told you that choosing death or making death choices can be very subtle? Well, many times a series of subtle death choices can culminate into depression and often people will have no idea where the depression came from. This is where we get into people thinking depression is a chemical imbalance etc. Now look, depression can be medical, so definitely go to the doctor, but also be sure to take a hard look at your life—do both.

Susan and I are involved with a young person right now that can’t tell the truth about anything. I don’t know a whole lot, but I know this: if that person doesn’t repent they aren’t going to love life and see good days. If for no other reason, please start a home fellowship for the sake of our young people. Why? Because the institutional church is not going to teach this stuff to our children. No, no, that would be making them Pharisees. So, what do we see coming out of the institutional church in regard to our youth? Death, and death more abundantly unto death. Weak sanctification delegates God’s people to death, period.

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Mark 10: 28 – Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Luke 14:12 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

What is missing in Christianity is a whole new way of life defined in kingdom living. We are merely ambassadors here, and are to live as sojourners and aliens (1Peter 2:11). Neglected is a body of knowledge that encompasses kingdom living from how we think to citizenship.

Missing is this whole concept of incentive for kingdom living. Obviously, when salvation is emphasized, and sanctification is looked at as an endeavor to keep our salvation, life more abundant in the here and now is not going to be emphasized. Our individual calling is not emphasized, keeping our salvation is emphasized.

This is the great calling of the home fellowship movement: an emphasis on sanctification and kingdom living. I was going to have several other parts to this series until I started researching; then I realized that I would be doing nothing but this till the second coming and none of our other projects would ever get done. So this is it. Next week we move on to something else. But I do believe that the Scriptures hold the answers for life’s most difficult problems, and it is up to us to find those answers in the Scriptures.

However, I am doing another series that is a critical supplement to this study; the whole issue of the “race of faith.” Part one, What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation, Part 1: First Letter of John 1:7-10 is complete and posted on PPT. Yes, this whole idea of perseverance that fuses justification and sanctification together. Is salvation in part a reward? Is salvation the reward for persevering, or is salvation strictly a gift?

Protestantism clearly states that salvation is a gift, but also a reward for persevering. This fits perfectly with their progressive justification construct. We contend that even though the English translations seem to indicate salvation as reward, that in the overall consensus of Scripture, mixing gift and reward is absolutely impossible—the two MUST be kept separate. I believe that a Christian can throw in the towel, but that doesn’t mean he loses his salvation—it means he loses reward in this life and the life to come. The idea of losing eternal reward is difficult for me to grasp, but losing rewards presently—not so much. It’s hard to love life when you have no hope. An example of eternal reward follows:

Daniel 12:3 – And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

That sounds pretty cool, but then there is this:

1 Corinthians 3:10 – According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is pretty clear, no? Saved people will suffer loss of reward. The “through fire” part is a little unsettling, and it should be, but nevertheless, gift and reward cannot be confused. ANY passage that speaks of gift apart from spiritual gifts for service MUST refer to justification/salvation. ANY passage that speaks of reward MUST be speaking to Christian living. And when you start reading your Bible that way, it makes sense. For instance, James 1:12.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

So, if life is about Life and death choices, wouldn’t it make sense that one of the eternal rewards is for someone who persevered well in the Christian life? Specifically, a crown of life? Note what else James writes in the very next verse and following:

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.

Look, we all make choices in life that brings forth some sort of death, but that doesn’t mean we lose our salvation. Yes, yes, I know how the Reformed get around the accusation of Christ plus perseverance; already not yet which means that perseverance is merely a manifestation of who God has already elected. Well lovely—that just overfloweth with hope.

So, your assurance is only as good as your response to the next trial. And by the way, I heard John MacArthur Jr. say that. In fact, it was said to me by a Reformed counselor during a hard time that I was going through; I had to persevere through the trial in order to show myself approved.

Ok, so that’s it, part three of our series and next week we move on to something else.

Addendum: (more…)

Dear Christian, You “Really Are” Unleavened

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 4, 2015

If you are really a Christian, you are unleavened. In the Bible, leaven is used to demonstrate an influence; sometimes the illustration regards evil and other times some sort of other influence. In 1Corithians 5:6-8, the influence spoken of is evil.

Even though Paul had written to the Corinthians before and emphasized the importance of not fellowshipping with those who lead unruly lives, apparently the message didn’t compute.

1Corinthians 5:6 – Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The point I want to make here in addition to the myriad of texts in the Bible that state Christians are righteous, not merely declared righteous, this text states that we “really are” unleavened. Paul often made statements like this to deliberately emphasize the fact that Christians are righteous beings, not simply labeled as such. In writing to the Romans and telling them of their goodness, he stated “you yourselves” are full of goodness.

Paul used the Passover feast, which included the Feast of Unleavened Bread to make his point.

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work (Leviticus 23:5-8 KVJ).

In this particular letter to the Corinthians, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is likened to Christian fellowship at least and probably sanctification in general. Both are to be done with “sincerity and truth.” Notice also that Passover was to be a day of rest indicating that the Lamb’s justifying work is complete, but our celebration of the feast looks forward to a rest at the end. The in-between, viz, sanctification, is NOT a rest. In fact, here is how the Passover meal was to be eaten:

Exodus 12:11 – In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.

Lastly, the sanctification feast is to be maximized with purity. Obviously, if we are still leavened, Paul’s warning that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” makes no sense at all. Why would we care about a little leaven if we are not an unleavened lump? Jesus issued the same warning in Matthew 5:19; those who relax the least of all commandments will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

Sanctification is not a rest. Sanctification does not take a relaxed attitude towards sin. We are to continually separate our unleavened selves from the leaven of the world. We are NOT the leavened saved by grace.

paul

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