Paul's Passing Thoughts

Good Works, Sin, and the Law

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

ppt-jpeg4Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology.”

Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved…Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience.”

Truth be known, most professing Christians are uncomfortable with the idea that salvation is a mere legal declaration by God based on a signed contract. According to the contract, we are declared legal by God if we denounce all self worth, declare all of our works and the works of others as “filthy rags,” and submit ourselves to “godly authority.” According to Luther and Calvin, we are in breach of contract if we think we can do a good work. And because of our supposed natural pertinacity to think we have some goodness within us, we can never be sure that we are upholding our end of the bargain. Tullian Tchividjian once said that his assurance, as far as he could have it, was based on the fact that he has never done a good work; that’s just good solid Protestant soteriology. Of course, this so-called gospel is couched in spiritual sounding terms like “covenant” and “grace” and “justification,” etc.

Most Christians are uncomfortable with what goes on in the institutional church, but what else is there? Protestantism, like all doctrines of tyranny, seeks to dumb down the masses they seek to control. Why? Because one of the major essences of sin is a desire to control. Collectivist doctrines and Sin have always walked closely together, and always will, be driven by low information. Protestants can make no sense of the world at all without paradox as a primary hermeneutic; and in fact, paradox is the primary hermeneutic of orthodoxy. Funny, if not so sad, would be the Protestant assertion that “walk by faith and not by sight” means that it is perfectly alright that life makes no sense at all. After all, we are “totally depraved,” and cannot really know anything except “Christ and Him crucified.”

The Catholic Church has never been shy about stating that information in the hands of the great unwashed is like handing a toddler a loaded gun, but Protestant academics skinned the cat a different way: knowledge about the fact that you can’t know anything is really, really deep, and shame on any saint that does not “study [this fact] to show yourself approved.” And, but of course there is work in the Christian life; as Tullian Tchividjian also said, seeking to see your depravity in a deeper and deeper way IS hard work! Again, because of our “natural” tendency to think we can do something good.

So, a knowledgeable Protestant will interpret the following event this way: a garage mechanic finds 10,000 dollars left in a car, and the former owner was unaware that her dead husband left it there to surprise her. He turned in the money to his manager; seemingly a good deed. But, this auto mechanic is going to hell because he thinks he did a good work. According to Luther and Calvin, believing you can do a good work is “mortal sin,” and the belief that one can fulfill any aspect of the law perfectly. Less knowledgeable Protestants are merely confused by these kinds of events because they, by design, have no real knowledge of biblical law/gospel.

First of all, we must begin with a very, very short philosophy lesson that dumbed-down Protestants don’t think they need. But, fact is, if you don’t have at least a basic knowledge of Gnosticism, you will be unable to understand little going on in the church today, if anything. However, I am going to make this very simple: holiness can dwell with weakness. The present creation, though fallen, is not inherently evil, but rather weak. Weakness does not equal evil. Let me demonstrate. Are the angels weaker than God? Yes, but are they also “holy”? Yes.

Our mortality makes us weak, and Sin abides in our mortal bodies, but Sin does not define mortality. We have the treasure of the new birth in clay (weak) vessels. Sin has a foe in both the lost and the saved. In the lost who are not born again, Sin’s foe is the law written upon the heart’s of every individual born into the world. The conscience is the judge that sits over this law and either accuses the individual or excuses them. Child psychologists say their deepest challenges abide with children who have no conscience. If the conscience (judge) has no law, there is no condemnation.

Hence, lack of a developed moral compass via teaching will generally determine the potency of a child’s conscience, and also determine one’s moral compass into adulthood. A judge without a law sits silently. We see this dynamic at work in the aforementioned article cited by the embedded link. Christ often noted that the law written on every person’s heart is a sort of thumbnail version of the more specific law that is the Bible. It is not uncommon for the secular “Golden Rule” to be biblically consistent. This is why the mechanic said he gave back the money; it’s the way he was raised (learned common decency that gives the conscience [judge] a law to work with), and he imagined how he would have felt if the money was his and he lost it (do unto others as you would have others do to you).

So did he do a good work? Yes, of course he did. He obeyed the law written on his heart by God. Will that good work save him? No, of course not. The conscience may temporarily reward him with good feelings, but that will not save him either. This is where we must segue into a little more philosophy. What is your perception of God? Is He an invisible aloof God that disdains everything material? Should we be amazed that He would even acknowledge our existence on any level? Or is He a God that makes Himself known and wishes to see all people saved? Does He actively push all to the precipice of salvation through the very design of His gospel? I think it is the latter, and this is where freewill comes into play: God creates a conscience and a law within us, but it is up to us to develop the conscience through choices. If parents understand this biblical dynamic, they have a clear choice in how they raise their children including the acceptance of contrary philosophies regarding the conscience.

So, God sought to further define what we will call the common heart law with the Old Covenant law, or the law of Moses. There are two laws being dealt with here, and Sin is against both laws. Therefore, the increase of law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn. Sin came into the world as an enemy of good, and its mode of operation is to incite rebellion for purposes of condemnation. Sin seeks the destruction of God’s creation on all counts. More law gives Sin more opportunity to condemn through sinful desires. Sin appeals to the individual through sinful desires, and those desires will prevail according to the strength of one’s developed conscience. Have no doubt: there is a warfare going on inside the unbeliever. Remember, the mechanic acknowledged that keeping the money was a desirable thought, but he knew that would be wrong, was not how he was raised, and wouldn’t be treating others the way he wants to be treated. Moreover, he probably knew his conscience would not allow him to enjoy the booty anyway.

The law is also good. The more law the better. The law is the standard for loving God and others. What if God ended the law’s ability to condemn and only made it useful for love? This would disarm Sin; if sin cannot condemn, it has no power, purpose, or incentive. This is where we talk a little bit about the gospel of Moses. The law can condemn leading to death, and it can love leading to life. As far as those born under the law, they can choose life or death, but ultimately, their end is death. They will suffer lesser death to the degree that they obey their consciences.

This is where the true gospel comes in according to the new birth. The law of Moses not only defines all sin leading to death, but it also defines all love leading to life. Until Christ came, all sin was imputed to the law as a possible indictment. The law held sin “captive” until “faith” came. Of course, the law could still be used to love as well. Christ’s primary gospel role was to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and thereby ending it. Sin or the law? Both. Christ’s death ended the law’s ability to condemn. His death on the cross paves the way for the Spirit to baptize a believer in His death, and resurrect the believer in the same way He resurrected Christ. The new creature born of God cannot be condemned by the law, and therefore, Sin is stripped of its power. That is, IF the believer knows this. Sin can still make an appeal through desires, but the new birth counters that with NEW DESIRES infused by the new birth, specifically, a love for the law that did not previously exist. A believer can still experience the consequences of temporary death from disobedience and the fear thereof, but not the fear of eternal death because there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, viz, born into His literal family with God the Father.

So, yes, everyone does good works, but for the unsaved it is lesser death; for the believer it is more life. The unbeliever is still under the condemnation of the law, has an indifference to God’s law, and doesn’t see God’s law as the definition of love. This is why unbelievers often distort the meaning of the word, for one example among myriad, “I love you, but I am divorcing you.” This makes the unbeliever captive to sin. Depending on one’s upbringing, and consequently the strength of their conscience and good habits, their life will be commended by lesser death, but not more life.

In contrast, the born again believer is free from all eternal condemnation, thus stripping Sin of its power, is given a new-found love for the law and truth, and experiences life more abundantly unless he or she obeys sinful desires still present leading to death albeit temporary consequences.

BUT, if so-called believers are taught that they cannot obey the law “perfectly” (which is not the point to begin with) which is supposedly the standard for being truly justified, and thereby leading to a relaxing of the law, you can now easily understand why secular people often live better than church members: their lesser death looks better than lesser life. In other words, the lost world can obey their consciences better than “God’s people” can obey the Bible because they don’t believe they can.

Moreover, so-called saints can also see the law written on their hearts as equally futile because law is law either way—law can only condemn. This totally eliminates the concept of justice which is not absent from the law written on the hearts of all born into the world. This means that the world will have more of a concept of justice than the church. Sound familiar?

Justification is not a mere “legal declaration.” In fact, law has not one wit anything to do with justification. The law either condemns or loves depending on whether a person is saved or unsaved. For the true believer, the law is for love—not justification. The belief that Christ keeps the law for us, because all are unable, accomplishes nothing because the law cannot justify—it can only love.


Why People Say No to the Gospel and Yes to Evangelicalism

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

ppt-jpeg4What I have come to learn is the lost world understands more about the gospel than professing Christians. The longer a professing Christian goes to church, the less they know about the things of God. I am not saying they don’t know things and learn a bunch of stuff, it’s just that none of it is biblical.

As a born again Christian in 1983, I was totally full of joy and on fire for God, and then church happened. And worse yet, I added to the calamity by going to seminary. What followed was a long dark path of doubting my salvation, being unnecessarily enslaved to sin, and total confusion in regard to what the Bible clearly stated as set against what happens in church. I went through periods where I just threw in the towel and said, “Just keep your mouth shut and serve the church; obviously, I am the problem, all of these people couldn’t be wrong.” Then the stupidity would once again become more than I could bear, and I would start asking questions again.

Finally, I got too good at asking questions in 2007 and the church folks put a full court press on me. After being cast outside of the camp, I sat alone save a few, but there was only one thing that I could see: the promise that “If you seek me you will find me.” And so the journey began at the place where I came from, the joy of my original salvation, but this time with the addition of real knowledge. I believed the promise, and I would find the truth in this life or run out of time and find it in the next—either way was fine with me at that point.

This post is about one of the things I have learned in the journey. People don’t say no to the gospel because they are “totally depraved and have not been shown the kingdom by God’s divine providence,” they say no to the Evangelical gospel because they know it’s not the gospel. Actually, they say no to the Evangelical gospel for the same reason evangelicals say yes to their own false gospel; neither want to lose their own lives to find it.

That’s right, unbelievers don’t want to lose their present life, and they know being saved means exactly that. For the most part, they know this intuitively because the “works of God’s law” have been written on their hearts as with everyone born into the world. As an unbeliever, I said no to many evangelicals who told me that I only needed to believe, and it had nothing to do with anything regarding behavior as that would be “works salvation.” As an unbeliever, I agreed with the basic framework of the wording, but knew that wasn’t the gospel. A demand to cease from the present things that I enjoyed was not the issue, I knew that those things would no longer be part of my being. I would indeed lose my present life, and would be launched into a life that would be something totally new apart from what I had lived with all of my life.

What is it that I didn’t like about the Evangelical gospel? Basically, no new birth. You remain the same, and maybe God will change you and maybe he won’t—it’s totally by faith alone. I knew do’s and don’ts wasn’t the issue, I knew it was a faith alone gospel without the new birth. They plainly told me that any change that would occur in my life was totally up to God because it’s faith alone apart from works, but I intuitively interpreted that as no new birth. Granted, I wasn’t ready to change, but if I ever was, I wanted real change/salvation. They plainly stated, and we hear this today, all of the time, that CHANGE isn’t the issue, but rather “seeing more Jesus.” I interpreted that as no new birth, though I wouldn’t have used that terminology. They were selling a no loss of present life gospel. It sounded tempting; you can keep your present life while merely seeing more Jesus, but I knew it was a pipe dream. I knew what the true result of believing is: new birth; the loss of present life and a future completely entrusted to Christ.

This is why evangelicals say no to the true gospel of new birth and embrace the idea that justification is nothing more than a “legal declaration.” If justification is a legal declaration, new creaturehood doesn’t justify us, a mere declaration does. Skeptical? Let me prove my point with “waist deep theology” rather than Jesus seeing. Evangelicals further state that the declaration alone would be “legal fiction.” Why so? Well, because we are in essence unchanged, but yet God is calling us “justified.” What to do? Their solution is a double denial of the new birth known as double imputation. Supposedly, Christ came to not only die for us, but to keep the law perfectly in our stead. If we continue to live by faith alone, Christ’s BEHAVIOR is also imputed to our account totally apart from any behavior we have. We hear it all the time: “It’s not about anything we do—it’s about what Jesus has done.” Obviously, this makes a real and literal new birth completely unnecessary. OUR behavior is completely irrelevant… “We proclaim the gospel, we don’t try to be the gospel.” If you’re an evangelical, you can have your cake and eat it to. And look at the church accordingly; any questions?

As a new believer, I assumed the church did not deny the new birth as a whole, and that I would find bliss on earth frolicking about with God’s new creatures. Chuckle. Oh the naivety of youth. I took the new birth so seriously, that as I began to live out my Christian life, the fact that I still sinned dismayed me. I searched for answers within the church in regard to reconciling present sin with the new birth. Of course, I wasn’t able to find satisfactory answers because the evangelical definition of new birth is not the biblical definition. Hence, I wallowed in weakness and confusion for years. And sadly, in every church I was ever in, I was one of the leaders! It would be hilarious if not so utterly pathetic.

The home fellowship movement is the freedom and hope believers need. It holds forth the true gospel of new birth. It is the literal family of God, and that’s why we worship where we live. A false gospel has no authority. Come out from among them and be free.