Paul's Passing Thoughts

Conforming to the Group – Is This Why It’s So Hard for Christians to Leave the Institutional Church?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 31, 2016

This is perhaps one of the most profound social experiment videos I’ve witnessed.  Notice how quickly a newcomer not only feels compelled to conform to the group but also trains others to do the same.  What is really scary is that they have no idea why they are doing it either.  And there is no force of authority other than simply observing the behavior of others!

Now couple that with a power of an authority figure, and you might have an explanation for why it is so hard for people to leave the institutional church – they have been conditioned into a particular behavior!

Andy


What Your Sanctification Says About Your Justification: Is Your Gospel True or False?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 10, 2016

Originally published February 27, 2015

“No false religion teaches that you earn your justification by perfect law-keeping—there is always a system that prescribes sanctified do’s and don’ts that in turn fulfill the law for you, otherwise known as ‘the traditions of men.’”

What do you believe about salvation? Your Christian life will tell you. Therefore, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 should not confuse us. The “wicked” servant was not cast into outer darkness because he didn’t put his talents to work, but rather what he thought it meant to be a servant. In other words, in order to be saved, you need to know what a Christian is. That should be fairly evident.

Do you live your Christian life by “faith alone”? That is a statement in regard to what you believe about salvation, or what happened to justify you; viz, justification.

This is not complicated. Don’t complain that I am making your touchy-feely “simple” gospel a theological treatise. I am sure you concur that some Bible words have to be understood in order to be saved. The Bible splits humanity into two categories: saved and unsaved; i.e., “under law” or “under grace” (Romans 6:14).

“Under law” is the biblical nomenclature for the unregenerate lost. Under law means that sin rules you. Not in a plenary sense, because man’s conscience and fear of punishment from civilian law restrains people. Yet, they are under the condemnation of God’s law and every violation is documented. Unless they are saved, they will be judged according to their works in the final judgment. Though some who followed their conscience more than others will receive a lesser condemnation, it is still eternal separation from God. They are under law, and enslaved to sin. The last judgment DOES NOT determine justification; it ONLY determines the degree of eternal condemnation. It doesn’t determine justification; it only determines the wages of sin.

Moreover, sin uses the condemnation of the law to provoke people to sin. Primarily, sin uses desires to tempt people, but sin’s incentive is the law because it condemns. Sin lives for the purpose of condemning people, and uses desire to get people to sin against God’s law. This leads to present and eternal death. Sin’s desire is to bring death. When the Bible speaks of “the desires of the flesh” it is referring to instances when the flesh is serving the desires of sin.

The flesh can also be used to serve the desires of the Spirit (Romans 12:1). The flesh has NO desires; it is used by the dweller for good or evil purposes. We will either use our bodies to serve the desires of sin or the desires of the Spirit. Of course, people have their own desires, but unfortunately, the unregenerate are guided by the desires of sin. They assume sinful desires are their own desire which is true. In contrast, sinful desires are not part and parcel with the regenerate soul.

Said another way: among the lost, the desires of sin are very much the same desires possessed by the individual who are indifferent to the law of God. A desire for God’s law is absent while their life is continually building a death and condemnation dividend. Some of that dividend is paid in this life until the full wages of death are paid at the final judgment.

Under grace is not void of law. The law (same as “Scripture” or same as “Bible”) has a different relationship to the saved, or those under grace. A literal baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place, as symbolized in water baptism, which puts to death the old person under law and resurrects the new person under grace. The saved person is now a new creature created by the Spirit of God. The person under grace is literally born of God—he/she is God’s literal offspring.

Therefore, the old person is no longer under the condemnation of the law in the same way a dead person cannot be brought under indictment for a crime. Consequently, the motivation for sin is gone. The power of sin is the law’s condemnation that leads to death (1Corintians 15:56, 57). In addition, the person under grace has been given a new heart that loves God’s law and its way of life. The book that could only bring death is now a book that brings life. Either way, it is the Spirit’s law; He uses it to condemn those that are under it, or uses it to sanctify those who are under grace (John 17:17).

THEREFORE, how you see the law determines what you believe about salvation. If you believe that you can somehow obey the law in a way that unwittingly seeks to be justified by law-keeping, you are still under law. If you believe justification is defined by perfect law-keeping, you are still under law. Those who believe this also believe they need a salvation system that filters all their works into a category of faith alone. The Christian life is categorized or departmentalized into works that attempt to be counted for justification and faith alone works that qualify as “living by faith alone.” Do not miss the point that this also includes abstaining from certain things that aren’t necessarily sin as defined by the Bible.

Yes, hypothetically, a person would need to keep the law perfectly to be justified by the law, but that doesn’t make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. If that were the case, the law is a co-life-giver with the Holy Spirit, and a death would not be necessary. We are justified APART from the law—law has NO part in justification. The Bible defines justification, but it’s not a standard of justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 2:19, 4:21). Law-keeping by anyone does not justify.

If one is trusting in a system that fulfills the law for justification, particularly if it calls for not doing something in order that the law is fulfilled in our place, that is works salvation through some kind of intentionality whether passive or active. These kinds of systems are always indicative of being under law rather than under grace. One such system that has several variances calls for doing certain things or not doing certain things on the Sabbath which can be Saturday or Sunday depending on the stripe of system. If you follow the system on the Sabbath, all works done by you during the week are considered to be by faith alone.

In Reformed theology, particularly authentic Calvinism, contemplation on your sin leading to a return to the same gospel that saved you imputes the perfect law-keeping of Christ to your life. Notice that a fulfillment of the law is required to keep you saved, but we do faith alone works in order that Christ’s perfect law-keeping is imputed to our account. The problem here is that a fulfillment of the so-called “righteous demands of the law” is the standard for justification. Hence, clearly, this keeps so-called “Christians” UNDER LAW. In addition, a so-called faith alone work is still a work.

Not so with under grace. We are now free to follow our new desire to obey the law out of love without fear of condemnation. The law is the standard for love, not justification. In all of the aforementioned systems of sanctified justification by works, faith doesn’t work (or love) because it can’t lest salvation be lost. In the Christian life (sanctification) faith works because it can for the sake of love without condemnation (Galatians 5:6).

Knowing that justification is a settled issue that has nothing to do with the law anyway, the true Christian only sees law-keeping as an opportunity to love. Christians not only have the anthropologic law of conscience written on the heart, the new birth writes the Bible there as well. In other words, they love the law. Obviously, those who must focus on faith alone works in order to remain justified cannot focus on aggressive obedience to the law that defines love.

This is exactly what the books of James and 1John are about. Faith is not afraid to work because there is no condemnation. Faith without works is dead, “being alone” (James 2:17 KJV).

Are you in a religious system that propagates faith “alone” in the Christian life? Your faith is not only dead, it speaks to what you believe about justification. You believe justification has a progressive aspect and is not completely finished. Secondly, you believe the law has a stake in justification. Thirdly, your system categorizes works as faith alone works (an oxymoron of sorts) or works that are unfiltered in some way and therefore are efforts to “self-justify.”

If you believe the right gospel, you know that it is impossible to unwittingly partake in an endeavor to justify yourself. It’s a metaphysical impossibility—it’s not in the realm of reality. No false religion teaches that you earn your justification by perfect law-keeping—there is always a system that prescribes sanctified do’s and don’ts that in turn fulfill the law for you, otherwise known as “the traditions of men.”

It’s the fallacy of faith alone works for justification. But any work for justification is justification by works whether doing nothing (abstinence is still doing something), something passive (contemplationism or prayer is also a work) or anything active.

Law and justification are mutually exclusive, and true faith is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith works because there is no fear in love (1John 4:18). Don’t be like the servant who was afraid and hid his talents in the ground. Christ said it best:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

paul

Church Re-Crucifies Christ and Puts Him to an Open Shame

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 17, 2016

ppt-jpeg4My original salvation experience was very powerful and full of joy as I sought to add to my faith with much zeal. Initially, a lot of sin that formally enslaved me seemed powerless, and many of the former sinful desires had disappeared. Then church happened.

While seeking for the “right” church to “worship” in, my interim experience between saving faith and seeking out a place of worship, as aforementioned, was marked by joy, zeal, and power. As I invested more and more in church; more and more confusion, doubt, and fear ensued. Church made me a pathetic, joyless, and broken person. And by the way, most churches will tell you that is a good thing! In fact, most churches are clear in regard to that being their very goal! This makes you see your need for more salvation. They say it plainly all of the time.

As I read my Bible more and more…more and more of my church experience failed to add up; particularly, the incessant weekly re-visitation of the gospel. And keep in mind this was well prior to the Neo-Calvinist movement. “Why are we always talking about the gospel at church? Aren’t we already saved?” I would often ask myself. If I would have only known way back then that the answer to that question is, “NO.”

Yes, according to orthodoxy, Protestants aren’t saved. Church is a “race of faith” and the prize for winning the race is salvation. And, the race only takes place at church. Sure, sure, they will tell you that you are already saved according to the Protestant doctrine of, “already—not yet.” What’s that? IF you are entered into the race by being faithful to church, you have hope that you are already saved, but not yet because you have not finished the race of faith alone in which the prize for winning the race is “final justification.”

If you are a freewill churchian, you earn your salvation by “continuing in the gospel” by faith alone. If you are a Calvinist churchian, you do the same for some measure of comfort, but you will only persevere in faith alone if you are God’s elect. Those in the church who do not persevere are only “the called” who do not persevere in faith alone. So, sure, churchians are “already” saved, but “not yet”: one must wait for the final judgement to obtain “complete salvation.”

This, in and of itself would be humorous if not so sad, but it gets better. Pastors, and this according to their own precious orthodoxy; in black and white, and in no uncertain terms, have authority to proclaim you an alreadian. Yep, this is the “power of the keys” doctrine that will bind in heaven whatever the church binds on earth, and the same for the loosing stuff as well. Do adults really fall for this stuff? Yep. Is this why pastors are so revered in the church and placed on a pedestal? Ya think? Ultimately, they decide where you spend eternity, and they are your wildcard that bypasses the uncertainty of Protestantism’s “already not yet.” Supposedly, there are two things standing between you and a wrathful God that hates humanity: Christ and His “undershepherds.”

Well, this is nothing new. Church is a mirror image of every foul thing that God’s prophets fought against as documented in the Scriptures. Before we go on, what is “church”? Church is the institutionalization of Christ’s assembly that occurred in the 4th century. Simply stated, it moved the temple of God from the bodies of believers to brick and mortar temples making worship a place, not a practice of truth wherever a believer is breathing. The fellowship of Christ’s body was replaced with authorities other than Christ operating in corporate temples. Authority replaced leadership, and membership replaced fellowship. “Follow me as I follow Christ” was replaced with “Obey God’s anointed or we will take your salvation away.”

So, there is a reason why you go to church and hear about the same gospel that saved you week, after week, after week. Whatever you might be instructed to do is “by grace” or in truth minus the nuance, “by salvation.” There is a reason why the Lord’s Table is a solemn ceremony marked by self-denigration. There is a reason for alter calls. There is a reason why the pastor speaks from a fancy podium on an alter raised above where the congregants sit. I like the alters where the other important dictators of the church sit in gaudy chairs behind the podium. It’s crazy; this stuff does not cause people to ask what in the heck is really going on.

Scriptural examples abound, but this post is about Hebrews 6. Let’s set the table. As Christ’s assemblies meeting in private homes (because we are God’s family not members of a corporate temple named Salvation Inc.) moved forward in true discipleship, they endured persecution from the pagan-state and Judaism. In essence, they were getting flak from every angle in regard to the culture of that time, but primarily from Judaism which was clearly salvation by temple ritual. And by the way, most of the persecution from the pagan-state was instigated by the Jews politically.

Hence, many Christ followers were hedging their bets and playing both sides of the fence. Like today’s institutional church, excommunication meant the loss of salvation, and in many cases, difficulty in obtaining financial income. Be sure of this; likewise, as the economy weakens in the U.S., many cling to the institutional church for career connections, viz, financial security. There is absolutely no new thing under the sun.

This is what the Hebrew writer was addressing specifically: the continued sacrifices for maintaining salvation versus the sacrifice of one’s own holy body in love (Rom 12:1). A return to the same gospel that saved us denies the new birth and the holiness of the believer. The holiness of the believer is part and parcel with “moving on to maturity” (HEB 6:1). A return to the basic, or elementary principles of salvation harkens back to the shame of the cross which Christ despised (Heb 12:2) and denies the purpose for which he endured it: the glory which was set before; ie., bringing many sons to glory. By striving for maturity and adding love to our faith, we fulfill the purpose for which Christ endured the cross. But, returning to the cross…

“seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”*

Shockingly, in spite of Scriptural clarity on this issue, many Protestant scholars brazenly endorse a return to what Christ despised, and make that the replacement of the very purpose for which He endured the cross; to make many holy for purposes of offering themselves in love many times as opposed to worshiping what Christ despised. Offering our own holy bodies in love is our worship, or our “logical service.”

Hence, worship is redefined by returning to the basic principles of salvation in a temple, rather than the worship of offering ourselves as holy sacrifices in sanctification wherever we are found breathing. We then meet together to encourage each other in this worship (Heb 10:25). The Hebrew writer addressed those who ratcheted back from meeting in the home fellowships because of persecution from the temple worshipers.

And that’s church. And that’s what you do every time you go there: you sing praises to what Christ despised, and disparage the purpose for which He endured the shame.

And for some insane reason, you pay 10% of your income for the privilege.

paul


*”Those who cannot be restored to repentance” pertain to that time when they witnessed the power of the Spirit being manifested firsthand. Being exposed to the full light of the truth in such dramatic fashion and then afterward returning to a ritual of re-justification made it doubtful that they would ever be fully persuaded.

 

Why Are You “Dissing” the Church?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 24, 2016

Originally published April 16, 2015

andy-profile-1Leaving the institutional church has been one of the best decisions our family has made. Granted, there are the social aspects that we miss (my wife especially, she’s a people person), but it doesn’t take much searching to admit that real friendships have to be based on more than just a weekly formal gathering. Want to know who your real friends are? Just try leaving your church for whatever reason. See how many of them still keep in contact with you. In fact, it was a comment very similar to that which I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, which prompted quite a debate.

There is a young man with whom I am friends, let’s call him “Trevor”. I have personally known Trevor for many years. Trevor has come to me with many questions about some of the things I post on Facebook, and we have had some very edifying discussions. We’ve talked at length about the differences between Justification and Sanctification. He is genuinely seeking answers, and I am grateful for the opportunities to help disciple him.

But a few weeks ago, Trevor sent me the following private message on Facebook:

 “Hey Andy I keep seeing you dissing on churches and even though you are probably right why not use your intelligence and abilities on helping teach people about God. There are a lot of people who need God that I’m sure are reading that and when people see hostility amongst Christians towards other Christians it turns them off to it completely and isn’t that contradictory to what we want for people”

I understand the motivation behind his response, and I don’t hold it against him. It is typical from anyone who sits under the orthodoxy of the institutional church. Trevor has probably even spoken with his pastor about some of these issues I’ve brought up, and maybe this response comes after the result of one of those conversations. Either way, his tone of concern is well noted and appreciated. So below you will find my response to Trevor. I apologize that it is rather lengthy, but I hope that it will be edifying.

 Dear Trevor,

 I’m sure you will agree that it is hard to give a full-orbed treatise within the confines of a simple Facebook status message. It doesn’t lend itself well for going into details. So the goal is to try and make your point in the most direct and concise manner possible. For that reason, a simple matter-of-fact statement may come across as curt and abrasive. That is unavoidable. Nevertheless, statements such as these should prompt people to think. But often times, rather than think, people respond defensively because they automatically assume I am attacking them. I am not attacking people, I am challenging ideas. But most people are too lazy to differentiate the two because they have too much ego invested in their ideas, and therefore take any attack on an idea as a personal attack. This is true of both Christians and non-Christians alike. And actually I have found that those who call themselves “Christian” have an even greater tendency toward ego investment, and there is a very good explanation for that, which leads me to the next point.

 When you challenge what a “Christian” has traditionally been taught, you are indeed challenging their very salvation. And this is a frightening prospect for them. But it is for this very reason that these notions need to be challenged, because what it boils down to is that their faith is in a “belief system” rather than belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which passes for “the church” is the very embodiment of this belief system. Is it any wonder then that people have such a knee jerk reaction? For someone to even raise the question that what they have been taught might be wrong scares the crap out of them!

 This is why I criticize the institutional church, because it embodies this system that has kept people in the spiritual dark ages for centuries! The institutional church is based on “authority”, and the system is needed to maintain the authority. But this is so contrary to scripture. There is to be no authority among the brethren of Christ. Christ is the authority! And he is the only mediator between God and man. Now that is not to say that there is not leadership, but leadership is not the same as authority. Authority implies “power”, while leadership implies “example”. But the emphasis within the traditional “church” model is predicated on power and authority, and everything that happens within the confines of these institutions is designed to maintain that power structure. It has been that way since the very early beginnings of the Roman Catholic church in the 4th century. And Protestantism is no different.

 I see many good genuine Christian people languishing away within the walls of the institutional church, and it grieves me deeply, for there are eternal consequences at stake. Not as far as salvation goes, but with regard to eternal rewards. You have spiritually illiterate Christians looking to some authority to tell them what to believe, who have never been equipped to carry out the task that was given to them from the first day they were born again- to go out and make disciples. They are not exercising their gifts. Instead they hide their talent in the ground, waiting for the Master to return and say, “here Lord, here’s what you gave me.” And there will be no eternal reward for them. And the church is purposefully keeping them in this state of immaturity. How I long for believers to realize their full potential as Children of God! But that will never happen in the “church”. The church serves itself.

 So, even having said all of that, I still haven’t fully been able to explain the depth of this all. But your concern is how this arguing among believers will turn off others. I contend that what turns of the unsaved is not the fact that they see Christians argue, but rather that Christians don’t even know what they believe.   Furthermore, what they do claim to believe is not even rational. Christianity for the past 1500 years has simply failed to produce a fully rational explanation for why someone should believe in Jesus. There must be more to it that just, “well you just have to have faith.” Faith must be grounded in reality. So we don’t simply lay aside arguments regarding contending for truth just for the sake of presenting the illusion of a unified front to the world.

 In addition, the traditional excuse for evangelism is simply nothing more than who has the better sales pitch for getting someone to attend their church versus another. This ties in directly with the notion of salvation being in the church. Christians are more interested in getting people into their church than they are with teaching people about the gospel of the Kingdom. By definition, the church cannot be comprised of unbelievers. The body of Christ, the “assembly”, is only made up of believers. The purpose of believers assembling is for edification, and that happens by four functions: instruction in the word, fellowship, sharing meals (including the Lord’s table), and praying together. (Acts 2:42). How can an unbeliever possibly be any part of that? He shares nothing in common. He is not a part of the Body. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Unbelievers have no part in the fellowship of God’s people.

 Now the excuse has been that we need to bring unsaved to church so that they can get saved. But that is simply a lazy excuse for evangelism. It is not what Christ’s instructions were. Believers gather in fellowship to be edified. Having then been properly equipped, WE can go OUT into the world to take the gospel TO the lost so that they can HEAR it from US. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. How then shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be SENT? (Romans 10:14-15, 17) Every believer is a preacher- and ambassador from God’s heavenly Kingdom – sent forth with the message of reconciliation to the world. It is our mandate as individuals, NOT the function of an institution!

 And so seeing how the “church” has utterly failed in every way in all of these areas, I hope you can better understand now why I have such disdain for it and am so critical of it. But the answer is not reform. It doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be defeated because it is not what God intended for His people. The answer is, to come out from among them and be separate. And that is what I have done, and that is what I want to encourage all believers to do. Come out from this institution and join in genuine fellowship with other like-minded believers and start exercising your gifts. There is no horizontal authority between men among believers. All authority is in Christ.

 Andy

 

 

 

Are You Fit for Heaven?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 13, 2016
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