Paul's Passing Thoughts

“Trusting Jesus” In 2017 For Your Daily Re-Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 29, 2019

Originally published January 2, 2017

The institutional church has very little to offer people in the way of hope and assurance. Its orthodoxy takes away a believer’s means of showing love to God and others – obedience to the law. By making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, its single perspective on law keeps believers “under law” and in a constant state of fear due to condemnation. But the Bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear.

We have before us today yet one more example of the orthodoxy of authentic Protestantism to consider. This example happens to come from my former church, Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, OH. One of the current members snapped this image of a power point slide presented during this past Sunday’s sermon.

calvary-fodder-hebrew-12-application

This slide comes at the “application” part at the end of a sermon which used Hebrews 12:1-2 as a text.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Here are the four points of application for consideration:

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Before I even get into addressing the points of application, a brief exegesis and word study of the passage is required.

It is important to understand that the chapter divisions in our Bibles are not there in the original texts. They were added much later as a means to aid in finding certain passages. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the chapter divisions have a tendency to break up the context. Chapter 12 of Hebrews is the concluding application of chapter 11, sometimes known as the “Hall of Faith”. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in verse 1 is a reference to all the saints mentioned in chapter 11, some by name, some collectively.

I want to quickly call your attention to the verbs in verse 1. I have marked them in bold.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This is a very poorly translated verse in both the King James and all modern English translations. While there are five verb forms in this verse, only one verb is part of the main clause and shows the action. It is the word “run”. In the Greek the word is τρεχω (trek-oh). We get our English word “trek” from this, referring to a course or trip or voyage in which we may engage.

While this verb is in the present tense, it is also in the subjunctive mood, which normally indicates a hypothetical possibility. But in this case, since we are not dealing with a conditional statement, this implies a command, more specifically, something we ought to be doing. It is used as a means of exhorting others to join in on a particular course of action. With this in mind, there is only one main clause in verse 1:

“wherefore, …we ought to engage in our course of life”

This is the reasonable conclusion the writer of Hebrews draws from the testimony of all the saints mentioned in chapter 11.

The other four verb forms are actually used as participles. A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective or adverb. In English, participles most often end in “ing”. A participle can either describe how an action is performed or it further describes the state of a noun or subject. Knowing then that the other verbs in verse 1 are participles, the verse would better read this way (notice the participles are emphasized in bold).

“Wherefore, we, having this vast cloud of witnesses encompassing us, and having put off every impediment – the sin nemesis – we ought to, through endurance, engage in our course of life lying before us.”

Some things should be obvious in this verse. Foremost is the implication that WE are the ones running our race of life. The command is to US to engage the undertaking of our lives, and we are exhorted to do it with endurance. But also, the grammatical structure gives us the “why”. It is because:

  1. We have a group of spectators “watching” us. These are the faithful saints who have gone on before us who have given us an example of how WE are then expected to conduct our lives.
  1. We have the ABILITY to run this race of life with certainty because we have already laid off everything that would hinder us. It is not something we need to do continuously. The aorist (past) tense of the participle (“having put off”) indicates it is something that we have already done. Because of our new birth the law is ended, the old man is dead, and sin no longer has any power over us. Sin can no longer restrict us from running as fast as we want to.

Verse 2 gives us further instruction as to “how” or “what” we should do as we run our life race. It begins with the phrase “looking unto Jesus”, but that does not indicate that we “trust Jesus” to run the race for us or even to help us run. The word in the Greek is αφοραω (ah-for-AH-oh). It literally means to perceive from a distance, but the implication means to consider attentively.

Another expression that needs to be examined is “the author and finisher of our faith”. First off, the word “our” is not found in the Greek text, neither is it implied. “Author” is the Greek word αρχηγον (arch-AY-gon), and it means “chief leader”. Jesus is not the “author” of faith as if He was the originator of it. Consider the context of the passage. In the great cloud of witnesses just mentioned in chapter 11, among all of those in that great “hall of faith”, Jesus is the Chief Leader of faith. This means that Jesus is included among all of the saints listed in chapter 11. The author of Hebrews is exhorting us to consider Jesus’ own example of faith.

Furthermore, a close look at the grammar of verse 2 reveals that the verse is not saying that our faith originates and ends with Jesus. Instead, these are two separate aspects of who Jesus is with regard to faith itself. The word translated “finisher” is the word τελειωτης (tel-ee-oh-TACE). It comes from the word “teleos” which means “maturity” or “completeness”. Jesus is the one who made “faith” complete.

If you consider that the audience of Hebrews is Jews, this aspect of Jesus completing faith takes on considerable significance. Remember that God made the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The apostle Paul also wrote in Galatians about the law being a guardian until “faith” came. With this in mind it is fairly easy to see that Jesus was the promised “seed” and the “faith” that came to end the law. I believe this is the reference the writer of Hebrews is making when he says that Jesus is the “completer” of faith, because Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham, the “faith” that came to end the law and make the new birth possible.

So in verse two, as we run our life race, we are to give attentive consideration to the Chief Faith Leader; the Faith Completer; Jesus! Not only is “faith” completed because Jesus is that promised seed, but we are to consider His example of faith. The rest of the verse cites Jesus’ own example of faith.

“…giving attentive consideration to the Chief Leader and Completer of faith – Jesus – who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So now that we understand the correct grammatical-historical context of the passage, let us once again consider the points of application suggested to us by the pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Please notice that the passage in Hebrews has nothing to do whatsoever about trust or trusting Jesus. This should be blatantly obvious. How does one make the leap from a context having to do with great examples of faith for us to emulate to one of “trusting Jesus”? If one uses a redemptive-historical hermeneutic, it’s fairly easy. Every verse has to be taken in its proper “gospel context”.

Authentic Protestantism is a false gospel of progressive justification. Believers are merely declared righteous while remaining totally depraved and in a constant need of re-salvation and forgiveness for “present sin”.  So then:

  • A believer then must continually “trust Jesus” for daily salvation instead of looking to himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to do good works through him rather than trying to do any good works himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to be his righteousness for him since the believer is only declared righteous.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by recognizing his own sinfulness, depravity, and need for constant forgiveness rather than dwell on how other people have wronged him.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by continuing to live by “faith alone” and persevering in the off chance that maybe he is one of the elect who endures to final justification.

Of course, if at any time you fail to somehow keep “trusting Jesus,” your very salvation may be at stake.

Sure sounds like an encouraging New Year’s message to me. Good luck with that.

~ Andy

Protestants: Willing Participants in a Truman Show Reality.

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

Originally published July 12, 2016

stage liteTruman Burbank lived a seemingly normal life. He was just your regular, ordinary kind of guy. Everybody liked Truman. He had a pretty wife, a nice house, a good job. He had everything anybody could ask for. His life was perfect. Or so it seemed.

Of course, Truman Burbank isn’t a real person. He is the titular fictional character in the 1998 film The Truman Show. Those of you who are familiar with the film well know that while Truman’s story is fictional, the reality of his world in that fiction was fiction as well; a fiction engineered specifically for him. The problem was, Truman did not realize that his reality was fake. Unfortunately, just like Truman Burbank, 99% of Protestants don’t realize that their reality as they know it is just as fake, yet they willingly accept it. Truman Burbank offers a perfect philosophical metaphor, so I am using him to illustrate my point.

At the time we meet him in the movie, Truman is approximately 30 years old. From the time he was born, his entire existence has been in the world of Seahaven, FL. It is the only reality he has ever known. And up until now he has never questioned the truth of his reality. What he does not know is that this world is a carefully crafted façade, and every other person in his reality is nothing more than an actor playing a role. Their sole purpose is to make Truman believe that everything he sees around him and everything that happens to him is real. And as he goes about his daily life, hundreds of tiny hidden cameras capture his every move and broadcast his life to the world 24 hours a day. You could say that Truman was the first reality TV star.

How is it that a person can live his entire existence and not realize that his reality is fake? Because Truman’s reality consists of a very deceptive hermaneutic. Everything that happens in his life is carefully interpreted for him so that his understanding of reality remains consistent with what he observes. On this scale you can be sure that this is a very complicated feat to pull off for thirty years.

Such a task can only be maintained for so long, and eventually, unexpected “glitches” begin to occur. For example, one day a strange object falls from the sky and smashes on the ground just feet from where Truman is standing. It happens to be a stage light that is labeled, “SIRIUS (9 Canis Major)”. On another day, while listening to the radio in his car, his radio suddenly begins broadcasting the director’s instructions to the cast, and Truman realizes that the voice on the radio is describing every turn he makes in his car. Yet another time, Truman enters an elevator only to realize when the door opens that no elevator is there but instead he sees a group of stage hands on break around a snack table.

Obviously, such events would be out of the ordinary in Truman’s reality. Here is a conflict between what Truman thinks to be true about his world and what he observes, and he has no idea how to reconcile these contradictions. At this point a mediator is needed to reinterpret what Truman has observed to reconcile the contradiction and convince him that nothing is wrong, everything is as it should be. No, that wasn’t a stage light that fell from the sky, it was a part that fell off an airplane flying overhead. No, you didn’t really hear a guy on the radio announcing your every move. Our station accidentally picked up police frequencies, ha ha, sorry it sometimes happens.   Oh did you hear? There was a freak elevator accident in the building next to yours, and a woman was critically injured- no you didn’t really see a stage crew taking their break where an elevator should have been.

The producers went to great lengths to discourage Truman from leaving Seahaven, because as a boy, Truman had a longing for exploring. They posted subtle messages around town with outrageous warnings about the dangers of travel. Sometimes, drastic intervention was required. They even created a scenario one day where Truman was out on a boat with his father, and a sudden storm swept his father overboard, never to be found again. Of course, it was all an act, but to Truman it was very real, and it made quite an impression on him as a small boy. So much so that Truman developed an acute fear of the water and never thought twice about leaving Seahaven by boat, or even crossing a body of water. But as things progress, Truman’s suspicion grows. He begins to ask serious questions of those around him, who continue to simply play along with their roles in a vain attempt to deflect his suspicions.

But despite all these obstacles, Truman was determined to find answers to his questions. He discovered that he could make unusual things happen anytime he was unpredictable. Those involved with the show could not react fast enough to his spontaneity, and this would give them away, only furthering his resolve. Truman knew something was not right about his world, but he did not know why. He could not explain it, but he was no longer willing to accept the explanations given to him by those around him.

We could summarize the salient points about Truman’s reality this way:

  • Truman’s understanding of the world was based on a false assumption.
  • From time to time Truman would encounter contradictions in his reality that he could not reconcile.
  • Truman needed mediators in his life to interpret reality for him.

In much the same way, the way that Protestants understand reality is based on a false assumption. Doctrines such as total depravity (total inability), determinism and God’s sovereignty, election, and many others present man with a view of reality where man is evil and therefore cannot know truth. Believers go to church week after week so that they can be told not just what to think but also HOW to think about not just what the Bible says but also how the world itself works.

Invariably there will come a time when a believer will encounter a contradiction. It may be that he comes across passages of scripture in his Bible that seem to contradict each other. It may be that he encounters something in life that runs counter to what he was taught from the pulpit. Something that he cannot explain, like how can man have a free will if God is sovereign? “Well, you know God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, so we just have to accept that there are some things we just can’t understand and accept as true because God says so.”

Most often, contradictions are handled from a matter of interpretation. This is where the mediator steps in and reinterprets scripture for the believer in its proper “gospel context”. You see, because man is unable to know truth, he needs the authority of a mediator to explain it to him. This is the role of pastors, elders, deacons, bishops, et al.

For Truman Burbank, his mediators were not just a select few in positions of authority. It was the entire cast of characters from the crew behind the scenes, to the actress who played his wife, to the guy who sold him his daily paper at the newsstand. Every person in Truman’s life was a willing participant, regardless of how much they were aware of their overall impact in shaping his life. Extras in the cast, for example, would dutifully play their part all while being totally ignorant of the ultimate level of control the producers sought to wield over Truman’s life.

Truman himself was a willing participant in this ruse. One could argue that he was simply an innocent victim in the whole matter, but consider how much he was willing to overlook in his life for such a long time just so that he could go on living the only life he ever knew. That fact was a major point in the film, when a former cast member called the show and told the show’s creator just how wrong she thought it was the way they were using Truman for their own ends. The creator’s response was profound and powerful. He said that if Truman REALLY wanted to discover the truth, he would find a way, and that whenever that happens, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.   The point being of course was that the mere fact that Truman lived this life for so long was a statement to the reality that he really didn’t want to know the truth.

How much can the same be said of Protestants? To what extent are Protestants willing participants in their own “Truman Show” existence?   How much are we willing to overlook just so that we can be comfortable in our lives? How much abuse and evil are we going to tolerate just so that we can have some sense of security in where we think our salvation lies? Do we blame the cast of mediators who create this charade for us? Their role is obvious, and they play their parts well, wittingly or unwittingly. But the laity are playing a role as well. They shoulder just as much of the blame as those under whose self-appointed authority they have placed themselves. And they will dutifully pay their tithes and offerings each week, and they will warm their spot on the pew every time the church doors are open, and they will sing when told to sing, and they will stand when told to stand, and they will pray when told to pray, and they will outsource their minds to someone standing before them who will tell them what to think about life. And they will never ask a hard question, even when a stage light falls from the sky.

But there is hope! Because if Protestants really want to know the truth, they will find it. If they really want to find a way out of the nightmare that is the institutional church, they will discover it. And when they are determined to do so, there isn’t a thing the church can do about it!

Andy

“Trusting Jesus” In 2017 For Your Daily Re-Salvation

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

The institutional church has very little to offer people in the way of hope and assurance. Its orthodoxy takes away a believer’s means of showing love to God and others – obedience to the law. By making perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, its single perspective on law keeps believers “under law” and in a constant state of fear due to condemnation. But the Bible says that there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear.

We have before us today yet one more example of the orthodoxy of authentic Protestantism to consider. This example happens to come from my former church, Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, OH. One of the current members snapped this image of a power point slide presented during this past Sunday’s sermon.

calvary-fodder-hebrew-12-application

This slide comes at the “application” part at the end of a sermon which used Hebrews 12:1-2 as a text.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Here are the four points of application for consideration:

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Before I even get into addressing the points of application, a brief exegesis and word study of the passage is required.

It is important to understand that the chapter divisions in our Bibles are not there in the original texts. They were added much later as a means to aid in finding certain passages. The unfortunate result is that sometimes the chapter divisions have a tendency to break up the context. Chapter 12 of Hebrews is the concluding application of chapter 11, sometimes known as the “Hall of Faith”. The “cloud of witnesses” mentioned in verse 1 is a reference to all the saints mentioned in chapter 11, some by name, some collectively.

I want to quickly call your attention to the verbs in verse 1. I have marked them in bold.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This is a very poorly translated verse in both the King James and all modern English translations. While there are five verb forms in this verse, only one verb is part of the main clause and shows the action. It is the word “run”. In the Greek the word is τρεχω (trek-oh). We get our English word “trek” from this, referring to a course or trip or voyage in which we may engage.

While this verb is in the present tense, it is also in the subjunctive mood, which normally indicates a hypothetical possibility. But in this case, since we are not dealing with a conditional statement, this implies a command. It is used as a means of exhorting others to join in on a particular course of action. With this in mind, there is only one main clause in verse 1:

“wherefore, …let us engage in our course of life”

This is the reasonable conclusion the writer of Hebrews draws from the testimony of all the saints mentioned in chapter 11.

The other four verb forms are actually used as participles. A participle is a verb that is used as an adjective or adverb. In English, participles most often end in “ing”. A participle can either describe how an action is performed or it further describes the state of a noun or subject. Knowing then that the other verbs in verse 1 are participles, the verse would better read this way (notice the participles are emphasized in bold).

“Wherefore, we, having this vast cloud of witnesses encompassing us, and having put off every impediment – the sin nemesis – let us then through endurance engage in our course of life lying before us.”

Some things should be obvious in this verse. Foremost is the implication that WE are the ones running our race of life. The command is to US to engage the undertaking of our lives, and we are exhorted to do it with endurance. But also, the grammatical structure gives us the “why”. It is because:

  1. We have a group of spectators “watching” us. These are the faithful saints who have gone on before us who have given us an example of how WE are then expected to conduct our lives.
  1. We have the ABILITY to run this race of life with certainty because we have already laid off everything that would hinder us. It is not something we need to do continuously. The aorist (past) tense of the verb indicates it is something that we have already done. Because of our new birth the law is ended, the old man is dead, and sin no longer has any power over us. Sin can no longer restrict us from running as fast as we want to.

Verse 2 gives us further instruction as to “how” or “what” we should do as we run our life race. It begins with the phrase “looking unto Jesus”, but that does not indicate that we “trust Jesus” to run the race for us or even to help us run. The word in the Greek is αφοραω (ah-for-AH-oh). It literally means to perceive from a distance, but the implication means to consider attentively.

Another expression that needs to be examined is “the author and finisher of our faith”. First off, the word “our” is not found in the Greek text, neither is it implied. “Author” is the Greek word αρχηγον (arch-AY-gon), and it means “chief leader”. Jesus is not the “author” of faith as if He was the originator of it. Consider the context of the passage. In the great cloud of witnesses just mentioned in chapter 11, among all of those in that great “hall of faith”, Jesus is the Chief Leader of faith. This means that Jesus is included among all of the saints listed in chapter 11. The author of Hebrews is exhorting us to consider Jesus’ own example of faith.

Furthermore, a close look at the grammar of verse 2 reveals that the verse is not saying that our faith originates and ends with Jesus. Instead, these are two separate aspects of who Jesus is with regard to faith itself. The word translated “finisher” is the word τελειωτης (tel-ee-oh-TACE). It comes from the word “teleos” which means “maturity” or “completeness”. Jesus is the one who made “faith” complete.

If you consider that the audience of Hebrews is Jews, this aspect of Jesus completing faith takes on considerable significance. Remember that God made the promise of a “seed” to Abraham. The apostle Paul also wrote in Galatians about the law being a guardian until “faith” came. With this in mind it is fairly easy to see that Jesus was the promised “seed” and the “faith” that came to end the law. I believe this is the reference the writer of Hebrews is making when he says that Jesus is the “completer” of faith, because Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham, the “faith” that came to end the law and make the new birth possible.

So in verse two, as we run our life race, we are to give attentive consideration to the Chief Faith Leader; the Faith Completer; Jesus! Not only is “faith” completed because Jesus is that promised seed, but we are to consider His example of faith. The rest of the verse cites Jesus’ own example of faith.

“…giving attentive consideration to the Chief Leader and Completer of faith – Jesus – who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So now that we understand the correct grammatical-historical context of the passage, let us once again consider the points of application suggested to us by the pastor of Calvary Bible Church.

  1. Trusting Jesus keeps us from looking to self
  2. Trusting Jesus requires trust in all He is for us
  3. Trusting Jesus is needed most when others hurt us
  4. Trusting Jesus is key to not growing weary or losing heart in life

Please notice that the passage in Hebrews has nothing to do whatsoever about trust or trusting Jesus. This should be blatantly obvious. How does one make the leap from a context having to do with great examples of faith for us to emulate to one of “trusting Jesus”? If one uses a redemptive-historical hermeneutic, it’s fairly easy. Every verse has to be taken in its proper “gospel context”.

Authentic Protestantism is a false gospel of progressive justification. Believers are merely declared righteous while remaining totally depraved and in a constant need of re-salvation and forgiveness for “present sin”.  So then:

  • A believer then must continually “trust Jesus” for daily salvation instead of looking to himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to do good works through him rather than trying to do any good works himself.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” to be his righteousness for him since the believer is only declared righteous.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by recognizing his own sinfulness, depravity, and need for constant forgiveness rather than dwell on how other people have wronged him.
  • A believer must “trust Jesus” by continuing to live by “faith alone” and persevering in the off chance that maybe he is one of the elect who endures to final justification.

Of course, if at any time you fail to somehow keep “trusting Jesus,” your very salvation may be at stake.

Sure sounds like an encouraging New Year’s message to me. Good luck with that.

~ Andy

Protestants: Willing Participants in a Truman Show Reality.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 12, 2016

stage liteTruman Burbank lived a seemingly normal life. He was just your regular, ordinary kind of guy. Everybody liked Truman. He had a pretty wife, a nice house, a good job. He had everything anybody could ask for. His life was perfect. Or so it seemed.

Of course, Truman Burbank isn’t a real person. He is the titular fictional character in the 1998 film The Truman Show. Those of you who are familiar with the film well know that while Truman’s story is fictional, the reality of his world in that fiction was fiction as well; a fiction engineered specifically for him. The problem was, Truman did not realize that his reality was fake. Unfortunately, just like Truman Burbank, 99% of Protestants don’t realize that their reality as they know it is just as fake, yet they willingly accept it. Truman Burbank offers a perfect philosophical metaphor, so I am using him to illustrate my point.

At the time we meet him in the movie, Truman is approximately 30 years old. From the time he was born, his entire existence has been in the world of Seahaven, FL. It is the only reality he has ever known. And up until now he has never questioned the truth of his reality. What he does not know is that this world is a carefully crafted façade, and every other person in his reality is nothing more than an actor playing a role. Their sole purpose is to make Truman believe that everything he sees around him and everything that happens to him is real. And as he goes about his daily life, hundreds of tiny hidden cameras capture his every move and broadcast his life to the world 24 hours a day. You could say that Truman was the first reality TV star.

How is it that a person can live his entire existence and not realize that his reality is fake? Because Truman’s reality consists of a very deceptive hermaneutic. Everything that happens in his life is carefully interpreted for him so that his understanding of reality remains consistent with what he observes. On this scale you can be sure that this is a very complicated feat to pull off for thirty years.

Such a task can only be maintained for so long, and eventually, unexpected “glitches” begin to occur. For example, one day a strange object falls from the sky and smashes on the ground just feet from where Truman is standing. It happens to be a stage light that is labeled, “SIRIUS (9 Canis Major)”. On another day, while listening to the radio in his car, his radio suddenly begins broadcasting the director’s instructions to the cast, and Truman realizes that the voice on the radio is describing every turn he makes in his car. Yet another time, Truman enters an elevator only to realize when the door opens that no elevator is there but instead he sees a group of stage hands on break around a snack table.

Obviously, such events would be out of the ordinary in Truman’s reality. Here is a conflict between what Truman thinks to be true about his world and what he observes, and he has no idea how to reconcile these contradictions. At this point a mediator is needed to reinterpret what Truman has observed to reconcile the contradiction and convince him that nothing is wrong, everything is as it should be. No, that wasn’t a stage light that fell from the sky, it was a part that fell off an airplane flying overhead. No, you didn’t really hear a guy on the radio announcing your every move. Our station accidentally picked up police frequencies, ha ha, sorry it sometimes happens.   Oh did you hear? There was a freak elevator accident in the building next to yours, and a woman was critically injured- no you didn’t really see a stage crew taking their break where an elevator should have been.

The producers went to great lengths to discourage Truman from leaving Seahaven, because as a boy, Truman had a longing for exploring. They posted subtle messages around town with outrageous warnings about the dangers of travel. Sometimes, drastic intervention was required. They even created a scenario one day where Truman was out on a boat with his father, and a sudden storm swept his father overboard, never to be found again. Of course, it was all an act, but to Truman it was very real, and it made quite an impression on him as a small boy. So much so that Truman developed an acute fear of the water and never thought twice about leaving Seahaven by boat, or even crossing a body of water. But as things progress, Truman’s suspicion grows. He begins to ask serious questions of those around him, who continue to simply play along with their roles in a vain attempt to deflect his suspicions.

But despite all these obstacles, Truman was determined to find answers to his questions. He discovered that he could make unusual things happen anytime he was unpredictable. Those involved with the show could not react fast enough to his spontaneity, and this would give them away, only furthering his resolve. Truman knew something was not right about his world, but he did not know why. He could not explain it, but he was no longer willing to accept the explanations given to him by those around him.

We could summarize the salient points about Truman’s reality this way:

  • Truman’s understanding of the world was based on a false assumption.
  • From time to time Truman would encounter contradictions in his reality that he could not reconcile.
  • Truman needed mediators in his life to interpret reality for him.

In much the same way, the way that Protestants understand reality is based on a false assumption. Doctrines such as total depravity (total inability), determinism and God’s sovereignty, election, and many others present man with a view of reality where man is evil and therefore cannot know truth. Believers go to church week after week so that they can be told not just what to think but also HOW to think about not just what the Bible says but also how the world itself works.

Invariably there will come a time when a believer will encounter a contradiction. It may be that he comes across passages of scripture in his Bible that seem to contradict each other. It may be that he encounters something in life that runs counter to what he was taught from the pulpit. Something that he cannot explain, like how can man have a free will if God is sovereign? “Well, you know God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, so we just have to accept that there are some things we just can’t understand and accept as true because God says so.”

Most often, contradictions are handled from a matter of interpretation. This is where the mediator steps in and reinterprets scripture for the believer in its proper “gospel context”. You see, because man is unable to know truth, he needs the authority of a mediator to explain it to him. This is the role of pastors, elders, deacons, bishops, et al.

For Truman Burbank, his mediators were not just a select few in positions of authority. It was the entire cast of characters from the crew behind the scenes, to the actress who played his wife, to the guy who sold him his daily paper at the newsstand. Every person in Truman’s life was a willing participant, regardless of how much they were aware of their overall impact in shaping his life. Extras in the cast, for example, would dutifully play their part all while being totally ignorant of the ultimate level of control the producers sought to wield over Truman’s life.

Truman himself was a willing participant in this ruse. One could argue that he was simply an innocent victim in the whole matter, but consider how much he was willing to overlook in his life for such a long time just so that he could go on living the only life he ever knew. That fact was a major point in the film, when a disgruntled viewer called the show and told the show’s creator just how wrong she thought it was the way they were using Truman for their own ends. The creator’s response was profound and powerful. He said that if Truman REALLY wanted to discover the truth, he would find a way, and that when that happens, there would be nothing they could do to stop him.   The point being of course was that the mere fact that Truman lived this life for so long was a statement to the reality that he really didn’t want to know the truth.

How much can the same be said of Protestants? To what extent are Protestants willing participants in their own “Truman Show” existence?   How much are we willing to overlook just so that we can be comfortable in our lives? How much abuse and evil are we going to tolerate just so that we can have some sense of security in where we think our salvation lies? Do we blame the cast of mediators who create this charade for us? Their role is obvious, and they play their parts well, wittingly or unwittingly. But the laity are playing a role as well. They shoulder just as much of the blame as those under whose self-appointed authority they have placed themselves. And they will dutifully pay their tithes and offerings each week, and they will warm their spot on the pew every time the church doors are open, and they will sing when told to sing, and they will stand when told to stand, and they will pray when told to pray, and they will outsource their minds to someone standing before them who will tell them what to think about life. And they will never ask a hard question, even when a stage light falls from the sky.

But there is hope! Because if Protestants really want to know the truth, they will find it. If they really want to find a way out of the nightmare that is the institutional church, they will discover it. And when they are determined to do so, there isn’t a thing the church can do about it!

Andy

Galatians 2:20 and the Gospel According to Phil Johnson, Parts 1 & 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 7, 2015

Listen to podcast or download audio file. 

PAUL DOHSE: Welcome, truth lovers, to BlogTalkRadio.com/False Reformation. This is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, part eight of the Magnum Opus of the Reformation, Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation. Greetings from the Potter’s House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalog can be found at tancpublishing.com. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call 855-8317. I failed to put the area code in there. That’s (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. If you choose to use Skype to listen to the show, my advice is to just dial direct from your Skype account without using any of the Blogtalk links. And again that number, just dial direct from your Skype account is (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective. Remember, you may remain anonymous. When I say, “This is your host. You are on the air. What’s your comment or question,” just start talking. If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also e-mail me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s paul@Tom-Tony-Alice-Nancy-Cat.com. I have my e-mail monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Tonight, we’re going to have another interlude, and I know these interludes drive people crazy. But it is very important to establish and have a sentence by sentence evaluation of Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation because that is the first and founding document of the Protestant Reformation. It was written about six months after Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses which is thought to have launched the Protestant Reformation, and I guess that’s fair enough. But the Heidelberg Disputation is the first and foundational document of the Protestant Reformation. And it is, absolutely, amazing how to this day, literally everything that we see in contemporary, or at least the return to the contemporary authentic Protestantism, flows from that document. But in doing this series, to have a sentence by sentence evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation, though very important, it is getting the cart a little bit before the horse. Because in our day, Christians, by and large, really don’t understand the gospel. They really don’t understand the gospel. And this is by design. This is the essence of Protestantism, a dumbed-downed congregant. And we’re learning why that is in our study of the Heidelberg Disputation. But foundational to the doctrinal illiteracy of present-day Christians is this whole idea that we’re sanctified by the gospel. So throughout Protestant history, the emphasis has always been the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, or the gospel or first importance or going back, discontinually going back to the cross. And this gets a pass, by and large, because people are saying, “Oh, this is just a theory on how to be better sanctified or how to better grow in our faith by returning to the original gospel that saved us time and time again.” But as we are learning, and the contention of this ministry is that our contention is – our contention is that no, this just isn’t one of many techniques to better grow in the Lord according to the Bible supposedly. No. This is a gospel or a soteriology that calls for us to continually return back to the same gospel that saved us, so that we can live by faith alone as a way to keep ourselves saved. This is the dirty little secret of Protestantism.

So in essence, you have a work salvation by faith alone or in essence, a work salvation by doing nothing, kind of like Bachman-Turner Overdrive theology. I work hard at doing nothing all day as a way to keep myself saved. Or the way they put it, living by faith alone. And if you think about those words carefully, one might logically ask, “How do you live by faith alone?” Kind of like saying, “How do you live by thinking alone without doing anything?” So this is why we’re taking these interludes. It’s very important for us to establish what exactly the foundational document of Protestantism is all about. But, again, for contemporary or present practical purposes, we need to get it out there what the true gospel is, the true biblicist gospel in comparison to–I hate to say it, I hate to just put it out there–Protestantism.

Now as we’ve discussed before, the official coined term by this ministry, anyway, concerning the official doctrine of the authentic Protestant Reformation, not the watered down version and the truisms connected with it that most Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, et cetera, are used to, we’re talking about this return to the authentic Protestant Gospel in the body of the new Calvinist movement, which is all but completely taken over the institutional church.

In regard to gospel sanctification, the go-to verse is Galatians 2:20. This is the primary go-to verse. Now a lot of people claim that the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, the Keswick movement and all these movements, they are really big on Galatians 2:20 as well. And what’s in vogue is to think that the Higher Life movement and the Keswick movement, so on and so forth, are somehow different from authentic Reformed Protestantism and their gospel. And such is not the case. The applications are different, but the basic soteriology is the same. And what is that? Here it is. It’s a soteriology based on gospel contemplationism, and keeping yourself saved by going back to the cross. Or in essence, keeping yourself saved through contemplationism of some sort because to actually do something would be works salvation because this is key running the basic premise, running through all these doctrines is that justification is progressive.

And as we’re going to hear, and how we’re going to approach this topic in the show today, what we’re going to hear, Phil Johnson of John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church out in California, he is actually going to call salvation a process. And this is the fundamental basic premise of all of these doctrines, all of these passive doctrines, all of these doctrines that would say, synergistic sanctification is work salvation. Why? Because it’s, and we’ve all said this, “The growing part of salvation.” Well, folks, salvation doesn’t grow. Salvation doesn’t grow, okay? And, again, we’re going to really hunker down on Galatians 2:20 because I stumbled upon a video that’s a sermon by Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church in California where he really articulates Galatians 2:20 in the Reformed view to a T. And, again, in this incredible video, he is also speaking for the Higher Life movement and all these other movements, even though he speaks out against them in this.  Again, the basic soteriology is the same, this whole idea that salvation is a process that starts at point A and gets to point B and that we have to keep the process going by doing nothing. So we’re going to look at this, and this ministry is just going to flat out make a lot of hay of this video, and we’re going to slice it, dice it, rework it, keep adding to it, taking away from it. And we begin that process in today’s program. And basically, we’re going to continue that process on Sunday morning as well. And as well, we’re going to post videos on Paul’s Passing Thoughts, the blog, for TANC ministries. And we’re going to, really, work this thing. We better get going because the sermon itself was 50 some minutes. I cut some parts out, and I’ll tell you why when we get into the video. (more…)

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