Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Saving God, Tears of Joy, and the Gospel of Freewill

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 12, 2014

“They are purchased slaves remaining under the dominion of their present master by their own choice.”

John Immel makes one particular statement at every TANC conference each year: Calvinism is the most disastrous body of doctrine ever perpetrated on mankind. He speaks primarily from a societal viewpoint, I speak primarily from a theological viewpoint, and Susan speaks primarily from a life experience viewpoint. That’s how our roles in the TANC endeavor operate. We now have Andy as well who represents a grammatical life application of the theological ramifications, and to a point, the societal implications as well. If you don’t attend the conferences—you are missing out.

But back to John. The yearly statement which is now a tradition is unlike many traditions, in that one’s understanding of the statement grows every year. So, when John makes that statement, there is a marked, deeper refection than the year prior.

When I initially received Christ, the music of the gospel made me cry. Then I became acquainted with the only thing one can be acquainted with in the institutional church: orthodoxy. When orthodoxy became synonymous with truth in my mind, that’s the day the music died. Think what you may of John Immel, but his first series of talks at TANC 2012 introduced me to a unique challenge: orthodoxy as intermediate truth, and church polity as a soft term for the fusion of faith and force. That challenge led me on a journey that has resulted in the enablement to hear the sweet music of the gospel once again.

A combination of circumstances, including my marriage to Susan, enabled me to say to God, “No more listening to men, help me to take these words in Romans at face value. You are not a God of confusion, what is Paul plainly saying?” Pray tell: how do we make two laws, plainly stated as such, two realms? Answer: orthodoxy.

The music is back. My sins are not merely covered, they are ended. My salvation has no judgment. There is no law to be found. There is no condemnation. All I can see now in regard to condemnation is our loving Lord hanging on that cross in unimaginable suffering saying, “It is finished.” We are untouchable. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Christ came to end the law of sin and death for those who believe, and set them free to obey the law of the Spirit of life without fear of condemnation.

When one stops listening to experts and really believes that God rewards those who seek Him, a particular God emerges from the truth: a God who predetermined a means for reconciliation, and pronounced it irrevocable, an irrevocable calling that will stand till all things are new. It’s called, “hope.” It is knowing that a good ending is predetermined. No one can take it from us. We also see a God that seeks man in his weakness and sin, shoving him to the precipice of His kingdom, but stopping short of making the decision for him. Certainly, when Adam sinned, he did not immediately seek God out for a solution—he hid. But God sought him out and reasoned with him, and so it goes in history.

God ordained the means of salvation; put His law on every man’s heart with an internal judge; sent His son to die, and thereby drawing all men to Him; sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin; imputes all sin to the law of sin and death that has already been ended and awaits those who want to be free of sin’s condemnation; and mandates His kingdom citizens to implore all to join God’s kingdom as well. “TURN AWAY! TURN AWAY! WHY WILL YOU DIE?” Moreover, Christ did not come to condemn the world, but to save it.  Hell was not created for man, but for the kingdom of darkness. Consider…

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Note that an unregenerate person can have wisdom. Note that they are drawn to the kingdom’s door. The unregenerate can know truth. The unregenerate can be persuaded. They have the law written on their hearts.  They have an internal convicter, an outside convicter, the love of a Savior, the witness of love among His followers, and the testimony of creation.

We are told that God does all of this, but is just sporting with man, for in the final analysis, it is His choice alone. God is within His right, because of His righteousness, to send all to hell. Yet, in contrast, the Bible states that His righteousness is manifested by supplying a way of salvation. Christ didn’t come to obey the law perfectly to display the righteousness of God. Men were declared righteous apart from the law well before the first coming of Christ. Supplying a way to be reconciled with man put His righteousness on display. Christ did not come to condemn, and God desires that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

At the 2008 T4G pastors’ conference, John MacArthur Jr. took opportunity to announce to the Reformed community that he was one of them in the truest sense. He asserted that total inability has always been the dominate teaching of the church from the very beginning. This, of course, is an outright, blatant lie and an attempt to rewrite church history. Free will was the position of many church fathers and theologians of the post apostolic church. But either orthodoxy can be bad and we need neither.

There will be weeping in eternal hell because they will know they had a choice; they “neglected the great salvation.” They said “no” in the face of a God who bankrupted heaven to call them. They will not be weeping because they had no choice. To believe that you have no choice is a choice.

The strongest indictment against predestination of individuals is the source itself, the Reformers…of the Catholic Church. Calvin, in league with the Eastern transcendental meditation that Reformed theology is predicated on, believed that there are three classes of elect: the non-elect; the partially elected; and those given the gift of perseverance. Yes, Calvin taught that some people are temporarily illumined, but God, apparently in conjunction with what He has predetermined, takes away their election and condemns them to a greater damnation. Only those “given the gift of perseverance” are the truly elected. This coincides with Eastern religion and the idea that some are hopelessly enslaved to the shadow material world (and enslaved to empirical reason) while some are partially able to see beyond the material. The third class is completely free from interpreting reality in the shadowy material world.

Because of the kinship that the Reformers had with Eastern mysticism, they were hard pressed to explain how Christ came to earth as a man in the flesh. I have received reports from some in Reformed churches that pastors are teaching the following: Christ did not have the same kind of flesh that we have. This should be of no surprise if you understand the true roots of the Reformation. Martin Luther taught that Christ came as a man to supply an epistemological gateway of understanding into the invisible. He equated ALL works with the material world, and insisted that Christ came to replace all works with suffering. Hence, Luther defined the essence of the Christian life as an endeavor to escape the material world through suffering and a deeper knowledge of Christ’s suffering in life and on the cross. The kinship to Eastern thought here is evident. This led to the cross being the paramount icon of Christianity.

The point here is that part and parcel with these ancient and Eastern ideas from the cradle of civilization is the concept of predeterminism. Predeterminism dominates Eastern thought and is very prevalent in Islam. Yet, in the same message at T4G 2008, MacArthur propagated the well-traveled idea among the Reformed that predetermism is unique to the Reformation. This is a blatant aberration from true history; to the contrary, predetermist ideology saturates human history and has been the fabric of the vast majority of religious and secular movements throughout history.

What has always been rare, and unique to the point of extinction is the idea that man is able. America is unique in history because it is founded on the insane idea that man is able to govern himself. This so grates against the mentality that has dominated world history that America is despised regardless of the steroidal goodness produced by her. In reality, the world lusts to see the American experiment fail, and this by no means excludes the present-day Neo-Calvinist movement. The Reformers, past and present, have sold their package well: the idea that freewill is the common mentality of humanity is perhaps the greatest myth that has ever been propagated upon mankind.

How can a loving God send people to an eternal hell? He doesn’t. They choose to go to a place that was never created for them, but rather for the Devil and his angels. They choose between two kingdoms.

Sin was “found” in Lucifer, either because God was complicit in the creation of sin, or because freewill is a righteous element of His creation power. But if freewill existed before man’s fall, and obviously it did, nothing in Scripture indicates that freewill no longer exists.

I understand that isolated Bible verses seem to propagate predeterminism, but that doesn’t equal plenary determinism, nor are ignorant Protestants qualified to draw conclusions from orthodoxy. The jury is still out because the fruits are from a poisonous tree. To what degree does God intervene and predetermine, and how much does the historic predeterminism running in the background reflect on certain statements in the Bible?  For instance, God talking to the disciples in parables so that others could not understand…

“See, that’s because He didn’t elect the others that were listening.”

Then why any fear of them understanding something? Jesus was pushing back against the Gnosticism of that day which propagated the idea that religious leaders only had saving knowledge. He spoke in parables in front of them, and then reveled the meaning of the parables to His disciples later. This was a direct, in-your-face push-back to the Gnosticism of that day, and taught the disciples to stop taking the religious leaders of their day seriously. We would do well to follow that lesson in our own day.

But in the final analysis, this post points to our freedom in Christ. Christ died to purchase all men from the slavery of sin that rules the kingdom of darkness. They are under a law that condemns them, but also protects them in case one day they would follow Christ. The heavy load of law breaking on their shoulders is a law that has been ended if they would only believe in Christ. They are purchased slaves remaining under the dominion of their present master by their own choice. They are also written in a book of life from which God does not desire to blot them out.

If we are in Christ we are free indeed. We are free from condemnation. We must not only tell the world that they serve the master of sin, its king, and its kingdom, but that they have been purchased by the king of glory. They are slaves by choice. This is where Calvinism must claim limited atonement; the idea that Christ only purchased the chosen with His death. The idea that Christ purchased all men from the slavery of sin brings much question upon the idea of individual election. Yet,

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.

God prepared the means of salvation and predetermined that the application of it would be undeterred. Mankind is convicted in regard to sin and the judgment to come from within and without. Within by conscience, a judge that administers the law written on their hearts, and without by the Holy Spirit. Christ came to save the world, not condemn it, and to draw all men to Himself. He seeks after all men, initially writes them in the Book of Life, and has purchased them from the master of this world. Even the law that condemns them imprisons their sin until faith comes. It is a law that leads them to Christ, but will indeed condemn them if they do not repent. He also calls on His church to implore all men to be “reconciled to God.”

He does everything but make the choice for us. This is far more compelling than the worn-out un-novel idea of determinism used by every sect and band of religious gypsies that have ever come down the pike. It sets us free from confusion and compels us to glorify God by sharing our life of joy that is able to love God and please Him. It rejoices in the freedom of loving God by loving others without fear of condemnation.

Calvinists only rob us of our freedom in Christ to love by warning us that such zeal could be a mere attempt at self-righteousness. But we know that righteousness is a finished work, and we will not submit ourselves again to the fear of condemnation…

…for there is no fear in love.

paul

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