Paul's Passing Thoughts

Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutic – A Classic Example

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 26, 2016

Originally published March 4, 2015

andy-profile-1I came across an “interesting” blog article the other day. It appeared in my Facebook newsfeed because someone on my friend list commented on it when one of his friends shared it. Of course, since I am not friends with the one who originally shared it, I was unable to add my comment, thus the inspiration for this article today.

The title of the blog article in questions is, “If we sin, do we lose our salvation?” That mere fact that such a question is still posed in Christianity is indicative of just how biblically illiterate most Christians are. The fact that authors such as this one still address this question in the manner that he does is even more disturbing.

Before even addressing the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation, the author begins his article by citing Jesus’ example of the two house builders found in Luke chapter 6. Let’s take a look at this passage ourselves before we move on.

47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Luke 6:47-49

Clearly, Jesus is using a metaphor, but to properly understand the metaphor we must ask ourselves, what is the context of this passage? It should be apparent that the context is a contrast between two kinds of individuals. One kind is an individual who hears AND does. The second kind is an individual who hears only. The parallel passage in Matthew 7 goes even further in marking this contrast.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27

The individual who hears AND does is considered wise. The one who hears only is considered foolish. Herein is the point of this whole passage: the emphasis on hearing AND doing, which is considered to be wise. But please notice what the blog author chooses as his focus:

 Building a house is very similar to one’s experience as either a Christian believer or an unsaved nonbeliever. That is why Jesus drew a comparison between the two (Luke 6:47-49). If you start out with a good foundation that is level and built on solid ground, you can confidently add on walls and flooring and a roof and every other component that makes up a house, and be certain that, because the foundation is sound, the house will be sound. But if you lay a poor foundation that is uneven and shaky, the rest of the house will follow and all the components that are built on that poor foundation will be compromised. To have a soundly constructed house, you must have a good foundation; to have a rock-solid Christian faith, you must build it on foundational truth.”

This is one of the most intellectually incompetent and dishonest uses of the two builders that I have ever seen! This example from scripture has nothing to do with “foundations”. It has everything to do with wisdom and sanctification. The author completely ignores the part about wisdom in both hearing and doing and instead engages in what I call “spiritualizing the analogy”, making it about justification instead. He has interpreted this passage in the so-called “proper gospel context”. This is what happens when you interpret scripture using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic. Spiritualizing the analogy makes a false application of a metaphor that was never intended. It is a logical fallacy. Let’s examine what I mean by this.

If I am given the logical premises that A=B and B=C, I can logically conclude that A=C. This is the logic of the example of the two house builders.

A = B      Hearing and doing = a wise man
B = C      A wise man = building on a rock (a good foundation)
   therefore
A = C      Hearing and doing = building on a rock (will make one strong; i.e. aggressive sanctification)

The same holds true for the foolish man.

A = B      Hearing only = a foolish man
B = C      A foolish man = building on sand (a poor foundation)
therefore
A = C      Hearing only = building on sand (will make one weak; i.e. little or no sanctification)

A metaphor makes no sense in and of itself. It has no relevance outside of the initial truth that it represents. If Jesus had only said, “Make sure you build on a rock foundation and not a foundation of sand,” that would have made no sense whatsoever. But Jesus clearly stated that hearing and doing is wise, and He further emphasized that point by using the analogy of building on a rock.  Notice also that a correct logical progression in thought results in the proper application of the conclusions.  One can reasonably conclude that this not a salvation passage but rather a sanctification passage for believers.

That is the proper meaning and intention of this passage. Contrast that with what the author did in the article. He took the metaphor all by itself and made it say whatever he wanted it to say in order to make his case.  And what is his case?

“If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and turn to God in repentance of your sins, then you will be saved… This does not mean that after this occurs, you will never sin again, or even that you will not commit the same sin repeatedly. It means that your heart has been changed toward sin so that you can now see it for what it is… Fortunately, for Paul and for you and for me, that question has a definitively glorious answer: ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’”

Plain and simple, this is progressive justification. Notice it is an ongoing deliverance, not a onetime deliverance. So, then the question remains, what do we have to do to keep the deliverance going? Well, we repent, and that saves us, BUT we still sin.  So what?  Well, the “so what” is that we need perpetual saving by Jesus.  This is what Paul David Tripp and Tim Keller and John Piper call a “daily rescue.”  This is Luther’s theology of the cross, a perpetual mortification and vivification.

This is the very reason why the emphasis on the hearing AND doing is ignored. For us “to do” would be works, at least in this construct, if this were a passage on justification and not sanctification. We must live by “faith alone” and not build on the wrong “foundation.” We can only “experience” what it is to have the right foundation, because for us to try and work and build is building on the wrong foundation which is the reformed definition of the “unsaved”. But justification is a finished work. There is nothing we can do to add to it. Because it is finished, we can aggressively “do” the things we “hear” taught to us in the Word. Time and time again, the scriptures equate for us doing good with life and doing evil with death. Good = life = wise. Evil = death = foolish. When it comes right down to it, this really isn’t that hard to figure out.

Andy

Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutic – A Classic Example

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on June 20, 2016

Originally published March 4, 2015

andy-profile-1I came across an “interesting” blog article the other day. It appeared in my Facebook newsfeed because someone on my friend list commented on it when one of his friends shared it. Of course, since I am not friends with the one who originally shared it, I was unable to add my comment, thus the inspiration for this article today.

The title of the blog article in questions is, “If we sin, do we lose our salvation?” That mere fact that such a question is still posed in Christianity is indicative of just how biblically illiterate most Christians are. The fact that authors such as this one still address this question in the manner that he does is even more disturbing.

Before even addressing the issue of whether one can lose one’s salvation, the author begins his article by citing Jesus’ example of the two house builders found in Luke chapter 6. Let’s take a look at this passage ourselves before we move on.

47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
Luke 6:47-49

Clearly, Jesus is using a metaphor, but to properly understand the metaphor we must ask ourselves, what is the context of this passage? It should be apparent that the context is a contrast between two kinds of individuals. One kind is an individual who hears AND does. The second kind is an individual who hears only. The parallel passage in Matthew 7 goes even further in marking this contrast.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Matthew 7:24-27

The individual who hears AND does is considered wise. The one who hears only is considered foolish. Herein is the point of this whole passage: the emphasis on hearing AND doing, which is considered to be wise. But please notice what the blog author chooses as his focus:

 Building a house is very similar to one’s experience as either a Christian believer or an unsaved nonbeliever. That is why Jesus drew a comparison between the two (Luke 6:47-49). If you start out with a good foundation that is level and built on solid ground, you can confidently add on walls and flooring and a roof and every other component that makes up a house, and be certain that, because the foundation is sound, the house will be sound. But if you lay a poor foundation that is uneven and shaky, the rest of the house will follow and all the components that are built on that poor foundation will be compromised. To have a soundly constructed house, you must have a good foundation; to have a rock-solid Christian faith, you must build it on foundational truth.”

This is one of the most intellectually incompetent and dishonest uses of the two builders that I have ever seen! This example from scripture has nothing to do with “foundations”. It has everything to do with wisdom and sanctification. The author completely ignores the part about wisdom in both hearing and doing and instead engages in what I call “spiritualizing the analogy”, making it about justification instead. He has interpreted this passage in the so-called “proper gospel context”. This is what happens when you interpret scripture using a redemptive-historical hermeneutic. Spiritualizing the analogy makes a false application of a metaphor that was never intended. It is a logical fallacy. Let’s examine what I mean by this.

If I am given the logical premises that A=B and B=C, I can logically conclude that A=C. This is the logic of the example of the two house builders.

A = B      Hearing and doing = a wise man
B = C      A wise man = building on a rock (a good foundation)
   therefore
A = C      Hearing and doing = building on a rock (will make one strong; i.e. aggressive sanctification)

The same holds true for the foolish man.

A = B      Hearing only = a foolish man
B = C      A foolish man = building on sand (a poor foundation)
therefore
A = C      Hearing only = building on sand (will make one weak; i.e. little or no sanctification)

A metaphor makes no sense in and of itself. It has no relevance outside of the initial truth that it represents. If Jesus had only said, “Make sure you build on a rock foundation and not a foundation of sand,” that would have made no sense whatsoever. But Jesus clearly stated that hearing and doing is wise, and He further emphasized that point by using the analogy of building on a rock.  Notice also that a correct logical progression in thought results in the proper application of the conclusions.  One can reasonably conclude that this not a salvation passage but rather a sanctification passage for believers.

That is the proper meaning and intention of this passage. Contrast that with what the author did in the article. He took the metaphor all by itself and made it say whatever he wanted it to say in order to make his case.  And what is his case?

“If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins, and turn to God in repentance of your sins, then you will be saved… This does not mean that after this occurs, you will never sin again, or even that you will not commit the same sin repeatedly. It means that your heart has been changed toward sin so that you can now see it for what it is… Fortunately, for Paul and for you and for me, that question has a definitively glorious answer: ‘Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’”

Plain and simple, this is progressive justification. Notice it is an ongoing deliverance, not a onetime deliverance. So, then the question remains, what do we have to do to keep the deliverance going? Well, we repent, and that saves us, BUT we still sin.  So what?  Well, the “so what” is that we need perpetual saving by Jesus.  This is what Paul David Tripp and Tim Keller and John Piper call a “daily rescue.”  This is Luther’s theology of the cross, a perpetual mortification and vivification.

This is the very reason why the emphasis on the hearing AND doing is ignored. For us “to do” would be works, at least in this construct, if this were a passage on justification and not sanctification. We must live by “faith alone” and not build on the wrong “foundation.” We can only “experience” what it is to have the right foundation, because for us to try and work and build is building on the wrong foundation which is the reformed definition of the “unsaved”. But justification is a finished work. There is nothing we can do to add to it. Because it is finished, we can aggressively “do” the things we “hear” taught to us in the Word. Time and time again, the scriptures equate for us doing good with life and doing evil with death. Good = life = wise. Evil = death = foolish. When it comes right down to it, this really isn’t that hard to figure out.

Andy

Does the Law Really Lead People to Christ by Revealing Sin Only?

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 16, 2016

PPT HandleOriginally published October 14, 2013

The insanely celebrated return to our Reformed roots teaches the following about the law:

We are unable to keep the law perfectly. And since a perfect keeping of the law is the standard for righteousness required to live with God forever, our inability to keep the law perfectly leads us to Christ who must keep/fulfill it for us. As Christians, we continue to use the law in this way to “preach the gospel to ourselves.” The more we use the law to show our innate sinfulness, the more we experience “vivification” (a joyful, perpetual rebirth).

The bogus idea that perfect law-keeping is justification’s standard aside, the most popular text that supposedly supports this idea is Galatians 3:24 –

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

To make that verse work, “guardian” (paidagōgos) is often translated as “tutor.” That’s a stretch. The word is better translated “protector”:

Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood (Strong’s Dictionary).

Furthermore, the Reformed gospel teaches that the law is used by the Christian for this same purpose in our Christian walk—to continually lead us closer and closer to Christ by showing forth sin. This blatantly contradicts the context of the passage:

Galatians 3:25 – But now that faith has come, we are no longer [added] under a guardian,

Reformed doctrine clearly teaches that Christians are still under the law’s purpose to show us a deeper and deeper need for Christ and His grace as we see our own sinfulness in a deeper and deeper way. In other words, for Christians, God’s word still has a redemptive purpose. This is the basis for Historic Redemptive hermeneutics. However, even in regard to the lost, the showing forth of sin is only one purpose for the law, but far from being the only one.

Primarily, the law shows forth life. This is by far the primary theme of law throughout the Scriptures. The law shows forth the wisdom of God, and the wellbeing (blessings) of those who follow it. The law is also framed in the context of promise much more than it is judgment.

This gets into the major crux of the Reformed false gospel; the fusion of justification and sanctification concepts. The blessings of law-keeping can be experienced by unbelievers and believers alike, but such cannot obtain eternal life. The point is that the law shows forth life as much as it does death. It shows both. Again, this is a constant theme throughout the Scriptures. Who will deny that unbelievers will have a higher quality of life to the degree that they follow God’s law? No, it can’t gain salvation for them, but the law brings horizontal blessings by virtue of its wisdom.

Point in case:

1Peter 3:1 – Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

In this passage, the husband is not won over by the wife demonstrating how sinful we are and our subsequent need for Christ; she is showing forth the blessings of being a believer. These are blessings that he is also experiencing because the home is sanctified by her presence:

1Corinthians 7:14 – For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

So, there is a sense in which the unbelieving spouse is blessed by the believing one. The law not only shows forth sin, but also shows forth life. The latter is the way the law leads people to Christ just as much as the former.

paul

Children as Master Manipulators

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 29, 2015

Whether lost or saved, people in general want to know how to do life. Protestantism has forfeited this angle as a way to recommend God because the Reformation was all about interpreting reality through redemption with very little emphasis on wise living. From a commonsense perspective, lost people assume God knows what makes people tick. So, if Christians don’t know how to do life any better than non-Christians, the latter will be little moved by the gospel.

The Reformed actually address this issue straight away. It goes something like this: being a testimony to the world is futile because on our best day we have shortcomings that the world will see. Therefore, the gospel should be about God and not us—we should point to God and not our own testimonies. Well, trust me, the world ain’t buyin’ it.

One of the things that excites me abundantly about the growing exodus away from the wicked false gospel of justification by faith is the rediscovery of kingdom living. That’s the other good news about life more abundantly in the here and now as we move on from the foot of the cross and the gospel of first order. It’s about having a life built upon a rock through the application of God’s wisdom and glorifying Him accordingly. The world understands that we are not perfect; what they take note of is overall quality of life and life patterns.

People will, and do judge us by our children’s behavior. If you are unable to control your 3-year-old, you are a poor representative of the gospel. Christians should be smarter than a 3-year-old.

The fact that young children are utterly self-centered is not altogether a sin issue. They are in total discovery mode. They have been recently introduced to the world with limited intellectual resources. Their perspective is strictly outward. They have NO conscience and NO concept of right or wrong.

More than likely, what they learn about right and wrong as they grow intellectually will inform their consciences which in turn will accuse or excuse their behavior with bad feelings or good feelings. However, for many different reasons and varying circumstances, children will attempt to manipulate others; an art they possess that is normally underestimated in apocalyptic proportions.

This is one of many categories critical to parenting: knowing WHY children do what they do. Once you know why they do it, you can then communicate that knowledge and instruct them in a better way.

In my own living of life, an excellent example was shared with me today, and therefore I type. It is an example of a 5-year-old rendering two grown adults utterly disarmed and standing speechless, hurt, and dumbfounded. That would include me also, because when I heard the testimony, I was also without answer. Hence, we have 5-year-olds standing triumphantly over adult overseers, a scene far from being uncommon.

What’s going on? This kid is good; I had to think about it long and hard before the lightbulb went on. Then, once I figured it out, I had to think about a proper response. Let’s first examine the verbal judo that was used on the parents. It went, in essence, something like this: “I don’t love you. I know some adults that are good parents and you are not. I wish I could live with them instead of you; that’s why I don’t love you.”

This is pure genius. Can you really punish a kid for saying he/she doesn’t love you? Can you really spank a kid for having an “honest” opinion? Through observing life, the child knows the answer is probably, “no.” What’s going on, and what should the response be? What I am saying is that much of parenting should be twofold: discerning of motives and teaching. Unfortunately, some sort of punishment usually takes the place of discernment because discernment is harder than doling out retribution. ALL, I repeat, ALL parenting shortcuts will NOT end well.

Your response doesn’t have to be immediate. Once you discern the situation and the proper response, you can revisit the issue, ie., “Remember when you said this the other day…” One may also use that time to get counsel.

What would my counsel be? First, like all judo, the goal is to control the opponent and that is what is going on in this case. If you think the mere fact that the child has said such a thing indicates a failure on your part, the child has already flipped you over and pinned you to the ground. The child has attempted to disqualify the parent as a worthy parent, and therefore, disqualifying the parent’s right to tell said child what to do. The goal is to control the parent by dismantling the parent’s confidence as a parent. Parents who think they are unworthy parents will be crippled accordingly and much easier to control.

You could start by informing the child that you know what he/she is up to as a response, but in this case, the child’s use of words can be used to teach. By the way, what this child has done is indicative of what Susan and I see when we counsel adults.  All of the same manipulation techniques are taken into adulthood and refined. The key is the child’s definition of “love.” This is an opportunity to correct and teach the child what love really is. If the child accepts the counsel, he/she will respond accordingly. Punishment is primarily for a refusal to respond to counsel. The adult’s response might sound like this:

“Love doesn’t do what it does for the purpose of getting something in return. Whether you love me or not, I am going to be the daddy/mommy that you need because I love you. This is why I don’t give you candy or some other reward for obeying—obeying is an act of love that does not obey to get something in return. I try to do everything with you out of love regardless of whether you love me or not. I am not going to stop loving you just because you don’t love me—that’s not love.”

The child must not be allowed to define love in a way that suits an agenda and efforts to control. This is the exact same techniques that adults use. It also has a blackmail angle. If you don’t do what I want you to do, I won’t love you and that will hurt you because I know you love me. Again, this same technique is commonplace in adult marriages. Correcting the child now has a long-term effect in regard to the future. Likewise, as another example, how a child does a chore is indicative as to what kind of adult employee he or she will be.

Primarily, in this case, the child is seeking to control the parent via a self-serving and erroneous definition of love while holding the parent hostage emotionally. The ransom is the child’s love for the parent. The child is also attempting to disqualify the parent as a way of stripping the parent’s authority.

As in most cases, the why must be discerned and the response must be teaching. Punishment is for a refusal to heed wise counsel resulting in blatant rebellion.

paul

The Potter’s House: Romans 14:13-23; Having Unity with Liberty Minus Authority

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on April 3, 2015

Originally published December 28, 2014

HF Potters House (2)

Last week, we once again reminded ourselves of the importance of interpreting the book of Romans via the “mystery of the gospel.” This is the full revelation concerning God’s plan to make the Gentiles part of the commonwealth of Israel. This unification of diverse cultures with the Jews puts the power of God on display, so we should pursue unity vigorously. Certainly, a diverse group of people working in unity for a common cause, the gospel, is a powerful message in our day. If diversity will come together for that cause, it is assumed that the cause is of paramount importance.

If putting unity on display is of paramount importance, we concluded that using home fellowships to evangelize is a really bad idea. Unity can be difficult enough among believers without adding unbelievers into the mix. Believers should be equipped to evangelize outside the fellowship of believers.

We also looked at the Jewish tendency to judge because the Jews were the keepers of the law, and the idea that Christ came to end the law was a difficult transition for them. There is NO law in justification—the law cannot justify—it can only condemn—that’s why Christ came to end the law…for justification.

But the role of the law in regard to the born again believer is another matter.  Love, obedience, and faith are now fused together. We will soon see this in the text this morning. In the Christian life, the law is not only the Spirit’s sword, it is HIS law. He is the Spirit of life, and He uses the law to sanctify, and that law is TRUTH (John 17:17). In the Bible, as we will see, love, obedience, and faith are synonymous.

Last week, we also learned the importance of clarifying the gospel of first importance as a basis for fellowship. Past that, opinions about the law can cause fellow believers to “stumble.” This is where we will pick up in verse 13:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother (ESV).

Actually, I prefer the KJV interpretation of this:

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Remember from last week, we all serve under one master, and he will judge what we have done in the body individually. This is a judgment for reward, not condemnation. Presently, there are only two types of judgment in the church: self-judgment (1Cor 11:31,32), and the Lord’s discipline (Heb 12:5ff, Prov 3:11). There is no such thing as the church judging a believer. Christians enjoy protection from the world while in a fellowship of believers, but if fellowship is broken because of sin, God may use the world to correct the believer. We must remember that in the only actual example we have of so-called “church discipline” in the Bible, the apostle Paul assumed the individual to be saved (1Cor 5:4).

In situations that turn out bad according to Matthew 18:15ff, we are to “treat” such an individual “like” an unbeliever, actually, “Gentile and a tax collector.”  The Jews did not associate with Gentiles, and had a steroidal disdain for tax collectors who were usually Jews in league with the Roman government. But keep in mind, there were saved Gentiles and tax collectors. This is a matter of fellowship, NOT “declaring someone an unbeliever.” My three favorite questions in regard to Matthew 18 are, “Where does it say “discipline?” and “Where does it say “unbeliever?” and “Where does it talk about elders declaring someone as unbelieving?” It is remarkable to me how all of these are assumed.

So, Paul writes in verse 13 that all judgment is to cease except a judgment concerning what might make a fellow Christian “stumble.” Paul begins to develop that in verse 14:

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Christians come into fellowship with all kinds of baggage, especially in our day because Christians are doctrinally dumbed down regardless of the information age. Rome kept the Bible away from people; Protestantism has merely mandated interpretation via orthodoxy which has become synonymous with truth.

Heterodoxy means you disagree with some counsel where “Divines” dictate interpretation making heterodoxy synonymous with heresy. In the same way, Jewish Christians were dragging orthodoxy into the home fellowships, and judging the Gentiles which resulted in the Gentiles despising the Jews.

But aside from orthodoxy, good old fashioned family tradition can play into this as well. Also, for example, a converted Adventist may be newly convinced of the true gospel, but is in the habit of abstaining from pork and caffeine. We are creatures of habit, and such a person may not be ready to just jump into their new found freedom where, as Paul stated, “nothing is unclean in itself”

Let me just cut to the chase here: there needs to be agreement on the gospel of first order, but past that we need to do three things: 1. Emphasize teaching and rightly dividing the word 2. Let each be what? Remember from last week? Right, let each be CONVINCED in their own minds 3. DON’T JUDGE.

Why is it extremely important that one be convinced in their own mind, and not hit over the head with the fact that Christ ended the law, and therefore everything is clean? Because many different things in life inform the conscience of an individual and though it would be mighty convenient if all Christians had a biblically informed conscience—that’s not reality. We are to teach, not judge, and let each person be convinced in their own minds.

The primary crux follows: if that person thinks it is sin, even if it isn’t, “it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” Why? Because the person thinks in their own mind that he/she is sinning. The fact that it is not technically a sin is neither here nor there; the person thinks it is a sin. So, this also means that the person will also violate their conscience when in fact it is against the law—in their own minds they think they are disobeying. This speaks to motive.

In contrast, if they obey their conscience, their motive is to please the Lord. This was Paul’s exact point from last week:

The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God (verse 6).

The motive is to please God either way. Yet, if we insist that the one who is unconvinced get with the law program, this is where we cause stumbling. Paul taught the importance of keeping a clear conscience throughout the New Testament while also warning about a pattern of violating conscience. This results in searing the conscience and making it indifferent to sin.

On the other hand, guilt can be a very destructive emotion. O. Hobart Mower, president of the American Psychological Association in 1954, attributed most mental illness to the violation of conscience, and started therapy groups that inspired AA. Hobart’s therapy has probably helped more people than any other discipline, as witness by the success of those who follow his principles of therapy such as Dr. Laura Slezinger and Dr. Phil McGraw. If this approach is effective among unbelievers, it is more so among believers.

I can offer an example here from real life. After being consulted by a Christian lady regarding a situation in her marriage, I advised her that she was free to divorce according to Scripture.  She informed me that her convictions would prevent her from doing so. In other words, it would have been a violation of her conscience.  To that I replied that she indeed should obey her conscience. As Christians, we never cause another Christian to violate their conscience.

Also, we should be willing to prefer the unconvinced by abstaining from what offends others while fellowshipping together:

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died (verse 15).

There is no law in justification, and as Andy Young said in last year’s conference, the law is really for sanctification as far as the Christian is concerned. However, the express purpose of the law in sanctification is love. If a Christian flaunts their liberty before Christians who are not yet convinced in their own mind, that Christian, while understanding the law of liberty, is violating the primary purpose of the law which is love. Paul states that this kind of flaunting of liberty can actually “destroy” the one that Christ died for. That’s a pretty strong emphasis. And more than likely, Christ had young believers in mind when He said this:

Luke 17:2 – It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.

As the apostle John said, there is no fear in love because perfect (mature) love casts out fear. Though we as Christians have no fear of eternal condemnation, there is plenty to fear for those Christians who walk like fools and not according to love—let us take heed.

16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

1Timothy 4:1-5 is a striking, thought provoking text:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Note verse 16 in context of 1Timothy 1-5. Flaunting of liberty can actually cause the good things created by God to be spoken of as evil. And in fact, if you make the good things of God controversial, you are paving the way for that to happen. Hence, in the company of the unconvinced,

22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

Yes, liberty can become reason for self-condemnation—this should be avoided at all cost. Also, the primary work of the kingdom is much more than a matter of what we eat and drink. Of course, there are many other issues that can be added to this issue. I recently heard about a church split over the recognition of Halloween, and whether or not the church would display what some refer to as a “Baal tree” during Christmas. Remember verse 5 from last week and contentions over…

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Again, as stated in verse 18, both parties serve God, and therefore, verse 19, both should seek what edifies and builds up. Controversy over opinions does not build up. There needs to be room given for everyone to be convinced in their own mind and reinforced with a clear conscience.

 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Verses 20-22 make a nice summary that we have no need to expound on further, but a point needs to be made on verse 23. Those who succumb to peer-pressure and eat when they have doubt as to whether it is sin or not have in fact sinned. Actions that don’t come from a convinced mind free from doubt do not proceed from faith. I think this is the double minded person that James wrote about.

This is an interesting definition of faith; apparently, faith is what we are convinced of. When in doubt, it is probably best to error on the side of safety and wait until we are convinced with a clear conscience. We see the connection now between faith, love, and obedience.

And, the importance of sound teaching. Faith is founded on the things we become sure of in Scripture, and obedience/love flow from that.

Next week, on to verse one of chapter 15.

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