Paul's Passing Thoughts

George Bernard Shaw – Poster Boy for Platonist Collectivism

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 29, 2016

This is what evil looks like!

“You must all know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world; who are more trouble than they are worth. Just put them there, and say, now sir or madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence? If you can’t justify your existence; if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat; if you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then clearly we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us, and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.”

 

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 14, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published April 5, 2015

Listen to full show audio here in separate window.

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation.  This is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 3 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.” If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in.

We are going to back up a little bit to start tonight’s lesson in order to observe some very important addendums to our series. I am just going to simply state the first one that is something to keep in mind while you read the book of 1John. John states two primary purposes for writing the letter. First…

1John 1:4 – And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Tradition holds that the apostle John wrote this book, and obviously on behalf of the apostles. Note how the ESV translates “our joy.” Taking other translations into consideration, the “our” probably includes all those who have fellowship with the Father. Also…

1John 5:13 – I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

The achievable goal for every Christian is joy and assurance of salvation. Obviously, falling into the false teachings that John was contending against was going to steal that from them. More importantly, we must keep in mind that this letter claims to have the knowledge that leads to joy and full assurance of salvation.

But in addition, there is something else I want to take note of. It’s a third primary reason that John writes this epistle:

1John 1:3 – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

You might miss it because instead of referring to the writing of it, John wrote that “we proclaim also to you,” and the stated reason is mutual fellowship with the Father and the Son. These aren’t the only stated reasons for writing this epistle, but they are primary and let’s review them: joy, assurance, and fellowship.

Note that the apostles didn’t write this letter demanding that their authority be followed. The letter is written for the benefit of the readers and fellowship. Again, notice the fellowship is mutual fellowship with the Father and His Son. The goal is a mutual goal of fellowship, joy, and assurance. We find this elsewhere in Scripture.

2Corinthians 1:21 – And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

That’s it. Teachers don’t lord it over people’s faith, they co-labor for their joy. This pattern of co-laboring versus authority saturates the New Testament while elder authority is conspicuously missing. Do you know why proponents of elder authority always go to Hebrews 13:17? Because that’s the only verse they have, so let’s address it. This series is about why Protestants twist 1John and we have looked at a lot of things in the first two parts, but a distorted view of what Christian assembly really is also comes into focus in this discussion.

Are we merely part of a club that gets us into heaven in the end, or is salvation a settled issue leading to the gathering together for service and good works? Obviously, as with the Protestant case, if you need a continued forgiveness of “present sin,” and that forgiveness can only be found in allegiance to the institutional church, your whole interpretation of Scripture is going to be overshadowed by that.

The introduction to 1John emphasizes what gathering together as Christians is all about: fellowship, not authority. Home fellowships are an organized body of gifts under one head for the purpose of faith working through love. The church is a mediator of progressive salvation through authority structure and co-mediation with Christ. The goal of the institutional church is getting people from salvation point A to salvation point B and collecting a temple tax for that purpose. The goal of home fellowships is the full exploitation of the gifts granted to every believer. Leaders equip for that purpose and lead by example while the only authority is Christ. Throughout the New Testament assemblies are called on to strive for unity in the one mind of Christ.

That’s what we are going to focus on tonight. We are going to debunk the whole notion that there is horizontal authority in the body of Christ. All authority is vertical because Christ said ALL authority has been given to Him, and ALL means “all.” Let’s think about this: a horizontal authority also assumes the dictation of truth by those who have an elevated ability to understand truth. Folks, you cannot separate authority from a claim on truth. We hear this all of the time in the church, this idea that the elders need to be obeyed because they are preordained to understand things you cannot understand. We hear this all of the time. And does this impact the book of 1 John? Sure it does.

 1John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Why do you think John wrote that? Those who were trying to deceive them were claiming a higher knowledge that the common believers were supposedly not privy to. And by the way, this is a hallmark of Gnosticism which was cut from the same block as Plato’s epistemological caste system. Anyway, let’s debunk this whole idea of horizontal authority among God’s people.

Before I do, I would like to add yet another thought. I have spent eight years researching the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification and refuting it, but I am beginning to think of it as just another mere symptom of the bigger problem: “the church,” the marriage of authority and Christianity.

The Bible states that there is one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Timothy 2:5). I now realize the real significance of that after eight years of research. I see “one” really means “one.” Something has happened this week that this ministry is taking note of: HBO’s documentary “Going Clear” on Scientology premiered 3/29/2015. Megan Kelly of Fox News interviewed one of the key figures featured in the documentary who shared an astonishing bit of information: members who offend leadership are locked up in a literal prison until they repent of whatever the offense is; release is contingent on signing a written confession. Kelly was incredulous that any adult would agree to such a thing and asked the guest if he could explain it. I was surprised when the guest said he could not explain it.

Maybe the explanation is too simple, but here it is: every false gospel opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ is predicated on the idea of an additional mediator between God and man other than Christ. Even if one man or women is representative of the false doctrine, it will always be expressed in the form of an institution and its authority. Rather than all authority and mediation being in Christ, a subset of Christ’s mediation and authority is claimed; a claim that has no biblical merit whatsoever. These religious institutions always claim authority to grant salvation on behalf of God as co-mediators, but will also use the authority of government whenever they can get away with it.

So why do the institutional members of “the church” agree to every insane notion proffered by these institutions? It’s not complicated in the least: their salvation depends on it. The temptation is great; people relate truth with authority and want to be told how to get to heaven. Some sort of lofty authority gives the seekers confidence that God will accept their salvific pedigree. And Scientology has all of the elements common with these institutions, especially a strong emphasis on glorious infrastructure.

This documentary is important because Scientology is indicative of institutional religion in general. It claims authority and mediation it doesn’t have, quibbles over words, and entangles itself in the frivolous affairs of the world. And another important element–a major one should be noted as well: cults are spawned by authority. Hence, religious institutions often get a pass on being cultic because people don’t understand the catalyst of cultism: authority.

The alternative is a functioning body under one head. Gifts replace rank, and fellowship replaces authority. The goal is agreement on truth as defined by Christ and agreement according to conscience determines who fellowships together. Christ said, “All authority has been given to me.” ALL means “all.” If people get together for the purpose of following an authority anyway, why not Christ as opposed to some man or institution? If the divide in regard to what Christ is saying is too wide, go start your own group–Christ is the final judge anyway. A final point: institutions focus on getting people to heaven; fellowships focus on the unfinished work of service to God and others.

The following are relevant audio clips that make the point. First two are from Pastor John MacArthur Jr., and the third is from Pastor James MacDonald.

Audio links here. 

These clips are just too rich and could be the whole show. I mean surely, someone has some thoughts on theses clips. Where to start? When MacArthur talks about putting ourselves under the authority of godly men, what are the parameters of such authority? Historically in regard to the institutional church, this authority knows no bounds. And did you notice who decides what your gifts are? That’s right, not you, the leadership. Oh my, let’s just throw out one little example of this going completely wrong. If a guy gets saved but his wife doesn’t, she just may divorce him eventually. The Bible is very clear on this; the believing spouse is no longer obligated to that marriage. But if that young man comes to believe that he is called to be an elder—you can forget it. So, he will not fulfill his gift because of the traditions of men, and that’s a pity.

Many more examples could be given, but let’s get into our argument against authority among God’s people, or what I will call horizontal authority. The argument is that God’s people are a body of gifts cooperating together with one head. Horizontal co-laboring with vertical authority. I am going to be arguing this from a message I taught on Romans 14:2-12 titled, “Authority’s Assault on Unity.” So here we go, let’s see if we can learn anything.

The week before this lesson we talked about the mystery of the gospel. The mystery is God’s intention to bring Jew and Gentile into one body by the Spirit. Undoubtedly, this posed significant unity challenges because of the diverse cultures. When the Romans inquired of Paul as to whether or not they should bother associating with Jews due to these cultural differences, it sent Paul scrambling for his writing utensil because that issue is one of the core values of the gospel itself.

The bone of contention was dietary laws and the observance of days which would have been deeply entrenched traditions for the Jews. In addition, there were a plethora of issues among the Jews concerning the decadent culture of the Gentiles. Some of these issues included the eating of meat and its preparation according to Old Testament law. For sure, pork was out, but there were other issues, apparently, with meat sacrificed to idols and then sold on the open market at a reduced price. Hence, because what had been done with meat would have been ambiguous in many cases as far as its source and preparation, it’s possible that many Jews decided to play it safe and become vegetarians.

As far as convictions concerning the observance of days in this transition from the old covenant to the new, there would have been many days sacred to the Jews that would have had little significance among the Gentiles. So, what is Paul’s solution to these differences for purposes of fulfilling the mystery of the gospel?

In verse 2, Paul identifies the two parties: Gentiles who believe they can eat anything, and the weak Jew who understandably was not yet up to speed on the mystery of the gospel in regard to the law. Also consider, much like today, the Jews had been dumbed down in regard to Scriptural knowledge. The leadership of that day replaced Scriptural truth with the traditions of men. Specifically, like today, the integration of Gnosticism with Scripture saturated Jewish thought and religion.

In verse 3, Paul defines the attitudes that fueled the division between Jew and Gentile: the ones who eat should not “despise” the ones who don’t eat; i.e., the Jews, and the Jews should not “judge” the ones who eat according to what? Right, the law. And why? Because God had come to receive who? Right, the Gentile. Paul shifts his focus to the Jewish responsibility of accepting the ones God received into the one body regardless of the fact that they did not keep or regard much of the Old Testament law. This would have been a really challenging transition of thought for the Jew. But the main point here is that the Jew had a tendency to “judge” because they had the what? Right, the law.

The way Paul addresses this (v. 4) towards the Jew is very interesting. In that culture or the Jewish culture as well, it would have been very uncouth to tell another person’s slave what to do. It would have been absurd. In ancient times there were many types of slaves in regard to social strata, but let me use the types of slaves that were more like today’s employee as an example. It would be like a manager from Wendy’s walking into a Kentucky Fried Chicken and telling those employees what to do. Or, closer to the point Paul is making, openly criticizing them in some way. The absurdity demonstrated in this illustration falls a little short because the servants Paul is talking about only served their own masters whereas in my illustration you could argue that the Wendy’s manager was a customer at KFC and had a right to complain about something. But slaves of Paul’s day only served one master. Christ used the same kind of illustration Paul is using here when he said you cannot serve two masters.

So, what Paul is saying is that ALL Christians, Jew and Gentile, only have one master, Jesus Christ.

4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

“It is before his own master that he stands or falls” is a reflection of the slave culture. Typically, slaves only answered to one master. This is interesting to think about in our day. First, like most of the New Testament writings, and for that matter the Old Testament writings as well, the letter is addressed to the whole group. It also regards the problem with arguing over what Paul called, “opinions.” In all of this, where is elder involvement discussed? Thirdly, Paul is about to teach us that no one has a right to judge you or others in the Christian realm because everyone answers to one master and one master only—Jesus Christ.

The more one studies the Scriptures independently, the more one notices that elders (or pastors) are conspicuously missing. The context of Romans 14 makes the absence of elders odd in our minds because of what we have been taught about “elder authority.” We see this elsewhere concerning conflict among God’s people. In Matthew 18:15-20, again, elders are conspicuously missing. Often we hear the call to be willing to “place ourselves under the authority of godly men.” What I understand here is that we only have one master. Salvation is not in view here, the authority to pass judgment on another is what is in view. What is in view is a judge who is able to make the Christian “stand or fall.”

What becomes more and more clear is the fact that “pastor” or “elder” is just another gift and has NO element of authority. It has even been suggested that elders are optional for home fellowships where Christians gather together for edification and fellowship. The suggestion is that 1Timothy 3:1 could refer to a fellowship’s desire to have an elder and not necessarily an individual’s desire to be an elder.  Practically, this makes sense because wherever God’s people meet there may not be any elders. What I am saying follows: in geographies where there is no sound gathering of professing Christians, saints are not forced to fellowship there because eldership validates an assembly. Clearly, it can be surmised that some 1st century Christian fellowships had elders and others didn’t.

But at any rate, elders are not lords (1Pet 5:3), they are leaders. Even the apostle Paul stated that he was to be followed only as long as he followed Christ (1Cor 11:1).

Putting all of these ideas together, I like the rendering of 1Timothy 3;1 by the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB):

Here is a statement you can trust: anyone aspiring to be a congregation leader is seeking worthwhile work.

Elders lead by example. I believe their oversight is primarily a proper interpretation of the Bible. They are ministers of the word (Acts 6:4). We only have one Lord—Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul continually pointed to the authority of God’s truth as the only authority:

Galatians 1:8 – But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

1Corinthians 3:21 – So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Paul sets forth another rule in verse 5: Each believer should be persuaded (KJV) in their OWN mind. There needs to be space given for everyone to grow in wisdom. See here that we don’t believe certain things just because certain people believe it. We are to be persuaded in our OWN minds through the continued study of God’s word. PERSUASION is a major theme in the New Testament. The idea of persuasion is often translated “obey” in English translations for some incredibly strange reason. Listen, “obedience” is not the heavy emphasis among believers, persuasion is the key. Here is the word for persuaded in verse 5:

g4135. πληροφορέω plērophoreō; from 4134 and 5409; to carry out fully (in evidence), i. e. completely assure (or convince), entirely accomplish:— most surely believe, fully know (persuade), make full proof of. AV (5)- be fully persuaded.

Listen, before I develop this important aspect of persuasion, I am going to jump ahead to Paul’s next principle of motive in verse 6:

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.

Giving room for motive is huge in our day because we are all so dumbed down theologically. Admittedly, these are difficult waters, but if the home fellowship movement is going to work, we need to chill out on the dogma thing and emphasize the fact that we all need room to grow in God’s word. What we are looking for is honest seekers of truth—people who are persuaded by truth and the one mind of Christ that brings unity. Basically, a genuine love for the truth. That’s THE truth not A truth.

Meanwhile, Paul is saying that the spiritually weak have the right motives and are thankful to God. Other than a love for the truth, even the spiritually weak will have a spirit of thankfulness.

Probably, the beginnings of fellowship should begin with a fundamental agreement on the gospel of first importance and the sufficiency of God’s word. From there, you study the Scriptures together and let all be fully persuaded in their own minds. It boils down to this…

Does the person love THE truth? (2Thess 2:10).

Now, back to developing verse 5. I am going to develop this point by looking at Hebrews 13:17:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As we can ascertain so far, no one among God’s people can demand that you believe anything—only Christ has the authority to demand that you believe something. Otherwise, it would have been like passing judgment on someone else’s slave which was an absurd notion in that culture. In contrast, what is in vogue in our day is this whole idea of “putting yourself under the authority of godly men” lest you be a spiritual sluggard. A verse often used is Hebrews 13:17.

The word for “obey” is the following word:

g3982. πείθω peithō; a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):— agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

The idea is to be persuaded, or following as a result of being persuaded or convinced. The same word is used about 50 times this way in the New Testament. Here is just one example:

Matthew 27:20 – Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded (peithō) the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

There is a Greek word for outright obedience, it is…

g5219. ὑπακούω hypakouō; from 5259 and 191; to hear under (as a subordinate), i. e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority:— hearken, be obedient to, obey.

Here is one example of about 20 in regard to how the word is used in the New Testament:

Matthew 8:27 – And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey (hypakouō) him?”

Again, among fellow Christians, we don’t demand obedience, we persuade. Elders lead, but they do not have Christ’s authority. You obey Christ no matter what.  Such is not the case with elders or pastors. Notice in all of chapter 14, the key to unity is not the authority of leaders.

Continuing on…

7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Honestly, I am not entirely sure of the point Paul is making in verses 7-9. There is even the transition “For” that links this idea to the previous thought in verse 6, but it’s like Paul just parachutes this idea in here out of nowhere. Each sentence in verses 7-9 link together with verse 6 by a conjunction, “For,” “So then.” Somehow, Christ being the Lord of those who have passed on figures into the equation, but I simply don’t know how.

At any rate, Paul is back to the main point with verses 10-12:

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

This is clear, we will all give an account for ourselves regarding what we have done as Christians in the body (1Cor 3:10-15, 2Cor 5:10). Therefore, do not judge a fellow believer who is doing his/her best to honor God with what knowledge they presently have.

Second, let them be convinced in their OWN minds.

Third, stay focused on glorifying God in regard to the purposes of the mystery of the gospel.

At this time, let’s go ahead and take calls.

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 5, 2015

Blog Radio LogoListen to full show audio here in separate window.

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation.  This is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 3 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.” If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Remember to turn your PC volume down to prevent feedback. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson without need for you to call in.

We are going to back up a little bit to start tonight’s lesson in order to observe some very important addendums to our series. I am just going to simply state the first one that is something to keep in mind while you read the book of 1John. John states two primary purposes for writing the letter. First…

1John 1:4 – And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Tradition holds that the apostle John wrote this book, and obviously on behalf of the apostles. Note how the ESV translates “our joy.” Taking other translations into consideration, the “our” probably includes all those who have fellowship with the Father. Also…

1John 5:13 – I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

The achievable goal for every Christian is joy and assurance of salvation. Obviously, falling into the false teachings that John was contending against was going to steal that from them. More importantly, we must keep in mind that this letter claims to have the knowledge that leads to joy and full assurance of salvation.

But in addition, there is something else I want to take note of. It’s a third primary reason that John writes this epistle:

1John 1:3 – that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

You might miss it because instead of referring to the writing of it, John wrote that “we proclaim also to you,” and the stated reason is mutual fellowship with the Father and the Son. These aren’t the only stated reasons for writing this epistle, but they are primary and let’s review them: joy, assurance, and fellowship.

Note that the apostles didn’t write this letter demanding that their authority be followed. The letter is written for the benefit of the readers and fellowship. Again, notice the fellowship is mutual fellowship with the Father and His Son. The goal is a mutual goal of fellowship, joy, and assurance. We find this elsewhere in Scripture.

2Corinthians 1:21 – And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

That’s it. Teachers don’t lord it over people’s faith, they co-labor for their joy. This pattern of co-laboring versus authority saturates the New Testament while elder authority is conspicuously missing. Do you know why proponents of elder authority always go to Hebrews 13:17? Because that’s the only verse they have, so let’s address it. This series is about why Protestants twist 1John and we have looked at a lot of things in the first two parts, but a distorted view of what Christian assembly really is also comes into focus in this discussion.

Are we merely part of a club that gets us into heaven in the end, or is salvation a settled issue leading to the gathering together for service and good works? Obviously, as with the Protestant case, if you need a continued forgiveness of “present sin,” and that forgiveness can only be found in allegiance to the institutional church, your whole interpretation of Scripture is going to be overshadowed by that.

The introduction to 1John emphasizes what gathering together as Christians is all about: fellowship, not authority. Home fellowships are an organized body of gifts under one head for the purpose of faith working through love. The church is a mediator of progressive salvation through authority structure and co-mediation with Christ. The goal of the institutional church is getting people from salvation point A to salvation point B and collecting a temple tax for that purpose. The goal of home fellowships is the full exploitation of the gifts granted to every believer. Leaders equip for that purpose and lead by example while the only authority is Christ. Throughout the New Testament assemblies are called on to strive for unity in the one mind of Christ.

That’s what we are going to focus on tonight. We are going to debunk the whole notion that there is horizontal authority in the body of Christ. All authority is vertical because Christ said ALL authority has been given to Him, and ALL means “all.” Let’s think about this: a horizontal authority also assumes the dictation of truth by those who have an elevated ability to understand truth. Folks, you cannot separate authority from a claim on truth. We hear this all of the time in the church, this idea that the elders need to be obeyed because they are preordained to understand things you cannot understand. We hear this all of the time. And does this impact the book of 1 John? Sure it does.

 1John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

Why do you think John wrote that? Those who were trying to deceive them were claiming a higher knowledge that the common believers were supposedly not privy to. And by the way, this is a hallmark of Gnosticism which was cut from the same block as Plato’s epistemological caste system. Anyway, let’s debunk this whole idea of horizontal authority among God’s people.

Before I do, I would like to add yet another thought. I have spent eight years researching the Protestant false gospel of progressive justification and refuting it, but I am beginning to think of it as just another mere symptom of the bigger problem: “the church,” the marriage of authority and Christianity.

The Bible states that there is one mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ (1Timothy 2:5). I now realize the real significance of that after eight years of research. I see “one” really means “one.” Something has happened this week that this ministry is taking note of: HBO’s documentary “Going Clear” on Scientology premiered 3/29/2015. Megan Kelly of Fox News interviewed one of the key figures featured in the documentary who shared an astonishing bit of information: members who offend leadership are locked up in a literal prison until they repent of whatever the offense is; release is contingent on signing a written confession. Kelly was incredulous that any adult would agree to such a thing and asked the guest if he could explain it. I was surprised when the guest said he could not explain it.

Maybe the explanation is too simple, but here it is: every false gospel opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ is predicated on the idea of an additional mediator between God and man other than Christ. Even if one man or women is representative of the false doctrine, it will always be expressed in the form of an institution and its authority. Rather than all authority and mediation being in Christ, a subset of Christ’s mediation and authority is claimed; a claim that has no biblical merit whatsoever. These religious institutions always claim authority to grant salvation on behalf of God as co-mediators, but will also use the authority of government whenever they can get away with it.

So why do the institutional members of “the church” agree to every insane notion proffered by these institutions? It’s not complicated in the least: their salvation depends on it. The temptation is great; people relate truth with authority and want to be told how to get to heaven. Some sort of lofty authority gives the seekers confidence that God will accept their salvific pedigree. And Scientology has all of the elements common with these institutions, especially a strong emphasis on glorious infrastructure.

This documentary is important because Scientology is indicative of institutional religion in general. It claims authority and mediation it doesn’t have, quibbles over words, and entangles itself in the frivolous affairs of the world. And another important element–a major one should be noted as well: cults are spawned by authority. Hence, religious institutions often get a pass on being cultic because people don’t understand the catalyst of cultism: authority.

The alternative is a functioning body under one head. Gifts replace rank, and fellowship replaces authority. The goal is agreement on truth as defined by Christ and agreement according to conscience determines who fellowships together. Christ said, “All authority has been given to me.” ALL means “all.” If people get together for the purpose of following an authority anyway, why not Christ as opposed to some man or institution? If the divide in regard to what Christ is saying is too wide, go start your own group–Christ is the final judge anyway. A final point: institutions focus on getting people to heaven; fellowships focus on the unfinished work of service to God and others.

The following are relevant audio clips that make the point. First two are from Pastor John MacArthur Jr., and the third is from Pastor James MacDonald.

Audio links here. 

These clips are just too rich and could be the whole show. I mean surely, someone has some thoughts on theses clips. Where to start? When MacArthur talks about putting ourselves under the authority of godly men, what are the parameters of such authority? Historically in regard to the institutional church, this authority knows no bounds. And did you notice who decides what your gifts are? That’s right, not you, the leadership. Oh my, let’s just throw out one little example of this going completely wrong. If a guy gets saved but his wife doesn’t, she just may divorce him eventually. The Bible is very clear on this; the believing spouse is no longer obligated to that marriage. But if that young man comes to believe that he is called to be an elder—you can forget it. So, he will not fulfill his gift because of the traditions of men, and that’s a pity.

Many more examples could be given, but let’s get into our argument against authority among God’s people, or what I will call horizontal authority. The argument is that God’s people are a body of gifts cooperating together with one head. Horizontal co-laboring with vertical authority. I am going to be arguing this from a message I taught on Romans 14:2-12 titled, “Authority’s Assault on Unity.” So here we go, let’s see if we can learn anything.

The week before this lesson we talked about the mystery of the gospel. The mystery is God’s intention to bring Jew and Gentile into one body by the Spirit. Undoubtedly, this posed significant unity challenges because of the diverse cultures. When the Romans inquired of Paul as to whether or not they should bother associating with Jews due to these cultural differences, it sent Paul scrambling for his writing utensil because that issue is one of the core values of the gospel itself.

The bone of contention was dietary laws and the observance of days which would have been deeply entrenched traditions for the Jews. In addition, there were a plethora of issues among the Jews concerning the decadent culture of the Gentiles. Some of these issues included the eating of meat and its preparation according to Old Testament law. For sure, pork was out, but there were other issues, apparently, with meat sacrificed to idols and then sold on the open market at a reduced price. Hence, because what had been done with meat would have been ambiguous in many cases as far as its source and preparation, it’s possible that many Jews decided to play it safe and become vegetarians.

As far as convictions concerning the observance of days in this transition from the old covenant to the new, there would have been many days sacred to the Jews that would have had little significance among the Gentiles. So, what is Paul’s solution to these differences for purposes of fulfilling the mystery of the gospel?

In verse 2, Paul identifies the two parties: Gentiles who believe they can eat anything, and the weak Jew who understandably was not yet up to speed on the mystery of the gospel in regard to the law. Also consider, much like today, the Jews had been dumbed down in regard to Scriptural knowledge. The leadership of that day replaced Scriptural truth with the traditions of men. Specifically, like today, the integration of Gnosticism with Scripture saturated Jewish thought and religion.

In verse 3, Paul defines the attitudes that fueled the division between Jew and Gentile: the ones who eat should not “despise” the ones who don’t eat; i.e., the Jews, and the Jews should not “judge” the ones who eat according to what? Right, the law. And why? Because God had come to receive who? Right, the Gentile. Paul shifts his focus to the Jewish responsibility of accepting the ones God received into the one body regardless of the fact that they did not keep or regard much of the Old Testament law. This would have been a really challenging transition of thought for the Jew. But the main point here is that the Jew had a tendency to “judge” because they had the what? Right, the law.

The way Paul addresses this (v. 4) towards the Jew is very interesting. In that culture or the Jewish culture as well, it would have been very uncouth to tell another person’s slave what to do. It would have been absurd. In ancient times there were many types of slaves in regard to social strata, but let me use the types of slaves that were more like today’s employee as an example. It would be like a manager from Wendy’s walking into a Kentucky Fried Chicken and telling those employees what to do. Or, closer to the point Paul is making, openly criticizing them in some way. The absurdity demonstrated in this illustration falls a little short because the servants Paul is talking about only served their own masters whereas in my illustration you could argue that the Wendy’s manager was a customer at KFC and had a right to complain about something. But slaves of Paul’s day only served one master. Christ used the same kind of illustration Paul is using here when he said you cannot serve two masters.

So, what Paul is saying is that ALL Christians, Jew and Gentile, only have one master, Jesus Christ.

4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

“It is before his own master that he stands or falls” is a reflection of the slave culture. Typically, slaves only answered to one master. This is interesting to think about in our day. First, like most of the New Testament writings, and for that matter the Old Testament writings as well, the letter is addressed to the whole group. It also regards the problem with arguing over what Paul called, “opinions.” In all of this, where is elder involvement discussed? Thirdly, Paul is about to teach us that no one has a right to judge you or others in the Christian realm because everyone answers to one master and one master only—Jesus Christ.

The more one studies the Scriptures independently, the more one notices that elders (or pastors) are conspicuously missing. The context of Romans 14 makes the absence of elders odd in our minds because of what we have been taught about “elder authority.” We see this elsewhere concerning conflict among God’s people. In Matthew 18:15-20, again, elders are conspicuously missing. Often we hear the call to be willing to “place ourselves under the authority of godly men.” What I understand here is that we only have one master. Salvation is not in view here, the authority to pass judgment on another is what is in view. What is in view is a judge who is able to make the Christian “stand or fall.”

What becomes more and more clear is the fact that “pastor” or “elder” is just another gift and has NO element of authority. It has even been suggested that elders are optional for home fellowships where Christians gather together for edification and fellowship. The suggestion is that 1Timothy 3:1 could refer to a fellowship’s desire to have an elder and not necessarily an individual’s desire to be an elder.  Practically, this makes sense because wherever God’s people meet there may not be any elders. What I am saying follows: in geographies where there is no sound gathering of professing Christians, saints are not forced to fellowship there because eldership validates an assembly. Clearly, it can be surmised that some 1st century Christian fellowships had elders and others didn’t.

But at any rate, elders are not lords (1Pet 5:3), they are leaders. Even the apostle Paul stated that he was to be followed only as long as he followed Christ (1Cor 11:1).

Putting all of these ideas together, I like the rendering of 1Timothy 3;1 by the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB):

Here is a statement you can trust: anyone aspiring to be a congregation leader is seeking worthwhile work.

Elders lead by example. I believe their oversight is primarily a proper interpretation of the Bible. They are ministers of the word (Acts 6:4). We only have one Lord—Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul continually pointed to the authority of God’s truth as the only authority:

Galatians 1:8 – But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

1Corinthians 3:21 – So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Paul sets forth another rule in verse 5: Each believer should be persuaded (KJV) in their OWN mind. There needs to be space given for everyone to grow in wisdom. See here that we don’t believe certain things just because certain people believe it. We are to be persuaded in our OWN minds through the continued study of God’s word. PERSUASION is a major theme in the New Testament. The idea of persuasion is often translated “obey” in English translations for some incredibly strange reason. Listen, “obedience” is not the heavy emphasis among believers, persuasion is the key. Here is the word for persuaded in verse 5:

g4135. πληροφορέω plērophoreō; from 4134 and 5409; to carry out fully (in evidence), i. e. completely assure (or convince), entirely accomplish:— most surely believe, fully know (persuade), make full proof of. AV (5)- be fully persuaded.

Listen, before I develop this important aspect of persuasion, I am going to jump ahead to Paul’s next principle of motive in verse 6:

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.

Giving room for motive is huge in our day because we are all so dumbed down theologically. Admittedly, these are difficult waters, but if the home fellowship movement is going to work, we need to chill out on the dogma thing and emphasize the fact that we all need room to grow in God’s word. What we are looking for is honest seekers of truth—people who are persuaded by truth and the one mind of Christ that brings unity. Basically, a genuine love for the truth. That’s THE truth not A truth.

Meanwhile, Paul is saying that the spiritually weak have the right motives and are thankful to God. Other than a love for the truth, even the spiritually weak will have a spirit of thankfulness.

Probably, the beginnings of fellowship should begin with a fundamental agreement on the gospel of first importance and the sufficiency of God’s word. From there, you study the Scriptures together and let all be fully persuaded in their own minds. It boils down to this…

Does the person love THE truth? (2Thess 2:10).

Now, back to developing verse 5. I am going to develop this point by looking at Hebrews 13:17:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As we can ascertain so far, no one among God’s people can demand that you believe anything—only Christ has the authority to demand that you believe something. Otherwise, it would have been like passing judgment on someone else’s slave which was an absurd notion in that culture. In contrast, what is in vogue in our day is this whole idea of “putting yourself under the authority of godly men” lest you be a spiritual sluggard. A verse often used is Hebrews 13:17.

The word for “obey” is the following word:

g3982. πείθω peithō; a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):— agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

The idea is to be persuaded, or following as a result of being persuaded or convinced. The same word is used about 50 times this way in the New Testament. Here is just one example:

Matthew 27:20 – Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded (peithō) the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

There is a Greek word for outright obedience, it is…

g5219. ὑπακούω hypakouō; from 5259 and 191; to hear under (as a subordinate), i. e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority:— hearken, be obedient to, obey.

Here is one example of about 20 in regard to how the word is used in the New Testament:

Matthew 8:27 – And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey (hypakouō) him?”

Again, among fellow Christians, we don’t demand obedience, we persuade. Elders lead, but they do not have Christ’s authority. You obey Christ no matter what.  Such is not the case with elders or pastors. Notice in all of chapter 14, the key to unity is not the authority of leaders.

Continuing on…

7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Honestly, I am not entirely sure of the point Paul is making in verses 7-9. There is even the transition “For” that links this idea to the previous thought in verse 6, but it’s like Paul just parachutes this idea in here out of nowhere. Each sentence in verses 7-9 link together with verse 6 by a conjunction, “For,” “So then.” Somehow, Christ being the Lord of those who have passed on figures into the equation, but I simply don’t know how.

At any rate, Paul is back to the main point with verses 10-12:

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

This is clear, we will all give an account for ourselves regarding what we have done as Christians in the body (1Cor 3:10-15, 2Cor 5:10). Therefore, do not judge a fellow believer who is doing his/her best to honor God with what knowledge they presently have.

Second, let them be convinced in their OWN minds.

Third, stay focused on glorifying God in regard to the purposes of the mystery of the gospel.

At this time, let’s go ahead and take calls.

Core Ideology’s Bloody Road to Utopia

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 12, 2015

PPT HandleIt doesn’t seem to make any sense. I have written on several occasions about the tacit approval of terrorism communicated by leading evangelicals in the New Calvinist movement. One such leader protested in a recent article that ISIS atrocities in Iraq were being exaggerated. Well, gee, that just isn’t fair. I have also written about the fact that many well-known evangelicals voted for President Obama. This seems perplexing.

Now, after all of the bantering back and forth between groups about school prayer, and religious groups meeting at school, etc., we find out that public schools across the nation are promoting Islam. One such report can be found here.

What’s going on? Regardless of the brutality and horrors perpetrated by Islam, people whom conservatives disagree with, but would stop way short of suggesting they support Islamic brutality, are conspicuously aloof from standing against Islam’s virus-like infiltration. It’s almost like there is something they have in common with Islam that they deem very important.

And that’s exactly the case.

Sure, liberals vehemently reject the brutality of Islam with all prejudice, but there is a more egregious enemy plaguing the earth; those who believe mankind can self-govern. This isn’t an oversimplification; liberals believe that utopia can be reached if the right mediators between truth and mankind are ruling, and the great unwashed masses are obediently following without question. All of the bloodletting is due to half-hearted endeavors. Yes, Islam is a religion of peace; there would be peace if everyone would only see that they know what’s best for the world. For another example of this, see “Democrat.”

And that my friend is the ideological tie that binds. The American principle of a government by the people and for the people is a tough nut to crack, and it requires whatever it takes. Quibbling about innocent blood is beside the point, that’s collateral damage and necessary sacrifices for the common good. Once Islam has served its purpose in helping socialism destroy self-governing, Plato’s philosopher kings can sort it all out with more bloodletting.

It’s all very ugly, and that’s “unfortunate,” but alas, that bloody road leads to utopia.

What America needs is a Patriot Party. Few conservatives really understand the true ideology of the original framers of the constitution, even fewer Republicans, and I venture to guess not a single Democrat. How bad is it? Even Rush Limbaugh doesn’t recognize the colonial Puritans for the Islamic socialist pigs that they were and has unwittingly endeared them to our children through recently published books. Moreover, and sadly, Ayn Rand, a Russian immigrant, has probably shown more understanding on this issue than anyone in the past 70 years.

We are in big, big, trouble. As an aside, that’s why I think Immel’s TANC 2012 sessions need to be viral. Really, we need to have a weekend pizza party and get a good video redo on that as well. Nevertheless, the transcripts are presently available. His three sessions really nail the big picture.

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

%d bloggers like this: