Paul's Passing Thoughts

Paradox?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 16, 2016
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Clarification From Galatians 3: The Trinity is Not a Paradox, Christians Don’t Live by Faith Alone, and the Covenant of Promise Defined

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

ppt-jpeg4Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do…There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.”

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels. If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.”

Galatians chapter 3 corrects some significant misnomers that routinely plague those who have to listen to incessant Christian blathering coming from the same who are completely comfortable with contradictions. Faith has become a license for mindlessness, and paradox is now a legitimate hermeneutic.

Since the Bible says God is one person, and also three persons, and the Bible cannot contradict itself, gee whiz, that’s a paradox, and gee whiz, there must be other paradoxes in the Bible as well, and gee whiz, only our “leaders” (dictators) know what a paradox is or isn’t. So, another paradox is the idea that Christians do things by faith alone. We do stuff, but we are not really the ones doing it. “Christians” are very comfortable with this lingo: we didn’t do it, when clearly we did do it, but supposedly, Jesus really did it, lest we get credit for the deed even though Jesus does assign merit for good deeds, but to whom is unclear since we didn’t do it.

And of course, supposedly, people don’t buy into this nonsense because it’s nonsense, but are rather “totally depraved” and will accept the offer of salvation if it is really a promise made to them even though God tells us to tell them that the promise is to them though it may not be. And so it goes; we will pay someone 85,000 dollars a year with a hefty medical package to say things like, “You don’t keep the law by keeping the law.”1 Our job is to say “amen” in between sips of coffee served up from the large vat in the lobby. If the coffee has a little burn in the taste, we wonder, “Is this the day, or just another dry run?”

I am not going to get into the trinity debate, but rather, the point of this post is that the Bible isn’t making a statement about the trinity when it states that God is one. The biblical idea is a statement that makes it clear that there are no other mediators between God and man other than God Himself. Galatians chapter 3 makes this clear. Hence, Protestant popes love to keep the masses distracted with debates about paradoxes lest we figure out that God was drawing a contrast between Himself and them who will travel land, sea, and air to make someone three times the child of hell that they are. And of course, paid for by the Protestant peasantry enslaved to the material world and its knowledge. And of course, from that perspective, spiritual truth can be expected to appear as paradox. In fact, those who demand a logical exegesis of Scripture are deemed as lacking faith, and making Jesus a “precept rather than a person.” By the way, the idea of faith over logic/reason was a major clarion call of the Nazi party during its formative years and expressly Lutheran in origin.2

Galatians chapter 3 is a vivid clarification of the relationship between law and gospel—or better stated biblically, the relationship between law and promise which also excludes every kind of mediator other than God Himself. This is one of the major points of Galatians 3. Paul begins by stating the following in his epistle to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:1 – O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

The dictators of the Protestant super-cult focus on the words, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The case is therefore made that we must be perfected the same way we began. This is the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification in a nutshell. It begins with the idea that perfection, viz, justification, is a process. And next, we keep that process going by faith alone. And next, if we live by some sort of faith-alone formula, the same formula that originally saved us, the Holy Spirit will continue to keep us justified. In other words, we have to live by the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved which is backdoor works salvation.

What is Paul really saying? His rhetorical question focuses on the erroneous idea that “perfection” (justification) is based on a process. The crux is any kind of process period, but in this case, the process involves the law of Moses. Protestantism uses this text to make the exact case that Paul is arguing against. Except, they add the law to the process in the same way that the Judaizers did albeit in a less direct way. Take note: the very false gospel that Paul is arguing against in Galatians 3 is the same gospel propagated by Protestantism in our day, and the exact same gospel that the Judaizers propagated with Jesus added. In this letter, Paul argues that law cannot be part of the gospel because that would make the law a co-mediator/life-giver with God, and only God can give life. The Judaizers taught that the law does give life, and that “believers” have to continue to draw life and justification from the law.3

But we must now stop and define what Paul meant by “law” in context of keeping it for justification. Judaizer-like false gospels never promote a truthful and perfect keeping of the law in order to remain justified because they know that’s impossible. So, the traditions of men are added as a Cliff Notes keeping of the law that fulfills the “righteous demands of the law.”4 Men are mediators between God and mankind that determine the sub-law that satisfies the holy law, and supposedly, they are appointed by God. Luther and Calvin merely added Jesus to this idea. If we obey the “Christ-centered,” “gospel-centered,” orthodoxy of Protestant elders, Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law of Moses will be imputed to our account, and we will remain “perfect” or justified. Again, it’s the same gospel with Jesus added as perfect law-keeper; it fuses law with gospel. That’s what the Judaizers did, and that’s what Protestant elders do.

Let’s nail this down a little more before we progress further. It entails an understanding of what Paul meant by the receiving of the Spirit. That’s the new birth. That’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That changes the believers relationship to the law. Paul’s protest regards the fusion of the law of Moses with perfection which takes place upon the receiving of the Spirit. Paul is protesting a progression or process of perfection by law-keeping. The Judaizers propagated a fulfilling of the law for righteousness via adherence to their traditions5 whereas Protestants demand an adherence to their traditions which supposedly results in Jesus’ perfect law keeping being imputed to the “believer.”

Paul said, in essence, “No, if you want to be justified (perfected) by the law of Moses (the law of sin and death), you have to keep it perfectly. No, circumcision and the observance of days is not a substitution for fulfillment of the law. The law has no part in justification, one is justified (perfected) by the new birth that is received by faith alone. The justified are not justified by the law—law-keeping is what they do, but it is not the law of sin and death for purposes of law-keeping, it is the law of the Spirit of life for purposes of love. There is no law in perfection; there is only law in love.” Hence…

Galatians 4:10 – You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain…21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?…5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace…6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

In addition, the law being the standard for justification rather than the receiving of the Spirit always leads to a “relaxing of the law” (Matt 5:19). Why? Because some dumbing down of the law as a replacement for true law-keeping for love, or faith working through love, always leads to neglect of the law and true love accordingly. Hence…

Galatians 2:17 – But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God…5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you…13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

The fulfillment of Moses’ law, the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), cannot be fulfilled for justification, but said false gospel (Gal 1:6ff.) attempts to do so through mediation in addition to God. This always leads to a dumbing down of the law for purposes of justification. The traditions of men end up being a cloak for unrighteousness under the auspices of being friends of the law. Tradition fulfills the law as a standard for righteousness when the real standard for righteousness is the new birth resulting in the loving of God’s law for purposes of loving God and others, not justification. Justification is a finished work totally apart from the law of sin and death; the only work left is “faith working through love.”

Sure, we don’t do that perfectly, but in regard to justification, so what? The motives of those born of God are love because part and parcel with the new birth is a love for the truth (2Thess 2:10). The law’s ability to condemn was ended by Christ (Rom 10:4) and where there is no law there is NO sin (Rom 4:15). If you now say: “So, the law is the Spirit’s law, and for those who are under law, He uses it to condemn them, but to those who have received Him, He uses it to lead them”; you rightly assess with an additional caveat…Moses’ law of sin and death, while being a ministry of death, still serves the same purpose for New Testament unbelievers as it did for Old Testament believers, that is, it holds sin captive until they believe in Christ, then their sins are ended along with the law that the old them was under, but one who is dead is no longer under the jurisdiction of law that can condemn6 (Romans 7:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit are now free to “serve another” (Rom 6:6). The “new life of the Spirit” enables us to fulfill the law in our acts of love (Rom 8:1-8). The apostle Paul develops these same ideas as we move along in Galatians 3.

Galatians 3:7 –  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

This is set against what the Judaizers were telling the Galatians. They were telling the Galatians that in order to be a true son of Abraham, you have to follow the recognition of days and circumcision; traditions that supposedly satisfied the law of Moses. Paul wrote this letter to set them straight. Paul wrote the letter to explain how one becomes a true son of Abraham, the man of faith. Note that the baptism of the Spirit is somewhat different from the new birth. As we will see in chapter 3 of this letter, the law of Moses had a particular purpose: to hold all sin captive. As the law increased, so did sin, but all sin is against the law (1Jn 3:4) and imputed to the law; the law of sin and death holds sin captive.

Old Testament believers were born again and ministered to by the Spirit, but their sins were still held captive by the law because the promise of the Spirit had not yet come. The promise of the Spirit would resurrect Christ from the grave who had already ended the law and its condemnation by dying on the cross, and baptize Jew and Gentile into one body.7 The promise of the Spirit was therefore to Abraham and Christ both (Gal 3:16). As King David had prophesied, God would not leave Christ in the grave to see corruption (Acts 2:27, 31, Ps 16:10).

Until then, Old Testament believers dwelt in a place called Hades which was divided into two parts with a gulf separating them (Luke 16:19-31). One side was occupied by those under law and its condemnation, and the other side was occupied by “the captives.” Why were they called “the captives”? Because Jesus had not yet ended the law’s condemnation, and the saints were yet held captive by the law. While Christ was in the grave, he went to Hades and proclaimed victory to the captives, and when the Spirit resurrected Him, according to the promise, He led the captives out of captivity because the law was ended (Eph 4:8, Ps 68:18, 1Pet 3:19). This is the gospel that God preached to Abraham face to face.

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.

Paul is telling the Gentile Galatians, as a Jew of the Jews, that they were part of the gospel from the beginning, and are given access to the commonwealth of elect Israel (Eph 2:12) in the same way that Abraham was saved, by faith alone completely apart from the law. Paul will go on to argue that if the law is justification’s standard, the law is an additional seed, or offspring. In other words, the law is a co-life-giver with God. This is the crux of “one God.” However, don’t misunderstand and think that the law cannot give life to anyone for it can, but not those who are under its condemnation. It is impossible as Paul stated in Romans 8 for anyone under the curse of the law to find life in the law. That’s what Paul is stating here in Gal 3:10-14. Believers “live” (are justified) by faith alone in the free gift of the promise completely apart from the law. Those under grace love God’s law (Ps 119) and it can, in fact, give life to those who are born again (Jn 17:17, 1Pet 2:2).8

Those under the law can only find condemnation in the law. They can only receive the free gift by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Christ.9 When they believe, the Spirit falls on them,10 puts them to death with Christ, and thereby ending the law that all of their sins are against and imputed to, and resurrects them to new life in Christ where they walk according to the Spirit and find life in obedience to the Spirit’s law… “If you love me, keep my commandments.”11 The believer does not question motives in obedience—they know they cannot be justified by the law. They know they are justified by the new birth apart from the law. Paul furthers the point this way:

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.

It simply boils down to this: justification is completely void of law (Rom 3:19, 21, 28). Salvation and new birth come by believing the promise of miraculous new birth:

Romans 9:9  – For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,

And…“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’” What did he believe exactly? He believed that God would bring about miraculous new birth demonstrated in Sarah, make his descendants like the sand of the sea, bless the Gentiles through him as well, and that his offspring would live forever in a city built by God (Heb 11:8-12). The miraculous conceptions of Sarah, Rebekah, Elizabeth, and Mary are not mere fodder for mystery, but speak of miraculous new birth and God’s elected means for the promised free gift. It’s by new birth, not law. There is no law in justification; the law is a protector that holds our sin captive until faith comes. Faith only believes in the promise like Abraham—the law did not come until 430 years after God made a covenant with him; the free gift—the promise. The law in NO WAY “ratified” the original covenant which had no law, but was based on the promise to Abraham and the ONE seed, Christ.

Why then the law?

Galatians 3:19  – 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.

This brings us almost full circle. The law of Moses was put into place by angels on Mount Sinai in the apocalyptic event recorded in the Old Testament. Moses was the mediator, but he was the mediator for a ministry of death:

2Corinthians 3:7 – Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

Note that Moses’ ministry of death has not completely ended, but is in the process of being abolished (Heb 8:13). Why? Because it still serves a purpose. It will be used to condemn those under it if they do not rid themselves of it. Meanwhile, all sin is imputed to it:

Hebrews 9:15  – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Note that “a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” That’s because all sin is committed under the first covenant. If the first covenant is completely abolished, there is no sin for anyone. This is why unbelievers are “under law” (Rom 6:14). However, note that Christ has already ended the sin under that covenant for those who believe. The law, both that of the conscience written on every heart (Rom 2:14-16) and the Bible, is a “guardian” (protector) of which all sin is imputed and held captive, and also drives people towards a solution to its condemnation; that solution being the mediator of a better covenant. Again, this brings us full circle to the meaning of God being one, it refers to ONE MEDIATOR: “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Also, it refers to the idea that God is the only life-giver as well:

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.

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.

Even though the law has no part of new birth or justification, viz, perfection, it is not contrary to the promise. Why? Because it takes all sin captive until faith comes, and its condemnation drives one to the mediator of the better covenant, the ONE mediator, Christ. Moses is not a mediator of a covenant that can give life, but yet he is not a mediator of a covenant that is contrary to the promise.

On the flip side, once a person receives the Spirit apart from the law (Gal 3:2), the law can in fact give life:

Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Of course, the new birth guarantees eternal life and cancels the law’s ability to condemn, but the believer can “love life and see good days” in the present via love, or obedience to the law (1Pet 3:10). In other words, one must use the law of God “lawfully” (1Tim 1:8). Not in any regard for justification, but for love. The law cannot under any circumstance give life for justification, but as the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2), it enables us to serve God in the new way of the Spirit found in the Bible (Rom 7:6, 25).

Due to the weakness of the flesh, NOT the inherent evil of the flesh which is a Gnostic misnomer,12 the Christian can still be tempted to sin through “sinful desires.” The power of sin is broken because sin is empowered by its ability to condemn13 through the use of the law of sin and death:

1Corinthians 15:56  – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Before one is saved and under the condemnation of the law, the law that the unsaved have no love for provokes them to sin with strong desires lending assistance as well. The law, for them, actually makes sin come alive leading to death (Rom 7:7ff.). In the believer, sin is no longer empowered by the condemnation of the law, but sinful desires still exist. However, obeying sinful desires as opposed to the desires of the Spirit defined by Scripture can enslave a Christian to a particular sin (Rom 6:16). Providing provisions to sin can produce overwhelming desires that can control us (Rom 13:14). Wrong thinking or beliefs, in short, false doctrine, also contributes to God’s children leading confused and defeated lives.

What is the New Covenant?

The New Covenant is the second part of the covenant of promise. The Old Covenant was the first part, the New Covenant is the second part of the same covenant of promise.14 The promises (plural) are the other covenants that are the building blocks of the covenant of promise (Eph 2:12). The New Covenant was made to Israel and the father of that nation from which all other nations will be blessed. The Old Covenant proclaimed the New Covenant and held sin captive until Christ came to die. In this way, the Old Covenant was the family will executed upon Christ’s death. Old Testament believers were written into the will/inheritance:

Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the New, but it is only the New Covenant that gives life. The Old is in no way contrary to the promise (Gal 3:21), but is a ministry of death that serves two purposes: it holds sin captive until faith comes, and will judge those who are under it. The angels are the enforcers of both covenants. They enforced the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, and will enforce the New Covenant as detailed in the book of Revelation towards completion of the one covenant of promise. The angels are also ministers to the overall covenant of promise throughout time. Hence, their emphasis in regard to the tabernacle etc.

The New Covenant was made to Israel specifically (Jeremiah 31) because they are God’s elect people/nation from which all nations will be blessed. The New Covenant fulfilled the Old Covenant will, and baptized the Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel. Part of the New Covenant plan was to use the baptism of the Gentiles into the family of God and its commonwealth to make the Jews jealous:

Deuteronomy 32:21 – They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,

However, the New Covenant, which promises Israel eternal peace and safety in their own land, will finally be consummated after the fullness of the Gentiles come in:

Romans 11:25 – Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

All of true Israel will be saved. That’s the promise made to Abraham, and from that promise all the nations find their salvation as well. Any denial of a future redemption of national Israel according to its original identity is a plenary rejection of the gospel.

The covenant of promise is a gospel that stands in contrast to all other gospels which make the law of sin and death the standard for righteousness and a co-life-giver with God. There is only one mediator of life. Christ did not come to fulfill the law of sin and death, the Old Covenant, which holds sin captive. He came to end that law for those who believe. Nor did Christ come to be a substitute for that law in the lives of believers for that law is for the unbelieving—not the saved.15 Instead, Christ came to set the captives free from that law in order to serve the righteousness of the law in loving service with no fear of condemnation. There is no fear in love because fear has to do with judgment (1Jn 4:16-19). However, there is a fear of present consequences for obeying sinful desires as we work out our other “salvation” so to speak: the saving of ourselves from potential death that still dwells in the mortal body, and from which we will be saved from in the future, also known as “redemption.”16 Justification and obedience in sanctification ending in redemption should not be confused.

Do you believe a gospel that makes the New Covenant a fulfillment of the Old Covenant rather than an ending of it for those who believe? Have you substituted the fulfillment of the New Covenant via love for a substitutionary fulfillment of the covenant of death? This is what sets the covenant of promise apart from all other gospels.

If you are a true Christian, you don’t live by faith alone, you live by love alone, and you are the one doing the loving because you are free from condemnation. Your love is not a substitution; Christ’s death is the only substitution that sets you free to love without fear of condemnation.

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1Pastor Jon Young: Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, Xenia, OH.

3https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2015/01/04/the-potters-house-biblical-covenants-an-overview-and-relevance-to-the-gospel-parts-1-2/ Note citation about perpetually offering the obedience of Christ to God for the satisfying of the law.

4In the Protestant case, rituals that satisfy the law by imputing Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. One of these is church membership which is considered to be one of the “means of grace” found in the institutional church.

5This was an often cited indictment by Jesus against the Pharisees who were rank antinomians for that very reason.

6This is also the real point behind Galatians 2:20 which is a justification verse, not a sanctification verse.

7The book of Acts is the historical account of what Paul is writing about in Galatians 3.

8For the unbeliever the law is death, for the believer it is life.

9Note that Paul emphasizes Christ’s death in the receiving of the Spirit, not Christ’s law-keeping (Gal 3:1ff.).

10As seen all through the book of Acts per the order of salvation: 1. The hearing of the word 2. Faith 3. The baptism of the Spirit.

11Love also fulfills the law. Christ’s ONE act of love makes it possible for us to fulfill the Spirit’s law apart from the law of sin and death. The law is for love—not justification.

12Romans 12:1 along with many other texts makes it clear that the body can be used for holy purposes. In fact, it’s a biblical imperative. It is a weak vessel, but not inherently evil.

13Therefore, be leery of condemnation motifs in any sanctification context.

14The Old and New covenants should not be viewed in a dispensational sense at all, but rather merely two parts of the same covenant. This is a progression of one covenant, not economies.

15Note in 1Tim 1:8-11 and Rom 2:12-16 that the law of Moses is also the gospel. This is because the OT law is a PART of the covenant of promise NOT a dispensation or different plan.

16Phil 2:13, Rom 7:24,25, Lk 21:28. Phil 2:13 is not about justification; it’s about choosing life over death in sanctification with God’s help which is available and leaves us without excuse.

The Problem With Protestant Election

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 22, 2015

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Welcome truth lovers to Blog Talk radio .com/False Reformation, this is your host Paul Dohse. Tonight, another Paul Dohse parenthesis in our Heidelberg Disputation series, “The Problem With Protestant Election.”

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.

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Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

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If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Paul @ Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat .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.

Before we get started tonight, I must implement our new policy here at False Reformation. I think as recovering Protestants, we must embrace our fears and failures. One example is the sin minefield. Whenever disciples endeavor to embark on some new project, deep introspection ensues. Could the project cause us to sin? Pray tell, what are our true motives? And overall, we deem it our duty to recognize the major weaknesses of the other disciples, and for me, that is, “going off on rabbit trails all the time.”

Therefore, as a recovering Protestant, I have decided to embrace this failure as one no longer under condemnation. Yes, whenever I go down a rabbit trail, I want to make it a memorial of remembrance that I am not condemned for going down that rabbit trail. Hence, from now on, just prior to going down a rabbit trail in this show, the rabbit trail will be introduced with the following song:

So basically, when you hear an excerpt of that song on the program, you know that it is a rabbit trail coming. The upbeat introduction is also a remembrance that I need not seek forgiveness for the rabbit trail least I be condemned. Ahmen.

What is the major problem with the Protestant view of election? It is tenfold. First, as thoroughly documented by TANC ministries, the Protestant Reformation is dead wrong on salvation. The second point exacerbates the problem: all positions on election come from Protestantism, and all positions are framed by Protestant scholars. In other words, Protestant academia controls the context in which the issue is debated. Think about the insanity of this: all arguments about election start with a Protestant context; the so-called 5 points of Calvinism. In the same way that a “Band-Aid” viz, a brand defines what something is, Protestants of the authentic Reformed tradition have completely co-opted the context and framework of the argument which virtually guarantees the outcome that they want; either capitulation, or confusion which only bolsters their worldview that mankind cannot comprehend reality.

Thirdly, while there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate an individual preselection for salvation and damnation, there are also many that indicate that mankind is able to choose or reject salvation. There is obviously a contradiction which is written off as paradox, BUT, with one side of the paradox being the engine of existence. What am I saying here? They claim paradox, but only one side of the paradox is applicable—the sovereign side.

Fourthly, Protestantism deliberately uses a process of assimilation based on allowing the saints to assume things about orthodoxy at its progressive points. As the saints are gradually assimilated into full blown Platonism dressed in biblical garb, they are allowed to assume that “faith alone” does not include sanctification, and that “total depravity” does not include the saints, and that God does not preselect people for eternal damnation. This is a 500 year-old system of assimilation that is evil genius. And they know exactly what they are doing. How do they condone it? Well, we must not teach things that the great unwashed masses are not yet “ready for.” Nevertheless, in the same way that pot leads to harder drugs, hardcore Protestant Platonists invariably move from a grudging soft determinism to soft determinism, ie., so-called 3 or 4 point Calvinism, but eventually become advocates of hard determinism.

Fifthly, we are allowing a religion that continually produces bad fruit to dictate the confines of the debate and define the interpretive terms and words. Protestant orthodoxy has effectively defined all of the biblical terms in which our reality is interpreted, and be sure of it, those who effectively define the definition of words control reality. We have allowed a religion that continually produces rotten fruit to co-opt the grammar. That’s a really, really bad idea.

Sixth, a casual reading of Scripture is tortured because of the overall biblical dialogue found by independent reading. If God preselects some for salvation and others for damnation for his glory and self-love, why do we have Christ weeping over Jerusalem, why do we have God saying, “come let us reason together saith the Lord,” why do we have the apostle Paul expending all kinds of energy to “persuade” people in regard to the gospel? If individual determinism is true, the Bible makes NO sense whatsoever. Let’s look at a specific example of this:

Luke 16:19 –  “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried,23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No,father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Ok, so, the guy asks Abraham to send Lazarus over to give him relief from his suffering, and Abraham’s answer includes nothing about preselection; why not? If the guy is over there suffering for God’s glory, what’s all of this other discussion about? And why do they discuss the best means of persuasion? If the point is preselection, how people might be best persuaded is certainly a mute point, no? What is problematic is the Bible’s constant passing on making the preselection angle the main point when such opportunities appear over and over again throughout the Bible. Let’s look at another example. Matthew 26:24.

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Well, doesn’t God always want what’s best? Consider this verse in context of what love is via 1Corinthians chapter 13. Love ALWAYS seeks what’s best for others. Bottom line: if preselection is true, the Bible is nothing more than a convoluted quagmire of confusion. But God is NOT a God of confusion.

Here is another thought. The Reformed love to talk about the potter and the clay deal in Romans 9. The potter has a right to make some vessels for wrath and others for salvation and He is glorified by both. But then there is this also…

2Timothy 2:20 – Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. 22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Here, what kind of vessel you are is determined by “cleansing” yourself. We will not be discussing Romans 9 tonight, but it will be covered in a series of articles I am presently writing.

Seventh, Biblicism rejects plenary paradox as an interpretive method because of interpretive presuppositions demanded by Scripture itself: God is NOT a God of confusion. Though paradox is a biblical reality, it is rare, and always suspect. It is guilty until proven innocent.

Eighth, individual HOPE is an acid test for truth. If something lacks individual assurance or hope, it is extremely suspect. And regardless of Protestant squealing of denial in epic volume, the engine of its progressive salvation is predicated on the so-called Christian being under a greater awareness of condemnation and fear—not a soteriology that escapes the terrible-two.

Ninth, because of the way the Bible is written, Protestant paradox demands an inconsistent method of interpretation. In some verses paradox is employed while in others grammar is employed without any determinate principle whatsoever except orthodox presuppositions. In other words, interpretive methodology demanded by the context is ignored and exchanged for orthodoxy. I suppose the classic example of this is Romans 8:2 where the same word for “law” used twice in that verse is interpreted both as a written standard and a realm. Once you break an interpretive rule of that sort, anything goes; you can interpret the Bible any way you want to.

Lastly, the injection of chapters and verses into the Bible by the Protestant Reformers has made it possible to proof-text orthodoxy without considering the corpus of Scripture. Furthermore, it suits preaching and not the necessity of reading the corpus without elements being emphasized through a numbering system. It is incredible to consider that chapters and verses were deemed unnecessary until the 16th century. It should not only seem suspect, it should be deemed such. Chapters and verses make it possible to sell a doctrine with a collection of biblical one-liners.

Therefore, an alternative to the traditional view of election must be sought, and the traditional definition of the words used to discuss this issue must be traded for their biblical assessment.

Indeed, there are many verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that people are preselected for salvation; after all, the word “elect” is in the Bible, but there are just as many or more verses that seem to indicate people are able to believe or reject the gospel. You can understand why we are still at a stalemate 500 years later. But again, is this because we are constrained by Protestant rules of engagement? Unfortunately, for the most part, logic enters in based on subjective criteria rather than conclusions drawn from the objective definition of words. And again, if one buys into the paradox argument, they are merely on their way to being full-blown predeterminists.

Before we get into the meat of our study, let’s serve up a few appetizers. First, the word “elect” or often translated “chosen” does not always apply to people who need salvation or people at all for that matter. The word “election” sometimes applies to deity, ie., Christ, or the holy angels, or a thing such as the nation of Israel. The nation Israel spoken of as being elect is a major Old Testament theme.* Not only that, in Romans 11:2, Israel is spoken of in the exact same way that elected individuals are spoken of in Romans 8:29. This should alert us that something is up with all of this.

Secondly, the definition of “called” creates critical problems for the 5 points of Calvinism (TULIP) with the other points attempting to cover for the one fundamental flaw. Again, this has to do with the definition of “called.” God calls all people because Christ died for everybody. In the minds of the Reformers, if God preselected some for salvation and others for damnation, He could not have possibly died for the sins of the damned. If He died for their sins, they are forgiven, and only need to accept the pardon. If Christ died for all sin, this suggests a choosing by men rather than God. Hence, the Reformed called for a limited atonement (the “L” in TULIP) effected by an “effectual calling” (Irresistible grace [the “I” in TULIP]).

Herein is the problem: Christ died to end the law, and how many people are under the law? Right, everyone. So, Romans 10:4 alone completely blows up the leading authority on predeterminism; the 5 points of Calvinism. Or…

Colossians 2:11 – 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.

Instead of Christ dying for everyone, which throws a large monkey wrench into the 5 points of Calvinism, the Reformed merely keep the so-called “saints” under the law and its “legal demands.” This takes care of the problem of the law being ended because everyone remains under it while those who are preselected receive a perpetual forgiveness from Christ for their ongoing sin. This makes limited atonement possible. According to the Synod of Dort  and the Canons of Dort in 1618 and 1619 which codified the 5 points of Calvinism:

For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle. (Christ’s Death and Human Redemption Through It, Article 8)

Here is the point: the leading authority on Protestant election is the 5 points of Calvinism which is plainly wrong and defines the saints as unbelievers according to the biblical definition of under law versus under grace.

Verses that assume choice more or less speak for themselves—let’s examine verses that seem to indicate preselection, and we will start with the book of Ephesians:

1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Let’s begin by defining who the “we” and the “us” are. In context, it is the Jews. When Paul wrote that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” he is talking about the predestination of the Jews as a group, not individuals. Hence…

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The first to hope in Christ and obtain an inheritance are the Jews. The “you also” are the Gentiles to whom Paul is writing. Keeping in mind that Christ is elect, note the following:

In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

It’s Christ and the plan of salvation that is in Christ, or the “mystery of the gospel”** that is preordained—not individuals. But, how do individuals obtain this “inheritance”?

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“You also” is the Gentiles in general, “when you heard the word of truth, and believed in him” is how the inheritance is obtained: by individual faith. At the time one believes they receive a “guarantee.” This is why Christ is elect, and why Israel is also elect: national Israel is also part of the salvation plan and the mystery of the gospel.

Ephesians 2:11 – Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Other than the fact that this passage makes being part of the commonwealth of Israel synonymous with salvation, we see that “we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” This speaks of two groups, not individuals who have access to the father through the Spirit. God’s clear purpose in election was to unite both Jew and Gentile into one body, not the preselection of some individuals over others.

There are many, many other verses we could discuss, but we will close with a couple of tough ones in this whole discussion. First, the dreaded Acts 13:48.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

First of all, as Andy Young aptly pointed out in his Acts series, the context of Acts 13 is a historical account of Romans 11 in full action. Second, many who contend against preselection of individuals quibble about the actual meaning of the word “appointed” or “ordained” in said verse. For example, here is what the late Dave Hunt said about it:

Some claim that the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as comments from early church writers, indicate
that the first 15 chapters of Acts were probably written first in Hebrew. The Greek would be a
translation… going back to a “redacted Hebrew” version, based upon word-for-word Greek-Hebrew equivalents, would render Acts 13:48 more like “as many as submitted to, needed, or wanted salvation, were saved (Dave Hunt, What Love is This? 3rd Edition, 2006, page 264).

Perhaps, but I think there is a better explanation. Go with me to Romans 13:1ff.

 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good.

See the word, “appointed” in this verse? It is the same word for “appointed” in Acts 13:48. In fact, I believe, if I am not mistaken, these are the only two places in the NT where the word is used in the exact same form (tense, voice, etc., etc.). It is the governmental authorities that are ordained for a specific purpose plainly stated in the context. Now, let me ask you a question: does that mean everyone who works in government didn’t have a choice to do so? Does this mean that everyone who works in government was preselected to do so and had no choice? Or, did their own decision to work in government make them the appointed authority? You see that God appoints the means to an end and not necessarily those who choose to be part of the means. Likewise, as many Gentiles who believed became God’s appointed heirs to the commonwealth of Israel in Christ. That doesn’t mean they had no choice in the matter.

Let’s look at this from yet another angle. If an appointed means necessarily means that all of the individuals that are a part of the means were also preselected, does that mean all government officials were chosen to be such by God? Did God choose Adolf Hitler for your good? That’s the stated purpose for governmental authorities, no?

But thirdly, why are the Reformed so keen on using this verse anyway? By their very doctrine, those who presently believe do not necessarily possess ETERNAL life. If you presently have eternal life, it’s eternal, right? Because of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (the “P” in TULIP), the jury is out on whether you get eternal life or not at “the tribunal” as Calvin called it.

In closing, what am I saying here? Am I saying that this proposition is the definitive answer to Protestant determinism? No, so what am I saying? I am saying that the purveyors of a false gospel have dictated the definitions and confines of the debate for 500 years, and the time for an honest discussion is now, and that discussion must be divorced from Protestant orthodoxy found egregiously wanting. I do believe that this proposition, ie., God preselects the means and not individuals, is a good starting point.

With that, let’s go to the phones.

________________________________________________________________

* Deuteronomy 7:6

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

Exodus 19:4-6

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”

Psalms 135:4

For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession.

Isaiah 41:8-9

“But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend, You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.

Isaiah 43:10

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.

Isaiah 44:1-2

“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the LORD who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

Isaiah 45:4

“For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me.

Amos 3:2

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

** Ephesians 3:1 – For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Predestination and Fatalism: “How Much?” is the Question that Only Leaves Two Choices

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on January 26, 2015

HF Potters House (2)

Originally published May 30, 2014

“This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.”

“What am I saying? A am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.”        

This is part 6 of our series on predestination. We are in the process of evaluating predestination from the viewpoint of love, promises, judgment, cause and effect, hope, commandments, obedience, fear, foreknowledge, freewill, choice, ability, total depravity, evangelism, the gospel, Bible doctrine, paradox, and salvation. In most cases, determinism creates a strained understanding of what some of these words mean to us in real life.

For instance, if God loves the world and man does not have the ability to choose, why does God choose some and not others? He is impartial, no? Why will God judge those who never had a chance to escape judgment? Would God really command us to do things that He knows we are not able to do? How is God’s love really defined? Paradox is a reality, but to what extent do we except paradox as a replacement for the common understanding of life concepts and the words that describe them? Are the simple concepts of commands, love, and choice really a paradox in spiritual matters but necessarily taken literally in the milieu of life? Does whosoever will really mean whosoever has been chosen? And if it does, why doesn’t God simply state that accordingly?

In part one, we established an important starting point: the doctrine of predestination has always been primarily framed and assimilated by Reformed theologians. That’s a problem because they had/have the gospel wrong. This is a matter of simple theological math; they were on the wrong side of the law and gospel. Therefore, the doctrine must be reexamined.

In part 2, we examined God’s will in regard to the lost and the relationship of evangelism and paradox. Evangelism is another word that becomes paradoxical in light of predestination. Obedience is a paradox, love is a paradox, judgment is a paradox, and evangelism as well because the legitimacy of the offer of salvation is called into question. Whosoever will becomes whosoever has been elected. If election is a paradox, all of the concepts connected to it are paradoxical as well.

In part 2, we established that God does not desire that any person perish. He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. Which brings up another paradox: does God plead and exhort man to be saved while knowing that he is unable to respond? When God states, “come, let us reason together,” is he saying that while knowing that man is unable to reason?

At any rate, we concluded in part 2 that God does not desire the death of the wicked—He desires that all would be saved.

In part 3, we established that predestination was not unique with the Reformers. In fact, determinism is an ancient concept that has dominated human history. We also examined the historical bad fruit produced by its ideology, and biblical contradictions as well.

In part 4, we looked at the means by which God seeks man. Man is created with intuitive knowledge of God, man begins life in the book of life and must be blotted out if he/she perishes, and Christ died for all men, not just the elect. Though not in the study, the fact that all sins are imputed to the Old Covenant, and belief in Christ eradicates the Old Covenant and all of the sin imputed to it, it implies a readiness and desire of God to vanquish one’s sin. The imputation of all sin to a covenant is sort of the opposite of starting life in the Book of Life; God wants to keep you in the one book and get rid of the other one.

Moreover, God sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and the judgment to come while the works of God’s law are already written on the heart of every person. On the one hand, God has set up a gargantuan infrastructural reality to facilitate the salvation of man, but in all of this, who enters in is ultimately predetermined by Him. Why all the drama? Why all of the paradox? Why all of the confusion? Yet, another paradox that could be added is the Holy Spirit’s warning in regard to judgment along with all of God’s prophets; why offer this incentive to escape judgment to those who are unable to respond? This speaks to conditional and unconditional promises by God, cause and effect, and hope. What is at stake is our very understanding of reality itself.

In part 5, we begin to answer the question, “How much?” Let’s say that man is unable to choose God initially, but what about post new birth? Is man then able to make choices? Curiously, the Reformers say, “no.” We looked at the Reformed redemptive-historical hermeneutic that interprets all reality as a gospel metaphysical narrative. We simply put ourselves in the narrative by believing everything in life points to a truth about Christ and is predetermined. We called this plenary determinism. Also, while discussing this, we introduced the possibility that certain things are predetermined by God, while other things are not. We used the following chart to illustrate this:

Election Final Draft

Granted, we want some things to be predetermined by God. We want a happy ending. We want justice. We want the good guys to win. We want everyone to live happily ever after. In times of danger, we want our fears tempered by knowing that God is control. In the book of Revelation, for certain, the opening of the six seals will make it seem like the earth is in complete chaos and spinning out of control, but the fact will be that God is in control of every bit of that. Will that temper the fear of those who know that at the time? Sure it will.

But is everything predetermined? Does man have any role in reality at all? The main source for predestination doctrine has always been the Reformers, at least in Western culture, and they disavow choice in both the saved and unsaved state. Consequently, from an eschatological view, there is only one judgment in which both believers and unbelievers stand in to determine one’s eternal fate. Opposing eschatological views posit a separate judgment for believers and unbelievers, one for reward (believers), and one that condemns (unbelievers).

Obviously, the idea of reward strongly suggests that the reward is for something earned by making a right choice. In Reformed circles, rewards spoken of in the Bible are attributed to salvation (the reward[s] is salvation), but now we have yet another paradox because it is not really a reward that we get for something that we did! What am I saying? I am saying that predeterminism is not a paradox in and of itself, I am suggesting that we consider the idea in our study that predeterminism is a slippery slope to making all of life a paradox. In other words, it makes objective truth unknowable.

However, the Reformers state that truth can be known, and that there is no paradox at all: Man and history were created to glorify God. Everything that happens is predetermined by God (cause), and everything that happens is for God’s glory, and in fact, does glorify Him (effect). Hence, man has no ability to choose in being the cause for anything that happens. Judgment reflects God’s glory alone in simply revealing what God has preordained via good or evil. If this is not true, then how much choice does man have? That must be determined. If true, then how much choice does man not have? This must be determined as well.

At the T4G 2008 conference, John MacArthur stated the following:

The sum is that man is evil and selfish, unwilling and unable because he is dead. He loves his sin. He loves the darkness. He thrives on selfish lust. He’s happy to make a god of his own, manufacturing and convinced himself that he is good enough to satisfy that god. He may see his sin in his sin, but he does not see his sin in his goodness, and he does not see his sin in his religion, and it is his sin in his goodness that is most despicable for there is the deception and it is his sin in his religion that is most blasphemous because there it is that he worships a false god…

The contemporary idea today is that there’s some residual good left in the sinner. As this progression came from Pelagianism to Semipelagianism and then came down to sort of contemporary Arminianism and maybe got defined a little more carefully by Wesley who was a sort of a messed up Calvinist because Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will. That system has literally taken over and been the dominant system in evangelical Christianity. It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond.

Notice how MacArthur combines ability with goodness. Ability is made to be a moral issue. Why does an ability to choose something, or make a wise choice, or desire to have something that is rooted in anthropology, have to be an issue of inherent goodness? If unregenerate man can make wise choices, or at least correct choices, and certainly he can, why couldn’t one of those wise choices be that of salvation? Yes, certainly the Bible teaches that man’s inclination is away from God, but once God seeks him out and confronts him, does he have the ability to be persuaded? Why is man able to choose to stop at a red light (cause) to prevent an accident (effect), but unable to choose God?

Throughout the same message, MacArthur asserts the following like points:

Wesley wanted to give all the glory to God, as you well know, but he wanted to find in men some place where men could initiate salvation on his own will.

Here, MacArthur makes an ability to choose equal with initiating the means of salvation and initially seeking God. Our previous lessons assert that man doesn’t initially seek God, but once God seeks him by various means, man has the ability to choose. Man has many abilities that are morally neutral, even in his weakness, why can’t the ability to choose be one of them when he/she is aided by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit? In Scripture, we have instances of men being nearly persuaded (Mark 12;34, Acts 26:25-32); what are we to surmise from this, that man has the ability to be partially persuaded, but not the ability to be fully persuaded? James suggested that some men can believe in God, but fall short of believing in a saving way (2:19). This means man has an ability to believe in God intellectually, but is unable to understand saving truth about God and make his own choice? Why would man then have the ability to believe in God at all?

According to MacArthur,

A new wave followed as people struggled to hang on to human freedom which said that Adam’s sin had “in some measure” affected and disabled all men, but sinners were left with just enough freedom of the will to make the first move of faith toward God. And then God’s grace kicked in. But sinners made the first move, and that’s what became known as semi-Pelagianism. Some would call it prevenient grace. There’s a component of grace in all human beings that gives them in the freedom of their own will the ability to initiate salvation. The idea is that depravity is real, but it is not total. Saving grace from God then becomes a divine response rather than the efficient cause of our salvation. This view is denounced, as you know, by several councils starting around 529.

How does an ability to choose equal the initiation of salvation? How does an ability to choose, or the freedom of the will to choose equal us making the first move? We by no means made the first move! Clearly, God made the first move by supplying the means of salvation, and the second move by calling all men unto salvation. After this, how does our abilty to choose constitute the “first move”? It’s not the first move, it’s a response to God’s love. And in regard to the point of our first lesson, throughout his message, MacArthur validates his points by citing St. Augustine; that is very problematic in and of itself. MacArthur then moves on in the same message to make the new birth synonymous with our ability to choose. If we have an ability to be persuaded, that is supposedly like giving birth to ourselves:

When the Bible speaks about the condition of the sinner, with what words does it speak? Well, when the Bible speaks of the sinner’s condition, it is usually in the language of death, sometimes darkness, sometimes blindness, hardness, slavery, incurable sickness, alienation, and the Bible is clear that this is a condition that affects the body, the mind, the emotion, the desire, the motive, the will, the behavior. And it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it… John 3, you are very familiar with it, Nicodemus, and no one is going to be able to see the kingdom of God unless he’s born again, Jesus said in verse 3, very interesting. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” He is not stupid. He’s a teacher in Israel. He’s speaking metaphorically. He’s picking up on Jesus’ born again metaphor and asking the question, how does that happen? How does it happen? You can’t do it on your own. You can’t birth yourself. That’s his point. He gets it. He understands that man has no capability to bring birth to himself. Jesus follows up by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit,”

First, MacArthur’s concession, perhaps unwittingly, that “it is a condition that is so powerful no sinner unaided by God can ever overcome it” is exactly what we are saying, and not by any means that man can choose God solo. God supplies the means of salvation and seeks after man with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the word of God. But in the end, man is able to neglect this great salvation, and to his own eternal detriment. Also, the new birth is part of the means of salvation totally out of man’s control; the new birth is a promise to those who believe, and obviously not man giving birth to himself.

When you start thinking about these things apart from Reformed orthodoxy, some observations become interesting. MacArthur used the following proof texts to make one of his points:

But let me just work you through John for a minute, John 1:12-13. “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God even to those who believed in his name who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of men, but of God.” That is unmistakable. Unmistakable. Salvation being the work of God.

First, notice that man’s role is simply to receive, and then man is “given” the “right” to become the children of God. Then MacArthur bemoans the following:

It is behind most revivalism. It is behind most evangelism. That there’s something in the sinner that can respond. And this is sort of like the right in a free country. You have to have this right. This wouldn’t be fair if God didn’t give the sinner the right to make his own decision so that the sinner unaided by the Holy Spirit must make the first move. That’s essentially Arminian theology. The sinner unaided must make the first move. And God then will respond when the sinner makes the first move.

This is exactly what the proof text that MacArthur stated says, that those who receive Christ do in fact have the “right” to become part of God’s kingdom. Also, in stating his Reformed logic in another way, he suggested that hearing the gospel message and receiving it was the same thing as preaching ourselves:

What can remedy that? We do not preach ourselves, verse 5, we preach Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. We preach the gospel of Christ as lord and ourselves as slaves. And what happens? Verse 6, God who said light shall shine out of darkness, that’s taking you back to creation, God who created, who spoke light into existence is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Aside from the fact that having the ability to be persuaded is not preaching ourselves rather than Christ, note that MacArthur equates creation with the gospel which insinuates that the fall was built into creation itself. This is part and parcel with the supralapsarianism that we discussed in previous lessons.

But the thrust of this lesson centers on the “how much” when it comes to any role at all for man in salvation and the logical end of it, and in the final analysis how God’s love is defined. This is a sobering consideration. In both the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference and T4G 2008, MacArthur presents the idea that John 3, regarding the new birth, is something that is done to the individual without any participation on the part of the believer. The clear message in both cases was that any decision or belief on the part of the believer was excluded also. It was very much like the following rendition of the same text:

When we consider the great teachings of Scripture, they are not there just to give us information and they are not to teach us what we can do in our own strength. In Musings 34 (http://www.godloveshimself.org/?p=2018) we looked at how believing that the doctrine of justification is true is not the same thing as being justified. The new birth was also mentioned at the end. In the passage above (John 3:3-5) Jesus speaks pointedly and with power in a way that reflects on the issue being mused on here. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus that he must know the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Jesus also did not tell Nicodemus that he must believe the truth about the new birth in order to enter the kingdom. Instead of that, Jesus told Nicodemus that he must actually be born again in order to enter the kingdom. There is a huge difference between believing what is true and what is true actually happening to you.

If we take this as a picture or even as an example of the teachings of Scripture, we can view what it means to believe something with different eyes or with a different perspective. Neither Jesus or Paul declared that a person must believe the facts about justification in order to be justified, but simply that a person must be justified (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Musing 35; February 10, 2014).

So, if reality is a prewritten metaphysical narrative for the sole purpose of glorifying God in all that happens in the narrative, it only stands to reason that God is motivated by self-glorification and self-love as the highest purpose for all that he does:

Perhaps this concept that Edwards gives just above cannot be stated too strongly or emphasized too much since all true Christianity depends on the truth of it. If God is not centered upon Himself and He does not do all for His own glory, then God Himself is not holy and acts against the perfection of His own nature, wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not keep the same standard that He commands all others to do. If God does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself, then the both the great Commandments and the Ten Commandments are not a transcript of the character of God. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do what He requires of others in the first three petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all in His own name as He requires others to do so. If God Himself does not love Himself and do all He does out of love for Himself (as triune), then He does not do all for His own glory which He requires others to do (God Loves Himself .wordpress .com: Edwards on the God Centeredness of God; 11 December 7, 2013).

Add yet another paradox in regard to love. God didn’t send His Son to the cross because he loves mankind, he sent His Son to the cross because He loves Himself. The list of commonly understood words in a grammatical reality that have been redefined by the doctrine of determinism is now very lengthy. Why indeed did God even bother to write the Bible in a grammatical format? No wonder that Rick Holland, a former associate of John MacArthur has stated that good grammar makes bad theology. No kidding? Add yet another paradox: the idea that God is not a God of confusion. Of course, the Reformed would say that there is no confusion at all—ALL things are predetermined for God’s glory and completely out of our control—end of story.

Let’s pad this point a little more with some quotes from John Piper:

I would like to try to persuade you that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever. Or to put it another way: the chief end of God is to enjoy glorifying himself.

The reason this may sound strange is that we tend to be more familiar with our duties than with God’s designs. We know why we exist – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But why does God exist? What should he love with all his heart and soul and mind and strength? Whom should he worship? Or will we deny him that highest of pleasures? It matters a lot what God’s ultimate allegiance is to! (Desiring God .org: Is God for Us or for Himself?; October 23, 1984).

Actually, the Bible states that the chief end of man is to obey God, and that God takes more pleasure in obedience than sacrifice (Ecc 12:13,14 1Sam 15:22). I am not sure that the Bible ever states any “chief end” of God. Really? God’s life has a primary purpose that we can understand? And its narcissism?

Though there seems to be many Scriptures that bolster determinism, it requires the redefining of many commonly understood word meanings, and inevitably leads to an unavoidable illogical outcome. If the doctrine of predetermination in and of itself was the only paradox, that would be different, but the problem we see here is that it makes all of reality a paradox unless you accept the mythological Reformed metaphysical narrative.

Redefinitions

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