Paul's Passing Thoughts

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 2, Defeating the Enemy, “Who Are We?”

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

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Good 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.

The subtitle for tonight is, “Defeating the Enemy.” Last week, we met the enemy, “sin.” This series is about how we grow in our Christian lives and a big part of that is defeating sin, but that shouldn’t be our major focus. I have come to believe that we have been trained mentally to be sin-focused in our Christian lives rather than love-focused. The reason for this will be discussed shortly.

But our focus tonight is on who we really are as Christians. In regard to the stalwarts of Protestantism, who did they say we are? Well, Simul Iustus et Peccator, simultaneously saint and sinner. And trust me, that describes Protestantism in a nutshell: the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s of humanity. You ever wonder why the church is such a mess? It’s full of people who profess to have split personalities—how obvious is that?

Interestingly, many psychologists believe that split personality, or dissociative identity disorder is the biggest responsibility escape mechanism afoot in our culture. Hey, we just recently witnessed that in the American sniper murder trial, right? The guy who murdered Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield claimed innocence by reason of split personality. “Hey, the other guy did it, not me.”

This is so prevalent in the Protestant church, and worse yet, it’s drilled into the churched youth as well—“I’m just a sinning saint, and the sin did it, not me.” “Sorry I said that to you, I was in the flesh. Now that I am in the spirit, I feel really bad about it.”

Now, actually, that’s not authentic Protestantism—that’s Protestant Light that came alone in later years because our natural bent is to interpret God’s word grammatically, and the Reformers never meant for us to interpret our Bibles grammatically. Their prescribed method of interpretation matched their gospel. Simul Iustus et Peccator never meant that we had a split personality, what it really meant is that Christians remain unchanged and totally depraved. First, we need to understand how our spiritual forefathers defined us, and then we will discuss how the Bible defines us. Defeating sin begins by knowing who we are. And by the way, how can we even believe a true gospel if we don’t understand a true biblical definition of man?

Simul Iustus et Peccator does not mean that we are both saint and sinner at the same time. Another way of stating this is perhaps the more formal version, simul justus et peccator. This means simultaneously just and sinner. The saint is not changed, he/she is still a sinner, but the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith alone.

Said another way, we don’t change; only God’s perspective on us is changed. Christ died for our past sin, and therefore our past sins are imputed to Christ who paid the penalty for sin, but from then on, our sins are covered by the righteousness of Christ. This is known as double imputation. We don’t change, only God’s perspective in regard to us changes.

And so with this formula Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.

~ RC Sproul, simul justus et peccator, www.ligonier.org  June 26th, 2012

Indeed, that is the heart of the Protestant gospel. We remain unchanged, but by faith alone, we receive God’s Christ perspective. And by the way, when it gets right down to it, the Catholicism that Protestantism came from believes little different in regard to justification; the difference is really not even worth talking about. That’s why the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was possible—you can barely slip a playing card between the two gospels. In both cases, justification is a process, and not a finished work, and the sin of the sinner is lessened in sanctification, but we still remain short of the glory of God which is synonymous with a justified state of being. If salvation makes the “believer” just that is what both Catholics and Protestants call “legal fiction.”

Why? Because as Christians, we still sin, right? And look, here is the problem: the church is under the same classification as the world; i.e., “sinners.” “But Paul, we sin less than the world.” Oh really? Who is to say? Where is that standard? Besides, look at the real world: you will be hard pressed to make that case on any wise. What a confused mess!

So, who are we? Are we different people who really change, or merely people who are seen differently by God? Are we new creatures, or merely seen as God’s children when He looks at the world with His Jesus glasses on?

Here is the answer: we are different if we are really Christians. We are not only declared righteous, we are not only seen as righteous—we are righteous. Obviously, the idea that we are still classified as sinners is going to greatly hinder sanctification. “As a man thinks in his mind, so is he” (Prov 23:7), Right? You know what, so much of my and Susan’s life is consumed with the fallout of this reality right now; in our lives, and the people that we counsel.

Bottom line: the Holy Spirit is not going to unleash His power in people who think they are still sinners. Susan and I are constantly trying to minister to people who have been told all of their lives that they are sinners just like everyone else that Jesus sees differently. In regard to the worst that society has to offer, we hear, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” And then we wonder why our kids have to learn everything the hard way. They are absolutely befuddled until the trap door lets loose underneath their feet while on the short end of a rope around their neck.

How does this work biblically, this whole notion that we are righteous beings? I think the best place to start is with a proper definition of sanctification elements. First of all, the flesh, or “members,” or “body” is not inherently evil. Listen carefully: the flesh is not biblically defined as “evil,” it is biblically defined as, “weak,” and “weak” is not necessarily evil. Christ was weaker than he was when He was in heaven with God, does that make Him evil? Hardly. Christ was weaker while not in His full glory; yet, He was completely holy. The elect angels are called “holy angels” (Mark 8:38), yet they are weaker than God, right?

Being weaker than God does not equal “evil.” God’s omnipotence doesn’t necessarily correlate 100% with His holiness.

Hence, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is ‘weak’” (Matt 26:41). Christ said the body is weak, but He didn’t say it is evil. And get a load of this: creation, even post fall, is “good.” This is what I am trying to say: the Gnosticism that Protestantism was founded on, the whole material is evil and spirit is good construct drives a lot of the anemic sanctification of our day and years past.

For example, creation is still both weak and good.

Romans 8:19 – For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

And…

1 Timothy 4:4 – For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

And…

Romans 15:14 – I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

So this can be the first point here in regard to who we are as Christians, we are weak, yet good. Let me add another definition: We are saved spiritually, our souls are righteous, but we await another salvation—that of the body. See it in the passage that we just read?

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Redemption is not salvation/justification. Redemption is glorification, or the complete renovation of our mortal bodies. It is salvation from weakness. It is when our willingness is set free to serve God in immortality. That’s redemption. This is important because when we are reading in our Bibles about salvation, we must interpret the passage according to which salvation is being talked about; justification or redemption. Let’s look at an example.

Romans 7:24 – Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

By the way, the word for “wretched” in this verse is a Greek word that means perseverance in the midst of affliction. Paul isn’t calling himself wicked, he is stating that he is afflicted by sin and longing to be saved from what? Right, the body of weakness. That’s redemption. Let me point out another verse to make an additional point:

2Corithians 5:9 – So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (NIV).

The goal is the same whether we are here in these weak bodies or in heaven—we make it our goal to please Him. Let’s add yet another point: the body is not evil because it can be used to serve God or sin:

Romans 6:13 – 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.

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

How about this one?

1Corinthians 6:19 – 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? (KJV)

1Corinthians 6:13 – The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality.

Ok, as most of you that read my blog know, I normally use the ESV unless otherwise stated. In regard to my citation of 1 Corinthians 6:19, I read from the KJV because most translations have “a temple,” or “a sanctuary” etc.  “The temple” in the definitive is the better rendering. This gets more than a little interesting because more times than not when the word “temple” is used in the New Testament, it refers to the Holy of Holies. A good example of this would be Revelation 11:2 and 11:9:

2 …but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

In both cases, the exact same word that is used in 1Corinthians 6:19 for temple is used in these two verses out of Revelation. If you note Rev 11:19, the ark was located in the Holy of Holies, or the most holy place. 1Corinthians isn’t merely saying that our bodies are a run-of-the-mill temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, our bodies are likened to the Holy of Holies. Something to think about.

When the Bible instructs us to be holy as our Father in heaven is holy, that’s because we are holy. That’s who we are. We are aren’t sinners saved by Grace, we are saints saved by grace. Note Hebrews 10:

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

This is a call for Christians to boldly enter the Holy of Holies which only the high priest of Israel could do on the Day of Atonement once a year after washing his entire body. The only reason we have access there is because we are in fact holy. Entering by the blood of Jesus means that His death removed the veil that separated us from the most holy inner chamber.

We are holy as our father is holy, but isn’t that legal fiction because we still sin? No. Last week, we met the enemy, sin. It is important to note that sin dwells in the flesh, but sin and flesh are not one. When the Bible speaks of the “desires of the flesh” or the “sinful flesh,” it is speaking of when the body is being used in the service of sin rather than a holy sacrifice to God. Romans 6 makes it clear that Christians are no longer enslaved to the sin master, but are now enslaved to righteousness. They have traded one master for another.

Last week, we also discussed the fact that there is a reaping and sowing among the lost and saved. Christians can suffer present consequences for obeying the sin master that no longer has jurisdiction over us. In severe cases, especially sexual sin, this can lead to physical death (1Cor 5:5, 11:30, 1Jn 5:16). In the case of the unregenerate, they bear fruits for death in the present and eternal. Christians should not fear eternal judgment, but we are commanded to fear present consequences (Phil 2:12, 13, 1Thess 4:3-7, James 5:9, 1Pet 4:17, Acts 5:1-11, 1Jn 5:16).

On the one hand, when the unregenerate sin, present death and eternal death are being compounded, on the other hand, when a Christian sins, only the death of present consequences are being sown. This is where we add another definition in regard to sin: there is sin that leads to more and more death culminating in eternal death, and family of God sin that reaps present consequences. Excessive family sin leads to the forfeiture of a rich entry into God’s kingdom resulting in a fearful shrinking back at the appearance of God (Eph 6:1-3, 2Pet 1: 9-11).

Also, the sin that formerly dwelled in the unbeliever died with Christ, and enslaved, but when the believer was resurrected, a remnant of the former sin somehow remains in the body, but has been stripped of its ability to enslave. I am not saying that I totally understand it, but Romans 6:20 seems to describe it as a reversal of freedom and slavery. We were formerly enslaved to sin and free to do good, but now we are enslaved to righteousness and unfortunately free to sin.

But that sin does NOT count towards our status as God’s children. As His children of weakness, we sin against our heavenly Father which also grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), but the only reason we sin is because we are clothed in weakness where some sort of remnant of sin exists. Some suggest that it is merely the habits of the old you that are in your memory—there are many different theories that fall short of being concrete.

Nevertheless, our souls are righteous (2Pet 2:8), and sin is an unfortunate choice when it gets right down to it, and not enslavement—the masters have been changed. You have been bought by the blood of Christ from the Sin master. You are considered holy because you are enslaved to righteousness (Rom 7:25; the word for “serve” in that verse is douleuō which means bond slave). Actually, Romans 7:25 is stating that Christians are enslaved to the law of God. Hence, they are considered holy.

Let’s pause here and add another element along with a biblical definition: the new birth is a literal death of the old person with Christ and a resurrection unto a new person with Christ (Romans 6:3-14). The saint is considered righteous and holy because he/she is no longer enslaved to sin. This staus is not forfeited because of the weakness and remaining sin that has been stripped of its status and ability to enslave. We are the actual offspring of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1John 3:9).

In conjunction with the new birth, I would like to conclude with the legal proclamation by God that declares us sinless. We are not only anthropologically holy, we are legally holy—we are just. How does that work?

Before we died with Christ in the new birth, we were under law. Every sin we committed was imputed to that law, also known as the law of sin and death, and were reaping fruits for death stored up for the final judgment. Now, I know that the Bible says that Christ was also born under the law, but so what? That wasn’t a problem for him because he could keep all of it. That’s just another way for the Bible to state that he was born into the world as a man like everyone else—under law.

In Romans 7:1ff, we find that when we died with Christ, the old us that died with Him was under that law, so guess what? According to Paul in Romans 7, it’s like a marriage covenant where one of the spouses died. The living spouse is no longer obligated to that marriage covenant, and is free to enter into another covenant.

The resurrection with Christ enters the recipient into another covenant—the new one; specifically, the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). Along with the new birth comes a desire to love and obey the new covenant which is really a different perspective from the law’s point of view.

Hence, the believer is free to aggressively love God and others through obedience without fear of condemnation. The sin we were once enslaved to is not the focus, love is. Why would the focus be on the former slavery and not the present freedom?

It makes sense that if we don’t change, sin, failure, and our depravity would be the focus. I fear that we empower sin in the lives of Christians because we give it far more attention than what is warranted. Sin shouldn’t be the focus, love should be the focus. God is love (1Jn 4:16), love matters more than sacraments (Gal 5:6), casts out fear (1Jn 4:18), covers a multitude of sins (1Pet 4:8), is the only gift that will not pass away (1Cor 13:8), and is greater than faith and hope (1Cor 13:13). The idea that Christianity is a “lifestyle of repentance” is egregiously misguided; Christianity is a lifestyle of love. The past bondage is not emphasized in the Bible; the freedom we have to love is what is emphasized.

Next week, we will talk about the particular applications of what we have learned. How do we do the Christian walk?

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

Notes added to the audio version:

To the Ruling Elders of Southwood:

On September 4, 2011, our daughter and her family from Atlanta were here and we attended the Sunday worship at Southwood.  After the service, our 13 year old granddaughter, who is well grounded in scripture, stated that she was very confused by the message.  She had come away hearing that every good thing she does is wrong.  Why would she believe that?  We have gone back and listened again to that message, entitled “Duh,” and here is what we found:

The message is from Galatians 3:1-6. Paul is chastening the church for falling prey to the persuasion of the Judaizers, exhorting them again that God’s love for them was not by any of their own works but through the miraculous work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Jean seems to take the written word beyond its intent.  He subtly changes ‘God’s love’ to ‘God’s favor.’  He changes legalism to performance. He takes Jewish law and extends it to almost any action one does.  Here are some paraphrased quotes from the sermon.  “To keep God’s favor, the Galatians were believing they needed Christ and a dash of obedience which looks like those things called Christian disciplines. Christian walk Christianity is from the Devil. Faithfulness is feeling condemned for work you haven’t finished (as contrasted with faith: resting completely in Christ). Faith is a litmus test for teachers and leaders; the difference between faith in Christ alone and faithfulness is like the difference between truth and falsehood, between Heaven and Hell. Faith alone is all we will teach.” (Here Jean says this is what Paul is teaching but he gives no supporting scriptures to support his interpretation.) “Discern as false any book, sermon, or Bible study where you hear a dash of self justifying obedience.  Self justifying obedience is from Satan.

Jean’s statements, combined with the tone and inflections in his delivery, imply that he is scornful of Christian disciplines, preachers, Christian writers, the Christian walk, obedience, faithfulness, good works, and an individual’s efforts.  This message can lead to the conclusion that everything we do is evil and, by extension, that God and the Holy Spirit can do nothing through us.  The message lacks balance and leaves sanctification out of the equation.  A new believer under this teaching would be moribund after accepting Christ, hidebound in fear that he can do nothing right.  While it is true none of us have all pure motives, it is also true that God commands us to go forward and that the Holy Spirit will be with us.  God says we are His instruments for spreading the Truth.  We cannot do this if we are strapped by guilt; we can do this if we seek partnership with the Holy Spirit.

From here Jean goes back to Paul saying “…since you were 100% depraved when you were brought into the Kingdom by the Holy spirit and by no works of your own, why are you trying to be perfected by your own human efforts?  You are being deceived by the Devil.”  I believe Jean is paralleling Paul in this.  Jean then goes on to “We are like alcoholics ; we use Bible study, prayers, small groups, etc. as a crutch and the church rewards our ‘addiction’ with its approval.  How would you know if you were addicted?  Stop everything.  If you feel anxiety, then you are afraid of leaving your ‘fix.’”   So we ask: what does God have us do?  Jean’s answer is “rest totally in Jesus.”  So in turn we ask, what does Scripture say about resting totally in Jesus?  But we hear no clear answer from the pulpit.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Unless sanctification is rooted in justification and constantly returns to justification, it cannot escape the poisonous miasma of subjectivism, moralism or Pharisaism…. Since the life of holiness is fueled and fired by justification by faith, sanctification must constantly return to justification. Otherwise, the Christian cannot possibly escape arriving at a new self-righteousness. We cannot reach a point in sanctification where our fellowship with God does not rest completely on forgiveness of sins…. Christian existence is gospel existence. Sanctification is justification in action.

~ Present Truth magazine: Volume 16, Article 3; http://www.presenttruthmag.com/archive/XVI/16-13.htm

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.

We say again, Only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

~ Present Truth magazine: Law and Gospel; Volume 7, Article 2, Part 2

An Open Letter to the President of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 28, 2015

Originally posted February 21, 2012

“This is the apostle Paul’s disparaged 3-verse system to fix a lack of peace. It is the wonderful hope that obedience to God’s word seizes upon His promises. And that’s why many NANC counselors strip their victims of hope.”

 “The cited letter reflects the same things often taught by many board members of NANC and BCC. Because this doctrine combines justification and sanctification, it makes sanctification like a minefield because what we do in sanctification can affect the justification that supposedly powers it. This does not lay a healthy foundation for counseling”

Dr. Street,

The National Association of Nouthetic Counselors website states the following about your organization:

NANC exists to help pastors and those who would be ministers of the Word of God by providing help and encouragement. NANC is first and foremost a certifying organization. The certifying process is rigorous but attainable by even the busiest pastor. The process consists of the completion of an approved training course, the completion of a theological and a practical counseling test, several references, and a minimum of 50 hours of supervised counseling experience.

Furthermore, your organization refers hundreds of “counselors” certified by your organization. The purpose of this letter is to publically confront you in regard to the fact that NANC has board members, Fellows, and hoards of certified counselors who openly promote a blatant false gospel. I will first establish this fact, in case you are not aware of it, and then beseech you to tell me why this is acceptable.

Much data could be provided as I have been sent several articles written by NANC Fellows that contain outrageous teachings; and apparently, NANC thinks nothing of sending troubled people to antinomian mystics. But I only need to quote one of your present board members, David Powlison. Powlison performed a lecture at John Piper’s church while Piper was on a sabbatical to eradicate “several species of heart idols” that he saw in his heart (apparently, they were of the 8-month type because he was able to return to ministry at the pre-appointed time). Powlison stated the following at Piper’s church:

This might be quite a controversy, but I think it’s worth putting in. Adams had a tendency to make the cross be for conversion. And the Holy Spirit was for sanctification.  And actually even came out and attacked my mentor, Jack Miller, my pastor that I’ve been speaking of through the day, for saying that Christians should preach the gospel to themselves. I think Jay was wrong on that.

Jack Miller was the father of Sonship Theology, a false gospel that is presently wreaking havoc on Presbyterian churches. It has also been known as Gospel Sanctification and is the primary catalyst for the present-day New Calvinist movement which has turned orthodoxy completely upside down. The doctrine is best explained by a theological journal that was its source:

Unless sanctification is rooted in justification and constantly returns to justification, it cannot escape the poisonous miasma of subjectivism, moralism or Pharisaism…. Since the life of holiness is fueled and fired by justification by faith, sanctification must constantly return to justification. Otherwise, the Christian cannot possibly escape arriving at a new self-righteousness. We cannot reach a point in sanctification where our fellowship with God does not rest completely on forgiveness of sins…. Christian existence is gospel existence. Sanctification is justification in action.

Miller adopted the theology and coined the phrase, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.” “The same gospel that saved us also sanctifies us” is the New Calvinist mantra of our day. I receive many links to articles written by NANC Fellows who clearly hold to this doctrine. In fact, How People Change, written by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp (and based on Powlison’s Dynamics of Biblical Change) is a Sonship/Gospel Sanctification treatise. Tripp and Lane are also on the board of the upstart Biblical Counseling Coalition. That board is the who’s who of Sonship/GS/ NC, including hyper-antinomian Elyse Fitzpatrick.

On a church level, here is the fruit of this doctrine:

To the Ruling Elders of Southwood:

On September 4, 2011, our daughter and her family from Atlanta were here and we attended the Sunday worship at Southwood.  After the service, our 13 year old granddaughter, who is well grounded in scripture, stated that she was very confused by the message.  She had come away hearing that every good thing she does is wrong.  Why would she believe that?  We have gone back and listened again to that message, entitled “Duh,” and here is what we found:

The message is from Galatians 3:1-6. Paul is chastening the church for falling prey to the persuasion of the Judaizers, exhorting them again that God’s love for them was not by any of their own works but through the miraculous work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Jean seems to take the written word beyond its intent.  He subtly changes ‘God’s love’ to ‘God’s favor.’  He changes legalism to performance. He takes Jewish law and extends it to almost any action one does.  Here are some paraphrased quotes from the sermon.  “To keep God’s favor, the Galatians were believing they needed Christ and a dash of obedience which looks like those things called Christian disciplines. Christian walk Christianity is from the Devil. Faithfulness is feeling condemned for work you haven’t finished (as contrasted with faith: resting completely in Christ). Faith is a litmus test for teachers and leaders; the difference between faith in Christ alone and faithfulness is like the difference between truth and falsehood, between Heaven and Hell. Faith alone is all we will teach.” (Here Jean says this is what Paul is teaching but he gives no supporting scriptures to support his interpretation.) “Discern as false any book, sermon, or Bible study where you hear a dash of self justifying obedience.  Self justifying obedience is from Satan.

Jean’s statements, combined with the tone and inflections in his delivery, imply that he is scornful of Christian disciplines, preachers, Christian writers, the Christian walk, obedience, faithfulness, good works, and an individual’s efforts.  This message can lead to the conclusion that everything we do is evil and, by extension, that God and the Holy Spirit can do nothing through us.  The message lacks balance and leaves sanctification out of the equation.  A new believer under this teaching would be moribund after accepting Christ, hidebound in fear that he can do nothing right.  While it is true none of us have all pure motives, it is also true that God commands us to go forward and that the Holy Spirit will be with us.  God says we are His instruments for spreading the Truth.  We cannot do this if we are strapped by guilt; we can do this if we seek partnership with the Holy Spirit.

From here Jean goes back to Paul saying “…since you were 100% depraved when you were brought into the Kingdom by the Holy spirit and by no works of your own, why are you trying to be perfected by your own human efforts?  You are being deceived by the Devil.”  I believe Jean is paralleling Paul in this.  Jean then goes on to “We are like alcoholics ; we use Bible study, prayers, small groups, etc. as a crutch and the church rewards our ‘addiction’ with its approval.  How would you know if you were addicted?  Stop everything.  If you feel anxiety, then you are afraid of leaving your ‘fix.’”   So we ask: what does God have us do?  Jean’s answer is “rest totally in Jesus.”  So in turn we ask, what does Scripture say about resting totally in Jesus?  But we hear no clear answer from the pulpit.

The cited letter reflects the same things often taught by many board members of NANC and BCC. Because this doctrine combines justification and sanctification, it makes sanctification like a minefield because what we do in sanctification can affect the justification that supposedly powers it. This does not lay a healthy foundation for counseling, and as Timothy F. Kauffman recently stated in the Trinity Review, when justification and sanctification are combined, anything we do in sanctification is works salvation—even doing nothing. It’s eerily reminiscent of Christ’s parable concerning the slothful servant. When such a parable is considered and compared to statements by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her spiritual big brother Tullian Tchividjian, it should make the hair stand up on a deceased person.

Moreover, the unfortunate results of counseling that comes from this doctrine can be seen in the following statement by a pastor who oversees a NANC counseling center:

We read this quote from Paul Tripp in last week’s Biblical Theology Study Center. Amazingly, part of the quote was used again the following evening during testimony time from someone not in our class…someone who resonated with the quote in the midst of personal crisis. For those who are involved in biblical counseling, it can be really easy (and tempting) for the Bible to become little more than a 12-verse system designed to fix a life. Tripp reminds us that the Bible isn’t a how-to manual, but a place where we find hope in a Person.

Compare that statement with what the apostle Paul said:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

This is the apostle Paul’s disparaged 3-verse system to fix a lack of peace. It is the wonderful hope that obedience to God’s word seizes upon His promises. And that’s why many NANC counselors strip their victims of hope. That, and confusing children who love the Lord.

So tell me Dr. Street, why is this acceptable? Why not come out from among them? Besides, the evidence that this doctrine was concocted by a Seventh-Day Adventist who is now an atheist is overwhelming. The truth will come out, and will eventually be accepted as truth. Why stick around and look stupid? Or, you could fix the problem. I beseech you Dr. Street, stop sending troubled people to false teachers. This is something that none of us want on our resume.

Paul Dohse

How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 1, SIN, Knowing the Enemy

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 23, 2015

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Good evening, this is your host Paul Dohse and we have a lot to cover tonight. So, if you would, obtain your Bible, a notepad, and a writing utensil of your choice.

Tonight, we are going to cover the basic fundamentals of change in sanctification. We are going to focus heavily on the biblical definition of words used in the Bible that explain how we change in our Christian living.

This ministry believes that Christians really change to the glory of God in a lasting and meaningful way. Protestants, that is, Protestants who really know what Protestantism is about DO NOT believe that people change in a meaningful way pleasing to God.

But here is the rub of the deception: Protestantism defines change as perception only. FAITH is defined as a seeing only. You ever heard the maxim, “Perception is reality”? “But Paul, I have heard these guys say, ‘faith works,” Right, BUT what do they mean by that? In other words, who’s doing the works? Trust me, not us, and I have that in print all over the place. Early on in this ministry when I was the darling of many so-called “Old Calvinists,” they used to say to me, “Paul, it’s like the New Calvinist’s are saying that Jesus obeys for us.” Well, that’s exactly what they are saying, but we are not going to get into how they supposedly make that work in this study. Suffice to say that Augustine, Luther, and Calvin borrowed from Eastern mysticism to make it work.

Tonight, we are going to focus on the real deal. Look, at some point we stop seeking to prove people wrong, shake the dust off of our feet, and let the dead bury their own dead. I am almost to the point where I am saying, “Let’s get the home fellowship networks going and all but completely ignore the perpetual drama of the institutional church.”

Let’s start our study with the word, “sin.” What is “sin”? As Christians we need to stop more often at the four-way word stop and stop running stop signs with presuppositions. Here is what we do with words like sin: we see the red word sign coming and we drive right by without a pause while saying, “Sin is doing bad stuff.” Good is good; sin bad.

Where did sin come from? What is it? How does it function? To not have a complete understanding of sin greatly cripples your ability to understand sanctification. Listen, you don’t need to be a Bible scholar, all you need to be is a wordsmith. All you need to do is remember to stop at the word signs.

Let’s go to the Scriptures and first look at where sin came from:

Ezekiel 28:12 – Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.

13 Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared.

14 Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee.

16 By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

17 Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

18 By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee (ASV).

Also,

Isiah 14: 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations!

13 And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north;

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.

15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to Sheol, to the uttermost parts of the pit.

16 They that see thee shall gaze at thee, they shall consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

17 that made the world as a wilderness, and overthrew the cities thereof; that let not loose his prisoners to their home?

18 All the kings of the nations, all of them, sleep in glory, every one in his own house.

19 But thou art cast forth away from thy sepulchre like an abominable branch, clothed with the slain, that are thrust through with the sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a dead body trodden under foot.

20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, thou hast slain thy people; the seed of evil-doers shall not be named for ever.

21 Prepare ye slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers, that they rise not up, and possess the earth, and fill the face of the world with cities (ASV).

Sin originated in an angel created by God. Revelation 12:4 may indicate that he led a rebellion in which 1/3 of the angels followed him. We know that some indeed followed him in rebelling against God. This is the origin of sin.

Of course, the metaphysical possibilities here are endless, and what we are going to do is stick with what we know objectively, yet, I will pause here to throw a few pennies into the philosophical coin jar. Unlimited possibilities does not necessarily equal a deficiency in creation. God doesn’t know everything because the word “everything” implies there is a limit to knowledge and that limits God. Knowledge in the eternal realm can’t have a beginning and an end because that limits God’s ability to know. Knowledge in God’s creation can have no bounds because that limits God. Unforeseen results isn’t the point, eternal knowledge with no limitations is the point.

What God creates is good, but has unlimited possibilities, and that doesn’t make it ungood. Is God able to create something with unlimited possibilities, or must he limit His creation because it could cause Him some sort of trouble? Predestination presumes that God is limited. He must control everything lest His own creation becomes a metaphysical boomerang. Before God created Lucifer, did He have knowledge of evil? If so, where did that come from? Or, is God unlimited by the unlimited? If God is unlimited, why does he need predeterminism? In contrast, freewill suggests God can’t be limited in any way by His own unlimited creation.

That’s the long version of, “We simply don’t know.” But I do know this: I was teaching a Bible study one night for a Reformed church I was a member of and suggested that Christ didn’t know some things. Where do I get that? Among other places in the Bible, Mark 13:32. I tell you, the claws came out like you wouldn’t believe! The hostility was unreal! I was thinking, “Wow, are these folks going to start getting physical with me?” Yet, Christ plainly stated that there were things He didn’t know—get over it! When God visited Abraham and told him that He only knew what was going on in Sodom because of reports brought to Him, is that what He meant or was He just sporting with Abraham?

This is where we get into a discussion of God being limited by attributes assigned to Him by silly men. God is omniscient; therefore he cannot not know something. I beg your pardon, God can choose to not know something if that’s His desire—He is not limited by so-called omniscience. Look, I didn’t write the Bible, if God says He doesn’t know something that’s good enough for me.

But this is interesting, a Reformed person, actually more than one, has protested to me that by making the assertion that Christians are functionally righteous is to attribute an attribute of God to us, in essence, making ourselves God. Let me clarify this idea: they are saying that righteousness is an attribute of God like omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To say that we, as Christians are actually righteous in the truest sense is like saying that we are also the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Interesting.

Now, back to what we know definitively and can actually apply to our lives in order to please God and experience wellbeing. We are hunkering down on the word, “sin.” We are going to jump ahead a little bit and mention the primary catalyst of sin, or agent of sin, or the arms, legs, and feet of sin, DESIRE. Take note of our first major bullet point in defining sin: it’s an unrighteous, or misplaced desire. Lucifer desired to be a coequal with God in authority, and put a plan of insurrection into to place that led to a rebellion in heaven. It could even be argued that he wanted to surpass God in authority, if “authority” is the right word. The concept of “authority” might have been misconceived by Lucifer to begin with.

At that point, God doesn’t decide to immediately destroy Satan and the angels who participated in the rebellion. Some angels rebelled and others didn’t, I believe this is the metaphysical principle of freewill in action. We often hear it argued, “If I had a choice, and I chose God, that makes me better than the guy who didn’t choose God.” But wait a minute; didn’t God create all of the angels equally good? He did; equally good and with an equal ability to choose. Choice is just that, “choice.” It’s a created ability, not a predetermined outcome. If it’s a predetermined outcome, why would it be a choice? At this point, why wouldn’t God just put an end to the rebellion and call it a day? Did God predetermine that something He created as good fall into sin? I doubt it.

Next, we have Satan approaching Eve in the garden and using the catalyst of sin, desire.

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

For our purposes in this study, we want to focus on, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”

Satan created a misplaced desire in her mind, and when the desire was acted upon, sin was conceived and it brought about death. Let’s now go to James 1:12ff.

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. 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.

When we obey a sinful desire (we will revisit the obedience of sinful desires in much detail later), some sort of death comes about. In the life of a Christian, this death can be very subtle. Obviously, Christians can choose to obey sinful desires to the point where the death is not so subtle, but more times than not the death is subtle. Unkind words to your spouse may seem like a little sin, and it may be so trivial that she covers it with love, but where does the subtle death take place? Probably in the bedroom. Hey guys, let’s jettison ahead and toss up an example of how we are going to be able to help Christians with the word of God in the future as we tap into the unchartered territory of sanctification. When a fellow brother has ED, yes, it might be a medical problem, but it may also be the result of deaths. And even if it is medical, what led to the medical problem? Let me ask you a question: is eating a desire? And, is the third trip to the buffet a good desire or a misplaced one? Eating is a good desire until it becomes overeating, or an escape. Some people drink a 12-pack, other people will just grab a spoon and a whole half-gallon of ice cream. Right?

With that said, let me throw out another principle: we never judge, we eliminate (James 5:13-16). Indeed, Christians can suffer, and even be overweight due to difficult circumstances beyond their control, but you always eliminate death choices as one of the possibilities. If these principles are emphasized in home fellowships it will enable families to counsel themselves. No one knows their own life better than them. Ironically, formal biblical counseling has saturated the institutional churches and its popularity is exploding, but all that tells me is sanctification hasn’t been properly taught for years. Young men go to seminary to learn how to counsel, not to equip so they don’t have to counsel. What’s up with that? If the average Christian knows how to live life why do we need the present-day gargantuan biblical counseling movement? The institutional church has been derelict in their sanctification duties for 500 years and are now making millions off of their own failure!

David Powlison, one the biblical counseling gurus of our day: “We are bringing counseling back to the church.” That begs the question: what have you Protestant Bozos been doing for 500 years? Has there been a lack of funds? Why should we trust you now?

Look, teach good, strong sanctification from the word in the home fellowships and the movement will explode. Why? because that breeds life, and people like life. Make the teaching of the word central to your home fellowships and everything else will be icing on the cake.

Not only that, the only place where real change is going to be propagated is in the home fellowship movements—the institutional church is not going to buy into the idea of real change within the believer.

In verse 12 the word for trial is better interpreted, “temptation.” That should be evident from the verses that follow where the word “tempted” is used. And what is the reward for saying “no” to sinful desire? Right, the crown of life. Is that rewards of life in this life or when we stand before Christ? I think both (James 1:25).

Now, let’s go back to the garden. When Adam and Eve obeyed the sinful desire, they received indwelling sin:

Genesis 3:15 – I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Here is another HUGE word in the sanctification scheme of things, “seed.” We are going to look at a lot of words that make the complete sanctification picture, and this is one of the dominate sanctification themes throughout Scripture, “seed,” or “offspring.” Obeying the sinful desire gave birth to sin within Adam and Eve, and all of humanity then came from Adam and Eve. This doesn’t change until the Virgin Mary bears the Messiah, she is “the woman” and “the seed” of the woman is Christ.

But the primary purpose of Christ, the seed of the woman, is twofold: to bear the sin of humanity, and enjoin Jew and Gentile into one body through His resurrection by the Holy Spirit. This is “the promise” (the baptism of the Holy Spirit Acts 1:4,5) made to Abraham and Christ (Galatians 3:13-18).

On the other hand, the Holy Spirit was regenerating immediately after the fall. Christ told Nicodemus, “you must be born again” (John 3:7), and that was before the cross. The new birth and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are two different things; the baptism of the Holy Spirit united Jew and Gentile into one spiritual body. In one of the parts of this series we will be looking at the Holy Spirit’s ministry in depth.

Believers “lived” by faith, or faith made them alive. Saving faith believes God. Hebrews 11 makes this clear. Their belief also made them righteous (2Peter 2:8). From the very beginning, in this way, there was enmity between sin and the seed of the Spirit:

1John 3:7 – Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother…

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

Notice the contrast between “of [ek] God” and “of [ek] the devil” or “of [ek] the evil one.” Ek is a Greek preposition that denotes origin—where something came from (“out from”). All people born into the world process sin that came from Adam and Eve. However, indwelling sin does not make humanity direct descendants of Satan in the same way that the new birth makes believers direct descendants of God. When sin was found within Lucifer, it was the creation of a separate entity unlike the new birth imparts God’s seed within the believer. The new birth is being born of God and you are part of His actual linage—God’s seed is not a separate entity working in the believer. Sin, of course, has commonality with Satan in regard to character and enmity against God, but biblical references to people being descendants of Satan is in a manner of speaking. Sin does not make people direct descendants of Satan.

Let me bring my point into clearer focus. There was a time in history when Satan in fact tried to up-the-ante and create a human race that would have been direct descendants of the fallen angels. Said angels actually cohabitated with the daughters of men. God incarcerated those angels until the last days when they will be released as a judgment, and then wiped out mankind in the flood because of this direct descendancy which was also an attempt to wipe out the lineage of Christ (Genesis 6:1-4, Jude 6,7). Post-flood, another attempt at this is made at Sodom and Gomorrah and we know what happened accordingly (Genesis 19).

That’s an important distinction because this brings us to our next point in knowing the enemy; i.e., sin. SIN is a master. People born into the world are really more direct descendants of sin than anything else, they are the “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Certainly, Satan can rule over people through the mutuality of sin, but sin is a master in and of itself.

Genesis 4:6 – 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.”

Again, we see the concept of life and death. The Hebrew word translated “accepted” in the ESV is really “lifted up.” Disobedience leads to a fallen countenance, a form of death, and obedience leads to being lifted up, a form of life. Again, we see the catalyst of sin—desire. Sin desires to master, and uses desire to tempt people to sin. As we will see further along in the study, disobedience not only leads to some kind of death in various and sundry forms subtle and not so subtle, the desire for the sin increases in intensity and becomes an enflamed lust that enslaves the individual. It could be argued that this is the first detailed gospel presentation in the Bible. Remember, people who believed God in the Old Testament were born again of the Spirit. Salvation is not just believing in the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, it is a plenary believing of God that says, “God said it and that settles it” misunderstanding at times notwithstanding. Cain did not believe God in regard to the fact that sin is a master who wanted to dominate Cain, so we read the following:

Genesis 4:8 – Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Death, right? Do you see the progression of death via disobedience and not believing God? See the intervention of God at various stages? That’s evangelism. God is modeling evangelism here. Let’s read further:

Genesis 4:13 – Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

God puts a restraint on the consequences of his sin in order to continue the evangelism process, and be sure of this—this is a microcosm of every life on earth and the way God seeks man out in the same way He did Adam and Eve in the garden. God uses us and the Holy Spirit to seek men out, and yes, many of the righteous will die in the process.

So, if man is enslaved to sin, why are there any positive things in the world at all aside from Christianity? Because man is created in the image of God. But let’s not run that stop sign, ok? Let’s stop and ask ourselves what that means. It means a lot of things; such as, man is made to work, create, and take satisfaction in his accomplishments. Man is made to produce and will not be happy unless he is accomplishing things. Man functioning against the purposes of creation is also sin, and I think the kind of death propagated by laziness is extremely obvious, right?

When man creates something and stands back saying, “It is good” that imparts life, not death. Also, man is created with the works of God’s law written on his heart and a conscience either accusing or excusing his actions. The bad feelings associated with a conscience that is condemning you is definitely a form of death, and a clear conscience is definitely life. Secular psychologist and former president of the APA Orval Hobart Mowrer built a whole career on this concept and helped more people than any other psychologist in human history. Basically, the same counsel God gave Cain; if you do well, your countenance will be lifted up, if you do wrong, you will be downcast. How does one 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;

Do we have a problem in our society with people not loving life, viz, depression? You bet. To me, it is clear why depression is so rampant in our society. Also, note that Peter is citing an Old Testament passage,

Psalm 34: 12 – What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

We have to note that the very same death/life—cursing/blessing concept is operative in the New Testament as it was in the Old. Before we move on, here is another sanctification/counseling nugget: when an unbeliever comes to you for counsel it is a perfect opportunity to present the gospel. Please don’t take the approach that if they don’t become a believer any counsel that you would give them is a waste of time. No, tell them, as God told Cain, that God’s wisdom can indeed make them happier in this life, but ultimately they are still condemned. Both Christians and unbelievers live under the death/life construct, but only the Christian can have eternal life. Showing God’s wisdom for living reinforces the fact that the One who created us knows what’s best for us in this present life, but that doesn’t deal with eternal life, only present life. They need both, and that makes a great gospel presentation. If they opt out of the eternal for the time being, every time you teach them about present life it is going to remind them that they need eternal life. See how that works?

Sin is a master, and this now brings us to the ancient slave/master motif presented in the Bible; primarily, the slave trade, or the marketing of slaves and how they were purchased from one master by another from time to time. All born into the world are born into the slavery of sin.

Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

We will be discussing the law’s relationship to this later in the study, but for now, focus on the fact that those born of flesh, are sold to the sin master. This concept has a myriad of biblical citations. This concept also makes a strong connection between the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul.

John 8:33-36 – They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

Romans 6:22 – But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

And then,

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

1Corinthians 7:23 – You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.

1Peter 1:18 – knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

2Peter 2:1 – But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Christ’s death purchased all men from the sin master. All of mankind has been freed from slavery, but choose to remain enslaved; they deny the Lord that has bought them. Their present master is a real salve master who enslaves them, but the Master who has paid for them with His life wants to set them free. His yoke is light, and gives rest from the fear of condemnation. Though His servants live in fear regarding present death or life, the death or life of eternal life is a settles issue. It is a rest from works for justification, not sanctification. They are free from the fear of condemnation, and free to aggressively love God and others in sanctification. Christ is an altogether different Master. As he said, His servants will remain in the house forever unlike the household of the sin master. Not only that, He is a Master that is a brother and friend to the servants. The servants remain in the household forever because they are true family:

John 15:15 – No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Hebrews 2:11 – For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

Lastly, sin is presently a defeated enemy. Sin was defeated on the cross by Christ, but many men choose to be enslaved by sin and carry on its work. Nevertheless, Christ will not strive with man forever and will put an end to the works of sin. Christ came to destroy the works of sin created by the devil (1John 3:8). In the Millennial kingdom, Christ will put an end disease and sickness, and finally he will end the last enemy, death:

1 Corinthians 15:54 – When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

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.

That is our segue into next week. Sin is the cause of death, and the power of sin is the law. All fear of death has to do with judgment. What does this mean? We have met the enemy, next week we will learn what empowers him, and how he is defeated in the Christian life. “How Christians Change: Biblical Dynamics of Change in Sanctification; Part 2, Defeating the Enemy.”

Ground Zero for Understanding the Biblical Counseling Movement

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 2, 2015

CWW 4

Originally published September 18, 2013

“I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.” 

A Chapter Theses for Clouds Without Water: The Biblical Counseling Movement; It’s True History and Doctrine

 In the Beginning, Plato, and then Augustine.

During the first century, the upstart assemblies of the risen Christ suffered a viral affront from Gnostic sects. The first century church was made up of people from all socioeconomic strata, and the Gnostics infiltrated Christianity for that purpose. Those in the first century church well-endowed with money were a valuable resource, and this is who the Gnostic sects primarily targeted with their false doctrine.

Gnosticism has always been about elitism, power, and money. If you want to see an immaculate mural of the American church, read Philip J. Lee’s “Against the Protestant Gnostics.”

Gnosticism finds its roots in the philosophy of Plato. Every American born into the world should be thoroughly apprised of Plato the man and his philosophy. To understand Plato is to understand Western culture politically and spiritually. All the philosophers agree on this point. From there, the math is easy: Augustine was the father of Reformation doctrine, and a rabid follower of Plato. Augustine had little use for the Bible without Platonist insight, and considered Plato a Pre-Christianity Christian.

Of course, the favorite red herring is that Plato is not agreed with on every point, but the fact remains that his primary construct founded Reformed theology: the incompetence of man, and the need for a select few (the enlightened) to rule over the masses. Those with gnosis know how society best functions, and they know how the masses can find individual peace from the desires that rule over them.

The Age of Enlightenment (circa 1630) produced men who were the first to confront Plato’s construct successfully. The most formidable product of that movement was the American experiment which obviously turned out quite well. It was founded on the competence of the individual. The competition was the Platonist Puritans who unfortunately survived the voyage from Europe and wreaked havoc on the East coast. But fortunately, their worldview kept them from settling further inland. “Go west young man!” is hardly the motivational words of competence found among the purer forms of Reformed thought.

Let there be no doubt about it, the idea of merging church and state is grounded in the religion of man’s incompetence. The masses need the state to take care of them. Plato’s philosopher kings contrive orthodoxy, and the soldiers enforce it. This concept did not find its way into the Westminster Confession by accident.  Even those who think the state should be separate from the church think a utopia would arise if the church ran the state. “Separation of church and state” doesn’t mean no theocracy; theocracy would be a good thing, supposedly. The state has always had an interest in ruling over religion because ideas are dangerous, and the church has always been a willing participant if the state agrees to enforce their orthodoxy. The battle between the two for the upper hand of control is the political intrigue that is European history in a nutshell. And that is how the world as we know it will end: the zenith of church statecraft as described in the book of Revelation.

This is Western history, and the  children of the enlightenment would have no part of it on American soil. Ten years after the Declaration of Independence, James Madison successfully stopped a European style push for a church state in A Memorial in Remonstance Against Religious Assessments. For all practical purposes, it was an indictment against the fruits of European Reformed doctrine.

The Reformation’s Historical Cycle of Social Death and Resurgence

The Reformers, being children of Plato, didn’t interpret reality with a normative epistemology. Plato’s Achilles’ heel has always been the application of Eastern mysticism. Instead of reality being interpreted empirically, and a course of action being determined by discovery, conclusions are drawn by using interpretive gateways to the “pure” form of reality that is hopefully good. Plato thought it was good, but his interpretive gateway to reality rejected the five senses out of hand. Gnosis was the key.

The Reformers merely replaced gnosis with the personhood of Christ as a sort of stargate to reality. That reality was predicated on the difference between the unchangeable pure form of Christ, and the inherent evil of man dwelling in a world that constantly changes. Plato equated the pure forms with immutable objectivity, and evil matter with mutable subjectivity. Hence, today’s Platonist Reformers speak of the “objective gospel experienced subjectively.”  This is clearly Plato’s metaphysical construct based on the incompetence of man in regard to interpreting reality. Like Plato, the Reformers of old and new alike bemoan man’s attempt to understand reality “in the shadows” of all matters that “eclipse Christ.” While donning the persona of Biblicism, pastors like Steve Lawson call for pastors to “come out from the shadows.”

This is the theme of books like “Uneclipsing the Son” by John MacArthur confidant Rick Holland. In his book, he hints at why purest Reformed theology gets lost in the minds of Christians from time to time and therefore needs periodic resurgences and rediscoveries. He notes in his book that good grammar makes bad theology. The mystic heretic Paul David Tripp makes the same assertion in “How People Change,” noting that a literal interpretation of Scripture circumvents the personhood of Christ and His saving work. What’s in an interpretation method? According to Tripp—your salvation.

This is the paramount point at hand: the Reformers did not interpret the Bible grammatically, objectively, exegetically, or literally at any point; they interpreted the Bible through the dual prism of  “reality” seen in God’s holiness and our evil. The only objective truth is the person of Christ leading to a mere subjective experience of His power and  grace manifestations. Hence, many Reformed purists in our day embodied in the New Calvinist movement speak of, “spiritual growth in seeing our own evil as set against the holiness of God.” Therefore, commands in the Bible become part of the narrative that helps us see what we are unable to do rather than commands to be obeyed. We merely seek to see, and wait for the subjective experience of “vivification.” The seeing is the “mortification.” Reformed theologians like Michael Horton explain this as a continual re-experience of our original baptism as we perpetually revisit the same gospel that saved us “afresh.”

This reduces the Christian life to experiences of perpetual rebirth found in Eastern concepts Plato borrowed for “practical life application.”  This is the foundation of Historical Redemptive hermeneutics born of Reformed purism.  This is also the interpretive method that is all of the rage in our day through programs like BibleMesh.

This is not the natural bent towards interpreting truth. We are wired to interpret truth objectively, and grammatically—tools like allegory and parables notwithstanding. This is why Reformed purism dies a social death from time to time throughout history. Thus, this metaphysical anomaly experiences “rediscovery” and “resurgence” movements. Be certain of the following: this is the New Calvinist movement in our day, and in essence, a return to the exact same viral Gnosticism that plagued the New Testament church with this caveat added: we by no means possess the doctrinal intestinal fortitude of the first century church.

Ground Zero: The 1970 Resurgence

1970 is ground zero for the present landscape of American Christianity.  In that year, two movements emerged. Since colonial times, the third resurgence of Reformed purism was born through a project called the Australian Forum. In that same year, Dr. Jay E. Adams, a hybrid of Calvinism and Historical Grammatical interpretation, launched the biblical counseling movement. His movement was predicated on the competence of enabled congregants to counsel each other through the deepest of human problems. Adams also recognized the simple concept of anthropology and its relationship to helping people. Because all humans are created by God, what works well for the unsaved should work even better for the saved. If unsaved people who don’t violate their consciences are happier, this should also aid Christians in their walk with God. Bad ideas are simply bad for everyone, the ultimate need for eternal salvation notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean you throw out the unsaved baby with the bath water of practicality. And in addition, does practicality show forth the wisdom of God and thereby point people to God? Should God not know what makes people tick? Moreover, what is the authority for interpreting human existence? Philosophy,  or the Bible?

Adams’ biblical construct produced astounding conclusions, especially in areas where a medical model covered for escape mechanisms that create another reality for realties one may not like. If Bob is in big trouble, he merely becomes Ted, or maybe even Jane. This is a bad idea for Christians. Adams created a dichotomy between salvation and the Christian life. He believed in the utter incompetence of man to save himself, but abundant competence in colaboring with God for a victorious life over sin. With Adams, it is about CHANGE for the glory of God and the happiness of His people.

Thus, with the resurgence of Reformed purism at the same time, the battle lines were drawn, and a confusion of conflict emerged in the biblical counseling movement. The one predicated on the utter incompetence of man whether saved or unsaved, and the other predicated on the competence of the Spirit-filled Christian. The one predicated on Christians only being righteous positionally, and the other predicated on the idea that Christians are also practically righteous. The one predicated on contemplationism, the other predicated on obedience. This is the civil war that has raged in the biblical counseling movement from its conception until this day. It is for the most part a civil war of servility, lest two different gospels be separate, and careerism maimed.

The Forum doctrine quickly found footing at Westminster Seminary in Pennsylvania where Adams was a professor. The initial vestige of relevant infection was found in Dr. John “Jack” Miller, also a professor at Westminster Seminary. True, Westminster was founded by Reformed purists that believed the many acts of Christ’s righteousness were part of the atonement, not just His one act of death on the cross, but for the most part, the Reformation’s metaphysical anomalies had reduced Westminster to moderate Reformed ideology. If you will, a hybrid Calvinism that interpreted reality grammatically.

Miller changed that. While the doctrine was in the process of suffering a brutal death in Reformed Baptist circles by moderate Calvinists, being labeled as antinomianism, it found resurgent life at Westminster in Miller’s Sonship Theology incubator. The forerunner of this doctrine in Reformed Baptist circles, Jon Zens, discovered the doctrine  in the early years of the Forum while he was a student at Westminster. He actually became heavily involved with the Forum in the 70’s, convincing them that everyday Covenant Theology would be a hindrance to infecting Christianity with the newly rediscovered disease. From that conversation came the birth of New Covenant Theology circa 1981. It was a significant addition to the present repertoire of elements that confuse the real crux of the issue. Till this day, few moderate Calvinists make this historical connection between New Covenant Theology and New Calvinism.

But it was a particular mentoree of Miller’s that saw Adam’s construct as a threat to the successful spread of the Forum’s rediscovery: Dr. David Powlison. Powlison, working closely with Miller, developed the Dynamics of Biblical Change which is a counseling construct based on Reformation purism. This became the counseling model for Westminster’s biblical counseling wing known as The Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). Later, there was a proposal for an organization that would certify counselors for CCEF. Adams was opposed to it as it smacked of the kind of elitism that he was trying to avoid. Remember, Adams was all about the competence of the average congregant to counsel. But Purist Reformed ideology is all about elitism because Gnosticism is all about elitism; the two go hand in glove.

Show Me the Money

Gnosticism rejects the average man’s ability to understand reality. So, assimilation for purposes of functionality is the main concern; ie., that the masses are controlled by indoctrination that is not necessarily understood, but invokes behavioral goals. But another primary goal is the spiritual caste system that provides millions of dollars for elitist educators. In essence, these are the professional Sophists produced by Platonism. This is why Gnosticism always dwells in the upper socioeconomic strata, as Phillip J. Lee notes in the aforementioned book, Gnosticism is a rich man’s game. CCEF certified counselors are extremely rare in zip codes of average incomes less than $80,000 per year, and nowhere to be found in zip codes of $50,000 or less. This of course, is very telling. Their conferences require registration fees of  $300.00 per person or more.

Meanwhile, NANC Happens

Powlison followed a classic mode of Gnostic deception by seeking to be identified with the persona of Adams’ successful counseling construct while despising the doctrine as a supposed false gospel. To be more specific, he wanted to gain ground by being identified with Adams’ success, and with a deliberate long-term goal of destroying the historical grammatical approach to biblical counseling.

Unfortunately, and to the chagrin of Adams, the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors was born (NANC). “Nouthetic” counseling was a Greek term introduced by Adams and often associated with him. Therefore, Powlison et al were able to be identified with the tsunami like personal transformations of the Adams reformation as a jump start for their own construct, and with a long-term goal of destroying the competition. They did this so effectively that Adams was often thought of as the founder of NANC, which was never true.

Consequently, Adams experienced an increased persecution from within the contemporary biblical counseling movement that he founded. His counseling was dubbed “first generation” biblical counseling and referred to as nothing more than “producing better Pharisees.” I believe this will go down in church history as one of the most grotesque betrayals ever perpetrated on a man in the name of friendship and the gospel.

The fallout in our day is indicative of the spiritual carnage that has always been left in the path of Gnosticism. While the spiritual peasantry cries out in hopes that the elite will police their own, the Nicolaitans of our day laugh all the way to the bank. After all, subjective reality is messy business and peasants just don’t understand. The biblical counseling community has founded organizations who seek to keep them out of court and prevent the obscuring of cash flow. The New Calvinism movement is intrinsically connected by a complicated and massive network of  associations—in many cases disagreeing with each other on “secondary issues.” A prime example is the G.R.A.C.E mediatory organization headed by Boz Tchividjian.  While playing the part of advocates for the spiritually abused, they are professionally networked with serial abusers of the worst sort.

Conclusion

The biblical counseling movement embodied in New Calvinism is nothing more or less than a return to the exact same Gnosticism that plagued the first century church. The fact that Eastern mysticism is often the application can be seen by what happened at a Passion Conference where the who’s who of New Calvinism led the audience in a form of Transcendental Meditation. Tim Keller, a co-mentoree of Miller along with David Powlison in the early days, is a staunch advocate of Eastern mysticism as a practical application for Christian living.

CCEF, and NANC are the epitome of false advertising. They advertise the gospel and change, but believe in neither. Like the father of their faith, St. Augustine,  it is Plato they trust. The banner over them is not love, but a sense of elitist entitlement to be paid and supported by the unenlightened masses for their own good. Sheep that don’t get it are more than expendable; the one in 99 is expendable for the 99 who know their place and pay the Shamans their tax deductible dues.

They invent and sell orthodoxy, the layman’s manual for experiencing perpetual rebirth. On the one hand, there is a Christianity that posits the living water that is received once, the onetime washing, and the moving on to maturity from the beginning principles of baptisms, and then there is the gospel of our day that posits the perpetual rebirth of Eastern mysticism.

But this is not a mere disagreement about how to live the Christian life. How we see the Christian life reveals the gospel that we really believe. When our salvation is not a finished work, something must be done by us to finish it—even if that means doing nothing with intentionality. NOT living by a list of do’s and don’ts is the work that keeps us saved. It is playing it safe by hiding our talents in the ground and giving the Lord back what He originally gave.

Christians would do well to choose which gospel they will live by in our day.  At this point, that conversation has not arrived yet. And to be sure, many do not want the conversation to be clarified to that point. The gospel itself has become the elephant in the room.

paul

John Calvin: Gnostic Extraordinaire

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 4, 2012

“If you believe that going to a Reformed ‘biblical’ counselor is about change, I have some oceanfront property in Xenia, Ohio that I would like to sell you.”

“In the first sentence of the Institutes, Calvin completely circumvents one of the primary purposes of God’s word for the believer.”

Note: You can click on charts to make them bigger.

It’s really not rocket science. The much touted idiom for Reformed thought is, the objective gospel outside of us. What does this mean? It means that all truth, wisdom, knowledge, and reality is contained in the knowledge of God which =’s “the gospel” which =’s the “personhood and works of Christ.” The dirty little Reformed secret is that the effects of the knowledge of God continues to remain outside of us even after salvation. Recently, New Calvinists have had to come clean on this to some extent by admitting that total depravity also applies to believers, and much to the consternation of Sanctified Calvinists who don’t know that they have been sanctified from Reformed soteriology. TANC is in the process of producing a 12 step program for recovering Sanctified Calvinists. The first step is to admit that Calvin was a Gnostic: “Hi, my name is Bob, I unwittingly promoted a Gnostic for ______years.” Hi Bob. The second step is vital for rebuilding self-esteem: “Hi my name is Bob, I have never been a Gnostic, and I am not totally depraved.” Hi Bob.

Obviously, if you are totally depraved, you can’t know anything that actually becomes a part of you and changes your behavior. Sanctified Calvinists must come to grips with the logical conclusions that follow the idea that GRACE remains completely outside of the believer. Reformed thought eventually referred to the antithesis of the “true gospel” as “infused grace.”  In other words, the new birth does not change the individual by making grace a part of him, and thus making change possible via the new creaturehood. If words mean things, and they do, total depravity does not = change. Hence, grace does not enable individuals to perform works.

This line of thought educes statements from the likes of Tullian Tchividjian who boasts that he has never done one work that pleased God and looks to this as the assurance of his salvation. These fanatical concepts are running amuck and unfettered in today’s church because they came from Calvin, and nobody wants to take on Calvin. This is because too many have not paid attention for too long and now don’t want to look stupid. Basically, instead of thinking for themselves, and studying for themselves, they followed others.

John Piper teaches that the crux of the Reformation was the idea that grace remains outside of us after salvation. In other words, grace changes our position, but not us. And he is exactly correct in his assessment. He, like the Reformers, attributes infused grace to the very root of all evil as demonstrated by the following chart published by a Reformed think tank (I discuss Piper’s Reformed view of this in detail: chapter 4 of The Truth About New Calvinism):

I have a lot of work to do in order to nail all of this down specifically, but the basics are pretty simple: if you note the chart above carefully, and think about it, the only place to go from there is Gnosticism—Gnosticism makes it work—Gnosticism is the practical application—nothing else works. By the way, a primary contributor to the above chart was Graeme Goldsworthy. Think about that one for a while. Graeme Goldsworthy was also a contributor to an article entitled, “The False Gospel of the New Birth.” In the article, the new birth is explained away by the Gnostic concept of “emphasis.”

Plato, the father of Gnosticism, believed that matter was a form or shadow of the true, good, and beautiful. The forms were certainly TRUE in regard to being a reality, but man’s basic problem was that he/she EMPHASIZES the shadows over the true form. Likewise, the new birth is true, but is merely a form of the true gospel. Focusing on the new birth (ie., our responsibility to exercise our redeemed will to obey God), “eclipses” the true Sun (a play on words). The life-giving ray of the Sun that manipulates dead matter  and gives it form is a constant theme throughout the Calvin institutes and literature like Pilgrims Progress. We are frozen blocks of ice until the Sun shines its light on us and changes the form of the block gradually, but obviously, the block of ice has no participation in the process.

Calvin presents this Gnostic epistemology in the very first sentence of his Institutes. He states:

Our wisdom insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts; the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two proceeds and gives birth to the other. For in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts toward the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; no, that are very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone.

So, ALL wisdom concerns knowledge of ourselves and God, but the knowledge of ourselves must come first through God. And, since God is the good, and we are the evil, God is the knowledge of the good and we are the knowledge of the evil. All of the Calvin Institutes are framed within this prism—the knowledge of good and evil. I have made a chart below to illustrate this:

As we delve deeper and deeper into the knowledge of both, the glory of God is manifested. As illustrated by the following chart that is a viral illustration in Reformed circles. The knowledge of the good coupled with the knowledge of the evil makes the cross bigger; or in other words, the glory of God:

Of course, this is eerily similar to the lie in the garden. I wouldn’t drive a theological stake on this, but it seems that God called His creation good (including Adam and Eve), and the serpent came along and told Eve that there was also a knowledge of the evil that God was keeping from them. They rest is history. So, God redeems us, and once again His creation is good (as in the new birth made possible by Jesus Christ), and here comes the Reformed crowd with the knowledge of God’s goodness and the news that we are still evil, and the knowledge thereof. Creepy, if you think about it. And I suggest that you do. Go ahead, it’s safe for you to do so—Calvin and Luther are both dead.

Even though we do not really change according to Reformed thought, what does change? Before I address that, let me first answer the cat-cries that I presently hear. Notice in the very popular Reformed illustration above that we don’t change, the cross does. It gets bigger. We get worse in our own minds which also makes the cross bigger. We are the knowledge of the evil and are totally depraved accordingly. If you believe that going to a Reformed “biblical” counselor is about change, I have some oceanfront property in Xenia, Ohio that I would like to sell you. Come now, let us reason together, how do the totally depraved change?

According to Reformed thought, we don’t change; we manifest God’s glory; ie, “spiritual formation” or “transformation” or “reorientation of the heart.” Regardless of how change-like their terms sound; once again, ask yourself how the totally depraved change, and remember—we don’t change, only the manifestation of God’s glory does. This transformation takes place by “knowing.” We are transformed into the image of what we know. This is also a Gnostic concept. In fact, Calvin quotes Plato accordingly in book 1, chapter 3, section 3:

This did not escape the observation even of philosophers. For it is the very thing which Plato meant (in Phoed. et Theact.) when he taught, as he often does, that the chief good of the soul consists in resemblance to God,  i.e., when by means of knowing him she is wholly transformed into him.

As an aside that I am not going to address deeply here, Reformed thought holds to the idea that anything more than obtaining the knowledge of the good while letting any result thereof  happen naturally—is works salvation. As some in that camp state it: “You can’t just leap from the command to obedience.” Right. You have to know that the command is a command that we can’t keep, and see it as a work that Christ has already accomplished for us—anything more than that is works salvation. What we know about the command will create a manifestation of God’s glory. “Ya, like, we will then obey, right?” No, no, and no. Again, how do the totally depraved obey? Again, how do we obey if only the cross grows, but not us? By the way, the cross illustration above also illustrates Luther’s Gnostic concept of law/gospel. The law is meant to drive us to despair of self-righteousness (knowledge of the evil via the good) which drives us back to the foot of the cross. See illustration below:

This is only true of unbelievers, but for the born again believer, the Bible is God’s full philosophical statement for life and godliness (Matthew 4:4, 2Tim. 3:16). In the first sentence of the Institutes, Calvin completely circumvents one of the primary purposes of God’s word for the believer.

Much more research is needed, but one gets a hint of how this all supposedly works in real life as Calvin refers to the ideas of Socrates and Aristotle as well in book 1, chapter 5, section 3:

Hence, certain of the philosophers have not improperly called man a microcosm (miniature world) as being a rare specimen of divine power, wisdom, and goodness in containing within himself wonders sufficient to occupy our minds [emphasis mine] if we are willing to employ them.

This seems to indicate that God is satisfied with man contemplating Him in their minds only, while what happens in the outside world is totally in God’s control. The fact that Reformed thought holds to the idea that all occurrences in human history point to God’s glory in one way or the other—is no big secret. Therefore, since God is not the creator of evil, but preordains it for his glory, all human occurrences should be seen as either a manifestation of the good or a manifestation of the evil, or the knowledge of good and evil as well, but with both purposed for glorifying God accordingly. So, a bad event is knowledge of evil which glorifies the good by contrast, while good things that happen are obviously knowledge of the good as well. What is true of the “believer” in his mind, is also true in the metaphysical world. When we contemplate the goodness of God in our mind, the cross is bigger. When we see our own depravity—the cross is bigger; likewise, good and bad events in the world make the cross bigger as well. This explains the Reformed infatuation with tragedy. Do I think this philosophy is at the core of why there is so much indifference in the church to spiritual tyranny and abuse? YES.

Moreover, it explains why there is no concern over the fact that Reformed theology’s European legacy is aflame with the Witch Wars (in some villages, the female population was completely eradicated), the Inquisition, the Peasant Wars, the Thirty-Year War, the First English Civil War, the Second English Civil War, the Third English Civil War, and the Levellers’ rebellion against Puritan tyranny. These were all religious wars involving theocracies—mostly of the Reformed stripe.

Because the Church of England wasn’t lopping of enough heads to satisfy the Puritans, they tried to bring their show to America, but the founding fathers shut them down. There is a reason why America has never had a religious war.  Nevertheless, their very first theocracy resulted in the very same European behavior: the Salem witch trials. As a memorial to the glorifying knowledge of the evil, New Calvinists signed the Danvers Statement on Puritan Manhood and Womanhood at the same location.

The restrained tyranny is now manifesting itself in New Calvinist “churches.”  Abuse and tyranny will always follow the philosophy.

And of course, for the glory of God.

paul

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