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

“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

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 22, 2016

Originally published March 22, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, we are going to attack and unravel interpretive abuses of 1John, particularly 1John 1:9 and 2:1. There is only one other text twisted for ill use more than these two verses, and that would be Galatians 2:20 and 3:1-3. Later, In part 2, I will toss in an exegesis of those verses as a bonus.

There may be a lot of different religions and even more denominations, but for all practical purposes they all have one thing in common: this whole idea that salvation is a process with a beginning and an end. This makes salvation a process that includes our present life.

So, the argumentation between religions and denominations involves the correct way of getting from point A to point B. But there is no point A and point B. When you believe God unto salvation, you get the complete package and the salvation part of your life is finished. It is an instantaneous quickening of the Spirit that transports you from one kingdom to another, from one master to another, from being under law to being under grace, from the old person to the new person, and from darkness to light. You don’t become a servant of righteousness on the installment plan, and you don’t become a kingdom citizen on an installment plan.

How is 1 John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? Way back at the beginning of this ministry, I had this nailed down. If salvation is a process, and eternal life as opposed to eternal punishment is at stake, the Christian life is really a minefield. The focus isn’t being the best kingdom citizen; the focus is making sure you don’t mess up your salvation. The focus is salvation, not discipleship. The focus is fear of judgement, not love.

I realize many Christians hold to OSAS, “Once saved – always saved”, but the problem is how they are led by pastors trained in seminaries deeply grounded in Protestant tradition. That tradition looks to the institutional church as the primary way of getting God’s people from point A to point B in regard to their salvation. Whether OSAS or not, they are led to do the same things week in and week out. Be here at this time or that time; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to announcements; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to the special music presentation; put your tithe in the plate; listen to the sermon (always about the gospel just in case there are lost people present, wink, wink); stand up; sing “Just As I Am” until someone walks the isle so you can stop singing “Just As I Am”; pray; be dismissed; be cordial to people and tell them how much you love them; go home, and come back next week and do it again.

Why? Because all of that ritualism “imparts grace” and enables us to “grow in grace.” It enables us to “grow up in our salvation.” After all, discipleship is the “growing part of our salvation.” We have all said it, but salvation doesn’t grow. While believing in OSAS, most parishioners are led by pastors who believe in progressive salvation/justification which was clearly the foundational premise of Protestantism with the progression being overseen by the Protestant institutional church.

Moreover, let’s face it; while believing in OSAS, there is only one reason people put up with all of the nonsense and drama of the institutional church—OSAS means that if someone leaves the institutional church, they were never saved to begin with. Right? In other words, they function according to the idea that they are led by. It’s OSAS as long as you are “faithful” to the institution. Then each church has its own little “faithfulness” caste system. Those who show up for all of the services are the “core members” that run the church. Those “less faithful” that only come on Sunday mornings are a lower class of member in the caste system.

You have the pastors, staff and deacons, then the “faithful” that attend all of the services and tithe at least 10%, the “casual” attenders that tithe, and then the bottom of the caste strata, even lower than the serfs, the putrid “nonmembers.”

Whether Calvin or Luther, the two icons of Protestantism, these beliefs follow after the doctrine they established for the Protestant institutional church. Access to the institutional church was through water baptism, and the critical need according to the Reformers for formal church membership follows: as Christians, forgiveness for present and future sins can only be found in the institutional church, and those sins condemn us. Forgiveness for all sins does not occur at salvation, but only for past sins. Water baptism initiates us into church membership where forgiveness for present and future sins can be obtained through the sacraments; ie., “gospel preaching,” the Lord’s Table, and anything else deemed as acts of faithfulness to the institutional church not to exclude tithing by any means. Calvin states this explicitly in his institutes, 4.15.1.

All in all, you can say that in Protestantism, the status of sin does not change for the believer—it still condemns requiring perpetual resalvation for every sin committed.

Therefore, 1John 1:9 and 2:1 is interpreted in this light: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1).

These verses seem to bolster the authentic Protestant position on justification. Confession of sin in our Christian lives keeps us saved. And if we confess our sins, Jesus is up in heaven as our advocate with the Father continuing His work as a propitiation for our sins.

The problem is that this interpretation stands in stark contrast to what other Scriptures state about justification. Biblically, sin has a different classification after salvation—it can’t condemn; it can bring chastisement and present consequences, but it can’t condemn—its ability to condemn has been taken away. Hence, there is no need to have some institution that prevents future condemnation.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand why the institutional church not only gets a pass on outrageous behavior, but the money keeps pouring in. What will people pay for their salvation and décor that glorifies the institution that saves them? Apparently, no price or compromise is too large. One can also appreciate the fear of so-called excommunication because the institutional church is the only place where one can receive continued forgiveness for present and future sins.

Before I move on, I will solidify my present point. Romans 8:1 states that there is presently NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Contrast, Calvin stated that “even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation” (CI 3.14.9, last sentence). Obviously, the focus is going to be avoiding condemnation, not our freedom to pursue aggressive love in discipleship.

So what are these verses in 1John really saying? Let’s begin to unpack that using the historical grammatical approach to interpretation as opposed to the traditional Protestant means of interpretation, the historical redemptive method. Since Protestantism sees salvation as a process, “redemptive” means that the Bible must be approached with a redemptive prism; ie., the Bible is about salvation. Clearly, this is eisegesis; going to the Bible with a presupposition.

In regard to the history part, this is the belief that history is an unfolding drama about salvation. Hence, all of reality is interpreted through salvation. All of history and the Bible continually reveals the one two-fold redemptive truth/reality: the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God. Salvation begins when we see or understand this reality, and the experience of that reality increases until final salvation.

In contrast, the historical grammatical method uses historical facts to bring more meaning to the text, and all truth is determined by what can be concluded by the grammar—this is known as exegesis. All meaning and truth comes out of the text without anything being read into the text except conclusions from other texts.

In fact, Protestant tradition holds to the idea that a historical grammatical approach to the Scriptures invariably leads to works salvation. Protestant tradition insists that the Scriptures must be interpreted through the prism of total depravity. In this year’s TANC conference, this is what I am going to be hitting on. Christians, save a few, have no idea that Protestant pastors that are leading them view reality in a totally different way than most parishioners. And this is why church looks like it does. And there is no salvaging it—it’s a completely broken system.

So, if you interpret said verses in 1 John redemptively, it fits right into their narrative, right? You have to continue to repent for new sins in your Christian life in order to not be condemned and to keep your salvation. A good old fashioned Baptist lady who I am sure would hold OSAS stated this to my wife Susan in the grocery store a couple weeks ago. When Susan asked her why Christians need to go forward during alter calls, she answered, “they have sin that needs to be forgiven.” Well, why can’t they get that forgiveness by praying at home? You ought to see the reaction Susan and I get when we suggest her mother was saved even though not a member of a church.

Protestantism and all of its offshoots including the Baptists is nothing more or less than functioning Calvinism. Election isn’t the point, progressive salvation is the point. Protestants think salvation grows—salvation doesn’t grow—you are either forgiven once and for all time or you aren’t. Look, if you are going to stay in the institutional church, it makes absolutely no difference where you go. Please, stop driving 15 miles to the Baptist church when there is a Catholic Church right across the street—it’s a shameful waste of gas. It’s all progressive justification.

In contrast, we have to see 1 John in its exegetical historical context. It must be interpreted according to what was going on during the time that prompted this letter. And what was that?

John was pushing back against the number-one nemesis of the assemblies during that time: Gnosticism. Now, there were many, many different veins of Gnosticism during that time, but like denominationalism, there are basics that are fundamentally the same. Denominationalism quibbles about how to get from point A to point B, but it is all progressive salvation.

When you understand the basics of Gnosticism, it is easy to see that John’s first epistle is a point by point rebuttal of Gnosticism, and NOT the proffering of progressive justification. Protestants can bicker with Catholics all they want to about how to get from point A to point B, but again, it’s all progressive justification. If it’s a religious institution, it’s selling final salvation, PERIOD.

If we follow John’s arguments in this epistle, it also apes the fundamental basics of Gnosticism, and that’s what we are going to do:

1 John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. [KJV].

The Gnostics taught that it really wasn’t the spiritual Christ that died on the cross. Gnosticism holds to the idea that material is evil and only the invisible spiritual world is good. Gnosticism rejected the idea that the spiritual realm, or godhood can be one with the material. You must understand: the biblical concept of God-man is a direct affront to the foundation of all false religions, or the knowledge of good and evil. It is the idea that true knowledge cannot be one with the material. Knowledge is good, material is evil and is only a shadow of true knowledge. Knowledge of the material is enslaved and dependent on the five senses.

Now, stop right there. Let me simplify this for you. All false religion flows from the religion of the knowledge of good and evil presented to Eve in the garden. This is also the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes and all of the Calvin Institutes flow from the foundation of 1.1.1., first sentence, viz, ALL wisdom is the knowledge of man and the knowledge of God; man is inherently evil and God is inherently good.

Also, the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is the primary theses of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which is the Magnum Opus of the Reformation. All fundamentals found in contemporary evangelicalism can be found in the Heidelberg Disputation and flow from it. Calvin’s Institutes further articulated the former. In contemporary evangelicalism, we hear constantly that true biblical knowledge is “the knowledge of our own sinfulness as set against God’s holiness.” This is also the pronounced fundamental foundation of the contemporary biblical counseling movement as constantly stated publically in no uncertain terms.

Why am I interjecting this? Because even though much of our knowledge concerning first century Gnosticism comes from the writings of the early church fathers and while they railed against Gnosticism, they themselves were also Gnostics. However, in the process of railing against Gnosticism, they confirm unequivocally that John’s letter addressed the Gnosticism of their day; it just wasn’t the Gnosticism that they preferred.

And by the way, according to some church fathers, John was addressing a Gnostic named Cerinthus who was a contemporary of John and a personal nemesis.

Cerinthus was a gnostic and to some, an early Christian, who was prominent as a heresiarch in the view of the early Church Fathers. Contrary to proto-orthodox Christianity, Cerinthus’s school followed the Jewish law, used the Gospel according to the Hebrews, denied that the Supreme God had made the physical world, and denied the divinity of Jesus. In Cerinthus’ interpretation, the Christ came to Jesus at baptism, guided him in his ministry, but left him at the crucifixion.

He taught that Jesus would establish a thousand-year reign of sensuous pleasure after the Second Coming but before the General Resurrection, a view that was declared heretical by the Council of Nicaea. Cerinthus used a version of the gospel of Matthew as scripture.

Cerinthus taught at a time when Christianity’s relation to Judaism and to Greek philosophy had not yet been clearly defined. In his association with the Jewish law and his modest assessment of Jesus, he was similar to the Ebionites and to other Jewish Christians. In defining the world’s creator as the demiurge, he emulated Platonic philosophy and anticipated the Gnostics.

Early Christian tradition describes Cerinthus as a contemporary to and opponent of John the Evangelist, who may have written the First Epistle of John and the Second Epistle of John to warn the less mature in faith and doctrine about the changes he was making to the original gospel. All that is known about Cerinthus comes from the writing of his theological opponents (Wikipedia).

At any rate, the teachings of Cerinthus follow the basic fundamentals of 1st century Gnosticism of which there were two schools of thought unchanged from the cradle of society: intuitive knowledge within versus knowledge outside of man. While both schools held to the strict dichotomy of material being evil and the invisible good, and true knowledge being beyond the five senses, they disagreed on where that knowledge is found and whether or not it is intuitive among all men, or a select few preordained by nature or some supreme being.

Cerinthus followed the philosophical school of Idealism which holds to the belief that the one cosmic mind has an intuitive connection within every individual. Finding that knowledge is often a complex mind-numbing epistemology, but curiously, Luther and Calvin had their own angle that built on the Neo-Platonic teachings of St. Augustine.

This Gnostic bent actually allowed for Christ to be human, or at least some form of humanity. Apparently, God became exasperated with man’s penchant for trying to gain knowledge through the material world, and said in essence, “Ok, since you like to think you can know something and try to gain knowledge through the things that are seen, I am going to send my Son to die on the physical cross, and now all knowledge will only be gained through suffering—there mankind, take that!” This is the essence of the Heidelberg Disputation which is a philosophical treatise, not a theological one by any stretch of the imagination. Luther states plainly in the document that ALL knowledge is hidden in the suffering of the cross. Anyone who thinks they can understand Protestantism without a good grasp of world philosophy is sadly misguided. It is one of the historical necessities of historical grammatical hermeneutics.

Hence, in the Gnostic Protestant construct, Christ and His gospel is the only true objective knowledge and is outside of man. Man is not to seek any knowledge within himself, but all knowledge must be sought outside of him in contemplation of the gospel. All of reality is interpreted by the suffering of the cross. The cross is the epistemology from the material to the invisible, or from the evil to the good.

In contrast, other schools believe the epistemology is intuitive within all men because all men have a spiritual being separate from their material being, and the spiritual part of man is nonmaterial and therefore SINLESS. The material body of man is evil because it is material, but his invisible being is good and has a connection to the cosmic spiritual world that must be cultivated by transcending the material. This was key to the drug culture of the 60’s as LSD trips enabled the individual to transcend the five senses and see into the invisible spiritual world. Supposedly.

Other schools of thought believed that even though all men have a material and spiritual aspect, the spiritual anthropology has classifications in regard to who is able to see true knowledge and who isn’t as determined by the cosmos or cosmic mind; ie., determinism. And consequently, if utopia is to ever be achieved, those with the ability to see knowledge must rule over those who have the inability to transcend the material and are enslaved to it.  How do you reason with people hopelessly enslaved to the material? They either understand that they can’t know reality and get with the program, or you kill them.

According to the Reformers, utopia is achieved by understanding that all reality is interpreted through the cross of redemption. This concept was established by Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and is known as being a “theologian of the cross.” Theologians of the cross are able to know the “cross story,” or interpret reality through the cross, and all others are enslaved to the “glory story” or the story of man. This is the dichotomy of the knowledge of good and evil, or material versus spiritual.

Furthermore, the Reformers believed that the new birth entailed the gift of outward seeing only. All goodness remains outside of man. This is the pious distinction they claim over their fellow Gnostics. Unlike Cerinthus, who would be the modern equivalence of existentialism, no good can be in man, because that does not limit knowledge to suffering and the cross. Even though the early church fathers believed that material is evil and only the invisible is good like all ancient Gnostics, they labeled those heretics who believed that the invisible spirit within man was a connection to the good. That was heresy in their minds. And if you really understand what John Piper et al believe in our day, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

The true Christians of that day had a different metaphysical take: the material realm is NOT evil, it’s weak. Something that is weak can still be good. The born again Christian struggles with sin because he/she is weak, not because the material realm is inherently evil. Christ really did come adorned in humanity in every since of the meaning because the material is not evil. This understanding of being fits together with the true gospel.

But what Cerinthus et al was teaching speaks directly to what John wrote in his first epistle, and we have addressed some of it in John’s introduction. John, in essence, said the following: Christ was 100% humanity and 100% God. We saw Him, we heard Him, we touched Him, we saw Him die on the cross, there isn’t two Christs, there is only one.

What Cerinthus et al taught explains everything John wrote in this epistle and why he wrote it. It not only explains why John wrote what he wrote in 1:9 and 2:1, it sheds light on why John wrote what he wrote in the rest of the book as well.

And that is what we will look at next.  We will do a point by point fly over of 1 John while interpreting it according to this historical context of Gnosticism. John will address the definition of sin in contrast, the definition of knowledge and truth in contrast, the definition of the true gospel in context, the definition of love and hate in contrast, and the definition of the new birth in contrast.

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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

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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…)

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 11, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published March 22, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, we are going to attack and unravel interpretive abuses of 1John, particularly 1John 1:9 and 2:1. There is only one other text twisted for ill use more than these two verses, and that would be Galatians 2:20 and 3:1-3. Later, In part 2, I will toss in an exegesis of those verses as a bonus.

There may be a lot of different religions and even more denominations, but for all practical purposes they all have one thing in common: this whole idea that salvation is a process with a beginning and an end. This makes salvation a process that includes our present life.

So, the argumentation between religions and denominations involves the correct way of getting from point A to point B. But there is no point A and point B. When you believe God unto salvation, you get the complete package and the salvation part of your life is finished. It is an instantaneous quickening of the Spirit that transports you from one kingdom to another, from one master to another, from being under law to being under grace, from the old person to the new person, and from darkness to light. You don’t become a servant of righteousness on the installment plan, and you don’t become a kingdom citizen on an installment plan.

How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. We will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective. If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the show.

Way back at the beginning of this ministry, I had this nailed down. If salvation is a process, and eternal life as opposed to eternal punishment is at stake, the Christian life is really a minefield. The focus isn’t being the best kingdom citizen; the focus is making sure you don’t mess up your salvation. The focus is salvation, not discipleship. The focus is fear of judgement, not love.

I realize many Christians hold to OSAS, once saved always saved, but the problem is how they are led by pastors trained in seminaries deeply grounded in Protestant tradition. That tradition looks to the institutional church as the primary way of getting God’s people from point A to point B in regard to their salvation. Whether OSAS or not, they are led to do the same things week in and week out. Be here at this time or that time; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to announcements; stand up; sing; sit down; listen to the special music presentation; put your tithe in the plate; listen to the sermon (always about the gospel just in case there are lost people present, wink, wink); stand up; sing “Just As I Am” until someone walks the isle so you can stop singing “Just As I Am”; pray; be dismissed; be cordial to people and tell them how much you love them; go home, and come back next week and do it again.

Why? Because all of that ritualism “imparts grace” and enables us to “grow in grace.” It enables us to “grow up in our salvation.” After all, discipleship is the “growing part of our salvation.” We have all said it, but salvation doesn’t grow. While believing in OSAS, most parishioners are led by pastors who believe in progressive salvation/justification which was clearly the foundational premise of Protestantism with the progression being overseen by the Protestant institutional church.

Moreover, let’s face it; while believing in OSAS, there is only one reason people put up with all of the nonsense and drama of the institutional church—OSAS means that if someone leaves the institutional church, they were never saved to begin with. Right? In other words, they function according to the idea that they are led by. It’s OSAS as long as you are “faithful” to the institution. Then each church has its own little “faithfulness” caste system. Those who show up for all of the services are the “core members” that run the church. Those “less faithful” that only come on Sunday mornings are a lower class of member in the caste system.

You have the pastors, staff and deacons, then the “faithful” that attend all of the services and tithe at least 10%, the “casual” attenders that tithe, and then the bottom of the caste strata, even lower than the serfs, the putrid “nonmembers.”

Whether Calvin or Luther, the two icons of Protestantism, these beliefs follow after the doctrine they established for the Protestant institutional church. Access to the institutional church was through water baptism, and the critical need according to the Reformers for formal church membership follows: as Christians, forgiveness for present and future sins can only be found in the institutional church, and those sins condemn us. Forgiveness for all sins does not occur at salvation, but only for past sins. Water baptism initiates us into church membership where forgiveness for present and future sins can be obtained through the sacraments; ie., “gospel preaching,” the Lord’s Table, and anything else deemed as acts of faithfulness to the institutional church not to exclude tithing by any means. Calvin states this explicitly in his institutes, 4.15.1.

All in all, you can say that in Protestantism, the status of sin does not change for the believer—it still condemns requiring perpetual resalvation for every sin committed.

Therefore, 1John 1:9 and 2:1 is interpreted in this light: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9). “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (2:1).

These verses seem to bolster the authentic Protestant position on justification. Confession of sin in our Christian lives keeps us saved. And if we confess our sins, Jesus is up in heaven as our advocate with the Father continuing His work as a propitiation for our sins.

The problem is that this interpretation stands in stark contrast to what other Scriptures state about justification. Biblically, sin has a different classification after salvation—it can’t condemn; it can bring chastisement and present consequences, but it can’t condemn—its ability to condemn has been taken away. Hence, there is no need to have some institution that prevents future condemnation.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand why the institutional church not only gets a pass on outrageous behavior, but the money keeps pouring in. What will people pay for their salvation and décor that glorifies the institution that saves them? Apparently, no price or compromise is too large. One can also appreciate the fear of so-called excommunication because the institutional church is the only place where one can receive continued forgiveness for present and future sins.

Before I move on, I will solidify my present point. Romans 8:1 states that there is presently NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Contrast, Calvin stated that “even saints cannot perform one work which, if judged on its own merits, is not deserving of condemnation” (CI 3.14.9, last sentence). Obviously, the focus is going to be avoiding condemnation, not our freedom to pursue aggressive love in discipleship.

So what are these verses in 1John really saying? Let’s begin to unpack that using the historical grammatical approach to interpretation as opposed to the traditional Protestant means of interpretation, the historical redemptive method. Since Protestantism sees salvation as a process, “redemptive” means that the Bible must be approached with a redemptive prism; ie., the Bible is about salvation. Clearly, this is eisegesis; going to the Bible with a presupposition.

In regard to the history part, this is the belief that history is an unfolding drama about salvation. Hence, all of reality is interpreted through salvation. All of history and the Bible continually reveals the one two-fold redemptive truth/reality: the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God. Salvation begins when we see or understand this reality, and the experience of that reality increases until final salvation.

In contrast, the historical grammatical method uses historical facts to bring more meaning to the text, and all truth is determined by what can be concluded by the grammar—this is known as exegesis. All meaning and truth comes out of the text without anything being read into the text except conclusions from other texts.

In fact, Protestant tradition holds to the idea that a historical grammatical approach to the Scriptures invariably leads to works salvation. Protestant tradition insists that the Scriptures must be interpreted through the prism of total depravity. In this year’s TANC conference, this is what I am going to be hitting on. Christians, save a few, have no idea that Protestant pastors that are leading them view reality in a totally different way than most parishioners. And this is why church looks like it does. And there is no salvaging it—it’s a completely broken system.

So, if you interpret said verses in 1John redemptively, it fits right into their narrative, right? You have to continue to repent for new sins in your Christian life in order to not be condemned and to keep your salvation. A good old fashioned Baptist lady who I am sure would hold OSAS stated this to my wife Susan in the grocery store a couple weeks ago. When Susan asked her why Christians need to go forward during alter calls, she answered, “they have sin that needs to be forgiven.” Well, why can’t they get that forgiveness by praying at home? You ought to see the reaction Susan and I get when we suggest her mother was saved even though not a member of a church.

Protestantism and all of its offshoots including the Baptists is nothing more or less than functioning Calvinism. Election isn’t the point, progressive salvation is the point. Protestants think salvation grows—salvation doesn’t grow—you are either forgiven once and for all time or you aren’t. Look, if you are going to stay in the institutional church, it makes absolutely no difference where you go. Please, stop driving 15 miles to the Baptist church when there is a Catholic Church right across the street—it’s a shameful waste of gas. It’s all progressive justification.

In contrast, we have to see 1John in its exegetical historical context. It must be interpreted according to what was going on during the time that prompted this letter. And what was that?

John was pushing back against the number-one nemesis of the assemblies during that time: Gnosticism. Now, there were many, many different veins of Gnosticism during that time, but like denominationalism, there are basics that are fundamentally the same. Denominationalism quibbles about how to get from point A to point B, but it is all progressive salvation.

When you understand the basics of Gnosticism, it is easy to see that John’s first epistle is a point by point rebuttal of Gnosticism, and NOT the proffering of progressive justification. Protestants can bicker with Catholics all they want to about how to get from point A to point B, but again, it’s all progressive justification. If it’s a religious institution, it’s selling final salvation, PERIOD.

If we follow John’s arguments in this epistle, it also apes the fundamental basics of Gnosticism, and that’s what we are going to do:

1John 1:1 – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. [KJV].

The Gnostics taught that it really wasn’t the spiritual Christ that died on the cross. Gnosticism holds to the idea that material is evil and only the invisible spiritual world is good. Gnosticism rejected the idea that the spiritual realm, or godhood can be one with the material. You must understand: the biblical concept of Godman is a direct affront to the foundation of all false religions, or the knowledge of good and evil. It is the idea that true knowledge cannot be one with the material. Knowledge is good, material is evil and is only a shadow of true knowledge. Knowledge of the material is enslaved and dependent on the five senses.

Now, stop right there. Let me simplify this for you. All false religion flows from the religion of the knowledge of good and evil presented to Eve in the garden. This is also the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes and all of the Calvin Institutes flow from the foundation of 1.1.1., first sentence, viz, ALL wisdom is the knowledge of man and the knowledge of God; man is inherently evil and God is inherently good.

Also, the first sentence of the Calvin Institutes is the primary theses of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation which is the Magnum Opus of the Reformation. All fundamentals found in contemporary evangelicalism can be found in the Heidelberg Disputation and flow from it. Calvin’s Institutes further articulated the former. In contemporary evangelicalism, we hear constantly that true biblical knowledge is “the knowledge of our own sinfulness as set against God’s holiness.” This is also the pronounced fundamental foundation of the contemporary biblical counseling movement as constantly stated publically in no uncertain terms.

Why am I interjecting this? Because even though much of our knowledge concerning first century Gnosticism comes from the writings of the early church fathers and while they railed against Gnosticism, they themselves were also Gnostics. However, in the process of railing against Gnosticism, they confirm unequivocally that John’s letter addressed the Gnosticism of their day; it just wasn’t the Gnosticism that they preferred.

And by the way, according to some church fathers, John was addressing a Gnostic named Cerinthus who was a contemporary of John and a personal nemesis.

Cerinthus was a gnostic and to some, an early Christian, who was prominent as a heresiarch in the view of the early Church Fathers. Contrary to proto-orthodox Christianity, Cerinthus’s school followed the Jewish law, used the Gospel according to the Hebrews, denied that the Supreme God had made the physical world, and denied the divinity of Jesus. In Cerinthus’ interpretation, the Christ came to Jesus at baptism, guided him in his ministry, but left him at the crucifixion.

He taught that Jesus would establish a thousand-year reign of sensuous pleasure after the Second Coming but before the General Resurrection, a view that was declared heretical by the Council of Nicaea. Cerinthus used a version of the gospel of Matthew as scripture.

Cerinthus taught at a time when Christianity’s relation to Judaism and to Greek philosophy had not yet been clearly defined. In his association with the Jewish law and his modest assessment of Jesus, he was similar to the Ebionites and to other Jewish Christians. In defining the world’s creator as the demiurge, he emulated Platonic philosophy and anticipated the Gnostics.

Early Christian tradition describes Cerinthus as a contemporary to and opponent of John the Evangelist, who may have written the First Epistle of John and the Second Epistle of John to warn the less mature in faith and doctrine about the changes he was making to the original gospel. All that is known about Cerinthus comes from the writing of his theological opponents (Wikipedia).

At any rate, the teachings of Cerinthus follow the basic fundamentals of 1st century Gnosticism of which there were two schools of thought unchanged from the cradle of society: intuitive knowledge within versus knowledge outside of man. While both schools held to the strict dichotomy of material being evil and the invisible good, and true knowledge being beyond the five senses, they disagreed on where that knowledge is found and whether or not it is intuitive among all men, or a select few preordained by nature or some supreme being.

Cerinthus followed the philosophical school of Idealism which holds to the belief that the one cosmic mind has an intuitive connection within every individual. Finding that knowledge is often a complex mind-numbing epistemology, but curiously, Luther and Calvin had their own angle that built on the Neo-Platonic teachings of St. Augustine.

This Gnostic bent actually allowed for Christ to be human, or at least some form of humanity. Apparently, God became exasperated with man’s penchant for trying to gain knowledge through the material world, and said in essence, “Ok, since you like to think you can know something and try to gain knowledge through the things that are seen, I am going to send my Son to die on the physical cross, and now all knowledge will only be gained through suffering—there mankind, take that!” This is the essence of the Heidelberg Disputation which is a philosophical treatise, not a theological one by any stretch of the imagination. Luther states plainly in the document that ALL knowledge is hidden in the suffering of the cross. Anyone who thinks they can understand Protestantism without a good grasp of world philosophy is sadly misguided. It is one of the historical necessities of historical grammatical hermeneutics.

Hence, in the Gnostic Protestant construct, Christ and His gospel is the only true objective knowledge and is outside of man. Man is not to seek any knowledge within himself, but all knowledge must be sought outside of him in contemplation of the gospel. All of reality is interpreted by the suffering of the cross. The cross is the epistemology from the material to the invisible, or from the evil to the good.

In contrast, other schools believe the epistemology is intuitive within all men because all men have a spiritual being separate from their material being, and the spiritual part of man is nonmaterial and therefore SINLESS. The material body of man is evil because it is material, but his invisible being is good and has a connection to the cosmic spiritual world that must be cultivated by transcending the material. This was key to the drug culture of the 60’s as LSD trips enabled the individual to transcend the five senses and see into the invisible spiritual world. Supposedly.

Other schools of thought believed that even though all men have a material and spiritual aspect, the spiritual anthropology has classifications in regard to who is able to see true knowledge and who isn’t as determined by the cosmos or cosmic mind; ie., determinism. And consequently, if utopia is to ever be achieved, those with the ability to see knowledge must rule over those who have the inability to transcend the material and are enslaved to it.  How do you reason with people hopelessly enslaved to the material? They either understand that they can’t know reality and get with the program, or you kill them.

According to the Reformers, utopia is achieved by understanding that all reality is interpreted through the cross of redemption. This concept was established by Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and is known as being a “theologian of the cross.” Theologians of the cross are able to know the “cross story,” or interpret reality through the cross, and all others are enslaved to the “glory story” or the story of man. This is the dichotomy of the knowledge of good and evil, or material versus spiritual.

Furthermore, the Reformers believed that the new birth entailed the gift of outward seeing only. All goodness remains outside of man. This is the pious distinction they claim over their fellow Gnostics. Unlike Cerinthus, who would be the modern equivalence of existentialism, no good can be in man, because that does not limit knowledge to suffering and the cross. Even though the early church fathers believed that material is evil and only the invisible is good like all ancient Gnostics, they labeled those heretics who believed that the invisible spirit within man was a connection to the good. That was heresy in their minds. And if you really understand what John Piper et al believe in our day, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

The true Christians of that day had a different metaphysical take: the material realm is NOT evil, it’s weak. Something that is weak can still be good. The born again Christian struggles with sin because he/she is weak, not because the material realm is inherently evil. Christ really did come adorned in humanity in every since of the meaning because the material is not evil. This understanding of being fits together with the true gospel.

But what Cerinthus et al was teaching speaks directly to what John wrote in his first epistle, and we have addressed some of it in John’s introduction. John, in essence, said the following: Christ was 100% humanity and 100% God. We saw Him, we heard Him, we touched Him, we saw Him die on the cross, there isn’t two Christs, there is only one.

What Cerinthus et al taught explains everything John wrote in this epistle and why he wrote it. It not only explains why John wrote what he wrote in 1:9 and 2:1, it sheds light on why John wrote what he wrote in the rest of the book as well.

And that is what we will look at next week. We will do a point by point fly over of 1John while interpreting it according to this historical context of Gnosticism. John will address the definition of sin in contrast, the definition of knowledge and truth in contrast, the definition of the true gospel in context, the definition of love and hate in contrast, and the definition of the new birth in contrast.

See you next week.

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