Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Is The Answer To Life’s Most Important Question

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 2, 2018

Recently a friend of TANC Ministries emailed me and asked me the following question.

“Would like to ask you a favor. Could you summarize the gospel/new birth in a paragraph or two? …In other words, suppose someone walks up to you and asks, ‘How do I get saved? Is there any hope for me?’ Suppose this person is a stripper, prostitute. What would be the most appropriate response?”

This is a great question! Here at Paul’s Passing Thoughts and TANC Ministries we talk much about doctrine and justification and the errors of authentic Protestantism. Our focus has been primarily to those who find themselves stuck in the institutional church and those who are seeking honest solutions to the problems they perceive and have witnessed in the institutional church. In other words, our ministry focus has been geared primarily towards believers. We don’t often discuss strategies for giving the true Biblical Gospel to the unsaved.

But that is neither here nor there. So in response to our friends inquiry I sat down and put together a few thoughts about just how we should present the Gospel, not just to strippers and prostitutes, but to anyone who is under law and in desperate need of salvation for eternal condemnation. My reply follows:


This is really hard to do in a paragraph or two. I have a comprehensive essay on the Gospel that I wrote about a year ago. It is rather long and technical, but it might give you a place to start. Here’s the link:
A Comprehensive Essay on the True Gospel

I don’t know that I would necessarily present the Gospel to an unsaved person this way, but there are several points in that article that for a person who desires to be saved are necessary for them to understand.

  1. They have to understand the state of unregenerate man (that he is under law and therefore under condemnation. Incidentally, this is the reason for the guilt they may be experiencing, as well as the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which is provoking them to seek salvation.)
  2. They have to understand who God is.
  3. They have to understand that God will judge all those who are under law.
  4. They have to understand that God made a way for man to get out from under law and escape condemnation (judgment)
  5. They have to understand that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to end the law and end condemnation.
  6. They have to understand that a person who believes in Jesus (that He is God’s Son and died to end the law) is born again (“born from above”, “born of the Spirit”, “Born of the Father”).
  7. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous as a state of being because he is now the literal offspring of God the Father.
  8. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous because the law has been ended for him and he is no longer under condemnation. There is no judgment for him
  9. They have to understand (and this is most important) that a person who is God’s child no longer lives a lifestyle like he used to. A person who is God’s child has a love for the law and a desire to live accordingly.

I add that last point in because if we’re dealing with, as you say, a stripper or a prostitute, then implicit in the Gospel is the reality that such a person can no longer continue doing the things they were doing. This is not because it is necessary to maintain salvation but because such behavior would not be congruent with one who is no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness.

This brings up another issue, because now you may be dealing with someone with whom such a profession is their only means of living. The reality of how they are going to provide for themselves if they stop being a prostitute or stripper looms over their heads. This is where I think the truth of the book of James hits home. This is where we as believers need to step in and exercise our faith. I think we need to think ahead as to how we can step in and provide a temporary solution for people such as this so that they can end this lifestyle and provide for their means until they can get back on their feet again; so there can be no excuse for them not to accept God’s gift of eternal life; so they can become a child of God and live a Godly life with no worries. This is, as James says, “pure religion and undefiled before God.”

~ Andy

 

Bible Interpretation, the Rapture, and the Problem with Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 13, 2015

Children of the Reformation are crippled in their ability to understand the Bible because of the Reformation’s salvation/justification prism. In other words, we have a very strong tendency to interpret every verse through the prism of eternal salvation. This makes weak sanctification/kingdom living part and parcel with Reformation history. In fact, the Reformation gospel makes sanctification a mere extension of justification. There is justification, and that “experienced subjectively” (sanctification) and then “final justification.” Their words, not mine.

Hence, in the Bible, rewards in context of sanctification are seen as the reward of salvation. The attempt to make the reward salvation while claiming salvation by faith alone becomes a convoluted theological mess. Complicating the matter are many Bible passages that, in fact, seem to say that we obtain final salvation through perseverance. This is because our minds have been trained to interpret Scripture through a singular salvation prism.

“Singular salvation.” That is a point in and of itself. How many Christians think there is only ONE salvation? All save a few. How many think salvation and redemption are the same thing? All save a few. Salvation is the new birth; redemption is the salvation of the body when Christ comes to claim what is His. Seeing the two as the same thing creates a plethora of interpretive problems, and there are many other examples that could be cited.

And far from being the least of these interpretive problems is the idea that salvation is both gift and reward. The Reformed get around this by categorizing works into two categories: faith alone works that aren’t really works per se, and works that are really works. Yes, salvation is a gift, but it is also a reward for doing your part to obtain salvation via faith alone works. Key to understanding this concept is the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. By doing gospel works, or faith alone works grounded in the “salvation event,” the works of Christ are imputed to your sanctification and “subjective justification” is kept properly on track until “final justification.”

Doing your part to keep your salvation isn’t works salvation because it is a prescribed faith alone work. If you do A, Christ will do B, and you get to keep your salvation. In Reformed circles that usually includes partaking in the “means of grace.” Since it is “the means of grace” it is not works. This usually includes formal church membership, “putting yourself under the authority of godly men,” sitting under Reformed preaching, partaking in the Lord’s Table, and “deep repentance” for sins that separate you from grace, etc.

The result is a missing, and massive kingdom living construct. Also missing is an understanding of any kind of gravity concerning kingdom living. How we participate in sanctification has no implications other than salvation. Until the recent resurgence of the Reformed gospel that makes final salvation the consequence of sanctification, kingdom living was relegated to mere fire insurance.

So, what is the point of this post? Christians must relearn and cultivate an understanding of incentives regarding kingdom living. One is present life more abundantly, peace, assurance, and blessings. The eternal ones are a little bit more difficult to understand, but sound pretty cool:

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

This is some kind of eternal reward for the soul winner. Other such eternal rewards can be found in the seven letters to the assemblies in Revelation. But like I said, the present rewards are easier to understand and have immediate benefits. At any rate, again, this is a body of wisdom that needs cultivation.

Let me SUGGEST another one. Not that it will do any good, but let me state that this is just an idea I am putting out there for consideration. Here, I will repeat it again, knowing that the attempt is futile, but nevertheless,

THIS IS JUST AN IDEA I AM PUTTING OUT THERE FOR CONSIDERATION.   

con·sid·er·a·tion

kənˌsidərˈāSH(ə)n/

noun

Careful thought, typically over a period of time. “a long process involving a great deal of careful consideration” synonyms:   thought, deliberation, reflection, contemplation, rumination, meditation;

NOT DOGMA.

Here is my thought. The rapture is a reward for suitable kingdom living. When the rapture happens, not everyone left behind is lost. Is that screaming I hear in the distance? Probably. What in the world would give me such an idea? Let me share:

Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. [Present reward?] 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. [Present reward?] 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. [Eternal reward?] Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Obviously, the hour of trial coming upon the world is the tribulation period. Here, being saved from that hour seems to be a reward (crown) for perseverance. You have two choices here: the reward is either the rapture or salvation. No? What am I missing? It wouldn’t be the first time that rapture was reward and didn’t include all of the saved (see “Enoch”).  Also, Paul spoke of a reward for those “who have loved his appearing.” This is the “righteousness” crown (2Timothy 4:8).

What about all of the indifference among Christians concerning the rapture? What about all of the indifference regarding the New Testament call to be continually looking for the Lord’s unexpected and imminent return? Could this indifference stem from a fundamental ignorance in regard to sanctification?

There are many Christians in our day who reject the rapture, so should they expect to be a part of it? Is it some kind of secondary truth that is optional?

This is an attempt, perhaps a lame one, to get Christians to think more deeply about kingdom living and our present calling. Just food for thought. We need to challenge each other to think beyond orthodoxy. We need to set our kingdom living on fire.

paul

What is the Race of Faith? Justification or Sanctification? Or Both? A Biblical Evaluation: Introduction

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 3, 2015

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”

~1Corinthians 9:24

One can focus on all of the white noise of denominationalism, but most either proclaim or unwittingly function according to the idea that salvation is a process instead of an instantaneous and complete transformation. In fact, any example to the contrary is nowhere to be found among religious institutions. The institutional church, or simply “Church,” is founded on the idea that salvation is a process; it has a beginning and an end.

If salvation is a process with a beginning and an end, the Christian life must be treated as a salvation process. Hence, you are saved by salvation, you continue to be saved by salvation, and there is a final salvation. Therefore, the Christian life isn’t so much about holy living, but salvation. Who will deny the salvation centrality of the church since the Reformation? “Make[ing] disciples” (Matt 28:19) is understood as learning more and more about salvation, not Christian living. After all, salvation is still in process. We hear it constantly: “Sanctification is the growing part of salvation.” Does salvation grow?

If a different direction is to be taken in order to please the Holy Spirit resulting in His unleashing of heavenly power, it must be started outside of the church because the church is not going to give up on a 500-year tradition. Said another way: the church is not going to admit it has been wrong for 500 years. If the case is made here, nothing can be done about it within the church.

The theses of this series is fairly basic: salvation is a gift, but there are rewards for Christian living. A gift is not a reward because a reward is earned. Because the focus of the church (this includes all stripes of Catholicism and Protestantism) has been salvation, and salvation is a process, the race of faith is the process. God began the process, and we are involved in the process which is a race ending in the reward of final salvation.

Be sure of this: ALL church denominations represent differing beliefs on the proper way to run the race and thereby receive the reward of salvation.  And granted, there are many Scripture texts that seem to say just that, but it is the contention of this series that those texts seem to say that due to the church’s narrow salvation-centered approach to the Bible. The aversion to a studied theology among the laity is therefore prevalent. It is a tradition and way of life. No person should become incredulous at the suggestion that theology is even disdained among the laity. Reason is nothing more than demonic musings, and blind faith pure as the wind-driven snow.

But what are the consequences? Is there danger in seeing salvation as a reward? Or is the danger in the freedom of once saved always saved (OSAS)? Is there some kind of guardrail that keeps Christians from wanton libertinism that is both gift and reward, or is the confusion due to the omittance of theological training among the church’s laity?

This series will approach these questions from the viewpoint of Scriptures that call for perseverance. These same texts are used by many to make the case for perseverance in salvation for the purpose of receiving the reward of final salvation.

One such biblical text is 1John 1:7-9. That is where we will start in part one.

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