Paul's Passing Thoughts

Steve Lawson Sloppy Hermeneutics: Will Christ Personally Torment Unbelievers in Hell for Eternity?

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on March 7, 2015

Lawson-PreachingOriginally published January 2, 2014

Something has been on my mind for some time that I have never written about. During the 2009 Resolved conference, “Pastor” Steve Lawson preached a sermon on the Great White Throne Judgment. In that message, Lawson claimed that Christ Himself will “be in hell”… “personally inflicting the wrath on unbelievers” for eternity. I know that Calvinism is heavily predicated on fear so I wasn’t surprised that Lawson said it. Rob Bell committed the unpardonable sin among New Calvinists by removing the fear factor in his book “Love Wins.” Calvin himself taught that fear and terror of judgment was efficacious to the mortification and vivification process that enables Christians to stand in the final judgment (CI 3.3.3-7). Bell didn’t merely violate Scripture, he dissed a Reformed mainstay: fear and its kissing cousin control.

Hell, in and of itself, is sobering enough, but apparently Lawson thought the reality of it needed some embellishing. The idea that Christ Himself will be in hell inflicting the punishment personally is a bit unsettling to me. It seems to picture Christ as a hateful God whose wrath never ceases. Instead of punishment being meted out in a hell prepared for the devil and his angels, we have Christ in hell inflicting the torment personally for all of eternity. Christ always spoke of hell as a PLACE of torment, and any idea of Him being the personal tormentor is conspicuously missing. Lawson used the following passage from Revelation for his proof text:

Revelation 14:10 – he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

This is really sloppy hermeneutics for many reasons, but let me discuss a few. The context of Rev 14:10 is the tribulation period. Revelation 14:6ff. predicts the final wrath of God being poured out upon the earth. This is preceded by a final warning heralded via three angels. The first proclaims the gospel; the second announces the final judgment of Babylon the great, and the third announces the primary woe that will befall those living in Babylon—this is specifically what Rev 14:10 is about. That verse describes the specific woe that the inhabitants will suffer in the presence of Christ and the angels; i.e., fire and sulfur.

This is exactly what happens when the judgment is executed upon Babylon:

Revelation 18:9 – And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

…And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?”

In verse 11 of Revelation 14, the angel also warns that the inhabitants of Babylon will seal their eternal fate by accepting the mark of the beast. That verse begins with the transition And which adds information. In the same way they are burned with fire when Christ and the angels execute judgment on Babylon, they will suffer for eternity. But the point is the following:

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

The judgment in the presence of Christ and the angels regards the judgment on Babylon during the tribulation period, verse 11 speaks of their eternal judgment as a consequence of accepting the mark of the beast. And apparently, they are warned beforehand by the third angel not to do so. This is the theses of the third angel’s message and it has two parts: receiving the mark of the beast will lead to a present judgment by Christ and the angels upon Babylon, and a sealing of their eternal fate:

Revelation 14:9 – And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,

Hence, verse 12 calls for the endurance of the saints because not receiving the mark of the beast will cost them their lives. Verse 13 promises a blessing for those who die in the Lord thereafter. Right before the judgment on Babylon, God calls for his people who have not received the mark to come out of Babylon before the judgment (Rev 17:4,5).

Furthermore, the subject is clearly not EVERY person who will be condemned to hell, but rather those who receive the mark of the beast. Any other conclusion from the context is presumptuous at best.

A suggestion: make the Bible your authority and not men. Such a rendering of Revelation 14:10 constructs a certain image of Christ in our minds. And it is not a good idea that such images are founded on iffy interpretations of God’s word.

Moreover, there is no other verse in the Bible that supports this view by Lawson. His manly academic credentials do not trump common sense.

paul

Are You a Calvinist? Good Luck in the Final Judgment

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 10, 2015

Calvinists: Going to Hell and Proud of It

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 5, 2015

I hear it often, but I think this is the first time I have really parked on it and pondered; this whole thing with Calvinists being proud of the fact that they will “stand in the final judgment with no righteousness of their own.”

PPT logged a comment yesterday from “Frank” that once again proffers this idea with all of the delight of a newborn’s arrival into the world. This is why we should in no wise be surprised that an Adventist theologian rediscovered the real Protestant gospel in 1970 which is predicated on this idea.

The SDA gospel focuses on being able to “stand in the final judgment.” So, the “Christian” life focuses on that; the endeavor of sanctification is to prepare for this one final judgment. For years, the mainline SDA take followed: beginning salvation takes care of past sin, and then the new “believer” labors with the Holy Spirit to become good enough to stand in the final judgment. Some substitution by Christ to achieve perfectionism was involved, but it required the best efforts possible by “believers” in order to warrant Christ topping off the difference with His own righteousness. The doctrine, known as the “investigative judgment” is extremely complex and downright confusing, but what I have stated here is the gist:

While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.

Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.

           Ellen White ~ The Great Controversy, chapter 24.

The understandable angst among the SDA faithful peaked in the 1950’s which spawned the Progressive Adventist movement. One of the major players in that movement was an Adventist theologian named Robert Brinsmead. Due to his intellectual prowess, he was able to plow through the writings of the Reformers and understand what their take was on the final judgment. Not only that, Brinsmead was, and I assume still is, a master communicator of ideas.

The message he brought to the SDA faithful follows: one is able to stand in the final judgment if they live their Christian life by the same gospel that saved them; i.e., by faith alone. If you do that, Christ will continue to cover you with His righteousness. If you disavow any righteousness of your own, and believe in being covered by the alien righteousness of Christ as depicted in the wearing of a white robe, you will be able to stand in the judgment.

So, let’s be clear: formally, the SDA as a whole advocated a do your best to keep the law and if you do that well enough Christ will completely cleanse you and declare you righteous. Then you will be able to stand in the judgment. What is the problem with that other than its fundamental falsehood? The SDA faithful had no way of knowing until the final judgment whether or not they did that well enough to warrant Christ’s complete cleansing.

Brinsmead traded that for what the Reformers advocated: rather than partaking in the heavy burden of law keeping, if one only lives by faith alone apart from the law, Christ will stand in the judgment for us. The one who lives their Christian life by faith alone will stand in the judgment covered by the righteousness of Christ apart from any righteousness of their own.

This spawned the Awakening movement which turned the SDA completely on its head. But not only that, it also spawned a return to the authentic Reformation gospel by evangelicals worldwide who had drifted away from it through a more literal interpretation of the Bible because literal interpretation is intuitive. In other words, that’s our natural bent.

The Reformers saw the Bible as a tool for continually returning to the same gospel that saved us by faith alone in order to keep oneself covered by the righteousness of Christ, and therefore making one able to stand in the final judgment.

A literal interpretation of the Bible suggests that God’s people are to work in sanctification, or the Christian life. That’s a problem because the Reformers saw the Christian life as the progression of salvation to a final salvation determined at a one, final judgment. Therefore, biblical imperatives must be interpreted in their “gospel context,” viz, God commands us to do things in order to show us we are not able to obey perfectly. Hence, many of the Reformed in our day suggest that a literal interpretation of the Bible is tantamount to works righteousness.

Again, let’s pause for some clarification: The SDA and the Reformers BOTH saw the Christian life as part of salvation culminating in a final determinative judgment. Both define justification, the state required to be saved, as an ability to keep the law perfectly. Both believe that a means of obtaining a perfect law-keeping as something accredited to our account for standing in the final judgment is paramount. The SDA believed that best effort law-keeping resulted in Christ topping off our account at the judgment. The Reformers believed that effortless living by faith alone resulted in being covered by the righteousness of Christ alone at the judgment. For example, John Calvin believed that the Christian life is the Old Testament Sabbath rest.

Luther described the believer’s “triumphant” declaration to God at the final judgment as, we have NO righteousness but Christ’s. This motif was once again echoed by Frank on PPT.

But there is only one problem; the Bible is absolutely clear that ALL of those who will supposedly bark triumphantly at that judgment are already damned by virtue of the fact that they are standing at that judgment. That judgment is called the “second death” in Scripture; all who stand there are already damned. Yet, Calvinists constantly boast that they will stand in that judgment.

Revelation 20:4 – Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

In the Bible, there are multiple resurrections and judgments. Believers, who are already deemed righteous because they are in fact righteous, will be judged for rewards, not righteousness, because they are already righteous. They are resurrected to determine rewards, not righteousness. In the passage cited here, it is obvious that these are two different resurrections and two different judgments. One judgment has multiple thrones, while the other only has one throne and one judge. The latter judgment is the second death, and those who partake in the first resurrection are blessed. And, the latter judgment is identified as the one Calvinists say they will attend because it judges righteousness, and Calvinists, generally speaking, advocate a one judgment only position. Said another way, this is the only judgment they could possibly be talking about because there is only one according to them.

Why do they advocate a one judgment only when there is obviously more than one? Well, because that matches their gospel of beginning salvation, progressive salvation, and final salvation. It also matches the idea that perfect law-keeping is the required standard for being saved. If salvation is a settled issue that takes place for each individual in a moment of time, why would there be a need to finalize salvation at any other time? Also, there is only a future need to judge righteousness if perfect law-keeping remains the standard for Christians. If perfect law-keeping is not a determinative standard for Christians, the judge at the final judgment is without a law in which to judge righteousness. The judgment is without any law to judge.

In contrast, this is the case with the true gospel: the believer is made righteous through the new birth, and the law is ended for righteousness. The new birth is a gift, but like any gift, once you receive it, it belongs to you. This whole “righteousness of our own” business is a red herring. It’s like looking at someone living and besmirching them for believing they have a life of their own because they were born. We are righteous because we have the seed of God within our very being because of the new birth (1Jn 3:9). We still sin because the flesh is weak while our righteous soul is willing. It is sin against our Father, not our righteousness because Christ ended the law for that purpose.

This happened through the new birth. We were once under the law and its power to condemn us. Because we were unregenerate, sin within us used the law to provoke us to sin. When we died with Christ, it was like the death of a spouse—we are no longer obligated to that marriage covenant (law).

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7).

So, we now “serve” in the “new way of the Spirit.” What’s that? That’s sanctification which is the use of Scripture to love God and others (Jn 17:17, Rom 8:4, Rom 8:7, Matt 4:4, Ps 1:1-6, Ps 119). Perfect law-keeping is not the standard for being justified—there is no law in justification, we are justified apart from the law (Rom 3:21). It would be futile for real Christians to stand in a judgment where Calvinists are present, the law they will be judged by doesn’t pertain to us:

Romans 3:19 – Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Romans 4:15 – For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

Calvinists say it’s alright to still be under the law because Jesus keeps the law for us if we live by faith alone, and that is the definition of being under grace: we are under grace if we live by faith alone and the perfect obedience of Christ is imputed to our account. But that’s being under law and under grace at the same time; the Bible is clear that we are either under one or the other (Rom 6:14). Calvinism advocates the idea that the unregenerate are only under law, but are under both law and grace if they are saved. Hence, this is why they cannot advocate separate judgments, but only one. If under law and under grace are separate, any judgment regarding law for the believer is an anomaly regardless of who keeps it—the question of perfect law-keeping is the reason for the judgment in the first place.

This is why in fact there is a separate resurrection for the saved: because their judgment concerns rewards, not a just standing that has already been determined. This is why Jesus called it the “resurrection of the just” because they are already just, only their rewards need to be determined:

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

Salvation is earned by no one—it is a gift, but rewards are earned by those who are born again. In fact, God would be unjust not to reward them for what they have earned:

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

If Calvinists are under grace and not under law, why do they need Jesus to keep the law for them? The only possible reason that they could need Jesus to keep the law for them is if they are still under law. This is why they find themselves at a one final judgment that is the “second death.” That is where they will be judged by a law that has “nothing to say” to the born again.

One can only surmise that when they triumphantly claim that they have no righteousness of their own, God will respond with something like…

“You were never born of me, and those born of me are righteous even as I am righteous. My Son died to end the law for condemnation so that you could obey the law in order to love me and your neighbors. You see me as a hard god that reaps where I have not sown, and now present to me the same gospel that I originally gave. You are a lazy wicked servant and confess that you have no love towards me or others. Now your fear of being righteous is your condemnation.”

paul

14 Basic Fundamentals of the True Gospel and 12 Anti-Gospel Presuppositions

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on October 2, 2014

I. Justification

Used synonymously with “righteousness.” It is the declaration and imputation of righteousness to the believer. This is the very righteousness of God. This is also the salvation of the soul. God NEVER declares anyone righteous unless He makes them righteous. This is not a position only, the person is actually made righteous.

II. The New Birth

Normally, sanctification would be discussed next, but it is important to understand how we are truly righteous—yet we still fall short of God’s standards in this life. The new birth takes place in time when we believe, and is a spiritual reality that lacks the experiential evidence that we would expect, yet the Bible is explicit about what takes place. Our old spiritual self dies a literal death “with Christ,” and we are born again with an incorruptible seed. This is pictured in water baptism. We are new creatures. We do NOT have two natures, we only have one nature.

III. Flesh

Is the human body. It is not inherently evil, what God created that was good originally became weak in the fall, like creation, but is not inherently evil. This is why we are actually righteous, but fall short of God’s glory: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

IV. Sin

Sin was found in Lucifer, an angel created by God. It is described in the Bible as a master. Sin masters those who are not saved, but is hindered by the conscience God created in every being. God also wrote His character traits on the hearts of all people because we are born in His image. Unbelievers are not completely mastered by sin because they are born in God’s image. Unfortunately, unbelievers often confuse the image of God with their own righteousness.

When a believer sins, it is a violation of the Bible, but is considered to be sin against God and His family directly or indirectly by bringing shame on God’s name. For the unbeliever, violation of the law leads to eternal condemnation while sin for the believer can lead to chastisement and loss of reward.

V. Sanctification

It means to be set apart for God’s purposes. The gospel is really a call to kingdom living. Escape from eternal judgment is a positive by-product. See Andy Young’s TANC 2014 sessions on sanctification.

VI. Kingdom

The earth is presently ruled by Satan. It is the kingdom of darkness. God’s kingdom is NOT on earth nor is the earth being gradually transformed from one kingdom realm to another via the collective Christocentric psyche of the church. We are ambassadors of God’s heavenly kingdom. Christ will return, destroy Satan’s kingdom, and set up His own. Christians are to make as many disciples as possible until that day. The church has no task in bringing forth God’s kingdom on earth. We display the will of the kingdom, and call people to it, but have NO task in bringing it to earth.

VII. Hell

Hell was not created for man, but for Satan and the demons who were never offered salvation. A loving God sends no one to hell, people merely choose what kingdom they want to belong to. The gospel is a call to escape the earthly kingdom and its slavery to sin, and be transformed into God’s kingdom of light.

VIII. The Bible

“Law,” “scripture,” “holy writ,” “the law and the prophets,” “the word,” “the law,” etc., are all interchangeable terms for the closed canon of  scripture. The Bible is God’s law and wisdom for life and godliness. It is also a full-orbed metaphysical treatise. It defines reality.

IX. The Law of Sin and Death

It’s the Bible’s relationship to unbelievers. It describes how the unbeliever will be judged in the last day for every violation of conscience.

X. The Law of the Spirit of Life

It describes the believer’s relationship to the Bible. The transformed heart of the believer now desires to obey God, is no longer enslaved to sin, and cannot be condemned by the law. The Bible is a manual for our kingdom citizenship.

XI. Judgment

There are two: one of condemnation for those who chose the kingdom of darkness, known as the great white throne judgment, and a separate one for eternal rewards known as the bema judgment.

XII. Redemption

This is the other salvation. It is the redemption of the body at resurrection. This salvation is often confused with justification, or the salvation of the soul.

XIII. Justice

Justice is of paramount importance to God and He is angered when it is not practiced by people whether lost or saved. Fairness matters to God.

XIV. Rest

The Christian life is NOT a rest. John Calvin believed sanctification is the New Testament version of the Old Testament Sabbath rest. Because Protestantism only sees ONE application of the law, to judge/condemn, Christians must supposedly rest while Jesus fulfils the law for us.

Unwittingly, this defines Christians as “under law.” Who keeps the law is irrelevant, it can’t give life, and it can’t justify. Protestants must wrongly assert this because they reject the two applications of the law and make it strictly for condemnation only. In contrast, Christians can use the law lawfully because it can no longer condemn them. In Protestantism, the condemnation of the law is not removed for the Christian.

12 Anti-Gospel Presuppositions of Protestantism

1. God declares people righteous without making them righteous. “Sinner” is not past tense.

2. Perfection is defined as perfect law-keeping in this life.

3. The new birth is defined as a realm or ability to see/experience something that is not our own essence as believers.

4. “Flesh” is inherently evil, not merely weak.

5. “Earth” is not merely weak, but inherently evil.

6. “Sin” is the essence of the material world, and not a “master” separate from it.

7. Sanctification (the Christian life) is a rest. John Calvin believed New Testament sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest. It is the belief that the Christian life is a rest from works because all works are still under law.

8. God’s kingdom is presently on earth.

9. Hell was also created for man.

10. A single relationship to the law for both believers and unbelievers.

11. One judgment.

12. Salvation of the soul and body happen at the same time.

You a Calvinist? Good Luck in the Final Judgment

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 9, 2014
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