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The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Part 7: Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 14, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio.com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 7 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Martin Luther’s Unveiling of the Bondage of the Will.”

Greetings from the Potters 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 (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. 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 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 lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Tonight, we continue in our sentence by sentence evaluation of the HD [Heidelberg Disputation] after addressing some asides in parts five and six. We hear a lot about Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Tonight, we are looking at the very conception of Luther’s beliefs on the human will. What we are going to find is that Luther’s explanation of human will derived from his position of mortal and venial sin.

Simply stated, if one believes that every act they perform is mortal sin, even their good works, their life is forgivable. Man must not believe he can do a good work. Let’s use theses 11 and 12 to segue into thesis 13 which is the first unveiling of Luther’s bondage of the will.

Thesis 11: Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work.

This is clear from Thesis 4. For it is impossible to trust in God unless one has despaired in all creatures and knows that nothing can profit one without God. Since there is no person who has this pure hope, as we said above, and since we still place some confidence in the creature, it is clear that we must, because of impurity in all things, fear the judgment of God. Thus arrogance must be avoided, not only in the work, but in the inclination also, that is, it must displease us still to have confidence in the creature.

Here is something that I haven’t talked about enough in this series: the Reformers were masters of doublespeak. So far, it is obvious that Luther disavowed any value in regard to human life. Yet, in some sentences, he sort of makes it sound like that the issue is life without God. This isn’t the case at all; this is a strict dichotomy between 100% evil and 100% good with nothing in-between.

In contrast, God makes new creatures of mortal men. This flies in the face of Reformed ideology and all of the theology that flows from it. Note that, like all good Gnostics, Luther saw impurity in “all things.” And of course, that includes mankind.

Hence, as stated in this thesis by Luther, man must not have any confidence in self. In other words, God’s creation of man has no inherent ability. The natural ability to do anything is the glory story. Anything that brings glory to man diminishes God. Listen, as one example, the Puritans didn’t dress like they did for no good reason. To wear something with a little color or style would have been the glory story. By the way, do you want to help people? Know this: EVERYTHING people do they do for a reason. Logic drives action. If you want to help people, find the logic behind the action.

So, Reformed ideology splits reality into a strict either/or dichotomy; it’s either the glory story or the cross story. The glory story, or the story of man, can only bring about arrogance.

Let’s pause here to look at the foundational ideology of the Reformation which deals primarily with metaphysics. Like I said, everything people believe and do flows from their logic, so what is the logic that all of this stuff flows from? This is a very simplified version, but it really boils down to this: God does everything that He does because of His self-love. And because God loves Himself, He created evil as a contrast to His holiness. In other words, evil helps to define His holiness by contrast.

This leads to the essence of state of being, or metaphysics, or why things are, or their state of being, according to the metaphysical narrative. What’s a metaphysical narrative? Simply stated: state of being is a story written by God. Everything that is happening in the world today, right down to what people decide to wear, is predetermined by God in His historical prewritten narrative.

All of this benefits God’s self-love. Everything is for His glory. And according to this story, man thinking that he has freedom of choice on any level is evil, and what is he doing? Right, he is writing his own story. If you think that it was your decision to wear what you wore today, you are writing your own glory story. Either you are writing your own life story, or God is writing your life story. You are either god writing your own reality, or God is writing your realty.

Of course you don’t have freedom of the will—that would be writing your own reality—that would be making yourself God. We can also stop here and talk about how the Bible fits into this. The Bible becomes a prototype or model for interpreting reality according to God’s story which is primarily about redemption. The Bible is therefore a tool for interpreting reality according to the cross story, or God’s prewritten metaphysical narrative. And folks, this is everywhere. This way of using the Bible saturates the institutional church.

An example, one of myriads, is the Bible Mesh study material. Listen carefully to what these guys are saying in this promo for the study:

Notice the constant theme of Bible as story, and everything in the Bible being about Christ; ie., redemption. Notice that the Bible is also “your story” and this study enables you to put yourself in the story. You have heard me talk often about the redemptive historical method of interpreting the Bible and this is what it is. They make the Bible a tool for interpreting all of reality according to Martin Luther’s cross story metaphysics. And frankly, 90% of the evangelicals occupying the pulpit in the institutional church take this approach to the Bible.

Thesis 12: In the sight of God sins are then truly venial when they are feared by men to be mortal.

This becomes sufficiently clear from what has been said. For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us, according to the verse, »Confess your misdeed so that you will be justified« (cf. Isa. 43:26), and according to another (Ps. 141:4), »Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds«.

So, if you look at two slides on the program slide show, you see two contemporary illustrations published by the Reformed camp that explain where we have come to this point. The two man chart explains the metaphysics,

the-fetus-of-cog2Cross Chart WB

and the cross chart explains the application as stated in this thesis by Luther: “For as much as we accuse ourselves, so much God pardons us…” His use of Isaiah 43:26 pretty much puts it in a nutshell: confession of sin leads to ongoing justification which can only be found in the institutional church. If we believe man has no will to choose good, and that everything we do is sin, we qualify to be forgiven for purposes of ongoing justification. It’s not complicated.

Thesis 13: Free will, after the fall, exists in name only, and as long as it does what it is able to do, it commits a mortal sin.

The first part is clear, for the will is captive and subject to sin. Not that it is nothing, but that it is not free except to do evil. According to John 8:34,36, »Every one who commits sin is a slave to sin.« »So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.« Hence St. Augustine says in his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹: »Free will without grace has the power to do nothing but sin«; and in the second book of ›Against Julian‹, »You call the will free, but in fact it is an enslaved will,« and in many other places.

The second part is clear from what has been said above and from the verse in Hos. 13:9, »Israel, you are bringing misfortune upon yourself, for your salvation is alone with me,« and from similar passages.

Again, we will take note of something Luther was accustomed to in his doublespeak. Though he quotes Augustine saying that the will can do nothing but sin without grace, we know that Luther also believed that the will can do nothing but sin WITH grace. This is just another example of his doublespeak. This seems to be very indicative of Reformed teachers; they sow seeds of doubt that they are stating outrageous ideas, but after a space of time the outrageous, tempered by a contradictory statement, will be accepted through repetition. The doublespeak is a red herring until you are fully indoctrinated.

Luther is stating here that the will is “not free except to do evil.”

Thesis 14: Free will, after the fall, has power to do good only in a passive capacity, but it can always do evil in an active capacity.

An illustration will make the meaning of this thesis clear. Just as a dead man can do something toward life only in his original capacity (in vitam solum subiective), so can he do something toward death in an active manner while he lives. Free will, however, is dead, as demonstrated by the dead whom the Lord has raised up, as the holy teachers of the church say. St. Augustine, moreover, proves this same thesis in his various writings against the Pelagians.

Here is where we will employ some help from one of the leading Reformed scholars on Luther’s theology of the cross. This is from Gerhard O. Forde’s “On Being a Theologian of the Cross” which is a commentary on the HD.

Theses 14 and 15 are an attempt to define a little more closely what sort of ability may be ascribed to the will. If, as we have seen in thesis 13, the will is not nothing and is not forced or determined, and if, as we might say, we are not puppets, how then may the power of the will be described?

Pause.

Stop right there. This is the Reformed, “But of course we are not puppets, so how do we explain this?” But the only logical conclusion to Reformed ideology is that we are in fact puppets. In classic Reformed teaching protocol, the brainwashing technique is to deny the logical conclusion while hoping that you will function according to the very logical conclusion and goal that they are seeking.

Listen, according to their very own redemptive-historical hermeneutic, we are nothing but characters in a narrative. No, no, no, we are not puppets, rather, we are mere characters in a metaphysical narrative who are penciled in. And we have a choice, and this is a paraphrase, “…join the plot of the divine drama that includes your story, or attempt to be your own god and write your own glory story.” That’s it. That’s it in a nutshell.

I have been learning a lot from Susan about Jonathan Edwards, and she has so much data already accumulated that I don’t know whether she is going to be able to find this or not, but she was sharing with me about Edwards’ view of the will. Basically, he believed that before a person performs an action, God puts the thought, idea, will, and decision to act in one’s mind beforehand. This kind of goes hand and hand with Edwards’ belief that God is recreating reality at every moment. So, in essence, everything you do is a recreation of reality when it gets right down to it.

So this is how this works: the Reformed will continue to deny that we are puppets while teaching all of the elements of puppeteering. If you teach all of the elements constantly while never speaking of the logical conclusions, people will eventually function according to the logical conclusions which is what they are after. Functionality is the goal—not understanding. Reformation ideology is vehemently opposed to reason and understanding.

Here is another example: the official Reformed doctrine of already not yet. So classic. Sure, sure, you are already saved, of course you are! But not yet. So you think: “Well, sure, our salvation will be fully realized when we are resurrected. That makes total sense.” Well guess what? You just bought into progressive justification. See how this works? Salvation doesn’t have a beginning and an end. It’s a conception. Conception is a onetime final event that completes its work in an instant. You didn’t exist, now you do—end of story.

Let’s continue with Forde’s quotation.

If the claim is that we are to “do what is in us,” then the question quite naturally follows: What then is in us? What sort of capacity do we have?

Pause. Stop right there. Let me shortly answer that question according to 1John chapter 3 before we move on: God’s seed. God’s DNA. We are literally born of God and have His seed IN us. We are new creatures born of God.

To get at the question Luther here uses a distinction current in his day between what our translation has called a “passive capacity” and an “active capacity.” What does that mean? In its passive capacity the will can do good when it is acted upon from without but not on its own, not in an active capacity. A commonly used physical analogy is water. Water has a passive capacity to be heated, but it can’t heat itself. It has no active capacity to do that.

The example Luther uses in his proof is even more to the point because it deals with death and life. On the one hand, corpses could be said to have a passive capacity for life because they can be raised from the dead. But not, of course, on their own power, not in an active capacity, not even in the slightest. Not even by doing their best! The capacity they have is strictly passive. They can be raised, but only by divine power. On the other hand, it is of course true that while a people live they have the active capacity to do something about life and death. They can take life, either their own or some other, but they can’t create or give life. Yet, that only demonstrates that, after the fall, will in its active capacity can only do evil. Since will after the fall is dead and bound to do deadly sin, it can be rescued only from without, as indicated by the fact that it could not bring life out of death but could only be commanded from without by our Lord.

Thus, the fact that even after the fall the will is not nothing means that there is something there. What is it? It is a strictly passive capacity, not an active one. That means that it can be changed but it will not change itself. To be changed, it will have to be accessed “from without.” But it will take radical action. It will take death and resurrection. So we are again pointed toward the cross.

Here, we have plunged the depths of Martin Luther’s bondage of the will. Man is dead, and death is defined as the waters of mortal sin. The waters of mortal sin are not only what man dwells in, he is those waters. He is passively dead. The only active works he can do is dead works. The material realm is man’s glory story of death. He ebb and flows between dwelling in death and experiencing resurrection resulting from him being acted upon from the outside. Being acted upon is completely determined by God’s decision and good pleasure. The long and short of being saved is merely giving testimony to this fact and seeing it for what it is. Saving faith is giving testimony to what you see only, and not anything that you do.

To think you are not dead is mortal sin that cannot be qualified for forgiveness. And again, do see what these guys do? No, no, we are not puppets, right? A question: what do we know about puppets? Well, we know that they are dead. We know that they cannot do anything until they are acted upon, right? This Gerald Forde guy is just like all of the Reformed; he will deny that he is saying that we are mere puppets, and then will describe our Christian existence as puppetry.

This is what annoys me so deeply about people who listen to these yahoos because, “they say some good things.” Why would anybody spend any time investing in this intellectual dishonesty?

So, what is the biblical view of the will? Romans chapter 6. Before one is saved, they are enslaved to sinful desires and free to do good works. Slavery indicates the type of wages that the slave gets—only wages for death. Unsaved people are also indifferent to the law that they will be ultimately judged by. They do not love God’s law. But, they definitely have a free will to follow their God-given conscience and receive rewards for doing so. A person who lives a good common sense life will of course suffer fewer calamities than the foolish. But in the end, this only means less condemnation.

The saved person also has a free will. They are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to commit sin. However, they do not receive wages of death because they are no longer under the condemnation of the law. They can only receive wages for life. They are no longer indifferent to the law, but love God’s law and its truth. The chart below may help:

romans-6

The new birth is a reversal of sin and slavery resulting in a change of direction. No one sins perfectly, and no one loves perfectly. It’s a direction, not perfection. But if you look at the Reformed cross chart again, neither is it a downward direction of sinful perfection resulting in making the cross bigger.

That’s the end of our lesson tonight—let’s go to the phones.

The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on June 6, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to the lesson or download audio file. 

Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalogue can be found at tancpublishing.com.

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback.

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 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 lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

Last week we did pretty well; we began with an introduction and completed the first two theses. Tonight, we begin with thesis 3.

Thesis 3: Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.

Human works appear attractive outwardly, but within they are filthy, as Christ says concerning the Pharisees in Matt. 23:27. For they appear to the doer and others good and beautiful, yet God does not judge according to appearances but searches »the minds and hearts« (Ps. 7:9). For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart. Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The thesis is proven in the following way: If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous. But the just speak in behalf of their works in the following way: »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee« (Ps. 143:2). The Apostle speaks likewise in Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins. In the third place, Rom. 2:21 states, »You who teach others not to steal, do you steal?« St. Augustine interprets this to mean that men are thieves according to their guilty consciences even if they publicly judge or reprimand other thieves.

In this third thesis, Luther declares ALL works of men evil. That includes the works of believers as well. Again, we come to a paramount tenet of the Reformation; total depravity does not only pertain to mankind in general, but also the saints. Even though the works of men appear “good and beautiful” (eerily similar to Plato’s trinity of the good, true, and beautiful), they are evil:

If the works of righteous men are sins, as Thesis 7 of this disputation states, this is much more the case concerning the works of those who are not righteous.

By the way, this is synonymous with the Calvin Institutes 3.14.9-11. Luther hints in this thesis in regard to why all the works of men can be deemed wicked: they are under the law, and no man can keep the law perfectly:

 But the works of men are the works of the law…

This is another way of saying that Christians remain under the law just like unbelievers, and since no person can keep the law perfectly, all bets are off. The Calvin Institutes 3.14.10 is an in-depth articulation of this idea. This is amazing because it’s right here where Reformed soteriology falls completely apart and turns the whole Bible upside down. Right here, you are looking at it. It’s the idea that Christians cannot perform a good work because they are still under the law and the law demands perfect obedience.

Also, amazingly, all of the major tenets of the Reformation gospel are in this one thesis. Let’s begin with Luther’s heart theology that actually laid the foundation for the contemporary biblical counseling movement; at least what came out of Westminster’s CCEF. An illustration can be seen below.

Luther cites Matthew 23:27 and Psalms 7:9 to make the point that the outward works of men are meaningless and God looks upon the heart. In this theology, the “heart” is the seat of faith. Even though the believer can do no good work; the believer’s heart (or faith) can be pure. What Luther proffers as we move along is a purity totally disconnected from works, and purity (faith) that is strictly an ability to perceive, and depending on the Reformed camp, experience the works of God completely separate from anything man does. If we pay close attention, we see these ideas in this third thesis.

For without grace and faith it is impossible to have a pure heart.

We must continue to remember that what Luther is saying about the heart is completely disconnected from man’s ability to do a good work. Why? Because everything man does is under the law and no man can keep the law perfectly. Again…

But the works of men are the works of the law…

Everything man does whether lost or saved is under the law, and since no man can keep the law perfectly; all of his works are condemned. The next part is very important:

Acts 15:9: »He cleansed their hearts by faith.«

The heart is cleansed by faith alone, and as we will see further along in our study, Luther believed that these cleansings needed to be repeated for ongoing present sin. But a little bit of thinking will reveal it here as well. If we are still under the law, we continue to sin against the law which necessarily demands a repurification. Especially since this sin is “mortal sin.” However,

But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins. Therefore they are mortal sins.

It boils down to this: if one thinks they performed a good work or are able to perform a good work, that’s mortal (subject to death) sin. But a faith that separates itself from works is venial (forgivable) sin which must be continually sought to receive ongoing cleansing. Luther elaborates on this more in the latter theses, but note how he uses Psalm 143:2 in this regard:

 »Do not enter into judgment with thy servant, Lord, for no man living is righteous before thee«

To not completely depend on faith alone, and thinking that you can do a good work is being under the curse of the law:

Gal. 3:10, »All who rely on the works of the law are under the curse.« But the works of men are the works of the law, and the curse will not be placed upon venial sins.

So there is no middle ground; one either depends totally on faith or on works. The belief that one can do a good work is tantamount to being cursed.

This third thesis is the very heart of the Reformation: no man can do a good work, and to believe that is pure faith apart from any good works. Again, faith and good works are separated. Now you know why Luther didn’t like the book of James. The premise for this is the supposed fact that believers remain under law which is a glaring contradiction to Scripture. The “heart” is the seat of pure faith apart from any works; faith and works are mutually exclusive throughout the life of the “believer.”

Thesis 4: Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.

That the works of God are unattractive is clear from what is said in Isa. 53:2, »He had no form of comeliness«, and in 1 Sam. 2:6, »The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.« This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

This depravity, however, comes into being in us either when God punishes us or when we accuse ourselves, as 1 Cor. 11:31 says, »If we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged by the Lord«. Deut. 32:36 also states, »The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.« In this way, consequently, the unattractive works which God does in us, that is, those which are humble and devout, are really eternal, for humility and fear of God are our entire merit.

Here we have the Reformed mainstay doctrine of mortification and vivification. This is a major Reformed soteriological doctrine along with double imputation and the vital union. But in regard to M&V, here it is folks—right here. This is probably where this doctrine is first introduced.

But first, let’s look at the Reformation’s single perspective on the law also in this thesis. Luther makes it clear that the supposed sole purpose of the law is to bring man down into despair because of his total depravity:

This is understood to mean that the Lord humbles and frightens us by means of the law and the sight of our sins so that we seem in the eyes of men, as in our own, as nothing, foolish, and wicked, for we are in truth that. Insofar as we acknowledge and confess this, there is »no form or beauty« in us, but our life is hidden in God (i.e. in the bare confidence in his mercy), finding in ourselves nothing but sin, foolishness, death, and hell, according to that verse of the Apostle in 2 Cor. 6:9-10, »As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as dying, and behold we live.« And that it is which Isa. 28:21 calls the »alien work« of God »that he may do his work« (that is, he humbles us thoroughly, making us despair, so that he may exalt us in his mercy, giving us hope), just as Hab. 3:2 states, »In wrath remember mercy.« Such a man therefore is displeased with all his works; he sees no beauty, but only his depravity. Indeed, he also does those things which appear foolish and disgusting to others.

Once we use the law, and God uses circumstances to bring us into despair, that is the mortification part, God brings about vivification, or exaltation. As you can see, Luther uses 2Corithians 6:9,10 to make the case for that. This suffering is actually the good works of God as opposed to the evil works that look good to man; ie., good works done by men whether saved or unsaved. Later in this disputation Luther will define that as the story of man, or the glory story, viz, good and beautiful works done by man, versus the cross story, viz, the works of God that look unattractive. As we will see further along, this is Luther’s very definition of the new birth. The Christian life is a perpetual death (mortification) and resurrection (vivification) cycle that continually repeats itself experientially from despair to joy.

This is also the basis of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine. Joy must be part of the salvation experience because it is the upside of the perpetual new birth experience that keeps salvation moving forward by faith alone. If you only experience despair, that’s a half gospel. Many are confused by John Piper’s Christian Hedonism doctrine until they understand M&V, then it all makes perfect sense why joy must be part of the salvation experience. Contemporary Reformers state it this way:

Progressive sanctification has two parts: mortification and vivification, ‘both of which happen to us by participation in Christ,’ as Calvin notes….Subjectively experiencing this definitive reality signified and sealed to us in our baptism requires a daily dying and rising. That is what the Reformers meant by sanctification as a living out of our baptism….and this conversion yields lifelong mortification and vivification ‘again and again.’ Yet it is critical to remind ourselves that in this daily human act of turning, we are always turning not only from sin but toward Christ rather than toward our own experience or piety (Michael Horton: The Christian Faith; mortification and vivification, pp. 661-663 [Calvin Inst. 3.3.2-9]).

At conversion, a person begins to see God and himself as never before. This greater revelation of God’s holiness and righteousness leads to a greater revelation of self, which, in return, results in a repentance or brokenness over sin. Nevertheless, the believer is not left in despair, or he is also afforded a greater revelation of the grace of God in the face of Christ, which leads to joy unspeakable. This cycle simply repeats itself throughout the Christian life. As the years pass, the Christian sees more of God and more of self, resulting in a greater and deeper brokenness. Yet, all the while, the Christian’s joy grows in equal measure because he is privy to greater and greater revelations of the love, grace, and mercy of God in the person and work of Christ. Not only this, but a greater interchange occurs in that the Christian learns to rest less and less in his own performance and more and more in the perfect work of Christ. Thus, his joy is not only increased, but it also becomes more consistent and stable. He has left off putting confidence in the flesh, which is idolatry, and is resting in the virtue and merits of Christ, which is true Christian piety (Paul Washer: The Gospel Call and True Conversion; Part 1, Chapter 1, heading – The Essential Characteristics Of Genuine Repentance, subheading – Continuing and Deepening Work of Repentance).

Now, the next thesis is fairly interesting. In the fifth thesis, Luther distinguishes between crimes and mortal sins.

Thesis 5; The works of men are thus not mortal sins (we speak of works which are apparently good), as though they were crimes.

For crimes are such acts which can also be condemned before men, such as adultery, theft, homicide, slander, etc. Mortal sins, on the other hand, are those which seem good yet are essentially fruits of a bad root and a bad tree. Augustine states this in the fourth book of ›Against Julian‹ (Contra Julianum).

This is pretty straight forward. Criminal acts are NOT classified as mortal sins. Criminal acts are works that are condemned among men while mortal sins are the good works of man that are really “fruit of a bad tree.” Those of orthodoxy must deny that man does any good work at all that is not condemned by God. The belief that any man can do any kind of meritorious work falls under sin that will not be forgiven. This means that Reformed persons in the know would seek daily forgiveness for every, and all acts performed by them. It pretty much boils down to this quotation cited by a theological journal:

The flesh, or sinful nature of the believer is no different from that of the unbeliever. “The regenerate man is no whit different in substance from what He was before his regeneration.” — Bavinck [Reformed philosopher Herman Bavink] (Present Truth: Sanctification-Its Mainspring  Volume 16 Article 13).

At this point it is fairly easy to draw a watershed conclusion in all of this: the lynchpin idea of the Reformation was that salvation can only be obtained and maintained with a righteousness not our own, but also the exclusion of righteous acts performed by us. At this point, there is only one way forward: a mystical manifestation of works performed by deity; Martin Luther’s Alien Righteousness. This necessarily demanded and still demands a discussion of a philosophical ideology to make manifestation and realm birthing feasible. The Heidelberg Disputation not only does that, but articulates the theoretical life application and how these manifestations are experiences in reality. Luther was very concise in that regard while anticipating future objections.

Thesis 6: The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

In Eccles. 7:20, we read, »Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.« In this connection, however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble? For this meaning would then be adequately expressed by the following: »There is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin.« Why does he add »who does good,« as if another person were righteous who did evil? For no one except a righteous man does good. Where, however, he speaks of sins outside the realm of good works he speaks thus (Prov. 24:16), »The righteous man falls seven times a day.« Here he does not say: A righteous man falls seven times a day when he does good. This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

Luther’s rusty and rough hatchet is an interesting metaphysical illustration. Notice carefully who the “’good’ craftsman” is. That can’t be us, right? Right, we are the rusty and rough hatchet. A hatchet, like all other tools, is a completely passive instrument. It has no life of its own. It only does what the craftsman does with it. Like one Reformed teacher said to me, “The Christian life is done to us not by us.”

Also, the hatchet doesn’t get any credit for the work, but only the good craftsman using the axe. This is Luther’s cardinal point of the thesis. This is a strict metaphysical dichotomy of good and evil with man defining evil and God defining good (The Calvin Institutes 1.1.1.). All manifestations of good on earth must come from above, and no good can be in man or come out of man.

Of course, this makes God the creator of rusty and rough hatchets; ie., sin and evil, but remember, as Luther stated, the good work of the craftsman only appears to be evil to us, right?

Although there is no room in this series to unravel every Scripture text that Luther twisted for his own purposes, I will speak to his use of Ecclesiastes 7:20 to make his point. All that verse is really saying is that man needs wisdom because he is not sinless and is prone to erroneous ways and death without wisdom. It’s not saying that no man does any good work. The idea in the text as noted by translations like NASB follows: no man does only good exclusively.

A thought before we go to the phones for you who are aware of our ministry’s dustup this week with the Wartburg Watch. Some folks from over there came over to PPT claiming that we have no orthodoxed credentials; therefore, apparently, our views are not relevant. Well, two things: if this is not orthodoxy, what is? And secondly, how can people claim to be advocates for the abused when they hold to this doctrine? They are either blowhards that don’t even understand what they are talking about, or they do understand. Which is it? Let’s go to the phones.

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The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation; Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 30, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 1 of “The Magnum Opus of the Reformation: Martin Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation.”

Greetings from the Potters House and TANC ministries where we are always eager to serve all of your heterodox needs. Our teaching catalogue can be found at tancpublishing.com

If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback.

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 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 lesson without need for you to call in. You can post a question as well.

In the introductory primer for this series on the link page, I stated the following:

About six months after Luther posted his 95 Theses on the front doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, he presented his doctrinal disputation to the Augustinian Order in Heidelberg, Germany. This is a timeless document that laid the foundation for Protestant doctrine and its primary principles have never been altered. This document is the very roots of the Protestant tree. The Reformed tradition has never strayed from its major tenets. To understand the Heidelberg Disputation is to understand all of Reformed tradition.

Absolutely. The Heidelberg Disputation laid the foundational worldview/philosophy/ideology of the Reformation and everything taught from a Reformed perspective flows from this document in one way or another. The introduction of this document reads as follows from the Book of Concord which are the confessions of the Lutheran Church:

Following Luther’s proposal for a disputation on the subject of indulgences, the Augustinian Order, to which Luther belonged, was generally supportive of his views. The head of the order in Germany, Johannes Staupitz, called for a formal disputation to be attended by the leadership of the order, in which Luther would be provided a chance to expand upon his concern. The disputation took place at the meeting of the Augustinian Order, in Heidelberg, in April 1518. Luther’s opponents had been hopeful that Luther would be silenced, but Staupitz wanted to give Luther a fair hearing, since he was generally sympathetic with Luther’s views. At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.” The disputation is, in many ways, more significant than the 95 theses, for they advanced Luther’s growing realization that the theology of late Medieval Roman Catholicism was fundamentally and essentially at odds with Biblical theology. As a result of the disputation, John Eck proposed a debate between himself and representatives of Luther’s views, which was held in Leipzig (lighp-sig) from June to July, 1519.

Ok, so let me tell you what I did in devoted service to the saints; I suffered through a lot of the Leipzig debate between Luther and Eck (as an aside: both were vehement anti-Semites). This is a huge consideration in all of this: what specifically where the divisive issues between Luther and the Catholic Church? Well, of course, initially, they were supposedly moral; i.e., the 95 Theses.

Now, Luther held a lot of people captive in the Catholic Church because there was agreement on the moral issues. I mean, what was going on with indulgences and so forth was pretty much in your face and totally ridiculous. But what were the actual doctrinal issues? So, once again, I sought to ascertain the answers to this question, and once again, I end up right back at what I wrote in the booklet, The Reformation Myth. It’s only about 30 pages, and nails down the doctrinal issues between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Let me give you the short version. In the aforementioned booklet, I focus heavily on the fact that both camps hold to a progressive justification gospel. Basically, salvation is a process that starts at point A, and progresses to point B, and the Mother Church oversees the progression via authority granted it by God. I cite a bunch of references in the booklet to make this point.

Take note: the Reformers were very strong advocates of the imputation of authority and apostolic succession. This is why they did not want to make a complete break with the Catholic Church. Luther and Calvin both were rabid followers of St. Augustine who is a Doctor of Grace in the Catholic Church. Till this day, Protestant Reformers proudly claim Augustine as the founding father of Reformation doctrine. The late David Hunt documents this fact thoroughly in his book, What Love is This? with much incredulation. And by the way, Johannes  (yoh-hah-nis) Staupitz whom I mentioned earlier is one of many, like Augustine, who are recognized/claimed by both camps, viz, Protestants and Catholics both.

Why is this? It’s the authority issue. This is why both camps claim Augustine; he is the authoritative tie that binds. In the TANC Theological Journal, volume 2015 issues 4 and 5, I document the transition between home fellowships and the institution church and the warfare between the two. The home fellowships led by elders resisted the takeover of Christianity by the Gnostic church fathers who set up an apostolic succession authority in Rome.

The home fellowships rejected church hierarchy, and insisted that apostolic authority rested in the Scriptures alone and not men. They insisted on a cooperative body under one head, Jesus Christ. They insisted on ONE mediator between God and men—Jesus the Christ. In both Catholicism and Protestantism, the proffering of popes, priests, and pastors as additional mediators is absolutely irrefutable. You can read both of those issues online for free: http://truthaboutnewcalvinism.weebly.com/

So, what are the specific doctrinal contentions? It’s the same reason there are many, many denominations which are mostly predicated on progressive justification. The argument is always, “What is the correct way for people to get from point A to point B in the salvation process?

Catholics believe man has freewill and is able to participate in the process. Protestants believe man has no role in the salvation process at all. This is why much of the Leipzig debate was about election and the freewill of man, and a lot of haggling over what Augustine taught.

Both agreed on church authority, church hierarchy as sub-mediators, and progressive justification while the contention regarded man’s role in the process.

Again pause for a moment to take note: the argument regarding man’s role was argued from the standpoint of philosophy…PERIOD! Let me boil it down to the most common denominator: Plato versus Aristotle. Note the title of Luther’s 29th thesis in the disputation:

He who wishes to philosophize by using Aristotle without danger to his soul must first become thoroughly foolish in Christ.

In her excellent series on Plato, Augustine, and Calvin during the TANC 2013 Conference, my wife Susan stated the following about Plato:

He became acquainted with Ambrose of Milan, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church who introduced him to the books of the Platonists. While in Milan, his encounter with Platonism provided the major turning point which reoriented his thought among the basic things that were consistent till his death. Augustine himself makes it clear that it was his encounter with the books of the Platonists that made it possible for him to view both the church and its scriptural tradition—the key word there is tradition—as having an intellectually satisfying and indeed resourceful content…

Augustine is referred to as one of the great Christian Platonists. And there’s that oxymoron again. In particular, Augustine’s interpretation of Plato dominated Christian thought for the next thousand years after his death in the 5th century. In his Confessions, Augustine openly describes the help he received from the Platonists. Platonism colored the whole future thought of Augustine, and thus this gift of Plato’s writing set a current in the thought of Western Christendom. Augustine believed that Plato lifted him to a true and almost worthy knowledge of God. And early in his Christian career he declared, “I am convinced that I shall discover among the Platonists nothing repugnant to our religion.” The Platonists are therefore the only serious antagonists just because they need so slight a change to make them Christians. Augustine’s physical, logical and moral philosophy, all this learned first and most thoroughly from Plato, and many a formula of Platonic ethics have been passed down through Augustine and Christian literature…

I’m going to quote Augustine from his writing on Christian doctrine. “If those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not to shrink from it. We are to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it.” Now I want you to know that looks good on the surface. You find something true, and you claim it. But I want you to note his phrase, “harmony with our faith,” the faith in the Roman Catholic Church, not in harmony with Scripture but harmony in the faith that he found in the Roman Catholic Church.

Getting back to Luther, notice that Luther equates philosophy with the condition of one’s soul in the cited 29th theses. And let me interpret this statement for you preemptively: Aristotle must be understood through Luther’s Platonist epistemology known as “the foolishness of the cross.” As we will see as we move along in the series, in medieval theology from which the Reformation gospel is grounded, the ancient sophists clearly were the authority. Clearly so. The theologians of this time who were little more than a brood of world philosophers, then went to the Bible to make their case; the Bible was clearly interpreted through ancient philosophy.

Apparently, Catholic theologians became “corrupted” with Thomism (the integration of theology with the philosophy of Aristotle by Saint Thomas Aquinas) after being primarily of Augustinian (Platonic) persuasion since the 5th century. Thomism made serious inroads into Catholicism. Consider what was said by Pope Pious X in the 20th century:

The capital theses in the philosophy of St. Thomas are not to be placed in the category of opinions capable of being debated one way or another, but are to be considered as the foundations upon which the whole science of natural and divine things is based; if such principles are once removed or in any way impaired, it must necessarily follow that students of the sacred sciences will ultimately fail to perceive so much as the meaning of the words in which the dogmas of divine revelation are proposed by the magistracy of the Church (Pope St. Pius X, Doctoris Angelici, 29 June 1914).

It would appear that the crux of the Reformation was an Augustinian/Platonist pushback against Thomism. Actually, a more obscure part of the Heidelberg Disputation confirms that. I have studied this document for months, and always assumed there were 28 theses. These are known as the theological theses. I assumed such because every resource or commentary I ever used in my research only spoke of the theological theses.

In preparation for this series, I find that there were actually a total of 40, and the last 12 are known as the philosophical theses. As we will see, these last 12 of the 40 primarily concern Aristotle and Plato.

This clears up a lot of whispering questions that used to float around in the back of my mind. Where is the emphasis on this document in Reformed circles? This is the doctrinal statement of the Reformation six months after the 95 Theses was nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg. It is the primary demarcation between Catholicism and Protestantism. It is the very essence of contemporary “gospel-driven” living. It also explains the life application of gospel-driven living and how it is experienced. Why then, is this document not a household name in Western culture?

Because the last 12 theses would expose the Reformation for what it really was: a philosophical debate, not a biblical one. Yes, the first 28 theses have a strong Platonist flavor if you are familiar with Platonism, but there is no direct reference to it. The last 12 leave no doubt as to what the real bone of contention was in the Reformation. In fact according to William Herman Theodore Dau in The Great Renunciation: Leaves from the Story of Luther’s Life, page 75, he states the following:

On the following day Luther declared outright to the Dominican Butzer that with these theses he had meant to strike at the entire theological activity of the Thomists and Scotists (Scotism).

This gives us a picture of the Protestant tree. The roots are Plato, the trunk is Augustine, the branches are Catholicism, and the fruit is Protestantism. This is why evangelical Baptists are really just functioning Platonists to one degree or another. Examining the fruit from the top of the tree, evangelicalism is fraught with dualist lingo that finds its roots in Platonism.

For instance: “I didn’t do it! Don’t give me the glory! It was the Holy Spirit!” So, something happened, and it appears that you did it, but you really didn’t do it, it was done by someone else from the invisible realm. Well, that’s just good old fashioned dualist realm manifestation, or realm birthing. Also, that particular example finds its bases in Luther’s venial sin versus mortal sin which will be explained in parts following.

Before we move on, from the editor’s introduction which we already read:

 At the meeting, Luther put forward a “theology of the cross” as opposed to a “theology of glory.”

Luther’s theology of the cross is a Platonist worldview. It is the interpretation of all realty via redemption. All other knowledge/reality is categorized as the “theology of glory,” or worldly wisdom. This disputation explains how this works and its application to life experience. As we evaluate each thesis one by one, the full spectrum of Reformed tradition will be understood.

Before we begin with the first thesis, I have a few remarks regarding Luther’s introduction to the Augustinian order:

Brother Martin Luther, Master of Sacred Theology, will preside, and Brother Leonhard Beyer, Master of Arts and Philosophy, will defend the following theses before the Augustinians of this renowned city of Heidelberg in the customary place, on April 26th 1518.

Distrusting completely our own wisdom, according to that counsel of the Holy Spirit, »Do not rely on your own insight« (Prov. 3:5), we humbly present to the judgment of all those who wish to be here these theological paradoxes, so that it may become clear whether they have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter.

Leonard Beyer was a correspondent at the disputation and information about him will not be visited here. What I would like to focus on is the, “Distrusting completely our own wisdom” and the verse that is even used today to make a case for the worthlessness of worldly wisdom versus wisdom from above; that is Proverbs 3:5. Note also that St. Augustine is clearly put on the same par with the apostle Paul. And lastly, note that Luther states that this document is made up of “paradoxes.” Herein is the epitome of spiritual caste systems with Augustine as chief philosopher king dictating the paradoxes to the masses.

Thesis 1: The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.

This is made clear by the Apostle in his letter to the Romans (3:21): »But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.« St. Augustine interprets this in his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹ (De Spiritu et Littera): »Without the law, that is, without its support.« In Rom. 5:20 the Apostle states, »Law intervened, to increase the trespass«, and in Rom. 7:9 he adds, »But when the commandment came, sin revived.« For this reason he calls the law »a law of death« and »a law of sin« in Rom. 8:2. Indeed, in 2 Cor. 3:6 he says, »the written code kills«, which St. Augustine throughout his book ›The Spirit and the Letter‹ understands as applying to every law, even the holiest law of God.

The Achilles’ heel of Protestantism is the law. Here, Luther interprets Romans 3:21 as pertaining to any righteousness that might be practiced by a believer. Remember, Luther sees justification as progressive. A onetime imputation of righteousness through the new birth that makes a person righteous apart from the law is not in view here. In other words, Luther doesn’t see this as people being made righteous apart from the law, but rather makes law the standard for righteousness. In truth, the new birth is the standard for righteousness, not the law. By the way, it is tempting to cite the Calvin Institutes as a supplement here. The Calvin Institutes are an expansion of the Heidelberg Disputation. The first sentence of the Institutes is a statement that reflects the foundational premise of Luther’s Disputation.

Therefore, since the law is the standard for righteousness, it can only hinder someone trying to use it for righteous living. Luther then cites Romans 5:20 to make the case that the law only increases sin. Well, that’s true for those who are under it (see Romans 6:14). Luther makes under grace a covering for remaining under law instead of one ceasing and being replaced by the other one. Said another way, being under grace doesn’t replace being under law, under grace is only an ongoing cure for remaining under law.

But this is what Romans 3:21 is really talking about: we are made righteous apart from the law; righteousness and law are mutually exclusive in justification. As believers, we act righteously because of the new birth, not because we are law-keepers. The law doesn’t make us righteous—the new birth does.

Paul’s reference to the law increasing sin applies to those still under it. The same goes for Luther’s twisting of 2Corinthians 3:6. The law is a ministry of death for those who are still under law, but not for those under grace. The smoking gun on this is Luther’s handing of Romans 8:2 in that he only quotes half of the verse.

This is the crux of the error regarding the Reformed view of law and its single perspective. He only cites the one perspective on the law as a ministry of death only, and not the perspective where the Spirit of life uses the same law to sanctify us (John 17:17). Observe Romans 8:2 and you can see the two perspectives on the law in that verse.

Ironically, thesis 1 is all you need to totally debunk the Reformation—the theological math doesn’t add up. But, remember, all of this errant theology flows from the philosophical argument. This makes the Reformation’s sola scriptura (sol-us script-tora) a big fat lie. Clearly, Plato was the authority starting with Augustine moving forward.

Thesis 2: Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.

Since the law of God, which is holy and unstained, true, just, etc., is given man by God as an aid beyond his natural powers to enlighten him and move him to do the good, and nevertheless the opposite takes place, namely, that he becomes more wicked, how can he, left to his own power and without such aid, be induced to do good? If a person does not do good with help from without, he will do even less by his own strength. Therefore the Apostle, in Rom. 3:10-12, calls all persons corrupt and impotent who neither understand nor seek God, for all, he says, have gone astray.

Note that the real issue here is “natural precepts.” Because this is really a Platonist document, anything man does that can be perceived with the five senses, no matter what it is, must be evil because it can be perceived. Period.

So Reformed tradition concerning law/gospel starts right here folks. You’re looking at it right now. What did Luther do with the law and its commands to mankind in light of his Platonist philosophy? Here is what he did:

He actually made the law part of the Trinity. He actually made the law God. He made the law a co-life-giver with God. Eternal life is not granted through the new birth APART from the law; the law becomes the standard and expression of eternal life.

In Robert Brinsmead’s brilliant articulation of Luther’s soteriology in the theological journal, Present Truth, he explains it this way:

The Holy Spirit gives the sinner faith to accept the righteousness of Jesus. Standing now before the law which says, “I demand a life of perfect conformity to the commandments,” the believing sinner cries in triumph, “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did . . . ” (Luther). The law is well pleased with Jesus’ doing and dying, which the sinner brings in the hand of faith. Justice is fully satisfied, and God can truly say: “This man has fulfilled the law. He is justified.”

And…

We say again, Only those are justified who bring to God a life of perfect obedience to the law of God. This is what faith does—it brings to God the obedience of Jesus Christ. By faith the law is fulfilled and the sinner is justified.

So basically, what you have is Jesus not only coming to die for our sins, but to fulfill the law so that his obedience can be imputed to us in order to satisfy the law because we can’t keep the law perfectly. But that’s not why we are righteous—we are righteous because our minds are renewed by the Spirit and we are born of God’s seed. This results in a different direction, not perfection. The dynamic is found in Romans 6:20: those under law are enslaved to sin, but free to do good. Those under grace are enslaved to righteousness, but unfortunately free to sin. It’s a reversal of enslavement and freedom resulting in a different direction. The will of man is both enslaved and free. Of course, Luther contended that man’s will is in total bondage to sin.

At any rate, what you have here is also the very cradle of what the Reformed call, “double imputation,” a doctrine lauded by the Reformed in this day. Again, let me remind you, this is the very first theological theses of the Protestant Reformation, and all of the major tenets lauded by the Reformed in our day find there beginnings in this document. Also remember, these tenets necessarily flow from Luther’s Platonist worldview.

And this is why in our day you hear conservative evangelical Baptists say things like, “We have the righteousness of Christ,” “The resurrection was proof that God was pleased with Christ’s obedience,” “When God looks at us He only sees Christ,” etc., etc., etc. This is why the Baptist stripe of Protestants, and for that matter all others as well, are little more than functioning Platonists.

The fulfilment of the law for the implementation of eternal life is just a steroidal antithesis to Pauline soteriology even though Luther claims in the introduction that this disputation is based on Pauline theology. This was Paul’s whole point in Galatians chapter 3, the law cannot give life for justification.

In this particular thesis, Luther states that man is given the word as an “aid” that does NOT enlighten him, or enable him to do good. So how does it aid him? That was covered in thesis 1; it is an aid to show man how wicked he is whether saved or unregenerate. Luther then twists Romans 3:10-12 to make the point.

But again, we have an example of something we will see throughout this disputation and often in our day: the citing of verses that pertain to presalvation/justification applied to post salvation existence, or if you will, sanctification. Paul is simply citing Psalms 13:1-3 to make the point that unregenerate Jews are no better off than unregenerate Gentiles and both need Christ just as much as one does or the other.

So, someone might say, “But Paul, doesn’t that passage say that no man seeks God?” Sure it does, so what? The nature of fallen man, as exhibited by Adam and Eve, is to do what? Hide. For certain, when Adam and Eve sinned, they didn’t immediately go looking for God and say, “We messed up, how can we fix this?” No, God had to seek them out, they didn’t seek God, but once God cornered them with the truth, did they or any person after them possess an inherent inability to respond in the positive? I doubt it. Again, we see God seeking out Cain in the same way after he slew Abel.

That’s what evangelism is all about even in our day. The Spirit and we seek men out on God’s behalf. The Spirit convicts men of sin and the judgement to come, and we do the same. We have our life testimony, the word of God, the conviction of conscience either excusing or accusing men according to the works of the law written on their hearts, and the work of the Holy Spirit. They already have the works of the law written on their hearts administered by the conscience; it is our job to set that on fire with more specific revelation.

What God did in the Garden in regard to seeking out Adam and Eve is our job, that’s our duty. That’s part of what makes us like our Father.

Well, we have done pretty well tonight. We have completed the introduction and evaluated the first two theses. Let’s go to the phones.

The Key to Revival: Stop Saying “Sins of the Flesh”. The Flesh is NOT Sinful

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 21, 2015

PPT HandleProtestantism wasn’t born of Gnosticism; it was born of Neo-Platonism which became Gnosticism. Most Protestants would deny that they are Gnostics, but because the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, they often embrace ideology that is Gnostic. In other words, they are functioning Gnostics.

The prime example is the whole “sins of the flesh” Christian mantra. That’s not a biblical idea, and is essentially Gnostic.

A primary tenet of Gnosticism is Either/Or epistemology. If you pay attention to the words used in this Sunday’s sermon, more than likely, you will notice that everything is either/or with no middle ground. I realize that the Bible does contain sentences that refer to the “desires of the flesh” and “sins of the flesh,” but that refers to when the flesh, the bodily members, are used for sinful purposes. Please note that the Bible also states that we can use our members for holy purposes as well.

Furthermore, the Bible even states that as believers, our bodies are the temples of God. Moreover, a more careful examination reveals that the reference to “temple” in regard to our bodies actually refers to the Holy of Holies. If you think you can presently hear Calvin and Luther rolling and screaming in their graves in response to that assertion—the problem is not in your cranium set.

If you are actually free to present your body as a living sacrifice to God in the Holy of Holies, what do you need the vast Protestant industrial complex for? You don’t.

The flesh is NOT sinful, according to the Bible; it is “weak.” The idea that weakness is part and parcel with the evil material world is a Gnostic presupposition. For example, the holy angels are weaker than God, no?

Pastors, do you want revival? Stop telling your parishioners that they are “sinners saved by grace.” They are not sinners; they are literally a nation of holy priests.

“But we still sin.”

If you just said that, you are not fit for the ministry—you don’t even understand Biblical Law/Gospel 101.

Get with the program.  You will never have revival with a bunch of sinners—that would seem evident. Grow up in Christ, and stop listening to men. You are like my adorable grandson, Blaine, who is 4 years old.  He is a great listener and repeats everything he hears.

That’s just adorable, but when grown men who dare to call themselves pastors do the same thing—not so much.

paul

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 5 – Law, Gospel, and Love

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 27, 2015

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Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 5 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.” If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. Per the usual, 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 lesson without need for you to call in.

This is our final segment on 1John, and next week we will be doing a book review on “How People Change” by Paul David Tripp. I will be doing an overview of each of the 16 chapters in the book according to the theses of each chapter, and then will explain how the different points of each chapter fit together to form a particular doctrine. All in all, the book represents a pretty impressive application of Reformed mysticism.

Then, the following week, starting on May 8th, I think the time has come to do an in-depth evaluation of the Heidelberg Disputation. Martin Luther’s  95 Theses launched the Reformation, but all Reformed doctrines flow from the Heidelberg Disputation. Though very subtle, our present church culture is saturated with a collectivist doctrine of death, and I want to show exactly where this culture of death came from. We will be evaluating the Heidelberg Disputation theses by theses. How many Baptists know anything about the Heidelberg Disputation? Few, if any, yet the foundation of evangelicalism flows from this document.

Last week, I got away from our Gnostic theme and showed a correlation between John’s theology and that of the apostle Paul. The focus was the new birth, which Gnosticism denies. The historical backdrop is John’s pushback against Gnosticism which denies that people change. The Gnostics of that day believed that the material realm is evil and the spiritual realm is pure.

The goal is wellbeing that comes from getting beyond the five senses in order to gain knowledge. The particular vein of Gnosticism that John was contending against believed that sin only occurs in the body, and man’s spirit has never sinned per se. As a result, God’s people were being taught that what they did in the body was insignificant, and man didn’t need to deal with sin. Gaining spiritual knowledge for their own wellbeing was the key to having a happy life.

They denied that Christ really came as a man and was God’s Son. They taught that there were two Christ’s; one born of men and a Christ that was a spiritual avatar of sorts.

At any rate, the doctrine denied Christ’s deity, that He came to die for sin, and that mankind needed forgiveness for sin. Consequently, it also denied the new birth. In the same way Protestantism obviously denies that people change, redefine the new birth as an ability to perceive realm manifestation, and have their own unique distortion of the Trinity. When it gets right down to it, authentic Protestantism posits the Father and the Spirit as shadows of Christ.

Therefore, in chapter 3, John focuses on the new birth and why it changes us. But the dominate theme of the book, especially chapters 4 and 5, concentrates on love. Why is that? Because love in action should be the primary focus of Christians. Instead, what is the primary focus of Protestantism? Right; sin, sin, sin, sin, sin. Yes, our focus must be keeping our sins covered by the perfect righteousness of Jesus. Every song you sing, every sermon you hear is about how glorious Jesus is as set against our wretched vile selves. It boils down to praising our ability to see how rotten we are in the name of Jesus.

Look, 1Corinthians 13:6 defines love as something that doesn’t rejoice in evil, but clearly, Protestants rejoice in “grace,” that is, seeing our evil as set against the holiness of God. Like the Gnosticism that John was dealing with, Protestantism turns love completely upside down. That’s the problem we want to solve tonight.

In the first parts of this series, we focused on the Gnostic backdrop, but last week, we brought in the teachings of Paul to better understand what John was writing, and that’s what we are going to do tonight.

Why does Protestantism, like Gnosticism, circumvent love, and what can we do about it? Let’s first consider what 1John states about love:

1John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.

Do you see the huge problem with focusing on sin and not love? And I don’t mean God’s love for us because we are such vile sinners, I mean our love towards God and others. Note what somebody sent the blog this week which is indicative of what we hear constantly in the church. They heard this on K-Love Christian radio:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth

Would care to know my name,

Would care to feel my hurt?

Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star

Would choose to light the way

For my ever wandering heart?

Not because of who I am

But because of what You’ve done.

Not because of what I’ve done

But because of who You are.

I am a flower quickly fading,

Here today and gone tomorrow.

A wave tossed in the ocean.

A vapor in the wind.

Still You hear me when I’m calling.

Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.

And You’ve told me who I am.

I am Yours, I am Yours.

This is what we hear incessantly in the church. Where is the focus on our love towards others and God? In order to return to the right focus on love, we need the right theology, so let’s get to it.

Whatever form of Protestantism you are talking about, and Calvinism in particular, its Achilles’ heel is the law. Protestantism cannot pass the true gospel test because of its position on law, and this is not hard to understand.

Andy Young, an associate of TANC ministries, said something in last year’s 2014 conference that is probably true for the most part: “The law is for sanctification.” Right, because the law is in no wise for justification. We are justified apart from the law (Romans 3:21) and “apart” means exactly that. The fact that the law will judge people in the end is a separate issue altogether.

The apostle Paul makes all of this easy to understand in Galatians chapter 3. But first, let’s use that same chapter to establish what we mean by the word, “law.” The word is used interchangeably with many other words, including, “gospel” to refer to the Bible. So, Andy was merely saying that the Bible is for sanctification, or in other words, Christian living. Andy was talking in context of sanctification for the Bible has no stake in justification, and again, the fact that the Bible will judge people in the end is another issue. Yes, the Bible defines justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 4:21); yes, the Bible testifies to the truths regarding justification, but the law does not justify.

Note the following from Galatians 3:

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Notice that Paul uses the word “law” and “Scripture” interchangeably. The law, “holy writ,” “the word,” “the gospel,” “the Scriptures,” “the law and the prophets,” etc. are all terms that refer to the Bible which is a full orbed statement by God regarding Himself, mankind, and reality. Statements like this: “We are not bound by the law, or else we’d have to live under every aspect of the law including not wearing blended fabrics and not eating shrimp and bacon” reveal a fundamental ignorance in regard to what the law is.

Protestantism falls on this one basic principle: law is the standard for righteousness. This makes the salvific work of Christ two-fold: He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and came to fulfill the law for us in order to make us righteous. That’s gross heresy. That’s an egregious false gospel. Hence, you have two kinds of Protestants: one camp that understands the position and professes it, and the other camp who also confesses it, but has not thought out the ramifications. This includes Baptists, Methodists, and many others. Baptists parted ways with the Reformers on baptism, but have never repented of making the law justification’s standard.

Yes, Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and to not end it, but then we have the apostle Paul writing that Christ in fact did come to end the law, so does the Bible contradict itself? By no means.

Here is the problem: by design, Protestants don’t interpret the Bible in context of sanctification and justification, and again, that is by design. Why? Because Protestantism is founded on the idea that sanctification is merely the progression of justification. This also goes hand in glove with the idea that the law is justification’s standard. Hence, the law must continue to be fulfilled perfectly to keep the saints justified. This results in the confused theological train wreck we call Protestantism.

When the law must be continually fulfilled perfectly as a standard for justification, the law cannot be used for love because now you have fused love and justification together. This is why churches lack love; the maintaining of justification and love are confused. In the Bible, love is absolutely synonymous with obedience. Unfortunately, Protestantism makes obedience a justification issue. Obedience is not a justification issue—it’s a love issue. That’s why there is so much love-bombing in churches; true love is stifled because it is confused with justification. The vacuum is then filled with empty words and programs. People are in bondage to the law in Jesus’ name and their pain is medicated by praise bands, personality cults, and the splendor of institutional temples.

The fulfillment of the law in Jesus’ name is a huge problem—there is no law in justification regardless of who keeps it. Who keeps it is not the issue, the law is the issue. Here is the theses of Paul’s argument in Galatians 3: Only God can give life through faith alone in the promise. What is the promise? It was a promise made to Abraham and Christ that Israel and the Gentiles would be blessed with eternal life, and that Christ would be resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit in order to make that possible:

Galatians 3:15 – To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

So in other words, if Christ came to also fulfill the law, the Promise is fulfilled by law, and not God’s promise made to Abraham. By the way, this term, “the promise” is a major biblical term referring to the gospel. In regard to justification, Christ came for one reason: to end the curse of the law:

Galatians 3:10 – For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

If we still rely on the works of the law, we are under a curse; again, it doesn’t matter who keeps it. Paul spent most of his ministry trying to hammer this point home. Here, he makes it clear that the law was not part of the original promise, and once a covenant has been ratified, nothing can change it. If Christ fulfilled the law in our stead, that is clearly an addition to the original covenant of promise—that’s Paul’s specific point.

But now Protestants once again protest that the key is a perfect fulfillment of the law which only curses those who cannot keep it perfectly. Christ’s perfect obedience to the law is then imputed to us. In light of this chapter in Galatians, this position is fraught with problems. Clearly, it’s still an addition to the original covenant. Also, key is who the promise is made to; ie., the descendants of Abraham which include the Gentiles, and Christ Himself. Paul emphasizes that there is only ONE seed (verse 16). Why?

“Seed” is key. The Greek word refers to offspring. Christ was part of Abraham’s lineage, and is only ONE seed—there is not more than one seed. Christ died to end the curse of the law by dying to pay the penalty of sin, and then waited (in a manner of speaking) in the grave for the promise that was also made to Him: “the promised Spirit.” The Spirit raised Christ from the grave:

Romans 8:11 – If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Ephesians 1:19 – and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

The promised Spirit is major here. This is the new birth. This promise of the Spirit accomplished three universe-shaking objectives: it enabled mankind to follow Christ in literal death and resurrection, baptized Jews and Gentiles into one body, or family of God, cancelled judgement and condemnation, and set God’s children free to aggressively love.

The idea that Christ fulfilled the law in order to satisfy justification usurps the Spirit’s role in the promise. God elected the means of salvation, Christ died, and the Spirit baptizes. God initiated salvation, Christ paid the penalty for sin, and the Spirit regenerates. We are not justified by the law, we are justified by the new birth:

Romans 4:20 – No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (ESV 2001).

Galatians 3:1 – O thoughtless Galatians, who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth — before whose eyes Jesus Christ was described before among you crucified? 2 this only do I wish to learn from you — by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith? 3 so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end? (YLT).

Notice the idea of completion reflected by the Greek and properly translated by the YLT. We don’t receive the Spirit and His work on the installment plan when we believe; the new birth is a complete work. Hence, the new birth, or the Spirit’s baptism is what makes us righteous or justified, not the law.

Again, God set forth the plan of salvation, Christ died to end the law, and the Spirit regenerates us and helps us in our progression of holiness. We are born of the Spirit and resurrected as holy babies born of God, and grow up in holiness (1Peter 2:2). The baptism of the Spirit is therefore twofold:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

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

Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Why would Christ fulfil the law and then die to end it? Why would Christ’s perfect obedience to law be imputed to us when it is no longer valid? Why would Christ fulfil the law for those who die with Him and are no longer under that law? Why would Christ fulfil a law that has nothing to say to us? (Romans 3:19). When Paul states, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (verse 10), that means any works of the law period, not just what we perform, but any works of the law period. The covenant of promise WAS NOT RATIFIED BY THE LAW THAT CAME 430 YEARS LATER. What could possibly be more evident? If Jesus kept the law perfectly as part of the gospel, that still ratifies the original covenant of promise.

But all of this is not even Paul’s primary argument. His primary argument is that only the Spirit can give life. His argument is that only the resurrection of the new birth gives life. If the law has any part in justification; the law can give life and there is more than one seed. Consequently, only God can give life and now there is a co-life-giver. That’s Paul’s argument exactly.

11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

Life, justification, faith alone in the promise, and the new birth are all mutually inclusive while the law and justification are mutually exclusive—that’s exactly what the apostle Paul is saying.

Also, if law has anything to do with justification at all, we inherit eternal life by being born again into God’s family by the fulfillment of the law and NOT promise:

18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Someone may argue, “But Jesus keeps the law perfectly!” So what of it? It’s still inheritance by the law and not promise. Again, and again; the original covenant was not ratified by Jesus’ perfect law-keeping. Here is what we must come to grips with: Protestantism is predicated on a juvenile perception of law and gospel.

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

As an aside while on the subject of covenants: this whole idea of Jesus fulfilling the law plugs into the ever popular Covenant theology. This is the idea that Christ came to obey the law perfectly in order to restore the original and supposed covenant of works with Adam. But the Covenant of Promise was not made with Adam, it was made with Abraham. Compounding this glaring error is the citation of Genesis 3:15 to make a connection between Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience to the law. But in that verse, it is the serpent that is being addressed and not Adam. Usually, when you make a covenant with someone, as with Abraham, it’s made with the person you are talking to. In essence, it claims that God made a covenant with the serpent.

Regardless of all of the splendor and glory affiliated with religious academia, it is found wanting in embarrassing proportions. The laity must stop listening to these people and start reading the Bible for themselves.

But with all of this said, “Why then the law?”(verse 19). However, which law is Paul referring to when he presents this anticipated question in verse 19? There are two laws: one known as, “the written code” (Colossians 2:14), “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2), “the law of sin” (Romans 7:23), simply “the law” in many places, “the letter” (2Cor 3:6), “ministry of death” (2Cor 3:7), “ministry of condemnation” (2Cor 3:9), “the record of debt” (Col 2:14), and “the first covenant” (Hebrews 8:13).

The second is known as: “the law of the Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2), “the law of my mind” (Romans 7:23), “the law of liberty” (James 1:25), “the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), and because love fulfills the whole law (Romans 13:8-10), it can be rightly called “the law of love.”

In verse 19, Paul is referring to the first law. It only condemns and judges, but that’s not its only function by far.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

What’s this saying? First, it’s saying that the first law has no function for believers after Christ died on the cross to END the law. And Christ did come to end the law of sin and death. Christ didn’t come to merely cover sin with His own righteousness, He came to end sin by ending the law (Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:6,8, 10:4, 1Tim 1:9, Gal 2:19).

Secondly, the first law covered believers until Christ died on the cross. The first law was an atonement for sin; all of the sins of Old Testament believers were imputed to that law, and then it was ended by Christ. The person who believes on Christ dies in baptism, and is no longer under the law that he/she sinned against (Romans 7:1ff). This would also include believers who were deceased at the time.

In regard to Old Testament believers that were dead during the time of Christ’s ministry on earth, Old Testament believers were captive under the law until Christ died to end the law. Therefore, they were in Sheol/Abraham’s bosom/Paradise/Hades. When Christ died, He went there and preached to the captives and took the thief on the cross with Him. When the Spirit resurrected Him, He also resurrected those in Sheol and set the captives free. They and their sins were held captive by the law until Christ died to end it. Remember, King David said, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Psalm 16:10). As a testimony, Christ sent many of them to walk around Jerusalem. Texts that help sum up all of these points are Ephesians 4:7-10 which also references Psalm 68:18, Luke 16:22, Matthew 27:51-53, and Colossians 2:13-15.

Thirdly, the first law still has a function in the scheme of things. The old covenant of the law is passing away, but is not ended for the unbelieving. “Under grace” did not end “under law” (Romans 6:14). The first law still holds sin captive because all sin is against the law (1John 3:4). Yes, for those who don’t repent, the law will judge them in the end. To the degree that they violate the law, they will be punished eternally.

But there is a sense in which the first law also serves a purpose of covering as it formally did for those under grace. When a person is saved and born again, they die and are no longer culpable to the law—the law is also ended for them at that time. Their sins are taken away and cast as far as the east is from the west. Again, Christ did not come to cover sin, he came to take sin away. The first law is grace in waiting. All sin is imputed to it, and it stands ready to be ended for each and every person who chooses to follow Christ in death and resurrection.

Now, what about the other law—the law of the Spirit of life? Let there be no doubt, there is a law that is under grace. It is the law of love. We have been released from the condemnation of the first law, and are now free to aggressively serve the law of Christ:

Romans 7:4 – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

In the same way that one sin formally violated the whole law (James 2:10), one act of love fulfills the law of Christ (Gal 5:14, Rom 13:10). Love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8). We are sanctified with the word of truth (John 17:17). The Christian life is faith WORKING through the obedience of love (Gal 5:6), and love is synonymous with obedience (John 14:15).

If a professing Christian is not truly bearing fruit for God as an expression of true love for truth, God, and others, he/she has a flawed view of the law’s relationship to the gospel.

What is sapping the power of Christianity in our day is misguided fear. When the ending of sin is confused with the idea of covering, excessive introspection ensues  for fear that we are not living by a convoluted Protestant system of faith-alone works so that the perfect obedience of Christ will continue to be imputed to our Christian life.

In contrast, there is no longer any condemnation for those in Christ and fear has to do with judgement (Rom 8:30, 1Jn 4:16-19). Those mature in love cast away fear. They are free from the condemnation of the law and free to serve Christ in aggressive love.

Who will deny that the overwhelming preoccupation of Protestants is sin and not love while any appearance of good works are held suspect? Where there is not freedom to love without fearful introspection, love will not thrive.

Let’s go to the phones.

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